The Writer's Corner
A Bring Back Milly Production
by Michelle Palmer
The year Lucas, Mark, and Milly
spent apart was a hard one; but at least the three had letters to help
each other through the hard times. It was through these letters that
the love the three had for each other grew. One final letter revealed
from Milly and Lucas to the other revealed the true feelings they
discovered they had held inside them for a long time.
April 1, 1885
Saying goodbye to you tonight was the hardest thing I ever had
to do. I hated watching you ride away tonight, knowing it
was the last time I would everÖ
Oh Milly, I wish you didnít have to go, but I do understand. I
understand how hard things can be when you lose someone whoís close
to you. I made the mistake you made, and perhaps you are being the
brave one Ė going back to face your mistake. Mark never understood
my running away, and I canít say that I blame him. He was bitter
for a longÖlong time. We shared many tears and said so many hard
things to each other. We made it through without too many scars,
but if I had it to do all over againÖ
Anyways, I just had to get my words down on paper. Iíll
mail this tomorrow so that itíll be waiting for you in Kansas
City when you get there.
you are the most special woman that came into my life since the
death of my wife. I will tell you now that you are gone that it
breaks my heart to see you go. But I understand. I understand more
than you know.
I pray this letter finds you well. Just know you are in my
heart and thoughts every day. Give your mother a kiss for
me. I hope you find what you are looking for.
April 1, 1885
My Dearest Lucas,
Oh, how my heart is breaking. As I sit here writing
this before going to bed, I canít help but remember the kiss we
shared just hours before. Must I really get on a stage
tomorrow? Will I ever see you again? Oh, I canít ask that
question right now, because the mere thought of leaving you just
tears me up inside.
I know you understand why I have to go. I see it in
your eyes, but I see hurt in your eyes as well. I see
hopelessness. But Lucas, I donít want you to stand still and
not allow yourself to live. The selfish part of me wants to beg
you to wait for me until I can return, but I donít know whenÖor
if Iíll ever be able to do that. Thereís a piece of me thatís
missing right now, and until I find that piece I cannot possibly
love you the way I so desperately want to.
You and Mark are so
dear to me! I will always hold your memories in my heart,
and I hope you will write me, because I want to always know
whatís going on with you two.
Please, Lucas, for me just go on living. If I come
back someday and we were meant to be then your living wonít keep
us apart. But if you find another to fill your empty
spaceÖwell, then itís for the best.
I must turn in now, my love. I have packing and
storing to do in the morning. Oh, Iíll leave the key to the
store with Mr. Hamilton.
April 2, 1885
have a confession to make. I was in town at noon when I
heard the stage pull in. I know I promised you that Iíd
stay away, and I tried. ButÖI just could not let you leave
without seeing you one more time. I kept your wish in
staying away, though I assure you it was difficult. You
see, I stood in an alley and watched you walk out the doors of
the General Store once more. I watched you lovingly run
your hand across the door. Were you remembering the same
thing I was thinking of in that moment, Mil? Were you
remembering our first meeting?
I almost ran to you when I saw you look down the road in
the opposite direction. I wondered if you didnít mean what
you said the night beforeÖabout you not wanting to say goodbye
at the stage. I saw you crying as you boarded the stage.
Was it me and Mark you were crying for, Mil? Or was it
You know itís funny. I can say things to you in writing
that I canít say to you face-to-face. I thought of a
million things as I watched you board that stage I should have
said to you. Maybe you would have stayed thenÖBut then
again, maybe thatís what I didnít want Ė for you to stay.
Iíll say goodbye for now. But please
know you are in my thoughts and prayers. I worry about you
traveling by stage, and I wish someone was with you to make sure
you got to Kansas City safely, but I sent God with you. I
asked him to take care of you.
April 2, 1885
sure was hard saying goodbye to you. It was harder watching you
and Pa say goodbye, though. Oh Milly, I know that País probably
never told you, but he loves you. I know he loves you. I see
the smile when he knows you are coming.
explained to me why you had to go, and I think I understand.
There were so many timesÖstill areÖthat I want to go running
back to Oklahoma to say goodbye properly. I know Pa stayed for
the funeral and all, but the way we left I didnít really
understand, until now. I had a hard time adjusting. I had
nightmares for months and cried myself to sleep almost every
nightÖuntil a special family came into our lives and helped us
learn how to live.
not sure, but I think Pa may have gone into town today to watch
you leave. He didnít say where he was going, but when he left
he had a look on his face that told me where he was going. I
hope he didnít hurt too much.
anyway, I reckon you know youíve become like a mother to me, and
I sent a chip of my heart with you back to Kansas City. Milly,
when you finally say goodbye to your family and make amends, I
do hope you come back. Life just wonít be the same without you.
neither will my PaÖIím afraid you have something that belongs to
himÖYou know what it is.
April 10, 1885
Thank you for your letters. Finding
them here when I arrived meant a great deal to me. I know my
decision has been hard on you, but when my mother saw me, her
face lit up. I have come home to so many unresolved emotions
and so many memories. I must go see my fatherís grave
tomorrow. Oh, I do hope seeing his grave will help me heal a
bit. I know I need it.
I have a confession to make, Lucas. I was hoping you were
there somewhere. I told myself that if I saw youÖI would
crumble into your arms and change my mind about leaving. Thatís
why I didnít want you and Mark there Ė because I knew that I
would change my mind at the last minute. You may think Iím
weak and may wish you did come out from hiding, but Lucas you
did the right thing! I could never be free if I didnít come
home. Please understand!
The trip home wasnít all it was cut out to be. Iíll
explain my adventures in Markís letter and let him read it to
you if he wishes. You just give him those raised eyebrows and
heíll tell you everything he knows. I just wish I could see the
excitement in his eyes when he reads of the adventure I
I miss you, LucasÖMore than words can say. I do
hope we are reunited soon.
April 10, 1885
Yes. I know your father is hurting. Iím sorry I had to leave,
but I knew I couldnít be happy if I didnít come back to find
myself. I couldnít move on until I went back and faced my
pain. Running is the easy way out of our pain, and so many of
us do it when things get tough.
You will be happy to know, Mark, that I had myself quite an
adventure on the way to Kansas City! Now that itís over, I
suppose you can tell your father about it; but if only he
knewÖhe would have never allowed me on that stage! You see,
unbeknownst to us, a man traveling with us had $5,000.00 in the
strongbox on that stage. Somebody knew it and laid a log in the
middle of the road Ė I know what youíre thinkingÖĒOldest trick
in the book.Ē But it worked. The stagecoach driver jumped down
to move the log andÖyou guessed it, three men with bandanas over
their faces jumped out with their guns. They took the money and
another $1000 besides that was being transported to the bank in
a neighboring town.
Well, then we were on our way again. When we got into Missouri,
A group of IndiansÖI think they were OsageÖattacked our wagon.
Oh, how I wanted to be back in North Fork! In that moment, I
would have done anything to be in North Fork. But we soon
figured out they only wanted our food supplies Ė nothing else.
When they got that, they were on their way.
you may think thatís all the adventure one coach could stand,
but we were fully entertained, I assure you, Mark. You see,
near the end of our journey, we stopped at a junction where we
were going to spend the night. The man who had all that money
in the strongboxÖwell, it turns out he had stolen that money.
He was a bank robber. The Sheriff confronted him and the man
drew. He died practically at my feet.
sure you will be happy to know, then, that my trip back to K.C.
wasnít all boring. It was quite exciting, I assure you.
Well, I need to get these letters to post. I love
you, Mark. You take care.
enjoyed your stage coach ride very much! Boy, as I read this
letter to Pa, you should have seen the look on his face! He
said he didnít see anything enjoyable about it Ė you could have
been killed! Oh, but I explained to him that you would remember
this ride a lot more since you DID have the adventure! Oh, and
next time you decide to take a ride with such adventure, please
take me along! I had to laugh when I realize that money stolen
off the stagecoach was stolen. Say, did they ever catch the
robbers who stole the stolen loot? Oh, Iím laughing just
thinking of the whole mess!
I need a
laugh right now, Milly. You are missed more than you will ever
know. Pa is quite hard to live with right now. I donít know
what to do to get through to him. Everything I do is wrong. He
yells at me for every little thing. In fact, today I came home
from school only to be sent to my room. He told me that I
didnít do my chores this morning, which I didnít, but thatís
because he wanted me to water some of the garden before I went
to school. Of courseÖthese days, it doesnít take much to set
Oh Milly, how do I get through to him? What do I say? I know he
misses you, and I know I shouldnít be writing these things to
you, but I just need someone to talk to. Itís no secret that
these last two years Iíve come to care for you like a mother, so
mother to son, please tell meÖhow do I get through to him?
Well, Pa just walked in so I have to go. Iíll talk to you soon.
P.S. He misses
you so badly. I see it in his eyes.
Iím glad to hear you made it home safely. I wish
you were here so you could tell me what to do with the boy.
There are times I feel soÖinadequate as a father. There are
some things women are better at, and Iím sure if you were here
youíd be able to tell me what to do.
Things arenít the same here without you. I hope
things are going well.
Iím sorry things are so rough on you. I
wish I had an answer, but I donít. I knew you cared very
much for me, but I never realizedÖOh Mark, Iím so sorry Iíve had
to leave you. I DO hope to return someday because my heart
is in North Fork. I never felt more at home then I did
Just love your father. You two have always talked
before. Perhaps you should just tell him how you feel, straight
out. Donít sugar coat it. Your father is aÖwell, heís a very
stubborn man and sometimes you just have to be blunt to get him
to really understand what you are trying to say.
Oh, Iíll keep you in my prayers, Mark.
I have to tell you something exciting. Iím
inserting a newspaper article for you to read. My mother is
getting one tomorrow. Itís certainly going to be different!
Perhaps someday weíd be able to hear each otherís voices.
I love you, Mark.
letter was so short. Iím worried about you. Mark told me about
the trouble you two are having, and I hope you two can sit down
and try to work everything out. You two are so close and it
hurts me to think that my leaving has caused such friction
between you. Please work things out with him.
I went and saw
Fatherís grave. Heís buried in a cemetery nearby and
Mother bought a big headstone for his grave. Oh, it was so
hard seeing his name and dates on there. I should have
come back to the funeral, but I was still running from all my
pain. When I left here, I left with so much between us.
My family was hurtingÖoh so badly, yet IÖI walked away. My
sister who lives in Denver, she is quite a bit older than I
amÖeven she made it to Fatherís funeral. When he died, I
was justÖI had a man who had hurt me terribly. He wanted
me to marry him but IÖWell, anyhow thatís another reason I was
so broken when I came to North Fork.
I wept over Fatherís
grave. It hurt so badly to really accept that he was gone,
but I did because I had to. Oh Lucas, I longed to feel you
there. You could bring me such comfort with just a hand on
my arm or walking beside me. Your eyes would calm me.
But I suspect that if you were here, you wouldÖ
Oh, I shouldnít think such things. I may be too
forward in my thoughts.
I was telling Mother
yesterday about our first meeting. Do you remember it?
You walked in that door demanding I send that silly pump back
for you! Oh, I was so mad! After you walked out, I
took that silly thing and threw it under the counter. I
told myself I would never set eyes on itÖor you again! But
just a couple days later I found myself seeking your
forgiveness. Iíll never forget what you said. Itís
not what you said, but rather how you said it. I could
hear the ďI forgive youĒ in your voice. Thatís when I knew
you were a bit rough around the edges. I took you as a
personal challenge, Lucas McCain.
Well, I best close for now. I DO hope this finds you and
I havenít received a letter from you, and this one
may pass yours. I sort of hope it does. Mark and I are taking
a trip. Things have been pretty tense around here and I donít
have to tell you why. Mark told me that he mailed you with his
version of the truth. WellÖI hesitate to say, but Iím afraid
our boy is right. Iíve been hard to live with and I think
getting away for a couple week s is what we both need. There is
still some tension between us, but things are getting better.
Please continue to pray for us; as I, my sweet Mil, will
continue to pray for you.
I will write you when I return. Take care of yourself.
wanted to write you and tell you about whatís been going on. I
donít know if País told you, but we took a trip away from North
Fork for a couple weeks. Things were so much better. Oh, I
donít want you to worry, Milly. Things will be better again
soon, but Iím afraid País been hurt.
