The Writer's Corner
Chapter 17 - Margaret's Wrath
Written by Michelle Palmer
Margaret McCain stood at the window and watched the rain slide
down the window in a wavy pattern. It was the second week of
November already. The events of nearly two weeks ago still
haunted her. Margaret bit her lip as she lifted a finger and
traced a rivulet of rain as it slid slowly down the window pane.
The rain drop had purpose as it fell from the sky – to give
moisture to the earth, but it’s purpose was lost and the
raindrop suddenly ceased to exist as it hit the window pane.
“Julie!” Margaret turned at the sound of Abe’s voice calling out
for his wife. She forced herself to step toward the doorway with
a heavy heart. The burden she carried was indeed a heavy one.
Julie was struggling both mentally and physically. Jason checked
her frequently and worried that she would not be able to carry
the baby to term. At present, she was back at the farm, visiting
with her children. Margaret prayed she would stay there for
awhile. She knew Julie’s constant travel back and forth as she
cared for both her husband and children wasn’t good for her or
her unborn baby.
Abe…Poor Abe…He was feeling the pain, though it had lessoned
considerably since he was shot. Every day he was getting
stronger. Still, she saw the pain in his eyes when she brought
him medicine or gave him something to eat. He longed to know how
his children were…to see them, but Julie refused to allow such a
thing. She didn’t think her children could understand.
Jason worried for Abe as well. Margaret watched Jason watch
Julie intently when she was caring for Abe. She saw how he
wrinkled his brow and shook his head. He was worried about
something, and she knew it, but about what…that was something
Margaret wasn’t sure of. She suspected he was worried more about
Julie then about Abe. Jason would open his mouth to speak to
Julie, but quickly close it, as if deciding to remain silent
would be better
And Lucas…Margaret saw the worry all over her husband’s face.
She knew he wasn’t sleeping at night. She knew he was worried
about so many things. At present, he was out in the rain
checking the cattle. Margaret suggested he wait until the cold,
dreary rain cleared up, but Lucas kissed her softly and assured
her he’d be back as soon as he could. The cattle needed checked,
and the rain couldn’t stop that chore from being done.
Lucas worried. Margaret didn’t know what all his worries were
about, for there were so many times Lucas liked to worry alone
and silently. She saw how he clutched the Bible at night as he
sat at the kitchen table. She saw how he clasped his hands and
prayed while smoking his cigar on the porch at night. He was too
worried to really talk to her. She watched him talk quietly to
his brothers, or other men who stopped by. Sometimes he would
come back with more worry on his face. Other times he would show
a bit of relief.
Margaret knew her husband well enough to know he would tell her
his concerns in good time. In the mean time, she continued to
pray for him and take care of him the best she knew how. Each
day, she assured him she was there, suffering with him, if he
ever needed her. Lucas would pause in his task, look up at her,
and give her a small smile. Margaret knew that smile was a
thanks for understanding.
Presently, Margaret opened the door to the bedroom and slowly
walked up to the bed. Abe pressed his head back in the pillow
and rubbed his chest where Jason had removed the bullet.
“Margaret…” Abe swallowed hard, trying to force the pain deeper
inside him. “Where’s my wife?”
“She’s with the children,” Margaret answered as she pressed a
hand on his arm.
“How is she?”
Margaret lowered her head and nodded, but she stayed silent. She
mustn’t lie to him.
“Margaret, how’s Julie?” Margaret didn’t answer at first. Abe
cleared his throat. “The baby… is Julie okay?”
Margaret shot her head up and stared at him. A silent question
was in her eyes – ‘what?’. “She doesn’t think I know, but I see
her hold her middle as if in pain. Is she in pain?” Margaret
looked away. “I know…I’ve…asked her to stay away…not because I
want her to but…It’s too much for her, Margaret.”
Margaret lifted her head and tried to smile as she nodded in
agreement. “I know. But she’s worried about you. She’s concerned
for the children.”
“The children?” Abe’s voice took on a tone of concern. “Why?
Margaret knew Julie didn’t want to worry him. Laura was
misbehaving in school and at home. She was almost impossible to
control these days. Peter and Jeremiah both had tried to give
her a stern talking to, but everyone knew she needed her Papa
Abe to talk to. The others thought she felt she had lost another
father. Her world was turned upside down. Charlie was acting
out as well. He needed the attention of his mother and father,
but they were rarely there. And the other children…they cried at
night for their folks. Ma and Pa had always tucked them in at
night, and now they weren’t there.
Of course, Margaret couldn’t tell any of these things to Abe.
“Don’t you worry…the children are fine!” Margaret assured him as
she sat down on the side of the bed. “Julie’s spending some
extra time with them.”
“Why, Margaret?” Margaret lifted her head in question. “Why
won’t she bring the children here?”
Margaret had heard Abe’s pleas. She had pleaded with Julie
herself, but to no avail. “I don’t know…She’s afraid that…that
it’ll scare the children, I suppose.”
“Laura?” Margaret felt tears coming. She quickly stood, unable
to tell him Laura had been given the choice to come visit, but
was choosing to stay away. She was afraid of what she would see.
“Abe, I’ll get you some soup. I have it warmed on the stove for
when you woke up.” Quickly, she left the room before Abe could
The door opened as she dipped the soup. She heard the sound of a
rifle going into the holder beside the door. Then a deep sigh
heaved from her husband’s lips as he shrugged from his coat.
“I’ve some stew on the stove for our lunch,” she stated without
turning around. “Sit yourself down at the table and I’ll bring
it to you.” She turned to see the weariness in her husband’s
eyes. Slowly, she walked to the table and sat the stew down in
front of him. “You know I’m here if you want to talk.”
Lucas surprised her by sitting back in his chair and motioning
for her to sit down. “I do. I do want to talk.” The worry in his
eyes seemed to deepen. Slowly, he moved his eyes down and looked
at the second bowl of soup in her hands. “Oh…but you should tend
to Abe first.”
“He just woke up. He could wait if…” Margaret started, but Lucas
shook her head and told her to tend to Abe. “As you wish, Luke.”
Slowly, Margaret went to the bedroom. Her burden deepened as she
fed Abe. At times, he struggled to swallow. He coughed a bit as
he patiently waited for the soup to go down his throat. Jason
said it would take time. Even his throat had been impacted by
the bullet that pierced his chest that Halloween day. Margaret
knew she had patience, but she saw the weariness and worry in
Julie’s eyes and knew Julie’s patience was running very thin.
How much more would she and Abe be able to take before they
reached a breaking point?
Abe finally shook his head that he couldn’t stand to eat any
more. Margaret declared that he was getting too skinny, but Abe
pushed the bowl away. Margaret stood from the bed, knowing she
wouldn’t be able to get too much further with him. “Julie… She’s
staying home with the children…I hope…” Abe mumbled as he rested
his head back on the pillow.
