The Writer's Corner
The Next Step…
Chapter 39 – A Time to Cherish
Written by Deanne Bertram
Before heading for home, Lucas sent a wire to Milly announcing
they were heading home. Lucas helped push Mark into the saddle
as he mounted Blue Boy, then Lucas mounted Razor. They waved to
Tom Benton as they headed for home. During their travel, Lucas
kept a keen eye on Mark.
“Pa, I’ll let you know when it gets to be too much. But I have
to get home, I shouldn’t have left Hope.”
“Mark as you said before, you had a responsibility to North Fork
as well as to your family. Your responsibility to North Fork is
completed, so now, we’ll see about our responsibilities to our
wives. We’ll ride as long as I feel you’re not putting yourself
in jeopardy, but each time I call for a stop, you will let me
check your side.”
“Yes sir,” Mark answered, knowing it was a small price to pay to
It was the evening of July tenth when Lucas and Mark McCain rode
up to Hattie’s. Lucas helped Mark down from Blue Boy and the two
walked the path to the porch. Before Lucas could knock, the door
was opened by Hope. She threw her arms around Mark, who tried to
keep his groan inwards as her pregnant belly hit his wound. Hope
felt him tense, let go and took a step back, “Mark?”
“I’m alright, now that I’m home. How are you… and the babies?”
Mark asked as he pushed Hope back inside.
Milly was soon there, hugging and kissing Lucas.
Hattie arrived and pushed Hope and Mark, upstairs, towards a
room and Milly and Lucas to another.
As Milly sat down on the bed, Lucas asked how she and their baby
were doing as he placed his hand to her stomach.
“I’m fine and so is our baby. Now, what about Mark? I know
something happened when Tom Benton sent the wire and not you.
Lucas didn’t get the chance to answer as they both heard the
scream from Hope. They rushed from their room, crossed the hall,
and opened the door. Both Mark and Hope were on the floor; Mark
had his arms around Hope, who had her arms around her belly.
Another scream left her lips. Hattie arrived quickly.
“Pa, get Doc Burrage,” Mark called.
Within fifteen minutes, Thadd and Abigail Burrage were in Hope’s
room. While Thadd was doing an initial examination, Abigail
placed extra towels across the bed. Thadd helped Mark lift Hope
from the floor and onto the bed. As he lay Hope down, Mark
grimaced, pulled his hand to his side and then allowed Abigail
to lead him from the room.
Lucas came to the hallway from returning Milly to their room, he
saw Mark, hand against his side, pain in his face.
“Pa, I need old Doc Burrage. I pulled something.” Mark pulled
his hand away from his side and Lucas saw the blood stain.
Before Lucas led Mark downstairs, he asked Hattie to stay with
Milly. Lucas was setting Mark down on the couch when Micah came
in. Lucas turned to see his old friend standing there, with the
aid of a cane.
Micah saw the pain on Mark’s face, then saw the blood.
“LucasBoy, what happened?”
“Not now Micah. Stay with Mark while I go get Doc Jay.”
Jay Burrage arrived, he paused in the parlor upon seeing Mark
and then hearing Hope scream. He quickly set to work unbandaging
Mark. “Mark, this is a gunshot and recent. Lucas, how could you
let him ride like this?”
“Doc, I insisted, besides, I didn’t start bleeding until after I
helped Thadd get Hope back to bed.”
Jay was upset with both McCain men. After examining the wound,
he told both that it was a minor pull. He rebandaged the wound
tighter, then stood up, proclaiming, “I want him in bed, now.”
“I’ll just wait here on the couch Doc, the bed’s being used
Shortly, Hattie came downstairs, “Oh Jay. Thank goodness you’re
here. Milly needs you. I think she’s going into labor.”
Mark, Lucas, and Micah looked at each other, realizing tonight
was going to be a long night.
Word spread that both Doc Burrage’s were called to the home of
Micah and Hattie.
