The Writer's Corner
Chapter 14 - The Rodeo
Written by Michelle Palmer
Sometime during the night the air had grown cooler. They hadn’t
needed to build a fire up to this point as they enjoyed an
Indian summer, but apparently that was coming to an end.
Margaret shivered, but suddenly felt a quilt fall over her. She
lifted her head. “Stay there, honey,” Lucas whispered as he
kissed her hair. “I’ll go start a fire. Don’t get up until it
warms up in here.”
“Luke, there’s no reason to give me special treatment. I can…”
Margaret started to again sit up, but Lucas pressed a hand
firmly against her shoulder.
“Now, there is too,” Lucas declared sternly as she obediently
laid back down. “You’re my wife and I WANT to pamper you.” He
bent over and kissed her again. Then as he touched the tip of
her nose, he said, “Besides, I’m coming back. You have to keep
the bed warm for me.” His eyes sparkled as he turned and hurried
from the room.
Margaret really saw no reason for the special treatment, but
Lucas insisted on pampering her. It was cold enough that she
wouldn’t argue with him too much. She heard Lucas building the
fire in the fireplace, then in the stove. She could tell he was
putting coffee on, then she was surprised when he hurried back
to bed. As he crawled back under the covers, he cuddled up close
to Margaret, who let out a sudden screech. “Luke, your feet are
“Oh, I’m sorry!” But as he said that, he pressed his feet up
against her. Margaret again let out a squeal as Lucas wrapped
his arms around her and pulled her closer. “Oh, come now my
darling…part of your wifely duty is to keep me nice and warm!”
“Then put on a pair of socks!” Margaret declared as she
playfully gave him a nudge, but Lucas started tickling her until
she was laughing so hard she could hardly breathe.
“Now, what were you saying about a pair of socks?” Lucas asked
as he lifted up and pressed his mouth down on hers. Margaret
slowly lifted her arms around his neck and pulled herself tight
against him. She mumbled something Lucas couldn’t understand.
Lucas lifted from her and grinned. “Besides, I have my own ways
of warming up, and they are much better than…an ol’ pair of
socks.” Again, he kissed her long and passionately before he
finally lifted from her. “And I smell coffee.”
Margaret laughed as he got up and started dressing. She did the
same. When she came into the kitchen, Lucas handed her a cup of
coffee after, of course, yet another long kiss. “What do you
want for breakfast?” Margaret asked as she turned to put another
piece of wood in the stove.
“Hm…how about some fried eggs?”
“Alright,” Margaret answered with a smile.
“To start with.” Lucas chuckled. “And then I’ll take some bacon
and French toast, and then maybe a couple flap jacks and…” Lucas
paused as he saw Margaret turn and lift her eyebrow. “Uh…on
second thought, I reckon a couple eggs and bacon will do me
good.” Lucas grabbed the bucket. “Reckon I’ll go say how-do to
the animals and milk the cows.”
Margaret grabbed the egg basket and followed him outside.
Soon they were eating breakfast. Lucas announced he would be out
on the range most of the day. “Darn bull of ours did some damage
over in the North pasture,” Lucas declared. “I’m thinking of
putting him in the smokehouse.”
Margaret smiled as she worked on washing the dishes. “You said
he was a good seed bull, Luke.”
“Oh, he is! He is!” Lucas stated. “Fact is, he had two right
fine gals yesterday he was trying to-“
“Luke!” Margaret warned.
“Well, there’s something about women that make him a little
crazy.” Lucas grinned as he walked up behind her and wrapped his
arms around her. “Fact is…does the same thing to me.” Lucas
began kissing her neck as he mumbled something she didn’t quite
catch. “Perhaps I should just…stay in today…”
Margaret grabbed his hands and forced them from around her.
“Luke, you just go on about your chores! I’ve plenty of my own.”
Margaret smiled as Lucas walked toward the door. “Oh, by the
way…” Lucas tipped his hat back on his head. “I should apologize
to you that I can’t work shirtless for you today…it’s a bit
too…” Lucas ducked as the dishtowel came flying toward him.
Margaret smiled as she watched her husband walk to the barn.
Soon he came out with Bullet, who had finally accepted Lucas’
promise that the barn was indeed safe, and he wouldn’t be in
danger of anymore fires in the near future. Margaret watched
them ride off onto the range.
After cleaning the breakfast dishes and putting everything away,
Margaret boiled more water and went to scrub the floors. She
had worked for some time and was in the middle of the floor
scrubbing when there was a knock at the door. She had been so
intent on cleaning that she hadn’t even heard the knock. “Just a
minute!” she called.
But before she could stand up, the door opened. “Well…the master
has spoken, I see.”
Margaret quickly stood and turned toward the voice. She let out
a squeal and went flying toward the tall figure who stood in the
doorway. “Johnny!” She hugged him. “Johnny, I didn’t know you
were in town!”
“Just got in yesterday. Mama told me to get out here right quick
and have a look-see.”
Margaret pushed him away and looked him up and down. “Well now,
I’m glad you did! Let’s have a look at you. Oh…” She clicked her
tongue. “You are getting way too skinny, Johnny!”
“Not much fat in beans, sis.” Johnny laughed. “Say, how’s
“Wonderful!” Margaret smiled.
“Got a…bun in the oven yet?”
Margaret slowly put a hand on her hip as her mouth slowly gaped
open. “Do I WHAT???”
“It’s just an expression!” Johnny declared.
“Yes,” Margaret nodded her head. “And it’s an expression I don’t
wish to ever hear again! And for your information…no, as far as
I know I’m not with child.”
“With child…” Johnny shook his head. “That sounds so…Biblical.”
“Now see here, Johnny Gibbs…You are only seventeen years old and
“Well now, feisty as ever, I see.” Johnny smiled.
“What are you doing here, Johnny?” Margaret asked as she folded
Johnny walked inside and studied the bric–a-brac Margaret had
over the mantle. “Oh…just came for a visit.” Johnny turned to
her. “The rodeo’s in town.”
“You mean...you’ll be in it?”
Johnny nodded. “I’ll be doing some bull riding.” Johnny pulled
tickets from his pocket. “Got two tickets for you and Luke right
here. It’s Saturday night. You’ll come, won’t you?”
“Oh, of course! I wouldn’t miss it for…” Margaret smiled as she
looked toward the window. “Perhaps I should ask Luke first.” She
turned back to her floor and saw that Johnny had managed to
spread dirt all over it again. “Lunch will be ready after I
re-mop this floor. What about you going on out there and getting
a side of beef from the smokehouse?”
Margaret quickly finished the floor and ordered Johnny to stay
in the yard while she started lunch. Brother and sister visited
until Lucas came home. They discussed all the adventures she and
Lucas had been on since Johnny’s last visit. Margaret was just
about to tell him about their latest adventure when Lucas came
riding over the hill. He stopped when he saw Johnny leaning
against the hitching post. Lucas quickly rode up and jumped down
from Bullet. “Johnny boy!” Lucas hurried forward and took his
hand. “Well…” He looked Johnny up and down. “Come for a visit?”
“Rodeo’s in town, Luke. It’ll be Saturday night.”
“Then you’ll be moving on?” Johnny nodded. “Ever think of
“Me?” Johnny threw his head back and laughed. “Luke, I’m only 17
years old! Why would I want to settle down at my age?”
“Yeah…” Lucas bent and kissed Margaret. “Lunch almost ready?”
Margaret nodded. “I’ll take Bullet to the barn so he can eat.”
Johnny continued to lean against the hitching post. “Well…”
Lucas turned and looked at him. “What are you waiting for, boy?
Johnny grabbed the reins to his horse and followed Lucas into
the barn. Johnny looked around the barn, then asked, “I thought
Margaret took on Andy’s horse.”
“She did,” Lucas nodded without looking toward Johnny.
“I don’t see him. Is it out in the pasture?”
“Nope.” Lucas paused in loosening Bullet’s flank and looked at
Johnny. “He’s dead.”
“Dead?” Johnny took the saddle from his horse and positioned it
over the stall wall. “What happened?”
“There was a…” Lucas clinched his jaw. “…a fire.”
“Oh.” Johnny gave his horse a hard love pat over his back.
“How’d it happen?”
“Well…I don’t really feel like talking about it, Johnny. Let’s
just say I had to teach some land grabbers they couldn’t have my
land and they decided I needed some new outbuildings. The horses
just got in the way.”
“Oh, I see.” Johnny tipped his hat back on his head. “Well,
can’t you get her another horse? She loves to ride after all.”
Lucas heard the question in Johnny’s voice. He turned and cocked
his head to one side. “I’m working on it. I offered to buy her
one ever since the fire but she doesn’t even want to talk about
it…says that she can’t just take any ol’ horse. The horse has to
be special…She gets a sense or a feeling or something…She said
something magical happens when she meets the horse meant for
her.” Lucas shook his head. “No siree…she won’t just take any ol’
horse, Johnny boy. She has to find “THE” horse.”
Johnny smiled. “That’s sis.”
“What else brings you here, Johnny?”
“I just came for a family visit mostly, Luke. I convinced the
rodeo to come here too. That’s it.”
“Mm hm…” Lucas knew there was more. He could sense it. “Alright,
let’s go eat.”
Margaret was happy as they began eating. Lucas loved seeing the
glow on her face as she just stared at her brother. “Now, you
eat!” Margaret ordered protectively. “You’re much too skinny! I
aim to fatten you up while you’re here.”
Johnny chuckled. “Ma’s done fussed over me enough! I don’t need
you fussin’ too!” Johnny took another bite of his food. “Man
can’t get far on beans.”
“You’re hardly a man,” Lucas mumbled. He felt a glare coming
from Margaret’s direction and cleared his throat. “Uh…why you
eating beans? I figured that job of yours keeps you well fed.”
“Well…” Johnny laughed. “Don’t really make that much.”
“Oh?” Lucas raised an eyebrow as he looked him up and down. “The
way I heard tell, you were bragging about how well the rodeo
paid you. And aren’t you breaking horses for a right fair price
Johnny laughed nervously as he turned back to his sister. “This
is a…nice house you have here.” He took another bite. “Say sis…I
uh…I have a favor to ask.”
Margaret nodded her head, indicating for him to go on. “Well…it
seems I need a place to sleep for a few days. I was sort of
hoping to have a break from sleeping in the rodeo camp.”
“I figured you’d be staying at your folks’ house,” Lucas
answered for his wife.
“Oh yeah well…” Johnny looked down at his plate. “You know…With
Grandma Bertha there and all, they’re a bit short on rooms.”
“Oh?” Lucas lifted an eyebrow. “Grandma Bertha took the
guestroom. Ma’s keeping your room empty.”
“Yes, well…” Johnny laughed uncomfortably. “You see…uh…”
Margaret slowly sat down her fork and lifted her eyebrows.
Johnny gave another laugh. “Gee, Sis, this stuff sure is good!”
Johnny quickly popped the last bite of food in his mouth as both
Lucas and Margaret continued staring at him. “Any dessert?”
“No,” Lucas quickly answered before Margaret could. He stood up
from the chair and bent over to kiss Margaret on the cheek.
