Welcome to The Writer's Corner
Chapter 3 - The Land
Written by Michelle Palmer
One week had passed since the dance at Ann Dodd’s house. Lucas
no longer felt the need to grace his presence at the Gibbs house
every night, though he and Margaret both wished it could happen.
But right now, Lucas had a job to do. He had to contribute his
time to the McCain family. Though the proposal hadn’t been made
yet, both Lucas and Margaret knew that it was only a matter of
time before they became man and wife, at which point they would
spend every night together.
Lucas put in hard days all that next week, along with his
brothers as they readied the fields for planting. The work was
hard and tiring, and Lucas struggled to keep his eyes open long
enough to eat supper each night. All four brothers had to be
closely watched by the women, who made sure they had their
proper eating and cleaning before they lay down for the night.
Friday evening, Lucas happily retired the oxen at 4:30. The
field was finally finished and ready for planting, which would
begin the next morning. But that evening, Lucas would spend time
with Margaret. He took a bath and even put on some “smell good”
stuff, at least that’s what little Ruthie called it. She chatted
with her uncle as he continued to prim himself in the mirror.
Lucas grinned as she informed Lucas that Papa only put the
“smell good” stuff on after mama yelled at him.
The moment Lucas rode into the Gibbs yard that evening, Margaret
hurried from the door and threw her arms around his neck. She
kissed him, regardless of the fact that her ever-watchful
brother was standing in the doorway. She assured Lucas in more
ways than one that she had missed him. And she gently chastised
him for again missing church on the previous Sunday. Since Lucas
had been home, he’d yet to darken the doors of the church, and
Margaret assured him with sternness in her voice that he would
be there the following Sunday.
After dinner, Margaret led Lucas into the parlor. This time, she
closed the door and sat very close to him on the couch. Once
they were settled, Lucas took his beloved in his arms and
whispered sweet words in her ear as they cuddled. Margaret
excitedly told him about her week. Lucas announced to Margaret
that the plowing was finally done, and in another week, the
crops would be in the field. He expressed concern about getting
the crops in late, but both he and Margaret knew it had been a
hard winter and they had done the best they could.
When the clock struck eight, Margaret squeezed her arms tighter
around his middle. She knew he was expected to leave, but she
hated seeing him go after having not seen him in a week. He
stood up and took her in his arms one last time. After leaving
her breathless in the middle of the parlor, he walked out,
nodded briefly to Scott, then rode for home.
As was the McCain custom on Saturday, Lucas rode into town for
supplies. Lucas was happy at the prospects of helping his
brothers tend to the wheat fields over the summer months while
working on his own land.
His own land…Lucas hadn’t said a word to Margaret about talking
to Johnny Morgan, but he planned to do just that on Monday
morning. As he pulled the horses up outside the Hardware store,
Lucas looked across the street at Morgan’s office and smiled to
himself. Johnny Morgan had been out of law school for only a few
months. He had decided to settle here in Enid, seeing as how
there was presently no lawyer. Scott Gibbs had been his first
client as he worked at re-establishing the Gibbs estate in case
of his untimely death.
Johnny Morgan was about ten years older than Lucas. Still a
bachelor, Johnny told Lucas just the other day that he didn’t
reckon he’d ever marry. He had never managed to find a woman
that would accept his workaholic ways. Women, he said, required
a lot of attention, and he was married to his job. Six days a
week, Johnny could be found in his office.
Lucas recalled Johnny when he was in school. Lucas himself had
been only six when Johnny tipped his hat from his sixteen year
old head and declared he would be going away to school. Then he
had mounted his horse and ridden away with nothing more than a
wave to the children. His father had always wanted him to take
over the ranch when he grew up, but as John Sr. had told Lucas
once, Johnny was born with a speech in his mouth. He could talk
a bee out of honey if given the opportunity.
Six months ago, Johnny’s father had finally passed away. He had
sold most of the land except for the piece Lucas was interested
Lucas whistled as he jumped from the buckboard. But as he
stepped up onto the boardwalk, he felt someone run into him and
turned to see Samuel Gibbs. His eyes told Lucas that he had once
again taken to the bottle. Over the last year, the Gibbs family
had come to terms with the new life Samuel was living. At times,
Samuel would be at home sleeping on the cot in the corner while
working the ranch during the day. Scott would pay him ranch hand
wages when he would work. It broke Lucas’ heart to see his Uncle
Sam in the state he was in now, but he merely gave Sam a stiff
nod and started to walk away. “Heard you was back, Luke…”
“Yeah…” Lucas sneered as he glared at Samuel. “I’m back.”
“Hate me, don’t ya?”
“I don’t hate you, Sam, but I hate what you’ve become,” Lucas
answered with a stiff nod of his head. He turned and grabbed his
rifle then hurried toward the General Store.
“Wait a minute, Luke.” Samuel grabbed Lucas’ arm. Lucas looked
down at his hand and raised his eyebrows as he looked at Samuel.
Samuel took his hand away. “No matter what…I’m still Margaret’s
Lucas nodded. “Can’t change that. And she still loves you.”
“Heard you had notions of courting my daughter.”
“I AM courting Margaret,” Lucas answered with a nod of his head.
“Now, if you’ll excuse me…”
Samuel again grabbed Lucas’ hand. “You…haven’t asked my
“Permission for what?” Lucas grumbled.
“Permission to court my daughter.”
Lucas pressed his lips together. “No. I didn’t.” Then he brushed
past Samuel and went into the General Store.
He hadn’t been in the store long before he heard another calling
his former designation. “Lieutenant!”
Lucas heard the words from behind him and was suddenly very
irritated at all the interruptions. “What?” He spun around. But
when he saw the man standing in front of him, his eyes grew wide
as he shifted his rifle in his other hand. “Jackson!” Lucas
declared with a smile. “Reef Jackson!” He hurried forward and
pumped his arm up and down as they chuckled. “How ya been?”
“Doing good!” Reef declared. “I’m doing really good!”
“You finish the war?”
“Sure did! Even got promoted to Corporal before it all ended!”
Reef answered. “Just got into town yesterday.”
“Living here now?” Lucas asked.
“Took a job down at the Blacksmith’s for now. My folks…they’ve
managed without me this long. I didn’t feel I fit in at the new
“Well…” Lucas smiled. “I tell you what…let me finish with my
purchases here, then I’ll meet you at the saloon for a few
“Sounds good.” Reef smiled. “Reckon there’s a couple more
fellows from our unit down there!”
“A couple more…” Lucas raised an eyebrow. “Who?”
“Majors and Whisker,” Reef answered.
“Majors and Whisker…Did they come in with you?”
Reef nodded. “Some of us stuck together after the war. Whisker
came home with me, having no family to speak of. Majors…he had
some problems…” Reef lowered his head and shook it sadly. “But
Whisker, he’s as ornery as the day you tried to train him!”
“Well then, I’ll finish my purchases and meet you down there!”
After purchasing all the items on his long list carefully
written out by Tiffany McCain, Lucas placed them in the wagon
then made his way to the saloon. “Hello, Ike!” Lucas greeted the
bartender with a wave of his hand. “A bottle of whisky over
Ike slowly walked over and placed the bottle and glasses on the
table. Lucas allowed his grin to widen as he shook Ned Majors’
hand first, then turned to Paul Whisker. “How the heck are you?”
Paul chatted cheerfully, but Lucas noticed the stiffness in
Ned’s hand as he shook it, and the scowl on his face. Lucas lost
part of his smile as he cocked his head to one side. “What’s
wrong with you?”
