The Writer's Corner
Chapter 20 - A Special Delivery
Written by Michelle Palmer
Margaret jumped when Lucas came up behind her and wrapped his
arms around her that morning. He began trailing kisses down her
neck. “Sorry I startled you. You must be deep in thought,” he
mumbled against her neck.
Margaret leaned her head back, welcoming his trail of kisses.
“I’m just wondering what the new Marshal’s like. I’ve heard
there are some mean one’s…some with strange ideas and…”
Lucas chuckled as he rested his chin on her shoulder. “This
man’s come highly recommended. There’s nothing for you to fret
about.” Lucas straightened up.
“Are you leaving for town soon?” Margaret asked, returning to
her task in the sink. Lucas nodded. “I have the list ready.”
Lucas walked over to the table and picked up the list she had
carefully prepared. He groaned as he read through it.
“I’d say so!” Lucas walked up to her and held out the list.
“Some of this stuff…Margaret…there’s no way I’m buying that
ribbon and…and…flowery material!” Margaret turned and smiled at
him. “Well you little…” He put his fist on his hip. “If you
wanted to come along with me, why didn’t you just say so?”
“I want to come along with you.”
Lucas lifted an eyebrow and looked her up and down. “Explains
the dress you’re wearing. You don’t normally dress up so…” Lucas
stopped and rubbed a finger under his nose. “Uh…I mean…We’ll
leave for town if you ever get those dishes done.”
Margaret turned and narrowed her eyes at him. “The dish towel’s
on the hook, my Love.”
“I’ve got more important things to do then…”
“More…important?” Margaret asked in her warning voice.
“I meant better…” Margaret turned and folded her arms.
“Uh…more interesting?” Lucas didn’t take his eyes off of her as
he gave her a half-smile and stretched his arm out to grab the
dishtowel. Margaret held out the plate to him and gave him a
He began drying the dish. “You know…I don’t ever ask you to go
out and ride fence with me…or to help me clean the manure out of
Margaret paused in her washing and smiled at him. “I’d do it if
you asked.” Her smile widened. “Without complaining.”
Lucas chuckled. “Yes ma’am…I guess you would.”
Lucas was happy when his chore was over. He told Margaret to
bundle up because the temperature was near freezing, then he
helped her onto the wagon seat and they started for town.
The moment they rode into town, Lucas and Margaret knew there
was trouble brewing. Lucas pulled his wagon up to the General
Store and stopped it. He turned to look at all the men yelling
and shaking their fists at the tall man dressed in a suit and
string tie standing in the doorway of the Marshal’s Office. He
puffed a cigar, his mustache twitching, as he stood listening to
the people with a look on his face that said he wouldn’t budge.
“Stay here, Margaret,” Lucas said as he grabbed his rifle,
jumped from the wagon and hurried over to the group. He held
onto his rifle, ready to use it if things got out of hand.
Lucas found Jason standing in the crowd and hurried up to him.
“What’s this all about?”
“There was a shooting in the saloon last night. The man was
drunk and cussing, but witnesses say he wasn’t dangerous. The
Marshal here…he claims the shooting was justified.”
Lucas looked up to see someone throw something at the marshal.
He saw the Marshal reach for his gun. Lucas knew the crowd was
quickly getting out of control. He fired a shot in the air.
King’s hand froze on his holstered gun. “Alright…” Lucas walked
through the crowd. The men parted, allowing Lucas to go to the
front and stand on the steps next to Marshal King. “Now,
everybody just be quiet!” Lucas looked around at the crowd of
men. Women and children were present as well. “Men, why don’t
you send your woman folk and children away? They don’t need to
“Mister, I’m in charge here,” Marshal King declared. “I can
handle this crowd.
Lucas ignored him as he looked around at the crowd. “What’s
going on here?” The men all started talking at once, pointing
their fingers at Tom and throwing out accusations. Lucas again
held up his hand to silence the men. “One at a time!”
“I’ll tell you what happened, Luke.” Ike, the bartender, stepped
forward. “Jeffrey Peters was in the saloon having a few drinks.
Sure he was drunk, and sure he was cussing. His mother had just
died, and he was drowning his sorrows in Spirits – there ain’t
nothing wrong with that!”
“Well, go on.”
“Somebody…” Ike turned and looked accusingly around the crowd,
trying to locate the ‘somebody.’ “Somebody went and got the
marshal. The marshal here came barreling into the saloon with
his gun drawn and ordered Jeffrey to get out of town. Jeffrey
got angry…said he wasn’t hurting anybody. We all agreed…agreed
that Jeffrey was just blowing off steam. He was drunk
and…well…dag gummit if he didn’t put his hand on his gun. King
here…he shot him in cold blood!”
“He was drawing on me!” Marshal King declared.
“Now Marshal, Williams was here for many years and dealt with
Jeffrey when he was a lot meaner and a lot more drunk then that!
Jeffrey never gave him no trouble. You can’t just go in and
“Are you telling me how to do my job?” Marshal King questioned
in a sharp voice.
“I’m just telling you…” Mumbling started in the crowd. Lucas
held up his hand again to silence them.
“Was he going for his gun?” Lucas asked Ike.
“Maybe he was, and maybe he wasn’t…I don’t know.” Ike pointed at
Marshal King. “But that was NO reason to kill him! Williams
“Williams is dead! I’m the law now!”
Lucas calmed the crowd again. “Alright, you men said your piece.
Now, move out.”
“Now, see here…” a man started in the crowd. Lucas twirled his
rifle and pointed it at the crowd. “You heard Ike. He may have
been going for his gun. I’m sure the marshal here did what he
thought was best.”
“Sure Luke…Sure…” Lucas watched the crowd break up. Jason waved
to him and started back down the street.
“Luke McCain,” Lucas introduced himself as he held his hand out
to the new Marshal.
“McCain…” King gave him a hard stare. “I should have known. You
McCain’s think you can push your weight around, huh? You think
you own this town, huh? Well…just stay out of my way!”
King turned and went back inside, giving the door a hard slam.
Lucas lowered his rifle as he tried to figure out just what he
had done to make the marshal so mad. He finally turned and
walked down the steps. Margaret climbed down from the wagon.
“I don’t know, Margaret,” Lucas answered as he took her arm. “I
just don’t know.”
They stepped into the store. Margaret hurried to the back to
look at some material while Lucas handed the store clerk the
list of supplies they needed. “Luke…” Joshua Peters stepped up
to the counter and leaned on it. “That’s my brother he killed.”
“That marshal ain’t no good, Luke. He killed my brother in cold
“And you know this for sure?” Lucas asked. “Were you there?”
“No, but my brother would never draw on a man. Luke, he got
angry, but you know he would never…”
Lucas tapped the counter with his fists. “I know…”
“Then why, in the name of common sense, did you stick up for the
Lucas rested his elbow on the counter as he turned to look
straight at Joshua. “Because…I was trying to stop a riot that
could have gotten more killed. You heard Ike…he can’t say for
sure rather your brother was drawing or not.”
“I told you he wouldn’t do that!” Joshua shouted.
“And I told you that wasn’t enough!” Lucas shouted back.
Joshua punched the counter. “He shot him to get the reward!”
Lucas’ head shot up. “Reward? What reward?”
“Ohhhh…” Joshua went to stand in the doorway. “Jeffrey was a
good kid, Luke. He never really meant to do any harm, but…once
he got mixed up with some bank robbers. I believe their names
were James…Frank and Jessie?” Lucas nodded. “Well, he was in on
one of the robberies. After a couple of the robbers got killed,
he split. But he was identified, and a five-hundred dollar award
was taken out on him. Nobody knew it here in Oklahoma.”
“How would King know who your brother was?”
“King had a big pile of wanted posters when he stepped off the
stage. I think he has every one of them memorized.” Joshua
nodded. “He knew.” Lucas watched Joshua walk out the door and
down the street. He turned and looked at Margaret, hoping she
hadn’t overheard the conversation. Margaret folded the material
she was looking at over her arms and stepped forward. “Luke?”
“How long will you be?” Lucas asked as he stood and looked at
the Marshal’s Office.
“I want to get a few things for my Christmas projects, Luke.