There were these men who bushwhacked Pa. He was shot right out
of his saddle. You see, he rode into Red Creek one day to get
his rifle fixed Ė you know Pa and his rifle. Anyhow, when he
was on his way home, he was shot. This man named George Vale
strapped his guns on Pa, thinking he was dead. But Pa woke up
the next morning and rode into town. He couldnít remember
anything, Milly. Not evenÖme. When I got there and found him,
he was out of his head. Everyone thought he was Vale, this
horse thief and murderer! I tried to tell him who he was! I
did, MillyÖbut he denied me. He said that I wasnít his son.
you can imagine the pain I felt when he rejected me. I couldnít
understand it. I still donít completely. Some menÖthey tried
to lynch him because they were convinced he was George Vale. I
was so scared, Milly Ė so very scared! I didnít know what to
do. In that moment I realized I was just a boy. I didnít have
the power to stop this.
I mentioned the rifle and his memories started coming back. He
admitted that I was his son and we lived on a ranch, but I donít
think he remembered much more. And then he passed out.
sitting beside him here in bed. I wonder what he will be like
when he wakes up? Will I see the recognition in his face I so
want to see? Or will he stare at me blankly, trying to remember
me? Oh Milly, I need you right now. I need you here to help me
understand. Some men Ė the men who tried to lynch Pa Ė they
took me to supper tonight and we talked. They and the doctor
tried to explain amnesia to me, but I still donít understand. I
want him to love me again, Milly. What ifÖ
doctor said heíll post this for me now. Iíll let you know more
once he wakes up. I just had to tell you whatís going on and
get my thoughts on paper.
tried to stop the last letter before it left, but I was too
late. I fell asleep with my head on País chest last night.
When I woke up this morningÖwell, I should say he woke me up by
calling my name! I was so happy. Milly, he doesnít remember
anything after being shot. He doesnít remember not remembering
me and Iíd like to keep it that way. Oh, I hope you didnít send
a letter to Pa and mention this. I donít think you did butÖDoes
he need to know what happened? I know we donít keep things from
each other but I donít know if he could handle this.
are going to go home soon, Milly. Pa still has big gaps in his
memory, but Iím sure those things will come back to him in
time. I must tell you that he remembered you this morning.
While I was talking to the doctor, I heard him say your name.
He loves you.
must close for now. Thank you listening.
Iím glad to hear things are better between you and Mark. I
hope your trip away does a lot to clear your mind. Oh, I miss
you two so much! I wish I could be there to fix you a nice
fried chicken supper. I know you and Mark both love my fried
Lucas, I know you miss me. But please
donít allow your life to stand still. Please keep moving.
I guess I should take my own advice. As I sit here in the
dimly lit room tonight, I keep thinking back to that night at
the ranch when we said goodbye. The kiss you gave me told
me to stay. My heart told me to stay, but there was
something that told me to leave.
do hope you had a good trip. Tell Mark to study hard and
make me proud.
Mark told me he wrote you and told you about my
injuries. That boyÖhe just doesnít know when to stay quiet.
Iím sorry he bothered you. After being shot, I woke up
confused. There were a lot of things I didnít remember, but I
remembered you and Mark. When I opened my eyes after being shot
I felt Mark there. But before I woke up your presence was so
strong. Were you thinking about me that strongly or was it just
in my dreams?
Maybe I was dreaming. You smiled down at me and
kissed me. Okay, I suppose I was dreaming, but you said,
ďMarkís here. He loves you. Donít forget Mark.Ē What an odd
thing to dream about. Iím not sure what it meant, but I was
glad to see your face in my dreams.
Iím back at home now and slowly
remembering things. Our boy tried to take advantage of my
lapse in memory last night, Mil. He tried to tell me that
it was my turn to do the dishes. Oh, but I didnít let him
get away with it! Frankly, I didnít remember whoís turn it
was to do the dishes, but I figured with the way he was acting
it was definitely his turn and I told him so. But in the
end, I wanted to do the dishes. I could just hear your
laugh in the room as you watched our banter. You would
have been so proud.
So donít worry, my sweet Mil. Iíve talked to Mark
about keeping quiet Ė not worrying you unnecessarily. I canít
wait to hear from you!
my heart is aching for you and your father after receiving your
letter! I so want to rush out and get on the nearest
stagecoach, but I am so worried that I have to wait to hear what
is going on. I am praying without ceasing for you and your
Oh, dear me, I just got your second letter this very moment. I
canít imagine what you felt when you realized your father had
forgotten you. I pray you donít hold any grudges about it,
Mark. From what little Iíve heard, you canít reason things
folks remember. I am happy to hear you and I were in his first
thoughts after he woke up. It does my heart good to know I mean
you asked me for my advice, I will give it to you. The secret
is safe with me, and I think it should stay that way. I will
never mention the amnesia to your father, Mark. I know him so
well, and I know that if he knew heíd forgotten you it would
cause him more pain. Iíve already hurt him so deeply, and I
donít want him to hurt anymore. Maybe he will remember
someday. If he does, Iíll help you and your father through this
somehow. But for now letís just keep it quiet.
I had a bit of adventure here. I sent you that article on a
telephone? Well, we got our telephone and I was able to use it
for the first time the other day. Do you know that anyone with
a phone can
pick it up and listen in on your conversation? Oh itís
hideous! I was telling one of my friends about your father, and
before I knew it she had us engaged to be married! Oh, and
donít you DARE tell your father about this Ė heíd never let me
hear the end of it. I told Mother Iíd have to be more careful
with what I said on the phone in the future.
try not to worry, Mark. But until I receive a very convincing
letter from your father, I wonít rest! I canít restÖnot until
Iím sure he is okay.
yes, my dear Mark, I am well aware of your Pa and his rifle! It
has given me a lot of cause to
love you Mark. Stay strong and give your father a kiss from me.
Donít you dare get onto
Mark for telling me about your recent ordeal. I want
to know about these things. I worry for you two every
day. I will make sure to tell Mark in the next letter
to him to tell me if anything goes wrong!
You know, itís strange but a few days before I got
Markís letter, I had this feeling that something terrible was
happening. I was thinking about you and Mark so much late one
evening. I stayed awake and prayed for you. That must have
been the night. Oh, Iíve always heard about stuff like thisÖhow
a person who really cares deeply for a person can feel when he
or she is hurting, but I never experienced it Ė not even with my
brother. But I felt it that night.
Iím not convinced you are
completely well. I donít feel it in your letter, Lucas.
Please write me back soon. Oh, I know what youíre
thinking, but I canít help being a woman!Ē
Things are settling down here. Iím working at one
of the local grocers. Itís not as glamorous as what I might
find in North Fork, but it keeps my mind occupied. Iíve been
talking to my brothersí friends and trying to come to terms with
his death. I feel less bitter now.
No you canítÖhelp being a woman. I think thatís
what I like so much about you.
What can I say
to convince you that Iím better? Shall I remind you about the
dances we went to? Shall I remind you of our first kiss that
took place after a dance? Or should I tell you about the
evening I whispered in your ear and you blushed? I remember how
your hair looks when itís down and the moonlightís shining on
it. I remember how your eyes sparkle and shine when you look at
me. I remember you in that red dress. You look so good in red.
Oh my sweet Mil,
I am back to normal now. I see you everywhere I walk. I know
itíll get easier in time, but right now I just hurt. I want to
beg you to come back to me butÖWell, perhaps you will in Godís
Markís up to his
old tricks again. Heís been absent-minded all week. I just
found out this very day that he has a big geography test coming
up. Mr. Griswald told me Markís known about it for over a week,
yet I havenít seen him pick up that geography book to study.
Heís also neglected his chores Ė the wood box, laundryÖSays he
has been working hard. You know how Iíve been threatening him
about the rock pile. Well, Iíve had to put him to work on
that. Maybe that will teach him about being responsible. They
are closing the school for a week to do some repairs. Heíll
take care of it then.
I think Mark
wants to put a letter in with mine. Iíll close for now.
Milly, I miss
you more than words can say. Please remember you are always in
I sure wish you were here
right now! I have a big geography test and I sure could stand
some of your milk and apple pie right now! Then you could help
me study for this geography test. Youíre a lot more fun to
study withÖOh, nothing against Pa, mind you but youÖYou just
have more patience than Pa does! Pa told me I have to tackle
this test, and I best make a good grade on it or else Ė and you
know what that Ďor elseí means.
Honestly, I donít mind
getting yelled at by Pa right now. Iím just glad heís back to
normal. You canít even hardly tell he ever had amnesia!
I better close now, País
yelling again. Told me I best get started on the laundry I let
pile up. Heís making me wash sheets today. Boy, oh boyÖI wish
youíd stayed and married my Pa so YOU could do this laundry!
And heís going to make me
clear that rock pile! Can you believe it? This is so unfair!
I miss you, Milly
Oh, now I know you have a memory lapse! You may
very well have taken me on some dances, but do you really
remember the dances you didnít take me to because something came
up at the last minute? Do you remember, Lucas, the dance that I
waited and waited and you never came? Or did you Ďforgetí about
Lucas McCain, I donít know who it is you kissed
after a dance for the first time, but it wasnít me! If you
remember correctly, you took me on a picnic down at Millerís
Pond one day. Do you remember that? You bent over and kissed
me as we were just about to have dessert. I smiled at you and
told you I meant real dessert. How could you forget that? So
my dear Lucas, I must ask, just WHO did you kiss for the first
time after a dance? You should be mighty glad Iím in Kansas
City right now or you would get a good piece of my mind!
Perhaps you should go have Dr. Burrage re-examine your head!
About Mark: I
feel for Mark having to do such a laborious job. Have you
forgotten that he is a boy? He is mischievous, Lucas, but
you should think back to when you were his age. How did
you behave? Oh, I know you are bringing the boy up right,
and I admire you for it. But I canít help but to be soft
with him. I guess I always will be.
I will be waiting for your explanation!
My Dear Mark,
What makes you think I would have done the laundry?
Iím glad to hear your father is doing better. I can
tell he is from his letter I received today, except he does
still seem to be a bit confused on certain issues! As for the
geography test, wellÖyou must just do your best. Just remember
what I always tell youÖgo over the dates and points of interest
over and over in your head until you remember them by heart.
Sit straight and study hard. Of course, by the time you get
this letter it will be all over. I DO hope it went well.
Mark, you really
should see Kansas City! It is going through so many
changes. They have tall buildings Ė some even have ten
floors! We have telephones in almost all the buildings and
even the schools! Oh, and a man was here yesterday telling
us about the newest invention: electricity! Oh, if only
you could see. Perhaps one of these days you could come
for a visit. And did I mention indoor plumbing?
I love you, Mark.
My Sweet Mil,
Oh, I must have still been hot with fever when I
wrote that, my dear. I know very well that we were at Millerís
Pond the day I first kissed you. I was just checking to make
sure you remembered that! But I did kiss you at a danceÖor
rather after a dance. You took my breath away that night in
that red dress. Oh, I loved holding you in my arms while we
You see how Iím talking? What would people think if
they heard the Rifleman talking so romantically to a lady? I
would never live up to the reputation as a hard, mean olí cuss
Milly, Mark and I have just had another one of his
growing up times. I bought him a gift. I meant to tell you
about it, but it just slipped my mind. He is now the proud
owner of a new hat. Oh, it makes him look so much older, and I
almost cried when I saw him put it on his head. That boyÖheís a
little devil! We had ourselves another adventure and Iíll let
Mark tell you all about it. He ordered me not to tell you a
thing since heís not sure whoís letter you will read first.
I canít help but wonder, Milly, if you have attended
any dances? Have you worn that red dress I love so much? If
you have Iím sure every man in the room stared at you.
I must close for now, my
sweet Mil. Mark is asking me something about taking a
break to go fishing. That boyÖwill he ever grow up?
Your loyal admirer,
better not have told you a thing about this! Boy, oh boy do I
have an adventure to share with you! Itís such a great story Ė
I almost thought it was a dream! Okay, well part of it WAS a
dream, butÖWell, where do I start?
know how I told you in the last letter about Pa making me clear
out a rock pile for punishment because I wasnít being
ďresponsibleĒ in his opinion? WellÖan old neighbor came back to
North Fork. He had been involved in a robbery in which
$5,000.00 was stolen. Anyway, he came back to North Fork
looking for work. Well, Pa told him a lie, Miss Milly! Honest
to goodness! He stood there in front of ME and told Mr.
Gannaway that there was really no work that needed done! I just
had to argue with him as I reminded him about the rock pile!