Ned’s hand shook as he poured whisky in his glass and guzzled it
down. He slapped the glass on the table, but refused to look at
the others. Lucas raised his eyebrow and looked at the other
men, who merely shook their heads. Slowly, Lucas drank the
whisky in his own glass, then poured another. “You look really
good, Lieutenant! Really good!” Paul declared as he gave him a
playful punch. “Ain’t seen ya since your brothers took you
Suddenly, Ned slammed his glass down and shoved himself away
from the table. He hurried to the bar and banged his hand on it.
“Give me my own bottle, Barky!”
Lucas turned back and looked at his friends. “What happened to
him?” he asked as he nodded his head backwards toward Ned. “He
was always so cheerful.” Lucas took another swig off his own
whisky. “I always remember him being a nice kid when we were
“Yes.” Reef answered. “Lucas…after you left, some of our men
were captured and sent to a prison camp. Ned was badly treated.
He was thrown into a hole and locked in a tiny cage. They gave
him bread and water, but that’s it. Ned went crazy in there,
Luke. It left him broken on the inside, and nothing we do has
“I’m sure that breaks his mother’s heart…”
“His mother thinks he’s dead, Lieutenant,” Paul stated.
“Name’s Luke. I’m no longer a lieutenant.” Lucas poured himself
another drink and guzzled it down. He turned when he heard Ned
banging his hand on the bar again. “He always like this?”
“When he’s not sleeping.” Reef shook his head. “He’s a
very…lonely and broken man, Luke. It’s almost like he…he wants
Lucas lifted an eyebrow. He slowly stood from the chair and went
to stand beside his childhood friend. “Ned…” Lucas nodded toward
Ned didn’t turn, but simply took another drink. Lucas took the
bottle from him and filled up his own glass. After swallowing
the whisky, he said…”I just heard about what happened to you.
“Sorry…” Ned muttered bitterly. “You’re sorry, huh???” He
slammed his glass down, causing it to crack. Suddenly, Ned swept
his arm across the bar, sweeping it clean of various bottles and
glasses, all of which feel to the floor with a crash. Then he
quickly reared back to punch Lucas. Lucas was alert and able to
grab his arm and hold it tight, but suddenly got a punch in the
jaw with Ned’s other fist. “What happened to you?” Ned slurred
out in an angry shout. He looked Lucas up and down in disgust.
“You…our leader who’s supposed to lay down his life…”
“I did!” Lucas shouted suddenly. “If you remember right, I was
declared dead after…”
“You weren’t dead!” Ned argued. “You were in some cabin being
doctored, then you got to go home because of your injuries!
You…you got to come home to…to your family while the rest of us
fought for our lives! Those Rebs captured us and dragged us
away. They made me cry every day while you…YOU…” Ned turned back
toward Lucas and screamed in his face. “You got to lay in your
nice, comfortable bed with your big, loving family all around
you! You should have been in that prison with me! You should
have…” Ned eyed him up and down. “I see nothin’ wrong with ya.”
“My leg was busted!” Lucas shouted. “I had cuts and bruises all
over my face from the explosion! Still have the scars to prove
it. I almost died many times. Ned, I…”
“I don’t want to hear it!” Ned shouted. He reared back and
punched Lucas hard before Lucas could react. The punch forced
Lucas across the room where he landed on a table, then on the
floor. Ned rushed over to him and grabbed him by the shirt. “I
was in prison…I was beaten and starved every day…every day I was
there while you enjoyed laying in a nice bed with your family
“I didn’t ask to be discharged!” Lucas shouted in his face.
“They forced me to! I WASN’T GIVEN A CHOICE!”
“Neither was I!” Ned shoved Lucas back. Lucas groaned as he hit
the wall with a hard thud.
“Now look, Ned. I want to be your friend!” Lucas tried to stand
again, but Ned came at him.
Lucas bolted to his feet and punched Ned hard in the mouth.
Before anyone could react, the two men were going at it. They
each delivered hard punches and threw the other across the room.
Tables and chairs were broken during the scuffle. Lucas had Ned
pinned on the ground and he raised his fist to punch him again.
Lucas’ hand froze in midair. He lifted his head and watched as
Marshal Williams slowly walked into the room. The Marshal held
his gun and looked around. “Alright, what’s going on here?”
Lucas released Ned and stood up. Both men were breathing hard as
they held fists to their mouth and coughed. Marshal Williams
stepped closer to Lucas and sniffed his breath. “Drunk…” he
muttered. “Luke, you know better!”
“Marshal, I…” Lucas started.
“Ike, what’s the amount you’re gonna charge these two?”
“Fifty dollars!” Ike declared. “Each!”
“What???” Lucas shouted. “Ike, you saw him start it!”
“Yeah.” Ike shook his head. “And you SURE didn’t try to stop
Marshal Williams looked from Ned to Lucas. “Well?”
“I ain’t got no fifty dollars!” Ned shouted.
“Luke?” Marshal Williams coaxed.
“You know I don’t have it!” Lucas answered hotly.
“Alright.” Marshal Williams nudged his gun toward the doorway.
“Luke, you lead the way. You know where the jail is.”
“Oh now, Marshal…” Lucas started.
“Get to walking!”
Lucas watched as the key turned the lock in his cell. He grabbed
the bars and shook his head. “I’m supposed to go to the Gibbs’
for supper tonight!” He argued with the Marshal.
“Well, I don’t think you’re going to make it.” Marshal Williams
hung up his keys. “You’ll be in jail until Ike gets his fifty
“Oh now, this is ridiculous!” Lucas sneered. “Ned started it! He
was drunk and you…” Marshal Williams merely shook his head.
“Where am I going to get fifty dollars?”
“I sent the deputy out to tell your family.”
Lucas sat on the cot and ran his hands through his hair again.
He had only had about four shots of whisky, so he knew he wasn’t
drunk, but he also knew that unless someone got him out of there
tonight, he’d have a lot of explaining to do to Margaret Gibbs.
Lucas shook his head and sighed. He couldn’t believe this was
happening! That’s what he got for trying to help out a friend.
Lucas heard the front door of the jail open late afternoon. He
jumped up, hoping that he would soon be bailed out so he could
hurry over to Margaret’s.
But there was no such luck.
The door to the jail opened and Marshal Williams walked in.
“Just sent the deputy over to get you a tray from the
restaurant, Luke. Seems you’ll be spending the night here.”
“What are you talking about?” Luke asked. He was sure someone in
his family would have mercy on him and bail him out.
“You’re brother said he’ll bring the bail money in the
morning…along with your Sunday-go-to-meetin’ clothes. He thinks
you should spend the night in jail and think about what you
did…” Marshal Williams turned to leave. But he turned back
around and allowed a slow, easy smile to spread across his face.
“Oh…he also told the deputy that they’ll let Margaret know of
the reason for your…uh….delay. Take it from a married man,
Luke…come tomorrow, the worst part of your punishment will
Lucas groaned as he laid his head against the bars. Could this
evening get any worse???
Lucas didn’t sleep well that night. He was thinking on so many
things. Not only did he have to look forward to his brother’s
stern lecture about his being too wild to settle down, but he
would have to face Margaret. Lucas suddenly wished he was back
in the war facing the enemy rather than Margaret Gibbs. He was
going to have to do a lot of explaining – and he’d have to start
with why the Marshal deemed him drunk…She wouldn’t take kindly
to his admitting that he had been drinking whisky instead of
taking the supplies home to his family.