Johnny insisted in making his way over. “Woman, either you let
me out of this home or so help me. My arm’s in a sling, not my
leg. Now, get Connor and let me escort you over there, I’m sure
you want to be there for Milly or Hope.”
Together, they quickly walked. Upon entering, Micah told Lou
what room Milly was in and that Hattie was with Hope. Lou handed
the sleeping Connor to Johnny. Johnny walked into the parlor,
surprised to see that Lucas and Mark McCain had returned. Then
he noticed the fresh blood on Lucas’ pant leg.
“Something happen while you were gone Luke?” Johnny asked,
pointing to the pant leg.
Micah followed the direction of Johnny’s point. Johnny laid
Connor down in a crib that was placed in the front room for
Myra. Then he pushed Lucas to sit down, while Micah went to get
“And here I am talking about retiring and those that are set to
take my place don’t take care of themselves,” Micah grumbled as
he wrapped another bandage around Lucas’ leg.
Before they continued their talk, Lou came downstairs carrying a
sleeping Myra and handed her to Lucas. “Cowboy, take care of
your daughter. She doesn’t need to be upstairs in the room with
Milly.” Lou turned and ran back upstairs.
Jay came down, handed Johnny some pills and told him to make
sure Mark took them both. “Just do it Johnny, I don’t have time
to explain. But if you want an explanation, ask Lucas how his
boy got shot.” Then turning to Lucas, “It’s going to be a while,
why don’t you try to get some sleep, like your daughter, there.”
Johnny held a glass with his arm that was in the sling and then,
using his good arms, pumped the handle to get the water to fill
the glass. He carried it back to the parlor and handed it and
the pills to Mark. “Doc said to take both of these. And don’t
pretend to swallow and then spit them out later. I’m watching
Mark obediently swallowed the pills then opened his mouth to
show Johnny he wasn’t hiding them. Within a half hour, even
through hearing Hope’s and Milly’s cries from labor, Mark
couldn’t keep his eyes open.
After Mark was sound asleep on the couch, Johnny turned to Lucas
and asked, “Okay, so Doc says the boy was gunshot. I see you’ve
a gunshot wound to the leg. You mind telling us what the hell
happened? I can just imagine the report we’re going to have to
“Don’t worry Johnny, Tom Benton’s going to have to write the
bulk of it, seeing as how he was the senior most U.S. Marshal
present when we took the Domingo Gang into custody.” Then
staring over to Micah and then to Johnny, “Okay, so when were
the two of you planning to tell me that once my son turned
twenty-one he was going to be an official U.S. Marshal?”
Both men looked to each other, not knowing what Lucas was
talking about. “Honest Lucas, we’ve not heard a word about
this,” Micah stated as he took a seat in a side chair.
“Johnny, you mean Mark’s not talked with you either. You’re the
one always bringing him books.”
“Lucas, this is the first I’ve heard of this.”
All three men looked towards the stairs as the cries of pain
“Lucas, tell us what happened. Take your mind off the women for
a while. Actually, wish Doc Jay would give all of us what he
gave Mark,” Micah stated.
It was shortly before midnight when Jay came down to inform
Lucas he had another son. “Give us a few more minutes and you
can go see Milly.” Looking to see Mark still sleeping he said,
“Then, I’m going to see if I can help Thadd with Hope.”
Lucas placed Myra in the crib, next to Connor and then went
upstairs, walked into Milly’s room and saw joy in her eyes, but
concern on her face.
Lou left the room as Lucas laid down on the bed. Seeing the
question in her eyes, he placed the tips of his fingers to her
lips, “Milly, no questions, just lie there. I’ll tell you
everything in the morning. Doc says we have another son.”
Milly pulled the blanket away and showed Lucas their son,
happily nursing from her breast.
The sun was soon to rise when Hope gave birth to their first
child. As she rested back against Hattie, Doc told Lou,
“Unbutton her nightshirt, let’s get him nursing.”
“Doc, shouldn’t you clean the babe first?” Lou asked.