Margaret turned from the door and watched him close his eyes.
She knew Abe was worried about her. Julie was wearing herself
thin. Abe pleaded with her not to do so much. Nobody missed
those times when she pressed a hand to her belly and breathed
through another pain that overcame her. Nobody missed the
tiredness and worry in her eyes. Margaret knew the best place
for Julie was at home with the children. She was too far along
in her pregnancy to care for Abe night and day. Something would
have to give soon. Margaret bit her lip and slowly closed the
door. She checked her tears before hurrying to deposit the bowl
in the kitchen. Then she went to sit back down beside Lucas.
Lucas slowly took a few more bites of his stew. After wiping his
mouth on the napkin, he sat back in his chair and spoke. His
voice was full of burden, but she knew the McCain family was
always close. When one hurt, they all hurt. “Peter and Jeremiah
are feeling the strain of marshalling and trying to hold down
the farm. They’ve had to break up too many fights and mischief
lately. Word…it gets out pretty fast that there’s no ‘real’
Marshal here. I wish I could do more to help them, but you and
Julie need me here.”
Margaret heard the deep weariness in his voice. She knew he was
very worried for his family. “Their wives are having to care for
all the children…all of them. They’ve asked Julie to stay, but
she spends a few hours with the children then hurries back here.
They don’t mind caring for the children but…Peter told me
Tiffany’s been short with Julie the last few days. Can’t say
that I blame her…Having six extra children underfoot is quite a
task…especially with the men gone so much. “Everyone seems to be
angry at everyone else, Margaret.”
“Laura…” Lucas heaved a deep sigh. “Peter stopped by when I
returned from checking the cattle. He told me Laura got sent
home from school for fighting. She acts out constantly in class.
When she’s asked to do something, she refuses. Even the family
can’t tolerate her anymore. She’s become so defiant.”
“Poor child…she’s been through so much, Luke. First she lost
you…then her father…then her mother. I’m sure she’s afraid of
losing Abe. Julie’s not there anymore. Her whole world’s been
turned upside down.”
Lucas patted her hand. “You are so understanding.” But the
burden returned to his face almost immediately. “I just…wish
there was more I can do.” Lucas stood and walked to the window.
“I wish I knew how to put my family back together.”
“I’m sorry, Luke.” Margaret stood and walked to stand beside her
husband. She laid her hand at the small of his back and began
rubbing it. “I…wish there was something I could do too.”
“That’s not all…” Lucas lowered his head and turned to look at
Margaret heard the sorrow in Lucas’ voice. His voice broke as he
said Julie’s name. “Julie?”
Lucas turned and looked toward their bedroom door. He lowered
his voice as if Abe may be straining to hear their conversation.
“Peter also was to tell me they couldn’t stop Julie from
returning to the ranch in a few hours.”
“What…” Margaret started.
“She said Abe needs her. She needs to be here to take care of
Abe. Peter and Tiffany talked to her until they were blue.
Everyone sees she’s so tired…isn’t sleeping at all. Her children
were crying for her to stay, but she told them “Papa needs me.”
Margaret sucked in her breath. Her eyes grew angry. Lucas was
quite surprised at her reaction and straightened a bit. “Oh, is
that so?” Margaret folded her arms and raised her head. Lucas
could tell she was about to explode. He remembered seeing the
anger in her eyes before and the firm set of her chin. He took
her arm and led her to the door. Grabbing her coat, he quickly
ushered her out onto the porch.
“Perhaps the barn is a better place for this discussion,” he
But Margaret didn’t wait until she got to the barn. She stopped
half-way there and turned to glare at Lucas in the pouring rain.
“That woman is in no condition to take care of all those
children and her husband! She’s risking the health of her unborn
Lucas raised an eyebrow as her chin set even firmer than before.
She folded her arms and pressed her lips together. Her eyes
narrowed into small slits. He could see the wheels turning in
her head as she tried to decide what to do about this latest
event. Lucas raised his other eyebrow, knowing anything he tried
to say to stop her would be in vain. He would give her his
opinion when she shared her decision with him, but when she got
in this sort of state, his opinion mattered little to her.
Lucas took her arm and started her back in motion toward the
barn. “I talked to the City Council in town earlier,” Lucas said
as he cleared his throat and hurried her inside. “They said
Oklahoma City is sending an interim marshal. He’s done a lot to
clean up their city. He’s raised up some good deputies who can
handle almost any situation that comes up.” Lucas turned to look
at his wife. She didn’t even seem to be listening, but maybe
some of what he was saying was getting through. “His name is Tom
“What about him?” Margaret mumbled as she folded her arms and
went to pet Bullet. He could see her mentally writing out her
Lucas sat back down on a crate. He tried to hide his amusement
because there was really nothing to be laughing about, but he
remembered when he was on the other end of Margaret’s wrath, and
he knew it was not a fun place to be. “He’ll be coming as
Marshal of Enid.”
Margaret slowly turned around and looked at her husband. “I
thought we usually held an election and voted a marshal in.”
Lucas grinned at her in spite of the situation as he leaned
back. “My dear wife, if you had been listening, you would know
that he’s temporary until we can find a permanent marshal. This
will give Jeremiah and Peter time at home to tend to the family
and all those children.”
“Oh, you forgot!” Margaret declared as she took a few steps
toward him. “Our dear sister-in-law has decided she can do it
all!” She threw up her hands. “And God forbid she should think
of her own health…and that of her unborn child…at a time like
this!” Lucas slowly stood up.
“No Margaret, her children…”
“Oh Luke…OPEN YOUR EYES!” Margaret planted her hands on her hips
as she stood in front of him. “That woman is doing too much! She
cannot go on…She mustn’t! Can’t you see that she’s killing
herself coming all the way here, then going to the farm to see
her children and rushing back here! She cooks his meals…bathes
him…sits with him…worries…I can see in her eyes, she’s not
sleeping at all. There’s nothing she’s doing that we can’t do!
She needs to be at home loving on her children and taking it
easy! She needs to think about herself and her unborn child!”
“She’s doing what she thinks she needs to do, Margaret. She just
feels Abe needs her more right now.”
“Her children need her as well!”
Lucas sighed as watched Margaret angrily turn from him and hurry
toward the door. “Peter just doesn’t know what she’s going to do
with Laura. Laura’s acting out more and more. She told Peter
it’s getting worse.” Margaret paused and looked up at Lucas.
“Pa’s sickness and death…She’s sure that…”
“She’s going to take it easy, and that’s final! I’m going to
personally see that she does!” Margaret swung the barn door open
and stared out into the rain. “I’m going try to talk to some
sense into that woman, and she better listen or she’ll have
something coming to her!”
Lucas’ eyes grew wide. He stood and hurried to stand beside her.