Shouldn’t you be getting to the blacksmith’s?”
Lucas didn’t even seem to hear her. “Alright. You stay here.
I’ll be back.” Margaret watched him step out the door and walk
toward the Marshall’s office.
“Luke!” Margaret hurried out and called after him. Luke didn’t
stop. “Oh Luke…” Margaret whispered.
Margaret went back inside and set the material she was holding
on the counter. “I want three yards of this please.” She walked
to the door and looked towards the Marshal’s office. Margaret
worried that Lucas would lose his temper. Lucas had always hated
seeing injustice. All his life, trying to take matters in his
own hands had gotten him into trouble. She wondered if he would
“Will there be anything else, Mrs. McCain?” Margaret turned her
attention back to the clerk. “I’ve got everything on the list
here. Will there be anything else?”
Margaret turned around and looked toward the door. “Yes. I need
some ribbon…red and green…and uh…maybe I should get some more of
that ointment. I’ve a feeling I’ll need it.”
Lucas pushed the door open to the marshal’s office. Tom King
raised his head from the newspaper he was reading. He leaned
back in his chair and chewed on the cigar in his mouth.
“McCain.” He gave Lucas a slight nod. “You have a complaint?”
Lucas sat down on the desk and laid his rifle across his lap.
King took the cigar out of his mouth and leaned onto the desk.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Lucas lowered his eyes to the desk. His lips parted, but no
sound came out. His eyes widened at the wanted poster. He picked
the poster up and stared at it. “So…you knew he was a wanted
“I do now.”
“His brother claims you knew before.”
“Well…” King rolled his cigar through his fingers. “I don’t know
his brother, but I’m telling you I had no idea he was a wanted
“You sending for the reward?” Lucas narrowed his eyes as he
looked straight at King.
King slowly stood up. He stuck his cigar in his mouth and
pressed his hands flat on the desk. “Get out.”
“You didn’t answer my question,” Lucas snarled as he remained
“McCain…” Tom King leaned toward him. “Like I said before…you
and your brothers don’t own this town.”
Lucas jumped to his feet and grabbed King by the collar. He
twisted his shirt, brining King’s face inches from his. “No…but
my family’s been in this town since it started. They helped
build this town up and I won’t stand by and let some dim-witted,
cocky marshal tear it to pieces!” Lucas shoved him back hard.
“You’ll have to kill me before I let that happen.”
“Get in my way…and I just may have to oblige you…Mr. McCain.”
Lucas glared at King for another moment. Then, without saying
another word, Lucas turned and hurried from the office. Margaret
was already sitting on the wagon seat. Lucas hurried in and paid
for the purchases, then loaded the rest in the wagon. Margaret
remained quiet until they were on their way home. “Luke…”
“Nevermind, Margaret,” Lucas answered as he continued to clinch
“I have to say it, Luke.” Margaret laid a gentle hand on his
thigh. “He’s not Marshal Williams, so don’t expect him to act
“Our parents founded this town, Margaret.”
“I know, Luke.”
Lucas turned to look at her. “Do you want to see some stranger
come in here and push it around?”
“Don’t you think you’re being a bit unfair?” Margaret asked.
“Maybe Mr. Peters did provoke…”
“This is none of your concern, Margaret. Let’s not talk about
Margaret opened her mouth to say more, but quickly closed it.
She didn’t want to get into an argument with Lucas. He needed
her support. Most people received the benefit of the doubt with
Margaret, and now was no different. She DID agree that the
Marshal went a bit overboard with Jeffrey Peters, but she wanted
to give him a chance to prove he would help their town. For now,
though, she would stay quiet.
Margaret reached out for Lucas, but found he wasn’t there.
Slowly, consciousness came to her and she slowly lifted from her
pillow. “Luke?” Margaret called into the darkness. The bedroom
door was closed. She noticed a heavier quilt had been spread
over the bed. Thin whips of light came from under the door. She
yawned and stretched as she reached for her robe. Then when she
pulled the covers off, she realized how chilly it really was.
The day before had been warmer. They had some melting of snow,
but she was afraid today wouldn’t be the same. Margaret put on
her house socks, then went in search of her husband.
She didn’t have to go far. He was sitting by the fire, staring
into the flames as they danced around gaily, casting a bright
glow on Lucas’ face. Margaret stood in the doorway and studied
his face, unnoticed. He looked worried about something. His jaw
clinched as he undoubtedly remembered the day before. Margaret
pushed herself off the doorframe and walked over to him. Lucas
lifted his head, his frown deepening. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean
to wake you.”
Margaret slid onto his lap and wrapped her arms around his neck.
They shared a brief kiss. “I reached out for you and you weren’t
there,” Margaret mumbled as she hugged him.
Margaret lifted her head to look into his eyes. “It’s cold.”
Lucas nodded. “It’s hard not to think about it, isn’t it?”
Margaret smiled as she softly stroked his cheek. “You’re
thinking about Matt and how he died. You’re thinking that you
don’t care for the new Marshal.”
“I’m just worried.”
“I know.” Margaret smiled as she nodded her head. “You’re
thinking that he really did kill Mr. Peters for the money.”
Lucas stared into the fire. Margaret stroked his cheek, causing
him to look up into her face. “I’m going to miss you.”
Lucas smiled as they again shared a kiss. This kiss was longer
and held more love than the previous one. Margaret sighed as she
pressed her forehead against his. “Perhaps you should postpone
the hunting trip, Luke. It’s so cold.” Lucas chuckled as he
hugged her to him. “What’s so funny?”
“I’ve been listening to my brothers complaining about their
wives worrying and fretting. I told them you weren’t like that.
You were tough and knew your own mind. Yet, here you are
worrying I’ll catch a cold.”
Margaret smiled. “Well…I guess my love for you as my husband
out-weighs my commonsense.” She kissed him again. “I’ll pack an
extra pair of socks for you.”
Lucas chuckled as she slid from his lap and went to do as she
had said. Lucas took his rifle from the holder and sat down at
the table to give it one more cleaning before he left for the
hunting trip. When Margaret returned, she hurried to the kitchen
and lit a fire. “I’ll have coffee for you in a few minutes.
Would you like some pancakes?”
“No time,” Lucas answered. “I’m meeting my brothers at Peter’s
house. Peter said his wife would have breakfast ready.” Lucas
looked up to see Margaret looking at him with her hands on her
“I can’t send you over there hungry! What would they think of
Lucas chuckled as he went back to cleaning his rifle. “That you
have more sense than to get up in the middle of the night and
“Alright.” Margaret sighed as she shook her head. “I’m putting
some pumpkin bread in your saddlebags for you. You make sure you
don’t burn those beans I put in your bag either, Luke. Remember
to keep a close eye on them and…”
Margaret chuckled. A comfortable silence settled around them as
she waited for his coffee to get ready. When it was ready, she
poured two cups of coffee and went to the table. They talked
quietly as they drank a cup of coffee together. Then Lucas stood
and slung his saddlebags over his shoulders. Margaret smiled. “I
thought I’d go stay at Mother’s while you’re gone, if you don’t
mind. It’s been so long since we had a nice visit. Mother’s
upset about Beth and Johnny and…well, and I don’t want to be
Lucas kissed her forehead. “That’s fine. I’ll hitch the team
before I leave.”
“Oh no…I can ask Hal to later.” Margaret smiled. “I’ve some
chores to do around here before I go.”
“Alright.” Lucas kissed her softly. “You know, honey, one of
these days we’re going to have to get you another saddle horse.”
Margaret turned from him. That was something she didn’t wish to
discuss at the moment. Lucas knew her feelings on the matter.
“Is Abe going with you?”
Lucas nodded. “Peter’s taking the wagon for Abe. We tried to
talk him out of it, but he insists he wants to go. Maybe it’ll
do him some good. He gets pretty depressed sitting in the house
like he does. Peter says he’s getting stronger, but he still
depends on his family more than he wants.”
“She said the baby’s not due for a few weeks yet. The baby’s
been pretty quiet the last few days. I don’t think there’s
anything to worry about.”
“Mmm…” Margaret nodded. “And you’re an expert on the matter.”
