The Writer's Corner
A Bring Milly Back Production
By Michelle Palmer
Chapter 9: Adventure
“Oh, where is that train?” Milly rung her hands nervously as she
again paced back and forth. She turned and looked at Lucas.
“Suppose it broke down on the tracks and…”
Lucas grabbed her by the arms and stopped her. “Now it’s going
to be here, Milly! Trains are like stage coaches…they never
arrive on time!”
“Mine did!” Milly declared with a stubborn nod of her head.
“Well, if I had known you were coming and was here waiting, I
guarantee you it wouldn’t have arrived on time!” Lucas said as
he touched the tip of her chin and smiled at her.
“Oh Lucas! I declare I’ve got my work cut out for me!” She
shook her head. Then turned and shaded her eyes as she looked
down the track. “Oh, where IS that train?”
“Calm down, honey!” Lucas said again.
“Oh, I want you to like Mother! I’m just so nervous!” Milly
shook her head.
“If she’s anything like you, I’ll love her!” Lucas assured her.
He was nervous himself, but he wasn’t going to let Milly know
that. Someone had to be strong.
Milly peered down the tracks again. Suddenly, they heard a
train whistle in the distance. “Lucas, it’s coming! It’s
coming!” She jumped up and down, suddenly excited. Lucas
laughed. They watched as the train came to a stop and the doors
opened. Lucas took her arm to keep them from getting separated
in the crowd. Then he led her down the boardwalk in search of
their loved ones.
“Lucas!” Micah hollered. Lucas turned to see Micah, Mark, and
an older lady coming toward them. Milly ran ahead with a squeal
and threw her arms around her mother. Lucas hurried forward and
“Were you good, son?” Lucas asked as he held him at arm’s length
and looked him up and down. Secretly, he was making sure he
still had everything intact. He looked like he was none the
worse and Lucas wondered if that should make him happy or sad.
“He was a perfect gentleman, Lucas. You would be proud,” Micah
declared with a grin. “In fact, I think Mark could handle the
trip back to Kansas City all by himself.”
“Not on your life!” Lucas declared as he warned at his best
“Lucas!” Milly turned and looked for her intended. “Lucas
Lucas hurried forward. He stood in front of a woman that was an
older replica of Milly. Her hair, eyes and skin were the same
color. She held the same smile on her face. The only
difference was that she had more gray in her hair than black.
Milly grabbed his hand. “Mother, I want you to meet…”
“Lucas!” Mrs. Scott threw her arms around Lucas and hugged him.
She then held him at arm’s length and looked him up and down.
“Well Milly, you are right! He is tall, strong, and rugged!
He’s also very handsome!” She smiled as she turned and winked
at her daughter.
Lucas laughed. “Man can’t handle too many compliments, ma’am,”
he said as he tipped his hat to her.
“Please…call me Jenny,” Milly’s mother said.
“Okay, but…” Lucas raised his eyebrows at her. “I’d rather call
Milly smiled. Lucas’s words warmed her heart, and they did the
same for Jenny. Milly turned and looked at Lucas then. She
gasped at what she saw. Softly, she nudged him as she continued
smiling at her mother. Lucas didn’t pay any attention. She
nudged him even harder. Lucas grunted and turned to her. Milly's
eyes motioned toward his hat. “Oh!” Lucas took it off and
nervously held it in his hands.
Jenny laughed. “Well…perhaps you’ll train him yet, dear.” She
again winked at her daughter “Took quite a few years for me to
train my own husband, but I think he turned out quite well,
don’t you dear?”
Milly just smiled nervously at Lucas. “Well, you must be
starving! Lou Mallory has a big breakfast waiting for you at
The group made their way over to the hotel. They talked
heartily as they ate breakfast. Afterwards, Lucas informed
Micah that he had a prisoner waiting for him at his office.
“You can read the report on your desk, Micah. And the next
time you want me to sit deputy for you…” Lucas started.
“This was all your idea, Lucas Boy!” Micah reminded him.
“Remember, you wanted to spend some alone time with Milly?”
“Alone time, huh?” Lucas shook his head. “I don’t think we had
five minutes alone the whole time you were gone!”
Lou had just come back over to the table. She bent over to
gather some of the empty dishes when her eyes met Lucas’. She
grinned mischievously at him. “Would you…uh…like to change that
statement?” Lou asked with a mischievous grin. “In my country,
lying was a sin. And I do remember a certain young man getting
his mouth washed out with lye soap for lying. Like my dearly
departed father used to say…”
Lucas groaned. “Okay…maybe we did have a few occasions to be
Lou bent down to Micah’s ear and whispered something to him.