As he waited for sleep to come, Lucas’ thinking shifted to Ned
Majors. He had known Ned for a long time. After he, Johnny Drako,
and Andy Gibbs had rode off for war, Ned Majors had met up with
them on the trail. Ned had been so full of life then. He wasn’t
a drinking man, and attended church quite regularly. But now..he
was changed. Lucas had heard stories about the prison camps and
the horrors that had happened there. He understood why Ned was
the way he was, but he wanted to help his friend any way he
Lucas fell asleep with these thoughts in his head.
It seemed only a moment later when he heard the loud noise of
the marshal running his gun across the bars. “Time for
breakfast!” The marshal made sure to make this announcement as
loudly as he could, adding to the agony his prisoners were
Lucas sat up and pressed a hand to his forehead. Even though he
hadn’t been drunk the night before, his head was still aching.
After breakfast, he laid back on his cot and closed his eyes,
hoping the aching would go away before his brother arrived.
“Lucas McCain,” Marshal Williams unlocked the door to his cell.
“You’re free to go.” Lucas slowly sat up and slipped into his
boots. He wondered which brother had been made aware he was in
the slammer. As he walked out of the jail, he saw Abe standing
there with his arms folded and an accusing look on his face. He
groaned. Of all the luck!
“You owe me fifty dollars, baby brother!” Abe said as he glared
at Luke. “And I just may take it out of your hide later!” Abe’s
voice was loud. Lucas pressed a hand to his forehead and again
groaned. “But my wife ordered me not to yell at you until AFTER
church, so right now, baby brother, you get yourself on out back
and get dressed. We’ll talk about this, this afternoon.”
“I’m not a child!” Lucas shouted as he grabbed his rifle from
the Marshal. “I’m a twenty-two year old man and I don’t need a
lecture!” Lucas put his hat on, knowing his words were going on
deaf ears. No matter how old he got, his brother would always
see it his God-given duty to lecture Lucas on the transgressions
he had performed. “And I’m in no mood to go to church!”
He started out the door, and was almost all the way out when
Abe’s voice stopped him. “You DO value your life, don’t you?”
Slowly, Lucas turned around. “What’s that mean?”
“It means…that if you think you’re in trouble with me, it’s
NOTHING compared to Margaret. She’s very, very mad at you and
declared that you BEST be in church this morning…if you knew
what was good for you.”
“YOU TOLD HER I WAS IN JAIL????” Lucas shouted as he put his
hands on his hips.
“No.” Abe grinned. “Peter did.” He nodded toward the door.
“Church starts in fifteen minutes. You best hurry.”
As it turned out, Lucas hurried into the church as the
congregation was just finishing their first song. He slipped
into the seat beside Margaret who, after one short look at him,
turned her head toward the front, slipped slightly further away
from him, and refused to look at him again.
Lucas felt an empty space on the pew that morning. Margaret
refused to sit anywhere near him and kept her arms folded and
her eyes intent on the preacher. The expression on her face
assured Lucas that he was indeed in a whole mess of trouble with
his intended. When church was over, she stood and turned to look
straight at Lucas, who was blocking her way from getting out of
the pew. Then after one long look, she lifted her head. Lucas
felt the sting of that look as he gulped and moved aside so she
could brush past him. Boy, she WAS mad!
As Lucas walked out of the church, he started toward Margaret,
but stopped when he heard Margaret declare to his family that
she would walk. He didn’t miss the glance in his direction as
she stated, “I could use the exercise.”
“But it’s a long way!” Lucas tried to argue with her.
Margaret walked down the road angrily. Her arms were crossed and
her shoulders straight as she boiled with anger against him. Her
feet practically stomped, reminding him of a child who was just
told to go to his room. “Honey, would you stop and listen?”
Lucas begged as he hurried up behind her, but she walked on as
if she never heard him. “Alright, I’m stupid! I’m a fool! I was
WRONG!” Margaret walked on. “What do you want me to say???” He
suddenly shot out angrily.
He knew getting angry at Margaret wouldn’t help his case any. So
he quickened his steps to stay beside her as she continued
walking down the road. Finally, he had quite enough of her angry
marching and reached out and grabbed her arm. “Stop!” He
shouted. She turned and glared at him. “I’m sorry…I didn’t mean
to yell.” He sighed. “Don’t I even get a trial before my
sentence is passed?”
“Mr. McCain, the McCain’s have been so kind as to invite me over
for lunch. After lunch, I will listen to what you have to say.”
Margaret’s tongue clicked as she spoke the words in a cool,
“You’re going to walk all the way to Peter’s house?” Margaret
didn’t answer him, but turned and started walking.
“Alright…Margaret, I don’t like you’re walking this
far…Please…Please let me ask Peter to stop and let you ride with
him. I’ll walk.”
Margaret stopped and turned to him. “Very well.” Lucas turned
and waited for Peter to drive up. He held up his hand for him to
stop the wagon, then Margaret climbed in the back of the wagon
and lovingly picked up Ruthie, setting her snuggly in her lap.
She looked at Lucas. “You may take the next wagon.”
Boy, Abe wasn’t kidding when he said she was upset with him. She
was boiling mad, and he wondered which she was more upset about
– his drinking in the saloon, or his being thrown in jail. He
didn’t reckon he would ask her that question, because he
probably wouldn’t like the answer.
He ended up riding in Jeremiah’s wagon as Abby, their two year
old daughter, chatted off words that Lucas could hardly
understand. When he got to the farm, he waited outside with the
other men while the women finished getting lunch ready. But they
didn’t mention his infractions from earlier. Perhaps they
planned to wait until Margaret had her turn at him to see if
there was anything else for them to chew.
After Jeremiah delivered the Sunday prayer, Lucas ate as an
uncomfortable silence sat around the table. Finally, he cleared
his throat. “I suppose I owe an explanation…” Nobody even looked
up at him. “Now look…I know I’ve done some stupid stuff in the
past but I have a good reason this time!”
Some of the children talked among themselves, but the adults
remained silent as Lucas cleared his throat to speak. “Luke…”
Abe said without looking at him. “Of course I want to hear your
explanation, but not in mixed company.” Abe looked toward the
children, giving Lucas a very firm warning that he didn’t want
the children to know of their current family problem. Lucas
nodded his head and went back to quietly eating.
After lunch, Lucas stood and wiped his mouth off. He had had
quite enough of this silent treatment and aimed to put a stop to
it. “Margaret, I’ll take that walk now,” he said gruffly as he
held out his hand to help her from the chair. Margaret nodded as
she accepted his hand and stood from the chair. Then she snapped
her hand away and walked toward the door. Lucas grabbed his hat
and…He looked at the rifle he had just lifted from the hook.
Slowly, he put it back on its hooks and walked out the door.
They walked in silence for awhile. When they made it to the
creek, Lucas offered for Margaret to sit, but she just stood by
the tree with her back to him. Lucas took off his hat and held
it in his hand. “May I explain?” Margaret nodded. “I was in town
getting supplies yesterday when I saw an old buddy from the war.
Then he told me two other of our war companions were down the
street at the saloon.”
“And naturally, you just had to go.” Margaret said her words
“Yes.” Lucas slapped his hat against his thigh and rolled his
eyes. “My life is here now, Margaret. I love you and my family.
I want to build my life with you by my side but…Honey, I can’t
just erase the past from my head.” Lucas lifted an eyebrow after
getting no response from her. “You remember Ned Majors?”
Slowly, Margaret turned around and looked at Lucas. “What’s he
got to do with this?”
