The Writer's Corner
The Battle Within A Young Gun
Written by Frank Charles aka weinerdawgy
Chapter Five —
Lucas and Will went to work improving the ranch, one fencepost
at a time. The fencing was in need of much repair throughout the
pastures. The larger herd became more of a task than Lucas could
manage on his own. The help Lucas was getting before Will came
along was not enough to keep things in order. Mark tried to be
of some use, but getting ready to leave for school took a lot of
his time. Sam gave Lucas some help from his men, but he had
plenty of work for them as well. Together they spent the rest of
the summer tending to the cattle on both ranches, getting them
ready for market.
Will settled into his new life and was very thankful for his
many blessings. At first, it was difficult to get used to
receiving so much in a short time, but it made him feel even
better to work hard for others. He was now reunited with his
horse and was learning the farrier’s art at the Bard Ranch. Ann
taught him some finer points at riding skills which gave them
many hours of joy together. It seemed that most of the life he
had lost was returning to him. As had been the case for along
time, staying busy kept his mind off of the tragic past.
Ann came by the house often and gave things inside the help only
a woman could. She made new curtains, cleaned the bed clothes
often, planted flowers and put some on the window sills. She
dusted the furniture, and of course, provided well prepared
meals. She even leant a hand at shoveling out the stalls and
working the horses. This kept Will happy as most days he was so
tired after working with Lucas that he didn’t have the energy to
ride the three miles to the Bard Ranch. But Lucas made sure
there was a good amount of time by the weekends for the two to
be together. He tried to go with him on most occasions, which is
what he promised Sam he would do. Besides, Lucas liked Ann’s
cooking as much as Will did. Lucas was very happy with the way
his plan was working out. He missed Mark very much though and
was looking forward to his letters. The first one came as he
predicted, but was brief and told only of his getting settled
and meeting family. The school year had yet to begin.
Sam was happy to have Lucas’ ear more often as he enjoyed
telling his Civil War stories. He spent as much time trying to
get Lucas to talk of his days in the war. Lucas didn’t always
want to speak on those times, but he trusted Sam and they
related well. Both men had their share of killing and sadness.
Will learned a whole bunch about his new found big brother when
he found the time to sit in on these conversations. Sometimes
Ann was busy with her horses and training sessions, which
afforded him time to tell of his experiences with Hank and being
behind bars. It was important for them to talk about these
things. It was Sam’s right to know what was in Will’s past. When
he learned of the terrible way his family lost their farm and
that his parents were killed Sam began to understand why he
first chose to break the law. It was helpful for Will to gain
acceptance and get some of his feelings out in the open. Sam was
beginning to relax over his fears about Will, and soon, the
three men trusted each other enough to be family.
Eventually, the time came for Will and Ann to spend some time in
town by themselves. There was one last dance before the end of
the fall season, Lucas happened to be very busy making
preparations to take most of the cattle to market. The corn feed
was about to run out and it was becoming time to sell them or
winter them over until next year. Lucas spent a lot of money
getting them ready and outfitting his ranch hand, so it was time
to do some business. Sam had similar matters to attend to.
The Saturday of the dance came and Will was determined to make
everybody proud and show them he could be trusted. He rode over
in the buckboard and escorted the well gussied up Ann into North
Fork. The streets were crowded, the dance was one of the biggest
events of the year. Ann saw many of her friends as they made
their way down the main street toward the stables. Will didn’t
know very many people yet. His visits in town were usually
limited to helping Lucas load the wagon with supplies, but they
did have a meal at the California House once in a while. Will
was a bit nervous as he realized just how popular Ann was. Of
course, she knew almost everyone for miles around. This is where
she grew up, took part in riding competitions, and her
involvement in church and town matters made her very well known.
She was excited about this evening and her glow was all over
Once they walked inside the dancehall, they were surrounded by
well wishers and friends. There was close to an hour before the
music would start. The time flew while Ann chatted and made
introductions. Will felt somewhat out of place. Ann held his
hand firm and did her best to involve him in the conversation.
