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Undeniable Truth
By Matthew Robles/TheBrother

Dedicated to my mother: Mary and Margie: cowgirl

 Micah detached his stare from the paper and  looked  the man straight in the eyes. His eyes revealed a shrewd man given to no sympathizes for others. He had come to take what was his, and what was his, this document showed, was Emma.

He looked back down to the paper as an apparent tapping of rings began, increasingly getting louder, emanated from the man with the fancy waistcoat. Micah glanced at his the man’s hands where the sound came from. His fingers carried two rings both with substantial weight on them. He needed to buy some time to process what this gentleman and his court documents were telling him without being distracted. Being the West, more than one man has tried to take things that did not belong to him using a fine outfit and false documents. But what would possess someone from taking a child that was not theirs?

“Well, being the times the way they are, I’m gonna have to verify these papers to make sure they’re legitimate. Just taking necessary precautions.”

It seemed the man had expected no less since no quick emotion spread across his face. His face remained as it ever was when he first interacted with Micah: disappointed. Despite his disapproving look calm words flew out of his mouth.

“Of course Sheriff, I expected no less. Ask for Mr. Westman at Hotel Madera, the establishment just down the road. When they wire back, do bring the child with you as soon as possible.”

His effrontery actions showed both his intimacy in getting his way and his surety of the outcome of events. Before Micah could reply, the man turn around and walked out.

Micah was sure Lucas had been in earnest about Emma and that he was convinced she was his daughter, but being that Emma’s mother had been with a number of men then paternity of the child was extremely difficult to determine. He needed to speak with Lucas as soon as possible but he knew not much was to be done if these papers were indeed true. If the courts decided one way, than the law followed with it. Such tiding he did not want to bring to his good friend.


Lucas had been tending the cows on his north pasture. He had just finished replacing a post that had broken from wear. Off in the distance he saw a cloud appearing in the dusty road leading to his ranch. Knowingly the sign of an approaching visitor he headed back to where he set down his rifle. None can be too careful.

He headed off Micah as he approached the entrance. Micah did not often appear uninvited at his ranch bearing good news. His mental preparation was reconfirmed when Micah’s heavy look came into focus. It would be bad news.

“Bad news?” Lucas asked when Micah reared his reigns to slow his horse.

“It seems so.” Micah dismounted and headed to a post to tie off his horse. Micah was not one to extend saying bad news. These would be grave news.

Once Micah had sat down with Lucas he began a retelling of what had taken place earlier that day. He had given a size up of the wealthy man named Westman as best he could to clarify whom Lucas would be up against.

“Have you sent the telegraph yet?”  Lucas asked.

“I have not. I wanted to speak with you before I did. I doubt the response will be a fake document, besides , who would come to claim a child that is not theirs?” Micah responded.

“She is my daughter”

Micah gave him a sympathetic but doubtful look. He started:

“You weren’t the only one--

“Look at my hand.” Lucas said strongly. He held it up for Micah to observe.

It was a hand. Weathered by hard labor, but what had this to do with Emma.

“I see your hand, Lucas-boy.”

Lucas pointed at his pinky finger. A finger whose tip bent at a slight angle towards the rest of his hand. Micah had never really noticed Lucas’s hand being that way.

“Did you get a look at that man’s hands?” Lucas asked. He put his hand down.

“Oddly enough, I did.” He thought back to when he looked at the rings on his fingers. From his memory he could not recall a similar trait on him.

“Have you ever seen this on anyone you know?”

“No...” He was still at a loss to where Lucas was going with this.

“Just the other day, I had Emma helping Mark stack some firewood and she got a splinter in her hand. I was pulling it out when I noticed. Her pinky looks exactly like mine.” He said resolutely. “My pa’s hand was just like this as was his pa’s pa.”

It was now clear to Micah. Emma was indeed Lucas’s daughter but even if he knew this the court was saying this Mr. Westman was her father.

“I still have to wire the court.” Micah said.

“I know,” His friend responded. “But while that is being sent I need to find out some information about this Mr. Westman.”