Lucas laughed as he took her in his arms. “Don’t you get sassy
with me, Miss…” He kissed her. As his kiss deepened, Margaret
drew her arms around him and pressed her body against him. Their
kiss was long and held volumes of unspoken messages. Finally,
Margaret broke the kiss and laid a hand on her husband’s cheek.
“I’ll see you Sunday.”
“I love you,” Lucas whispered softly.
Margaret nodded. She felt her eyes fill with tears as she turned
from him. How silly that she would cry over him being gone only
two days when he’d been gone for years before. She reached for
his bedroll and handed it to him. Lucas touched her chin and
lifted her face. “You crying?”
“Well I…” Margaret held her head high. “You should get going. I
want you well fed before you go on your hunting trip.”
Lucas smiled. “It’s good to know I’m so loved…You can shed tears
over my parting anytime. After all, what is it Shakespeare
says?” Margaret narrowed her eyes at him. Lucas held up his
hands. “Alright, I know when I’m not wanted.”
“You are, you know…” Lucas turned to look at her. “Loved.”
Margaret smiled. Lucas reached out a hand and wiped the tears
from under her eyes. “I love you very much, Luke.” Lucas kissed
her once more, then he hurried out the door.
Margaret didn’t have to go for Hal. Hal came over mid-morning to
check on things. He had promised Lucas to watch after the place,
and check in on Margaret, during his absence. Margaret sat him
down at the table and gave him pumpkin bread and coffee. “I told
Luke I’m going to stay with Mother this weekend, so you won’t
have to worry about me.”
Hal smiled. “Let me know when you’re ready and I’ll take you
“I was going to ask you to hitch up the team. I can drive…”
Hal held up his hand. “I’m taking Ann in to do some shopping. It
will be no trouble for me to ride you by your folks.”
So it was decided. Margaret assured him she’d be packed and
ready to go in thirty minutes. She and Ann talked as they rode
over to the Gibbs’ Ranch. Hal pulled into the yard and helped
her down. The door swung open, and her mother bounded out. She
was soon in her mother’s arms, and hardly had time to wave her
thanks to Hal.
She was so happy to be home again! Her mother immediately put
her to work baking pies. Margaret laughed that maybe that’s all
she was good for, but her mother assured her later they would
sit in the parlor and work on their latest quilting project
Beth was out visiting friends. Margaret could tell her mother
was worried. She waited for awhile and thought on the best way
to broach the subject of her younger, carefree sister. Margaret
watched her mother work off her frustration in the dough.
Finally, she spoke. “Mother…” Jennifer looked up at her
daughter. “About Beth…”
That was as far as Margaret got. “I think she’s living in a
dream,” Jennifer answered quickly, seeming relieved that
Margaret had finally opened the matter for discussion. “Your
sister has always been airy and imaginative. She gets her ideas
from books she reads…she thinks the West is full of adventure
and excitement. Scott talked to her until he was blue, but she’s
a stubborn one and won’t listen to reason.”
“Well…” Margaret crisscrossed the dough on top of her pie.
“Maybe experiencing the truth is the only way that will help her
“I just hate the thought of my baby being out there in the West
all by herself.”
“Mother…who is this ‘friend’ out there?”
“Oh, he’s some boy she met at school. His parents owned a farm
nearby and he’s going to start a ranch in California. She’s
supposed to meet him out there.”
“No. She said they are just good friends.” Jennifer looked up at
Margaret. “I asked your father to talk to her, but he won’t. He
claims she’s an adult, just like Andy was when he encouraged him
to go fight in the war. ‘And we all see where that got him,’
your father said.”
“I wish he’d forgive himself for that.” Margaret shook her head
as she looked at her mother. “He was just doing what any parent
“I know.” Jennifer placed the dough in the bread pan and pushed
it back on the counter to let it rise. Then she turned and
looked at her oldest daughter. “Margaret…do you think I should
forbid her from going?”
Margaret didn’t answer as she lifted the pies and put them in
the oven. She turned and leaned against the counter. “Ma…you are
right. Beth is airy and dreamy. She thinks there’s a whole world
of adventure waiting for her. She’s wild and carefree, and we’ve
always known that.” Margaret sighed. “I would like to see Scott
give her a good thrashing but…that won’t help matters. If you
forbid her from going, she’ll leave in anger and that will only
make coming home harder.”
“How can I let her go?”
“You give her your love, Mother. You make sure she understands
that she has a home to come back to…whenever she’s ready.”
Margaret rested a hand on her mother’s shoulder. “…No matter
“That’s the hard part…the ‘no matter what.’ Margaret, I’m just
afraid that…this boy…I mean, it’s not right for her to…”
Margaret nodded. “I know. And I don’t agree with what Beth’s
doing. But Pa DOES have a point…she’s an adult now. Sometimes
you have to let go and pick up the pieces when reality hits.”
Margaret kissed her mother on the cheek. “You never know…the
West and this ‘boy’ may be the thing she needs to bring her to
reality. Maybe she’ll love the West.”
“And I’ll never see her again.” Jennifer’s eyes filled with
tears. “That’s something I can’t stand to even think about!”
Margaret took her mother in her arms and held her while she
The day flew by as Margaret visited with various family members.
She caught up on the happenings with Amanda and Scott, spent
time enjoying her nine month old nephew, and laughed at the
telling Johnny spoke of. After the supper dishes were cleaned
and the towel was hung on the hook, Margaret sat down in the
parlor to speak with Beth who had her nose in some romantic
She was just about to delve into “the talk” with Beth when a
hard knock sounded on the front door. Margaret and Beth looked
at each other then jumped up and hurried to see what the
commotion was. “Scott…” Tiffany was clinging to him. “Scott,
where’s Marg…” Tiffany’s voice was shaking with fear. Her eyes
held a deep worry. She shoved Scott aside and hurried up to
“Margaret, the baby’s coming! Julie’s in a lot of pain! I…I’m
afraid!” Margaret went for her coat. “Something’s wrong. It’s
like nothing I’ve seen before…even when I had Ruthie.”
“Okay.” Margaret slipped her hands through her gloves as her
heart started to race. But she had to stay calm. Tiffany needed
her to stay calm.
“Julie’s just screaming in pain. We didn’t know what to do! Oh,
I’m so afraid…” Tiffany continued on.
“Alright…ALRIGHT!” Margaret grabbed Tiffany by the shoulders to
calm her. “She needs you to stay calm.”
Margaret reached for her riding hat that hung on the hook.
“Scott, you go for Jason. I’ll ride double with Tiffany back to
the farm. HURRY!”
“Julie’s staying at my house,” Tiffany told Scott. “Abe didn’t
want her alone with the children while he was gone. You get
Jason to our house, you hear?” Tiffany’s voice still held panic.
“Let’s go!” Margaret ordered as she hurried out the door. Scott
was close behind. The others were left to wait and pray.
Tiffany hurried her horse back to the farm with Margaret as fast
as she could. Margaret could tell she was upset, but there was
no time for talking. As soon as they rode into the yard,
Margaret jumped off the horse. “You take that horse into the
barn and cool him down. Peter wouldn’t want the horse to come up
sick!” She used that as an excuse to keep Tiffany busy for a few
minutes. Panic wasn’t something they needed right now.
Margaret hurried to the house. Em was there, trying to corral
the children. Margaret could hear Julie’s muffled cries of pain
coming from the bedroom, trying to keep them silent so as not to
startle the children. Margaret hurried in and saw Julie’s hands
clinching the railing on Tiffany’s bed. She thrashed on the bed
from side to side. Her face and hair were wet with sweat.
“Julie, what’s wrong?” Margaret asked in a loud, but calm voice
as she threw her coat on a chair and sat on the bed.
“The pain…” Julie cried. “It’s bad…really bad!” Julie swallowed
hard as more whimpers escaped her lips. “Something’s wrong with
Margaret hurried over to the basin to wash her hands. “When did
the pain start?”
“I don’t know…I don’t…OH!” Julie cried out again. She licked her
lips. “I’m thirsty…”
Margaret poured a glass of water from the pitcher and helped her
drink. “I’m trying to keep the kids from hearing but…OHHHHH!”