“He joined my regiment when I did. Ned…he never made it too far
up the ranks, but he was a sweet, caring man. He’d give you the
shirt off his back if you needed it and you know that.” Lucas
lowered his head. “Well, all that’s left of him now is a cold,
bitter, broken down old man. He drowns his sorrows in whisky. I
made the mistake of trying to talk to him and…and he didn’t want
to talk so he punched me.”
Lucas paused. Margaret nodded. “Go on.”
“Well now…I’m a man, Margaret. I can’t just stand by and let a
man punch the cr…uh…the living daylights out of me! I have to
fight back, and I did. The Marshal walked in and caught us and
threw us both in jail. And that’s the gospel truth, Margaret!”
“I see.” Margaret narrowed her eyes a bit as she looked at
Lucas. “So…you didn’t have anything to drink?”
Lucas immediately lowered his head. “Well, I…I had a few
Lucas again slapped his hat on his knee. “Now wait just a dog
gone minute, Margaret Gibbs!” Lucas said a bit louder than
intended. He closed his eyes and took a sigh. “I’m a man, and
nothing you ever do is going to change that fact! If you wanted
a perfect man, then why you stuck on me? I’m as imperfect as a
man can get! And if you want me to stand here and tell you I’ll
never mess up like this again, I can’t do it! If a man wants to
have a few drinks with his friends, I think he’s entitled to
those…just like a woman wants to get with her girlfriends and
A small smiled played on the corner of her lips. “Lucas
McCain…You can hardly compare tea with…with spirits!” Her eyes
gave her away as they sparkled at him. She knew he was right.
She had taken him back for who he was and had no right to force
him to change.
“No…I reckon not.” Lucas chuckled.
Margaret shook her head. “Oh Lucas…What am I going to do with
you?” Her smile grew. “I love you just the way you are, I
reckon. But I do hope someday you can calm down just a little…”
“With you around…I don’t think I’ll have a choice.” Margaret’s
eyes laughed as they stared into his. “So…do I have your
forgiveness?” He asked as he took a step toward her. “Can I have
a little kiss?”
Margaret stepped away from Lucas just a bit and turned away.
Lucas enjoyed her playing hard to get. It made him love her even
more. “Well ma’am…if it helps my case any…” Lucas put his hands
on her shoulders and lowered his head close to her ear. “I’m
planning on talking to…to Johnny Morgan tomorrow about a very
“Oh?” Margaret asked as she turned her head sideways. His lips
were so close to her cheek that she felt his hot breath against
it. “What matter would that be?”
“Well…” Lucas scratched his head, the rested his hand back on
her shoulder. His voice grew rather husky as he spoke his
answer. “Well now, Margaret…You see, there’s this piece of land
I want to buy for my…OUR…home and my…OUR ranch. I’m hoping to
purchase it tomorrow.”
Margaret turned around to look into his eyes. Lucas never
removed his hands from her shoulders, so they were now in an
embrace. She lifted her face toward his and saw the twinkling in
his eyes. “You’re really…really going to talk to him tomorrow?”
There was excitement in her voice.
Lucas nodded. “I really am.”
“You mean…it’s really going to happen?” Margaret’s eyes
moistened as she asked the question. “You’re really going to…to
buy our ranch?”
“Well…the land, anyhow. I’ll still have a house to build and a
barn and…and cattle to buy, but…” Lucas nodded. “As soon as the
house is built, I’ll…” Margaret smiled into his face. “So do you
reckon that you can forgive an imperfect man such as myself?”
Lucas brushed her cheek with his lips as he smiled into her
face. “Ya reckon you can overlook my…my drinking once in a
while…and my temper and…the fact I have a record?”
“Well…” Margaret lifted her hand to his shirt and toyed with the
top button. “I suppose I could…But I would appreciate it if you
stuck with the softer drinks instead of that hard stuff…”
“Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of uh…tea.”
Margaret grinned. Her lips were only an inch away from his now.
“TEA?” Lucas groaned. “I’ll make a compromise with you, darling.
I’ll choose beer over whisky when I can…I ain’t making any
promises, mind you…as long as you don’t make me drink…TEA!”
Margaret laughed as she slowly drew her arms around his neck and
locked her hands behind his head. “It’s a deal, Lucas McCain.”
She drew his face down to hers and gave him a long, slow kiss.
After their lips finally parted, she raised her eyebrows and
said..”So, when you talk to Mr. Morgan tomorrow…are you going to
try and ask him to take fifty dollars off the price?”
“Fifty dollars?” Lucas asked.
Margaret nodded. “That was your bail money…right?”
“Oh you!” Lucas chuckled as he kissed her again. This time after
they parted, Lucas rubbed his thumbs along her cheeks as he
looked deeply into her eyes. “You know…one thing about
fighting...it sure is fun to make up!” Margaret blushed. Lucas
laughed as he drew her against him and gave her a big hug. “And
I’m glad you’ve chosen to accept me…and all my imperfections,
Nothing more was said as the two turned and looked out over the
creek as they discussed their hopes and dreams for the future.
It was late afternoon before Lucas and Margaret returned to the
McCain farm hand-in-and. Actually, they were more like
arm-in-arm as they stood close together and walked into the
yard. “Well…” Peter muttered with a grin on his face. “I’m
guessing that they kissed and made up!” Of course, this went
without saying since the look the couple was given the other was
Abe pushed himself off the corral fence and moseyed over to the
couple. “I take it all is better?” Abe asked as he cocked his
head to one side. The happy couple didn’t answer as Lucas forced
his hand out of Margaret’s. “Luke, why don’t you let Peter take
Margaret home now? I think we need to have a
“Abe, now…I’m too old to be lectured. Margaret and I talked
about it and…”
Abe held up his hand. “Please, Luke. I think we need to talk.”
Luke turned and took Margaret’s hand. “I’ll see you later.”
Margaret nodded, then she turned and walked to the wagon with
Peter. Lucas stood and watched her leave. Finally, Abe cleared
his throat. The two brothers slowly walked toward the corral
“Things…uh…are getting pretty serious between the two of you,”
Abe observed quietly.
Lucas smiled. “Yes. I suppose they are.”
“You…thinking on popping the question?”
“Soon, I hope,” Lucas answered.
“Luke…you remember when you were about thirteen or so and you
started asking questions about…uh…you know…stuff?” Lucas slowly
turned his head around to look at his brother. Abe cleared his
throat. “You started asking about the opposite sex.”
“Yes.” Lucas nodded as he raised an eyebrow, wondering where
this was going.
“And Pa told me and Peter to handle the questions?” Lucas nodded
again. “Well uh…we may not have told you everything you needed
“Abe…” Lucas held up his hand. “I think I know how it all works
now. I’m not exactly sheltered anymore.”
Abe held up his hand. “Luke, a woman is special and she deserves
the utmost respect. You need to…”
“Abe, I don’t need to hear this!” Lucas declared.
“You’re going to hear it, so please stay quiet!” Abe cleared his
throat again. “If Pa were here, I’m sure he’d be doing the very
same thing. Now…it’s important to respect any woman. But
Margaret…well, you need to respect her. Once you are married,
you’ll have your whole lives to spend together as one. On your
wedding night, you will give yourself to each other and it will
be special. But until you stand in front of a preacher and say
‘I Do,’ it’s best to uh…reserve most of the physical expressions
of love until then.”
“Are you saying I can’t kiss her?” Lucas asked suddenly.
“Of course not, Luke. But…I’m just saying that it may be best
to…well, to…restrain yourself from getting too physical.”
“You mean…” Lucas sighed. “No rolling around in the hay with
her?” Abe heard the familiar sarcasm in Lucas’ voice.