As he wrapped the infant in a towel he said, “Lou, I’m not sure
how much time we have before the next baby demands to make an
appearance, just help me get this one nursing.”
“Next one?” Lou asked, but did as she was told. She helped the
exhausted Hope hold her son while he nursed.
In a tired voice Hope stated, “We’re having twins,” as she
leaned heavily back against Hattie.
Ten minutes later the next wave of contractions started. Lou
pulled the baby from Hope and handed him to Abigail, who had a
bath of warm water ready to clean the infant and then wrapped
him in a blanket.
As the contractions came and went, the sun rose higher in the
morning sky. Lou left the room to check on Connor for the
morning. A few moments later, she returned and told Hattie, “The
men said they’d fend for themselves for breakfast and not to
worry about them. We’re to focus on Hope.”
Jay asked, “What about Mark, was he still sleeping?”
“Yes, though how he can sleep with his wife all night in labor,
I’ll give him a piece of my mind when I see him next,” Lou
She wiped the sweat from Hope’s brow and held tight to Hope’s
hand as another contraction wracked Hope’s body.
“I can’t do it,” Hope cried.
“Yes you can, just a few more pushes,” Thadd stated.
Another strong contraction hit, causing Hope to scream out with
Doc yelling for her to “PUSH. Come on Hope, PUSH!”
As the contractions and pain subsided, Doc told Hope that she
had given birth to a second son. Hattie had tears of joy in her
eyes as she allowed Hope to lean backwards a little. After Doc
wrapped the second baby in a towel, he placed the baby to Hope’s
breast and was pleased to hear the baby suckle.
Once the baby stopped nursing, Abigail took the child and
started to clean him too. Thadd and Jay went down stairs to tell
the expectant father the joyous news. Hattie and Lou helped
change Hope into a fresh nightgown and then helped her move to a
chair so they could change the bed linens. Soon Hope was back in
bed and asleep.
Thadd entered the parlor and found Mark sleeping on the couch.
From behind, he heard footsteps.
“Doc?” Lucas asked. “Hope?”
“She’s fine Lucas.”
“And the babies?”
“They’re both healthy, but I think the father should be awake
before I tell everyone the rest of the news.” Then seeing the
dried blood on Mark’s shirt, “Lucas, what happened?” as he
“Your uncle rebandaged his wound last night when he arrived.
Then gave him some pills to make him sleep. I guess the toll of
being shot and then the ride home and the worry, Thadd he was
As they stood talking, Mark started to rouse, then bolted wide
awake seeing Thadd standing in front of him.
“Doc? Hope?” worry was written all over Mark’s face.
“She’s fine Mark. If you’d like, I can take you upstairs to meet
your sons and then maybe later you’d like to meet your little
brother.” A smile played across Thadd’s face as he told Mark the
Both McCain men started to follow Thadd back upstairs, but first
allowed Lou to come down.
Lucas entered Milly’s room and saw her nursing their son. She
smiled as he entered and came to lie down in bed next to her. As
Lucas watched their child nurse, he told Milly everything that
had happened while he was gone. As she listened to the story,
tears started falling down her face. She told Lucas how worried
she had been when she received Tom’s wire. Lucas then told
Milly, they had two grandsons. In time, all three were asleep,
their son in Milly’s arms, and Milly in Lucas’ arms.
Mark entered the room, he saw Hope sleeping on the bed, Hattie
holding one bundle, and Abigail holding another. He stood in the
doorway, mouth a gaping.
“Mark,” Hattie quietly said. “Come on in and meet your first
Slowly he walked over to Hattie and sat down in a chair. He
allowed her to place the bundle in his arms. He opened the
blanket and was amazed at the tiny life he held in his arms. As
every new father does, he counted the fingers and toes. Hattie
took the child back as Abigail stepped to his side and handed
him his second born son. Again, Mark opened the blanket and
counted the fingers and toes. Mark handed his son back to
Abigail, then walked to the bed, pulled off his boots, then laid
down on top of the covers. He asked for them to bring his sons
and lay them down between him and Hope.