“Lunch was good, honey.” He took a step toward the door.
“Johnny, come help me in the barn.” Lucas grabbed his hat and
rifle as he opened the door. “I love you, Margaret.” Then they
Margaret knew why Lucas had quickly ushered Johnny from the
house, and her suspicions were confirmed when she saw the two
standing in the middle of the yard talking.
“Okay Johnny,” Lucas stopped half-way to the barn. “Why did
Scott kick you out?”
“How do you know Scott kicked me out?” Johnny answered quickly,
losing his smile.
“Well, because I know your mother would never kick you out, and
I know Scott has a temper.” Johnny nervously looked down at his
hat. “Well, boy?” Lucas firmly urged.
“Well…” Johnny laughed nervously. “You see, Luke…I…” Johnny
shrugged. “That is Scott and I had a…difference of opinion, you
“I see.” Lucas slowly started walking again. “Is there a chance
you and I just may have the same difference of opinion?”
“Oh…” Johnny shrugged.
“Saddle your horse, boy,” Lucas ordered as they went into the
barn. Johnny paused and looked at Lucas. “Well, since you’re
here, you can help me with the cattle. Unless you have to get
back to town.”
“Oh, we’re not practicing the routine until tomorrow.”
Lucas nodded. “Good. Then you’ll have no trouble helping me.”
“Oh…” Johnny started saddling his horse. “I didn’t come back to
be a cow poke.”
“Why did you come back?”
Johnny paused in his work. “I done told ya, Luke, I…”
“Yeah. I know what you told me. What’s the truth?”
Johnny sighed. “Well…the truth is, Luke…I have to get my hands
on some cash.”
Lucas tightened the cinch on his saddle. “Oh? How much?”
“Two-hundred dollars. I need it by…Saturday.”
“You in trouble, Johnny?” Lucas asked then.
Johnny laughed nervously. “’Course not, Luke! I just…”
“What happened to your inheritance money?”
“It’s gone. I had some…uh…rather unexpected expenses.” Johnny
cleared his throat.
“I see…” Lucas folded his arms. “So have we.” Lucas looked him
up and down again. “Alright Johnny, you can stay here, but
you’ll earn your keep while you’re staying here, and if you wish
to stay on for awhile, I’ll hire you on and pay you two dollars
“Two…” Johnny rolled his eyes. “It would take a long time to
earn the money I need!” Johnny slapped his horse on the rump.
“You don’t seem to understand, Luke, that I need that money by…”
“Oh, I understand perfectly!” Lucas shouted suddenly. “Money’s
our short crop, Johnny. And don’t you go asking your sister
Johnny worked his jaw as he mounted his horse and followed Lucas
up into the field. He knew that as far as the conversation was
concerned, Lucas was through.
Margaret noticed the tension at supper that night and tried to
draw the two men into a conversation, but they merely grunted
their replies to her and continued eating. When he was finished
eating, Lucas stood from the table. “Thanks for the good supper,
Margaret.” Margaret stood to gather up the dishes. Lucas leaned
over and kissed her. “I’ll be back later.”
“Luke, where are you going?” Margaret asked as he lifted his
rifle once again.
“To town,” Lucas answered as he turned and glared at Johnny.
“I’ve some business to do.”
“Luke, it’s getting dark! What sort of…” She stopped when she
saw the determination in his face. “Well…bring Johnny with you.”
“Johnny has chores to do.”
“Luke! Johnny’s our guest!” Margaret’s eyes grew wide in
“I know,” Lucas nodded. He pointed a finger at Johnny. “Remember
what I told you, boy.”
When Lucas got into town that evening, he found Scott in the
saloon. Quite surprised that Scott would be there on a
weeknight, Lucas walked inside and went to sit with him. “Beer,
Ike,” Lucas called loud enough for the elderly bartender to hear
him. Lucas set his rifle across the table and leaned on it as he
looked at Scott. Scott didn’t even lift his eyes from the table
as he spoke.
“Something I can do for you?”
Lucas chuckled softly. “Well…you’re in a rather pleasant mood
“You’re in town a bit late yourself,” Scott replied as he looked
up from his mug of beer.
Lucas picked his up and held it in the air. “Here’s to Johnny
Gibbs. The Prodigal returns.”
Scott glared at Lucas. “That’s why I’m here.” Scott took one
final drink from his beer and set the empty mug on the table.
“Don’t you think you’ve had enough?”
“I’m an adult,” Scott answered.
“I was thinking about Amanda. Don’t reckon she’ll be too pleased
when you stumble in drunk.” Scott gave a short laugh. “What’s
Scott slowly lifted his head and gave Lucas a hard look. “He
Lucas gave a short nod. “He asked me.”
“Luke…” Scott slurred as he picked up his mug. “Our dear brother
has a problem.” He took another long drink of beer. “Seems that
he enjoys betting on the rodeo. Every time he has a little bit
of money to bet, he bets it.” Scott took another long drink. “In
fact, when he left here months ago with his inheritance…” Scott
lifted his head. “$5,000.00, by the way…He managed to lose it
all within two months.” Scott shook his head. “Now you tell me,
Luke, how can a 17 year old boy lose that much money in two
months?” Scott shook his head. “He assured us when he came back
that he was here for a family visit. That’s it, he said. Then at
breakfast this morning, he announced that he needed $200.00.”
“Oh…it took some doing, but I got that piece of information from
him.” Scott slammed down his mug. “Ike, another!”
“No, Ike!” Lucas replied in a stern warning voice. “Bring some
coffee, will ya?”
“I’m going to have to take you home, and the less drunk you are,
the less Amanda’s going to yell at you!” Lucas sighed as Scott
slowly sat back in his char. “Now…tell me why he needs the
“A man in the rodeo is going to bust him up a bit if he DOESN’T
get the money by Saturday. Apparently he decided to bet on the
last rodeo without having the money…and he lost.” Scott stared
at the cup of coffee that was placed before him. “Luke…five
THOUSAND dollars…Do you know how much money that is?”
“Don’t reckon I’ve ever seen that much money before,” Lucas
mumbled to himself. Then he pointed at the coffee. “DRINK!”
“You going to let him stay at your house?” Scott asked as he
slowly started to drink.
“Did he…ask Margaret for the money?”
“He was about to,” Lucas answered. “I hurried him outside before
he managed to.” Lucas tapped his rifle as he thought on it.
“Margaret has a big heart.”
Scott chuckled into his cup. “You know, Pa’s home. He’s been
home for nearly a week now without a drink, and here I
am…drunk.” Scott took another drink of his coffee. “Now, ain’t
“What did Samuel say about Johnny’s request?”
“Pa wants to give him the money.” Scott sat his cup down and
traced a finger around the rim. “Fortunately, Pa no longer
controls the money.” Lucas watched Scott work his jaw. Slowly,
Scott lifted his head. “Pa’s a bit upset now…says he doesn’t
want to lose another son. Johnny really played on his
“And your Ma?”
“Well…she stayed quiet on it…You know how Ma is.”
Lucas sighed as he stood up and picked up his rifle. “Your
sister won’t stay quiet on the matter, I’ll guarantee that.” He
stepped over beside Scott. “Come on. Let’s get you home.” He
helped Scott stand up. After one cup of coffee, Scott was still
a bit drunk and had trouble walking out of the saloon.
“I sure don’t envy you none,” Scott mumbled as Lucas pushed on
his back side to get him into the saddle. “That sister of mine
is pretty protective of those she loves.”
“Well…I’ll just have to be firm with her,” Lucas declared.
“Ha!” Scott started his horse in motion. They two men rode
silently to the Gibbs’ ranch.
As soon as they got into the yard the door opened and Amanda
hurried from the house. “Scott, where have you been all day?
We’ve been worried…” Her voice died as Lucas helped him down
from his horse. Amanda put a hand on her hip and stepped toward
her husband. “Well…I can guess where you’ve been all day,” she
said quietly. Then she leaned forward and looked into his eyes.
“Drunk…” Lucas heard the anger in her voice.
“Now Amanda…” Scott held up a hand to stop her from yelling.
“I’ve had a hard day…”
“You have NO idea how much harder it’s going to get!” Amanda
pointed toward the barn. “The same rule you have for your father
applies to you, Scott Gibbs!”
“Now, see here, Amanda…” Scott started.
“Uh…” Lucas put an arm around Scott. “Don’t make things worse.
Let’s just go.” He turned Scott and hurried him toward the barn.
After getting him situated, Lucas bedded down Scott’s horse then
went to get his own. Amanda was still fuming and came out to see
him off. “Don’t blame him too much, Amanda,” Lucas said gently.
“He knows better than to get drunk!” Amanda folded her arms. “He
gets so angry when his father does it, and here he is doing the
exact same thing!”
“I know. But he has a right to be angry.” Lucas gave her a nod.
“I had a few choice things to say to Johnny today as well.”
Lucas mounted his horse, tipped his hat, and rode for home.
Lucas quietly entered the house after finishing up his chores in
the barn. He removed his boots at the door and hung his hat on
Then the lantern on the table came on. Lucas paused with his
hand on the hat and slowly turned around. “Hi,” he said as if he
were a cat caught with the canary in his mouth.
The look on Margaret’s face told him he was in trouble. “Hi.”
Lucas rubbed his hands together as he hurried up behind her.
“It’s getting a bit cool out there. It’s pretty late.”
“I know,” Margaret nodded.
“You didn’t have to wait up for me, honey.” Without thinking, he
gave her a kiss.
Margaret abruptly stood up. “Well…I don’t suppose I have to ask
you where you’ve been.” He watched as Margaret blew out the
lantern and went into the bedroom.
“Oh boy…” Lucas let his breath out slowly as he walked toward
the bedroom. He stood in the doorway and leaned against the door
jam. “So…am I…allowed to come in?” he asked as Margaret slipped
out of her dress and pulled the gown over her head.
“It’s your bedroom as much as it is mine,” Margaret answered
stiffly as she sat down at the dressing table and started
brushing out her hair.
Lucas stepped inside and closed the door. “I’m…assuming Johnny’s
in the guest room.”
“We set up a cot in there. We…” Margaret sat the brush down and
went over to the bed. “…had a talk before he went to bed.”
“Oh.” Lucas quickly readied himself for bed and got under the
covers. He turned to smile at her, but Margaret turned from him.
Lucas slapped a hand on the bed. “Now see here, Margaret Ann!”
Lucas turned her toward him. “We made an agreement before we
were even engaged that I could drink beer on occasion, and this
just happened to be an occasion. I drank one beer!”
Margaret quickly hushed him. “Johnny doesn’t need to hear our
fight!” Margaret declared. She calmed down a bit and ran a hand
down his chest. “It must have been bad if you had to go have a
“What?” Lucas questioned as he caught her hand.
“Your talk with Johnny.” Margaret laid down on her pillow. Lucas
followed suit and they laid on their sides looking at each
other. “I know you had words.”
“Did he tell you what we were fighting about?” Lucas questioned
“He said he asked to borrow money and you said no.” Disapproval
was evident in her voice. Lucas sighed as he shifted his eyes
away from her. “Luke, please tell me what’s going on.”