Lucas raised an eyebrow as an impish grin spread across Micah’s
face. “Oh really?” He frowned at Lucas. “Lucas Boy, I think
later you and I should have a little talk.”
“It was purely innocent, Micah!” Lucas declared.
“What?” Micah asked.
“Well…” Lucas rolled his eyes. “Whatever it is ‘Miss Mallory’
“Miss Lou, could you tell me?” Mark asked excitedly.
Lou opened her mouth. Lucas pointed a finger at her. “Don’t
even think about it!”
“Hey Pa, what happened to your head? Did Milly do that?” Mark
asked when he saw the gash on his father’s head.
“Mark McCain!” Milly gave him a look. “I certainly did not!”
“Oh.” Mark thought on it. Then he gasped. “Oh! Then the
prisoner you have in Micah’s jail tried to knock you out?”
“No. I’m afraid he was attacked by a…” Milly choked on her
laughter. “By a copper kettle!” She and Lou burst out into
Lucas glared at them. “I told you not to ever mention that
“I’m sorry.” Milly put a hand to her mouth. “I’ll…try not to…”
She turned to her mother. “You should have seen him, Mother!
While I cleaned that little cut, he moaned and groaned like it
was a death wound! This man has been shot and left for dead
many times, forced to endure painful circumstances…yet a little
bitty flesh wound and…”
“Mildred Scott!” her mother warned. “You stop teasing that
young man this instant!”
“Young?” Mark repeated with a question. Lucas kicked him under
Gee! He’d only been back an hour and he was already in trouble!
He’d been yelled at by both Milly and his father. He sure was
off to a bumpy start. After the kick, he should have known
better, but he had an inquiring sort of mind. “Who threw a
copper kettle at you, Pa?”
Lucas turned and looked at his son. “Never mind, Mark!”
“Milly?” Mark turned toward his future mother.
“Um…” Milly put a hand to her mouth. “I think you should listen
to your father. There will be time for us to talk…later.”
Finally, Lucas stood up from the table. “Well, we should get
going son. We have a lot of work waiting at the ranch.” He
turned toward Jenny. Bending over, he kissed her cheek. “We’ll
see you soon, Mother.”
Jenny smiled at the sound of that from his lips. Her smile told
Lucas she very much approved.
Milly gasped as she stood up. “Oh Mark, I need to talk to you
for a minute!” She grabbed Mark by the hand and dragged him
into the kitchen. “Excuse us!”
Lucas turned and looked at the others. They all shrugged. He
waited several moments before the door opened and Mark walked
out. He had a big smile on his face. He grabbed his hat from
the table. “Well, come on Pa! You just said there’s a lot of
After the men left, Lou left Milly and her mother alone to talk.
As soon as Lou left the room, Milly turned her shining face
toward her mother. “So, what do you think, mother?” Milly asked
as a prideful smile lit her whole face.
Jenny laid a hand on Milly’s shoulder. “I think he’s simply
darling!” She declared. “I can see why you fell in love with
him.” She took Milly’s hands. “You two are going to be very
“I know…” But then Milly’s smile faded. She threw her hands to
her face and burst into tears. “Oh mother…I don’t
know…what’s…what’s wrong with me!”
Jenny stood up. She pulled her daughter from the chair. “Come
on. You need a good cry, darling!” She led Milly toward the
A man stood in the lobby checking into the hotel. “What’s wrong
“She’s getting married,” Lou answered with a smile.
“Shouldn’t she be happy?” the man asked.
“Then why is she crying?” It was obvious the man was confused.
Lou smiled as she looked up the stairs. “She’s a woman.”
Mark untied his tie and threw it down on the floorboard. Then
he removed his jacket. “I sure DID hate wearing that thing!
Most uncomfortable feeling in the world, Pa!” Lucas smiled at
his son. “So how was your week without me?”
“It’ll be a long time before I agree to sit in for Micah again,
son,” Lucas answered.
“I bet you missed me.”
Lucas smiled as he turned and looked at his son. “I certainly
did!” His smile turned mischievous. “I had to pay someone to
do our chores while you were gone. You certainly WERE missed!”