Mark continued to look his family over, smiling as tears fell
from his eyes.
Hattie left the room as Abigail sat down in the chair and
watched as Mark fell asleep with his family.
Shortly before supper, Lucas opened the door to the room where
Mark and Hope lay and escorted Milly in. He held Milly tight as
they looked at their grandsons for the first time.
Abigail got up and asked if they would like to hold them.
“Not yet, don’t disturb Mark and Hope, let them sleep. We can
hold them later.”
Lucas returned Milly to her room, said he would be back with
something for her to eat. Lucas entered the kitchen only to be
approached by Lou as she started complaining about Doc giving
Mark pills to make him sleep all night while his wife was in
such pain and discomfort giving birth to his sons.
“Lou, please, settle down. We encountered a whole lot more of
the outlaws once we reached where they were hiding out. As we
were trying to take the last one into custody, a store owner
accidentally shot Mark. By all rights, he should still be in
Romero, Texas recovering, but he wanted to get back to his wife.
He re-opened his wound when he helped Thadd lift Hope back into
bed. Doc Jay knew it was more important for him to sleep than to
waste all his energy in worrying. Lord knows I did enough for
the both of us last night,” Lucas stated. “Now, why don’t you
take your son and your husband home and tend to them. I really
appreciate everything you’ve done for my family last night and
today, but now it’s time you turn your attention back to those
who look to you. Go home and love your family.”
After the Drako’s left, Hattie pushed Lucas to sit down in a
chair while she fixed a supper for Lucas and Milly.
“Well LucasBoy, quite a night we had? Don’t you think?” Micah
asked as he took a drink from his coffee cup.
“Micah, I’m sorry to have my family disrupt your home in such a
way,” Lucas stated.
“Lucas, they’re not just your family, you’re my family too. I
was getting bored just setting around. Doc won’t release me to
return to duty yet and Hattie won’t let me help with all those
children, so it was kind of fun last night, watching you and
waiting. Most fun I’ve had since the summer social.”
“Thanks Micah. Speaking of releasing you, what’s Doc said?”
“Probably another month. You know, I’m not as young as I used to
be. I’d already been talking with Johnny about stepping down and
just helping out on an ‘as needed’ basis. I wanted to wait until
the fall meeting of the town council before I said anything
official. This town’s been awful good to me, especially you, and
I know I can leave the town in good hands between Johnny and
“Micah, I don’t know what to say.”
“Well, tell him he’s talking foolish. Being a Marshal runs in
his blood,” Hattie stated as she held a tray of food. “Come on,
follow me upstairs and I’ll get you, ya big lug, and Milly fed.”
Lucas opened the door and followed Hattie inside. She placed the
tray on the table, next to the bed and then left. Milly handed
their son to Lucas as she had just finished nursing him. Lucas
climbed up in bed and cuddled with his son. Once both were done
eating, there was a knock at the door.
“Lucas, Milly, it’s me Hattie. I have someone who wants to meet
her baby brother.” Hattie opened the door and let Myra in.
Hattie picked the girl up and set her on the foot of the bed.
“I’ll leave you be.” Before leaving, she took the empty tray and
“Myra,” Milly said. “Crawl on up here and sit between your
father and me.”
Myra crawled and sat between them, leaning back into Milly.
Lucas lifted the baby and placed him in Myra’s arms, with Milly
helping to hold.
“Myra, he’s your brother,” Lucas stated.
“Mark my brother,” Myra stated.
Lucas and Milly laughed. “Sweetie, Mark is your older brother.
This is your baby brother,” Milly stated.
“Baby,” Myra stated.
“Lucas, we do need to come up with a name for our son,” Milly
said as she looked from her children to her husband.
“I got to thinking while you were sleeping, that maybe, Theodore
Scott McCain might be a good name for him.”
“Lucas, you’d name him after my brother?” Milly asked as tears
formed in her eyes. Lucas nodded and smiled, but then it slowly
faded as he took little Ted back into his arms.