Julie cried loudly.
“Don’t worry about the children,” Margaret said. “I’ll send them
away as soon as I can. If you need to scream, you scream.”
Margaret hurried from the room. “How long’s she been like this?”
She asked Tiffany, who had just come inside from tending to the
“Thirty minutes…an hour…I had to send Charlie for Em so I could
go get you.”
“At a friend’s house. She’s spending the night.”
“Okay.” Margaret hurried to the kitchen. “I want you to warm up
some water, Em. Tiffany, I think it’s best you take all these
children to Julie’s house. I’m afraid…there could be trouble.”
Margaret knew Tiffany was the one to send with the children.
Even though Em was carrying a child herself, she was much calmer
and in control of her emotions than Tiffany was. She thought it
would be best to send Tiffany with the children. They were sure
to keep her occupied for awhile as she put them to bed. Em would
offer the better help.
Both women froze and stared at Margaret. “Trouble? What kind of
trouble?” Tiffany and Em grasped hands. “Margaret, what’s
wrong?” Tiffany pleaded for an answer.
Margaret turned from the door. “I don’t know, but Julie’s had
enough babies to know when something’s wrong.” Margaret hurried
back inside. Julie was thrashing on the bed. “I’m going to check
the baby.” Margaret hurried to the end of the bed and threw the
covers back. Moments later, her fears were confirmed. “Alright
Julie…you just try to breathe calmly. I’m sure the doctor will
be here soon.”
“There’s something wrong…I know there is,” Julie cried. Margaret
watched Julie who was struggling hard with the pain. Her
knuckles were white from grasping the bars on the headboard.
“God…save my baby…” Julie prayed through her pain.
Margaret again hurried from the room. “The baby’s breached,” she
announced quietly after the door closed behind Tiffany. She was
very afraid for what the outcome could be, but she forced
herself to stay calm as she faced Em.
“What’s that mean?” Em questioned in an unsteady voice,
clinching her hands.
“It means the baby’s going to come out feet first. I’ve heard of
breached births. My mother had one herself, she told me. From
what I’ve heard, it’s going to be painful for Julie and…could be
critical for the baby. We’ll have to work fast.” Julie screamed
again. “I’ve got to get back in there now. You just stay out
“What can I do?” Em asked.
“When Scott gets here with Jason, ask him to go for the men.
She’ll need Abe.”
Margaret hurried back into the room. “Abe…” Julie screamed, as
if she had heard Margaret mention his name. “I need my husband!
“I know you need him…we’ll try to get him back here,” Margaret
assured her as she squeezed Julie’s hand.
“Tiffany took them home. They’ll be fine. ” Margaret smiled at
her, trying to reassure her so she wouldn’t worry about her
children. “She’ll tuck them in and make sure they get a good
night’s sleep. I’ve a feeling they’ll have a new brother or
sister to play with tomorrow.”
“Laura?” Julie swallowed.
Margaret shook her head. “She’s at a friend’s house remember?”
Julie nodded as pain crossed her face again. “I can send for
“NO!” Julie suddenly grasped Margaret’s hand. “NO!” She shook
her head from side to side. “She’s been through….OHHHH…..She’s
been through so much…Please…Please promise me…not until Abe’s
“Okay.” Margaret nodded. “Alright. I’ll make sure she stays at
Relief flooded Julie’s face. Margaret knew Julie was aware of
the gravity of the situation – perhaps she was more aware than
Margaret was herself. “I need to check the baby,” Margaret said
gently as she loosened her grip on Julie’s hand. Julie clinched
the railing again as the pain grew worse.
Margaret threw the covers off Julie and readied her for
delivery. She hoped Jason would get there soon. She’d assisted
Jason on a breached delivery before and knew it was a grave
situation. She had watched Jason turn the baby for proper
deliver, and held the mother’s hand as she dug her nails into
her hand. Margaret just didn’t like the idea of delivering this
baby. She hoped Jason would get there in time.
Margaret spoke softly to Julie when her contractions came on.
Julie’s pain was so terrible. Margaret wished there was more she
could do. Thirty minutes passed, then an hour. Julie would rest
in between contractions, but the pain never left her. During the
contractions, Julie cried out and tossed from side to side.
Margaret sat with her. At times she would grasp Julie’s hand
while at other times she would just put her face in her hands
hoping Jason would come.
Julie was growing so tired that Margaert wasn’t sure she would
even have the strength to deliver a baby, much less a breached
baby. Margaret jumped to her feet when she heard horses ride up.
She hurried to the window and looked out. A buggy was pulling
into the yard. Scott helped Emily down from the buggy and they
hurried toward the house. “Is Jason here?” Julie questioned
Margaret turned and looked at Julie. She forced a smile. “I’ll
be right back.”
Julie cried out in pain again as Margaret hurried from the room.
“Where’s Jason?” Margaret hissed, her voice a bit panicked this
time. “Julie needs the doctor badly!”
Emily quickly unbuttoned her coat as she explained. “Jason had
an emergency. A steer gorged a little boy in a neighboring town
and he had to go there…won’t be back until morning!” She saw the
panicked look on Margaret’s face. “What’s wrong?”
Margaret didn’t answer at first. She pressed her hands on the
table and leaned into it. She closed her eyes. “Is something
wrong?” Scott asked then. His voice held worry as well.
Margaret lifted her head up and looked at Emily. “Yes.” She led
Emily into see Julie while Em settled Scott down at the table
with a warm cup of coffee. Emily examined Julie. She lifted her
head and mouthed ‘breached.’ Margaret nodded. Margaret saw the
worry enter Emily’s eyes.
Emily straightened and walked over to the window as she rested a
hand on her belly and took some deep breaths. Margaret followed
her over so they could talk without Julie overhearing. She
didn’t notice the expression of pain that entered Emily’s eyes.
It didn’t last long. “Does Julie know?” Emily asked once they
were out of Julie’s earshot. Margaret shook her head. “It’s best
she doesn’t,” Emily confirmed Margaret’s thoughts. “I…haven’t
ever handled a breached baby without Jason. The truth is,
without Jason here…” Margaret merely nodded. She didn’t need
Emily to finish her sentence. She knew how desperate their
Scott jumped from his chair when Julie let out another scream.
Em turned from the stove and looked at the panic on Scott’s
face. “Amanda never screamed like that.”
“I suspect not,” Em said calmly. “I’m afraid the situation’s
desperate. Scott…” Em hurried over to where he stood staring at
the door. “Scott, I know it’s dark and all…but I think it’s best
if you go find the men. Julie will need Abe.” Em looked toward
the door. “And when this is over…I’m afraid Margaret will need
Lucas.” Scott saw the worry in Em’s face.
Julie let out another piercing scream. “I should go for the
doctor! She needs Jason…He’s just over in…”
“There’s not time for that now,” Em answered as she shook her
head. “Please…go for the men.”
“I know where they are,” Scott said as he limped toward the
door. “It won’t take me long to catch up to where they usually
Scott hurried toward the door. Another scream pierced the night.
Scott bolted around and stared at the door. “I’ll…pray on the
Margaret wiped the sweat from Julie’s face. “It’s coming…I’ve
got to push!” Julie declared suddenly. “I’ve got to!”
Margaret looked up at Emily who was reading the cradle still at
the end of Tiffany’s bed. They would also need warm blankets to
wrap the baby in once Julie delivered. Emily hurried to the end
of the bed. After examining Julie, she looked up and met
Margaret’s eyes. Emily looked worried. Margaret nodded. There
was nothing more they could do. “On the next contraction,
Julie…push!” Emily ordered.
It was only a minute later that Julie did just that. Margaret
and Emily looked at each other, very worried that the baby would
be deprived oxygen. A breached birth was always dangerous. Emily
grabbed the baby’s feet and started pulling gently as Margaret
coached Julie from the head of the bed. Julie screamed loudly
as the pain became overwhelming. She continued pushing, but was
exhausted. Finally, the baby popped out.
Margaret hurried to take the baby, quite blue and still, from
Emily’s arms. She immediately went to work on the baby, leaving
Emily to tend to Julie. First she tied off the umbilical cord
and cut it. Next, she grabbed the baby’s feet with one hand and
pressed her other hand against her upper chest, then she tipped
her upside down.