But, it was only a matter of time until somebody brought up the
fact that Will had been in prison. This came in the form of one
Jack Donaldson, a local son of a ranch owner, who fancied Ann
since grade school.
“Well, if it isn’t Ann Bard, and who is this fine gentleman, or
should I say convict!”
Ann anticipated this happening, but at the moment she found
herself unable to reply, a scowl came over her face and she
sought to drag Will away to the other side of the room. Will
resisted and had to reply. “You’ll do well to mind your manners
around the ladies mister. If you have a problem with me we can
settle it another time.”
“My only problem is that Ann is too good for you convict. Why
don’t you find some place to hide out and let us town folk enjoy
the dance?” Jack braced himself for what he hoped would be a
lunge from Will.
Will would have obliged him except that the lectures from Lucas
were still fresh on his mind. “I don’t have time to breathe the
same air as you cowpoke. If you want a piece of me you’ll be
sorry. Ann doesn’t deserve to have this evening ruined by you.
Now mosey on and rejoin the herd!”
Most of the bystanders began to laugh and Jack figured he better
save what face he had left for a better time. “Alright convict,
we’ll meet again one day and there won’t be a herd around to
protect you.” Jack walked angrily past the imposing character
standing next to Ann and out into the night air.
This brought on more chuckles and eased Will’s acceptance. Most
of the town folk were weary over Donaldson’s bad attitudes as
long as they could remember. Will also learned a very important
lesson. Trust in the Lord and The Rifleman!
The dance was a magical time, filled with fiddles, food, and
drink. Will found a new confidence among the people of North
Fork. Ann gazed upon him with beaming pride. It didn’t happen
often at these affairs, but several of Ann’s best girlfriends
cut in to have their chance to dance with Will. This gave Ann
some time to rest and brag about her man on the side. When the
evening finally wound down and the popular couple took their
leave, Jack Donaldson could be seen across the street in front
of the saloon, being held up by one of the wooden posts.
“Hey convict!” Jack bellered out. “I’ll be seeing you. Don’t
wander too far off of the range or I might have to round you up,
doggie style!” Jack laughed long and hard as only a whiskey
soaked forlorn rancher can.
This time, Will held himself speechless and didn’t even look
over at him. It was Ann that had something to say. “I’ll never
speak to you again Jack, you have no right to be mean to Will.
He is more of a man than you will ever be. Now go home and sleep
it off before I really get mad. You know what happens when I get
mad, don’t you?”
“Ah, back off woman, this is a man thing, and I can see your man
has nothing left to say to me, must be shaking in his boots,
letting a woman do the talking.” Jack flopped himself over to
the next post and almost fell.
“You’ll fall much further than that if I ever hear another word
out of you Jack. Your turn will come, and when it does, you
won’t be the one to walk away!” Just then, Ann felt a jerk as
Will hurried her on towards the stables.
“Now, don’t antagonize him further, I can handle idiots like
“I bet you can Will. Let’s get home, I’m very tired.”
The wagon rolled quickly past Jack and out of town. Will didn’t
say anything for a long time. Ann was doing her best not to fall
asleep sitting up.
“That was strong punch tonight, Jack obviously had too much
before we even got there. I pray there won’t be anymore
“I don’t have time for that stuff. I have to keep myself on the
straight and narrow or I go back to the big house. I’ve said my
prayers, and Lucas was the answer.”
“I think everyone in North Fork knows just what kind of man
William Fulton is. And they also know what kind of indignant
fool Jack Donaldson is. You’ll be alright, just keep your faith
and know we all love you.” Ann put her arm around Will and
hugged him tight. “You’ll always be my man Will, you can trust
in that, I love you.”
“I love you Ann. You’re everything to me. I don’t care what
anyone else thinks. You can trust in that. Will gave the horses
a little goose with the reins and the lovers sped off into the
night, back to rancher’s heaven.
Battle Within A Young Gun - Chapter 6 — Rails and
This is a story based on the TV
series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
around The McCain Ranch