Well, it turns out that there were two other men in North Fork
who wanted that $5,000.00 andÖOh, you just arenít going to
you know what I found out? That $5000.00 was buried on OUR
land! Me and Freddie used to play in the rock pile when we were
younger, and we used to imagine there was a treasure buried out
there! Why, I told Pa that one day when he found me, I was
sleeping beside this big rock and I had a dream that I found a
treasure and we were rich! Milly, do you know where we found
that treasure! Under this great big rock! It took Billy
Lehigh, Sam Montgomery, me and Pa, oh and a team of horses, to
move that thing. How did they ever bury that money under that
rock? I donít get it! Anyhow, Pa made ME do the digging while
he rested. I wish you had been here. You would have said,
ďLucas, that boy needs to rest! It isnít good for a boy his age
to work so hard!Ē Then Pa would have said, ďItíll make him
strong, Milly.Ē Then you would have put your hands on his hips
and gotten right in his face with that look of yoursÖsort of
like the one you had on your face that very first day in the
store. Then he would have smiled and said, ďYes maíam.Ē
Iím sort of glad I got to dig because I found the $5000! Oh Milly, it sure was something! I started imagining what if me
and Freddie had found that money. We could have spent it all on
candy! Of course, if it was after you came, you would have
wondered where we got all that money and I wouldnít have only
been in trouble with Pa, but with you too! Who boy, but you
know how to get your point across. I cringe as I remember that
ear-pulling you gave meÖoh and the yelling you did too!
Going back to town with that money was exciting! In fact, while
we waited for Micah to come, I dreamed that Micah told me I
could have all the money! I started dreaming about what I was
going to spend it on. And of course, one of the things was
indoor plumbing. Milly, the dream was so real! I didnít even
get a reward!
you believe it? Would you have ever guessed that we had $5000
buried on the McCain Ranch? Oh, if only I had known!
AND despite of the fact that I was being irresponsible in País
eyes, he gave me a hat! You should see it. Pa said it makes me
look more mature. He said Iím growing up!
still miss you, Milly.
My Dear Lucas,
I guess I should tell you that I am rolling my eyes
at your explanation for forgetting about Millerís Pond. Donít
think I believed a word of it Ė not for a moment! And as for
kissing me after a dance in my red dressÖYes, you did kiss me a
couple of times after a dance, but I was NEVER in a red dress.
I know your mind is whirling for excuses, but let me give you
some advice. Just stop! You are just getting yourself into
more trouble! I havenít worn that red dress since I came home.
I canít bear the thought of someone else seeing me in it. I
hope to come back to North Fork someday, and when I do I will be
wearing that dress when you see me.
Honestly, Lucas, I have had invitations from some gentlemen
asking me to accompany them to a dance, but I just havenít had
the desire to go. I wouldnít have fun without you there.
When I close my eyes, I can still feel you dancing with me out
on the floor.
As for Mark, wellÖheíll grow up in time. Youíre
funny, my dear. In this letter you complained that heís growing
up too fast, then you turn right around and ask me if heíll ever
grow up? If you ask me, Iíd say there is still some boy in you.
I could only imagine Mark in your latest adventure.
You know, he complained about your resting while he dug and what
I would say. And heís absolutely right! Lucas McCain, heís
just a boy and he does need his rest. Maybe I canít give you
the look Mark wanted me to give you, but let me tell you
somethingÖI can see your eyes now as I speak.
I saw somebody the other day that reminded me
of my brother. We talked for hours over coffee in a cafť
around the corner. He told me about things that I hadnít
remembered in some time. He made me cry as I remembered my
brother and how much trouble he and I got into. I know I
told you some about my sister. I never really knew her.
She married rather young Ė at 16 Ė and moved away so my brother
and I never felt like we had a sister. I loved my sister,
and she does come to visit us in Kansas City once in a while.
My mother has been a bit under the weather lately. I do
worry about her living in this house all by herself. I
suppose thatís what is making me stay. I feel Iíd leave
her all alone were I to leave right now. She needs me,
Lucas. The doctor said she had a small stroke. Oh,
nothing to worry about but stillÖshe doesnít think as clearly as
she used to. Sheís had so much grief in her life and I
hesitate to think what she would do were I to leave her so soon.
Iím still healing from my loss. I havenít brought myself
to going into my brotherís room yet, where so many of his things
still sit where he left them. I know I have to do that,
and it will be hard.
Iíll be thinking about you, my sweet Lucas.
Your letter made me laugh! Yes, if I had been
there, I would have made sure you got plenty of rest. Iím sorry
you didnít get a reward, but sometimes the best rewards are
those that come from the heart. Iím sure your father gave you a
good pat on the back for a job well done.
tell your father thisÖSeems like I had so many things to tell
him this time. We had ourselves quite an adventure here
the other day. Mother asked me to deposit some
money for her in the First National Bank here in Kansas City.
While I was there, two men in masks came in. I wasnít too
scared at first because they didnít seem too angry; but then
they pulled out these rifles and demanded everybody to get down.
As I was down on the floor, I reeled my mind trying to decide
what to do. Well, from behind me I saw an officer with a
gun in the doorway, so I quietly crawled towards one of the
robbers and jerked on his ankles really hard. He gasped in
shock and fell to the floor. The rifle fell from his hand
and I grabbed it.
I was able to stand up as the other man turned his rifle on
everyone. He started to take a shot when a man standing
behind him hit him over the head. I have to chuckle when I
think of it now. Oh, if your father knew heíd give me an
Both men were arrested without getting a cent from
the bank. I was still able to make our deposit.
So you see, Mark, we both had adventures with money,
Well, I have a friend stopping by for lunch. I must
run. Give your father a kiss for me.
I love you.
I must chastise you for what you did. Mark let me
read your latest letter about the bank robbery. You know I
cannot approve of what you did. It was dangerous. That man
could have killed you! You should have stayed on that floor and
been a good girl like I would have wanted! Oh, I have a good
mind to give you a piece of my mind! Tell your mother to give
you a good spanking! Thatís what you need.
Iím sorry to hear about your mother. I will keep
her in my prayers and pray she will fully recover. As for your
brother: oh, I wish I could be there with you to offer my
support when you go into your brotherís room. I know it will be
hard, honey, but just remember that your brother is in Heaven.
He and your father both, Iím sure are together.
Things seem to be quiet on the home front for the
time being. I havenít sold the store yet. I havenít really
tired. I just keep hoping thatÖ
I must go now. Micah wants me to come into town so he can
talk to me.
Oh, Mark told me to tell you hello. School is keeping him
quite busy and he doesnít have time to write this time.
Heíll send you a letter soon.
I understand about Mark being busy. Send him my
I went into my brotherís room the other day. I
told you it would be hard and it was. I spent hours in there
alone as I picked up various items that belonged to him. Each
item held a memoryÖa link to our past together. I cried and
allowed all my grief to pour out. Then Tommy, my brotherís
friend, and I went to supper and he allowed me to talk about my
brother. Now, before you think anything, Lucas; please
understand Tommy is a friend Ė he could never be anything more.
Iíve struggled on rather to tell you or not, but I
donít want any secrets between us. My heart is still in North
Mother is recovering.
Sheís been getting out, but spending time with her friends is
hard. She canít think like she used to and some of her
friends canít understand this. I take her to church with
me every Sunday and that does her a world of good.
I deeply miss you.
To: Milly Scott
Place: Kansas City, MO
Milly. Pleas pray for Mark and
I. Difficult trial coming up. Will Masters. Letter to follow.
My Sweet Milly,
I have some news and
I need you here with me so badly! You helped me through when
Mark was 12. You and I made a decision together before going to
Micah. Together, we convinced Micah to go along with the plan.
Remember Willie Masters? Remember the nightmares and how
terrified our boy was? Remember how I cried in your arms in
town that day? Remember kissing me softly as I told you I
wanted to lie to him Ė to tell him Masters was dead? At the
time we thought it was the best thing for him.
And today I have to tell you that Mark knows the truth. He
knows the manís alive, and he knows about the bounty. Willie
Masters was caught down near the Mexican border. Markís testimony
is the only testimony that can hang him. Oh Mil, I am so
torn! Mark insists he can do this. He was so angry
with me for lying at first, and I didnít tell him you helped in
the decision. What do I do, Mil? How do I get
through this without you? Oh I need to hear you tell me
everything will be okay! We leave tomorrow to go to the
please pray. Iíll be thinking hard about you, hoping God will
lay it on your heart to pray for us. This is such a trial. I
just canít stand the fact of Mark going through this again. I
donít know if I can survive it the third time. Iíve decided Ė
Iím sending you a telegram. This just canít wait.
My Dear Lucas,
Tears are falling from my eyes as I write this right now. I shared your
opinion in this decision. I remember how Mark trembled in my arms after
Masters shot him, and I remember the fear he held for a long time. Lucas,
that day you came into town you fell into my arms and wept. You had gone
home to find Mark hiding behind a bed because he was so scared. You were
desperate and thatís why I agreed with you to let Mark believe heís dead. I
still believe that we made the right decision.
Iím sorry, my love, that you have to go through this again. Iím sorry Mark
has to see this man. Oh, I will pray! My heart aches for you. I wish I
knew how things were going right now. Oh, I wish to take you both in my arms
and hug you. I know this is hard for you.
Please write me and let me know how things are. IÖI just canít write right
now. Iím too upset and worried.
North Fork, New Mexico Territory
To: Milly Scott
Milly. Trial over.
Masters will be hung Monday morning. Mark is very upset. Itís starting
again. Please pray. Lucas
North Fork, New Mexico Territory
Lucas. I will
pray. Hold him and talk to him. I love you both. Milly.
North Fork, New Mexico Territory
To: Milly Scott
over. Masters is dead. Mark is holding up well. We have a fine boy. Will be
in North Fork in a few days. Lucas.
North Fork, New Mexico Territory
wire when you are home. Travel safely. Send Mark my love. Milly.
I sit here in my room tonight, I wonder where you are.
I asked your father to wire me when you were home.
Knowing you are down by the Mexican border scares me. I
still remember your last trip down there when your father
almost died. I hope you are safe tonight. I hope you
are happy. I hope you were able to find peace with
this terrible ordeal that has lasted so many years.
Mark, your father didnít want you to know but I spoke to him the day he came
into town. I supported him in his decision to tell you Masters was dead.
We both thought it would be the best decision. Mark, my heart ached at the
fear I saw in your eyes. I hated having to ride over to the school and pick
you up every afternoon Ė not because it was a burden, because it could never
be Ė but because you were so afraid of Masters. I wanted to kill that man
myself when I learned he had shot you. I watched your father cry over your
fears. I tried to help you both the best I could.
your fatherís last telegram, I think you are doing better.
Oh, I hope so, Mark because I so want you to be happy.
After everything you and your father have endured, you
deserve nothing but the best.
I hope your travels are safe.
Send your Pa my love. Please write as soon as you can.
North Fork, New Mexico Territory
To: Milly Scott
Milly. Sorry we
were delayed. Will explain in letter. Do not worry. Lucas
Pa told me I should write
you right away. He fears you are beside yourself with worry, even though he
just sent you a wire telling you NOT to worry. We just got home today. I
suppose we had some more excitement Ė more excitement than I ever bargained
You see, there was the trial
first. By the way, I remember you being there for me when I was 12. That
was a really dark time in my life, and having Pa there was good; but you
held me like only a mother can. You helped Micah and Pa both to see that I
When I first heard Masters
was alive, Iíll admit that I was very angry. Pa never told me you were in
on the decision. You see, Pa knew it would take some proof to convince me
this animal was dead, so he brought me a fake
telegraph from Sam Buckhart.
Oh, I should have never believed it but I see now that at the time I needed
to believe that if I was going to survive my ordeal. Iím not angry with you
or Pa anymore. I canít say that I wouldnít have done the same, were Pa the
one suffering like I was.
The trial was hard. All
those memories came flowing back. I had to see him, Milly. I had to stand
in the court (which was really in a saloon) and tell the judge what I saw.
I hated thinking on it but I hated the fact that he was killing people and
getting away with it. Then the judge made me look at him. Oh, it was one
of the hardest things I ever had to do Ė looking at that manÖI didnít really
know if I would be able to do it. But I did. Afterwards, I hurried away,
Then I told Pa I was staying
for the hanging. Micah had to convince Pa to allow me to stay. Donít be
upset with us, Milly. I know you donít approve of boys my age seeing such a
gruesome thing, but I had to! I just had to! I was lied to about his being
dead, and unless I was there to watch him hang, there was no way I could
ever believe it. Pa knew that, and so did Micah. Please understand.
We left after that. It was
a hard trip back and we actually got lost, if you can believe that! We
ended up in Mexico. Now, Iím sure you remember what happened last time Pa
and I were in Old Mexico. Well let me tell you, that was a picnic compared
to this time! Okay, so Pa wasnít hit in the throat with a rifle and hung
from a tree, but Micah was badly beaten and cut up, then buried in sand up
to his head. These menÖif you can call them that were these stupid (País
word, not mine) Mexican bandits. They didnít seem to have any sense and
were planning on keeping me as their slave; and kill my father.