Lucas sighed again as he took her in his arms and rolled onto
his back. Margaret laid her head on his chest and twirled her
finger around some chest hairs. “Luke?”
“Alright, honey. I DID go into town to have a beer, but I was
planning on going out to talk to Scott as well. Scott was in the
saloon and he was pretty wasted.”
“I bet Amanda gave him what for over that!” Margaret suddenly
“You can bet your pretty…” Lucas gasped and cleared his throat.
“Uh…I mean, you bet she did. She told him to go straight to the
“That sounds like Amanda,” Margaret giggled.
“Oh, but YOU wouldn’t send me to the barn.” Lucas reached down
kissed the top of her head. “Would you, Darling?”
“In a heartbeat!” Margaret declared. She rolled over to lay on
top of him, then propped her chin up on his chest and looked up
into his eyes. “Why, Scott has a fourteen month old son! What’s
he thinking coming home in such a state?”
“Well, Scott was pretty upset. You see honey, Johnny’s broke.”
“Broke?” Margaret sat up in bed and stared down into his eyes.
“How can he be broke?”
“He doesn’t have any money.”
“But the inheritance! The…$5,000.00 Scott gave him…”
“He lost it.”
“Lost it?” Margaret lifted her eyebrows. “How?”
“Betting on the rodeo. Scott said he went through that money in
just a couple months.” Lucas ran a hand up and down her arm as
he continued to look into her eyes. “He asked me for $200.”
“Two hund…” Margaret stopped as Lucas pulled her back down on
top of him. “Why?”
“He owes someone the money and he has to pay it to them by
“He bet on money he didn’t have.”
“Luke…” Again Margaret sat up. “What if he doesn’t pay it?”
“I don’t know,” Lucas answered. “May be a professional better,
or maybe a fellow rodeo man. He could just get a good beating,
or he could be arrested…”
“Or worse?” Margaret’s eyes grew wide. “Lucas, we have to give
“Now Margaret, don’t you get your apron strings all in a bundle!
We don’t have that kind of money and you know it!” Margaret sat
up straighter, but Lucas pulled on her and brought her back down
to his chest. He tipped her head up and kissed her softly. “He’s
going to have to figure this out for himself, honey.”
“Luke, no!” Margaret shouted suddenly. “Luke, I won’t stand by
“Margaret, hush!” Lucas demanded in a quiet voice. “Like you
said, Johnny doesn’t need to hear our fight!”
Margaret again rested her head on Luke’s chest. She pressed her
lips to his chest as she thought. “Scott won’t give him the
“Nope,” Luke answered. “And he shouldn’t.”
“I’ll talk to him.”
“Oh, no you won’t either!” Lucas demanded. “You will stay out of
“But Luke, he’s my brother!” Margaret sat up once again and
pulled herself away from him. “I won’t stand by and let
“Suppose Scott DID give Johnny the two hundred dollars,” Lucas
said as he sat up as well. “And if you plead with him enough, he
will. Then the next time Johnny needs money, he’ll come right
back here and ask for more.” Lucas shook his head. “We can’t
allow that, honey! That’s why I’m…forbidding you to talk to your
“Oh Luke…” Lucas lifted his eyebrows, letting her know that he
would stay firm on this. “But if he doesn’t get the money…”
Lucas reached out a hand and laid it on her cheek. “My love…I’ll
make sure your brother doesn’t get killed Saturday. He’s a
seventeen year old kid, after all. But he’s going to have to
face this like a man. But…” Lucas pointed a finger at her. “You
will not interfere, you hear?”
Margaret averted her eyes.
“Yes, Luke. I understand.”
“Promise?” Margaret nodded as she bit her lip. “Margaret?”
“I’ll promise as long as you assure me you’ll make sure he
doesn’t get hurt.”
“I’ll make sure he doesn’t get killed,” Lucas answered. Margaret
nodded. “Now then…let’s make up.” Lucas pulled her over to his
side of the bed and slid down in bed as he started kissing her.
Margaret responded to his kiss and soon felt his hands rubbing
up and down her back. His kiss intensified and he gave a soft
moan. Suddenly, Margaret pulled away from him. “What’s wrong?”
Margaret gave him a sheepish look. “My brother’s in the next
“So…we can’t…not when HE’S here!” Margaret argued suddenly.
Lucas suddenly sat up. “Now what the blazes…” Margaret pressed a
finger to his lips. Lucas quieted his voice. “What difference
does it make? There’s no holes in the wall!”
“LUCAS…” Margaret’s warning voice sounded. “We just CAN’T!”
“When we have children, does that mean…”
“Lucas McCain!” Margaret gasped.
“Alright, alright…I’ll…restrain myself.” Lucas pulled her back
down into his arms. “But I don’t like it! I think he should go
back to his own house,” Lucas grumbled. “He’s having a bad
affect on our marriage!”
“Lucas!” Lucas chuckled as he drew her close once more. He
covered her mouth with his for one last kiss, then she laid in
his arms and they went to sleep.
Margaret mumbled the next morning when she heard a knock on her
bedroom door. She rolled to her side and yawned when she heard
the knock again. She looked over at her husband in the darkness
and saw him swallow, but remain asleep as she stood and grabbed
her robe. “What is it?” Margaret asked as she opened the bedroom
“I’m sorry, sis, but I have to get going soon.”
“What are you talking about?” Margaret tightened the belt on her
robe. “Johnny, it’s still dark outside!”
“I know, but I have to ride two hours away to practice for the
rodeo! You can come watch me practice if you like.”
“Ah…I have things to do around here, Johnny.” Margaret yawned as
she walked into the kitchen and started putting wood in the
stove. “Johnny, it’s awful cold in here. Would you stir up the
fire in the fireplace?” Johnny went to obey. Margaret soon had a
fire going in the stove. “You want coffee?” She quickly turned
toward her baby brother and lifted an eyebrow. “Or are you still
too young for that?”
“Of course I drink coffee!” Johnny declared a bit too loudly.
“Shhhhh!” Margaret hushed him. “You wake Luke up and he’ll be as
cranky as an ol’ grizzly…”
“Too late,” Lucas grumbled as he walked into the family room.
“I’m already awake.” Lucas put his hands on his hips. “What’s
“I’ve a two hour ride to the rodeo grounds, Luke. You gonna come
watch us practice?”
Lucas scratched his chin. “Well now, I just may do that. It
could be fun.” Lucas turned and looked at Margaret. “Honey, you
can go too.”
“No, I don’t think so,” Margaret commented as she lit the
lantern on the table.
Lucas and Johnny went to do the morning chores while Margaret
started preparing an early breakfast. The sun was just coming
over the horizon as the three sat down for breakfast. Johnny ate
quietly, then looked toward his sister. “Luke told me you don’t
have a horse to ride.”
Margaret shifted uncomfortably in her chair. “That’s right,” she
“I know how much you enjoy riding a horse, sis.” Margaret nodded
but said nothing. “You know…there’s a man on the other side of
“No.” She answered it so quickly that both Johnny and Lucas
looked up at her.
“Margaret…” Johnny started again.
“Look…” Margaret sat down her fork and looked squarely at her
brother. “You know how I feel about having a horse, Johnny. I
can’t just go somewhere and settle for the ‘best’ horse they
have. I have to have a connection with the horse…a feeling…”
Lucas raised his eyebrows at Johnny. “See? What did I tell you?”
Johnny chuckled. “It could be a long time before you find a
horse like that, Margaret. Perhaps you never find him.”
“I will,” Margaret assured them both as she put a bite of food
in her mouth. “That special horse will come along and melt my
“Yeah, that’s what I’m afraid of,” Lucas mumbled. “It’ll melt my
“Lucas!” Lucas chuckled.
Johnny stood up and finished off his coffee. “Thanks for
breakfast, sis. I best get going.” Johnny grabbed his saddle
bags already sitting by the door. Lucas looked over his coffee
cup he held in his hand. “Luke?”
“I’ll be out there directly,” Lucas promised him. “I have a few
uh…unfinished things to take care of here first.”
Margaret stood and gathered the dirty dishes. She jumped when
Lucas came up behind her at the sink and wrapped his arms around
her. “Well…” He kissed her neck. Then he trailed kisses all the
way to her ear and whispered, “We’re alone now…” Margaret
giggled as he pressed his lips to her neck and left a trail of
kisses all the way down. “What do you say about us uh…taking
care of unfinished business?”
“Luke, you ARE a cad!” Margaret declared as they heard Johnny
ride out of the yard.
“I am NOT!” Lucas declared. Again he trailed kisses down her
neck. He pushed the collar of her dress aside and kissed her
shoulder. “We’re married. My intentions are honorable.”
“Now, you behave yourself!” Margaret playfully slapped him.
“Oh Margaret…” Lucas groaned as if he were a nine year old child
who was just told he couldn’t go fishing.
“They’ll be time for that tonight, my Love.” Margaret turned in
his arms and kissed him. He pressed her body tight against his
and deepened the kiss. Margaret rewarded him with a longer, more
passionate embrace, then lifted from him. “Now then…” She toyed
with the front of his shirt. “If you behave yourself today,
perhaps soon…we’ll take care of that…unfinished business, as you
Lucas sighed as he kissed her cheek before releasing her. “Yes
ma’am.” Then he picked up his hat and went to the door. He
paused and turned around. “If Johnny asks to come back here
tonight, can I tell him no?”
“Lucas!” Margaret gasped.
“Yeah. That’s what I thought.” Margaret shook her head and
giggled as Lucas hurried out the door.
When Lucas got to the place the rodeo would be held, he found he
wasn’t the only family member there. Lucas hurried up to Peter
and Scott. He put his hands on his hips and gave Scott a big
grin. “Well now…I didn’t expect to see you up and around so
“Oh, ha ha!” Scott groaned as he touched his head. “Just don’t
talk so loud…”
Lucas turned and looked at his brother. “I wonder if the
headache is from too much beer or uh…too much yelling.”
“Both!” Scott groaned again. “After she got done yelling at me,
I figured I was better off coming and watching the rodeo
Lucas walked up to the corral and saw a man in a cape waving a
red blanket before him. At the other end of the corral stood a
big, mean bull. Lucas slowly straightened. “Say…” He tapped
Peter’s arm. “That looks a lot like Jehosiphat!”
“Jehosiphat!” Lucas repeated the name. He rolled his eyes.
“That’s my bull.”
“That’s your bull?” Peter pointed toward the bull in the corral.
“No, stupid!” Lucas shook his head. “Jehosiphat is my bull. He
is a mean one – tore up the fence in my north pasture the other
day…He certainly was a mad one…Had two purty cows he was trying
to catch and I reckon they were playing hard to get…I don’t
know, but all I know is that when I got out there, the fence was
torn up and two trees were in pretty bad shape…” Lucas chuckled.
“I had to go a long way to hunt that darn bull down.”
By this time, the man was waving the blanket and calling to the
bull. The bull started pawing his foot in the dirt and snorting
through the nose. Then he hurled forward as fast as he could.
Lucas and Peter ducked out of the way, afraid the bull would
come right through the fence, but he didn’t. “Wow!” Lucas
clapped his hands at the matador. “That was something else!”
