The Rifleman
Welcome to The Writer's Corner
Fan Fiction

The Wedding
A Bring Back Milly Production
by Michelle Palmer

Chapter 8:  Trials and Tribulations

The next morning was chaos in the McCain house.  Lucas fixed a quick breakfast as Mark continued to look around for lost items.  First he couldn’t find his other boot.  Then he lost the pants Lucas insisted on him taking with him.  Then he and Mark argued over Mark’s wearing a tie into Kansas City.  Mark argued he was old enough to make his own decision about the tie, and Lucas argued that as long as he lived under his roof, he’d do as he was told.  “You always dress your best when you’re going to meet new people for the first time.  Besides, Milly would be horrified if she knew you met her mother without being properly dressed!  She wants you to make a good impression on her mother!”

Mark sighed as Lucas held out the tie to him.  He stuffed it in his jacket pocket, that he was also being forced to wear and promised his father he would put it on before getting into Kansas City.  Lucas nodded, accepting the compromise.

“Let’s go, Mark!” Lucas ordered five minutes later as he sat on the wagon seat.  Mark didn’t appear in the door.  Lucas rolled his eyes and sighed.  “Mark, if I have to tell you one more time, I’ll…” Lucas thought of a just punishment.  “I’ll tell Milly to have another talk with you!”

Mark was out the door and on the seat in no time at all.  “You sure you got everything?”

“Yes sir, I think so.”

“Now, you remember to put your tie on before you get into Kansas City.  We want you looking presentable.”  Lucas grew quiet as he rode.  Mark had never gone on a trip without him and he couldn’t help worrying about his boy.

When they arrived in town, Lucas and Mark hurried to the church and moved the benches around for Sunday.  Then they went to the hotel.  Lou began chastising Lucas for getting Mark in so late.  She wanted to feed the boy a really hearty meal before he left.  Lucas tried to explain Mark was the reason they were late, but Lou simply put her hands on her hips and ordered Lucas not to put the blame on the child.

‘Child!’ Mark thought to himself.  ‘Well, if it keeps someone else from yelling at me or lessening Pa’s anger about me being so slow this morning, I guess I can handle being called a child.’

When they were almost done eating, Lou brought a sack to them.  “There is good, nourishing food in there!” Lou declared.  “I don’t want you and Micah eating that train food!  My food will stick with ye!” Lou declared.

Lucas knew it was time to head to the train station.  As he walked, he became tense.  Milly noticed his silence and put her arm around him to comfort him.  Lucas looked down at her and smiled worriedly.  Then when they got to the station, Mark and Lucas walked up to the window and purchased his ticket.  It was really hard for him to ask for one ticket instead of two, but then he told the agent that the Marshal would be traveling with Mark, and that made his heartbeat slow a bit.

Lucas had just turned from the window, when the conductor called for “All aboard”.  Lucas’s heart started beating faster as he looked down into his son’s uplifted face.

Milly stepped away from Lucas and Mark, allowing father and son to share a private moment.  She knew this separation was her doing, but she also felt she was doing something for both of them.  Mark needed to feel more independent and have adventure before he found a nice gal he could fall in love with. ‘Besides,’ Milly thought to herself, ‘Who knows, he may find that special someone on this trip.  Not that I’m wanting to push him into marriage and out of the house…’

Lucas turned to Mark.  He felt his eyes moistened, but kept his emotions in check. “I’ve taught you how to behave, son.”  Lucas’s voice suddenly broke at the end.  Mark merely nodded.  “I want you to obey Micah and…”  But Lucas suddenly lost his voice.  His son was really growing up.  Mark didn’t need him as much as he used to, and that was rough.  He saw the excitement in his son’s eyes.  He wondered if Mark would even miss him.

“Pa, I know.  I’ll be fine,” Mark said.  Lucas was disappointed as Mark rolled his eyes and turned to get on the train.  He couldn’t let it end like this.  He wanted to feel missed and loved.  Lucas reached out and grabbed Mark by the collar, suddenly feeling like he was the scared little kid and Mark the brave parent about to go away.

Mark turned around.  The expression on his face changed from one of annoyance to one of care and concern after he saw his father’s face.  “Pa, I’ll miss you,” Mark assured him with a nod.  “But…I’m going on an adventure.  Think back to when you were my age.”

Lucas nodded.  That’s exactly what he didn’t want to do.  He remembered wanting to spread his wings so wide and fly away so fast that he’d go far, far away.  He figured that at some point, every boy felt that way.  And unfortunately, his son was no exception.  The relationship he and his son had was so tight and so special.  They had depended on each other for everything these last 15 years.  And now he needed to let his son stand on his own two feet.  Lucas swallowed the lump in his throat.  “I…love you, Mark.”

 “I love you too, Pa.”  He hugged Lucas, suddenly growing sensitive to the trouble of a father letting go for the first time.  Then he quickly disappeared onto the train.

Micah shook Lucas’s hand.  “Take care of the town, Lucas.”  Micah grinned.  “I’ll take care of your boy.”  Then he stepped onto the train.

Lucas knew Mark was excited.  This was an adventure for him.  But to a father, it was hard to watch his son traveling so far away without him.  It almost felt like…Lucas pushed down the memories from when he had traveled to Wyoming to help a friend of Micah’s.  That time, he had been forced to leave his son behind.  He had no choice when their entire herd had to be killed because of Hoof and Mouth disease.  Lucas had traveled to Wyoming to earn enough money to start over again.  It tore at him that he had been gone for over two months.  Lucas felt a single tear leave his eye and slowly make its way down his cheek.  He watched as Mark waved from the window as the train started down the tracks.  Mark’s face disappeared the further the train pulled away.  Lucas stood on the boardwalk and watched the train slowly disappear around the corner carrying his son.