Itís a long story, Milly.
Pa told me not to go into the details when I tell you, but let me just tell
you that I was really scared. Pa tried to get me to leave him and Micah
there, but I just couldnít do it! Oh, I know he was upset with me, butÖI
just couldnít let Pa stay there with Micah so injured. We didnít even know
if Micah would live or die. But we came through that experience together.
Pa killed all the bandits and helped the wife of one of the bandits have a
baby. Yep, Pa delivered a baby!
Okay, I have to close now.
Pa just said thereís a hundred things to do on the ranch. Pa says to tell
you hello. Heíll write later. País pretty tired from the ordeal. We both
convinced Mark to go to bed. Weíve been back three days and Iíve been
running non-stop. Itís been an exhausting ten days or so. Gee, I donít
even remember how long itís been. I got Mark through his latest ordeal, and
I know Mark told you about Mexico. He told me that he never wants to go to
Mexico again. I canít say I blame him.
Iíve been thinking
about you tonight. Well, I think about you every night, but tonight Iíve
been really thinking about you. I was remembering how much Mark and I
enjoyed you coming for supper and cooking for us. Oh, how I miss those
times! I guess itís because I just feel so very lonely right now and I
donít know why.
How are you, Milly? Have you adjusted in Kansas City? Have you made a lot of friends?
Have you settled?
Howís your mother?
that you mention thinking about me, because I was remembering all the times
I worried about you. Youíd have to go face some gunfighter or an outlaw of
some sort and I would just worry about you. Sometimes I had to keep Mark
calm. Oh, but do you remember when Mark and I were trapped in the store
with those stage coach robbers? I thought for sure they were going to kill
you! And who saved who that time? You know I saved your life!
I know how
lonely things can get, Lucas. Tommy and I have been spending a few evenings
together just talking and remembering back to the days when we were growing
up. We have an understanding that my heart belongs to another. I hope
thatís okay, Lucas.
tell me all the details about Mexico. Please tell me what happened! I was
so worried when I didnít hear from you when I should have. I did feel some
relief when I received the telegraph, but Markís letter sounded like things
got pretty bad.
Oh, another thing. I know you are holding on to the
General Store in hopes that I will some come back, and I
hope I will come back soon; but I want you to sell it.
Itís really very important to me.
The ordeal in
Mexico was bad enough. Letís just leave it at that.
You can spend time
with Tommy if you want. Youíre a grown woman.
I talked to Mr.
Griswald. Mark will be attending school full days for awhile Ė just until
he catches up on his school work. He missed so many days while we were gone
for the trial. When I told Mark, he wasnít happy but heíll obey me.
Speaking of Mark, Iím a bit aggravated at
that boy. I had to put him on restrictions for a week. Last
Saturday, instead of mending a fence like I told him to, he and some of his
friends decided to have a calf-roping contest on our ranch. Five
strays are now down in Choctaw Canyon. He was supposed to get them out
two days ago, but yesterday he decided to go fishing with Freddie! Heís
also neglecting his chores! Iím going to have a talk with that boy
when he gets home. Ever since Freddie came back, seems
Mark finds himself in trouble.
I better close for
Dear Miss Milly,
Boy, Pa sure is putting the
work on me! Heís really riled at me. He told me I have to do all these
chores, and Iím on restrictions for a whole week! I reckon it was the
calf-roping contest I did when I should have been mending a fence that
started the whole thing, but I think heís also missing you.
I mentioned your name today
about you thinking Pa cooked the best catfish. He got a big smile on his
face, which won me a small victory. Milly, I wish you could come home. Pa
misses you so much! But he does seem upset about something ever since he
read your last letter. Iím not sure what the problem is.
How are things in Kansas
I know I just sent
you a letter yesterday, but I have some good news. I was able to sell the
General Store. $1,000.00. Great deal, huh? I sold it for more than you
were asking. Okay, Iíll be honest with you, Mil. The truth is thatÖwell,
thereís this new woman in town. I thought YOU were feistyÖYou are a kitten
compared to this woman! Her name is Lou Mallory and she is shrewd. Iím a
bit embarrassed to admit this, butÖwell, it seems she knew the railroad was
coming to North Fork. She bought a lot of property, including the hotel and
the General Store, for a profit.
I will wire you
the money. Iím to settle with her in the morning. Oh, I have to tell
youÖMark is spitting mad. Apparently he had a bit of a mishap while
rounding up those strays and he was saved by Lori! He is fit to be tied Ė
doesnít think a man should be saved by a womanÖEVER!
Iíll close for
something wrong? You donít seem to be yourself. If I said something to
offend you Iím sorry.
Of course, I
think you for the money. Iíve been busy here. Iíve been working harder at
the grocer and may use this money to invest in it. The business seems to be
really good here.
Iím sorry to
hear about your problems with Mark. Just remember that heís a boy. Every
boy needs a best friend. Remember back to when you were his age. And donít
you dare give him a hard time about Lori! Heís just now discovering girls.
I donít want him fretting about them. Iíll write him a few words of
encouragement Ė from a womanís perspective!
I think I know
whatís bothering your father, but I canít talk about it with you. Itís a
bit personal. He has no reason to worry, though. We are both lonely and
need someone to spend time with. Mark, adult relationships are difficult to
understand. I wish we could explain them to you better.
told me about Lou Mallory. He doesnít seem to like her very much. Is she
really that mean? Is she like an old, snobby woman or something? Just
Your father told me you were riled because Lori rescued you.
Let me tell you a few things about women Ė at least as far as Loriís
concerned. Some women arenít prissy and waiting to be rescued.
You know me, I know how to speak my own mind, I know my own mind, and I
donít hesitate to use it. It took a while for your father to warm up
to that but he did. Lori is an only child and her fatherís girl.
He raised her more like a boy than a girl but sheís finding at her age that
she likes boys. You just treat her with respect no
matter what your personal feelings
toward her are.
Kansas City is
fine. Thereís always something going on, and there are a lot of people
here. Iím staying busy working at the grocer and spending time with my
I love you,
Mark. Give your father a hug for me. I think he can use one.
Oh my sweet Milly,
I miss you so much! Iím sorry for the shortness of the letter I wrote you
but I guess I was a bit bothered by something you told me. I donít want to
talk about it. Please understand.
This Lou Mallory
is going to take some getting used to, Iím afraid. Sheís very bossy and
speaks her mind. She has a head full of red hair, and it matches the red in
her eyes a lot of the time. She is from Ireland if that tells you
anything. You know how those Irish women could be. Do you remember the
Jackmanís Ė that stupid man and his stupid sons? Well, they kidnapped Lou
and took her to their farm or ranchÖwhatever you want to call it. I had to
go out there and rescue her and she was spitting fire! I mean, she was mad!
Anyways, Mark has
taken to her and he arranged for us to have dinner at the cafť with her one
night. Apparently her folks died when she was young and sheís had to do a
lot on her own. She seems nice enough, but she doesnít hold a candle to
I canít believe
the store is sold. When I walk in there now, itís not the same. I keep
expecting to see you in there. I guess a lot of things have changed Ė and
not all for the good.
I hope this letter
finds you well.
I donít know
how much Pa told you about my Ma and how she died, but today, I was forced
to remember that horrible day. You see, Miss Lou Mallory hired some girls
to help out in the hotel. One of them was sick and Dr. Burrage said she
might have small pox. Thatís what my mother died from. I was outside the
hotel. Pa was inside. He was stuck in there with that sick woman and I was
Oh Milly, that
was a horrible time in my life Ė when my mother died. It was so hard for me
to understand at the age of six. I was so worried for País safety. I was
so afraid that he was going to get it and I didnít know what I was going to
do. But you will be relieved to know that the girl had measles Ė not small
I wish you had
been here, Milly. You would have known just what to say to make me feel a
little better. You probably would have given me a slice of that apple pie
you make so well, then made me talk it all out.
everythingís okay now. I love you, Milly. And I miss you.
Now thatís the
tone I like to hear. I wonít pretend I donít know whatís bothering you. I
never meant to hurt you Lucas, but I do believe in being honest. Thatís all
I was doing.
Things arenít going so well here right now. I saw someone the
other day that stirred up a lot of bitter emotions. She was a
close friend of my brotherís. Okay, maybe she was closer than a
friend. Anyways, she was pretty upset with me after his death.
Sheís held a lot of anger inside for so long and when she saw me
she just yelled at me for a long time. I canít say that I
didnít deserve it, because she was right Ė I didnít give my
brother the respect he deserved. I ran as far away from him as
I could get, and didnít even have the decency to go to his
service to say goodbye.
Actually, thereís more to it than that. You see, the day
my brother left he asked her to marry him. I didnít know it,
but that very day they went to the Justice of the Peace and they
did marry. She never told anyone. He had to board the train
just an hour after the ceremony and never had a chance toÖShe
had such regrets about that. You know how it is when youíre
young. You just never think somethingís going to happen. She
never told the family, and I just donít think my mother could
handle it right now.
Before she left, she did accept my apology, but our
friendship will never be the same. We were sisters,
yet we werenít sisters. Weíll never be sisters now.
I was so upset, and Tommy expected me to go to this dinner
engagement with him that evening. I just couldnít find
it in my heart to do so. I needed someone to share my
pain, and thatís just not something Tommyís willing to do.
If I canít give him my heart, than he canít get ďemotionally
involved.Ē Thatís what he called it. I couldnít
share this with Mother, either. Not with her delicate
state right now. So I had to cry into my pillow that
My sister is coming down from Denver for a
visit. Sally will be coming with her. Iím not sure how that
will go, but I know my sister will put the pressure on me to
stake down here in Kansas City. She never did forgive me for
going out West, and if I came out West againÖWell, anyway, I
love her dearly but she told me sheíd never come to my wedding
were I to marry a rancher. She thanks our family should stay
ďrichĒ and ďpure.Ē She doesnít want our family marred by ďpoorĒ
I just received Markís letter today. Iím sorry for the
ordeal he had to go through. It must have been horrible for him
to believe you were contacting the same disease as his mother.
Iím glad everything turned out alright.
Motherís calling me for dinner. I really must go.
Iím sorry if some of the words are smeared, but I couldnít
keep the tears from falling. I feel so close to you
when I write these letters. I know that if you were here
you would comfort me. Youíd tell me to ďcry it out.Ē
And I would!
Give Mark a
kiss for me, and tell him to give you one from me as well.
I love you
both and miss you dearly,
Iím so sorry I
couldnít be there in this difficult time. I think people should be more
understanding and sensitive toward your feelings. Donít they understand the
hardships youíve been through? You know how I feel Ė one shouldnít judge a
person until they walk a mile in that personís shoes; and even then, they
should step lightly.
Oh Mil, I could
feel your pain in your letter. I wish there was something to sayÖI just
donít know what to say. I hope things are better for you now. When is your
sister supposed to come? I hope she didnít give you a hard time.
On a lighter note,
our boy is all upset again. He went into town to get the latest magazine.
This monthís feature is Johnny Drako. I donít know if I ever told you about
him Ė we practically grew up together. Then we grew apartÖsort of went
opposite directions. He became a gunfighter and, well anyhow Mark didnít
get the magazine. He decided to arm wrestle Jeff Connors for the last
magazine and he lost. Can you believe that boy? Fifteen years old and heís
still reading those fictionized old stories!
I have to get
ready to ride into town. I miss you, Mil.
I didnít receive a letter
from you with País last letter. He told me you were having a hard time. I
hope things are better and you can write me soon. I miss you a lot.
Pa sent me to bed, but told
me I could write you a letter to put with his. Iím having to do it by
lantern light in bed.
Milly, Iíve had another one
of those growing up times País always telling me about. Johnny Drako, the
famous gunfighter, came to town. Oh, I was so excited! I finally talked Pa
into going to town and I just stood at the window of the saloon and looked
at him. He motioned for me to come inside, and when I did, he gave me some
pretty stern words that were really hard to swallow. He made me pick up his
gun then was proud when I sat it right back down. Then he told me something
Iíd never really thought about before: He said that the first man who held
the title of ďfastest gunĒ had it taken from him by another. I never really
thought of it that way.
Then I got to thinking about
Pa and how he was sort of a gunfighter too. Pa explained to me that Johnny
Drako became a good shot and was ďforcedĒ into gun fighting a lot of times.
Why did I ever let myself think that gun fighting was something to be proud
of? Pa put it pretty bluntly when he said that there is no ďGOODĒ or ďFAIRĒ
gunfight. A gunfight means someone is pointing a gun at someone else with
the intent to kill them.