“Oh Pa!” Mark glanced sideways at his Pa then. “Uh…Pa?”
“Uh…ain’t ya gonna ask me?” Mark asked excitedly.
“Ask you what?” Lucas turned and saw his son raise his
eyebrows. “Oh.” Lucas cleared his throat and braced himself
for a long discussion. “So, how was your trip?”
“Oh gee Pa, I didn’t think you would ever ask!” Mark declared.
“Well, we traveled on the train for two days! I got up and
walked the length of the car several times, but I tell ya…it
sure is a lot more comfortable riding a train then a stagecoach
any day! And I wasn’t lonely! Not at all!”
“Oh?” Lucas raised an eyebrow.
“Well Pa, as soon as the train left the station, I looked across
from me and…” Mark scooted forward in his seat and leaned over
toward his Pa. “Pa…there was a GIRL!” Lucas raised an eyebrow.
“I mean…a lady!” Mark shook his head. “She was the prettiest
little…” Mark stopped.
The horses jerked to a stop. “Prettiest little…what?” Lucas
asked as he stared at his teenage son.
“Oh…uh…uh…I mean she was the prettiest lady I’d ever seen on a
train!” Lucas lifted an eyebrow suspiciously as he stared at
Mark. Mark turned away from him and scooted back in his seat.
“Anyhow, Pa…I told her my name and…and she told me hers, July…”
Mark said dreamingly.
“Oh…” Mark turned back to look at his father again. “Her name
“Never heard a girl called that before!” Lucas shook his head.
“Knew an August once, but never a July.”
“Well…there’s an April, May, and June; so why not a July?” Mark
cleared his throat. “Anyhow, she was born on a hot July day so
her mother called her…” Mark smiled again as he looked skyward.
“…July.” He sighed. “She lives in Kansas City. She traveled
to Santa Fe to visit her grandmother…said she may move there
when she turns 16. I told her if she did I’d come visit her.
Anyway, she and I talked all the way to Kansas City. Micah
finally stopped our yapping late Saturday night and said he
wanted to sleep. Then the next morning I bought her a couple
boiled eggs and she smiled really sweet at me…”
Mark’s voice drifted off as he thought about her. Lucas saw
stars in his son’s eyes. He raised his eyebrows. “What about
Mark blinked, suddenly coming back to the land of reality.
“Yeah.” Lucas nodded. “Remember the young lady you wanted so
badly to take to the dance a few months back? The one you bent
over backwards to please after she twisted her ankle?”
“Oh! Lucille!” Mark shook his head. “She defiantly was
nothing like Lucille. She’s 15 years old, raven hair that was
pulled back in a fancy bow and teeth as white as...sheep…”
“Sheep?” Lucas raised his eyebrows.
Mark grinned. “Well…Sunday morning, I figured you’d want me to
spend a little time in the Bible, so July and I read Song of
Solomon…You know…the love story? He said his lover’s teeth were
as white as sheep.”
“Oh.” Lucas rolled his eyes as they pulled into the yard. “Did
you…see her anymore?”
“No.” Mark groaned. “I met her folks and they said she’d be
way too busy to see me. Micah told me the same thing then he
dragged me away. I didn’t even get to…” Again, Mark allowed his
voice to die off.
Lucas froze in his tracks as he started for the house. He
slowly turned around to stare at his son. “You didn’t even get
to…what?” Lucas asked worriedly.
“Huh?” Mark again came back to reality.
“You didn’t even get to…?”
“Oh.” Mark suddenly looked very uncomfortable. “Uh…” He
folded his arms and averted his eyes elsewhere. “Say goodbye…”
He coughed into his hand. “Gee Pa, I better get the team
Lucas watched his son hurry toward the barn as he shook his
head. Since Mark was his son, he could pretty much fill in that
blank; but Lucas was very glad Mark hadn’t because he still held
some hope that the last words to that sentence was indeed “say
Lucas raised an eyebrow at Mark later that day as he watched
Mark devour the whole sandwich and reach out to fix another.
“What about when you were IN Kansas City, son?’
“Oh…” Mark suddenly stopped spreading jelly on his bread and
looked up as his eyes grew wide. “OH!” He leaned forward
excitedly. “Pa, you wouldn’t BELIEVE this place! It is HUGE!