“I bet your bull couldn’t do that!” Peter declared. “That’s the
meanest bull in the world!”
“Oh yeah?” Lucas crossed his arms. “I bet he could run right for
the blanket!” Lucas gave Peter a hard look. “As a matter of
fact, if that matador wasn’t already here, I could enter
Jehosiphat into this contest…and win!”
“Ha!” Peter shook his head. “That in there is a trained bull!
Your bull is trained to impregnate cows…that’s ALL!”
Lucas scratched his jaw as he turned and looked over at Johnny
who was smoothing his chaffs. “Oh right…we’ll just see about
that!” They watched Johnny walk into the corral and climb onto
the gate. After they tied his hand into his riggin, Johnny gave
a nod and the gate opened. The bull he was riding snorted and
kicked as hard as he could. Johnny bounced around but managed to
stay on for several seconds. When he finally was bucked off, he
managed to land on his feet.
“What about that?” Peter nodded toward the bull. “You thinking
you could do that to?”
Lucas laughed. “No problem!” He gave Peter his rifle,
repositioned his hat, and walked toward the man in charge. Peter
watched Lucas whisper something in his ear, then turn and point
at him. The man looked up at Peter and motioned for him to come
“Your brother here tells me he can stay on a bull longer than
you can. Is that true?”
“What?” Peter held up his hands. “Oh no, little brother! You
aren’t getting me in trouble with MY wife!”
“What’s the matter?” Lucas’ eyebrow popped up. “Chicken?”
“Of course not!” Peter declared. “I…just like to keep all my
bones in one piece.”
“I’ll give you a gentle bull. It’s as gentle as Johnny started
out with,” Jackson declared.
“It’s not the bull I’m afraid of. It’s my wife!” Peter answered.
He turned back to Lucas. “Now, you know that if Margaret caught
“She’ll never know!” Lucas declared.
“Ha! I bet!”
“Oh?” Lucas dug a hand in his pocket and pulled some money out.
“Okay…I have five dollars here that says I will stay on that
bull longer than you AND that my wife will never know what I
“Oh please!” Peter rolled his eyes at Lucas. “You’re as honest
as the day is long. You’ll never be able to keep this from her!”
Abe was there then. “What’s going on here? I heard tell you two
are planning on getting on those bulls. Well, let me save you
the trouble…NO!” Lucas and Peter continued staring at each
other. “What’s gotten into you two?” Abe tapped them both on the
“You know what? I suddenly change my mind.” Peter lifted his hat
and repositioned it on his head. “I’d love to challenge you!”
Scott folded his arms and shook his head. “Abe, you should have
kept your mouth shut! If there’s one thing those two little
brothers of yours never liked, it was a bossy big brother!”
“What’s gotten into them?” Abe shook his head. “They’re acting
like a couple spoiled brats!”
“I don’t know.” Scott chuckled. “Maybe it’s something in the
“Maybe they aren’t getting enough of that air in their brains!”
Johnny stood beside Abe and Scott to watch the two brothers make
fools of themselves. They put Lucas on the first bull. It took
quite some time for them to get him fixed up just right, then
they spoke to him before he finally nodded and they opened the
gate. Lucas waved his arm around just like he’d seen other
cowboys doing; but that bull, as gentle as he was, slung Lucas
up in the air like he was a mouse sitting on the saddle. Lucas
landed on the ground in only three bucks.
“Ohhhhhhh….” Lucas groaned as he stood up. “My butt!”
Abe and Scott chuckled. “Boy oh boy, but I’d love to be there
when he explains THAT to his wife!”
Abe laughed. “No, I don’t think we’re ready to experience
Peter was next. They prepared him, and he nodded when he was
ready to go. The gate opened and Peter was bucked in the air
like a mouse on a saddle, but Peter had more gumption and was
able to stay in the saddle for ten whole bucks. Peter was slung
off the saddle and landed on his leg. “Ohhhh!” Peter moaned as
Scott and Abe hurried up to him and helped him from the corral.
“Well…at least Peter’s injury is a little more explainable,” Abe
“Ha ha!” Lucas continued to rub his backside. “Man, I think I
broke my hip!”
Peter held out his hand to his younger brother. Lucas gave his
hand a hard slap. “Luke, five dollars!” Peter wiggled his
“Oh no!” Lucas shook his head. “The bet was that I’d stay on the
bull longer than you AND Margaret wouldn’t find out what I did!
You’ve only won HALF the bet!”
Abe laughed. “You might as well fork over the money now, Luke.
Margaret WILL find out!” He nodded his head in another
direction. Lucas turned and groaned when he saw Ann and Hal
standing over by the corral. They had seen the whole thing!
Lucas groaned as he took the five dollars from his pocket and
slapped it in Peter’s hand.
“She’ll yell at me for losing five bucks so foolishly too!”
“Wild Luke!” Ann said with a smile on her face as she walked up
to him. “My…my…If only your wife could see you now!”
Jackson hurried up to the brothers. “Very good!” He looked at
Peter and lifted an eyebrow. “Would you like to ride in the
rodeo tomorrow? It pays a hundred dollars if you win.”
“Me?” Peter smiled as he turned and looked at Lucas.
“Ah…” Lucas held up a hand. “I have a better idea. What would
you say about letting us enter into the bull fighting contest?”
“You mean…” Jackson put a hand to his mouth and chuckled. “You
mean you two…Matadors?” He laughed again.
“Yeah!” Abe snickered. Lucas turned and glared at his oldest
brothers. “Now see here…I have the meanest bull around! Why,
Jehosiphat can fight the best of us!”
“Luke…bull fighting takes years of practice!” Abe declared.
“Isn’t that right Mr….”
“Just call me Jackson. And yes, they do require years of
“Well…we have two days to train him.”
Abe scratched his beard. “You two have a death wish! I reckon I
should warn our brother-in-law that he’ll have a couple patients
“Hey now, who says the bull’s going to hurt us?” Peter asked.
“Well, one thing’s for sure…If the bull doesn’t break your
bones…” Abe leaned in to give his brother’s a stern warning
look. “Your wives will.”
As she was putting supper on the table, Margaret heard Lucas
ride up. Lucas moaned as he slowly walked into the house.
Margaret’s eyes grew wide and filled with concern when she saw
her husband, covered in dirt and walking rather funny. “Luke!”
She hurried over to him and grabbed his upper arms. “Luke, what
“Nothing, honey…” Lucas groaned again. “If you don’t mind, I’d
like to take a bath and…soak.”
“Oh, but I have supper on the table!” Margaret led him toward
the wash basin. “Now, you just wash up so you can eat. After
supper, I’ll get your bath ready then I’ll rub some liniment on
“…butt!” Lucas replied with a grin.
“Your…” Margaret pressed her fists on her hips. “Now Luke, you
tell me how that happened right now!”
The door opened again. “Hey Sis, looks like I’m staying here
tonight!” Johnny threw his saddle bags on the floor by the door.
“Did Luke tell you about riding the bull? Boy, he sure was
Lucas paused in his washing and closed his eyes as dread filled
him. Slowly, he straightened and turned to stare at his
loud-mouthed brother-in-law. Meanwhile, Margaret folded her arms
and lifted her head. “Riding a…” Her eyes narrowed. “Lucas…”
The way she said his name made Lucas cringe. He had a feeling he
wouldn’t be getting any sort of liniment rubbed on him that
evening! He turned toward his lovely wife to see a not-so-lovely
look on her face. “Is that how you got injured?”
Lucas sighed as he turned back to look at Johnny. “Johnny, you
have a BIG mouth!”
“Oh!” Johnny shot a hand to his mouth. “I wasn’t supposed to
mention that? Well, at least I didn’t tell her about the five
Lucas cringed even harder at the mention of that. “Five…”
Margaret turned and looked toward Johnny. “Lucas McCain, we’ll
talk about this later. Right now, let’s eat.”
Lucas mumbled the blessing. Margaret was definitely miffed at
him as they ate. He grumbled a bit, upset that Johnny had
purposely told on him, and he knew why too: because he wouldn’t
loan Johnny the money he needed. Lucas cleared his throat. “You
still need that money?”
“Yep,” Johnny answered.
“Yeah, well…I’d like to offer you a job.”
“On the ranch. I’ll pay you two dollars a day.”
“Two dollars?” Johnny chuckled. “Do you know how long I’d be
working for you at that amount a day?”
“Yep…for 100 days.” Lucas took another bite of his food. “Oh,
and you’ll have a room out in the barn.”
“The barn???” Margaret sat her fork down. “Luke, not in the
Lucas groaned. “Well Dear, he can’t just…” She shot him a
“Never mind, Margaret.” Johnny held up his hand. “Your husband
doesn’t seem to understand that I need the money the day after
tomorrow or else.”
“Or else what?” Margaret asked, not able to keep from asking.
Johnny took a long drink of coffee before answering. “Or
else…I’m given a good beating and don’t get paid until it’s all
“Well, I have some egg money saved up. It’s not much but…”
“No, Margaret,” Lucas answered in a low, but firm voice.
“Luke…” Margaret saw the look in his eyes and his jaw working.
She immediately dropped what she was about to say. “Well, we
have to do something! We can’t just stand by and watch Johnny
get beaten up!”
“We discussed that last night, Honey,” Lucas said in an even
voice. He turned to Johnny. “Who is it that you owe the money
“Jackson,” Johnny answered.
Lucas’ eyes grew wide. “Jackson?” His voice rose. “The boss of
the rodeo?” Johnny nodded. “And he’s going to have you beaten?”
“He’s given me plenty of warnings,” Johnny answered. “He has a
henchman who does the job.” Johnny looked down at his plate, but
lifted his eyes to look up at Margaret. “He’s ordered not to
break any bones, but does a pretty good job in teaching a
“Johnny!” Margaret felt her eyes moisten as she leaned forward
and took her brother’s hand. “Why did you bet that money?” She
didn’t wait for an answer, but turned to Lucas. “Luke, we have
to do something! He’s only seventeen!”
Lucas sat back in his chair and crossed his arms. He worked his
jaw as he looked between brother and sister. Lucas McCain had
his own suspicions, and if they were right, Johnny Gibbs would
definitely be getting a lesson…and Lucas would be the one to
deliver it. Lucas stood from the table and groaned at the pain
he felt. He begged Margaret to start boiling water for his bath
and asked Johnny to take the tub into the bedroom. He stood at
the window and smoked while he waited, then Margaret announced
his bath was ready.
Lucas started to ask Johnny to help him, but Margaret ordered
her brother to do the chores for him. She declared that Lucas
would be going to bed after his bath. Lucas groaned as he
undressed and Margaret helped lift him into the tub. With the
way his lower back and backside were hurting, it was a task to
get him up and over, but Margaret finally managed. She worked
quietly as she gathered up his dirty clothes and put them in the
wash barrel at the back of the house for a good soaking. Then
she brought in a fresh towel and some fresh long johns for Lucas
to put on.