“The court should take some time. I’m sure your wire will come faster and with that information I hope we find a way to stop all this.”

“I hope so too.”

---------------------------

Two days had passed when Mark and Emma passed through the main street of North Fork heading to the general store after school had ended. Mark was intent on getting some candy after his pa gave him a penny, both to him and his sister. He had taken Emma off of Blue Boy when he overheard an adult, who had been lounging nearby puffing on a pipe, say to another fellow, “That’s the girl he says is his.”

Mark glanced over in the direction of the two men as he tied off Blue Boy. The two men continued their muttering despite his look, but now he could not understand them. Had they been talking about Emma? He might have been mistaken so he and Emma walked into the general store as he tried to dodge a pervasive suspicion that something was going on he did not know about.

“Does your father know exactly how much you spend on candy in a year?” Hattie asked Mark as he made an apparent dash for the candy.

“Well..” Mark said sheepishly. He had no rebuttal to her tease. Emma, however, did.

“I think he knows. He just ignores the problem.”

Hattie smirked. It did not take much time before Mark retrieved the candy he wanted and began to depart from the store. There was not much of a window for Mark and Emma to get home without a scolding from their father for taking too long to get home and complete their chores. As they began to step down onto the dirt road that centered the town there approached Jessie in an apparent struggle with Billy.

“Tell him.” Jessie demanded of Billy.

“You tell him.” Billy reluctantly replied.

“I didn’t overhear what they said. You did. Now tell ‘em.”

Mark interjected. “I’m not one for listening to school gossip. Me and Emma have some chores to go do.”

“It’s not about school, it’s about Emma.” Jessie blurted.

It was at that statement that both Emma and Mark turned their heads at the two classmates.

“What about me?” Emma asked.

“Well....” Billy was hesitant to say.

“Spit it out Billy.” Mark demanded.

“I overheard Sweeney and Eddie chatting about that rich fellow that come down from Chicago. He said he was here for an orphan girl, callin’ her Emma. He said he was her Pa” He stressed the last word as though he had just muttered a curse.

“And I heard something about that fancy man having some sort of court papers or legal documents proving somethin’ or other.” Jessie added.

Mark was taken aback. The faint whispering he had heard about “that girl” was indeed Emma. He was at a loss for an immediate reaction.

Emma looked over Billy with shrewd eyes.

“Lucas is my pa.” She said as though she ended the matter. She turned and tried to mount Blue Boy. “Help me get on, Mark.”

Mark took some time to process her request. The statement Billy had made seemed to have put him into a daze. After getting her atop the horse, he turned to Jessie and Billy.

“I’m going to go ask my Pa.....thanks though.” He said quietly.

Jessie and Billy sent him sympathetic looks as he and Emma rode off towards the ranch.

There were no words between the two on Blue Boy for some time into the trip. The longer Mark thought about it, the more emotional it seemed to make him. He did not know how his pa always seemed to keep a cool manner when a crisis occurred. A thought occurred to him and he began to mutter under his breathe. This is what prompted her to speak up.

“What are you muttering about?” She asked as she turned her face to look at Mark who was seated on Blue Boy behind her.

“I was praying.” Mark said.

“About what?” She asked. It seemed odd to her that her brother would be praying while sitting on a horse and not on Sunday in a church.

“I was praying that everything will be okay. That you will stay my sister.”

“Pa’s is going to make sure everything is alright.” She said. “Right?”

“He will try,” Mark answered, as he knew his father could only do so much. “But he’s only one man.”

Emma stayed quiet for a bit before continuing.

“My ma prayed that she would get better.” She paused. “But she didn’t.”

Mark didn’t know how to answer her sister. He would just be honest.

“My Pa  prayed for my mother to get well too, but she didn’t. But I always figured that when God doesn’t give us what we want, he has plans to give us what we need even if it hurts.”

“So what do we need that our ma’s couldn’t give us?”

“I don’t know, Emma. Maybe each other.”

