The Rifleman
Welcome to The Writer's Corner
Fan Fiction

The Battle Within A Young Gun
Written by Frank Charles aka weinerdawgy

Chapter Seventeen — Christmas Day

Christmas day at the Bard Ranch began with presents around the tree and a great breakfast cooked by Will. Most of the ranch hands were with their families, but two of them joined in the celebration. Will gave Ann a hand tooled leather purse with a shoulder strap that he made while working in the tack room. He also made a billfold and a new belt for Sam. He was frequently noticing how Sam’s old belt was about to rip apart. The only thing he didn’t make was the buckle which he bought in town. On the gold plate in the middle of the buckle he had engraved two words, “Thanks Dad!”

As Will handed the purse to Ann he motioned for her to look inside. She found a small box with a ribbon around it. Her heart fluttered as she took it out while the others looked on with great interest.

“Oh Will, you didn’t!”

“Oh yes I did! Go on, open it!”

Her hands trembled as she revealed the golden ring with a sparkling diamond catching everyone’s eye. “This makes me the happiest woman in the entire world!”
“Now read the engraving on the inside.”

“It says, “Spirit Of Love Forever”, I don’t know what to say. But I think I know what comes next!” Ann hugged Will and kissed him with enthusiasm. As she stepped back, she had tears in her eyes. “I want everyone to know how much I love this man!”

Will got down on his knee and held her hand. “We don’t have to announce it any further than this room for now, but Ann Bard, will you marry me?”

“Will Fulton, you know I will. Now kiss me again!”

Sam and the two men clapped and gave a big cheer. Soon, a round of whiskey was had by the men and a promise to keep this to themselves was made by all.
After the gifts were opened, it was off to church for a special sermon and lunch, which Ann prepared several dishes for. It was difficult for her to concentrate on the matters at hand with the excitement over Will’s proposal. Sam, Will, and the others sat at a table talking and laughing while Ann worked to serve the food. She was delighted by the proposal and thankful that her father got to see it happen. But it gave her a little more emotion than she was ready for and it made her seem nervous among her friends at church. She put the ring away at home before they left and Will agreed it would be best if she didn’t wear it until they were ready to make an announcement. Ann’s friend, Julie, could sense something was distracting her as they stood next to each other at a table.

“Ann, I have to ask what is bothering you, I can tell something isn’t right.”

“Nothing really, it has been a long and busy Christmas, so much has happened this year. I guess maybe I’m tired.”

“I know you better than that, you can tell me if there is something wrong. How are things going with Will, he better be treating you proper!”

“Proper! You have no way of knowing just how proper he is! You get that notion out of your mind right this instant!” Ann became flustered then realized that she better calm down.

Okay, okay, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean anything by that, it just occurs to me that is about the only thing that would rattle you. I do hope nothing is wrong.”

All I can tell you is that Will is not a problem. Maybe I am, I don’t know.” Ann looked away to see if anyone else was paying attention to them. “Look, if you really want to know, I’ll tell you, let’s take a break and walk over by the horses.” They found some others to help out with the food and took a walk. “Now look Julie, I can’t afford to let rumors start about Will and I. We have a problem, but it is not between us.”

“I understand, I bet it’s that jerk Donaldson, isn’t it”

“I wish he didn’t exist. I keep running into him around town and he looks at me as if I am cheating on him or something. His eyes peer right through me. Then I hear from others about how much he is drinking and sulking, making rotten comments about Will. Why can’t I be free from this, Will doesn’t deserve his jealousy. All I want to do is go away sometimes. It unnerves me so much to think what could happen if he causes Will to have to defend himself. He could go back to prison.” Ann began to cry and Julie held her close.

“I understand completely. Most of us know what is going on as it is. Rumors are the least of your worries. What we have to do is keep a close watch on Jack and make sure he can’t get near you or Will without our knowing about it.”

“I would appreciate that Julie, you are such a good friend.”

“I’ll talk with some of our close friends and we can form a system to keep a watch. We can get Sweeney to let us know if he hears anything at the saloon also. It’s not right that Jack can do this. We should let the marshal know about it too. From now on, you come get me when you want to go to town, I’ll be with you any time you want.”

“I’m so sorry, I don’t want to ask you to do that, but I guess we have no choice. I’ll keep my visits to town at a minimum for now, we can have some fun together when we do go. Oh thank you Julie, I’ll make this up to you somehow.”

“Don’t worry about it, what are friends for? Us girls have to stick together. Have you spoken to Will about this?”

“Of course, but he doesn’t know how much it bothers me and that Jack is getting worse. Will would love to get his hands on him, but I don’t ever want that to happen. His freedom means more to me than anything. That man has known more sorrow and paid so much for his crimes, oh it makes me so mad to think that idiot would do this to us!”

Alright, you get mad and I’ll be mad right along with you! We’ll beat this thing, you just wait and see. Let’s get back over there before we are noticed.” Julie and Ann gave some attention to the horses to calm themselves down, then wandered back to the tables.

The rest of the church function was delightful and they all went home to Christmas dinners and a warm fire.

Christmas at the Bedford Ranch was a much different scene. There were more family members and gifts to be exchanged. Dillon and Ruth made a point of treating their sons equally and they both got along very well. They were close in age, Kyle fifteen and Andrew seventeen. It was time for them to receive gifts of a mature quality rather than toys. Ranch work was becoming a bigger part of their lives, especially for Andrew, so Dillon bought them blue jeans, shirts, boots, and gear for their horses. Andrew was going to a new school and he had to ride further to get there, he was happy with the gifts to make it easier on his horse and to look better when he got there. Ruth made a large batch of cookies and candies to stuff the stockings. She baked two large turkeys with all the trimmings along with a nice ham.