Margaret allowed Lucas to soak for quite awhile before she held
the towel up for Lucas, who didn’t have nearly as much trouble
getting out of the tub as he did getting in. Without saying a
word, Margaret handed him the bottle of liniment, then turned
toward the door. “Aren’t you going to rub it on my lower back?”
Lucas asked hopefully.
Margaret turned and lifted an eyebrow. “You didn’t need my help
in making such a foolish decision on getting on a bull, so I
don’t reckon you need my help now.”
Lucas heard the sting in her words as she walked out.
He was still reading when Margaret came in some time later and
sat down at the end of the bed. “Luke…” Margaret spoke as she
started dressing for bed. “I have a few things to say to you
before we talk about Johnny.”
Lucas sat down his book. “We’re going to talk about Johnny?”
“We certainly are.” Margaret slipped the gown over her head then
brushed her hair. “Now then…I don’t know why you saw if fit to
ride that bull today, and I hope you learned you lesson. And I
don’t know why you lost five dollars, but…”
“Peter and I made a bet,” Lucas answered. Why did he just say
that? He knew why! Peter was right, he was too honest with
“I see.” Margaret took off her socks before crawling under the
covers. “And do I need to remind you just how much sweat you
went through to get that five dollars?”
“No ma’am, you don’t,” Lucas answered.
“I hope you never ride another bull, Luke. I hope you learned
Margaret nodded as she turned to face him. “Very well. Now, I’m
not going to discuss this any further because we have something
more important to discuss.”
Lucas sat the book down on the table with a thud and put his arm
around Margaret as she leaned against the headboard. “Johnny.”
“Yes.” Margaret turned to him again. “Luke, we cannot allow
this…this…Jackson to have him beaten!”
“I’m going to go talk to Jackson tomorrow, but I’ve a feeling
“Luke!” Margaret gasped as she turned to him. “Lucas, how can
“I hope I’m wrong, but if I’m not Johnny’s going to get
something from me, and it ain’t money.” Lucas kissed her. “Now,
don’t you worry your pretty little head anymore about this, you
hear?” Margaret nodded as she slid down onto her pillow. She
closed her eyes as Lucas draped an arm across her.
“But Johnny doesn’t lie!” Margaret declared. “I think he’s
really in danger, Luke!” Margaret turned to face him. “Luke,
you’ve got to…”
Lucas hushed her with a kiss.
Margaret was quite surprised to see Peter arrive the next
morning as they were finishing breakfast. Johnny had once again
left early to practice in the rodeo. “So Peter, what brings you
here?” Margaret asked as she poured him a cup of coffee.
“Oh…” Lucas swallowed some coffee. “I asked him to come help me
with the uh…cattle,” Lucas answered.
Margaret slowly set the coffee pot back on the stove and turned
to look at the two men. “Oh?” She lifted the butter from the
counter and brought it to the table. “And why do you need his
help when he has winter wheat and a big farm to tend to?”
“Uh…” Lucas swallowed hard. “Why?” He met Peter’s eyes. Margaret
took a bite of her eggs as she waited for her husband to
explain. “Well…I was bragging about the bull yesterday and he
said he wanted to help me with it today.”
“Help you with it?” Margaret lifted her eyebrows. “Now Luke, I
was raised on a ranch if you remember, so you aren’t talking to
an ordinary, naïve wife.” Margaret cleared her throat. “What are
you going to do with the bull?”
“Do with it?”
“You and Peter.”
“Oh…Well, he’s going to help me get it out of the pasture back
up here into the corral. He’s been awfully mean and I thought
isolating him for a few days would do him some good.” Lucas
coughed into his hand and cleared his throat. Margaret didn’t
miss the beads of perspiration that broke out on his forehead.
She was very aware that her husband was indeed telling her a
falsehood, but she decided to let him have his fun at the
moment. She’d find out what was going on. Lucas quickly changed
the subject by asking Margaret what her plans were for the day.
“I’m going to make some butter and cheese after I get the house
clean,” Margaret answered.
“Oh yes…that’s nice, Dear.” Lucas finished off his coffee and
stood up. “Well…I’ll see you.” He bent over and kissed her.
“Luke?” Lucas turned from the door. “Uh…be careful with the
Lucas tugged on the collar of his shirt as if it were a bit
After they left the house, Peter put his hands on his hips and
shook his head. “I never thought you had it in you, Luke.”
“Had what?” Lucas asked as he hurried to the barn to saddle his
“Lying to your wife.”
“I didn’t lie to her!” Lucas argued. “I just…didn’t tell her
“Yeah?” Peter chuckled. “Well, men may not see that as a lie,
but trust me…wife’s do. And if Margaret McCain ever finds out
you lied to her, there will be hell to pay!”
Lucas paused as he turned to look at his brother. Suddenly, he
wondered if the lie was worth the pain he would be feeling
later. He shrugged his shoulders then mounted his horse. “Let’s
It took some doing to get that bull into the corral, but they
did it. Lucas assured Peter that he had built a sturdy fence and
the bull wouldn’t do any harm. “Are you sure you know what
you’re doing?” Peter asked.
“Sure!” Lucas showed him the bull fighting book that Jackson had
let him borrow the day before. “I was reading this some last
night. All you have to do it wave this in front of him and he
comes running. Then you whip it away and…That’s it.”
Peter took his hat off and scratched his head. “Well, it sounds
good and all, little brother, but…somehow, I think it’s a bit
more complicated than that.”
“Oh Peter!” Lucas rolled his eyes. “You used to like to live on
the edge like me! Getting married has really sissied you!”
“Ha!” Peter gave him a short laugh. “You go around with Tiffany
McCain a few times and see how tame you are!” Lucas laughed. “I
wouldn’t laugh too hard, little brother. I’ve a feeling Margaret
McCain has her own taming methods!”
“Alright, let’s get started.” Lucas hurried inside the barn and
came back with a red blanket. He went to stand at the end of the
corral. “Jehosiphat!” Lucas called. But Jehosiphat was busy
eating some chunks of hay along the fence. “Hey, Jehosiphat!”
Lucas whistled again.
Peter chuckled as he folded his arms. “I don’t reckon the bull’s
learned his name yet.”
“Oh, very funny!” Lucas waved the blanket again. “Come on, bull!
“You know…This is something you would have done when you were
thirteen years old. I can’t imagine a grown man with
responsibilities like you would do something this crazy!” Peter
waved a hand toward him. “This is like playing horse and rider
when we were kids. Here we are…two grown men…I have two children
whom, by the way, I would take to the barn right quick for
pulling a stunt like this…and an ex-lieutenant from the United
“Sh!” Lucas waved the blanket even harder. “Now, I could win a
hundred dollars if we win that bull fighting contest! That’s a
right fine amount of money!” Lucas went and picked up the book
on bull fighting. He read a couple pages then nodded his head.
“Alright…here we go, bull!” He waved the blanket in front of his
The bull finally lifted his head and looked at the waving
blanket in front of him. “CHARGE, I said!” Lucas shouted again.
The bull weaved his head back and forth a few times. Peter
straightened up as Jehosiphat started snorting and stomping his
foot. “Hey, it’s actually working!” Peter shouted. “I mean, he’s
really doing it!”
“I told you he would!” Lucas waved the blanket even harder.
That was it as far as the bull was concerned. He let out a loud
shout, then started running forward. Lucas’ eyes grew wide when
he realized that bull was running straight toward him. “Whoa!
Whoa!” Lucas jumped out of the way and got behind the water
trough as the bull continued charging.
Suddenly, a loud crash sounded. The bull ran right through the
fence and started running across the range. “Luke, he’s going
towards the Dodd Ranch!”
Lucas dropped the blanket and picked up his rifle. “Don’t just
stand there!” Lucas shouted. “Help me!” Both brothers took off
after the bull. Margaret, upon hearing the noise, came outside
The door to the house opened and two men that looked like they
had just gone swimming in a mud puddle stood in the doorway.
Margaret placed her hands on her hips and looked them both up
and down. The sight of them made her laugh in spite of the anger
she had boiling up inside her. She put a hand to her mouth to
try and stifle the giggles. “I don’t see anything too funny
about this,” Lucas grumbled.
Margaret shook her head. She hurried from the room, and when she
returned, she had clean clothes for Lucas and Peter, soap, and
towels. “You go on down to the creek and get clean.” Margaret
ordered as she sobered.
“Yes ma’am,” Lucas answered.
“And when you two come back, we’ll have a talk.”
Lucas paused and turned to look at Peter. “You think she knows?”
Peter nodded. “Most definitely!”
It was some time before Peter and Lucas made their way back into
the yard. And when they were there, Peter groaned when he saw
Tiffany and the children. Also present at their little ranch
house was Hal and Ann Dodd. “Boy oh boy…fighting that bull sure
sounds really good right now!”
Lucas nodded. “Gettysburg sounds pretty good right now too…”
“You think Hal’s mad?” Peter asked then.
Lucas turned and looked at Peter as he rolled his eyes. “What do
you think? If a mad bull just ran through your range and upset
your cattle and tore your fences, wouldn’t you be angry?”
Hal stood in the doorway with his arms crossed. “Come on
They didn’t like the sound of his voice. Lucas waved a hand
toward Peter to go in first, but Peter motioned for Lucas to go
in first. Finally, Tiffany came to the doorway. “You’ll both
receive the same punishment, so it doesn’t matter who comes in
first. Just get in here!”
Lucas and Peter slowly walked inside. They saw that all three
women held the same expression and stood just outside the
kitchen with folded arms. “Looks like they’re ready for battle,”
Lucas looked over at three year old Ruthie who was just
finishing up her lunch. “Uh…on outside, Ruthie,” Tiffany ordered
softly. “But stay in the yard.”
Ruthie stood and walked in front of her Pa. Peter looked down at
her. “Mama’s mad!” Ruthie declared.
Peter groaned. “I know.”
“Mama gonna give ya whippin’?”
“I don’t know,” Peter answered. He patted her head. “Do as your
Mama says. Go on outside.”
Ruthie drew her finger toward her, motioning for Peter to bend
down so she can whisper. “Ifin’ she whips ya, don’t argue…it’ll
make it worse.”
Peter straightened as he lifted an eyebrow at his young daughter
and pointed toward the door. After the door closed, Hal said,
“Sit down, boys.”
The ‘boys’ took the two chairs that were sitting in the middle
of the room. They suspected they would get a good yelling from
several of the adults before everything was over. Hal folded his
arms as he started circling the chairs. “We’re awfully sorry
about your fence, Hal,” Lucas said in a low voice. “We’ll repair
all the damages.”
“Hm…” Hal continued circling the two brothers. “You’re going to
Lucas looked past Hal toward Margaret. “Now honey, we can
Margaret took a step forward. “Bull fighting, Luke?” She picked
up the book she had found laying on the ground near the corral.
She stepped forward and dropped it on the table. “What were you
“Well now…” Lucas swallowed hard as Margaret stood over him. He
didn’t think he had seen her so angry before. “Peter and I went
to watch the rodeo yesterday and…and…Well…it looked so easy, and
you know how Peter and I get when we’re together.”
“Yeah. Lucas actually made me do this!” Peter pointed at his
brother. “He told me it would be easy, then he told me
Tiffany slowly walked over to him as she held the red blanket.