Margaret was so busy trying to bring life into the baby’s lungs
that she didn’t realize what was going on with Julie. Julie’s
eyes were closed and she laid still in the bed.
“Julie!” Emily hurried to the head of the bed where Julie lay
still. She lifted her wrist to check for a pulse. Emily’s
beathing heart slowed a bit when she realized Julie was still
alilve. But her situation was very desperate. Turning, she
looked at Margaret. “She’s in a bad way!”
Margaret wiped an arm across her forehead. “So is the baby.” She
started walking back and forth as she continued thumping the
baby on the back and jiggled her upside down. “Come
on…please…please…” Margaret whispered as she continued her work.
Emily bent over the bed to take a closer look at Julie’s
condition. Suddenly, the pains that had been plaguing her own
body for some time now intensified. A harsh pain shot through
her. “OHHHH!” Emily groaned as she pressed a hand to her belly.
Margaret’s eyes widened as she realized Emily, too, had suddenly
gone into labor…at least that’s what she assumed. “EM!” Margaret
yelled. Em hurried into the room. “You best get Emily to a bed.
She’s about to deliver as well.”
“How’s the baby?” Em asked as she hurried to help Emily.
“Not good,” Margaret answered.
“I have to help…” Emily said. “I’ll be okay.”
“You get to bed now!” Margaret ordered as she continued her work
on the baby. “I don’t have time to argue with you!”
Emily watched Margaret work on the baby as Em pushed her from
Just as the bedroom door closed, Margaret heard a loud gasp from
the baby. Margaret turned the baby over and started rubbing her
chest. “She’s alive!” Margaret cried to anyone who could hear
her voice. “She’s starting to breathe!” She started wiping the
baby’s face. “Em!” Em appeared once again in the doorway. “Find
me a suction ball. The baby has too much mucus in its mouth and
nose. I’ve got to get it out now.”
Em went to do as she was told. Margaret looked up at Julie who
was still not moving. “God, now that you’ve helped the baby,
please help her mother,” Margaret prayed. She wouldn’t realize
it until later, but that was the first time she had asked God
for assistance since the ordeal had begun.
She wrapped the baby in a warmed blanket. Em hurried back in
with the suction ball, then left to check on Emily. Emily was
sitting on the side of the bed, working through another
contraction. “You are supposed to be in bed!” Em chided her as
she walked in.
“There’s too much to do,” Emily argued as Em swung Emily’s legs
up on the bed.
“Margaret has it all under control now,” Em answered. “The
baby’s breathing now.”
“The baby…” Emily started as another contraction came on. They
were so close together. Emily knew her time was drawing near.
“Jason says there’s lots of poisons a baby can swallow –
especially in a long delivery and when it’s breached. The baby
can die if…”
Em shook her head. “Margaret’s working on sucking it out of the
baby’s mouth right now.”
“She’ll need fed…”
Em pulled the covers over Emily and forced her head down on the
pillow. “She will be! I’m sure Margaret’s got everything under
control. She’s been midwifing for several years now…probably
even assisted more births than you have.”
“Em!” Margaret called from the bedroom.
“Now, I have to go help Margaret. You stay in this bed!” Emily
Em hurried into Tiffany’s bedroom. “How is she?”
“She doesn’t want to be in bed,” Em answered. “She said she
needs to be in here helping.”
“Well…” Margaret lifted her head up. “I’m the doctor right now.
Keep an eye on her. Here…” Margaret held the baby out for her to
take. “Hold the baby while I get the water ready. Keeping
suctioning that mucus out of her.” Margaret remembered Jason’s
numerous warnings on the toxins a long delivery can give the
baby. She knew they had to remove as much as they could from the
baby’s mouth. Margaret readied the water, then gave Em firm
instructions on how to bathe the baby, instructions Em didn’t
need but accepted all the same.
Margaret heard Emily call from the bed she was laying in. “I
don’t have time right now!” Margaret said. “I’ll be there as
soon as I can!”
Margaret hurried back into the bedroom and felt Julie’s
forehead. “Oh no…” She was running a fever, and Margaret knew
Julie probably had developed some sort of infection that caused
her to deliver the baby early. She hurried back into the main
room where Em was wrapping a warm blanket around the bathed
baby. “We need help. We need Jason…NOW!”
“But Emily said…”
Margaret went to check on Emily’s condition. Emily assured her
the pain wasn’t bad, but Margaret didn’t like the fact that her
contractions had started at five minutes apart. Emily, propped
up on a pillow to help ease some of the pain in her back,
lowered her head and studied her hands in her lap. “That’s not
exactly true, Margaret. I’ve been experiencing contractions for
two days now.”
“Two…” Margaret’s eyes grew wide.
“Well…they were so mild and sporadic yesterday that I didn’t
even worry Jason about them. We’ve been so busy, what with
pneumonia and frost bite, that he needed me! Then they started
coming more regular today but…” Emily shook her head. “Margaret,
by then news had come of that little boy and…I just couldn’t
tell him I was in labor and risk his having to make a moral
decision.” Emily motioned toward the door. “How’s Julie?”
“She needs your husband. I think she has an infection.” Margaret
pressed a shaky hand on her forehead. “I’m worried.”
“Oh no…” Emily threw the covers back. “I should…” She was
overcome with pain as another contraction came. Margaret pressed
her down into the bed.
“Where’s Jason?” Margaret asked then. “We’ve got to send for
him. Julie needs him.”
“Three Rivers,” Emily answered as she breathed through her
latest contraction. “At the Anderson farm.”
Margaret gave her a short nod then turned toward the door.
“You’re sending for him?”
“I have to,” Margaret answered. “He’s needed here badly.”
Margaret hurried from the bedroom. “Em, can you find your way to
my folks’ house in the dark?” Em nodded. “Alright. I want you to
go for Johnny. Tell him to ride hard to Three Rivers and get
Jason. Tell him that the baby seems fine but…” Margaret shook
her head. “Julie’s in a bad way.”
“I’ll go saddle the horse right away,” Em answered.
“Em, take the buggy.”
“But a horse is faster!” Em argued. “We can’t waste time.”
“Nor do we need any more patients. The buggy’s still hitched, so
take the buggy.” Em nodded. “Oh, and Em…” Em turned to look at
Margaret. “When you get there, stay there. You need to rest.”
“You need my help!” Em argued.
“I do need help.” Margaret forced the fright from her voice and
lifted her head. “That’s why you need to do exactly as I say and
stay at Mama’s. She wouldn’t let you come back anyhow.”
We’ll need a wet nurse for the baby,” Emily suggested.
“She’s caring for the children. As soon as Emily has her baby,
I’ll see if she can take on both babies for now.
“Until then?” Em asked.
Margaret didn’t have the answer. She prayed, for Julie and Abe’s
newborn daughter’s sake, that Emily would deliver soon so the
baby could be fed. “Get going.”
Margaret hurried back into the bedroom where Julie laid. Julie
was mumbling, her head slowly moving from side to side. Margaret
pressed a hand to her forehead. She didn’t like how warm she
felt. She was sure Julie’s fever had to be at least 103.
Margaret closed her eyes and shook her head slowly. Things
didn’t look good at all.
Only a few minutes after Em left, Margaret heard Emily call from
the other bedroom. Margaret hurried to her. “I think it’s time.”
Emily smiled. “My baby’s ready to come.”
Margaret hurried from the room and got Julie’s baby. After she
had the baby settled back in the cradle in Emily’s room,
Margaret settled herself at the foot of the bed and checked on
Emily’s progress. “I think he’s in a hurry.”
Emily took a deep breath. “Jason so wanted to deliver him…or
her. Oh, he’ll be so disappointed!”
“I’m sure he won’t have time to think about it.” Margaret
declared. “On the next contraction, Emily, give it all you got.”
Emily obeyed. It took only ten minutes before the baby came.
Emily forced herself to laugh, declaring she wanted the baby to
hear her laughing – not crying. This was a joyous occasion,
after all. Emily laughed with tears falling down her face when
she heard her baby let out a nice, loud scream.