The conversation fell to silence as the two tromped along the dusty road. Not but the horses clatter and the sound of wind interrupted this silent procession.

After reaching the house they immediately headed to the location of their father. He had been inside the barn working when his two children with heaviness worn on their shoulders came in.

“Pa,” Mark started. “There’s a man in town saying he’s Emma’s father.”

Their attitudes had given him clue to their knowledge of the issue, so Lucas was not too surprised at his statement. He took a breathe before explaining.

“I was hoping you two didn’t have to find out. I’m doing all I can and you knowing won’t do anything but worry you. I--”

“Is it true though?” Mark interrupted. The distress he showed and the glisten in his eyes kept his father addressing the interruption. Emma seemed a bit discomforted by the question herself. Despite her resolute statement when Billy and Jessie a strain of doubt still persisted.

Lucas put down the tool he had been using and turned fully to face the two children. He walked over to Emma and picked her up.

“Show me your hand, Emma.”

She showed her hand before her as he put his hand next to her.

“Do you see our pinkys?” Both Mark and Emma nodded. Their similarities were obvious. “That means you have to be my daughter. Not many people have pinkys like ours.”

Both Mark and Emma let out a silent breath of relief, but a question remained with Mark. He looked at his own hand. He had no bend in his pinky like his father or sister.

“Why don’t I have the same thing, Pa?” He wondered.

“It doesn’t mean you aren’t my son, Mark.” Lucas meant to assure the two children, not to make them more doubtful. “Some children inherit different things from their parents. You have your mother’s hands, that’s all.”

Emma leaned in to hug her father, catching the cue he waved Mark over to join them in their family hug. A distant clatter of a horse quickly making its way to the barn soon became louder and disrupted the hug. Lucas put Emma down and stepped outside to catch sight of the approaching visitor.

Micah and his horse approach both out of breath. He had ridden hard to get to Lucas’ ranch, that sign was not a hopeful one for Lucas. Knowing his business with him Lucas asked Mark and Emma to start on their chores.

“Is this about that man in town?” Mark asked of Micah’s presence.

“Yes, Mark” Lucas replied. He knew Mark would be curious to hear what he had to say as well. “I know you are as concerned about your sister as I am, I will inform you about what’s going on after you finish your chores.”

Knowing this, Mark hurried off after his sister as Micah approached on foot.

“I hope the news isn’t bad.” Lucas said to him.

“It’s more time sensitive than bad.” Micah responded. “I spoke with Traeger. He’s received a wire from the courts in Santa Fe, they’re checking their records to verify Mr. Westman’s papers but its probably going to take a week. I wired the Sheriff in Cook County about Mr. Westman and he sent over some interesting information about him.” Micah pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket and glanced at it. “Looks like Mr. Westman is an employee of a company called Wells Fargo, a banking and express operation based out of San Francisco. He’s in charge of shipping in the railroad hub of Chicago. Apparently, this man is pretty well connected.”

“What does he gain by coming all the way over here and claiming an orphan as his?” Lucas asked in a frustrated tone. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

“I made sure to ask the Sheriff that and he speculated that since Wells Fargo & Company was national, and soon to be an international, company that it wouldn’t be unlikely for them to send an employee over to Oklahoma City. They recently opened a branch in Salt Lake City, they might be looking at one over there.”

“That places him in the area.” Lucas said still at a loss for a connection.

“I had also contacted the Sheriff in Oklahoma City asking about him and he responded that he knew of an employee from Wells Fargo & Company. The only reason why was, he was investigating a murder of John Tegan, a local prospector. Apparently this Mr. Westman had met with the man sometime prior to his death, but the Sheriff couldn’t connect him with anything to hold him let alone convict him, but he had a suspicion.”

Lucas wiped the sweat with his forearm that had been accumulating on his brow after his work in the barn. Even with a clear sight, he could not make out what this all meant. Micah continued.

“This is where it gets a little interesting. Wells Fargo had contracted the prospector to appraise some large plot land outside of Enid, Oklahoma and Mr. Westman was going to receive the appraisal.”