She dropped it at his feet. “Peter McCain…” Peter saw her eyes
blazing. Her breathing increased as she tried to keep herself
under control, but the redder her face got, the louder he knew
she was going to yell. Finally, she exploded just like that bull
had. “You are a twenty-four year old man…YOU…” Tiffany closed
her eyes to calm herself, but it didn’t do any good. “You have
two small children and a wife…and yet YOU decided to just come
out here and do some STUPID, DANGEROUS, HAIR-BRAINED stunt like
try to fight a bull?”
Peter swallowed hard as he leaned further back in his chair. The
reason for that is that Tiffany kept leaning in further and
further toward him. “Well, you…you see, Darling…I…I…” Peter
swallowed again. “I didn’t actually do the bull fighting. Luke
did! I was just a…a spectator.”
“You didn’t try and stop him either, did you?” Tiffany’s eyes
blazed. “You are older and more mature! You should have STOPPED
“Yeah!” Lucas said then, jumping to his own defense. “I’m the
baby brother. I…”
“That’s enough out of you, Lucas McCain!” Margaret declared as
she took a few more steps toward her husband. “You are in this
as deep as Peter! YOU are a twenty-two year old man! You fought
in the Civil War and became a lieutenant! Oh boy…” Margaret
shook her head. “Wouldn’t Captain Benton be proud of you now!”
Margaret leaned in to him and Lucas leaned way back in his
chair. “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?”
“When you put it that way…” Lucas swallowed hard. “I reckon we
did act a little like kids.”
“That’s what I tried to tell you!” Peter declared then. “You
getting us in all this trouble. Why, you’re lucky Hal didn’t
have us thrown into jail!”
“Oh, by the time we’re through with you,” Ann announced then as
she came to stand between Margaret and Tiffany. “You may wish
you WERE in jail!” Ann shook her head. “Wild Lucas…Wild, wild
Lucas…” She clicked her tongue as the two women straightened up.
“Did you…” Lucas averted his eyes from Margaret’s to look at
Hal. “…find the bull?”
“Did I find the bull?” Hal yelled. “My men found the bull! He
was breaking through yet another section of my fence and he was
still raving mad! Do you want to know what happened to that
Lucas turned and looked at Margaret. He was afraid to ask. “Well
Luke dear, I’m happy to tell you that we have a winter’s supply
Lucas stared at Margaret, then turned to look back at Hal.
“You…YOU KILLED MY SEED BULL?”
“I told him to!” Margaret stated.
“Oh.” That sort of put a different light on the subject.
“I don’t think you could have handled him after an incident like
this anyhow. You ruined him, Luke.” Hal folded his arms and
circled the boys again as the women stepped back. “Of all the
stupid, senseless, wasteful, idiotic things you boys have done
in your lives….I must say that this just topped them all!” Hal
shook his head. “What were you two thinking? What…got into your
HEADS???” Hal put his hands to his forehead in frustration. “I
never would have guessed you two RESPONSIBLE men could have EVER
come up with something so…so…utterly STUPID!” Hal was getting
madder as he spoke. “Luke, you know how hard it is to come by a
good seed bull, and you should have known how dangerous that
was…You could have been stomped to death – killed! You ruined
that seed bull and it was a costly bull to come by!”
Hal folded his arms as he stood in front of the men and glared
at them. Peter and Lucas both lowered their heads. “The damage
that bull did to your corral is NOTHING, compared to the damage
he did to MY fence! My men are currently working on gathering
the cattle and calming them down after you spooked them. They
will have to make repairs to the fence immediately.”
“We’ll go help,” Lucas mumbled.
“That’s very kind of you, but I’ve a feeling your wives are
going to be keeping you quite busy for awhile. When they permit
you to, you both will come work for me until every penny you owe
is paid back. I’m including fees for my men having to gather up
my cattle. You will do whatever I tell you to until I think you
have paid me back in full.” Lucas dared a peak at his wife. She
lifted her head to show him that he hadn’t received his full
“Yes sir,” Lucas answered humbly. He nudged Peter.
“Oh, yes sir.”
“As for the seed bull…” Hal stood in front of Lucas. “If you
work even longer for me, I have a couple calves that will be
ready by spring. They will both make good seed bulls.” Lucas
nodded. “And if I ever hear about you putting one of your cattle
through some sort of hell like this again…” Hal leaned in until
his nose was almost touching Lucas’. “…I will personally hang
you from your oak tree by your toes!” Lucas nodded. Hal stood up
and turned to Ann. “Well, we should get going. I’ll have to go
help those men gather the cattle.” At the door, Hal turned back.
“You two still coming for supper tonight?” he asked Margaret.
Lucas was surprised to hear the anger in Hal’s voice suddenly
disappear. Margaret nodded her head. “We’ll be there. “
Lucas and Peter stayed seated in their chairs until the doors
closed. Then they looked at each other and slowly stood up. “SIT
DOWN!” Tiffany ordered as the wives came toward them.
Lucas and Peter slowly sat back down. Margaret and Tiffany
towered over their husbands. “Uh…how did you come about in
coming out here, my love?” Peter asked in the sweetest voice he
“Well…since you had to come “help” Luke, I decided that this
would be a good time to visit Margaret. I was going to surprise
you and I even brought over lunch.” Tiffany folded her arms.
“Imagine my surprise at the news I received when I arrived.”
“Alright…” Lucas sighed. “If you’re going to whip us, go ahead
and get it over with!”
“Oh no, my love…” Margaret lowered herself down onto his lap.
Tiffany did the same. They locked their hands behind their necks
and smiled sweetly at their husbands. “We have no intensions on
“You don’t?” Peter asked as he swallowed.
Tiffany ran a hand down his cheek and smiled sweetly into his
eyes. “Oh, of COURSE not, my Darling!”
Margaret followed Tiffany’s lead. “You see, my DEAR
husband…You’re going to just do some work for us.”
“What…what sort of work?” Lucas asked then.
“Well…for starters, my floor needs a good scrubbing.” Margaret
kissed his cheek.
“Yes. And so does mine,” Tiffany nodded. “Then I think doing
dishes for a couple weeks will be in order.”
“Oh…” Lucas shrugged. “Well, I can’t say that floors and dishes
are my favorite thing, but I reckon we can survive.”
“Oh now, don’t you worry, My love…” Tiffany kissed Peter’s
cheek. “You see, we saved the best for last.”
“Oh?” Peter lifted his eyebrows as Tiffany continued to smile
into his eyes.
Tiffany nodded. “You see, Julie has been quite tired with all
her work, the kids, and being pregnant. She’s been looking for
some time to relax.”
“Yes.” Margaret nodded. “And Em’s not been feeling too well
lately, what with her being in the early stages of pregnancy.
You know how it is…” Margaret ran her fingers through her
“No, not really…” Lucas answered honestly.
“Oh…well, you will. You see, you two men will be experiencing
labor pains of your own for the next four Saturdays.
“Oh?” Lucas raised an eyebrow. “I know they’re making advances
in Science but…”
“You see,” Tiffany interrupted as she ran her fingers along
Peter’s face. “For the next FOUR Saturdays, you and Luke will be
Lucas’ eyes grew wide. “WHAT???”
“That’s right,” Margaret nodded her head. “If you are going to
behave like children, then you’re going to learn how children
“But I don’t even have any children!” Lucas argued.
“Oh?” Margaret kissed him softly. “Well, for the next four
Saturdays, you will!”
Peter and Lucas turned their heads and looked at each other.
“Nine children will keep you company.”
Tiffany nodded. “Abe and Julie’s five, your own daughter and
son, Em and Jeremiah’s daughter, and I’m SURE Scott and Amanda
would LOVE for you to watch their son as well.”
“And of course, we’ll have Laura, right?” Peter asked hopefully
as his eyes pleaded silently.
“Oh no…I think Laura’s old enough to accompany us.”
“Accompany you?” Lucas pushed Margaret away from him a bit and
stared into her eyes. “Just where will you be?”
Margaret and Tiffany stood from their husbands’ laps. “Well my
dear, we’ll be at the McCain farm enjoying our Saturdays.”
“What about your chores?” Peter asked then.
“Oh, I’m sure you men will be able to handle them for just a
“What about the other men?” Lucas asked this.
“Well my darling, they have their own work to do!”
Lucas slowly stood up. “I…hate to ask this, but I will anyhow.
Where will these babysitting events take place?”
Margaret and Tiffany both looked around the small house. Lucas
groaned. “And of course you’ll have the house in the same shape
I left it that morning.”
Peter and Lucas looked at each other. “I’d rather have jail.”
“Me too!” Lucas groaned.
“Keep it up,” Margaret folded her arms. “We’ll be happy to bed
you down in the barn with the other animals.”
“Come along, dear.” Tiffany stood and went to pick their
sleeping son up. “You have a floor to clean.” Tiffany turned to
look at Margaret. “Say, you wouldn’t want to accompany me to
town this afternoon? I have some material to pick out and I
would LOVE for you to help me.”
“Oh, I’d love it!” Margaret answered as she flashed her husband
a smile. “I’ll just go change.”
“Perhaps you can buy a new hat.”
“She can’t afford it,” Lucas grumbled.
“Yes.” Margaret folded her arms. “I’m afraid my new hat is now a
new corral,” Margaret flashed Lucas a look that reminded him of
just who’s fault that was.
Lucas followed Margaret into the bedroom. “Honey, I don’t like
you going into town unescorted.”
“Oh.” Margaret slipped from her housedress and put on a nicer
dress. “Button me up.” Lucas did so as she spoke. “Well, I don’t
like you riding and fighting with bulls either, Lucas McCain!”
Lucas slowly buttoned up her dress. “Well, you know I have to go
talk to Jackson about Johnny, honey. That’s serious. And what
about the rodeo tomorrow afternoon?”
Margaret smiled as she turned and put her arms around Lucas’
neck. “Well…as soon as the floor’s cleaned, you have my
permission to go see Jackson. Then you come on into town and get
the supplies you’ll need to fix the corral fence. I’ll wait for
“Wait for me?”
Margaret nodded. “I’ll stop by and visit with Emily. I’m sure
your sister would love to hear all about your adventures!”
Margaret kissed him before turning to walk away. “Oh…” She
turned from the door and walked back over to him. A mischievous
gleam was in her eye. “If you’re a REALLY good boy, I’ll buy you
a piece of candy.” She pinched his cheek then giggled as she
hurried from the room.
Lucas closed his eyes when he heard the front door close. “If
you’re a really good boy, I’ll buy you a piece of candy,” he
mocked. “Ha ha ha…very funny!” Lucas rolled his eyes, then went
to do his chore.
Lucas groaned as he straightened up from mopping the floor. His
back ached even more than it had yesterday. How a woman could
stoop over a floor all day and mop, he didn’t know! Lucas
quickly put the room back in order then went to saddle his
horse. The mere thought of riding a horse for two hours didn’t
appeal to him, but he had to go talk to Jackson and find out
just how much of what Johnny said was true.