 Milly slowly walked up to her fiancée and slipped her arm around Lucas.  “He’ll be fine, Lucas.”  She lifted a finger to his cheek and wiped the tear away.  She kissed his cheek where the tear had laid.

“Why did we send him away again?” Lucas mumbled as he continued to stare down the tracks.

“Again?  Lucas, you know as well as I do, he needs to spread his wings.”  Milly turned his head around.  “It’s good for both of you.  I’m sorry I caused this, but…you need to learn and let go of Mark…  Besides, it’s only for a few days.  It’s not like he’s going off to war and we don’t know when we’ll ever see him again.” Milly turned and looked toward the tracks.  “Mark needs to spread his wings without Papa bird around.”  She smiled at him.  “He’ll be fine, honey.”

Lucas lowered his head and nodded.  Then he put his arm around Milly as they started back to town.  The morning had been an emotional one and Milly guided Lucas toward the hotel where Lou had some good, hot, strong coffee waiting.  She sat with Lucas and listened to him tell her story after story about Mark and his adventures.  She allowed him to talk knowing this was helping him come to terms with the newest step in Mark’s life.

They were still there at lunch, so they allowed Lou to serve them.  After Lucas was done eating, he stood up and placed his money on the table.  “I know you have a million things to do.  So do I.  I have to be back here tonight.”  He knew it would be lonely at the ranch knowing Mark was gone.  He was sort of glad he would have to stay in town and work tonight.  “See you later, Milly.”  Milly watched him turn and slowly walk out of the hotel.

“Well, how do ye like that?” Lou declared as she folded her arms.  “He didn’t even kiss ye goodbye.”

Milly stood beside Lou.  “He’s hurting, Lou.  He has his thoughts on Mark spreading his wings.  It’s hard for a father.”

Lou nodded.  “A father like him.”  Lou smiled.  “I wish there were more fathers like that.  It’s not often you see a father and son so close.  That’s one thing I noticed straight off when I arrived in North Fork – the relationship between those two.”

“Yes.”  Milly lowered her head.  “I’m wondering now if I made the right decision.”  She raised an eyebrow as she looked at Lou.  “…I mean insisting to send Mark on the trip with Micah.”

“”I’m glad ye clarified that statement, because if ye were thinking about backing out on your wedding…” Lou teased.  “You and Lucas will soon be married.  There will be some changes that take place.”  Lou nodded toward the door.  “This separation will give them both a chance to see that.”  She turned and looked at Milly again.  “I think you did the right thing.  You’re right.  Lucas can’t hold Mark that tight forever.”  Lou put an arm around Milly’s shoulder and smiled at her.  Milly finally turned her head and nodded.  “Let’s go see about that dress!”

***

Later that evening, Lucas stood in the street of North Fork and looked up at the hotel balcony.  Milly walked outside and looked down at him.  She smiled and waved at him as her hair blew in the small breeze.  Then he turned and went to make his rounds.

Suddenly, a man ran up behind him.  “Lucas, there’s two cowhands in the saloon making trouble!” he announced excitedly.

Lucas turned and ran down the street as he cocked his rifle.  He hurried inside to see two drunken cowboys standing among the tables staring at each other.  Each was in the drawing stance.  Each had a drunken fire in his eye. The saloon had been emptied by their bickering, save for a few men who were off to the side – out of the line of gunfire.  “Alright, that’s enough!” Lucas growled.  “What’s the trouble?”  Lucas rolled his eyes when he realized it was Jones and Sanders.  They usually spent their Saturday nights in jail.

“You stay out of this, McCain!” Jones yelled.  “You don’t want to get involved in this!”

“I’m already involved!” Lucas hollered.  “I’m the law!”

Jones laughed.  “The law…” He was so drunk he could hardly stand.  “Yes indeed!  Lucas McCain, the law…” he slurred his words.  “Hey everybody, the Rifleman is getting married!  Married in two weeks.”  Jones laughed.  “She’ll tame him so’s he won’t cause us anymore trouble.” While he talked, the cowboy turned and slowly drew his hand to his gun.  But Lucas’s keen eye saw his every move.  Jones was dead before his gun left the holster.

Lucas checked the man and closed his eyes when he realized he was indeed dead.  He slowly stood and motioned to the men standing by the wall.  “You men drag him to the undertakers!” He demanded.  Then he pointed his rifle at the other.  “You want the same?”  Sanders stared at the men dragging Jones out.  He shook his head.  “Then get moving!”

Lucas kept his rifle trained on Sanders as he led him across the street and into the Marshal’s office.  The man stopped and turned to look at Lucas.  “Go on!”  He waved his rifle toward the jail.  The man walked into the cell and Lucas locked the door.

He closed the door to the jail and sat down in Micah’s chair as he rubbed his face with his hands and groaned.  Now he’d have to stay the night since he had a prisoner to look after.  He had so much work to do and had hoped to go home.  Lucas leaned back in his chair and put his hat over his face.  He’d just settled when the door opened and Nils came racing in.  “There’s a horse thief!” he declared.

Lucas stood up with a groan.  “You’re kidding!” He shouted as he grabbed his rifle and headed out the door.  “Where?”

“On the other side of the livery!” Nils pointed.