“Something like that.”
Lucas smiled. “Abe, I assure you that I have every intention to
make sure I show her respect. I won’t do anything to…dishonor
“I know.” Abe sighed. “I reckon I just remember back to when
Julie and I were courting. You have so many different emotions
and…I’ve never seen two people more in love, Luke. You and
Margaret have something special and it goes well beyond the
physical expression of love. But…” Lucas leaned over the corral,
suddenly feeling very uncomfortable. “But…I reckon that I’ve
watched you two together and I see that look on your face. I see
you steal kisses and keep your arm tightly around her.” Lucas
lifted from the corral and started to argue, but Abe quickly
held up a hand. “It’s normal…the feelings you are feeling, but
take it from someone who knows…it’s easy to get carried away.”
Lucas lifted an eyebrow. “That’s all I’m going to say.” Abe was
glad his beard and the darkness hid most of his reddening.
“Well…I’ll admit that at times it’s hard to release her, but…”
Lucas shook his head. “I could never…never…” He stopped as he
felt the heat in his own face.
“And about your wedding night…” Abe cleared his throat, feeling
uncomfortable again. “Luke, the wedding gift Margaret has for
you comes in the bedroom that first night. You must be gentle
and patient. Don’t expect too much…”
“Why are you telling me this?” Lucas suddenly asked. “Why are we
having this conversation tonight? I haven’t even asked her to
marry me yet!”
“Well…I reckon because I see just how serious you two are
getting, and that you’re spending a lot more time
together…alone.” Abe raised an eyebrow at him. “I just…just
don’t want to see either of you get hurt. And I didn’t handle
the talk too well when you were thirteen. We explained the
mechanics of sex to you, but we didn’t explain the truths like
we should have. Just remember that a woman’s body is off
limits…from the neck down…until you are properly married.” Abe
grinned. “That’s as bluntly as I’m going to put it.”
“Oh…” Lucas blushed as he turned away from Abe. He suddenly
wondered if maybe he had been inappropriate toward her. “I
understand.” Lucas smiled, assuring himself he had been a
gentleman…At least, Margaret hadn’t complained, and he was
pretty sure she would if he got out of line. “Thanks.”
“Sure.” Abe smiled. “Okay, now that THAT’S over with…and
consider that discussion permanently shelved…no last minute sex
talks with you the night before the wedding!”
“Well, I guess its good practice for you Abe. You have four sons
you’ll have to have this talk with.” Lucas winked. “Unless you
would like me to talk with them.”
“Uh…no…I think I’ll handle that myself!” Abe cleared his throat.
“I have something else to discuss with you.”
Lucas took a cigar from his pocket and lit it as he slid down to
sit on the ground. He leaned against the corral fence and waited
for Abe to speak. “Have you done any more thinking on uh…the
Lucas raised an eyebrow. “I told you as soon as the crops are
planted I was going to look into it.”
“I know. They’ll be done next week.”
Lucas nodded. “I plan on going to see Johnny Morgan first thing
in the morning.”
“Then you’ll need your inheritance,” Abe declared.
“My inheritance…” Lucas laughed. “What inheritance?”
“We may not be well off, Luke…but there’s some money…Pa wanted
the land split among the four of us. Peter got his share, I got
mine…and Jeremiah got his. Your share was divided up among the
three of us and we’re all putting in the money that land would
cost. Plus the money in Pa’s saving’s... It’ll be enough to help
you get the ranch started.”
“I’ll take the money for the land, but the money in Pa’s
savings…It belongs to the farm.”
“No, Luke. We all discussed it. We want you to have the money.
We want to see your dream come true.”
“I have enough money saved up to buy the land. That’s all I’ll
need tomorrow.” Lucas took a long puff from his cigar. “As a
matter of fact, I’m surprised the land’s still for sale.”
“If you want the truth, Luke…I think Morgan’s been holding out
for you. He sort of wants you to take that land off of him.”
Lucas gave Abe a surprised look. “His father wanted you to have
the land so badly. He refused to sell it to anyone else, stating
he wanted to sell it to you. Then after he died and Johnny took
over the selling…he knew what his father’s wishes were and hoped
you would come back to claim the land.”
Lucas smiled. “I can’t believe everyone waited for me…through
the year…through this last year. You all believed I’d be back.”
Abe smiled and shrugged. “I hope to have that land tomorrow.”
“Another thing, Luke…I don’t think getting in drunken fights and
getting thrown in jail is showing Margaret and Scott you are
ready for marriage.”
Lucas grinned. “I know what you mean. Margaret was pretty upset
but…it was all innocent.” Lucas proceeded to tell Abe about Ned
Majors. The two men slowly stood and continued talking. Lucas
felt a bond growing between him and his oldest brother that
night. Finally, Laura interrupted their conversation with a
message from Julie for Abe to get home on the double.
Lucas grinned as Laura started declaring the four boys were out
of control and needed his firm hand. Laura also declared that
she KNEW Abe would deliver it because she’d felt it more than
she ever wanted to. Lucas laughed as he watched the two walk
toward Abe’s home. He loved the fact that Laura considered Abe
her father now.
Lucas turned and walked toward the barn. He had a big day
Drip Drip Lucas woke Monday morning to feel wet drops fall on
his nose. He opened his eyes and looked up at the ceiling of the
barn. Drops of rain dropped from the ceiling. “Oh no!” Lucas
grumbled as he pulled the blanket over his head. He could hear
the rain pouring outside. Lucas peaked out from under the
blanket and again peered up at the ceiling. He groaned again as
large drops of rain plopped on his head. Then he rolled out of
After dressing, he made his way to the house. Peter had offered
to let him have his old bedroom back, but Lucas declined stating
Peter and Tiffany deserved their privacy. Besides, he was
planning on building a shack on the land as soon as he purchased
it. “Mornin’,” Lucas grumbled as he took down a coffee cup and
filled it with coffee.
“What happened to you?” Peter asked as he looked his brother up
“Barn’s leaking,” Lucas grumbled. He turned and lifted an
eyebrow at Peter. “Not exactly my favorite way to wake up.”
“Oh yeah…I’ve been meaning to fix that.” Peter shook his head in
mock sorrow for Lucas’ suffering.
“Yeah…” Lucas grumbled as he sat down at the table and picked up
the newspaper. But he was too nervous to even focus on the
words. He stood up and grabbed his coffee cup as he went over to
the window. “Cursed rain…” Lucas mumbled.
“Hey, don’t knock it! It’s an excuse not to plant today!” Peter
Tiffany turned and looked at her husband. “And this is coming
from the man who woke up two hours ago declaring the rain’s the
worst thing that can happen during planting season!” She shook
“Papa, up!” Ruthie suddenly cried. Peter lifted her up and
walked over to stand behind Lucas.
“What’s so important for you to curse the rain? Heard you were
blowing us off today.”
Lucas nodded. “I am. Going into town for business.” He shook his
head. “I just wish I didn’t have to go in the rain. I’ll have to
use the buggy.”
“What sort of business?” Peter asked.
“I’m going to go see Johnny Morgan.”
“Gee…” Peter sat his daughter in the highchair. She started
screaming at the top of her lungs because she didn’t want to sit
in it. Peter lifted her up, gave her a firm slap on the
backside, then sat her back in the high chair. Ruthie’s scream
turned into a whimper. It was a firm reminder that her father
wouldn’t take her screaming. Peter turned back to his brother.