Do you know why Johnny came
to North Fork, Miss Milly? He came because he wanted to live out the rest
of his life in peace. But then some outlaws rode into town and stole my
horseÖOh, not Blue BoyÖHe had a sore foot at the time. I wanted them to
just let the outlaw ride out with it. I didnít think it was worth anyone
dying over. But those men wouldnít have it that way. Pa, Micah, and Johnny
all stood up against them and they rode out. There was no gunfight after
Before Johnny rode out, he
told me and Pa that heíd find peace and quiet in the same place every
gunfighter does. It was sort of sad. As I watched him ride out, I wondered
if Iíd ever see him againÖor if Iíd hear that he found his quiet place among
the other gunfighters who had gone before him.
Pa just came in and said
lights out, so I have to close now. I miss you, Milly. I hope things are
better for you.
My Dearest Milly,
Iím worried about
you, honey. I havenít heard from you in some time. The last letter you
sent me had me worried. Please write and let me know whatís going on.
Mark is growing
up. He had three girls chasing him. Oh now, donít you worryÖI put a halt
to all of it. I told him he had to talk to the girls and inform them he was
to concentrate on school work. He wasnít too happy with them or me Ė felt
he was being punished for something that wasnít his fault, but I told him
that sometimes these things just fall in our laps. Then I had to get Miss
Lou Mallory out of a sticky situation when one of her old acquaintances
showed up in North Fork and proclaimed he was going to marry her. I showed
him in that pleasant manner of mine that nobody treats a woman the way he
treated her. That was, of course, after Mark gave me a lecture of my own!
Iím going to keep
this short this time. Iím worried about you.
$525.50! Thatís how much I
made on the crop I planted this year. Can you believe it? We had a rough
drought this year and many of our neighbors lost their crop, but not me! I
sweated and watered everyday and I made it! I made it big! Arenít you so
proud of me?
Milly, we havenít heard from
you in quite awhile. Iím worried. You know how I feel about you and I
expected to hear from you by now. País awful worried too, Miss Milly.
I keep thinking about all
the times Iíve come into town after school and sat with you at the table to
have pie and milk. As I sit here tonight, I wonder what it would have been
like if youíd been there earlier in our lives. Maybe you and Pa would have
married and I would have had a mother like the other kids who would have a
snack all ready for me after school. I could talk to you about my problems
and youíd help me solve them in a motherly way. Sometimes, youíd even sweet
talk my Pa. I really miss thatÖ
But Milly, I miss YOU! I
just want to know you are okay.
I love you.
This will be the
last time I write to you until I hear from you. It breaks my heart not to
hear from you. Iím awfully worried. I hope everythingís okay and you are
just really busy.
Itís been a pretty
rough day for me. Mark and Freddie got in a big fight over a discussion
about rifles. I had to have a heart-to-heart talk with Mark tonight. It
was rough, but tonight I realized just how much my boy is becoming a man.
Iíve figured out that maybe heís ready for a rifle.
everythingís okay with you, Milly.
Milly asked me to write a brief note to you. She has been
very ill, Iím afraid. She was mugged on her way home
from work one day and was roughed up pretty bad. The
police found the man that did it. Heíll be behind bars for
a long time. Unfortunately, she was already under a lot
of pressure. Sheís been dealing with things she canít talk
to me about. And then her sister came. Milly and my
older daughter are like night and day. They are so
different and some pretty harsh things were said. Milly
was very upset. The assault happened the day after her
sister left Kansas City. The beating really took its toll.
She is just getting over pneumonia.
Lucas, please donít be upset we didnít write you sooner.
She asked me not to because she was afraid youíd come,
and she said sheís not ready for that. Please donít be
angry with her, Lucas. She does care for you a great deal.
She said give Mark a kiss. Sheís on the road to recovery,
but it will be some time before sheís completely better.
Things were pretty hard for us there for awhile.
Iíll try to keep you informed.
My Dearest Milly,
I received your
motherís letter today. It came to quite a shock to me upon hearing about
your illness. I was out the door, getting ready to go to Kansas City.
Micah talked me out of it.
Oh Milly, I want
to be there right now taking care of you. It hurts me very much to hear
that you were treated in such a manner. Of course, you know if Iíd been
there that man may not have made it to jail ÖIt burns me up inside to think
that a man beat you up.
My heart is
breaking right now. I canít wait to read a letter written in your hand so
Iíll know to stop worrying, but until I see you standing in front of me, Iím
afraid my worrying will go on.
I havenít told
Mark yet. I suppose Iíll tell him tonight while weíre sitting out on the
Milly, all these
weeks Iíve been worried thatÖwell, it seems so silly now. Iím not happy
that you kept this from me, Iím sure you know that. And you are right. If
I had heard you had been beaten and were sick, I would have rushed right
down there to you.
Holding you in my
Iím so sorry
for being silent for so long. Oh again, I must apologize for the ink
running, but I just know Iíll be in tears before this letterís written.
I know you
wanted to be here and help me through this difficult ordeal. Thatís why I
couldnít tell you. Oh, please donít be upset with me. I knew that if I saw
you that I would have melted in your arm. well, I have very deep, warm
feeling for you and Iím afraid I still have some things to deal with before
we can even think about being together. Oh, I miss you so much, Lucas. I
miss you more than words can say.
My sister came
to visit us for a few days. Sally couldnít make it, which meant she would
have many opportunities to tell me about everything Iíve done wrong. I
tearfully told her about my brotherís marriage and having met the widow, and
she was appalled. She told me the woman had to be making the entire
incident up because Ted would never do something so stupidÖI couldnít
believe this! My own sister was saying such horrible things about our
Then she started in on me, telling me that I deserved
everything I got. I had ran away when Father and
Mother needed me so badly. I sent my father to an
early grave. I showed no respect to my brother because
I ran away. I have hurt my mother and I am the reason she
had the strokeÖIt was a very emotional few days. Then
when I told her I planned on going back West someday, she
told me sheíd go to mother and talk to her about changing
the will. Oh Lucas, it was just horrible! I had
to beg her not to talk to mother about any of this! I
had to get down on my knees and beg! Itís not the
willÖI could care less about that. Iíd rather have my
Mother than anything else. But if she went to my
mother, she would have told her about Ted, and I didnít want
her to know.
A couple days
after my sister left, I was traveling to the bank with a large amount of
cash. Somehow this man who had been in the store earlier knew about the
money. He also seemed to know I would be taking it to the bank. He tackled
me and pinned me down as he searched for the money. Luckily, he found it in
my handbag. Then he left. Of course thereís more to the story than that,
but thatís all you need to know. I got really sick as I recovering and
developed pneumonia. The doctor was really worried for awhile, Lucas. He
said that all the pressure I was under really added to it.
It took forever for me to recover through that. I
looked forward to your letters, Lucas. I had Mother
read all yours and Markís to me every day. Those are
what got me through.
I must close
for now. Motherís insisting I lay down and rest. Please donít worry. Iím
My Sweet Mil,
How can you write
me a letter like that and tell me not to worry? Oh, my heart is broken for
what you went through. I am worried. Iím very worried about you. Oh Mil,
whatís keeping you there? What are you looking for? I want us to be
together. I have this sudden desperate need to protect you from all that
terrible stuff, donít you understand?
I want to come and
kill that man for putting his filthy hands on you! Please tell me exactly
what he did to you, Mil? Did he hurt you badly? Oh honey, Iíve got to
know! As for your sister, she sounds spiteful and jealous of you. Could it
be that sheís jealous for what you have and she doesnít want you to have
anything more? Could it be, Milly, that she saw how happy living out West
and all meant to you and maybeÖthe relationship you and your brother had Ė
one that she never got to share?
As for your not
telling me, Milly, you should have notified me right away! I would have
come and comforted you! I would have been there to help you and your mother
through this. Oh Milly, IÖI just donít know what this is Iím feeling right
now. I feel so helpless, yet I feelÖWell, I feel something else.
Take care of
Pa told me tonight that
youíve been going through a rough time. He wouldnít give me any details
because he said they were private, and only you could tell me. Milly, what
happened? I know Pa told me not to ask you, but Iíve got to know. Are you
sick? Are you going to get better?
Iíve got some good news.
Maybe this will cheer you up. You know how Iíve been asking Pa for a
rifle? Well, he finally broke down and let me have one. It was a rough
start Ė I met this man, whom I think was a lot like Pa was when he was
rather young. He was young and cocky. Pa said he learned to shoot way too
early. Anyhow, Pa and I got into some fights over him. Pa didnít want me
to visit with him because he thought h e had tried to rob Miss Lou, but I
insisted on seeing him. It turned out that Pa was right.
Anyhow, Pa told me to get a
move on. Heís awfully worried about you, Milly.
fully recovered now. I still tire easily and my mother worries, but the
doctor doesnít see any reason for me not to make a full recovery. Please
stop worrying. Oh Lucas, Iím sorry Iíve upset you. That wasnít my
intention Ė not at all! And I know you donít understand why Iím still
here. There are some unresolved issues Ė issues I cannot discuss, not even
with you. Please understand, Lucas. I still care for you very, very
I know what
you are worried about, and Iím sorry I didnít give you more details now.
The attack wasnít that bad. The man slapped me a few times. He punched me
in the ribs and broke one of them. Thatís what caused the pneumonia. Then
when he heard voices behind him, he stopped. I donít know what he would
have done if someone didnít show up.
about my sister gave me a lot to think about. I had suspected these things,
but never voiced them aloud. When I read your letter, I felt a release
knowing that what you told me was true. I did tell her about you and she
told me you were definitely not marriage material. I thought that was funny
because if I were to ever get married, Iíd want to marry someone like
youÖeven if you are rough around the edges.
Mark told me he finally has his rifle. Howís that
going for you? Iím sure itís hard watching our boy
doing such a grown up task. It would be hard for me.
Iíd probably watch him shoot one time then run to him and
tell him letís go have some pie. Thatís enough
practice for today! You know how I am.
Iíve got to
get ready for work now. I canít wait to hear from you. Lucas, can we not
mention what happened anymore? Iím truly ready to move on.
Oh, I miss
you! And I love you so much! Your País right, the things that happened are
pretty private. I want to keep them between the two of us. I will tell
you, though, that Iíve had some worries and then I was mugged on my way to
the bank. But Iím all better now. Donít worry, Mark. Iím on the road to
Iím so proud
of you for getting a rifle, but I ask you to remember that the rifle is a
tool. Please treat it as such. And please go easy on your father. Iím
sure this is all so hard for him.
I sit here under the lamp light at my desk, I canít help but to
feel that you need me right now. I feel this hard, sick feeling
in the pit of my stomach. Is something wrong? I just feel like
you need me to hold you while you cryÖI hope itís just all my
emotions and the fact that I miss you.
I love you
My heart is so
heavy and troubled tonight. Mark has just been through a storm. Itís a
storm that was so dark Ė so deep Ė that I really wondered if we were going
to survive it. He didnít want to write and tell you about it, but he told
me I could. Heís so afraid that you will hate him. I told him you would
act like any motherÖyou would forgive him.
Some boys came to
our house one day. His friend Charlie was bragging about my rifle and
Charlieís cousin wanted to see it. I suppose they conned Mark into letting
them see it by saying my rifle was nothing special. You know how sensitive
Mark is. Words do hurt him as much as sticks and stones. Well anyway,
thatís when tragedy struck.
Milly, Charlie is
dead. His death is the fault of two boys: Charlieís cousin andÖMark
McCain, my son. These words are even hard for me to write, but I must write
them, Milly. I must tell you that a child died at the hand of my son. The
boys struggled with the rifle. Mark was trying to get it away from the boy
when it went off. Weíre not really sure whose hand Charlie died from.
Oh Milly, Iím
sorry for the words smearing, but I canít keep my own tears from falling as
I write this. I had to watch my son suffer through something so terrible!
I wanted to take his pain away, but removing his pain would have only caused
more problems. I did an awful lot of yelling, and I was pretty strict in my
punishment. He fell into a pit of guilt and self-pity. At his lowest
point, he was so depressed and so agonized over everything that he actually
told me he wanted to die. He hated the sight of my rifle and wanted nothing
to do with that. I struggled and struggled, trying to find the key to
unlock the hurt from his heartÖto make him accept the fact that he had
messed up Ė not my rifle.
Then one night an
escaped killer took Lou hostage at the hotel. I had put my rifle behind the
counter at her suggestion of speaking to Mark without the rifle. Mark and I
talked that evening, still not getting very far. I came to get Mark some
milk and saw Lou and that monster there. In the end, Mark was able to throw
the rifle to me and I killed the man. That action took so much out of our
boy, and I think thatís when he was at his lowest point.