“Lucas, what’s wrong?” Milly asked.
“Nothing, just thinking how perfect this would be if Mark were
in here.” Then looking to Milly, “Milly, did I short change him
by not asking you to marry me, before? He and Myra get along so
well, but there’s just such a difference in their ages, and now
little Ted. He could have been a big brother to them while he
was still growing up.”
“Lucas, I remember once, Mark telling me that you told him,
‘there’s no looking back’. That goes for us, too. Yes, I can
wonder about what it would have been like to be Mark’s mother,
when he was growing up, but regardless of when I became his
mother, I’m his mother now. And I couldn’t love him anymore.”
“Well, if you don’t love me any more, I think I’ll take your
grandsons back to their mother,” Mark stated as he quietly
opened the door and stuck his head in.
“You’ll do no such thing Mark Warren McCain!” Milly called.
Milly had grabbed hold of Myra before she had a chance to jump
down from the bed and run to Mark. Mark carried two bundles into
the room and walked to Milly, where she took each one in turn.
“How’s Hope doing Mark?” Lucas asked.
“She’s still tired Pa. She nursed both of them before I brought
them over, but she just looks so tired. Doc Thadd is over with
her right now, said he’d come over here when he was done.”
“Have you decided on names?” Milly asked.
“Names? Oh. No, I mean, we’ve both been sleeping and…”
“It’s okay Mark,” Milly stated as she laid her first grandson on
her lap and took hold of her second.
Mark walked around the bed and took his baby brother in his
arms. “So, have you decided on a name for my brother?”
Lucas stated, “Theodore Scott McCain,” as he picked up his first
Abigail came into the room and asked, “Okay, who has which
Mark stated, “I have my brother.” Abigail came and took the
infant from Mark, seeing as how Myra wanted some attention.
“Hi there Gabby,” Mark stated has he tried to pick his sister
up, but stopped when he felt the pull at his side. “So, what do
you think of your baby brother?”
“Can’t pway,” Myra stated as she put her arms around Mark as he
sat down on the edge of the bed.
“No, not yet,” Mark replied as he gave her a kiss. There was a
knock at the door, when Doc Burrage stuck his head in, “Come in
Doc,” Lucas called. “Come on son, I’ll help you get your brood
back to Hope.”
Mark took his son from Milly and as he came around the end of
the bed, Myra grabbed his other hand, “Mark, what that? More
Mark laughed as he thought about how to explain to his sister,
that his son’s were her nephews. Looking to Lucas, he got no
sympathy. “Pa,” Mark said as they walked across the hall. “You
do know this is all your fault.”
They entered the room, with Myra climbing up on the bed and
crawling to Hope.
“Hope, I brothers!” Myra squealed.
Hope looked up to Mark, who just lifted his shoulders and
“Hope you have two beautiful sons,” Lucas said as he leaned over
and kissed her on the cheek.
“And Milly and her baby? I thought I heard another baby?”
“You did Hope, Ma gave birth to a boy as well. Pa said his name
is Theodore Scott McCain.” As Mark crawled into bed beside Hope,
he inadvertently let out a small groan.
“Mark?” Hope asked.
“It’s okay. I’ll be alright.” With his son in one arm, he
reached over with the other, put it around Hope’s shoulders and
pulled her close to him and placed a kiss on top of her head.
“We ran into a little trouble. But I’ll be alright.”
Hope looked to Lucas, “Pa?”
“Hope, he’ll be fine. Being here with you and your children,
he’ll definitely be alright,” Lucas said as he smiled at them.
“Hope, we do need to name our son’s, we just can call them first
and second born,” Mark stated.
“We had talked of Zachariah James and Joshua Lucas…?” Hope
stated as she looked to Lucas, causing a larger smile to cross
Mark gave their sons, their names, “Pa, you have my first born
and I think he should be called, Joshua Lucas McCain and this
little fellow in my arms, you’ll be called, Zachariah James
The Next Step — Introductions
This is a story based on the TV
series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
around The McCain Ranch