“You really must have gotten yourself in trouble Saturday
“Peter…” Lucas rolled his eyes at his brother. “I’m going in to
talk to him about the land.”
“Oh? So you’re really going to do it?” Peter patted his
brother’s shoulder. “Good for you.” He took the cup of coffee
Tiffany offered to him. After taking a sip of it, he asked, “So,
did you ask Margaret to marry you?”
“Peter!” Tiffany exclaimed from the stove.
“No,” Lucas answered shortly.
“Oh…you can always just go to the Justice of the Peace…”
“No he cannot, Peter McCain!” Tiffany declared as she turned and
shook the spatula at him. “And you should know that after all
the trouble you got in over that!”
“I’m not eloping with her. I’m going to make sure she has the…”
Lucas stopped. “And I’m NOT talking about this with you!”
The family sat down to eat breakfast. When breakfast was over,
Lucas hurried into the back bedroom and grabbed a string tie. He
tried several times to tie it straight, then allowed Tiffany to
straighten it while he put his jacket on. Peter had the buggy
hitched up for him when he got out into the yard. As Tiffany
held Baby Willie and Peter held Ruthie, they watched him leave
the yard, waving as if he were going off to war.
The rain had slacked by the time Lucas got into town. He
whistled as he made his way to the small office Johnny Morgan
had sat up practice in. Lucas tied the buggy to the hitching
post, took off his hat, then slowly made his way inside. “Be
with you in a minute!” Lucas heard from the back. He started
pacing back and forth as he waited nervously.
Johnny exited his office. A slow, easy smile came across his
face when he saw Lucas. “Luke!” He shook his hand. “I was
wondering when you’d get around to coming to see me! Come in!”
Johnny went to pour himself a drink. “Would you like something?”
“Oh no…I think I had enough spirits for one week. I…ended up in
jail Saturday night because of that stuff.” Lucas chuckled. “But
I’d take jail over an angry woman any day!”
“I understand.” Johnny sat down and pulled out a cigar. After
lighting it, then lighting one for Lucas, he asked, “So…what can
I do for you?”
“I think you know.”
Johnny nodded. “I’ve been holding out for you. Pa wanted you to
have that section ever since you were eighteen. He said you had
such a look in your eye when you looked at it that he thought
you’d choose it over a beautiful woman.”
Lucas chuckled. “Oh no I wouldn’t! I’ll take Margaret over the
land any day.” Then he sobered. “I was sorry to hear about your
father. He was a good man.”
Johnny suddenly grew uncomfortable. He toyed with his cigar as
he stood and walked over to the window. “Yes. Well…the stroke he
had three years ago really did him in. It was just a matter of
time.” He turned from the window. “I know I’ve had the price
high, but I’ve been holding out for you. Pa wanted you to have
that land more than anything.”
Lucas cocked his head to one side. “I’m actually surprised you
sold it all. I thought maybe you’d want to save that last
section for a house of your own.”
“Pa was always sorry he didn’t have another son. I never had any
interest in ranching and he knew it.”
“He didn’t hold it against you. He was really proud,” Lucas
“Oh yes he was.” Johnny nodded. “Five hundred dollars.”
“What?” Lucas suddenly asked as he stood from the chair.
Johnny turned. “I’ll sell it to you for $500. Take it or leave
“Five…” Lucas swallowed hard. “Are you…sure?”
Johnny turned and smiled at Lucas. “I’m sure.”
Lucas dug in his pocket as his heart swelled. He counted out
five hundred dollars and slapped it on the desk. “SOLD!” Lucas
declared with a heavy emotion in his voice.
Johnny slowly walked back over to the desk and picked up the
money. “You…always carry five hundred dollars cash around with
“Don’t trust banks,” Lucas answered. “Too many being robbed
right now.” Lucas turned away. He felt his eyes moisten. His
voice was heavy with emotion. “Got the papers?”
He heard Johnny open a drawer and take out some papers. Lucas
wiped the tear that was on his cheek and turned around. Johnny
held out the pen to him. Lucas came to the desk and slowly read
over the paper. “4200 acres! 4200 acres, and it’s all mine…”
Lucas swallowed the lump in his throat. His hand shook a bit as
he slowly signed his name. He watched as Johnny signed his name
to the paper then stood up straight. “Done.”
“So…that’s it?” Lucas asked. “The land’s…” He swallowed. “It’s
mine? Just like that?”
“Just like that.” Johnny held out his hand to Lucas. Lucas shook
it firmly as he smiled. “I’ll have your copy of the deed drawn
up next week. I’ll bring it to you.”
Lucas suddenly wanted to jump up and down like a kid who got his
first rifle at Christmas, but he held himself in check and
nodded like a man would do. He thanked Johnny again then left
the office. “Lucas!” Lucas turned to see Emily. She hurried up
and hugged him. “You’re in town awful early!”
“I’m on my way to see Margaret.” Lucas looked up at the sky and
saw that the clouds had left. Blue sky stood above them. The sun
had entered the blanket of blue and was quickly drying up the
rain. “I’ve something important to discuss with her.” He took
off his jacket and laid it under the seat. Then he untied his
tie. “But first…I’ve an errand to run!”
Emily folded her arms and watched her brother go over to the
dress shop. She shook her head in wonder. A week ago when he
went to buy Margaret a dress for the dance she had to
practically drag him in there kicking and screaming. But today
he was practically skipping into the shop.
Lucas hurried inside. “Show me the purtiest thing you have…but
practical…Something she can ride in and not have too much
trouble.” Lucas declared. “I want her to be the talk of the
Betty, the dressmaker, stood up and smiled. “Special occasion,
“You could say that!” Lucas declared with a nod of his head.
Betty held up a blue dress with white lace around the edge. “It
would look wonderful with a pinafore. She held up a pinafore
with green flower print on it. “I think this would look
beautiful on her.”
“I’ll take it! Wrap it up, will ya?” Lucas scribbled out a note
to put with the dress. He smiled, wishing he could see the look
on her face when she opened it. But no…he would come later for
Margaret blew hair out of her face and stood from the floor she
had been scrubbing when a knock sounded at the door. Today was
her floor scrubbing day and she still had a lot of work to do.
All the other women were off doing their own chores outside.
Margaret hurried across the room and wiped her hands on her
apron while she opened the door. “Yes?”
She saw Richard, son of the dress maker standing on her
doorstep. “Miss Gibbs, Ma asked me to get this to ya right
away!” He held out a package, then turned and hurried away. She
shook her head at his bashfulness then closed the door. After
setting the box on the table, Margaret unwrapped the paper and
opened the lid. A gasp escaped her. She picked up the note and
read the words.
Put this on and be ready in an hour. I’ll be by for you then.
The back door opened and closed. Amanda stepped into the living
room and saw Margaret standing over the package with the note in
her hand. Her other hand was at her mouth. “Margaret, what’s
Margaret slowly turned around. “It’s from Luke. He wants me to
put this dress on and be ready in an hour. What’s it all about?”
Amanda turned and looked at her husband. “I don’t know but…” She
folded her arms as she directed her question as Scott. “How is
it that YOU never did romantic thing like this when we were
Scott suddenly looked uncomfortable. “Dumb kid…He makes the rest
of us men look bad!” Then he straightened up and put an arm
around Amanda’s shoulders. “Well…I was just making sure you saw
the real side of me. This…” He shot a hand toward the dress.
“This isn’t the real Lucas.” He shook a finger at his sister.
“His showering you with attention isn’t going to last once
“Oh, posh!” Amanda exclaimed. “You just go right in there and
put that dress on!”