Lucas was happy when he found Jackson. He shook his hand then
went to sit with him and talk. Lucas was relieved that he hadn’t
figured Jackson wrong, but on the other hand he was quiet upset
at Johnny’s lies he had told the night before. Lucas knew the
only reason Johnny had said the things he said was because he
was playing on his sister’s affections. Well, he’d set Johnny
straight on a few things. Jackson nodded his head and told Lucas
to take all the time he needed in ‘talking’ to Johnny.
Lucas found his young brother-in-law in the corral brushing down
his horse. “Johnny…”
Johnny slowly turned around to see Lucas. “Well Luke, came to
watch me again?” he asked cheerfully. Lucas merely spread out
his legs, folded his arms, and glared at Johnny. Johnny lost
part of his smile and cleared his throat. “Is something wrong?”
“Damn right,” Lucas grumbled.
Johnny scooted his hat back on his head and took a couple steps
backward. “Something wrong with Margaret?”
“I guess you could say that,” Lucas answered. He paused for just
a moment before announcing, “I talked to Jackson.”
Any trace of smile Johnny had remaining on his face quickly
disappeared. He held up a hand as Lucas started toward him. “Now
Luke, let’s talk about this…man to man.”
“Oh, I intend to!” Lucas declared as he reared back and gave
Johnny a hard punch in the jaw. The punch sent Johnny off his
feet. He fell to the ground and groaned as he grabbed at his
jaw. “The only reason you said those things last night was to
upset Margaret so she’d go to your brother and beg him for the
Johnny quickly stood and grabbed his hat. “Think what you want.”
“It’s true!” Lucas shouted. He grabbed Johnny roughly by the
arm. “Ain’t it?”
“No…no! I was just scared!” Johnny answered.
“That’s a lie!” Lucas shoved him up against the tree. “Your
sister was very upset last night! She was CRYING, and I don’t
like anybody making her cry!”
Johnny started to remind Lucas that he had made Margaret cry
himself plenty of times, but he didn’t figure Lucas would be
interested in hearing about that. So he held up his hands in
defeat. “Alright…alright…I lied. So what?”
“Your sister thinks you are about to be beaten within an inch of
your life!” Lucas grabbed his arm again. “Now, you’re coming
into town with me, and you’re telling Margaret the truth.”
“Oh no!” Johnny held up his hands. “You’re her husband, you tell
her! She’s just my sister! I don’t…”
Lucas reared back and gave him another hard punch. This one sent
him flying across the ground. Lucas hurried over and grabbed him
by the shirt. Pulling him back to standing position, Lucas
shouted, “You’re going to come with me or I’ll beat you within
an inch of your life and make an honest man out of you!”
“Jackson told me you could come. You’ll be putting in plenty of
time for him working off that two hundred dollar bet.” Lucas
grabbed his shirt with both hands and shook him. “He was trying
to teach you a lesson about betting, boy. I suggest you learn
from it!” Lucas shoved him away. Johnny landed flat on his
backside again. “Now go get your horse, boy!”
Margaret and Emily were having a nice talk when a knock sounded
on her door. Emily went to answer it and smiled when she saw
Lucas standing there. Behind him, Johnny stood. She let out a
gasp when she saw the welts forming on Johnny’s face. “What
Margaret, upon hearing Emily’s voice of alarm, hurried forward.
She saw her brother’s condition. “You get in a fight?”
Johnny lowered his head, not wanting to answer.
“Speak, boy!” Lucas demanded suddenly.
Johnny cleared his throat. “I lied to you last night.”
Margaret let out a quiet gasp. “What? Why?”
“Well, I…I thought that if I told you I would be beaten that
you’d go to Scott and beg him to give me the money.”
“So…” Margaret turned and walked toward the window.
“This…Jackson…wasn’t going to have you beaten?”
Johnny stayed quiet. Lucas gave his arm a gentle shake. “No.”
Johnny swallowed when he heard Lucas clear his throat. “The
truth is…I wasn’t going to be beaten at all. I was just going to
have to do extra work for Jackson, and work for free until I
paid him the money. The truth is…he let me bet to teach me a
lesson. He said I was getting pretty dangerous with my betting
and he was doing me a favor.”
“In light of the truth, I don’t think you should stay with us
tonight,” Lucas mumbled. “You go get your things then ride on
back to camp.”
“Luke…” Margaret turned from the window. Lucas raised his
eyebrows. Margaret merely nodded. “We’ll see you tomorrow at the
Lucas watched Johnny ride from the yard. Margaret mumbled that
they should get home so they could get ready for dinner at the
Dodd’s. Margaret was quiet as they rode home. Lucas knew she was
hurting. After they were back inside, Lucas spoke. “Margaret…”
Lucas walked up and laid his hands on her shoulders. “You okay?”
“Well, I…don’t like being lied to. That’s the second time
“Second?” Margaret nodded her head. “Now honey, that this
morning wasn’t a lie. I just didn’t…”
“Oh Luke now don’t you go telling me that! It was a lie and you
know it!” Margaret hurried into the bedroom.
Lucas propped himself up in the doorway as she sat down and
began brushing her hair. “I’m sorry.” Lucas watched her brush
for a few moments. “I love you.”
Margaret turned around and smiled at him. “That’s nice.” She
turned and walked over to him. Slowly, she slid her arms around
his neck and kissed him. “But…you still have to babysit
“For how long?”
Margaret smiled. “Tiffany said she’d try to have everyone here
by nine. We’ll be gone for just four hours, then we’ll come back
so we can all get ready for the rodeo. Everyone’s planning on
meeting here and we’ll ride over together.”
“Four hours?” Lucas looked toward the ceiling as he thought on
this. “Wait a minute…If you’re gone for four hours, then that
means we have to fix them lunch!”
“That’s right,” Margaret answered as she walked into the main
“But I don’t know what kids eat!”
“Luke…You can fix them sandwiches, and I’ll leave some fried
potatoes you can warm up for them. Baby Willie and Baby Andy
will need a bottle, and I’m sure their mothers will prepare that
“Well…I don’t like this whole idea!” Lucas grumbled as Margaret
plopped his hat on his head. Lucas lifted his rifle from its
holder as he followed her outside. “I don’t understand…”
“You aren’t supposed to like a punishment!” Margaret declared as
she took his hand and started across the street.
“It’s not right for a wife to punish her husband anyhow!” Lucas
grumbled. But he said nothing more since they had entered the
One good thing about that Saturday morning was that it was clear
and bright. If it had been rainy, Lucas may have gotten on his
hands and knees begging for pardon, but at least with the sun
shining the children would stay outside. Lucas wanted to get as
many of his chores done before the children arrived as he could,
so as soon as breakfast was over he stood, kissed Margaret on
top of her head, and hurried out onto the range.
He had only been working a couple hours when Peter came riding
out to get him. “They’re here,” Peter announced with dread in
Lucas groaned. “Well, let’s get this over with!” He turned his
horse around and tugged on a rope he had tied around a calf’s
neck. The moment they rode into the yard, Lucas was surrounded
by children laughing.
“Uncle Luke, look!” Charlie held up a turtle he had caught.
“Look Uncle Luke!” David and Adam both held green snakes.
Lucas smiled. “That’s great, boys. Just don’t scare the girls
Suddenly, Ruthie put her hands on her hips and hurried forward.
“I ain’t scared a snake!” She turned and stuck her tongue out at
the boys. “Papa tol’ me I’s jest like th’ boys.”
Peter swooped her up in his arms. “That’s right, my little
Ruthie! But your Mama doesn’t want you playing with snakes, so
you just steer clear of them!”
Peter sat her down and bent down in front of her. “Now
Ruthie…we’re going to have nine children here today. I’d really
like it if you could help me out some.”
“Mama says YOU hafta change brother’s diapers!”
Peter stood up and rolled his eyes. “You get Baby Andy though.”
He said as he pointed to Lucas.
The women were all in the yard waiting for the two men. The
children all ran around chasing each other. Lucas and Peter
approached the women as if they were going to war. The women
stopped their talking and turned to look at Lucas and Peter.
Julie, the spokesperson for the bunch since she had the most
children, folded her arms and spoke. “Laura has offered to stay
here to supervise you two men.”
Lucas and Peter looked at each other with raised eyebrows.
“Supervise? We’re the adults!”
“Hm…” Julie lifted an eyebrow as she looked both men up and
down. “That remains to be proven. Men who think playing with a
bull and causing all sorts of mischief accounts for a hard day’s
work aren’t too trustworthy….So, Laura will stay here, but I’ve
given her strict instructions not to do any work!”
Laura smiled. “Papa Abe and Mama Julie are paying me two bits
for the job!”
Lucas and Peter again looked at each other. “Let me get this
straight…You are leaving us with ten children and…”
“Nine.” Julie smiled as she put an arm around Laura. “Laura’s a
young lady now.”
“Oh…excuse me.” Lucas tipped his hat to his baby sister. “Nine
children, and you are paying Laura twenty-five cents to babysit
US?” The women just looked at each other. “So will she change
“Tell us what’s wrong when the baby’s crying?”
“What’s she doing here then?”
Julie smiled. “To make sure no harm comes to these children.
We’ll be back by one o’clock.”
The men were each handed a baby. The women all smiled, turned,
and loaded into the wagon. Lucas and Peter stood and watched the
wagon ride from the yard. Baby Andy was the first to start
crying. His cries were soon followed by Baby Willie’s. Then
Lucas cried out when a ball hit him in the head. “I’ve a feeling
this is going to be the LONGEST four hours of my life!”
The children waved as their mothers rode out of the yard. Then
Charlie turned. “Uncle Luke, will ya play baseball with us?”
“Baseball?” Lucas raised an eyebrow and looked down at the baby
crying in his arms. He looked at Peter. “What do I do with this
“That THING, Lucas McCain, is a baby!” Laura declared as she
stuck her chin up in the air and folded her arms in accusation.
“Oh.” Lucas held Baby Willie out toward Laura. “Here, you take
“UH UH!” Laura shook her head. “Papa Abe gave me strict orders
“I’m your brother as much as Abe is!”
“Abe’s my Papa now!” Laura shook her head. “I ain’t goin’
against him! I want to go to the Halloween party later this
Lucas turned and looked at Peter. “What do I do with him?”
“I don’t know...” Peter shrugged. “Maybe he’s hungry.”
“It’s only nine o’clock in the morning!” Lucas declared.
“Maybe he’s wet.”
Lucas’ eyes grew big. “Then you take him!”
“Oh no!” Peter shook his head as he went toward the house to lay
his own son down. “I have my hands full with this one.”
“That one…” Lucas pointed toward his four month old nephew. “…is
asleep! This one ain’t!”
“Uncle Luke!” Charlie called again.
“Will you PLEASE play baseball with us?” Charlie looked toward
Peter. “Uncle Peter said you was the best baseball player on
account thet you played all the time in the war.”
“I can’t play baseball with a baby!” Lucas grumbled. He walked
inside the house and laid the baby on the table. After unpinning
the baby’s diaper, he was able to determine that the baby was
indeed wet. “What do I do?”
Peter laughed. “Just a wild shot in the dark, mind you, but when
a baby is wet, one usually puts dry britches on him.”
