The Writer's Corner
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!’ 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
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
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
“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,
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
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
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
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
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?”
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
“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
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
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
“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
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
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
Suddenly, somebody broke between them as she sat down their
breakfast. Lou grinned mischievously. “Oh, I’m sorry! Did I
“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
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.
“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.
“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?”
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
“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
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
“Lucas McCain!!,” Lou boldly declared. “What did you do to make
“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
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
Another knock sounded. It was firmer and louder. “Milly, open up!”
“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:
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
“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
“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
“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
“I’ll make you happy, Mil.” Lucas promised as he stared into her
“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
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.”
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
“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
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 —
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