The dots were starting to connect in Lucas’ mind. So he started to speak out loud.

“Emma’s mother worked in Enid. Mr. Westman must have taken a visit to Enid to visit the land that’s when he....interacted with Emma’s mother.”

“Maybe he truly thinks he is her Father.” Micah said hopefully.

“But what has changed now that he never declared his paternity for her before?”

“Emma’s mother has died.” Micah paused. “She must have had something he wanted. I have an odd hunch about that land, the company never ended up buying it and Mr. Westman did not buy it himself which kept the Sheriff from holding him. I’m going to see who it ended up with. Maybe that’ll lead us somewhere.”

Lucas nodded. “So what was the time sensitive part?”
“Mr. Westman is asking to see you.”

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Lucas’s skin radiated with sweat that had built up from the ride over to the saloon. The swinging doors of the saloon sat undisturbed by patrons when he climbed the platform towards the doors. The air was scented by hard work, alcohol, and animal musk giving Lucas no reason for comfort. He check the rifle at his arm, made a part between the doors and walked in.

There was a low hum of chatter among the patrons. His introduction to the room caused no distraction from their revelry. Sweeney, the bartender, noticed his entrance and beckoned him over. He leaned wide armed over the counter and spoke to him in a discreet voice.  

“He’s waiting for you in the back room over there.” He pointed to a door in the back of the saloon. “I thought you two would want a quiet place to talk.”

Lucas nodded in his direction and made his way to the back room. Opening that door, he found Mr. Westman sitting cross legged at a table reading a newspaper. Mr. Westman took notice of Lucas with no mark of emotion, folded his paper, and stood up. Lucas closed the door by the time Mr. Westman had begun speaking.

“I am pleased my message got to you so promptly” He said formally. “I had hope we could finally end this dilemma we have been having.”

“This dilemma is you trying to take my daughter from me.” Lucas said bluntly.

“Ah,” Mr. Westman paused. “Before we start would you like to take a seat so we may discuss this further?”

“I think our conversation is best done on our feet.” Lucas warily said.

“You must understand I was quite enthralled with Emma’s mother’s beauty when I first was with her. I can say I was quite in love.” He said quite plainly. “I had always--

Lucas interrupted him.

“So why did you not marry her?”

“I am a businessman, Mr. McCain. You might understand that a man of my position cannot entertain certain risks by marrying unsuitable ladies. The heart leads one way but the mind another. Besides, why did you not marry her yourself?”
The question caught Lucas by surprise. Seeing the apparent startle Mr. Westman continued.

“When news finally reached me in Chicago I came as quickly as I could to claim the child of my tragic love. Luckily my work sent me on assignment over here, thus you find me here with you.”

“It is a nice notion you are suggestin’ but I am Emma’s father.” Lucas said sternly. “You failed to fend for this child when she was born, so why are you interested in claiming her now?”

“I see you distrust me fully Mr. McCain.” He said calmly as though he was not surprised by the turn in the conversation. “Let me make things more...clear to you.”

He paused.

“I am willing to offer you the sum of 500 dollars for you to lay down your claims to the child.”

Lucas’ face flushed with red color.

“You dare to buy my child from me?” Lucas said with disgust.

“You mistake my meaning. I am a very well to do man. She would have an excellent education and be raised amongst the finest students in all of the United States. The child---”

“The answer is no!”

Mr. Westman raised his hand in feigned defeat.

“I understand your desires very clearly Mr. McCain. We’ll have no more discussion of this. I only ask one more thing of you. To settle our apparent disagreement I ask that we toast. We’ll toast to the health and wellbeing of the child.” Mr. Westman reached for two shots of whiskey sitting at the table.

Lucas was hesitant but reluctantly took the shot thrust into his hands.

“Her name is Emma.” He grittingly said.

“To her health.” Mr. Westman raised his shot glass high and went to take a gulp of the shot but as it was raising, his eyes glanced behind Lucas. Lucas was on edge despite his distracting anger. He knew this was some sort of cue. He dropped the glass and spun around.