There are so many people! Why, the train station alone was
probably two…three times the size of North Fork’s. And the
people…” Mark shook his head. “Tain’t nothing like it in the
West!” Mark went back to spreading his jelly. Then he looked up
at his father again. “Instead of walking down a dirt street
like normal, they have hard rock streets…cement…Outside the
train station, Pa, there were these men all dressed in black
with carriages. They took us to the address of Grandma
Jenny….Oh…” Mark smiled into his father’s eyes. “That’s what
she told me to call her. Anyway, they called them
uh…uh…taxies.” Mark shook his head. “It sure was something!”
“Then you met Grandma Jenny?” Lucas asked.
“Oh no! Pa, we had to start and stop! When we got to certain
places in the road, there were police officers…those are like
deputies here in the West…that would only let certain people go.
There were so many horses and wagons and such that were trying
to drive! Then when we got to the Scott’s house…Oh Pa!”
Lucas couldn’t help but laugh as his son’s eyes grew wide. “It
sure must be something!” Lucas declared. “Your eyes are about
to pop right now!”
“Oh, it was!” Mark sat his sandwich down and turned toward his
Pa. “Their house was huge, Pa! Grandma Jenny has a parlor and
a great big dining room separate from the kitchen. When we
walked inside, we came into a foyer where she made us take off
our boots. Then we didn’t walk on hard floor, but on carpet!
We each got our own bedroom for the night. I got to sleep in
Ted’s bedroom. Grandma Jenny said nobody had slept there since
Ted left for the war. The room still had a bunch of his boyhood
toys. It even had a bow and arrow set, old magazines, AND
books! Grandma Jenny said Ted loved to read!” Mark gasped.
“Why, she even told me I could take some of the old magazines
“You didn’t!” Lucas gasped.
“No sir! I told her they were Ted’s, and I didn’t feel right in
“Good boy.” Lucas grinned proudly.
“Grandma Jenny sure did feed us good! I tasted beef like I’d
never tasted it before!” Mark gasped again. “Oh, and she has a
telephone, Pa! She let me talk on it! She called a friend that
lives all the way in Chicago.” Mark bent over even further
toward his father. “Chicago, Pa! I heard his voice! He TALKED
to me! His voice came out of a little earpiece that hung on the
wall. And I talked into another piece that was connected to
this box on the wall. The man told me his name and where he
lived and I just about fainted dead away! I talked to him, Pa!
I really talked to him!”
Lucas put his elbow on the table and sat his head in his hand.
His head was spinning as Mark talked a mile a minute. “Mark?”
Mark stopped suddenly and looked at his father. “Uh….Did you
notice the room was built?”
“Well golly gee, Pa!” Mark opened the door to the bedroom and
looked inside. “This is fancy, Pa!” Mark declared. “You got
this done this week?”
“No, son…our neighbors worked on it while I was stuck in town.”
“Oh.” Mark took his dishes to the sink. “Running water…” he
Mark ran over to his father who was now sitting at his desk
looking for some papers. “Pa, they have running water! You
just turn a knob and water comes out! You don’t have to pump
from a well! AND…” Mark bent down on the desk in front of his
father. “Their outhouses are INDOORS!” Mark’s eyes grew wide.
“Grandma Jenny said they’re called…water closets! When you’re
done, you just pull a little cord and…”
“Mark.” Lucas sighed. “Son, I’m glad you had fun, but there’s
a lot of work to do. Will you go swap out the barn?”
Mark stood up. “Oh.” He dug his hands in his pockets. “Can I
finish telling you about Kansas City?”
Lucas sighed and motioned toward the door. He followed Mark to
the barn. As they worked together on clearing out the dirty
straw and manure, Mark continued on. “The next
day…Monday…Grandma Jenny took us to explore Kansas City.” Mark
stopped his work and came over to stand by his father. “Pa, do
you know that they have stores that have only food? They have
bakeries that only sell breads and even book stores!” Mark
gasped. “She took us to a library! Pa, I’ve never ever seen so
many books in one place! I thought Mr. Bullock had a lot of
books, but this library… I just stared at the shelves, could
hardly believe everything I was seeing! It was AMAZING!” Mark
suddenly gasped and reached in his pocket. “Oh! And look!” He
held up something wrapped in paper. He unwrapped it and stuck
it in his mouth. “It’s gum! You just chew it and it tastes
good. You can’t swallow it though. So when you’re done, you
just spit it out.”
Lucas raised his eyebrow. “What’s the sense in putting it in
your mouth if you can’t eat it?”