Lucas nodded.  “Alright.  Stay here and guard my prisoner!” Lucas demanded.  He hurried out the door and down the street.  Sure enough, he saw a man trying to get Nils’s horse under control and take off out of town.  Lucas cocked his rifle as he ran to block the man from passing him.  “Stop!” He demanded.  But the man kept coming.  The horse barreled right toward him.  Lucas held his breath as he fired his rifle at the rider.  The rider cried out in pain and fell from his horse, but the horse kept running towards Lucas.  Lucas gasped as he jumped out of the way – right into the water trough.

Now he was angry!  He stood up, soaked from head to toe and grabbed his hat from the ground.  Lucas slapped his hat on his thigh, ran a hand through his soaking wet hair, and plopped his hat on.  He rolled his eyes.  “Alright!”  Pointing his rifle at the horse thief, he said, “Get inside!”  After locking the man up in the jail, he looked down at his clothes and squeezed the excess water from his shirt.  “Nils, this man needs a doctor,” he grumbled.

Nils stood in the middle of the Marshal’s office and looked Lucas up and down.  “Lucas, you’re all wet!  This is no time to go swimming!” Nils laughed at his joke.  But Lucas didn’t see the humor in it.  He slowly lifted his head and looked at Nils as he narrowed his eyes.  He clinched the rifle, still in his hand.  Nils allowed the smile to die from his face. He cleared his throat as he set down the coffee cup.  “Well…thanks for getting him.  I’ll just go for Doc Burrage.”  Lucas nodded in disgust as Nils hurried out the door.

He was still ringing water from his shirt when a third person came to bother him.  This was obviously not his night!  Amos, who lived in a house in town, came in and shouted, “Lucas, the Johnson’s are at it again!”

“So?” Lucas grumbled as he took his hat off and smoothed his hair down as excess water dripped down his face.

“Lucas, they are throwing things!” Amos warned, “They could get hurt!”

Lucas rolled his eyes and groaned.  He turned and glared at Amos.  “Amos, look…” Lucas held up a hand.  “I’ve already killed a drunk and locked up his friend.  I shot a horse thief and locked him up in jail after his horse forced me to dive into a water trough.  I really don’t want to stop the Johnson’s from fighting when they fight all the time!  It’s none of our business.  They’re always throwing things!  They are Doc Burrage’s most regular customers!” Lucas turned and poured a cup of coffee.  “They enjoy fighting all the time.  Just let them sleep it off.”

“But Lucas, they are screaming – keeping everybody awake!” Amos shouted.  “That’s disturbing the peace!  Now…you’re the law right now so you’ve got to come!” Amos demanded.  “Tell them to shut up so the rest of us can get to sleep!”

Lucas sighed as he slammed the coffee cup down.  “Alright, alright!”  He grabbed his rifle. “How’s a man supposed to get any peace around here anyhow?” As he walked out the door, he continued muttering to himself.  “This is the last…and I mean last time I ever do a favor for a friend!  Micah’s on a nice, quiet train ride while I’m trying to keep a happily married man and wife from killing each other!”

Lucas saw Nils and Doc coming down the street and ordered him to stay in Micah’s office until he returned.  He followed Amos around the corner of the livery to the row of houses.  “You hear them?” Amos asked.

Lucas rolled his eyes when he heard a man and woman screaming as loud as they could.  The words weren’t very pleasant on his ears.  Suddenly, he heard clanging and crashing.  “What was that?” he asked.

“I think they just threw the kitchen sink!” Amos declared sarcastically.  Lucas rolled his eyes and hurried forward.  He banged on the door a few times, but nobody heard him.  “It’s Lucas McCain!  Open this door now!” Lucas yelled, but they were screaming so loud they couldn’t hear him.  Lucas turned the door knob and opened the door.

He didn’t see the large copper kettle flying towards his head

He couldn’t duck.

***

Lucas flinched again as Milly rubbed the damp cloth on his throbbing forehead as he sat in Lou’s private kitchen.  “Oh, now stop flinching!  You’re worse than Mark!” Milly cooed at him.

“It hurts!” Lucas groaned.

Milly burst into laughter.  Lucas gave her an annoyed look.  “I don’t see anything funny about this at all!” he declared.  “And I think you’ve both already done plenty of laughing!”

“I’m…” Milly tried to swallow her laughter, but it continued to bubble up.  “I’m sorry, honey but when Lou knocked on my door and…” Milly burst out laughing again.

“Stop it!” Lucas ordered, very much annoyed.  “This isn’t funny!”

“Oh, but it is!”  Milly giggled as she started nursing his head wound again.  “You looked like a drowned rat!  Then you started moaning.  Then when Lou walked out and…” Milly laughed again.  “Oh Lucas, I haven’t had so much entertainment in years!”

“I didn’t want to go over to the Johnson’s in the first place!  I told Amos they always fought like that, but nooooooo…he insisted!”  Lucas griped.  “Ouch!”

“Oh, you big baby!”  Milly rinsed the cloth off in the warm water again as she wiped at the cut on his head.  Then she softly touched the spot.  “Lucas, I think you may need Dr. Burrage to sew this up.  You have a pretty bad gash on your head.”  Lucas groaned.  “I’m kidding!” Milly laughed.  That got her yet another annoyed expression.  “But by the way you’re acting, one would think your head’s about to fall off!”

“Stop teasing me!” Lucas ordered again as he groaned.  He couldn’t help but smile though. He was certainly enjoying the attention his soon-to-be wife was giving him.  Perhaps he was exaggerating a bit, but it sure was getting him lots of nice attention.

“You still want to marry me?” Milly asked as she put some soothing medicine on his cut.

“Of course I do!  I’ll just have to teach you not to tease me so much.  You know that annoys me.”