Emily laughed, her face wet with tears of joy and pride as
Margaret laid the baby in her arms. Emily took the time to study
every inch of her baby. “I always thought it was silly when I
watched mothers count their baby’s fingers and toes,” Emily
mumbled as the baby cooed and wrapped his fingers around her one
finger. “I always thought…how silly…But I find myself doing the
very same thing.” Emily’s smile widened. “I never knew what made
the mother smile after such an ordeal…how they had the strength
to…Oh, but I feel so alive…I feel like…like I’m a new person…”
Margaret pushed the hair from her forehead with the back of her
hand. “You are. Your now a mother,” Margaet answered. As she
watched Emily hold her baby, she wondered if she would
experience that joy soon. Margaret pressed a hand to her flat
belly without thinking. Maybe even now…Like Lucas said just a
few days ago…maybe he’s growing…
Emily interrupted her thoughts. “Oh Margaret…look at him…He’s so
amazing.” Emily laughed as she slowly sat up in bed. “He’s just
so amazing.” She laid the baby against her bosom. It took him
awhile, but he began suckling. “To just think that he was
created out of love…He’s part of Jason and part of me.” Emily
laughed as she wiped more tears from her cheek. “Oh Margaet…”
Margaret smiled. “He’s a…good, strong baby.” Margaret tried to
concentrate on Emily’s happy moment, but her mind became hopeful
as she watched the baby suckle at his mother’s breast.
“He’s a perfect baby,” Emily nodded. “I’ll clean him as soon as
I nurse him. Then I’ll nurse Julie’s little one. You don’t worry
about us. The three of us will be fine…just fine.” Emily stared
at her baby. “You take care of Julie.”
Margaret smiled as she stood up. “You should be exhausted.”
“Exhausted?” Emily laughed. “No! I feel I can take on the
Margaret walked toward the bedroom door. She folded her arms and
gave Emily a stern look. “Well…If Jason catches you up and
around, he’ll tan your hide! You best stay in bed.”
“When we have our hands full?” Emily shook her head. “I’ve heard
tell about Indian women squatting under a tree, giving birth,
then going right back to work.”
“Maybe so, but you’re no Indian.” Margaret paused in the
doorway. “And I wouldn’t use THAT in your opening arguments when
Jason gets here.”
Sometime in the night, the silence outside was interrupted by
approaching horses. The house was lit, showing signs of activity
as the men approached. Scott slid from his horse and went to
help Abe from the back of the wagon. Lucas and Scott walked Abe
to the door while Jeremiah and Peter rushed forward. As soon as
the door opened, Abe broke from the hold Scott and Lucas had on
him and bolted forward. Margaret emerged from the room and
grabbed his arm, stopping him from going in. “Abe…You have
another daughter,” Margaret announced. But nobody missed the
hesitation in her voice. Something was wrong.
“Is she…okay?” Abe asked.
“She’ll be okay, I think. There were some…complications.”
Margaret wished she didn’t have to do this. She was so
frightened for Julie. She was exhausted. She just wanted to
collapse. But she kept her shoulder squared and readied herself
for what had to be said.
While Margaret was organizing her thoughts, Abe started for the
bedroom Margaret had just exited, but Lucas sensed Margaret
wasn’t through with him. He put a strong hold on his brother’s
arm. “Abe…Julie…” Margaret stopped when the words choked in her
throat. She cleared it and started again.
Abe stared down into her face. “Julie? What about my wife?”
“Abe…It was a hard delivery. Jason wasn’t available and…”
Margaret hated what she had to tell him. “Abe…I did my best.”
“WHAT ABOUT MY WIFE?” Abe asked louder this time. His voice was
heavy with emotion.
“Abe, I can’t help her. She needs a doctor.” Margaret looked
passed him. She couldn’t stand to see the worry in his eyes. Her
eyes focused on Lucas. “Johnny’s gone for Jason. He’s at Three
Rivers…At the Anderson farm taking care of a boy who was gorged
by a bull.” Margaret longed for Lucas to hold her. She needed to
cry, but instead she pulled her shoulders back and lifted her
head again. “Perhaps you should…”
“Right. I’m on my way.” Lucas hurried from the house. “I’ll have
him back here as soon as I can.”
“I’ll go,” Scott said. “You should stay here with the family.”
“No.” Lucas looked down at Scott’s leg. “You’ve done too much
riding already. Johnny’s probably on his way back by now anyhow.
But I suspect…your family needs the news.” Scott nodded,
deciding it was best if he went home and stayed with the family.
“Em and Tiffany? Where are they?” Jeremiah asked.
“Em’s at my house. I’m sure Mama’s keeping her there and making
her rest after her ride over there.” Margaret looked at Peter.
“Tiffany’s at Abe’s house with all the children.”
Abe pushed passed Margaret and hurried into the bedroom. He
stopped half-way inside and looked down at Julie laying quietly
in bed. “Julie…” Abe breathed. Abe bent down and felt his wife’s
sweating forehead. “Oh Dear God…” Abe swallowed. “Dear God…”
Margaret steadied her shaking hand as she watched Abe grieve
over his wife’s condition. . Now was now was no time for her to
Margaret went back to check on Emily who was already out of bed
and giving herself and her baby a good cleaning. “Emily!”
Margaret declared from the door as she folded her arms.
Emily smiled as she stood over the wash basin. “As soon as I get
him cleaned up, I’ll nurse the baby girl.”
“From bed?” Margaret questioned as she lifted her eyebrows.
“I’m going to be sitting in the rocking chair holding our baby
when Jason comes in. He’s not going to find me in bed!”
“May I remind you that you just gave birth?” Margaret
“Isn’t it true that some women can give birth and get right back
“It is,” Margaret answered. “But I don’t think your husband will
be listening to any of the reasonings you have used on me.”
Margaret sighed. “She’s not well. I’m pretty sure she has an
infection. I’m sure Jason can help her but…”
Emily handed her the baby. “I’ll check her.” Emily hurried to
where Julie and Abe were. Abe was clutching his wife’s hand.
Emily checked Julie from head to toe. “Okay…bring me the
medicine box from the kitchen. And bring me a small pan of warm
water.” Emily began rolling up the sleeves of her dress. Julie
and Abe’s baby started crying. “Abe, have you met your
“Daughter?” Abe whispered, as if he just realized he had another
child. Emily motioned toward the cradle. Abe stood and slowly
went over and looked down into the cradle. “Our daughter…” Abe
lifted her from the cradle and held her tenderly in her arms.
“My baby girl…”
Margaret hurried back into the room with the medicine box. “She
needs fed, Abe…You look like you’re about to fall down. Go sit
in the rocking chair with her. Emily will come feed her as soon
as she can.”
Emily started mixing some medicines. “Alright, we’ve got to get
this in her.” Julie mumbled as Emily shook her, but she awoke
enough to understand she needed to take some medicine. Emily and
Margaret worked together to get the medicine in Julie. “Jason
has some medicine to help her when he gets here. It’s a shot and
will go right into her bloodstream.”
“What’s wrong with her?” Margaret asked.
“It’s hard to explain, and I’m no doctor, but if it’s what I
think it is, it’s called Pregnancy poisoning.” Emily shook her
head. “Jason can usually spot it when a woman’s pregnant, but
this time…All we can do is wait…and pray.”
Margaret couldn’t help wondering if maybe somehow she could
have…Margaret shook her head. She didn’t have the time or the
energy to think on that. She was so exhausted, yet she had to be
there for the family. She HAD to keep moving! Emily stood from
the bed. “I best feed that baby girl.”
Margaret convinced Abe to lay down. She could see pain in his
face and knew he was wearing himself out. Julie was sleeping and
would need him when she woke.
Jeremiah left to go get Em. Peter went to stay with Tiffany at
Julie and Abe’s house. Both brothers felt helpless, and Margaret
wondered if that was one reason they left. They knew there was
nothing they could do to help.
Margaret watched Emily lovingly nurse the baby girl. “Have you
thought on a name for your baby yet?”