It was such an
emotional aftermath, Milly, but I got Mark through it. Heís quickly getting
back to normal, but heís still trying to wrap his hands around the facts of
what happened. Itís hard for him, as you can imagine. Itís hard for me to
watch him, but Iím glad I could help him through this. Heís so strong,
Milly. And he cares so much about what happens to him.
Oh, I need to feel
your arms around me right now. I need to fee your kiss on my cheek as you
speak softly to me and tell me that this will be okay.
My heart broke
to hear about Markís most recent struggle. I hope he is better. It just
hurts me to think that Mark had to suffer through such an event in his
life. But Lucas, I must admit that I was happy to hear he went into such a
darkness because if he had dealt with this easily, we would have a lot to be
worried about. He needed you, and you were there, Lucas. You are a
Of course I
forgive him! If I had been there, I would have stood by the punishment you
dished out, because this is something that could not be left unpunished. I
would have taken him in my arms and comforted him, but I too would have
given him a stern lecture. Iím glad to hear heís finally taken
responsibility for what happened. Please hug him for me, Lucas.
him I love him, and Iím on my knees praying for him. Please tell him I want
for nothing more than to get on a train and come to him. But the distance
is against us, and by the time I get there I hope it would be over.
Iím including a letter to him with yours. You
read it and decide on rather to give it to him or not.
I certainly donít want to push the boy.
told me what happened to you. I know you two are dealing with this event in
your life the best way you know how. My heart broke when I heard of the
tragic events. Those are the worst sort of lessons to learn, Mark. I wish
you hadnít had to learn such a dark lesson. There is a darkness inside all
of us, Mark. Even your father and I could experience the darkness.
I told you in
my last letter that I felt you needed me. I suppose I was feeling your hurt
all these miles away. I did pray for you that night, Mark. I prayed so
please know that I love you. I could never hold such an event against you.
You have my forgiveness if you need it. After hearing about the struggle
you went through, Iím more convinced than ever before that you are your
I wish I could
have been there to help you through this ordeal, but it sounds like your
father did an excellent job. The important thing, Mark, is forgiveness. As
long as youíve asked your fatherís forgiveness, Charlieís familyís
forgiveness, and Godís forgiveness you will be okay. But Mark, you must
forgive yourself. Until you do that, no one else can forgive you.
And thatís the end of my motherly lecture. Letís
move on. As long as you are over this, thereís no
reason to ever mention this event againÖunless you need to.
So, tell me
about this Lou Mallory your father talks about.
Mark told me you were asking about Lou Mallory. I told him he could
tell you anything he wants to, but I want you to read my letter first.
So Iím folding his
letter with mine so there
will be no mistakes.
I knew you would
ask eventually, and Iíve been preparing myself for this day. Milly, when
you were here, I felt aliveÖreally aliveÖfor the first time in a long time.
Iíd called on a few ladies from time to time, but I never had any desire to
pursue anything with them. I felt this hole deep inside me that none of
them could fill.
Then you came
along. Now, I must admit that when you first came to North Fork, I wasnít
too impressed. You didnít give me much to be impressed with. After all,
you were bossing me, and that was something I just wasnít used to. But then
that night after I killed those two men that were collecting money for you,
I looked into your eyes. You silently asked me for my forgiveness. I saw
somethingÖa beauty I hadnít seen in a long timeÖin your eyes. And in that
moment, you managed to warm that dark, cold spot I had deep inside me.
You told me once
that you werenít too keen on fishing. But that evening, I felt you had me
hooked and you were getting ready to yank me in. Then after I said those
magic words, you rewarded me with a smile that completely melted my heart.
Ever since then Milly, there was no one else I ever wanted to be seen alone
with except you.
Then you left. My
heart broke that day, Milly. Now, donít think that I hold anything against
you because I donít. I understand you had to leave. Since youíve left,
Iíve learned just what you mean to me and my heart still warms when I think
of your smile or feel your lips touching mine. The thought of you keeping
company with another man just burns me up inside.
misunderstand me. I donít write these things to upset you. I want very
much for you to come back to North Fork because when you doÖ
But Milly, Iím
lonely. Without you, I feel this huge gap missing from me. Oh my sweet
Mil, I want to dance every dance with you. I want to watch every sunset
with you. I want to sit down in the back of your store and tell you all my
troubles like I used to. Iíve told you things that Mark doesnít even know.
Iíve told you things thatÖno other person alive knows because I trust you.
I can feel your heart, and I know you care for me.
Then Lou came into
town. She was a feisty red-head with a temper to match her hair! She knows
how to speak her mind, and does quite often! She sort of reminds me of you
in that when she has something that needs saying, she says itÖbut you may be
a bit nicer about saying it. Sheís attractive and sheísÖsheís a lot
different than you. I donít feel anything romantic toward her, and she
definitely isnít a woman I would ever settle down and marryÖBut sheísÖwell,
sheís fun to talk to.
One evening, I
came to talk to her. Over coffee I told her about Margaret and how lost I
felt after her death. Then I told her about you. I told her about how much
IÖcared for you and how lonely I was feeling. I also told her that you had
my heart. With that understanding, I asked her if I could call on her.
Milly, please understand how lonely I am! I just need someone of the
opposite sex to spend time with and toÖto talk to.
that she can have my companyÖand maybe a little piece of my heartÖbut she
could never have my devotion, because I feel Iím devoted toward another.
And I hope, Milly, that you know who that is.
You would really
like Lou. She may be feisty, but she is a great person. She is always
there ready and willing to help a person in need. Oh, but when it comes to
apple pie, YOU, my sweet Mil, take the cake! Her apple pie leaves a lot to
I miss you so
much, Milly. Please hurry home.
Thank you for
understanding. Your forgiveness means a lot to me.
Are you sure you want to
know about Miss Lou Mallory? I asked Pa, and he said it was okay, but heís
sticking my letter behind yours so he can tell you some things first. Ainít
that just like a Pa? He doesnít trust me to tell it to you straight!
Well, Miss Lou is a really
nice lady. Sheís a lot feistier than you are. Pa said he had enough
trouble keeping you happy. Miss Lou is a red-headed wolverineÖthose are
País words, not mine! She can be sweeter than chocolate cake one minute,
then meaner than a gunfighter at sundown the next. But sheís so nice,
Milly. País been going to see Lou on Friday and Saturday nights, and I
think they are going to a barn dance together soon.
Honestly, Milly, thatís all
I know. When I ask Pa about it, he just tells me their relationship is
ďcomplicatedĒ and itís something Iíll understand when Iím older. I hate it
when adults say that! Iím 15 years old. How much ďolderĒ does Pa want me
País standing over my
shoulder telling me to wrap it up. He looks really nervous to mail your
letter this time. Okay, okay, he said to say no more.
Love you, Milly.
Iím sorry itís
taken me a few days to respond to your latest letter, but I was coming to
terms with your words. I thank you for your honesty. Really, Lucas, you
donít need to explain why you are courting Lou. Youíre a free man. I lost
all rights to you when I left.
youíre gonna need a new pane of glass in that window, Miss Scott.Ē Those
were the words you said to accept my apology. It wasnít the wordsÖbut the
way you said them that made ME feel like you had just lassoed my heart.
You, Lucas McCain, pulled my heart right in.
about loneliness. I mean, these letters help, but they do little to take
away the loneliness for you I feel. Thatís why Iíve been spending time with
TommyÖbecause Iím lonely. He makes me laugh and can tell a story to make
you bust. You would really like him, Lucas. But he understands that he
canít have my heart because it belongs to somebody else.
Lucas, I donít
know when Iíll be able to come home. I want toÖso badly. I want to step
off that stagecoach and see you there to greet me. I want you to take me in
your arms andÖ
But can it
ever be, Lucas? Could you ever trust me again to just come home? How do
you know I wonít run away? You see, without answering these questions, Iím
afraid we could never really have a future and thatís why I hesitate to come
Honey, what can I
do to convince you that I DO trust you? What can I say to make you
understand? As for losing all rights to me, you didnít do that when you
left. You still have my heart, canít you understand that? Canít you see
that, Milly? I donít want Lou Mallory. I want you.
Milly, do you
remember that day by Millerís Pond? Do you remember what I said to you? It
still rings true. There is nobodyÖnobody on this earthÖwho could EVER fill
that empty spot my wife left when she diedÖbut you!
When you do come
back, Milly Ė And I do mean WHEN Ė you may get to arrive on a railroad.
Yes, it is coming to town. The men are working hard on building it, and I
fear that our boy has taken quite a shine to it. He has gotten himself into
quite a bit of trouble. Heís currently on restrictions Ė again Ė because
instead of obeying me and coming home to help me with the cattle, he and
Freddie (seems these days, I canít mention Mark without mentioning Freddie)
decided to go to the railroad camp instead. You can imagine how angry I was
when I finally found that boy!
Oh, and just WAIT
until you hear his latest idea! You better sit down for this oneÖ
I miss you, Mil.
So much has happened since I
lost wrote to you. It was quite awhile since we heard from you again after
Pa telling you all about Miss Lou. And you didnít even write me a letter!
Pa told me not to mention that to you, so donít tell him I brought it up!
Itís just that I really like getting letters from you.
First of all, I saw someone
killed in the General Store. Do you remember Mr. Winters? You know, he had
a wife and ten kids? Well, he was killed over $100.00. It really upset me,
so much to the point that I wanted Micah to outlaw the use of weapons in
North Fork. I was so upset. I said some things to Pa in anger that I
regret, but Pa didnít yell at me too much because he knew it was my hurt
that was talking. I was really convinced, thought, that we should just
outlaw firearms all together!
But then Micah went out of
town. He left Nils in charge. Iím sure your laughing like I did. But it
actually worked out for the best. You see, Nils got the same idea I did,
only he was able to do something about it and he made it illegal for anyone
to carry firearms in town. Then some outlaws found out and decided to use
it to their advantage. Well, letís just say Pa had to rescue me and Nils
and I had to admit that I was wrong. But then I mentioned to Pa that maybe
someday machines could take the place of horses. Pa didnít much like that
Did Pa tell you about the
cougar attacks? Do you remember how Pa told you I went into a darkness
afterÖthe accident? Well, Pa went into his own darkness only I didnít
understand it. You see, there was this cougar on the loose. He attacked
and killed some people. Then one night Mr. Toomey came and told us that Sam
Decovan had been found dead on the road home. It was horrible and I was
terrified after that. What with all the terrible stuff that had been going
on lately, I had already been having nightmares.
Well anyway, Pa was keeping
me awfully close to him and he let me go with him the day he hunted for the
cougar. Milly, he missed the cougar when it started to attack me. After
that, heÖhe just went into this darkness and he started acting likeÖlike he
had just tried to kill me or somethingÖJust a few days before, he had
insisted we keep talking aboutÖabout all the pent up emotions I was still
feeling for the stuff that had happened earlier. And then he completely
shut me out. He finally came home and apologized to me. We wept hard
together that night, Milly. Itís not often that I see my Pa that broken.
But nowÖIíve come up with an
idea to make money. Pa just shakes his head, butÖWhat would you think about
me raising chickens? Iím not talking about raising them to sell, but rather
for eggs. I could make a lot of money selling eggs and Miss Louís already
said sheíd buy them from me. I was thinking about building my own chicken
roosts. This year, Iíd let all the eggsÖwell, most of the eggs to hatch.
Then I could start collecting eggs next year. What do you think, Milly? Pa
doesnít much care for my ideas. I was thinking a hundredÖor maybe even more
chickens and he just shook his head and said NO!
Heís awfully riled at me
right now. I keep trying to explain to him that I like adventure, and the
railroad coming to town is a lot of adventure. Well, I better close for
now. I love you, Milly.
I feel so lost
right now. I came back to Kansas City to find myself. I wanted closure on
my brotherís death and on my fatherís death; but the truth is that things
have changed so muchÖNo, thatís not true. I have changed, Lucas. Iíve been
back for about six months or so now and I no longer feel like this is my
home. I donít know what I was thinking Ė of course a town as big as Kansas
City wouldnít just stop growing and changing because of meÖ.or rather, it
wouldnít be kind to my changes.