“Lucas McCain!”  Milly put a hand on her hip and stared sternly into his eyes.  “You are enjoying this all very much!  You can’t fool me…Men and their need for attention!  You probably jumped in that water trough and got in the line of fire of that kettle on purpose…Just so you could have an excuse to see me!  Lord have mercy when Lou told me that Amos had practically carried you through the back door of the hotel.  You moaning you couldn’t let anyone else see you in such a weakened condition.”

Lucas raised his eyebrows.  “I assure you, Milly…If I wanted an excuse to see you, it wouldn’t involve water troughs or copper kettles!”  Then he shook his head “And another thing…This is the last time I ever do a favor for Micah!”

Milly sat the cloth down as she picked up a bandage.  “Well…the bleeding’s stopped.  Would you like me to wrap your head?”  Milly teased.  “Or should Lou go for Doc?”

“No, but I think a little more sweetness from you might help,” Lucas answered with another groan.  Milly kissed his head.  Then she took his face in her hands and kissed him softly.  After their lips parted, she smiled at him.  “You know what I think?”  Lucas looked at her.  “I think you’re exaggerating just so you can get some undeserved attention from me!”

“What?” Lucas asked in shock.  “Undeserved?  Milly, I’ve had to stop a brawl in the saloon, then a horse thief, and then two people from fighting who have been fighting ever since they got married!  How can you say it’s undeserved?”

“Because you got me out of bed!” Milly declared.  “I do need my beauty sleep, you know.”

Lucas took her chin in his hand and turned her head from side to side as he studied her face.  He turned it one way, then the other.  Slowly, he grinned and shook his head.  “You need a lot of things, honey, but you don’t need beauty sleep!  I can hardly handle all the beauty you possess now!”

“Oh, I think I’m gonna be sick!” Lou declared from the doorway.

“Yes.  He IS laying it on a little thick!” Milly agreed.

Lou held out the clothes to him.  “They may be a little big.  Nils said to tell you he’ll set up a posse to go hunt that outlaw down.” Lou and Milly looked at each other and giggled.

“How hard can it be?” Lucas mocked his own words to Micah.  He groaned as he held the cloth to his head.  Even his own fiancée was having fun at his expense!  “And the least I could get is a little bit of sympathy from my own fiancée!  After all, sending Micah and Mark was NOT my idea!”

“Well, ye just go on and change into these clothes.  Leave your wet clothes on that chair by the door.  We’ll wash them tomorrow and get them back to you.”  Lou winked at Milly.  “Maybe.”

“Tomorrow?”  Lucas groaned.  “Maybe????”  Lucas looked at the clothes.  “Do you know how ridiculous I’m going to look with these clothes on?”

Lou took Milly’s arm and led her toward the door.  “Well, maybe ye should think about that, Cowboy, before ye decide to jump in a water trough to cool off!”  She opened the door and gave Milly a gentle push out.  “It’s midnight.  We’re going back to bed.”  The door swung shut as Lucas stared after them.  This was definitely NOT his night!

***

Lucas yawned as he sipped coffee in the restaurant the next morning.  Milly started into the dining room and stopped when she saw her future husband sitting at the table looking very tired.  She smiled as she slowly walked over to him.  “May I sit?” she asked softly close to his ear as she leaned over his shoulder.

“After the way you treated me last night?”  Lucas rolled his eyes at her and pretended to feel very rejected.  “Some wife you are turning out to be!  I get injured in the line of duty and you…” He stopped as Milly bent over and kissed him softly on the mouth.

After their lips parted, she smiled at him.  “Is that better?”

“It’s getting there,” Lucas said as he smiled and reached out to pull her into an embrace.
But Milly ducked away from him.  ““Well, we’re not married, yet.”  She straightened up.  “So…may I sit?”

“Only if you promise not to tease me anymore,” Lucas answered in a mock pout.

“You mean about your battle wound?” Milly giggled.  Lucas slowly lifted his eyes to her and narrowed them.  “Okay, okay!!!  I surrender.”  She threw a hand to her mouth and giggled as Lucas shook his head and raised an eyebrow at her.  “Oh, I mean I’ll be good!”

Lucas studied her for a few moments, then he leaned over and pulled out the chair next to him and motioned for her to sit.  “Did you get to sleep last night?”  Milly asked as she picked up the coffee pot on the table and filled their cups.

“Huh…” Lucas shook his head.  “No.  I’m afraid I had to listen to my two prisoners yell all night.”  Lucas took a sip of coffee and groaned.  “I released the drunk this morning since I really had nothing to hold him for.  The other will have to stand trial for attempted horse thief.  I have Nils sitting over there with him now while I eat breakfast.”

“Is he going to watch the prisoner while you go to church?” Milly asked as she raised her eyebrows at him.

“Church?” Lucas groaned.  “Look Milly, I’ve been up half the night and I didn’t bring my go to meeting clothes.  I think I want to just go back to the ranch and…sleep!”

“What about your prisoner?” Milly questioned as she looked at him over her coffee cup.

“Well, I can’t do anything with him until Micah gets back, Milly!” Lucas retorted, obviously grumpy.

“You can sleep at the jail…after church.”  Milly raised an eyebrow.  “Lucas, you KNOW you can’t leave that prisoner unguarded!”

Lucas slammed his coffee cup down on the table.  “Now Milly, look…I’ve got a lot of work to do at the ranch!  I’ve got a house to get ready for my bride!  Do you want to sleep in the barn on your wedding night?”  Milly raised her eyebrows at Lucas, but stayed silent.  “How do you expect me to get my work done if I stay in town guarding some horse thief who doesn’t have enough brains to blow himself up with?”

