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The Wedding
A Bring Milly Back Production
By Michelle Palmer

Chapter 13:  Final Preparations

Milly woke up the next morning at the sound of a hard knock on the door.  “You think she’s in there?” She heard Sally ask.  “Maybe she climbed out the window in the middle of the night to run far, far away!”

“Oh, what do you know about it, Sally!  You just wait until you get marred!” Jenny declared.

“I’m beginning to wonder if…”

“You can stop talking about me!  I’m awake!” Milly called as she groaned and climbed out of bed.  Last night had been so exciting that she could hardly get to sleep.  She had finally fallen to sleep in the wee hours of the morning.  She got up and dressed.  Then she opened the door.  “Good morning.”  She held out her hand.  “Come on in!”

Several women walked in.  Milly crossed her arms as she looked at them.  “Well!  I see you’ve assembled the troops!”

“We’ve sent the men on their way!” Lou nodded in assurance.  “They are all on their way to the ranch to keep your fiancé preoccupied while we get you and your wedding preparations all done!”

Milly smiled as she thought on it.  “Ohhhhhhh, Lou!  I’m going to be Mrs. Lucas McCain in about 30 hours!  Can you believe it?”

“Yes!” Lou answered.  “And we’ve still got a lot of work to do!  Now, I have the cook wrestling up a big breakfast for us all.  After breakfast, we’re going to work at cleaning from the party last night.  Then one team of women will work on the hotel with me while the other works on the barn with Jenny and Sally.  Ann’s already declared kitchen duty for the day which is good, because we have a lot of baking to do!  Those men eat like…like…”

Ann laughed.  “Men?”

“That’s right!” Lou declared with a firm nod.  “And Milly, all the children have gone to Lucille Bennet’s house.  She and some of the other girls have been assigned babysitting duty, and all the children of North Fork are working on a surprise for the reception!”

Milly smiled.  “Oh, I’m so excited!”  She gasped and turned to Jenny.  “Oh Mother, I’ve been looking at the wedding dress and it’s beautiful, but…”

“There’s a clasp missing from the top.  Yes, I know,” Jenny stated.

“Well?” Milly pleaded.

Jenny and Lou looked at each other.  Milly’s mother walked up to her daughter and put her hands on her shoulder hoping to keep her calm.  “Now Darling, I don’t want you to panic.  Seems there’s been a lot of dressmaking lately.  The General Store is a little low on certain items.”

“Yes, seems there’s some big occasion coming up in North Fork…I wonder what that could be!” Sally smiled as she put a hand to her chin.

“Stop teasing your aunt, Sally!  You just remember she may get even with you someday!” Jenny scolded her niece.

Milly held up her hand.  “So…exactly what are you saying, mother?”

“I’m saying that when you put this dress on tomorrow, you’ll have to fasten the top with a…” Jenny cleared her throat.  “…pin.”

“A what?”  Milly gasped.  “Mother, no!  It’s supposed to be perfect!  Of all the things to be imperfect, I want it to be PERFECT!”

“Honey, Lucas will never know!  Your hair will cover it and….” Jenny started.

“Oh, but he may find out afterwards, back at the ranch!” Ann declared with a mischievous smile.

“But by that point…” Lou said with a wink.  “…he may NOT notice!”

“Or, more simply put…” Ann winked at Lou.  “he may NOT care!”

Milly blushed.  “Alright ladies, you just remember we are LADIES!  We don’t talk about such intimate details!” Jenny declared as she put a protective arm around her daughter.  “Honey, it will be okay.  Besides, Ann’s right.  By that point of the evening, he won’t care if he DOES discover it!”

“Oh Mother!” Milly shook her head as they made their way down to breakfast.

“I’m sure the men are talking about the same thing!” Lou declared.

***

“Pa, they’re coming!  They’re coming!” Mark declared as she washed the last of the dishes.  “A whole troop of them, Pa!”

Lucas hurried to his new bedroom and closed the door.  “Don’t allow anyone in this new part, you hear boy?  I have it almost all ready for Milly and don’t want any trouble!”  Mark nodded as he threw down his dishtowel.

Abraham jumped off his horse.  “Well Luke, you’ve done pretty good with yourself!  Micah showed us where your land goes on the way over here.  You’ve got yourself quite a spread.” Abraham smiled.  He was mighty proud of his baby brother.  If someone had told him twenty years ago he’d be doing so well, he would have never believed it.  Lucas was quite the wild one among the brothers, and it was good to see he had a good head on his shoulders after all.

Lucas shook Abraham’s hand and nodded.  “Mark and I are pretty proud of this.”

“You’ve come a long way.”  Jeremiah and Peter came to stand beside Abraham.  “You know…we watched you leave Enid, we all three stood there together.  We saw a boy who was so lost.  You wouldn’t let us inside you no matter how much we tried.  You held a powerful grief.”

“I know,” Lucas nodded as he remembered back to the last time he saw his brothers.  “I couldn’t think of anything else at the time.  I loved Margaret.”