You see, my
father was a banker. Did I ever tell you that? He was the President of a
bank here up until my brotherís death. Then he retired. When I was growing
up, I attended fancy parties and wore evening gowns made with satin and
lace. I went to the opera and even helped out at the mission down the
road. My folks werenít rich, but we never wanted for anything either.
forced to put on these fancy gowns and go to these big, fancy parties and
Iím just so unhappy. When Iím dancing with Tommy, I get to remembering back
to the barn dances I attended in Santa Fe and North Fork. Those were so
much fun! And I remember that a Friday or Saturday night with a fellow in
the West is a walk in the moonlight or a stroll in a carriageÖMaybe even
dinner at the hotel. Out here, Iím expected to go to a French restaurant
and eat snails while the man Iím with talks about his money and influence in
Washington. Itís smothering me, Lucas.
another reason I came back, Lucas. This reason is just between you and me.
You see, when my father died he left me a great sum in his Will. I used
some of it to buy the General Store, but I still had a large amount
contesting the will. Oh Lucas, itís just been so rough. I love my sister
dearly, and I know my father did. He even explained to Mother that sheís
married with a family and they have money. But I am unmarried and have
none. I didnít ask for this, but I do want to respect his wishes, and his
wishes were for me to have it. My sister is of the opinion Ė and maybe
sheís right Ė that I lost my rights to his money when I abandoned my family
and ran away.
So, now you
know. I hesitated to tell you because I didnít want you to get the wrong
idea. I DO hope you can forgive me, Lucas. Just yesterday, I signed the
papers to release myself from the terms of the will. Mother has left me
provided for in her Will, and sheís put certain provisions there to make
sure her wishes will not be contested. My sister is allowing me to keep
part of the estate, but most of it will go into a trust for her children.
I, of course, have no children who will need a future secured.
Motherís kind gesture has caused me some problems. Sheís leaving me the
house. I donít want it, but I donít know how to tell her. Iíve accepted
the fact that I no longer fit into this sort of life. My heart is in the
rugged, unsettled West. How do I tell Mother without breaking her heart?
How do I tell her that the legacy she and Father wanted to leave me would be
nothing but a fraud if I accepted it? Oh Lucas, Iím soÖso confused.
As for my
coming back to North ForkÖAfter you read this letter, you may decide it best
I donít return. I tried to explain it the best I could. I didnít want you
to think I wanted to be rich or have anything to do with money. Itís always
been a part of me, and itís always bored me. I feel like such a failure!
So you see,
Iím very confused. The life Iíve always hadÖthe one I grew up withÖis no
longer here. I came back to find something that died, and I donít know what
to do. How do I come to terms with the horrible things Iíve done when they
just arenít here anymore?
Iím sorry Iíve
burdened you with this, Lucas. I will close for now.
My Dear Mark,
myself when I read about your egg idea. It sounds fascinating, of course,
but where would you put all those chickens, my dear boy? I can see why your
father didnít go for it. Perhaps you should start with twenty or so and see
how that goes. Then if you want more, you can buy more with the profit you
make. Itís just an idea. After all, your father is working a cattle ranch,
not raising chickens!
Iím sorry to
hear about all the hard times you and father have had. I wish I could have
been there to help you and your father, but you two have each other. You
can weather any storm.
Mark, I know
you miss me. I miss you so much as well! Iím trying to get my issues
resolved, but it is harder than I first thought it would be. Just keep
praying for me, as I know you do.
Iím sorry this
is so short, Mark, but I am rather tired after writing a lengthy letter to
Iím sorry itís
taken a while to get back to you, but thereís never a dull moment in the
McCain household! Between a trip to Santa Fe to visit some old friends, a
kid Markís age who wanted to kill me, Mark getting himself into a lot of
trouble (and Lou Mallory going with him), and the Railroad coming to North
Fork, my head is spinning
But, another winter is on
us and Iím hoping for a nice, calm winter. Is that
even possible? I
donít know but I certainly hope so! After the year Mark and I have
had, we could stand for a little LESS excitement around here. Iím
hoping Halloween comes and goes without too many hitches.
Now, about your
latest letterÖI can tell you are under a lot of pressure, and I wish I could
take you in my arms and help you deal with all this. You know I would, my
sweet MilÖI canít take you in my arms, but I can try to help you sort
through this, so letís just break everything down:
First of all I DO
want you to come home Ė very much, but I wonít pressure you. This is
something youíll have to decide for yourself. And I want you to stop with
this talk. You are under a lot of pressure right now, so I forgive you for
even thinking I could hate you for what you told me.
Second of all, you
are NOT a failure, Milly. If YOU are a failure, then I am too. If you only
knew the sort of person I was when Margaret started working on me. When I
came home, I wasnít the same 18 year old boy that had left earlier. I was a
cold, hard man who had killed fellow brothers over selfish issues, and in
the end their efforts failed. People remembered me as this stubborn,
prideful but very nice young man; but when I came back I was anything but.
Milly, when I came back and discovered my parents dead and buried and a
friend deadÖI bolted! I ran away far and fast. Did I ever tell
I was gone for
close to two years. I participated in some gun fighting, worked some cattle
trails, and even almost found myself engaged to a woman who could have made
me rich. But I wasnít happy with whom I became. I had too many drinks one
night and almost killed an innocent man. Thatís when I was able to take a
cold, hard look at myself; and I didnít like what I had become. I knew I
could never be that same boy I had been when I left for war; but I also knew
that I could never be who I had become. When I came home, I became very
ill. Margaret was there and she nursed me back to health. I asked her to
be my wife.
Life changes us,
Milly. I think youíve already established that you were wrong for running
away after your brother died; and you furthermore established that you were
wrong for not going home when your father died. Only you, Milly Scott, can
decide rather you were indeed right or wrong. I canít do thatÖyour Mother
canít do thatÖand your sister cannot. After my wife died, I too ran away.
I have no voice on that subject because I did the same thing you did.
Sometimes the pain cowardís us and thereís nothing powerful enough to make
Milly, you are
learning that you are not the person your Father and Mother shaped you to
be. You are Milly Scott and thatís good. Did running away change you? Of
course it did. You no longer want to be dressed in fancy dresses, attend
balls, and eat snails? Hey, I canít say that I blame you. But maybe itís
not that you no longer want to. Maybe it should be that you never
that; and running away helped expose that. So Milly, you are not a failure.
As for your
sisterÖBeth? Iím trying to find something nice to say about this woman,
Milly, but Iím failing miserably. I am very upset and shocked at the way
your own sister has treated you. It sounds like Ė and please correct me if
Iím wrong Ė that your sister harassed you to the point of your willingly
giving up the fight. Am I right, Mil? Is that what happened? Your sister
is a self-centered snob who should be helping you through these difficult
trials instead of causing you more pain. Iíve a good mind to ride up to
Denver and give her a piece of my mind!
Now, about your
fatherís willÖI donít blame you one bit for giving in to the contesting.
You are being the bigger person as far as your sister is concerned. I
never, for a minute, thought the money was important to you. And Iím happy
for what your mother has tried to do to appease you.
Your mother loves
you so much, Milly. It sounds like she understood your running away. It
sounds like sheís supporting you completely. And it sounds like she wants
you to be happy. Milly, take it from someone who knows how it feels to
leave so much unsaid. Talk to your mother while you can. Explain to her
how you feel. She loves you. Sheíll understand. You can always sell the
estate later and put the money in a trust for the children Iím sure you will
have some day.
I hope my letter
finds you well and you are able to resolve some of these issues. I hope
Iíve helped you, Milly.
Iím sorry I didnít get that
letter in with País the other day. I was on restrictions and he was riding
me pretty hard.
Have you ever read ďA Tale
of Two Cities?Ē We got some new neighbors all the way from England. He was
a book salesman over in England and brought quite a collection with him. As
a matter of fact, right now Iím reading ďThe Three Musketeers.Ē Thatís
because Pa keeps calling me, Freddie, and Billy that. It sure is
something! Iím enjoying reading all about these swords and such. Boy, that
must have been an exciting time to live!
Oh, and Mr. Bullock is also
helping me with my math. I made an A+ in math! I sure am happy about that.
How do the winters get out
there in Kansas City? Do you get much snow? We are in the midst of a
snowstorm right now. The wind is howling something fierce and Iím trying to
stay warm. País back is aching something awful but I canít get him to stop
working. I keep rubbing the stuff on it that Dr. Burrage gave him, but it
seems to hurt him worse this winter than usual. He said heís getting old,
but heís still awfully strong!
Iím about to go out and help
Pa with the chores. Iíll talk to you later, Milly.
Iím so sorry
itís been so long since the last letter but itís been a bit busy here.
Winters in Kansas City can be a bit hairy, and this one is no exception. We
got a rather major snowstorm back at the beginning of November. In fact,
your letter sat in our box at the post office for two weeks before it was
delivered to us. Then as soon as they got the streets cleared from that
storm, a second one arrived. I, of course, was at work. We were stuck
there for three days before someone came and rescued us. It really scared
me. We were almost out of coal, which is what was used to heat the
It really gave
me a lot to think about, Lucas. I was shivering from cold and I thought
about all that you have said to me. Iíve come to some decisions, but Iím
not ready to divulge them to you yetÖnot until I have a bit longer to think
about them. But I will tell you that your memories and smile kept me going
during those days.
Then at the
end of November, we got a third snowstorm. This time Mother and I were at
home. BUT surprisingly, my sister and niece had AGAIN arrived. My sister
was overly anxious to get our fatherís estate settled. When the snowstorm
hit, she was stuck here for two weeks. She only left a few days ago and
insisted she would not be home for Christmas this year. This news, of
course, upset my Mother, but then thatís what Beth is best at Ė upsetting
Beth saw me
reading one of your letters one evening. Oh, I was feeling lonely and took
out the letters you and Mark had written to me. I actually do that
sometimes. She sat down across from me and wanted to know who writes to me
that puts such a smile on my face. I told her about you.
Beth is my
sister, Lucas, and I love her. But what you said about her is right. She
is a self-centered snob. Iím sorry I have to say that about my sister, but
she assured me that if I married you, she would make sure that I never got
my hands on one single penny of the Scott money. I told her that was okay
because I didnít want the money. She called me some things that I wonít
dare repeat. She became so ugly with me.
Sally. Sally is so different from my sister. She is sweet and caring. She
puts others before herself. She tolerates her mother and respects her
because Beth is her mother, but Sally canít stand to be around her much. I
know when she was there in North Fork she talked about my sister as if she
was the most wonderful person in the world, but thatís Sallyís way. Iím
proud she turned out so well. I wish there was more I could do for my
My sister was
already 15 years old when I was born. She married at 16, so Iíve hardly
ever lived with her. After she left, my mother put an arm around my
shoulder and told me to pay no mind to her. That if I wanted to marry a
rancher with a small ranch, that was my business. Love was more important
than money, but that was something Beth never figured out. My mother said
Beth was born with a silver spoon in her mouthÖand one in her hand. Those
are horrible things for a mother to have to say about her own daughter, I
Listen to me!
Here I keep going on and on and itís Christmas! Iím sending you and Mark a
package via the train. It should arrive right around Christmas. Oh, I
remember Christmas last year. Do you remember it, Lucas? You invited me
out to the ranch. I cooked you two up a fine Christmas dinner and we just
sat around the house telling stories and laughing. Then I got stuck there
overnight because of the storm? Do you remember that? Oh, I sure do! I
noticed how upset you were when you realized I was going to have to stay
there all night. I was awfully riled at you and I told you I was no longer
going to fix you that apple pie Iíd promised you!
Oh, I just get
to laughing thinking about it! You sent Mark out to the barn to feed the
stock, then you walked into the kitchen where I was scrubbing a spot that
didnít need scrubbed. You said, ďMilly, that spotís been there since I put
the counter in.Ē Then I threw that scrubber down. You wrapped your arms
around me and you saidÖ
No. Iím not
going to tell you what you said. Iím going to see if you remember yourself!
Iíll be waiting for your reply, Lucas.
1885 (At least it better be!)
I wish I could
be with you on this special day. I hope you enjoy the gift.
December 26, 1885
My Dearest Milly,
Thank you so much
for the quilts. Mark and I both very much appreciate them! They will keep
us very warm on these long winter nights! When Mark opened the box (and yes
my sweet Mil, it was Christmas morning), I watched him lift the quilt from
the box and his eyes grew wide. We unfolded both of them and studied each
square you sewed together. I can only imagine the conversations that were
spoken over these quilts as you worked on them. Who else? Your mother?
I also loved the
McCain Brand you sewed into both quilts. Oh, how talented! These will
always be treasured! I do hope you enjoyed the gift that Mark and I sent
you via the train. I hope it got to you in time for Christmas.
mentioned last Christmas, because I remember that so clearly! I
anxious when the storm intensified and knew I wouldnít be able to get you
back to town that evening. I was upset youíd have to spend the night, and
you should have known why. I was merely concerned about your reputation, Milly! But there was nothing I could do.