“Well…” Lou hurried up to the table all chipper and awake.  “Is the honeymoon over already?  It hasn’t even started yet!”

“Lucas…” Milly said as she sat her coffee cup down.  “…Didn’t get any sleep last night so he’s a little cranky.”

“He didn’t exactly steal that horse anyhow,” Lucas mumbled as he thought to himself.  “He’s just some punk kid.  Maybe I could…”

“You should wait until Micah gets back!” Milly declared.

“Oh Milly, now come on!  He’s not going to be back until next Friday or Saturday!  That’s a week away!” Lucas snapped at her.  He shook his head.  “The deputy needs a deputy!  I’ve got to work on that room!”

Milly sat down her coffee cup a bit harder than she meant.  Then she looked sternly at Lucas.  “There are other men who are more than willing to help you.  And since you ARE protecting our town I think they owe it to you.”

“I want to do this myself!” Lucas retorted.

Milly raised an eyebrow at him.  She looked up at Lou.  “Bring us the eggs and bacon.”  Lou nodded and walked away.  Milly folded her arms on the table.  “Now, you listen to me, Lucas McCain!”  Lucas sighed as he started to take a sip of coffee.  “NOW!” she demanded.

Lucas slowly sat his cup down and looked up at her.  “I understand why you want to build the addition to our home by yourself, and I thought we had this all settled the other night.”  She kept eye contact with him as she spoke slowly and deliberately.  “I am marrying you.  I’m not marrying that house.  I don’t care who built it.  I just want to live with you and Mark and take care of you the way a wife should.  I’m afraid I’m going to have to put my foot down.  You WILL ask our friends to help.  If you don’t…I WILL!”  After her speech, Milly picked up her coffee cup, sat back in her seat, and took a sip.  Her eyes never left his.

Lucas narrowed his eyes as he studied her.  “Alright.  But make me one promise.”  Milly nodded.  “Promise me that every morning you will greet me with one of those smiles of yours.  It does a lot to warm a man’s heart.”  Milly smiled at him.  He bent over and kissed her.

Suddenly, somebody broke between them as she sat down their breakfast.  Lou grinned mischievously.  “Oh, I’m sorry!  Did I interrupt something?”

“Yeah.  I was making up with my fiancée!” Lucas grumbled.  But he and Milly looked at each other and smiled.  Lucas figured he might just enjoy staying in town guarding his prisoner after all.  There were certain benefits…

***

Milly did let Lucas off the hook of going to church that morning.  He slept hard at the Marshal’s office.  In fact, he slept so hard that he didn’t even hear Milly come in after church with his lunch.  She bent over and kissed his cheek, startling him awake.  “Well, if someone had wanted to break that prisoner out of jail, they could have done so without any interruptions from you!” she declared with a laugh.

They ate together. After lunch, Milly kissed Lucas good-bye then went back to the hotel to work with Lou on the dress.  Lucas had chores to do at the ranch and decided to use some old-fashioned discipline on his prisoner.  He borrowed a horse from Nils and took the prisoner out the ranch with him.  He put the prisoner to chopping wood while Lucas did the chores in the yard.  Lucas began to realize that the man chained to the house wasn’t a criminal after all, but that was for a judge to decide.

Sunday evening, Lucas and Milly ate supper together at the jail.  They talked for a long time about their hopes and dreams for the future.  They played a game of checkers together as the sun set for the day.  As evening settled on North Fork, Milly smiled as she jumped Lucas’s remaining black checker.  She lifted her head and smiled.  “You let me win!”

“Did not,” Lucas argued.

Milly came around the desk and sat down on his lap.  She put her hand under his chin and lifted his face up.  “You…” She kissed his cheek.  “…did…” she kissed his other cheek.  “…too.”  She slowly lowered her lips to his and kissed him.  Lucas wrapped his arms around her and leaned in to her kiss.

“Lucas!”  Milly jumped off his lap as if he were suddenly on fire when Amos came rushing through the door.

Lucas quickly stood up and stared at the intruder in the doorway.  “This better be important!” he grumbled.

“They’re at it again!” Amos declared.

“Who?”

“The Johnson’s!”  Amos walked into the room.  “You’ve got to…”

Milly burst into laughter.  “No!”  Lucas declared.  He put his hands on his hips and glared at Milly.  “Will you stop that laughing?” His voice sounded annoyed.

Milly put a hand to her mouth and tried to keep from laughing.  “Look Lucas, they are throwing things!” Amos declared.

Lucas held his hands in front of him and shook them back and forth.  “No!  No…no…no…no…no!  A thousand times no!  They can kill themselves if they want to.  I’m not setting foot in that house!”

“But Lucas, they’re disturbing the peace!” Amos argued as Lucas started toward him.  Amos quickly started backing up.  “It’s your job to keep the peace!”

“Amos, do you believe in helping out your friends?” Lucas asked.

“Sure.”

“Would you raise your hand for a minute?  I want to see something.”  Amos raised his left hand.  “Oh…no, the other one.”  Amos lifted it up.  “Now, would you hold down the law and keep peace?”

“Sure.  Why?”

Lucas turned and walked back over to the desk.  “I declare you deputy.”  He threw him a badge.  “As your first act, I ask you to take care of the noise on the street behind the livery.  Would you do that?  It’s a little noisy over there.”

“What?” Amos stared at Lucas.  “You can’t do that!”  Amos looked down at the badge.  Then he looked at Milly.  “Can he?”