His mouth slowly gaped open, and he pointed a finger at his
wife. “Yes, Lucas McCain! If a punch in the nose is what she
needs, then I’ll gladly give it to her! That woman will stay
home to take care of her children, or my name isn’t Margaret
Lucas’ mouth and eyes remained wide as he watched her hurry out
into the rain and across the yard to the house. He heard the
door slam shut and jumped a bit. “Hm…I wonder what her name is
then…” he mumbled as he saddled his horse to head to town..
Jason smiled as he laid his hand against Emily’s belly and felt
the baby kick again. Emily giggled, happy to feel the life
inside her. Husband and wife were enjoying the quiet in the
office…an intimate moment…
But the moment ended quickly when a door opened and shut loudly.
Jason stood and hurried to the front room. Lucas stood there. He
was turning his hat in his hand and mumbling under his breath.
“Luke? Is something wrong?”
“I’ll say there is!” Lucas nodded. “Doc, you got anything for a
woman on the rampage?”
Jason folded his arms and grinned. He turned and looked at Emily
who put a hand to her mouth. “What…uh…did you do this time?”
“Well…I’m very happy to report that it’s not me this time!”
“Oh…” Emily giggled. “Who is experiencing the wrath of Margaret
“Nobody…yet. But Julie will be experiencing it very quickly.”
“Julie?” Emily and Jason looked at each other in question. “Why
Lucas raised an eyebrow. “I’m sorry, Jason. I have strict orders
to get you out to the ranch quickly. Margaret has a few things
to say to you.”
“Me???” Jason jabbed a finger at his own chest. “I thought you
said Julie’s the recipient of her wrath!”
“The only one…for now…But if you don’t get there soon, there
will be hell to pay!” Lucas declared.
Margaret poured coffee in the cups then sat down at the table.
She hadn’t said more than five words since Jason and Emily had
returnd with Lucas, but her actions sure told them that she was
on a rampage about something. Jason took a few sips from his
cup, then bravely asked, “So, is there a reason I’m to be
involved in this uh…”
“I need your help,” Margaret quietly stated as she tried to keep
her voice calm, so Abe would not hear..
Jason leaned forward. “My professional help?”
“Oh yeah!” Margaret nodded. “It’s Julie.”
Jason scratched his chin as he nodded slightly. Lucas had told
him that much. “Something wrong with her?”
“I see…” Jason lifted an eyebrow. “That…really comes as no
surprise to me, Margaret. I’ve known that fact for over five
“Now, don’t you get smart with me!” Margaret shook a finger at
him. “I want to know how she is.”
“The baby…Her health…”
“Well, I told her that if she takes it easy she’ll be okay. I
did have her on bed rest after the shooting, but the baby’s
seemed to calm down some and…” Jason stopped when Margaret
abruptly stood from the chair. She tapped her fingers together
as she started pacing the floor. “Am I missing something?”
“Yes!” Margaret declared. “Jason Livingston, I am surprised at
you! And you a doctor!” Margaret continued pacing as she tapped
her fingers together more rapidly. “Of course, maybe it’s your
being a man that you can’t see it…Maybe that’s it…Why, if your
own wife behaved in such a manner you’d be sure to notice it!”
“What is she talking about?” Jason asked Lucas as he waved a
hand toward Margaret. Lucas shook his head. “Am I in some sort
“Jason…Julie’s about 7 ½ months pregnant, right?” Jason nodded.
“Then she shouldn’t be experiencing pain. I mean…I’ve never had
a baby, but I’ve been around enough pregnant women to know
Jason held up a hand. “Right. Is Julie feeling pain?”
“I think so.” Margaret folded her arms and began pacing again.
“She’s here every day. She sits with him all night and tends to
his every need. She feeds him three meals a day, even insists on
cooking the meals for him…She’s always cleaning up after
him…Then she rushes home every other day and spends a few hours
with her children before she rushes back here. I’ve asked her to
slow down…Abe’s asked her to stay with the children…She refuses!
And now Lucas told me she’ll be coming back shortly…Coming back
in the rain, no doubt!”
Jason listened silently. Finally, he stood and walked over to
the window. “I see…” He turned and folded his arms. “I was
afraid of this…I AM concerned about the heath of her and the
baby. I’d like her to rest as much as possible…But I think at
this point her children need her more than Abe does.” Margaret
nodded her agreement. Jason tapped a finger against his chin as
he thought. “Do you think the women would be willing to help
Julie out…Maybe one stay with her a day and make sure she
doesn’t overdo it?”
“I’m sure!” Margaret declared. “Why, I’m sure my family would
help out as well! As a matter of fact…Beth is due home from her
teaching school tomorrow. I’ll see if she can stay with Julie
after she sees Mama.”
“I hate her to be away from your family after being gone so
long,” Emily started to argue.
“She’ll be returning permanently after Christmas…Won’t be any
trouble!” Margaret assured Jason.
“If I must, I’ll threaten to put Julie on full bed rest, but for
now…I just want her home with the children. I see no reason for
her being here all the time.” Jason came back to the table and
sat down. He motioned for Margaret to sit down as well. Lucas
put an arm around her trying to calm her agitation. “As a matter
of fact, her being here isn’t good for Abe.” Jason spoke in a
low voice, not wanting Abe to overhear this part of the
Margaret and Lucas looked at each other. “Doc?”
“You see…as long as she’s doing everything for him, Lucas, Abe’s
not trying to do for himself. I’ve been watching and trying to
decide on how to broach this subject with you. I would like to
see Abe sitting up more. He’ll be dizzy at first and may think
he can’t do it. It’ll be hard with Julie here…He won’t want to
upset her. I think that’s why he’s still in the state he’s in.
She’s protecting him, and right now he needs to be pushed.”
“Then she must go home so we can tend to him!”
They heard the wagon approaching. Lucas stood and went to the
window. “Well…you just have to convince HER of that!” Lucas
hurried to put his coat on. Then he grabbed his rifle. I think I
have some chores to tend to in the barn.” He bent down to kiss
“Coward…” Margaret mumbled just before their lips met.
“Yes ma’am!” Lucas answered with a grin.
Julie was surprised to see Jason and Emily there when she
returned. She suddenly felt alarmed, feeling something was wrong
with Abe. It took some time for Jason to convince her Abe was
just fine. He’d checked Abe’s wound after arriving and it was
healing nicely. Jason led Julie to the bedroom so she could
check on her husband. He was sleeping peacefully. Jason quickly
ushered her from the room and closed the door. “Now, to see how
you are doing.” Jason motioned to the other bedroom. Julie tried
to argue that she was fine, but Jason sternly lifted his
eyebrows and ordered her inside. Emily followed him in.
Margaret paced the floor of the room. She clinched her hands
together, nervous that Jason would emerge from the bedroom with
bad news. Lucas came in at some point and took her arm. Sternly,
he led her to the table and poured her another cup of coffee.
“Oh Luke…I’ve had so many cups that I can’t sit still!” Margaret
exclaimed. “I hope he can convince her that…”
The door opened. Julie hurried out, followed by Jason. “Now, you
listen to me, Julie…” Jason started again.