Emily smiled as she leaned her head back on the rocking chair
and looked up into Margaret’s face. “We discussed it for a long
time. We thought on names to describe how Jason rescued me from
the pain I had been going through, when we met…you know…sort of
like they did back in the Bible times but we decided that event
was behind us. We didn’t want a constant reminder of it.
Instead, we decided to name the baby after a fallen
Margaret smiled. “I think that’s a good, sound name.”
“His middle name will be from my family – McCain. We have to
keep the McCain name in our family.” Emily smiled. “Matthew
The door opened as the sun was peaking over the mountain.
Margaret was in the kitchen preparing breakfast for the brood
that would undoubtedly make their presence soon. Emily
alternated between checking on Julie, whom she said was making a
little improvement, and feeding the two babies. Margaret
wouldn’t let her be on her feet too much, but Emily declared she
was fine. Remarkably, she was!
The help Margaret had hoped for finally arrived. Jason, Lucas,
and Johnny hurried into the house. Jason walked past Emily who
was in the rocking chair holding their baby and went straight to
the bedroom. Emily stood and handed the baby to Margaret,then
hurried to assist her husband. “I’ve done everything I can,
Jason. I gave her medicine and…Jason, is it pregnancy
Jason didn’t turn to look at her. “I don’t know yet. Honey,
would you get me some warm water please?”
Emily left to do his bidding. Margaret lifted her eyebrows.
Emily shrugged. “He doesn’t know yet. Hasn’t even stopped to
look at me.”
“Know what?” Lucas asked as he set his rifle above the mantle
and went to wash up for breakfast.
“Lucas McCain…” Margaret folded her arms and shook her head. “Do
you have so much sleep in your eyes that you haven’t noticed
your sister’s condition?” Lucas shrugged. “Does Emily
appear…different to you?”
Lucas studied his sister closer as she took the water and
started carrying it toward the bedroom. He gasped and hurried to
stand in front of her. “Seems to me you were a big…plumper last
time I saw you.”
“The baby came last night, Luke,” Emily answered her brother
with a smile.
“OH?” Lucas lifted an eyebrow. Emily started to go back into the
bedoorm. “What do you think you’re doing, Sis?” He took the pan
of water from her. “You just go sit down.”
“I’m Jason’s nurse!” Emily argued. “He needs…”
Jason hurried into the room. “Emily, honey…Where’s my…” Jason’s
voice froze as he stood in the doorway. His eyes stared at her
middle. Margaret was happy to see that at least he was a bit
more observant than her husband. “Emily, what…”
Emily went to the fireplace and picked up her son who was
sleeping in the cradle. “Meet your son, Jase.”
“My son…But…” Jason stared at her. “Why aren’t you…I mean when…”
Jason ran a hand through his hair. “I thought Julie…” Finally he
looked around the room. “Would somebody please fill me in?”
“Later, Jase. Right now Julie needs us.”
“She needs ME,” Jason stressed sternly.
“How is she?” Margaret asked as she came forward.
“She’ll pull through. She developed an infection before
delivery.” The infection forced her into premature labor, which
is why she’s in the condition she’s in now.”
Abe looked up from the table. Relief was on his face. “Abe… It
was a hard delivery. Margaret did as good a job as I would have
done. The deliver…Well, there were some compliations.” Jason
scratched his head, trying to put what he had to say into words.
“Abe, she’s lucky to be alive…Most women would have died in her
situation, but she had a wonderful nurse…” Jason turned and
raised his eyebrows at his wife. “Two…I suspect…” Jason
“What is it, Jason?” Abe asked as he slowly stood from the
table. “What is it you don’t want to tell me?”
“Abe…She may not be able to…” Jason stood in front of his
brother-in-law and rested a hand on his shoulder. “I mean, the
birth was a breech and it put a lot of strain on her body…I
suspect she also had pregnancy poisoning. It caused some
damage…damage I can’t repair and…”
Abe swallowed the lump that was rapidly growing in his throat.
“What are you saying, Doc?”
“I’m saying…” Jason swallowed. “There was some damage. She may
not be able to…” Jason sighed. “It’s easier to say this when
it’s not your own family. Abe, six kids may be it for you and
A hand flew to Margaret’s mouth. Julie loved being a mother. She
loved being pregnant, and said she’d have as many children as
God would bless her with. This could be hard for her. “Oh no…”
Margaret whispered. Lucas hurried to stand beside his wife and
put an arm around her shoulders.
“You’re saying she…she won’t have any more children?” Abe
finally choked out.
Jason nodded. “There’s a very big possibility of that, Abe.”
“But you’re not sure.”
“Abe…If she has another baby it would be nothing short of a
miracle.” Jason took the water from Lucas and handed it to Abe.
“I think she’ll need you when she wakes up.” Abe nodded as tears
filled his eyes. He took the water from Jason, then went into
Nobody saw Margaret turn and hurry back to the kitchen. Nobody
knew the turmoil she was going through at that moment. But she
couldn’t deal with it right now. The family needed her.
Later…Later when she was alone…
Jason looked so tired as he washed his hands. “How is she?”
“I’ve done all I can. Her Her fever will probably break soon. I
gave her a shot, but I suspect the medicine my nurse gave her
has already helped her through the worst.” Jason wiped his hands
then came to sit down beside his wife. “You’ve learned well
under my close supervision.” Emily smiled. “Now then…” Jason
looked at the baby in Emily’s arms. “Mind telling me the rest of
“Well, you see…” Emily looked at Lucas who was sitting at the
table, patiently waiting to be fed. . Tiffany and Peter walked
in with the children then. Em and Jeremiah followed close
behind. “It was a really busy night.”
Margaret put the big pan of scrambled eggs on the table. “She
went into labor shortly after Julie gave birth. I had to deliver
her baby as well, and I could NOT keep her in bed! She insists
she’s feeling just fine!”
Emily stood and went to lay her sleeping son down in the cradle.
“Emily Livingston…” Jason lifted his eyebrows as she turned to
look at him.
“Well…Indian women just squat under a…” Jason took two steps
toward her. “Isn’t it true that some women give birth and get
right back up?” Jason took two more steps toward her. “I mean,
pioneer women…I’ve heard they…” Jason closed the distance
remaining between them and looked down at their baby. “Jason
Livingston, meet your son…Matthew McCain Livingston.”
Jason took the baby in his arms. Everyone watched as he smiled
tenderly down at their son. “I’m sorry I wasn’t here to see you
into the world, son,” Jason spoke softly. “I’m afraid your
Mama’s been very, very naughty.” He looked up at her. “In bed,
“Jason, I feel fine!” Emily argued.
“Emily…” Emily flinched at the sharpness in his voice. “I want
you in that bed. You give me any argument, and I’ll spank you in
front of everyone. And if you don’t think I’ll do it, you just
try me. Now…” Jason nodded toward the back bedroom. “In
“Can’t I just sit in the rocking…” Emily stopped at the stern
look on his face. “Yes dear.”
Peter and Jeremiah both looked at each other. “When did Emily
have HER baby?” Peter asked.
“Yes. Do fill me in!” Tiffany declared as she folded her arms.
Lucas chuckled as he stood up. “Where have you been? She had it
last night! Haven’t you been paying attention?”
Margaret grunted as she came to stand beside her husband. She
folded her arms and lifted her eyebrows. “Oh…” Lucas winked at
her. “Let’s eat!”
Margaret proceeded to set food on the table. Lucas watched her
worriedly. There was something wrong. He saw the tiredness in
her eyes. Tiffany helped set the table, then told everyone to
sit down. Peter blessed the food, then fixed Abe a plate. Jason
fixed Emily a plate. After Jason was sat back down at the table,
Lucas asked him about Julie. “She’ll be okay.”
“Are you sure?” Lucas asked.
“I’m sure. I was able to stop the infection. Emily did a fine
job before I got here. Had she not…well, let’s not think about
that now.” Jason took a bite of his food. “Margaret, you did a
fine job on the baby. It looks like mother and baby will be
Margaret said nothing as she stood and started gathering empty
plates. Lucas watched her leave and knew something was wrong. He
walked to the sink where Margaret was scraping off plates.
“Honey, you must be exhausted. Perhaps you should lay down.”