Milly laughed.  “I think he just did, Amos.”  She shrugged.  “He’s Lucas McCain.  He can do anything he wants!”  Lucas raised an eyebrow at her.

“Lucas, wait!” Amos argued as Lucas took Milly’s hand and started out the door.  “Where are you going?”

Lucas turned as he put his hat on.  “I’m going to walk this beautiful lady back to the hotel.  It’s not safe out on the street, you know…what with all those dishes flying around.”  Lucas turned to leave.

“What about the prisoner?” Amos asked.

Lucas stopped just inside the door.  He turned and laid a hand on Milly’s cheek.  “Let him find his own girl!”  Then the couple chuckled as they walked across the street to the hotel.

***

 The next morning, Lucas talked to several men about helping him get the addition to his house built.  They declared they would do so.  Lucas left the prisoner in the hands of Nils long enough to ride out to the ranch and show the men exactly how he wanted the rooms built.  As they studied the plans, Billy Lehigh looked up at Lucas.  “You have got to be kidding me!”

“About what?” Lucas asked.

“This is huge!  And not only that, but…I’ve never seen anything quite like it – not in North Fork anyhow!”

“Oh, it’s not that elaborate!” Lucas declared.  “I just want the best for my wife.”

Billy shook his head.  “Alright, Lucas.  Whatever you say.”

“I’m leaving you in charge, my good friend!” Lucas declared.

“Uh…are you sure you want to do that?” Billy asked as he scratched his head.  “You…do remember what happened to the last house.”  Lucas smiled.  He remembered Billy and his friend roping and dragging him, then shooting holes in his window.  When that didn’t get the desired results, they burned down his house.

“Just remember, ol’ buddy…” Lucas slapped Billy on the back and smile.  “If you let this home burn, you’ll be building what you burned…and then some!”  Lucas shook Billy’s hand then hurried back into town.

Lucas stayed in town that week.  He ate three meals a day with his intended.  Sometimes he was able to get away to the hotel while others she had to come to the jail.  They enjoyed being together, even thought their time alone was interrupted by his duties as acting Marshal of North Fork.

Other than meal time, Milly and Lucas were rarely together.  Milly spent every spare minute with Lou working on the dress or making wedding plans.  Then she taught in the afternoons.  Lucas was pretty busy after supper. He had to closely watch the saloon and make rounds several times each night.  But still, as busy as they were, Milly and Lucas were able to sit outside the Marshal’s office and hold hands as they watched the town go to sleep.

It was at this time on Wednesday night that Myrtle from the General Store walked up to the couple with a letter.  “I’m sorry, Milly, but this letter came Monday.  I was hoping to catch you but you’ve been hard to track down!” Myrtle pointed out.

Milly smiled as she took the letter.  Lucas watched her as she studied the address.  “It’s from my sister.  Oh, I hope she can come.”  Milly smiled as she opened the envelope and removed the letter.  Lucas couldn’t help watching the excitement on her face.  She was so beautiful as the moonlight shined down on her.

But Milly’s smile slowly died on her face.  It turned to a dark sadness.  Her face frowned more and more as her eyes scanned the words in the letter. Milly stood up abruptly.  “Milly, what’s wrong?” Lucas asked.

Milly put the letter to her chest and bit her lip as she slowly walked down the steps.  “Honey?”

She bolted forward and ran across the street as hot tears burned her eyes.  Milly dashed into the hotel.  Lou had come to say something to her, but Milly didn’t stop as she ran up the stairs.  Lucas hurried into the hotel and started up the stairs after her.  “Milly?  Milly!”  Lucas called.  But she didn’t stop as she continued up the stairs.

“Lucas McCain!!,” Lou boldly declared.  “What did you do to make Milly cry?”

“I swear I didn’t…” Lucas started to answer as he put his boot to the second step.

“Lucas!” Lucas turned on the stairs and saw Sweeny standing in the doorway.  “Lucas, some drunken cowhands are shooting up the saloon.  They’re about to kill someone!”

“Can it wait?” Lucas stupidly asked in frustration.  Sweeny stared at him.  Lucas turned and looked up the stairs as the door slammed shut.  Then he looked down at Sweeny.

“Lucas,” Lou hurried up the stairs.  “I’ll go to her.  You go help Sweeny.”

Lou hurried up the stairs.  She could hear sobbing from outside Milly’s door.  Softly, she knocked on the door.  “Milly, it’s me.”  She soon heard the door opening.  Milly wiped her eyes as she went to sit on the bed.

Lou said nothing as she sat down beside her friend.  She allowed Milly to cry for awhile.  Then softly, she spoke.  “I’ll listen if you want to talk.”  Milly shook her head as she allowed another sob to escape her.

“I should have expected it,” Milly cried.  “I should have known!”  Milly suddenly started crying again as she lowered her head into her hands.  Lou put an arm around her shoulders, allowing Milly to tell her what had upset her if she wanted, yet feeling quite helpless on how to help her friend.

A soft knock sounded on the door.  “That’s probably Lucas,” Lou said as she started to stand up.

“No!” Milly cried.  “I don’t want to tell him about this!” She shouted.

Another knock sounded.  It was firmer and louder.  “Milly, open up!” Lucas demanded.

“Lou, tell him to go!”  Milly turned on the bed and buried her head in the crook of her arm.  “Tell him…”

Suddenly, the door opened.  Milly turned in surprise to see Lucas standing in the doorway.  She slowly stood from the bed.  The letter was still crumpled in her hand as she stared at his worried expression.  She paid no mind to the tears on her face and what it was doing to the man she loved.  “Lou?”