“You are asking me to abandon my husband when he needs me the
most!” Julie spat out angrily. She stopped abruptly and turned
to glare at him. “I WILL NOT LEAVE HIM!”
Margaret jumped up from the table and hurried over to Julie. “We
don’t want you to leave him! We just…”
Margaret stopped when Julie turned and flashed an angry look at
her. “And YOU of all people…YOU are in on this too?”
“Julie, we are just concerned that…”
“So am I!” Julie folded her arms. “I’m concerned that my husband
is worse than you let on! Maybe there’s something you don’t want
to tell me! You want to get me out of here so I don’t find out…”
“You aren’t even making sense!” Margaret declared as she grabbed
Julie by the shoulders and shook her a bit.
“What if it were Lucas in that bed? Would you leave him? Would
Margaret had enough of Julie’s yelling and accusations. She
suddenly straightened up and spoke, surprising everyone in the
room with her sharpness, including her husband. “Now, you just
close your mouth, sit down, and listen to what I have to say!”
Margaret suddenly declared in a very loud and stern voice. “If
you don’t, I may just give you a good punch in the nose!”
Margaret held up her fists. “And if you don’t think I can, you
just TRY me!”
Julie’s eyes grew wide. Never had they heard such threats
uttered from Margaret’s lips. “Now…” Margaret lifted her head
high as she pointed to a chair. “Sit…down!”
Slowly, Julie lowered herself to the chair. The anger that
flashed in Margaret’s eyes put a bit of fear in her. It was
enough to keep her quiet so Margaret could speak. Margaret
ordered everyone else to sit down as well, but she remained
standing in front of Julie. “Now then…I have a few things to say
to you, Julie McCain. And you will stay silent until I’m
finished. At that point, I will listen to RATIONAL arguments
only! If you proceed to argue with me before I’m done talking,
you will GET that punch in the nose…and I’m NOT joking!”
Jason bent close to Lucas’ ear. “You were right…She is angry!”
“Angry isn’t quite the word I would use,” Lucas stated. “This
reminds me of the time I stood in front of her after returning
from…” His voice froze in mid-sentence when he heard Margaret
clear her throat. He straightened, knowing he would be next if
he didn’t stay silent.
“Now then…I am not seven and a half months pregnant, you are!
Your body is not your own at the moment. It is home to another
living, growing human being…as little as it is…You must think
about that unborn child in everything you do, and you haven’t
been…” Margaret paused and turned toward Jason. “Has she,
“No.” Jason cleared his throat, suddenly feeling like that
wasn’t a sufficient answer. “No ma’am…” Jason looked at Margaret
who gave him a slight nod to continue. “As I told you before,
Julie…or tried to anyhow…I felt some tightening of your stomach
muscles, which leads me to believe you are experiencing some
pain and perhaps some premature contractions. You must rest,
because if you go into labor now, your baby will most likely
die. I don’t want to put you on full bed rest because you will
do nothing but worry. I want you home with your children. I also
want somebody else there helping you so you don’t have to do too
much work. If you don’t do these things, I WILL put you on full
bed rest at home.”
“Thank you, Jason.” Margaret turned her attention back to Julie.
“Now then…I understand that you love Abe very much. But I want
YOU to understand that he is worried sick about you. He may be
in bed, but he’s not so out of it that he can’t see the pain you
are experiencing. Jason told me earlier that it would help his
healing if you would go home and take care of yourself. He loves
you and knows the strain your coming back and forth is putting
on you and your unborn child. He wants you well.”
“There’s more…Something you aren’t telling me…” Julie declared.
Margaret struggled. She wasn’t sure if she should tell Julie the
truth or not. She knew, though, that if it were Lucas in that
bed she would want to know. Margaret bent down in front of
Julie’s chair. “Oh honey, sometimes…when we are really close to
someone…we think we’re helping them…” Margaret grasped Julie’s
hands. “You asked me what if were Luke…I would want to do what’s
best for Luke, and though it may be difficult, I would do it.”
Margaret chose her words carefully. “Your being here…Oh
honey…You WANT to help Abe! We all know that! But Jason feels
that your being here is holding him back. You take care of him
and do everything for him. He doesn’t need that!”
“No…Let me finish first, please.” Margaret licked her lips as
she lowered her eyes toward Julie’s middle. “Let’s suppose you
wanted Rachel to continue to crawl on the floor instead of
walking. There are many dangers out there…They fall and hurt
themselves. They can climb on the table…burn their fingers on
the stove…Are you helping her or hurting her?”
“I’m hurting her,” Julie answered quietly. Tears filled her
“It’s sort of like that with Abe. Sitting up in bed and learning
to eat regular foods again…Learning to walk…Those are all really
hard things. They are going to cause him a lot of pain, and
yes…he just may fall a few times. But is keeping him flat on his
back with medication inside him to make him sleep so he doesn’t
feel pain really helping him?”
Tears began falling down Julie’s cheeks. “I didn’t mean to…”
“Your children need you, Julie. Your unborn child needs you.
Abe…He needs you, but he wants you for the wrong reasons. He
wants you to do for him..”
Julie suddenly burst into tears. She covered her face with her
hands and sobbed long and hard. Emily jumped from her seat and
ran over to Julie. Margaret took Julie in her arms as Emily
rubbed her back. Both women spoke softly to her and allowed her
to cry. In time, Julie lifted from Margaret’s shoulder. “I don’t
know if I can…can…”
“What is it, honey? What?”
“The boys…they ask for their father all the time. They don’t
understand what’s going on. Charlie’s getting into trouble…I can
take control of those things and help them but…” Julie’s lips
quivered. “It’s Laura…She’s so…so bitter and resentful… She
doesn’t want to come here. She’s afraid of what she’ll find and
she…she…” Julie again collapsed against Margaret and sobbed.
Lucas stood and came to kneel beside Julie. He reached out and
put a hand on her shoulder. “Is she really that bad?”
“She’s being hateful and…She’s been expelled from school, Luke…I
didn’t tell Peter the truth earlier. I told him she was sent
home, but I feel this is my fault…I feel so ashamed that she was
expelled…She feels everyone’s leaving her. She said Abe’s never
coming back, that he’s going to die. And she won’t help me at
all! I…I…” Julie sniffed. “I slapped her hard today because of
her mouth. Now she hates me.” Julie broke into sobs.
Lucas lifted his head and looked at Margaret. He motioned for
Margaret to follow him outside. Once they were out there, Lucas
folded his arms. “I think it’s best we bring Laura here so I can
straighten her out.”
“The poor child, Luke…She’s been through so much.”
“I know.” Lucas nodded. “But she’s got to understand that she
can’t treat people like that. The world is full of heartache.