“How?” Lucas turned and looked at Laura who only smiled. “Well,
aren’t you going to show me how to make something out of this?”
Lucas held up a diaper.
“Nope.” Laura smiled as she pointed at Peter. “He knows how.”
“Thanks a lot, squealer!” Peter grabbed the diaper from Lucas’
hand. He paused in his duty as Lucas gave him a strange look.
“My wife…insisted I learn just in case.”
After Peter showed Lucas how to put a dry diaper on, he showed
Lucas how to warm a bottle, sit in a rocking chair, and get the
baby to sleep. Then the two men went out to join the children
and play baseball.
Lucas and Peter decided it would be best if they were the team
captains. They chose teams. Charlie, Adam, Laura, and Ruthie
were on Lucas’ team. Peter got Sammy, David, Rachel, and Abby.
The men agreed to play it really easy since they had children
ages two to five on their teams. Ruthie pointed out to her
father that her mother didn’t much care for her playing
baseball, but Peter assured her it would be okay.
In time, the girls tired of the game and went off to play in the
yard. The boys played on with the two McCain brothers. When they
finally stopped playing, Peter looked around for Ruthie and
discovered she was missing. He and Lucas started looking high
and low while Laura just stood in the yard shaking her head.
“Tiffany ain’t gonna like it much when I tell her that you lost
your own daughter!”
Peter sat up from bending over the porch. “Not if my baby sister
keeps her mouth shut!”
“Oh no…I can’t do that!” Laura shook her head. “I’m getting a
whole twenty-five cents to do my job RIGHT!”
Lucas rolled his eyes. He was just about to suggest they get
more help when he saw the door to the outhouse open. Ruthie
stepped out with her bloomers around her ankles. “Peter…” Peter
looked up and ran toward his daughter. Lucas started laughing so
hard as he watched Peter help Ruthie get proper then carry her
back over to the group.
“Shut up, little brother! Just shut up!”
They all went inside to eat lunch. Lucas worked at fixing the
sandwiches and warming up the potatoes while Peter worked at
getting all the children seated at the table. Lucas took a deep
sigh of relief when he had all the children settled down with
food. “Well now…it got off to a rough start, but it’s turning
out to be a…”
“Hey, you got more than me!” Adam suddenly cried as he tore off
a piece of David’s sandwich.
“Did not!” David argued. “We all got the same!”
“Now boys…” Lucas started.
But suddenly, David picked up a handful of potatoes and threw
them toward Adam. Adam ducked, and Charlie got it right in the
face. Charlie picked up a handful of potatoes and threw them.
His handful hit Adam in the face. “Hey now, cut that out!” But
as Lucas tried to intervene, a whole sandwich flew across the
table and hit little Ruthie.
Ruthie let out a loud cry, then she picked up a whole piece of
her sandwich and flung it across the table, hitting one of the
boys in the face. Peter and Lucas both started to intervene, but
this time all four boys picked up handfuls of food and tossed it
across the table, hitting Lucas and Peter smack in the face. The
children all started yelling and throwing food as Lucas and
Peter tried to regain control of the situation. But it was
The noise woke both babies up. Their crying mixed with the
screaming of the other children. Lucas turned and looked at
Laura who merely stood out of the way with folded arms, shaking
her head as grin crossed her face. “Would you do something,
Laura?” Lucas screamed. “Help us!”
“Uh uh!” Laura answered with a shake of her head. It was obvious
she was very much enjoying this!
“Alright, that’s IT!” Peter picked Ruthie up. “Ruth Ellen
McCain, you’re going to get a whipping!”
Ruthie began screaming as loud as she could and kicked her legs
as hard as she could. “I didn’t start it! It ain’t fair!” Ruthie
Lucas put his hands over his ears. “Stop!” he yelled as loud as
he could as yet another big glob of jam hit him in the face.
Suddenly, the door opened. Something startled the children and
they all froze. All four boys lost their smiles and didn’t move
a muscle as they looked up at whoever had just walked in. Lucas
slowly turned to see his brother, Abraham, standing in the
doorway. Abe had his legs spread apart and his arms folded. The
look on his red face showed the children that every one of them
was in trouble. “Just what is going on here?”
“I’m sorry, Abe…” Lucas groaned as he looked around at the mess.
“We tried to stop it but…”
Abe gave Lucas a slight nod. “Every one of you children know
better!” Abe took a few steps toward the table. The children
slowly sat down, refusing to look at him. “Who started this?”
Nobody answered. Abe cleared his throat. “Now…I’ve a feeling it
was one of my boys that started it, and the guilty party BETTER
answer me NOW!”
David gulped and lifted a finger toward his brother, Adam. “He
Abe shook his head, silencing his son. “Who threw the first
“I did, sir,” David answered.
“Alright.” Abe walked to the side of the table where his boys
stood. “Apparently my rules were forgotten. I’ve a good mind to
not let you go to the rodeo this afternoon, but that would mean
your Mama and I couldn’t go either and we want to go so…” Abe
snapped his finger. “Front and center NOW!”
The boys slowly stood up. “Who?”
“ALL of YOU!” Charlie, being the oldest came to stand in front
of his father, followed by the triplets. Rachel stayed in her
chair, but her father pointed to her and snapped his fingers.
Rachel joined her brothers. Abe then looked at Abby. “You too,
Abigail.” Peter put his daughter on the floor and ordered her in
the line as well. Ruthie knew better than to argue, it would
only make matters worse. Once they were all in line, Abe spoke.
“We’re going to take a little trip outside where you will each
receive the appropriate punishment. EVERY one of you. Of course
the smallest one’s won’t be punished a severely as the older
ones who should have been teaching them how to behave.”
Abe turned and looked at Laura who was still standing in the
kitchen. “And what were you doing this whole time, young lady?”
“Watching. You and Mama said…” Laura started.
“Your Mama and I told you not to intervene unless things got out
of control. YOU will be punished as well.”
“Oh, but Papa…” Laura started.
“You go with your brothers to get water and soap. YOU will start
cleaning while the children are being punished. When I’m done
with them, they will all come back in and help you.”
Abe nodded his head. “Rachel too.” Abe then turned and looked at
Peter and Lucas. He shook his head as he looked them up and
down. “Well, you better go tend to your babies.”
Laura sulked as she grabbed a bucket and headed toward the
creek. It was a long walk, and it would take a few trips before
she had enough water to clean up the mess. After Lucas calmed
Willie down and got him on the floor on a blanket with a toy, he
helped Laura fill the kettle with water to heat. Then they went
to work on the cleaning. It was some time later when Abe brought
all the children back inside. They all had tear streaks on their
faces and were very somber. Abe gave each child their assignment
and they all quietly did their work.
Everything was back in order by the time the women arrived. The
children all were sent outside to sit down quietly under a tree.
“Abe…” Lucas cleared his throat. “Next Saturday, you have to
join us and tell us all your secrets!”
Abe chuckled. “Not a chance, little brothers. It takes years of
practice, and only practice will teach you. But if they start
misbehaving like that again, just mention my name. I think
that’ll straighten them up.”
The women were surprised to find the children so well behaved
when they got back. Lucas and Peter had slipped away to get
cleaned up, Peter having brought a change of clothes for the
rodeo. The McCain brothers all wore their fancy rodeo shirts and
the women all wore nicer dresses. Soon, the whole McCain/Gibbs
clan were on their way to the rodeo.
Not a word was said about the incident of babysitting.
The family all enjoyed the rodeo. Johnny did wonderfully, making
his family proud, though his mother and sister did put a hand to
their chests. “That boy will be the death of me yet!” Jennifer
exclaimed at one point.
The children were let loose in a corral to try and catch the
piglets. Two of the McCain boys won a prize, making their father
proud. Soon, the family had to say goodbye to Johnny who would
be traveling to the next town for a rodeo. Margaret shed tears
on the way home, worried that her brother wouldn’t live through
the next rodeo event. Lucas merely took her hand and gave it a
Lucas lay in bed reading the newspaper after getting ready for
bed. He was exhausted from his hard day of babysitting. Margaret
turned from her table when she heard Lucas let out a grunt.
“These two brothers…they robbed another bank.”
“Oh. I didn’t know Tom Birch had a brother,” Margaret mumbled a
Margaret knew that was a sore spot with Lucas. She had heard
about the Birch gang’s being accused before Lucas had returned
to Enid. Lucas refused to believe his good friend who had saved
his life while they were in Texas together, was capable of
robbing a bank. “I’m sorry, Luke.”
“No, it says here that Frank and Jesse James robbed another bank
in Missouri a couple weeks ago.”
“Jessie James…” Margaret mumbled. “Luke, you remember my friend
Clair Wheatley?” Lucas nodded. “Well…” Margaret came to get
under the covers while Lucas folded the paper. “She wrote me a
few weeks ago and told me that a stagecoach was robbed just
outside Topeka where they live now. They think that was part of
the Claremont gang. One of the gang was shot.”
“I don’t know.” Lucas blew out the lantern and laid down on his
pillow as he took Margaret in his arms. “It would be pretty hard
for them to rob a stage in Kansas when they’ve been robbing
banks in Missouri.”
“You think they’ll come here?”
“I suppose…If they want to flee from the law.” Lucas pulled her
closer and kissed her softly. “Don’t worry, my love, I’ll
Margret giggled as she returned his kiss. They laid on their
sides facing each other now. Margaret grew quiet. “So…how did
things go today?”
Lucas paused for a moment before answering. “Fine.”
“Hm…” Margaret kissed him again. “You’re a terrible liar, Lucas
“What are you talking about?”
“Well, I found some interesting stuff on a wall, and I suspect
that the children were responsible for it. The floor was also
sticky as if jam had been spilled all over it.”
Lucas groaned. “We did our best to clean it up,” he assured her.
“Darn kids…they got in a food fight and Peter and I lost all
control! Margaret…” Lucas laid a hand on her cheek. His voice
turned low. “You sure we want TEN kids?”
“Of course!” Margaret declared. “The more the merrier!”
“Hm…” Lucas sighed. “Abe walked in the door and every one of
those children sobered up. What does he have that I don’t?”
“Experience,” Margaret answered with a chuckle. “He was as green
as you were when he just got married.” Margaret giggled as she
gave him another kiss. “Food fight, huh…I bet Abe straightened
“I think there were seven children who got whippings,” Lucas
chuckled. “Even little Rachel…poor thing!”
“Well, we won’t have all ten children at once. You’ll learn…one
child at a time…I hope.”
Lucas chuckled. “Too bad I had to do all that for free. I
deserve some sort of payment.”
“Oh?” Margaret kissed him again. This time her lips lingered on
his and her hands went around him and softly stroked his back.
“Well…perhaps I can come up with some sort of…payment.” She
pressed her lips to his again.
“Oh?” Lucas pressed her body against his as their kiss deepened.
“Should we maybe kill two birds with one stone tonight?”
“What’s do you mean?”
“Well…” Lucas trailed kisses across her cheek and down her
throat. “Maybe you can pay me and we can…try working on baby
No more words were said as Margaret silently agreed with a kiss.
The Margaret Years — A
Stranger in the Storm
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