Lou hurried up to Lucas.  “She won’t tell me a thing.”  Lucas nodded, then motioned toward the door.  Lou nodded in understanding and slowly walked out the door, leaving it a bit ajar as she left.

Lucas sat his rifle against the wall and tossed his hat on the table.  He stood in front of Milly and raised his eyebrows.  “Was it from your sister?”  Milly lowered her head and bit her lip.  Lucas took a step toward her.  “Was it?” his voice held hurt and anger in it…not for her – but for her sister.

“You know it was,” Milly answered quietly as she turned from him.

Lucas slowly walked up behind her.  He didn’t touch her, but stood as close to her as he could.  “What did the letter say?”  Milly lowered her head as she stared at the crumpled letter in her hand.  She didn’t answer.  “Tell me, Milly.”  Lucas’s voice held a hint of anger in it, but it was mostly concern.  He put his hands on her shoulder and turned her around.  Lucas gasped as he saw her weeping silently.  She suddenly burst into sobs and put her arms around him as she laid her head on his chest.

In time, Lucas led her to the table and sat her down across from him.  “I want to know what your sister said that upset you so, Milly,” Lucas spoke firmly, but softly.

Milly shook her head.  “I don’t want to ruin our wedding.”

Lucas put a hand under her chin and lifted her face to look into his.  “Seeing you crying like this is the only thing that will ruin our wedding.  Nothing your sister says can ruin it.  But I want to help you.”  Milly shook her head.  Lucas sighed.  “She’s going to be a member of my family soon, Mil.”

Milly looked down at the letter in her hand.  “She just says such horrible things, Lucas!  I don’t want to hurt you!”

Lucas looked down at the letter.  He gently took it from her hand and unfolded it.  Then with a heavy heart, he read it:

Mildred,

Mother mailed me and told me that you are getting married.  I received the invitation in the mail today.  What are you thinking marrying a poor dirt-farmer?  Don’t you have any morals?  I tried to stop you from going out West, but you wouldn’t listen to me.  How can you dishonor the family name by marrying some poor farmer who has nothing to offer our family?

Mildred, I must beg you not to go through with this marriage.  It is doomed to make you miserable for the rest of your life.  If you marry this man, you will have to work until you get blisters.  Is that what Father would have wanted?  To see his daughter sweating in the fields, her hands turning hard from blisters?  What can this man offer you?  What does he have but probably a small house with a dirt floor, with a lot of work waiting for you?  Don’t you see what he’s doing?  He needs a woman to keep his house and bare his children.  You will be miserable for the rest of your life.

Mildred, I don’t want to do this, but you leave me no choice.  If you go through with this god-forsaken marriage sham, you will no longer be my sister.  I will deem this marriage as a disgrace and I will not accept any children you may have.  You will also be at risk of losing your inheritance.

Think about what’s best for the family, Mildred.  Think about how your marriage will shame the family name.

Obviously, I will not be attending the wedding, should you be foolish enough to continue with it.

Elizabeth Scott Banner

Lucas closed his eyes as he lowered the letter to the table.  He turned to see Milly now standing out on the balcony looking out over the darkness of the town.  Lucas cleared his throat.  “Milly?”  He slowly walked over to stand in the doorway.

“Are you…angry?” Milly asked then.

“Angry?”  Lucas pushed himself off of the doorway and walked out onto the balcony.  “I’m angry at your sister, yes.  She’s hurt you.”

Milly wiped at her tears with her hand.  “Oh Lucas, how can she hate me so much that she…” Milly swallowed.  “How can she want to be so cruel?”  Milly spun around.  “How could she…”

Lucas leaned on the balcony with a sigh.  “I don’t know, Milly.”  Lucas sighed as he struggled for answers.  “Everyday Mark asks me similar questions about mankind that I cannot answer.  I just tell him only God has the answers.”  Lucas turned and looked up at her.  “But then…I think you know that already.”

A silence fell over them.  Lucas waited for Milly to speak, but she stayed silent.  “Most of what your sister said in that letter was spoken through ignorance…You know that,” Lucas stated quietly.  Lucas picked up the letter. He stared at it as he read the words again.  “Besides, I’m a rancher, not a farmer!” he declared.

Lucas saw a brief gleam in Milly’s eyes.

“Milly?” Milly turned her head to look at Lucas.  “What are you thinking?”

“I’m just wondering…where things went wrong.  Why is my sister so…selfish?  She went against my parent’s wishes and got married at 16.  She married a man who stood to inherit a silver mine.  I…” Milly shook her head.  “I can’t believe the things she said.”  She put a hand on his cheek.  “They hurt you.”

Lucas took her hand in his and led her back into the room.  He sat down at the table, then patted his lap for her to sit down.  She did so without hesitation.  Keeping his hand firmly in hers, he said, “Your sister’s words don’t hurt me in the way you think.  They hurt me because I see what they are doing to you.”

Lucas wiped a tear from Milly’s cheek.

“Milly….I may not be able to give you money and social status, but…” Lucas sighed as he struggled for the right words.

“I don’t want money or status, Lucas.  As far as I’m concerned, my sister can have the money…the house…everything!  I don’t want any of it.”  Milly put a finger to his lips.  “I only want you and Mark and to make a home.”  She laid her head on his shoulder.  “I love you so much!”

“Then forget about the letter,” Lucas spoke softly.

“I… can’t.  I mean, she’s always been this way, Lucas.  When I was a little girl, she would always tell me that if I wanted Mother or Father to love me, I had to wear the fancy dresses even if I didn’t like them.  ”  Milly shook her head.  “She’s always tried to encourage me to marry someone with class and…” Milly shook her head again.