It’s tough, but she’s almost twelve years old. That’s old enough
Margaret reached out and touched his arm. “Be gentle with her,
Luke. With Abe here and Julie back and forth so much…Peter and
Jeremiah having to stay in town most of the time…”
Lucas nodded. “I know. That’s why I think its best she comes
here and stays until things are better. I’m hoping that interim
Marshal will arrive soon, then that’ll free them to put their
families back together. “
“What if she won’t come?”
Lucas hurried back inside and grabbed his rifle and hat. “I
don’t plan on giving her a choice.”
Margaret turned and looked at Julie. “Can I stay for just awhile
before I leave?” Julie asked. “I want to…explain things to
Abe…why I won’t be here so much.”
Lucas nodded. “That’ll give me time to talk to the family… get
everything arranged. I’m bringing Laura here.”
Julie stared at him for only a moment. She saw an urge to help
in Lucas’ eyes. Finally, she nodded. “I know it’s best. She
needs…” Julie swallowed and lowered her head. “Luke…I’m sorry.”
Lucas shook his head. His face softened as he hurried over to
Julie and gave her a hug. “This isn’t your fault. There’s no
reason to feel ashamed. You have done everything you can.” Lucas
turned to Margaret. “I’ll be back as soon as I can.” Margaret
nodded then watched him hurry out into the rain.
When Lucas arrived at the farm, he was surprised at how quiet
things were. When he stepped inside, Tiffany pressed a finger to
her lips and pointed to the floor where the children were all
asleep on cots. Tiffany stepped out onto the porch. “How are
you?” Lucas asked as he smiled into her eyes.
“I know…I wish there was more I could do, but I don’t feel it’s
a good idea to leave Margaret and Julie alone with Abe for too
“Oh, I understand.” They grew quiet. “Peter’s out in the barn.
He has to go relieve Jeremiah at the jail after while.”
“How are things?” Tiffany knew what ‘things’ he was talking
about. “That bad?” He asked the question when Tiffany just
looked away. “They’ll get better.”
“I know,” Tiffany said quickly.
“Actually, that’s one reason I’m here. Margaret went into a sort
of a rage this afternoon and set Julie straight on a few things.
She’ll be coming home…for good.” Lucas didn’t miss the relief in
her eyes. “But…Jason doesn’t want her caring for the children on
her own. She needs to rest and take it easy…says she’s having
some contractions and he’s worried about that. Now, Beth will be
home from school for Thanksgiving tomorrow, and Margaret’s going
to see about her staying with Julie until…” Lucas stopped. How
long would this arrangement have to last?
“I’ll talk to Em. We can take turns in staying with Julie.”
There was more relief in her voice. Tears filled her eyes. “I’m
sorry, Luke. I’m just not used to…”
“I know.” Lucas laid a hand on her shoulder. “The other reason
I’m here is to…talk to Laura.” Emily’s head lifted. A look of
surprise was on her face. “Is something wrong?”
“Luke…It’s pretty bad…Peter took her to the barn while ago. We
just couldn’t handle her anymore. She feels we’re all out to get
“Where is she?”
“Still in the barn. Peter told her to stay in the hayloft the
afternoon.” Tiffany bit her lip. “Oh Luke…She’s been through so
much! We just don’t know…”
Lucas nodded. “I know. I’m taking her back to the ranch with
“But she doesn’t want to go there!” Tiffany shook her head.
“She’ll never agree.”
Lucas nodded. “I know. I don’t plan on giving her a choice.
She’s going and that’s final.”
Lucas turned and walked towards the barn. Peter looked up from
where he was tending to a horse. He was tired, Lucas could see
that right off. His eyes held a weariness and worry. “I’ve come
to talk to our sister. I think your wife has some good news for
you.” Peter raised an eyebrow at Lucas. “Go talk to her. The
children are all down right now. Spend some time with her.”
Lucas grabbed his arm. “This is more important. She needs you…to
This time, both of Peter’s eyebrows lifted in surprise. “Since
when did you become such an expert on women?”
“Since I married one.” Lucas nudged his head toward the hayloft.
Peter got his meaning and left the barn. Lucas looked toward the
ladder that led to the hayloft. He put his hands on his hips and
allowed his eyes to slowly make their way up the ladder. After
saying a silent prayer for assistance, Lucas started up the
He found Laura sitting in the corner looking out the window.
Lucas crawled over to her and sat down beside her. After lifting
his knees to his chest and wrapping his arms around his legs, he
turned and looked sideways at her. “Hi.”
“Hi,” Laura answered in a grumble.
“I’ve…heard things have been pretty rough here.” Laura nodded.
“Want to talk about it?” She merely shrugged her shoulders.
“Well…I want to talk about it.”
“You come out here to talk to me?”
Laura lifted her head and looked at Lucas. “Did you come to talk
to me like we used to talk…like a brother?”
“You came to talk to me like an adult?”
“Not you too…”
Lucas lifted his eyebrows and studied her face. He slowly
lowered his legs flat on the ground. “You…haven’t sat on my lap
in a long time.” Laura took the invitation and scooted up onto
his lap. Lucas hugged her to him. “You know you’re my Rosebud.”
Laura nodded. “You know you will ALWAYS be my Rosebud…no matter
what…” Laura nodded again. “Remember how we used to talk about
“Did Julie tell you I’ve been bad?” Lucas nodded. “Really bad?”
“I’d like to know why so I can help you.”
Laura suddenly lowered her face. She didn’t want Lucas to see
her tears. She had tried to hide all the emotions – fear and
sadness – by acting angry, but with Lucas it was different. They
were so much alike. He could read her like an open book.
Lucas put his hand under her chin and lifted her face. “You
don’t have to hide your tears from me, Sis.” But Laura was a
McCain, and she was tough to break. Tears spilled from her eyes.
She bit her lip to keep it from quivering. “Rosebud….you’ve hurt
a lot of people…People who love you very much.”
Laura allowed more tears to fall down her face. “It’s
happening…all over again!” Laura cried. “All of it! Papa Abe’s
sick…then Julie will die…I just hurt those around me! I kill
“Laura!” Lucas was surprised at her words. He snapped her name,
but caught himself and softened his voice. “Now, Laura….You know
that’s not true.”
“It’s is true!” Laura cried. “Papa died…He was sick for a long
time! Oh Luke, it was just awful! I couldn’t stand to see it…”
“Papa died because he had a bad heart. We all knew it was only a
matter of time.”
“Then Mama died…I killed her, Luke…I was so bad and she worried
about me all the time…I’m doing the same to my new Mama and
Papa! Papa’s sick and he’s going to die. Mama’s worried about me
“She’s worried about you, honey, because you are misbehaving!”
Lucas reminded her.
“I can’t help it! I just can’t…”
“Now Laura…You don’t really believe that, do you? You KNOW you
don’t have to be bad. You’ve been so good since Abe took you
“And it made no difference! Even though I’m good…I still killed
“No, he’s not going to die, Laura Rose! He’s going to live! He’s
going to live for a long, long time!”