“Oh, but I have the floor!” Margaret argued.
“You just forget the floor! I’ll tend to it.” Amanda turned and
saw her husband’s narrowed eyes. “And don’t you start! Once Luke
and Margaret are married, I’ll have to clean the floor anyhow.
Certainly can’t depend on that little sister of yours to do the
“I don’t know that I like the idea of Margaret and Luke spending
so much time together! I…”
“Now Scott Gibbs, you’re just jealous because Lucas has romantic
notions and you don’t! You watch your tongue or I’ll put you to
work scrubbing this floor!”
“Oh no ma’am!” Scott declared as he bent down and kissed her.
“I’ve cattle to rear. At least they don’t make me look bad!”
Scott put on his hat and hurried out the door.
The knock sounded on the door. Amanda hurried forward to answer
it. Lucas stood in the doorway with his hat in his hand and a
wide smile on his face. When Amanda appeared, he lost part of
his smile. So much for sweeping Margaret off her feet as soon as
she opened the door! “Come on in!” Amanda invited him as she
swept her hand inside.
“Oh, uh…No…” Lucas licked his lips. “I just came for Margaret.”
Amanda called for Margaret. Lucas heard a door open and close.
Margaret appeared beside Amanda, causing Lucas’ grin to return
to his face. “Hello there…” Lucas spoke in a husky voice. The
smile on his face told Margaret he was definitely approving of
the dress she was wearing. “Ya ready?”
“Where are we going?” Margaret asked as she blushed at the
loving look in Lucas’ eye.
“Oh, uh…” Lucas licked his lips again. “We’re going…going to…for
a ride, I mean.”
Margaret looked outside the door and saw the reason for such a
casual, full dress. They were going to go on a horseback ride.
Margaret smiled when she saw the bay mare that had belonged to
her brother tied next to his. She hadn’t gone riding with Lucas
in a long time and she was so looking forward to it. Margaret
grabbed her riding hat and fastened it on in the mirror. Then
she accepted Lucas’ hand and stepped outside.
Lucas helped her up onto her horse then mounted his own. “Where
to, Mr. McCain?” Margaret asked.
Lucas grinned. “Follow me!”
They rode for quite awhile. At first, Margaret thought they were
going into town, but Lucas turned on the other fork of the road
– the one that would take them around the town of Enid. The
further they went out of town, the more her heart began beating.
Could they possibly be going to visit Ann? Lucas stopped just a
mile from the Dodd ranch and turned in his saddle. He winked at
Margaret then declared, “I bet I can beat ya!”
“I bet you can’t!” Margaret declared as she bent down way low in
“Ready?” Lucas asked with a chuckle.
“I’m ready!” Margaret shouted. Lucas took off without saying go.
“Hey!” Margaret cried.
She had been racing Andy’s horse ever since he left for war with
the others. After he died, she worked even harder at racing him.
Meanwhile, Lucas’ horse had gotten hardly any riding in and had
become pretty lazy. This made passing Bullet a snap. Margaret
raced past him and rejoiced as Lightening Bolt came to a stop
several paces before Lucas.
Margaret laughed as she took off her hat and shook her hair
free. “Beat ya! Serves ya right for cheating!”
“I didn’t cheat!” Lucas narrowed his eyes at her. Then he bent
toward her and put a hand on her cheek. “I let you win.” Lucas
took Lightening Bolt’s lead rope and led both horses onto the
land across from the Dodd Ranch. Then Lucas jumped off his horse
and put his hands to Margaret’s waste as he helped her down.
“Lucas, what are we doing here?” she suddenly asked.
“Oh Baby…” Lucas put his hands to her face and stared lovingly
into her eyes. “I could hardly wait to tell you!”
“Tell me what?” Margaret asked suddenly. She thought she knew,
but her heart wouldn’t allow her to believe it.
Lucas grabbed her hand. “Follow me!”
“What about the horses?” Margaret asked.
“Let them graze! Come on!” Lucas hurried ahead, pulling Margaret
behind him. She had no choice but to follow him all the way on
top of the hill. “I wanted to show it to ya. I wanted you to see
“Lucas, we’ve been here before!” Margaret declared as her heart
started beating fast. She could hardly breathe, hoping what she
thought was true was really true.
“But this time it’s different!” Lucas stopped at the top of the
hill then turned and grabbed her hands. He squeezed them tight
as his eyes clouded. “Honey…This…This is our land!”
Though she had hoped to hear it, the breath caught in her throat
when he actually said the words. “Our land?” Margaret asked in a
“Yes, honey. It’s ours…” Lucas swallowed hard. “All 4200 acres
of this is OUR land, Margaret!”
“Our land?” Margaret’s eyes filled with tears. “Our land?” She
jumped into his arms and threw her arms around his neck. Lucas
swung her around as they started laughing. “Oh Lucas!”
Finally, Lucas sat her back on the ground, but his arms stayed
around her. “Oh Darling…We’re going to…” Lucas put a hand to her
wet cheek. “We’re going to build ourselves a house here! And
raise our children here!”
“Oh Lucas…I…I love you!” She kissed him on the lips. “I love
you….I love you…I love you…” She said those words a dozen times,
and each time she gave him a quick kiss. Finally, Lucas kept his
arms firmly around her and pressed his lips to hers. He was
speechless. He could hardly get the words to leave his throat,
so instead of saying the words, he said them with a kiss that
left no doubt in Margaret’s mind.
Lucas released her and hurried to show her what his plans were.
“Right here…Here’s going to be the kitchen! And here…here’s
where the living room will be!” Lucas ran from place to place to
show her. “A parlor right here! And right here…” Lucas grinned
really big. “Our bedroom.”
Margaret blushed. “No Lucas…” she said softly.
“Oh Lucas…I don’t need a parlor and a living room! I want it
simple! Let’s just make a simple house with a main room and a
small kitchen attached to it…Then a couple bedrooms.” Margaret
took Lucas’ hand and led him forward a bit. “Right here can be a
porch where we can sit and look at the stars.”
“I love it!” Lucas kissed her. Then he pressed his hands to her
face. “Oh…but honey…I want…I want you to have what you’re
“No!” Margaret shook her head. “I don’t want a fancy house! I
don’t want a parlor where children aren’t allowed and I have to
polish and dust…I just want a simple home…A home as simple as
they come! That’s all I want!”
“If you’re sure…” Lucas nodded.
“Oh, I am, Lucas! I really am!”
Lucas grabbed her hand and ran further away. “Here…here’s going
to be our barn! And here will be a shed…And over here a
smokehouse…And there I’ll make a corral and…”
Margaret laughed. “Oh Luke…How long? How long will it take?”
“I don’t know!” Lucas shook his head. “But I’m going to build
you a home, Margaret. I’m going to build it with…” Lucas held up
his hands. “With these two hands. I’m going to put all the love
into it I can! And then…when the time comes…” Lucas dropped to
his knee and took her hand. “I’ll go to your brother and ask him
for your hand in marriage.” He kissed her hand then stood up.
“And then I’ll ask you that very important question…” Lucas
pressed his hands to her cheeks and kissed her long and
A throat cleared.
Lucas and Margaret jumped apart and spun around. They saw Anne
and Hal standing there. Ann had a big grin on her face as Hal
chuckled softly. “We heard you two all the way up at the house!”
Hal declared. “Did you finally ask her?”
“Not yet…” Lucas smiled. “But we do have an announcement.” Lucas
put an arm around Margaret’s shoulders as she tried to force the
red from her face. “I bought the land this morning.”