“Milly?”  Milly lifted her head from his shoulder and looked into his eyes.  “How do you feel…about what your sister told you would happen if you married me.”

Milly bit her lip as she tried to put her thoughts into words.  “Lucas, in spite of everything she is and how much she hurts me, she’s still my sister and I love her dearly.  But…” She averted her eyes.  “I can feel…deep inside my heart…that marrying you is the most right thing I’ve ever, ever decided to do.  You fill an empty space inside me that’s been there my whole life.  You accept me for who I am…in all my imperfections…And you love me.  That’s all I want.”

“I’ll make you happy, Mil.”  Lucas promised as he stared into her eyes.

“You already have, Lucas.”  Milly stood up and walked over to the window.  “It hurts so much to know what the price of my decision is.  I don’t want to lose my sister.”

“Milly, your sister stating she’ll disown you is NOT a price of your decision.  It’s her choice.  It seems pretty selfish to make you choose.”

Milly turned from the window.  “But I’m not going to allow her to ruin this special occasion.”  She turned and looked at Lucas.  “I want to marry you more than anything.”

“What about Sally?” Lucas asked.

“Well…” Milly returned to the table and sat down.  She laid her hand on top of Lucas’s.  “Sally’s of age now.  She can make her own decisions.  She’s actually going to a woman’s college in Colorado.  She wired me the other day and told me she’s coming.

Lucas hated seeing the hurt Milly was experiencing.  He had an idea and tried to find a way to voice it without hurting her. “Milly, I mean no disrespect to your family, but for your sister to take such an attitude toward someone she’s never met shows me just how jealous she must be of you.”

“Jealous?”

Lucas nodded.  “Mil, I remember you talking of how you were the apple of your father’s eye when you were growing up.  There are a number of years between you and your sister, and until you were old enough, she was enjoying being the only daughter her father had to dote on.  Maybe she ran off and married her husband as a way to get back at her father.  Now that you are getting ready to be married, she’s wanting to hurt you.  I think she’s talking hurt through this letter; it’s just her way of hurting you because she thinks you hurt her.”

“But I didn’t hurt her!” Milly exclaimed.

“Not purposely.  But children, and especially young girls, can get certain ideas in their heads and it’s difficult to get them to see things for the way they really are.  Guess I’m not explaining this well…” Lucas said as he scratched at his head.

“Lucas McCain,” Milly stated as she wiped a hanky across her eyes to dry her tears, “Just when did you get to be an expert on daughters?”  Milly let out a deep sigh as she realized, yes, her sister could be petty and was all about status, but Mildred Scott (soon to be McCain) was not going to let her sister ruin her upcoming wedding.

“Do you still want to go through with marrying me? Lucas asked.

Milly couldn’t answer with words.  She stood up and once again sat on his lap.  Then she wrapped her arms around Lucas and gave him a passionate kiss.

Lucas wrapped his arms tighter around Milly’s back and was just about to respond in earnest when they both heard someone knock on the door and clear their throat.

“Now that the two of ye have kissed and made up, I think a chaperone is called for.  Lucas McCain, out of this room, NOW!” Lou stood in the doorway, smiling, but with one hand on her hip, the other hand pointing the direction of outside the door.

Both Lucas and Milly blushed as they stood to their feet.

***

On Thursday, Lucas got a telegram from Micah informing him that they would arrive on the seven o'clock train on Friday morning.  He hurried over to the hotel to tell Milly.  She and Lou were, of course, in her room working on the dress.  Milly was becoming a bit anxious about the progress of the dress since they only had a little over a week before the wedding.  A knock sounded on the door.

“Who is it?” Lou asked.

“It’s me!” Lucas answered.  “Can I come in?”

Both women gasped.  “No!” Milly shrieked.  “No, you can’t come in!”  She hurried over to the door, but didn’t open it.  “What do you want?” she asked through the door.

Lucas put his hands on his hips.  “Well, one thing I don’t want is to talk to you through the door!” He answered, a bit miffed.

“Well, I…” Milly turned around and looked at Lou.  “I’m afraid you will have to!”

“You’re not decent?” Lucas asked.

“Of course I’m…” Milly rolled her eyes. “I’m working on wedding plans in here!  And I don’t want you to see them!”  Milly answered.  “It’s bad luck!”

“I don’t believe in luck and neither do you, Milly Scott!”  Lucas sighed.  “I have some news!  So if you’ll just open…”

Lou jumped up and hurried over to stand beside Milly.  “Now Lucas McCain, ye stay out of here!” she ordered in her Irish brogue.

Lucas sighed and rolled his eyes again.  “Alright, alright…” He bent over and slid the telegram under the door.  “I got that telegram.  Milly, will you at least stop by and see me before you go to work?”

“You want me to bring you some lunch?” Milly asked.  She heard the impatience in his voice and wanted to appease him somehow.

“If it ain’t bad luck!” Lucas retorted. Then his footsteps sounded on the stairs.

Milly picked up the telegram.  “Mother will be here tomorrow!” Milly declared.  “She’ll be here tomorrow!”

Lou gasped.  “I’ll get her room ready.  You best hurry and get ready for lunch.” Lou hurried out of the room.

Milly smiled as she looked down at the telegram.  She read again the words Lucas had written on it before sliding it under the door. “I love you, Milly.  Only 9 more days.  Lucas.”

She leaned against the door and sighed dreamingly.  “Yes, my love…only nine more days until I’m in your arms forever.”

The Wedding — Adventure

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

Site Map
around The McCain Ranch