“No!” Laura put her hands over her ears. “It’s not true! I KNOW
it’s not true!” Laura burst into tears. “Mama Julie said he’s in
bed…Papa was in bed and then he died! I’m killing him too!”
“Now listen, Laura…” Laura tried to turn away from him. Lucas
grabbed her shoulders and whirled her around to face him. “Stop
this! Stop this right now!” He shook her. Laura froze at Lucas’
reaction and stared into his face. “Now, you listen to me, young
lady…and you listen good! Papa had a bad heart. It was bad
before you were even born. He got that bad heart from working so
hard and suffering so many losses in his life. He lived a hard
life…so we could have a better one, and it is!
“Mama died because she had a disease inside her body. It ate her
up, and it would have happened rather she worried about you or
“But if she hadn’t had me…maybe she would have had more strength
“No, Rosebud…NO! Ma’s dying had absolutely nothing to do with
that!” Lucas looked firmly into Laura’s eyes as he spoke. “Now,
you had nothing to do with Abe’s state. He was shot trying to
protect me and Margaret. And Julie…She’s going to be okay! She’s
going to come home and she’s going to take care of the
“I don’t want her home! I don’t want to see her!” Laura screamed
Lucas’ face hardened. “Now, you listen to me…You aren’t going to
be home. You’re coming home with me, and me and Margaret are
going to help you straighten out your thinking. Abe needs
somebody to take care of him…somebody he loves very, very much!”
Laura bolted from Lucas. “NO! I can’t!”
Lucas quickly bolted forward and grabbed her again. “You WILL,
Laura! You are going to come to the ranch and you are going to
see that he is okay! You are going to do it, and that’s an
“I can’t! Oh, I just can’t!” Laura cried. Her lips were
quivering in fear. “Please don’t make me, Luke…Oh PLEASE!”
The pleading was breaking Lucas’ heart. He hated having to be so
firm when she was hurting so deeply. “Let’s go get your things
Lucas had started down the ladder. He paused and looked back up
at her. “I said let’s go.” Laura paused and turned her face away
from him. “Laura…Tiffany told me Peter gave you whipping
earlier. Don’t make me do that…You know I don’t want to.”
Something in Lucas’ voice made her face soften just a bit. Laura
slowly nodded her head then came down the ladder behind him.
Lucas lifted her down and motioned for her to walk toward the
house. When they walked inside, Peter stood from the table where
he and Tiffany had been enjoying a cup of coffee. “She’s
gathering the things she needs,” Lucas said quietly as Laura
walked to the back bedroom where she had been staying. Emily
stood and hurried after her.
Peter walked to the stove, took down a coffee cup, and filled
it. After handing it to Lucas, he asked, “Are you sure this is
the right thing?”
“I think so,” Lucas answered. He looked toward the back bedroom.
“Oh Peter…She’s just so sure she is the reason Ma and Pa
died…And she thinks the same thing’s going to happen to Abe and
“She’s doesn’t seem too willing to go prove you right.”
“She’s angry with me. I think she’s angry with everyone.” Lucas
leaned his hand against the mantle and leaned into it. “Oh
Peter…how did things get into such a mess?”
Peter smiled. “You know what Ma would say if she were here.”
Lucas lifted his head and looked at his brother. “She’d say the
McCain’s were born in a mess. She said we just can’t stay out of
each other’s business.”
“I suppose she’s right too.” Lucas smiled. “Pa always said they
must be doing something right then…Because we are one…When one
hurts, we all feel the pain.”
They heard shuffling behind them. Both men turned to see Tiffany
and Laura standing at the edge of the room. Laura kept her head
turned away. Tiffany bent down in front of Laura. “You know we
“Then don’t make me go,” Laura cried.
Tiffany and Laura looked long into each other’s eyes. Tiffany
finally stood up and took her hands off of Laura’s shoulders.
“Come back soon.” Tiffany turned away and busied herself with
lifting the baby from the cradle.
Laura slowly walked toward Lucas. Peter put a hand on her
shoulder. “You know I love you.” Laura said nothing. “Laura, I
can’t apologize for earlier. I didn’t want to, but I had no…”
“Let’s go,” Laura said as she hurried out of the house. Lucas
nodded to Peter. Peter assured Lucas he’d have Jeremiah come by
for Julie and ride her home. Tiffany would stay with Julie that
evening so Em and Jeremiah could have some time together with
After one more wave, Lucas climbed onto the seat of the wagon
and clucked to the horses. He knew they would ride in silence.
Lucas stopped the wagon in front of the house. Laura hadn’t said
one word all the way there, but now he spoke as she started to
climb down. “Wait a minute, Laura.” Laura sat still on the seat.
“Now…Julie told me she slapped you this morning.” Laura said
nothing. She wouldn’t even look at him. “I know adults are hard
to understand, but…we do things because we love you.” Laura
turned her head to look at him. “Now, I’m not saying her
slapping you was right or wrong. That’s for God to decide, but I
will tell you that Julie is very, very hurt by the way you have
been treating her.” Lucas paused so she would hear what he had
to say next clearly. “You have no right to be angry.”
Laura quietly spoke. “You used to be fun. You used to always be
on my side. What happened?”
Lucas slapped the reins down. “I guess I did a lot of growing up
when I was in the war, Laura.” He paused again. Then he spoke
sternly. “I want you to apologize to her.”
“You will do as I say,” Lucas stated. “As long as you are living
under my roof, you will obey everything Margaret and I have to
tell you. If you don’t, you will be punished.” Laura started to
climb down. “Do I make myself clear?” Laura nodded her head.
“Yes sir.” Laura paused as she turned to look at him. “You never
made me sir you before.”
“You chose to sir me. And I’m afraid you’ll find me making you
do a lot of things I’ve never made you do before, Laura. It’s
all part of growing up.” He motioned toward the house. “Let’s
Laura paused on the porch. Lucas leaned forward and opened the
door. Keeping a firm hand on her shoulder as a reminder that she
was to obey him, he gave her a gentle push forward. Laura
Julie slowly stood from the chair. She lifted a hand to her
middle. “Hi, Laura.”
Laura looked away. Lucas sharply cleared his throat and squeezed
her shoulder with his hand. “I’m sorry.” Lucas again cleared his
throat. Laura spoke louder. “I’m sorry for misbehaving and for
talking to you the way I did.”
Julie bent down in front of her. “And I’m sorry I slapped you. I
was angry, and I took it out on you. I’m sorry.” Laura looked
away from her. Julie slowly stood back up and looked at Lucas.
“Jeremiah will pick you up when he gets off work.” Julie nodded.
Julie turned back to Laura. “Laura…would you like to see Abe?”
Laura shook her head and walked into the kitchen to get away
from the adults.
“Laura…” Lucas started.