Lucas brought along some very special gifts. For his nephews, solid silver pocket watches with an engraving on the inside cover that read, “Courage, Truth, and Love Keep A Man On Time, Uncle Lucas”. Dillon was very impressed by this as he watched his sons go wild when they opened the boxes. Mark sat across the room with wide eyes at the sight of the exuberant cousins. Lucas gave Dillon a custom made Bowie knife in a leather sheath made by Will. To Ruth he gave a diamond and gold pendant on a gold chain. They hugged as Ruth fought back the tears, both of them missed each other for so long. Next came Micah, who was not easy to buy a gift for. While he was in Yuma, Lucas was walking in town with Simon one day as they passed by a gift shop. He looked in the window and saw a very nice gold and silver plated checkers set in a hardwood box. A matching board was part of the deal, so he had it shipped back to North Fork. Micah was very pleased but had to comment that after so many years of playing with the old familiar set they were like an old friend. Lucas told him that he didn’t mind if they continued to wage war on the same battlefield most of the time. Finally, Lucas turned to Mark and motioned towards the tree where a large box sat waiting for him. Inside was a top quality Stetson hat, just the style that his father knew he wanted for so long. As Mark put it on he looked further into the box where a smaller package was hiding. It was a solid gold wrist watch. On the reverse was engraved, “To My Brave Son, You Are The Only One”. Mark shed a few tears as he looked at the shinny gift then ran over to hug his paw. The Stetson fell off his head so Micah reached over and picked it up. Mark broke free of the hug to retrieve a box he had ready for his father. Lucas was delighted with a fancy new Western style dress shirt with the image of a horse embroidered onto the back along with the name “RAZOR“ in large letters underneath. Ruth had to admit that she did the artwork. Along with the shirt was a lanyard with a turquoise and silver pendant. The gift giving went on for a long time. This was the finest Christmas any of them could recall. Near the end, just before dinner was ready, Ruth proclaimed that the greatest gift of all was that they were all together for the first time in over ten years. Lucas opened two bottles of wine and poured everyone a glass.

“I want to propose a toast!” Lucas tapped a glass with the handle of a spoon. It took a few moments for everyone to get their glass. “To the greatest family reunion of all time, to my loving sister, Ruth, who brightens every day. To Dillon and his handsome sons, to Micah my dearest friend, and to my brilliant young man, Mark, may this occasion be an inspiration to honor the love we share and the sacrifices we make so that we might better this world for those that follow and give thanks to the ones that show us the way.”

“That about says it all Lucas, my man!” Micah added with a huge smile. “I just want to say that it has done my heart so much good to be with you fine people on this wonderful Christmas. I really do feel as if I am family, Thanks to you all!”
“Thank you for coming Micah, we have enjoyed your company so much, my boys love your stories and you are very much a reflection of what we know is great in Lucas. You are welcome here any time.” Dillon raised his glass once more as they all sat down to dinner.

Ruth brought out the first turkey and the ham. She asked everyone to join hands as she offered a prayer of grace for the bountiful meal and the long awaited reunion. In two blinks of an eye, the first turkey made it’s way around the table and was gone. The food was so good and everybody starved themselves in anticipation of the feast. Ruth kept herself busy keeping the table stocked with goodies and watching the smiling faces as the conversation went on. She wanted to take in every moment and save it in her memory. She was so happy to finally spend some time with Lucas. Once the pace of the meal settled down, she was able to sit and join in the talk.

“Tell me something Lucas, what is the happiest memory you have from your time living in North Fork?”

“Now that’s an interesting question sister. I have to think about that for a moment. I would have to say that Mark and I made it through some pretty close calls over the years. I was always happy to have him back in my arms once the trouble was over. I have been able to help a good many of my neighbors and friends, that is always a good thing. But I think the best time of them all was when Mark and I first realized that North Fork was going to be our new home. We read that for sale sign and somehow we just knew it was going to be ours. What do you think Mark?”

“I would have to say about the same thing Pa. I can think back on so many occasions and it always stands out to me, when you signed the papers and we finally knew it was ours, that ranch has to be the happiest thing in our lives. I’m glad to call it home.”

“There you have the answer Ruth, no matter what we do in this life, home is where the heart is. I hope you guys can visit our ranch one day. That would make me happy.”

Ruth smiled as she got just what she wanted out of her brother. “I love how you said that. Home is the sweetest place indeed. We certainly think so. Dillon and I were just talking about how it would be nice to travel out your way someday soon. Maybe once the summer comes around.”

“I think that is a wonderful idea, we’ll have to see how things go in the near future, but as soon as you find some time, let me know and we’ll plan something special for the occasion. And I think Mark might just be able to guess what that occasion may be.” Lucas looked over at Mark and then Micah.

“Don’t look at me Lucas, what’s on your mind?” Micah didn’t quite know what Lucas might be referring to.

“You mean maybe Will and Ann might have wedding plans? That would be swell, wouldn’t it Pa?”

“Sure would, but that all depends on what they want to do. I just know that Will might be up to something while I am away. He let me know that he planned to ask her over the holiday. But we can’t let on that we know about it until they want to make a formal announcement. So no rumors, everyone here promise?”

The question was eagerly answered Yes by all. Mark was already looking forward to going home for part of the summer, now he had a lot to wonder about. The partnership with the Bards, his father taking part in the shooting demonstrations, and now a possible wedding to plan.

Battle Within A Young Gun - Chapter 18 — Goodbye Again!

This is a story based on the TV series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!

The Writer's Corner
Table of Contents

Site Map
around The McCain Ranch