Behind stood a man cocking a revolver pointed straight at Lucas. Lucas jumped and rolled to his right and a bullet was fired by the mysterious assassin. Lucas dodge placed him into a knelt position enabling him to fire two rapid shots directly into the chest of the attacker. The man crumpled into the bullets that entered into him. Lucas turned to face Mr. Westman but found a different setting than he expected. Mr. Westman was laying on the floor moaning. Blood was drenching his overcoat. Lucas went over to the dying man and grabbed his collars.

“Why were you trying to take my daughter??” Lucas said in an anger flurry both at this man’s attempted murder and his forced violent action.

Mr. Westman coughed up blood and in a stupor exclaimed: “That damn land wasn’t worth it!” He started racking with convulsions and in a few moments Lucas was holding onto a dead man.

------------


Micah and Lucas made their way to the bank. Mr. Hamilton was there ready to greet them with two security guard standing watch. This meeting was prearranged. It was time for them to open the deposit box that Mr. Westman had opened at the bank. The government had issued a court order to search the property of the now deceased Mr. Westman.

Mr. Hamilton showed them the way into the safe. After opening the door he pulled the deposit box out that was in question. He laid it on a table before the men.

“I hope this box has some answers for us.” Micah stated as Mr. Hamilton opened it.

There inside of it was a stack of papers. Some were telegrams, others Wells Fargo documents but the document of note was a will. Micah drew it out of the stack and laid it on the table. He continued to shuffle through the papers. This document was the will and testament of Lydia Kelly: Emma’s mother. Lucas scanned through the document to the most apparent part. Lydia was willing property to Emma.

“Why would Mr. Westman have this will?” Lucas asked.

“Is this appraisal of the same land?” Micah asked as he pulled some paperwork out of the stack. He compared locations and found that to be true. “I think this is the same land that Mr. Westman hired the prospector to check.”

Micah checked the appraisal and it revealed the name of the murdered prospector, John Tegan. He scanned the paperwork for any important information but that was not hard to find. This land was sitting on a major gold claim. The story was now apparent to Micah.

“Mr. Westman murdered John Tegan after receiving this appraisal of the land. I don’t think he wanted Wells Fargo to buy the land after knowing what it was worth. Somehow he got Lydia Kelly involved in purchasing the land so he wouldn’t get charged with murder. That when he got her to will the land to her child.”

“Why would he not get the land before Lydia died?” Lucas asked.

“He needed time to let things settle so no one would get suspicious and it is likely he was unable to work the land with his current resources. I think he was waiting for a legitimate way to receive the land without seeming as though he wanted it. I believe he figured who would claim a child from a mother in that line of business.

Micah continued.

“I think his plans were halted when he found out that this child has been adopted by her actual father. He wasn’t going to win the court case he put against you which is why he attempted to have you killed. With you out of the way, Emma was his to claim again and the land would be his for the taking.”

“I’m glad things went another way for many reasons.” Lucas stated.

“My question to you is what are you going to do with the land?” Micah asked Lucas. “I’m not so sure you’ll be able to keep it once I report my findings to the Sheriff in Oklahoma City.”

“I think I know who I should ask that question.”

Lucas stepped outside of the bank. It had been about the time when Mark and Emma were to arrive from school. They were taking their normal route home with a small stop at Hattie’s store. Lucas called over to Emma. She came over and gave him a hug. Mark followed after her and came to his father. Lucas picked up Emma in one hand and put his arm around Mark.

“Emma, I have a question for you.”

“What, Pa?” Emma asked smiling.

“Your mother left you some land that some guys tried to kill me for. It’s a long story but we really can’t keep the land but I wanted to let you choose who we can give the land too since its really yours. I was thinking you could--”

“I want to give it to the orphanage.” She said quickly.

Lucas smiled. “I was thinking the same thing.” He kissed her on the cheek and ruffled Mark’s hair as they began walking their way into Hattie’s store.

These stories are based on the TV series The Rifleman
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