Margaret touched Lucas and shook her head. “Giver her time,
Luke. Don’t push her.” Lucas nodded.
There was tension in the air as they waited for Jeremiah to come
for Julie. Laura sat at the table and acted as if she was very
interested in the book she was reading, but everyone knew she
was merely ignoring those around her. Margaret glanced at her
every now and then, and she could tell how much her silence was
hurting Julie. For now, though, they would have to give her
Jeremiah soon arrived to pick up Julie. Julie tearfully kissed
Abe goodbye. He mentioned that he was happy she was going home.
“Give them each a kiss for me,” Abe said as he held her a moment
longer. Then Julie lifted from the bed, turned, and hurried from
Her goodbye to Laura didn’t go well. She didn’t understand why
Laura was pushing her away. She walked up behind Laura and
pressed her hands on her shoulders. Laura stiffened. When she
heard Lucas clear his throat, she turned and looked at Julie.
“Now, you be good. Mind Luke and Margaret and…take care of your
Laura looked away. Julie bit her lip and straightened. She
slowly walked to the door then turned back to Laura. “Please
take care of Abe, Laura…He really needs you.”
Laura lowered her head and stared at the table. Julie left with
a heavy heart. Lucas went out to say goodbye.
Margaret had watched the whole entire thing from the kitchen.
She couldn’t believe what she had seen, and she was still
feeling anger from earlier. Margaret folded her arms and slowly
walked over to the table. “Well now…you are being selfish, young
The tone of Margaret’s voice was enough to lift Laura’s head.
Slowly, she stood from the table. “I am NOT!”
Margaret pressed her hands on the table and leaned into Laura.
Lucas came back inside just in time to see the interchange. “Abe
is in that room trying to recover from a bullet that almost
killed him…should have killed him in all rights! Julie is
carrying a child inside her. She is up with Abe more than she’s
not, then she goes home to see you children. Your Ma is doing
everything she can to keep her family together. She is
suffering…if she keeps going as she has been, she could very
well lose the baby. Then there’s you…”
Margaret folded her arms and stood to her full height. She
lifted her head and looked down at Laura. “Your Mama could
really use your help right now, but all you can do is sit there
and feel sorry for yourself! Well, as long as you are here, you
will not have time to feel sorry for yourself. You will help me
out with the chores, and you will take care of Abe as needed. Do
I make myself clear?”
Laura swallowed hard as she stared at Margaret. Her eyes filled
with tears as she slowly turned her head toward the bedroom Abe
was laying in. “I’ll do all the chores you ask me to do but…I
won’t go in there! I can’t watch that again…I just can’t!”
Margaret turned and looked at Lucas. Lucas lifted an eyebrow and
shook his head slightly. “Very well.” Margaret turned toward the
kitchen. “We’ll have beef steaks and baked potatoes for supper.
Laura, would you go get the meat?”
Laura turned and looked at Lucas. She opened her mouth to argue.
Oh, how she wanted to argue! But Lucas narrowed his eyes at her
with a stern warning on his face. Laura gave Margaret one more
up and down look before she started toward the door. “Laura
Rose…” Lucas warned.
Laura stopped at the door. “Yes ma’am.”
Lucas smiled as the door closed. He walked up behind Margaret
and wrapped his arms around her. “I think you will make a
wonderful mother, Mrs. McCain.”
“Thank you,” Margaret smiled. She turned in his arms and looked
into his eyes. “Luke…she’s so bitter…What’s the matter?”
“I think Abe’s near death scared her pretty bad. Facing the
death of her parents was so hard on her. I remember you and Abe
telling me in the letters you wrote. She loves Abe and Julie so
“They’re her mother and father. She loves them. Oh, but she’s so
“Mm…” Lucas nodded. “She’s convinced that Abe is…” Lucas stopped
when the door opened. He took a step away from Margaret and
watched Laura hand her the steaks. Margaret put her to work on
readying the potatoes to bake.
After supper, they heard Abe calling for them. Margaret looked
toward Laura who suddenly shivered from hearing his voice. “He’s
probably ready for his soup. Would you…” Margaret stopped when
Laura gasped. “Alright. You clean up the dishes. I’ll take it to
Margaret sat on the bed and helped him eat. His hands shook, but
she encouraged him to eat as much as he could. He choked
terribly a few times, but he remained patient knowing it could
be several months before he got used to eating real food again.
“I heard Laura out there. Why hasn’t she come to see me?”
Margaret lowered her head and stared into the half-empty bowl.
“She’s scared. She’ll come around.”
“I wish she’d talk to me.”
“She’s frightened, Abe. You almost died. That scared her pretty
badly. Memories…you know?” Abe nodded. “I think her caring for
you will be the best thing for her. It’s getting her in here so
she can see you’re okay…”
Abe turned his head to look toward the door. “I love her,
Margaret. She’s as much my daughter as Baby Rachel is.”
“I know.” Margaret smiled. “She’ll come around.”
But when Margaret left the room, she found Laura as far away
from the bedroom as she could get. She was cuddled up in
Margaret’s sewing chair fast asleep.
The next day, Lucas and Margaret started the healing process.
After a long talk with Jason the day before about the hazards of
morphine, Abe decided he would no longer take the medicine. He
knew the pain would be bad, but in time it would lesson and
eventually go away.
Lucas and Margaret worked together at helping Abe sit up. He
could only sit up for so long before he began vomiting. They
assured him it would get easier each day. Now that Abe would be
awake throughout the day and in a lot of pain, Margaret told
Laura as kindly as she could that he would need her to keep him
company. The days would be long in the bed and Lucas had a lot
of work now that winter was there. He had to keep the cattle
well fed and check on them often.
Laura refused. In fact, she begged Margaret to give her chores
outside the house. Lucas gave her a few chores in the barn, but
sternly informed her that a young lady helped inside the house.
Laura knew that was the rule at home but she wished they
wouldn’t make her. She was so afraid of hearing Abe’s cries. She
remembered listening to her father’s as he lay dying.
The first day was long. Margaret held Abe’s hand as he cried
silently through his pain. He didn’t want Laura to hear his
cries anymore than Laura wanted to hear them. At some points,
he’d bite on the blankets to keep from crying out.
Lucas insisted Laura keep up with her studies while she was out
of school. Abe and Lucas talked, and it was decided Laura
wouldn’t return to school until the family was reunited and
Laura’s behavior was under control. She didn’t give Margaret and
Lucas too much trouble. It only took one punishment from Lucas
to learn that neither he nor Margaret would tolerate any
disrespect in their house. One scrubbing of the floors
throughout the house was enough to learn her about that.
This was the routine for the next several days. Abe was able to
sit up more and more each day. As were the instructions of
Jason, Lucas worked at rotating his legs and arms to help the
stiffness go away. The process was very painful, and Lucas could
hardly bare the pain in Abe’s face. At these times, Abe insisted
Laura be allowed to leave the house because he couldn’t keep
from crying out.