“I’m fine, Luke,” Margaret snapped at him.
“You’re not, Margaret. You’ve been up all night and…”
“Luke…” Margaret couldn’t keep the harshness from her voice as
she turned and spoke to him. “Luke…I’m tired and I’ve so much on
my mind, but…I can’t stop working…not now, Luke!”
“I can’t break down in front of your family. I have to stay
strong…to keep doing…If I don’t I’ll…” Margaret closed her eyes
and took a deep breath. “Please understand, Luke.”
Lucas studied her face for a moment then nodded his head. “I
do.” He kissed her forehead. “We’ll be leaving soon.” Margaret
opened her mouth to argue, but Lucas held up a finger to hush
her. “And that’s final. Until then…work away.”
Jason went to check on his patients. Julie was awake and talking
some. She was crying as Abe held her when Jason walked into the
room. He didn’t have to guess what Abe had told her. He examined
her then assured her she was getting better. He assured her the
baby had been fed by Emily, and she could try and sit up to feed
the baby the next day.
Emily was doing better than Jason could ever imagine. She made
sure to let her husband know that she did not need to be in the
bed. Jason assured her she did, and would stay there until he
gave her permission to get up. He promised her that if she was a
good girl, she could get up the following day and they would go
After receiving the good report, Lucas announced he and Margaret
would go home. Their hunting trip had been cut short due to the
special deliveries, but they had managed to get some meat. Lucas
would go back for his meat, in hopes it was still hanging in the
tree, after settling Margaret down.
Margaret was quiet all the way home…too quiet. Lucas could feel
the tension beside her and knew she was going to break down at
any moment. Margaret took the hand he offered her as he helped
her down from the wagon. “I’ll put the team away,” Lucas said.
Margaret merely nodded, then walked into the house.
When Lucas came in from tending to the horses, he found Margaret
in their small kitchen staring out the window. She had a dish
towel in her hand but wasn’t doing anything with it. Lucas
walked up behind her and placed his hands on her shoulders.
“It’s time for me to take care of you,” Lucas said softly.
That’s all it took. Margaret turned and threw her arms around
his neck. Sobs wracked her body as she cried into his chest.
Lucas held her and listened to her sobs for a long time. Her
body shook in his arms. “Let it all out, Margaret. Just let it
all out,” Lucas encouraged her. It was painful to listen to her
crying, but he knew she needed it after the night she had.
Margaret finally lifted from his shoulder and wiped her eyes. “I
tried so hard to be strong, Luke. You’ve no idea…”
“Nobody expects you to be strong all the time.”
“They needed me…Nobody else could…Oh, they all told me I was so
brave and strong…But the truth was I had never been so afraid in
my life, Luke.” Margaret turned to face her husband.
“Luke…I…thought Julie and the baby were going to die. I…I didn’t
even pray…Not until after Julie…”
“Julie and the baby are going to be fine, honey. Emily’s baby is
fine. You were there when they needed you.”
“Julie’s not fine…” Margaret moved away from Lucas. “Oh, I feel
“No…” Margaret held up a hand to stop him. “Don’t tell me it’s
not my fault…If I had done more. I just can’t help thinking that
it was something I DID that made her…” Margaret pressed a hand
to her mouth. “Oh God…forgive me.”
Lucas saw how tired she was. He walked up to her and put his
hands on her shoulders. “I’m going to fix you a nice, warm bath.
Then I want you to get some sleep.” Margaret nodded. “When you
wake up, we’ll talk about this.”
Lucas led her to the table and sat her down. Then he left to get
the bath tub from the barn. Margaret sat at the table and stared
into the fire as she waited for Lucas to get her bath ready.
Finally, he lifted her from the table and walked her into the
bedroom. He helped her undress and step into the bath tub. Lucas
never left her side as she bathed, and he helped her wash her
hair. Only after he was satisfied she was more relaxed did he
hold the towel up for her. She slipped a clean gown over her
head then crawled into bed.
“Would you like me to read from the Bible until you fall
asleep?” Margaret nodded. Lucas sat down on the bed and laid her
head on his lap. He softly read from the Psalms. Soon, she was
fast asleep. Lucas bent down and kissed her. “If only you knew,
Margaret, just how special you are…” He stood from the bed and
tucked her in good and tight. Then he went to do his chores.
“Ouch!” Margaret heard as she opened her eyes and stretched long
in the bed. “Dag gummit!” Margaret sat up in bed when she heard
a pan hit the floor. She reached for her robe then went to stand
in the doorway. A smile played at her lips when she saw Lucas in
the kitchen sucking his on his hurt finger.
Then she saw the mess. She smelled the air. Something was
burning, and it was coming from her oven. She pressed a hand to
her mouth when she saw Lucas hurry to the oven. He reached out
and grabbed the oven door, then cursed as he removed his hand
quickly. Margaret hurried forward to rescue him. “What are you
doing to my kitchen?” She reached for the butter and started
smoothing it on his hand.
“I was just fixing supper,” Lucas groaned. “You slept through
lunch, and I figured I’d surprise you with supper.”
Margaret giggled. Lucas pressed a hand to her cheek and brushed
her hair back from her face. “You sound better. You look better.
How do you feel?”
“Better, I guess,” Margaret answered as she hurried to get
whatever was burning from her oven. She turned as she held it in
her hands. “What is this?”
“Potatoes?” Lucas questioned as he lifted his eyebrows. “Well,
they used to be anyhow.”
Margaret went to clean off part of her counter so she could
start supper all over again. “Luke…I’m sorry I fell apart
“Don’t apologize, Margaret. You had four lives in your hands
today. I would worry if you hadn’t fallen apart.”
“I was afraid for Julie and that baby. And then when Jason said
Julie may not be able to have anymore…well, it was more than I
could take. I started thinking…Oh, I know now that I did all I
could. It’s just at the time…and maybe I am still questioning
myself a bit.” Margaret spoke as she chopped the carrots. “I
can’t help but to wonder if I could have done something to help
the birthing be easier…If maybe…”
Lucas pressed his hands on Margaret’s shoulders and turned her
around. “You did everything humanly possible, Margaret.”
“Yes.” Margaret sighed. “But I didn’t pray. I didn’t even think
“I think God understood how busy you were. God was there beside
you, Honey. He heard your heart. He knew you needed Him. I think
he was there guiding your hands so you could save their lives.”
Lucas kissed her forehead.
“Maybe Jason’s wrong,” Margaret smiled.
“Maybe.” Lucas kissed her. “Don’t you think six children is
“For Julie and Abe?” Margaret kissed him. “Well…it’s in God’s
“Oh, by the way…” Lucas crossed his ankles as he leaned against
the counter. “Scott stopped by while ago to check on you. He was
worried and he wanted to bring the news.”
“News?” Margaret turned from peeling the potatoes. “What news?”
“Julie and Abe named the baby.”
“They did?” Margaret smiled. “What did they name her?”
“Scarlett Margaret McCain.” Abe stood in front of her and smiled
down at her. “She was named Scarlett because of the trouble she
had coming into this world, and Margaret for the person who
helped her through.” Lucas smiled. “I feel honored to be married
to that woman.”
Margaret lowered her eyes. She felt emotions sweep over her and
suddenly felt the need to be alone. She reached for the bucket.
“I think I’ll take a walk down to the creek.”
“In your robe?”
Margaret stepped into his boots. “I can use the fresh air. It’s
not that cold outside. The sun’s out…the snow’s melting…Besides,
I need some time alone with…with God.” She saw worry in Lucas’
eyes. “Don’t worry, my love. I’ll be okay. Please understand.”
“I do.” Lucas nodded. “Anything I can do while you’re gone?”
“Yes.” Margaret looked toward the kitchen. “Stay out of my
Lucas chuckled as he watched her go. “You have no idea just how
special you are…” Lucas mumbled as he watched her walk through
the snow, wearing her house robe and his oversized boots, and
toward the creek. Lucas chuckled as he turned and looked at the
Christmas tree. “Special Delivery indeed…God and His bright
ideas!” Then he sat down at the table to wait patiently for his
The Margaret Years — A
These stories are based on the TV series
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around The McCain Ranch