“I’ve never seen two people more in love.” Jeremiah squeezed his little brother’s shoulder.  “Of course…you two endured a lot of hardship before you got married.  You had to lean on each other a lot.”

Lucas nodded.  “I know.”  He frowned as he remembered back to those hard times.

Peter broke into his thoughts.  “But we’ve spent quite a bit of time with Milly.  She’s wonderful, Lucas.  She really loves you.”

“When she went back to Kansas City…it almost broke my heart.  I felt like I was losing my heart all over again.” Lucas sighed as he smiled at his brothers.  “But…I moved on.”  Lucas sat down on the porch.  His brothers surrounded him.

“Moved on?” Abraham asked.  “If you moved on, then I say it didn’t take much for you to move back and wait for Milly to return.”

“You know Lucas, the family still gets together at Christmas – the McCain’s and the Gibbs – and it’s just not the same there without you and Margaret.  Save Johnny’s wonderings, everyone else is there,” Peter said with a hint of regret in his voice.  “Your absence leaves a big gap in the Holiday.  Margaret always made it so special.”

“She loved Christmas,” Lucas nodded.  “And Thanksgiving.”

“But maybe the Lord led you from Oklahoma…even though your leaving was a bit sudden…You seemed to have been doing good here.”  Jeremiah again slapped a hand on his brother’s shoulder.  “Lucas, you have a wonderful son.”

“Yes!” Peter declared.  “He reminds me a lot of…”

“Margaret.”  Johnny came to sit down beside Lucas.  “I must say that Milly was a surprise to me when I met her.”

“Oh?” Lucas raised an eyebrow.  “How so?”

“Oh, I don’t know, Luke.  I…” Johnny laughed.  “I guess I got to picturing you and my sister so much that I almost expected somebody like her.”

“She is like her,” Lucas declared.

“A little.  But she’s different in a lot of ways too.  She is wonderful, Lucas.”  Johnny smiled.  “Like I said, Margaret would be so proud!”

Lucas stood up.  “Enough of this heart-to-heart stuff!” Lucas demanded.  Let’s go out on the range.  I’ll show you the spread.”

***

After breakfast, Milly sat with her mother and Sally as the other ladies helped Lou clean up the dishes.  “I’m surprised your mother didn’t come,” Jenny said softly as she looked at Sally.

Sally looked up at Milly.  The two locked eyes.  Milly slowly shook her head.  “Well…” Milly smiled.  “You know, she’s really busy, Mother…What with all the projects she has going on and…”

“Stop it!” Sally shouted in a whisper.  She lowered her head and placed a hand to her forehead.  “Just stop it.”

“Sally, what’s wrong?” Jenny asked, surprised at Sally’s tone.  “Is something wrong with Beth?”

“No!” Milly jumped in.  “I think Sally’s just tired from the trip!”

Sally lifted her head.  She shook her head at Milly.  “Aunt Milly, I’ve been covering for Mother for a long time.  You and I both know the truth.  Mother has done a lot of low things in her life, and I’ve stood by her trying to put on the happy face, telling you that she’s wonderful and sends her love; but I can’t do it anymore.  I won’t!”

“Sally, this isn’t the time or the place to…”

“Grandma has the right to know!” Sally declared.  “I don’t want to ruin your wedding, Milly.  You must be strong not to allow my Mother’s words to hurt you.”

Jenny sat back in her chair and studied her granddaughter and daughter.  “What is going on here?”

“Mother, I don’t want to…” Milly started.

“I saw the letter Mother mailed to you.  I tried to keep it from being mailed, but…Mother was very insistent.” Sally shook her head.  “I told her I would no longer stay silent.”

“Sally…” Milly warned again.

“So, my suspicions are true…Aren’t they?” Jenny asked.

“What are you talking about, Mother?” Milly stared at her Mother.

“Oh now Milly…” Jenny sighed as she shook her head.  “Your sister left to marry when she was 16.  She did not have your father’s blessing.  She did it behind our backs and just to spite us.  She was angry at us…jealous of the relationship your father shared with you and your brother.  But what she didn’t understand is that all three of you were special to us in your own way.  We treated all three of you differently, and tried to raise you with values.  She never understood the fact that money couldn’t bring happiness.”

“Mother’s not happy, Grandma.  She’s miserable, but she makes herself that way.  Father is miserable, and so are my brothers.  Mother is obsessed with money.  She wants the best of everything and no matter how much we try to love her, she pulls away.”  Sally turned to Milly.  “But the things she said to you were just…just horrible!”

“Let me guess…” Jenny sighed.  “Your sister told you that you were marrying a poor dirt farmer who wanted you for cooking, cleaning, and raising children.  Not only that, but you will be living in some shack with ten kids at your heels and no love.”  Jenny shook her head.  “Your sister told me she didn’t approve of your relationship with Lucas.  I didn’t agree with her and she left.”