Margaret held Lucas after each session and allowed him to cry.
She knew watching his big, strong brother struggling so much was
hard. Margaret ached for them all. She ached for Abe and the
pain he and suffering he was in. She ached for Lucas as he
watched his brother suffer. But most of all, she ached for Laura
who seemed to be fighting against something none of them could
Laura awoke to the sound of soft, quiet groans coming from the
bedroom. She slowly sat up in bed and stared at the door. Her
mind was transported back to the time when her father was sick
in bed. Mama had just told her his pain would ease soon – that
soon he’d be at peace, and in the end, he was at peace.
Laura pushed the blanket back from the cot she slept on in the
front room. She had insisted Lucas set the cot up as far away
from the bedroom as she could get, but no matter how far away it
was she could now hear his muffled groans of pain.
Laura stood from the cot and started across the room. She
stopped in the middle, unable to close the distance between her
and her Papa. The groan sounded louder this time. Laura could
feel her heart beating inside her. She felt something
else…something deep inside her. Tears filled her eyes as she
listened to Abe’s groans coming from the bedroom, then she
slowly walked toward the door.
She wasn’t frightened like she thought she would be. She was
just curious. What would she find on the other side of the door?
Laura lifted her hand and grasped the door knob. He was crying.
She could tell that plainly now. Her heart broke as she listened
to his cries. Her hand shook as she began turning the doorknob.
The door slowly opened, then she could see his outline on the
bed. He was grasping the blankets as he lay on his side. His
face was buried in the pillow.
Laura slowly walked toward the bed. She stopped beside it and
held out her hand. When she had seen her father, he had lain so
still, but Abe was moving back and forth as he tried to work
through the pain he was feeling. Laura bit her lip. Something
inside her snapped. She realized in that moment that she still
had her Papa Abe. He wasn’t going to die! His cries of pain told
her as much.
Laura raised her shaky hand and smoothed the back of his head.
Abe stopped his groaning and turned to look at her. There Laura
saw it. His eyes held surprise. They quickly turned to question
as he searched her face to understand what she was thinking.
Then relief came into his eyes. “Does it hurt bad, Papa Abe?”
Abe licked his lips and nodded slightly. “It does, Rosebud. But
I think it’ll get a lot better…now that you’re here.”
Laura stood beside the bed. She still felt some uncertainty.
“You’re…not gonna die…are you?”
Tears filled Abe’s eyes as he stared at her. “Is that really
what you thought? That I was going to…” Laura’s lips started
quivering. “Oh Laura…”
“They said you would feel better soon…that your pain would go
away!” Laura began sobbing. “That’s what Mama told me
before…before…Oh Papa!” Laura threw herself onto the bed. She
and Abe embraced as they shared tears. “You’re not gonna die!
You’re not!” Laura cried. “Oh, I was so scared! I
thought…thought…that I was gonna lose another Papa…I thought…”
Laura cried even harder.
The pain Abe was feeling was very great, but there was someone
whose pain was so much greater at the moment. She needed him to
help her through her pain. Abe forced himself to shift in the
bed. “Come on in,” Abe said softly as he lifted the covers.
Laura crawled into the bed and cuddled up next to him. Abe
kissed the top of her head and hugged her close. She cried for a
long time and Abe shed many tears without shame. He knew Laura
needed his tears to heal her.
In time, they both laid quietly in the bed. Laura laid a hand on
his bandaged chest. “Does it hurt?” Abe nodded. “Will you always
have a hole there?”
“No sweetie,” Abe answered as he gave her another kiss. “It’ll
heal good as new. I’ll come home and we’ll be a family again.”
Laura lifted her head to look at Abe. “We never stopped being a
family…I just got lost, I guess.”
Abe smiled as he pushed her head down in the crook of his arm.
“Well, the important thing is that you found your way back,
little one. Now you go to sleep.”
Margaret woke up as the sun shone through the frost on the
window. She turned to see Lucas still fast asleep on the cot. He
had stayed up with Abe a long time until he fell to sleep, and
Margaret knew he needed his sleep.
After dressing, she walked out into the main room and went to
wake Laura up to do the chores, but she stopped when she
realized Laura was not there. Margaret hurried to the front door
and stepped out onto the porch. She called Laura’s name but got
Margaret hurried back into the house. She saw Lucas standing in
the door of their bedroom. “Luke, Laura’s…” Lucas turned and
pressed a finger to his lips, then he motioned for her to come
to him. Margaret quietly walked toward him and looked in. Tears
filled her eyes at the sight she saw.
Abe was fast asleep. He seemed more peaceful than he had been in
quite some time. Curled up under the covers right next to him
was Laura. Her head lay in the cook of his arm and a hand over
the bandage on his chest. Both Abe and Laura were sleeping
peacefully. Lucas put an arm around Margaret’s shoulders.
Margaret lifted her eyes to smile at Luke. “What do you think
“I don’t know.” Lucas turned his head back toward the bed. “They
say a picture is worth a thousand words.”
Margaret smiled. “I’d say, Luke…That in this case, the picture’s
worth a million.”
Quietly they stepped out and closed the door to leave father and
Margaret was just putting the last of breakfast on the table
when the door to their bedroom opened. Laura stepped out, her
head low, and stood in the doorway. Lucas and Margaret paused in
their tasks to look up at her. Nobody said a word. Finally,
after several moments Margaret said softly, “Well, it’s about
time you two were getting up.”
Relief shone in Laura’s eyes. She had hoped nobody would ask her
about last night. She would tell them in time, but for now she
wanted to keep it just between the two of them. “Papa said he’s
hungrier than a grizzly. He wants pancakes!”
“Pancakes?” Margaret turned and looked at Lucas. “Can he have
pancakes?” She wasn’t exactly asking him, but there was no one
else to ask.
“Darn right I can!” Abe declared. “I told that daughter of mine
to hurry before I starve! Lordy, how do you expect a man to live
Margaret raised an eyebrow at Lucas. Lucas shrugged. “You heard
the man. Give him pancakes.”
“But what if he chokes?”
“Margaret…” Lucas walked up to her and laid his hands on her
shoulders. “When we have a baby, if you want him to grow, you’ll
have to let him walk even though he may fall and hurt himself.”
Margaret gave him a disapproving look. “Lucas McCain…” She shook
her head. “You are using my words against me! That’s not fair!”
Lucas smiled as he bent down and kissed her. “All’s fair in love
They kissed again, then shared an embrace, forgetting Laura was
in the room. “Hey, what’s going on out there?” Abe called.
Laura turned. “They’re kissing!”
“Will you two love birds cut it out? I’m starving in here!” Abe
boomed out this time. Laura turned and looked at Lucas and
Margaret. All three of them burst out laughing.
The Margaret Years — A
These stories are based on the TV series
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
The Writer's Corner
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around The McCain Ranch