Ann threw her hands to her mouth and hurried forward to hug her
best friend. Lucas and Hal shook hands. “Congratulations, Luke!”
“You two will come for supper!” Ann declared. She grabbed
Margaret. “You can help me while these two men discuss things!”
Margaret turned and looked at Lucas. “Oh…I’m sorry…Maybe you two
aren’t through uh…celebrating yet.”
Lucas felt his own face growing warm as he realized their
display of affection wasn’t missed by this happily married
couple. “Uh…no. I think we’re done…” He started to add for now,
but was afraid of turning even redder, so he allowed that to
Hal handed Lucas a cigar as they watched the ladies go. “That’s
a fine woman, Luke. What are you waiting for?”
Lucas chuckled. “I want her to have a home. And once I ask, I
don’t want a long engagement!”
Hal played with the cigar in his mouth then lifted an eyebrow.
“Don’t wait too long, Luke. While she’s making wedding plans,
you can be working on your house.”
“I want to get a barn up. And I want to make a small shack to
live in. That way I don’t have to ride all the way out here
every day.” Lucas smiled. “I can stay at Peter’s and help with
the crops a couple days a week…Then I can stay out here at the
shack the rest of the time.”
“When are you going to start?”
“The planting will be done this week. I say next Monday I’ll
start on the shack and barn.”
Hal smiled. “I’ll help you.”
“No…no!” Lucas declared. “I’m going to do it! I’m going to do it
Margaret couldn’t stop smiling! She helped Ann prepare supper
that evening as Lucas and Hal walked around the ranch talking
and planning. As they ate, she and Lucas continued exchanging
knowing looks, and under the table Lucas reached for her hand
and gave it a squeeze. Margaret felt her heart swell.
She had wanted to marry Lucas since she was eight years old.
Today, they had finally taken a big step that made her really
feel that the day was close. It’s really going to happen! She
thought this to herself as the others gabbed. But Margaret
didn’t hear a thing that was said because her thought were
swirling. She tried to imagine the horses and the pigs behind
the barn. She thought about the chickens. The chickens! Lucas
had forgotten all about building her a chicken coop! Well, she’d
just have to see that he did that very thing. And she, of
course, would request a piece of land on the side of the house
be set aside and fenced in for her vegetable garden she would be
in charge of planting. Oh, and of course there would have to be
plenty of room for flowers around the house! She imagined
marigolds and pansies…Roses and wild flowers…
“Margaret!” Margaret suddenly turned and looked at Lucas. “I
said we need to get you home.”
She stood and nodded her head, but the thoughts plagued her mind
to the point that it blocked out the words Ann was saying. She
could hardly believe that she now had her land with Lucas! This
land…this was something they would share together! Oh, on paper
the land belonged to Lucas; but her heart was now here – and it
would always be. Someday soon she would tell Lucas that. Someday
soon, they would be joined together as husband and wife and she
would whisper all her heart’s sweet words in his ear.
As the rode back, Margaret was quiet. She continued to think on
the future. She imagined the house built and her pouring Lucas
coffee every morning. She imagined the fresh milk and eggs she
would use every morning to fix him breakfast. She imagined Lucas
coming in from the morning chores and walking up behind her to
press a soft kiss in her hair. She even imagined her kneeling in
her vegetable garden while Lucas worked in the corral grooming a
horse. She’d look up and smile at him and he would smile at her.
Her thoughts turned to the future when there would be sounds of
laughter in the yard while the children played. A dog would
bark, begging for mercy as the children tugged on his tail and
tried to ride him. Perhaps in the evening, Lucas would play with
the children, laying down on the ground and allowing them to
fall on top of him. His chuckles would mix with the laughter of
“Margaret!” Again, Lucas dared to interrupt her thoughts.
Margaret turned to look at him. A big smile captured her face.
“What are you thinking about?”
Margaret blushed, suddenly feeling bashful about admitting she
was thinking about their children. Somehow that seemed so
intimate! Instead, she shrugged and said, “Woman stuff, Luke.”
They rode into the Gibbs yard. Lucas helped her from the saddle
as Scott came out and took the reins to her horse. His eyebrows
popped up as he looked Lucas up and down suspiciously. Margaret
wasted no time, however. She hurried up to Scott and hugged him.
“Oh Scott, it’s just wonderful! Wonderful!” Margaret declared,
her eyes once again shining with tears.
“Margaret!” Lucas’ voice sounded a bit sharper then he meant.
Margaret turned and looked at him. “Uh…you go on inside now.
I’ll talk to Scott.”
Margaret nodded then hurried inside. “What did you do?” Scott
grunted as he led the horse toward the barn. “Ask her to marry
“We have an agreement,” Lucas declared. “I intend to stick to
it. Soon I’ll…be coming to you though.”
“Then why is my sister glowing?” Scott asked.
“I bought the land today.” Scott paused as he turned and looked
at Lucas. He was a bit shocked at the news. “Well, you knew I
was going to try!”
“Wow…” Scott started walking again. “So…this time it’s really
going to happen.” He said it as if Lucas was going to die.
“You’re really here for good.”
“I’m really here for good,” Lucas declared. “And I’m going to
marry her!” Lucas was quite surprised when he saw the smile of
approval on Scott’s face.
His family was very happy to hear the news. They knew this was
something Lucas had always wanted. Lucas assured his brothers he
would help with the crops throughout the summer, but all three
brothers assured him they could handle things. Abe and Peter had
discussed hiring a couple men when the time of watering in the
summer and harvesting in the fall came. They didn’t want Lucas
feeling obligated to work the land. It was time he got to his
Lucas felt a bit of a letdown, feeling he was no longer needed.
But Julie herself came up to him and kissed his cheek. She
assured him that he was still needed in the family, but her
husband was right. He was about to begin his own life. Ranching
was hard work…about as hard as farming…and so was marrying a
woman like Margaret. Julie assured Lucas that was the life he
needed to concentrate on. He’d always be a McCain, but he was
now a rancher.
So when Lucas put the tools in Peter’s barn that Friday
afternoon, he couldn’t help but to be a little sad. He had
planted the last of the wheat and tomorrow he would go to town
to buy supplies to begin building his barn and his shack he
would call home for the next several months.
On Saturday, Lucas whistled as he stood in front of the mirror
in the barn and slicked down his hair. He even put on a string
tie and managed to get it straight for the first time! As he
rode Bullet into town, Lucas sat high in the saddle, proud that
something wonderful was about to happen.
Lucas smiled all morning as he want from store to store
purchasing various tools and supplies he would need. With the
money he had saved up from his years in the war and cattle
drives, he had plenty of money to buy the supplies he would
need. Abe assured him that although his inheritance wasn’t a
large amount, it would be enough to cover his expenses in
building his ranch as long as he thought smart. And Lucas
planned to do just that!
He even managed to purchase a second hand wagon cheap from a man
leaving town with his family. The man was going West and needed
a bigger wagon to travel in. He was more than happy to sell it
to Lucas. The man even gave him the team, which was well worth
more than the price Lucas had to pay. He was really going to
have himself a fine ranch!
After Lucas had all his supplies loaded in his new wagon, He
hopped up on the seat and clucked to the horses. A tune escaped
his whistling lips as he made his way…toward his ranch….
But disaster lurked close by. Lucas didn’t know it at the time.
Today, he was on cloud nine but soon…very soon…something would
happen that would take some of the joy from Lucas’ whistle. And
it would test the love he and Margaret had.
But not today.
The Margaret Years — The Rifle
These stories are based on the TV series
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
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around The McCain Ranch