“I had no idea you knew all this, Mother!” Milly exclaimed.  “I was trying to…to protect you from all this.”

“The will being contested broke my heart.  Your father loved your sister, don’t get me wrong.  I love your sister; but we don’t approve of what she’s doing.  I’m sorry to say that I’ve left her completely out of my will.  Your inheritance is safe, honey.  She has gotten everything she will ever get from us.”

“How do you know, Mother?” Milly asked.  “How do you know that she won’t fight your will like she did Father’s?” Milly closed her eyes.  “I don’t care!  I don’t want any of those material things!”

“It’s your legacy, Daughter.  Your father so wanted your brother to have the house and land; but since he passed on, he wanted you to have it.  He NEVER wanted your sister to have it.”

Milly bit her lip.  “What about Sally?  What about the other grandchildren?”

Sally smiled.  “I’ve got plenty, Milly.  I want you to have it all.  My Mother…I love her, but she doesn’t deserve anything more.  Father and I fought her not to pursue contesting the will.  I was sad when you gave in, but I understood.  Father and I thought it was very big of you.  I have a lot of respect for you, Aunt Milly.”

“While we’re being honest…” Milly looked up at her mother.  “Are you also aware that…Beth has disowned me because I’m marrying Lucas?”

“No.”  Jenny closed her eyes.  “I’m sorry, honey.  I hate what this must be doing to you.”

Milly smiled.  “It did upset me at first, but Lucas was there.  He showed me that she was jealous of me, and that the only one she was hurting was herself.”  Milly bit her lip.  “I hope that someday Beth finds the love she needs.  I hope someone can break through that hard shell of hers.”

The women sat at the table in silence.  Finally, they stood and went to get started on their busy day.

***

The morning passed quickly for the women in town as they quickly cleaned the hotel and began getting it ready for the wedding.  For the last three weeks, Lou and Milly had been planning how they wanted the hotel to look.  Lou wrapped ivy around the staircase all the way up and down.  All over North Fork, bouquets of flowers were cut and put together to hang all around the lobby.  Toomey had constructed an arch for the husband and wife to stand under when they said I Do.  In the dining room, rows and rows of tables were put together to hold the wedding cake, punch, and banquet of food for the reception.  By mid-afternoon, the ladies were admiring their handy work.

As the women stood silently and looked around the room, they heard sniffing from behind them.  Lou turned and hurried to Milly who was crying.  “Honey, it’s all okay!  See, it’s all done!” Lou declared as she hugged her best friend.

“It’s too perfect!” Milly declared as she cried.  “Something’s going to go wrong, I just know it!”

“I think you need to go upstairs and lay down for awhile!” Jenny declared as she took her daughter by the hand.  “You won’t get a wink of sleep tonight.  Trust me, I know!  So I’m going to take you on upstairs and sit with you until you fall asleep.”

The ladies watched Milly and her mother disappear up the stairs.  “Hm…” Lou turned and looked at the other ladies.  “Do women really cry that much before they get married?”

“YES!” the married ladies declared.

***

Lucas watched as a wagon slowly rode over the bridge.  “What’s Sweeny doing here?” he mumbled.

“Oh, he has the beer!” Johnny Gibbs declared excitedly as he hurried forward.

Lucas held up a hand.  “Now wait right there, little brother!”  He cleared his throat.  “I’ve a wedding to attend tomorrow, and if I miss that wedding, Milly will hang me by my toes from the tallest tree she can find and allow the vultures to peck at me!  I also have a rehearsal dinner to attend tonight with you men, if you remember right!”

“Milly’s keeping the rehearsal dinner strictly for family and close friends!” Abraham reminded him.  “Lucas, a few beers ain’t gonna hurt nothing!  Peter wanted whiskey and we told him no.”

“Good thinking!” Lucas declared.  “Peter, there’s a bar in town.  You can go there and get as drunk as you want…but only as long as you are sobered up by one o’clock tomorrow!”  Lucas shook a finger at his brother.  “And remember…I can always write a letter to your wife!”

Peter groaned.  “I know, I know!”

“Hey men, I’ve got the beer!” Sweeny announced as everyone hurried forward.

Lucas went to stand beside Micah as the men acted in total chaos.  “Well Micah, I reckon you’ve come to the right place.  North Fork is safe with all those ladies there, but I’m not so sure about the McCain Ranch.”

“Well Lucas Boy, it’s like I always say…if you can’t beat ‘em…join ‘em!”  Micah declared as he started forward.

Lucas accepted the mug of beer one of his brothers gave him as he watched a lone rider gallop toward the ranch, a cloud of dust behind him.  He stepped forward as the rider got down from the horse and stood between them.  His legs spread apart as he stood in front of Lucas.  His arms crossed across his chest.  “I saw the article in the paper.  I came to see if what I read was really true – that the Rifleman himself was really getting married.”

Lucas turned and looked at the other men who only stared as they wondered what the gunfighter wanted in North Fork.

The Wedding — T'was the Night Before the Wedding

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

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