“Well, it’s…it just tastes good, Pa!” Mark exclaimed.
Lucas shook his head. “Sounds like a cow chewing it’s cud.”
“Oh Pa!” Mark rolled his eyes then started talking again.
Lucas turned and looked at his son. He enjoyed seeing the
excitement and adventure in his eyes. Mark smiled as he
remembered something else. “On Tuesday, Grandma Jenny took us
to the zoo. It’s the same zoo that Johnny Drako told me he
visited. Anyhow, it had amazing animals there! They had
elephants and…and…” Mark’s eyes widened. “Even a lion!”
Lucas jerked his head up. “A…A lion?” Mark nodded. “No
kidding? A real live…lion?”
“It was in a cage, Pa!” Mark declared.
Mark shook his head and went back to his work. He was almost
done when he turned and looked at Lucas. “Pa, they have a
college there too.”
Luca’s head suddenly jerked around. Mark wasn’t sure if the
look on his father’s face was good or bad. He looked like he
was suddenly in pain, yet he saw something else. “Mrs. Scott
told me that they teach about agriculture at this school. You
can also take classes to learn all about ranching and…” Mark
licked his lips. He could tell now wasn’t the time to have this
conversation. He quickly turned and went back to work.
It took awhile for everything Mark had said to sink in for
Lucas. Lucas’s head was whirling. “A telephone???” That’s the
only intelligent question he could ask at the moment.
“And radiators!” Mark declared. “They heat your homes. You
don’t even have to have wood!”
Lucas folded his arms and leaned against the barn wall as he
watched his son’s eyes sparkle. Mark started telling him all
about the radiator. Then he started on the electric light bulb
and the horseless carriage his “Grandma Jenny” had shown him.
The excitement gave Lucas a sick feeling way in the pit of his
stomach. He remembered when they had settled in North Fork. He
had started saving money for college. There was even some award
money Lucas had gotten over the years that he’d put directly
into an account. There was a nice little nest egg now in the
bank set aside for the purpose of sending his boy to some sort
of finishing school or college, but now that he could see the
moment standing in front of him, he wasn’t sure if he could go
through with it.
Lucas allowed his mind to wonder back to when Mark was three
years old and he tagged along with his father everywhere he
went. Then he remembered back to when Mark was six and how he
and Margaret fought him to go to school. Over the years, he and
Mark had been so very tight. They could hardly function without
knowing where the other was and now Mark was thinking about
going off to college?
Lucas saw the excitement in his son’s eyes. His son had always
had a sense of adventure, and sending him to Kansas City had
opened up that sense even more. He could see Mark’s wings
spread out wide. He could tell he wanted to leave the nest and
explore that big, wide world out there. It almost broke his
heart. But as a father, he had to do the right thing – even if
that meant letting go.
Lucas turned around and walked out of the barn. He was suddenly
overcome by emotions – emotions that he wasn’t sure he was ready
to explain to himself, much less to Mark. For the time, Mark
was young enough that Lucas wouldn’t have to allow him to fly
away. But once school was over…What would happen? Would Mark
stay and be partners with him in the ranch? Or would Mark do
like he himself did at Mark’s age and announce he was leaving
home to explore a world of adventure.
For Lucas, it had been the Civil War that got him started on his
explorations. Then when he returned home and found his parents
and a good friend gone he had to leave again. It was the years
that followed that gave him the reputation of being wild. What
would happen to his son?
Lucas went to Razor who was grazing in the yard. He patted him.
“I don’t want to lose him, boy.” He looked toward the barn
where Mark was working hard, laying down fresh straw. “But he
has a sense of adventure that scares me something awful. He’s
so much like I was at his age.” Lucas mounted Razor. He rode
up to the barn and cleared his throat. “Mark, I’m going out to
tend the stock, son. Once you’re done in there, Milly has a
list of homework for you to do this weekend. You get started on
“Mark?” Mark walked to the door and looked up at his father.
Lucas opened his mouth to say something, but whatever it was
stayed in his thoughts because he shook his head then said,
“I’m…glad you had a good time.”
Then Lucas took off, happy he could put his thought on a shelf
for the time being. But how long would it be before he had to
face what was sure to come? After all, he himself had wanted it
a few years ago when it looked like it was so far into the
future. But now the time was close. How close was it? Years?
Or maybe even…months?
The Wedding — The Explosion
This is a
story based on the TV series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
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around The McCain Ranch