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The Wedding
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 hugged Mark.

“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 friend.

“Lucas!”  Milly turned and looked for her intended.  “Lucas McCain!”

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 you…Mother.”

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 hotel.”

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 alone.”

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’ told you.”

“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 laughter.

Lucas glared at them.  “I told you not to ever mention that again!”

“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 the table.

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 work!”

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 happy.”

“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 stairs.

A man stood in the lobby checking into the hotel.  “What’s wrong with her?”

“She’s getting married,” Lou answered with a smile.

“Shouldn’t she be happy?” the man asked.

“She is.”

“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?”

“Hm?”

“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.

“Huh?”

“Oh…” Mark turned back to look at his father again.  “Her name was July.”

“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 Lucille?”

Mark blinked, suddenly coming back to the land of reality.  “Lucille?”

“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 unhitched!”

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 goodbye.”

***

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 with me!”

“You didn’t!” Lucas gasped.

“No sir!  I told her they were Ted’s, and I didn’t feel right in taking them.”

“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 mumbled.

“Huh?”

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 it.”

“Yes Pa.”

“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
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