Ah yes! You did
get riled indeed! You were just about to start peeling the apples I had
fetched for you from the cellar when I stupidly made the announcement that I
couldnít get you home. I still remember that look on your face as you
abruptly turned from me and went into the kitchen.
Oh, I chuckle about it now,
my sweet Mil. I knew Iíd have to explain things to you, but I didnít
want Mark around. He was sure surprised when I actually sent him to
the barn since I had just five minutes before told him the storm was too
fierce for him to go to the barn. But the storm that was brewing in
the house was much fiercer. I walked up behind you and wrapped my arms
around you. Then I said, ďIíd rather have you here every night, but
only when we are married. Iím not riled you have to stay. Iím
merely concerned about the talk in town.Ē
Then you turned
and stared at me. Iíd mentioned the ďMĒ word. After a few more moments,
you understood I wasnít ready for that, as I could tell you werenít ready
either. Then you smiled that beautiful smile of yours and batted those
eyelashes. I was rewarded with a great big kiss! I felt that was the
Christmas present I had wanted all day! But then WHO had to break the kiss,
Milly? Do you remember that part? It wasnít YOU!
But it went okay.
Mark and I gave you the bedroom and we slept in the front room. Of course,
you should have heard the teasing I got from Micah in town the next day!
But donít you worry, Milly. I sat him straight! I told him that if he ever
uttered a single word about this, Iíd take his shotgun and stick it where
the sun didnít shine! You see, my Sweet, I always get my point acrossÖone
way or the other!
And I DID get my
apple pie to boot! I told Santa Clause I wanted both those gifts from you
this year, but I got neither Ė the pie nor the kiss. But I suppose the
quilt will have to doÖfor now.
Again Milly, I am
sorry about your sister. Iím sorry you have a sister like that. Iím glad
to hear, though, that her daughter is turning out okayÖall things
considered. Just keep your chin up.
Happy New Year!
Thank you for
the quilt! I was so surprised when I pulled it out of the box. Your box
arrived on the train a few days before Christmas. When Pa was told about
it, he told me to go fetch it, but not to open it. Oh, you can only IMAGINE
my protesting, but he stayed firm on that. He even made me take it home and
set it under the tree. Do you know how hard that was? Pa said it was
teaching me disciplineÖI thought that was HIS job!
I hope you had
a Merry Christmas, Milly. I was just talking to Pa about our last Christmas
when you came out to the ranch and cooked us that wonderful turkey dinner!
This year we had Christmas dinner at the hotel with Lou and Micah. It was
good and I had fun, but it wasnít as special as last yearís. Maybe it was
special because you got snowed in and had to spend the night. It made me
feel so warm insideÖalmost like you were my Ma and lived there with us. Oh,
and of course you and Pa kissing in the kitchen while I peaked in the window
(but donít tell Pa that!). I wouldnít tell you, except youíre too far away
to give me a hand on the backside or an ear-pulling. I donít mean any
disrespect, Milly. But I could tell you and Pa really loved each other. In
factÖyou still do.
I watch Pa
when he gets your letters. He sits down in the chair and just stares at it
while he reads it. I canít even get him to hear me when heís reading.
Sometimes late at night, I stand in the doorway and watch him with your pile
of letters. He just shifts through them one after the other and reads
them. Now, if that isnít love I donít know what is.
I better go.
Itís getting late and looks like another snow is coming in. Pa wants to get
Iím SO glad you and Mark
liked the quilts. Yes, Mother
and I worked on them for months! I wanted to show what
you two mean to me, and Mother said there isnít anything
much more special than a patchwork quilt. We spent hours
over the months, and as we worked, I told her story after
story about you two. She laughed and
By the way, Lucas, I got to
thinking about my last letter and how I mentioned the ďMĒ
word, as you so delicately put it. Those were speaking in
generalities. I hope you didnít think I meant anything by
This has been such a hard winter! It seems like weíve had
storm after storm out here. Iím ready for an early spring.
Perhaps by the end of January weíll find some sort of break
from this cold, harsh winter. I donít think Iíve even seen
grass since it all started back in November! Will spring
Oh, Iíve some exiting news to tell Mark so Iíll close
Oh, and I did get the stationary
as you can see. Iím sure your friend Lou helped you
pick it out. Itís almost too beautiful to write on!
Take care and stay warm!
I wanted so badly to get this letter written last night, but
it just wasnít to be.
You told me in one of your letters a few months back about
Machines taking the place of horses. Well, no doubt
the train has replaced the covered wagon, but have you ever
heard of an automobile? They are already seen in the
East Ė further East then Kansas City. BUT, my Dear
MarkÖthere was a man here from the East and he had a
miniature horseless carriage he was showing off. It
runs on some sort of fuel and water. Itís
extraordinary! I wish you could have been here to see
it. He said that in other countries, some are already
using them to drive back and forth! I cannot imagine!
What would life be like without having to depend on the
horse? Even in Kansas City horses are seen everywhere.
Iím glad you and your father liked the quilts. I made
them with much love. As for your father loving me,
wellÖtime will tell. And donít you worry about seeing
the kiss. Iíll make sure to take care of you when I do
Take care, Mark.
February 2, 1886,
Boy, what a
month! Weíve had our own bout with weather! We had a hard snow at the
beginning of the month, but that was quickly followed by rain! Yes, I said
rain! It can stay rather warm here, and it lurked around freezing. Then it
rained for two days straight. Freezing rain Ė ICE! It killed a lot of our
trees. They fell down. My, but that ice storm reminded me of Gettysburg as
those limbs started snapping and trees started falling! Mark and I sure do
have a lot of cleaning up to do now so weíre going to be busy. But I reckon
that keeps us out of trouble.
Iíll have to keep
this letter short. Milly, Iím really missing you right now. I close my
eyes and your face is still there, but itís not as clear as it used to be.
I need to see you so I can remember how you look. Are things beginning to
clear for you?
My dear Lucas,
letter last fall really helped me clear several things up. I talked to
Mother about not wanting to settle in Kansas City. You know what she said?
She just smiled and said she has a feeling Iíll soon be settling in New
Mexico Territory. And she was happy about it! I told her I wasnít sure
about that, but she said, ďOh, I know,
Milly. I know youíll be there very
want to leave here. She said Iím not comfortable in the East, and she could
NEVER be comfortable living in the West. Oh, I would hate to ever leave her
behind! I just canít bear the thought ofÖ
Tommy and I went to a Sweetheartís Banquet a few nights ago. He wanted to
dance every dance with me. Iím not sure that I was too comfortable with
that. Every time somebody tried to cut in, he just glared at them. I
finally left and told him to dance with himself.
Iíll close for
now, Lucas. I miss you.
I started to send
you a telegram as soon as it happened, but I thought that would be too
cold. Iím afraid thereís been an accident. Mark fell from his horse and
heÖOh Milly, he canít walk! He canít feel his legs and Iím so scared for
him. I donít know what Iím going to do.
Oh Honey, you know
how Mark is. He has so much energy and loves ranching, but what sort of
life could he have if he canít walk? Whatís this going to do to him? Heís
so bitter. He hasnít said much, but I can tell how much heís hurting. Lou
and I are leaving soon to take Mark to Mission Springs down by the Mexican
Border. There are some hot springs there, and they have some sort of
Milly, please pray
for Mark. Iím terrified.
Oh, my heart
is breaking! I will await word from you that Mark is recovered. I dropped
to my knees and cried out to God the moment I got your letter. I wish I
could be there with him. Why didnít you telegraph me? I would have come!
I would have helped you care for him.
I will pray
without ceasing until I get word from you. Please take care. Wire me when
you get any news.
North Fork, New Mexico Territory
Milly. I can
walk. Thank you for your prayers. Letter to follow. Mark
Thank you for
praying for me. Pa had to do a lot of convincing to restore my faith, but
he did it and everythingís okay now. I can walk. I am going to be okay. I
really donít want to talk about it in a letter.
That was a
scary experience for me. I hope I never have to go through something like
that again. Itís amazing just how lost you feel when you go through
something like that.
Iím sorry this
letter is so short.
My sweet Mil,
Tears are running
down my face as I write. I canít begin to express to you the relief I
feel. Mark said heíd write you, but his letter is awfully short. You see,
he is still trying to come to terms with some of the stuff that he felt
during his recent ordeal. It hurt me so much to watch him suffer. I
watched my son lose all faith in himself. He didnít even want to try and
get better. He just kept telling me it was no good. He couldnít walk. He
was going to be a burden for the rest of his life.
It took things
getting much, much worse before he got better. An incident came up while we
were down there (I knowÖthis doesnít surprise you any, does it,
honey?)ÖAnyway, Mark almost froze to death. It was during that desperate
hour that he spoke to God. God helped restore his faith. Then the next day
when his faith started to waver, I was there speaking with God, reminding
Mark that God was there.
strangest part of all. When we got back to North Fork and we told Dr.
Burrage how we had soaked his legs, Dr. Burrage said that wouldnít have made
any difference Ė the problem was in his back, not his legs!
Do you see,
Milly? Soaking his legs did him no good Ė none at all! This was a matter
of faith Ė pure and simple. God chose this time to reveal himself to Mark
in a big way, and Mark has come out stronger then ever!
Thank you, Milly,
for all your prayers.
My Dear Lucas,
relieved to hear Mark is better. We all need to have a lesson in faith
every once in a while. I think that nowÖmaybe itís your turn.
Tommy and I
went out last night. When he brought me home, heÖhe kissed me. To say that
I didnít want it would be a lie, Lucas. I believe in honesty and I MUST be
honest with you. His kissing me though really woke me up. I felt nothing
in that kiss, and I longed to. I remembered what your kissing me did to me,
and thatís when I knew the truth.
Lucas, I know
I havenít told you how Iíve felt and Iím not sure Iím ready to say the words
quite yet. I have to know thoughÖwhere do you stand?
I broke things
off with Tommy last night. I told him I never wanted to see him again. He
was so selfish about that kiss. He wanted more and I told him I didnít even
want what he gave me. He told me I was old fashioned and I asked him to
leave. I thought Iíd feel loneliness, and I doÖbut not for him. I feel
relief. I feel like somebody has unlocked my cage and Iím now free. Do you
know what Iím saying, Lucas? Do you?
I know I just
wrote you a couple days ago, but I wanted to include a letter in with Markís
birthday letter. I do hope you arenít too angry with the things I said.
Iím afraid Iím chasing you away. I asked Mother what I should do, and she
told me to be honest, so thatís all Iím doing.
years oldÖ15! Oh, I can hardly believe it! What happened to the little 12
year old boy that walked in with you into the General Store? Thinking about
it makes me long for those days back.
Oh, I long to
see you and Mark again, Lucas. I miss you both so very much. And IÖwell, I
love you both.
Oh, how I wish I could
be with you on this special day. As I write these words, I smile at the
memory of your fourteenth birthday and how excited you were to turn a year
older. How I long to put my arms around you and wish you a happy birthday
like I did last year. I canít believe itís already been that long since we
Oh Mark, I only knew you
for two years, but those were two of the most precious years of my life. I
think of that time everyday and long for the day when I can return to North
Fork and see how much youíve grown. My heart has been so unsettled since I
left. I never realized just how much I left behind.
FifteenÖMy boy is
turning fifteenÖMy, where did the time go? It seems like just yesterday we
were at your house celebrating your thirteenth birthday. I remember crying
at how mature you acted when you gave the reward money away. More so, I
remember the pride in your fatherís eyes.
Mark, I know Iíve told
you before, but I want you to know just how very special you are to me. You
are like the son I never had Ė and I long to someday ride into North Fork on
the train and see you standing there, smiling, with your arms held out for
me. I long to see your father again as well.
Happy birthday, my
beloved Mark. Iíll see you very soon.
After receiving your
letter, I went into town and talked to Lou. I told her that I could no
longer spend time with her alone. I still want to be her friend, but
we could never be anything more. She was hurt because her feelings
toward me were more than friendship. It will take a few days, but it
will get better.
Iíll make a confession to
you, Milly. Iíve kissed Lou. It wasnít last night, but it has
happened. Itís loneliness that caused it, but thatís no excuse.
Iím sorry if Iíve hurt you. But I want you to know that we are both on
the same page. I too have opened my cage and am now free.
Milly, IÖI love you, honey.
I love you. Iíve loved you for a long timeÖeven before you left.
This is a story based on the TV
series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
Joan Taylor Brings
Romantic Interest to 'The Rifleman' Series
by Pat Morrison
The Modesto Bee, Sunday December 25, 1960
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
around The McCain Ranch