The Rifleman
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The Next Step…
Chapter 99 – Gwen’s Inheritance
Written by Deanne Bertram

Towards the end of March, Gwen received a response to the letter they had written and sent to Hawes and Hawes Law Firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts regarding her inheritance.

Dear Mrs. McCafferty,

We are pleased that you have made contact with our law firm. Unfortunately, it is impossible for one of our staff to travel to North Fork in order to present you with your inheritance. The provisions your grandfather made within his Will instructed that if you were still alive, you must claim your inheritance in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Upon your arrival, it will take approximately three days, at most four, to resolve your grandfather’s estate.

Please wire when you might arrive and we will handle the arrangements.

Sincerely,

Edmond Hawes, III, Esquire
Senior Partner
Hawes & Hawes
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Jake and Gwen met Mark at the Marshal’s Office and showed him the letter.

“Maybe four days by train there, four days in Cambridge, and another four days home. If I’m going to go with you, we need to do this soon, I want to be home before Eli’s birthday.”

“What if we leave on the tenth, we should be home no later than the twenty-second,” Gwen suggested. “This would give us plenty of time to prepare to leave.”

“Okay, let me talk with Hope before you wire Mr. Hawes,” answered Mark. “Then I’ll need to wire Denver…”

*****

“Mark, you were gone for over six weeks earlier this year,” protested Hope upon hearing the news.

“I know, but I can’t allow Gwen and Jake to travel to Cambridge alone. I warned her aunt that I would travel with them. I still don’t trust that woman won’t cause them trouble. Besides, don’t you think I owe this to them.”

“I know, it’s just…”

“I’ll miss you too.” Mark pulled Hope close to him. “Besides, I’ll be home in plenty of time to help with preparations for Eli’s birthday.”

*****

April tenth found the McCain’s at the train station.

“Mark, don’t you worry none about Miss Hope and the ranch while you’re gone,” boasted Lariat. “I’ll keep an eye on her and help Lucas keep the ranch running. Though with both his top ranch hands missing at the same time; it might not be in as good a shape, as if you two were here.”

“Well you and Jake did a fair job earlier this year. I’ve faith in you Lariat. Just keep Pa out of trouble while I’m gone.”

“And what trouble would I be getting into?” Lucas asked.

“I don’t know, but you sure do seem to jump in feet first when there is trouble,” Mark teased back.

“Witch’s brew, Lucas. There’s always a witch’s brew,” Lariat responded.

“You just finish your business and get back to me as soon as possible,” said a teary-eyed Hope.

“I will.”

“Ma, you take care too. We’ll be back in two weeks, tops,” promised Mark.

Mark, Jake, and Gwen stood on the back of the passenger car, waving goodbye as the train pulled out of the station. Once North Fork was out of sight, they made their way to their seats.

*****

“Well, now, let’s get all your shopping done so I can get you back to your home,” Lariat encouraged after the train had vanished from sight.

“Uncle Lariat,” Eli stated as he tugged on Lariat’s pant leg.

“Yes Eli.”

“Will you buy me some candy, please?”

“Why sure, if’n your Ma says it’s alright.” Lariat looked to see a tearful Hope nodding.

“Come on, candy for everyone!” declared Lariat.

All the McCain children, except baby Faith, gathered around Lariat and happily called out which piece of candy they wanted.

“Hope?” asked Milly.

“Ma, I miss him so much already. Cambridge, Massachusetts…it’s so far away… What if something happens?”

Lucas stood beside Hope and wrapped his arm around her shoulders, “We’ll watch over you and the children, as will Seth and Lilah.”

“I’m not worried about me… What if something happens to him?”

“We just won’t think on that. No sense borrowing trouble that may not happen,” said Milly, wrapping her arm through Hope’s, encouraging her to come along to the General store.

“’But Gwen’s aunt?”

*****

“Lariat, I can drive the buckboard back…”

“Now Miss Hope, I promised your husband I would watch out for you.”

Lariat rested his foot on the wagon when after Hope prevented him from climbing to the seat of the buckboard.

“Lariat, I think with Milly and Lucas in front, I can manage. Why don’t you enjoy the rest of your afternoon and evening with Ruth? I think she’d appreciate seeing you.”

Hope turned Lariat around as she would one of the boys and pushed him away from her.

“Go on now. Don’t make me pull out my rifle and force you.”

“No ma’am. I’ve been on the business end of your rifle once and that landed me in jail. I’m going, I’m going.”

Lucas and Milly, as well as Hope could now laugh over that incident.

On the drive home, Lucas kept checking over his shoulder to see how Hope was managing.

“Give her time to miss him,” suggested Milly.

“Do I get time to miss him, too?” asked Lucas.

“I think we all will. At least this time, we can rest a little more easier and not worry so much,” Milly answered as she wrapped her arm through the crook of Lucas’ elbow and rested her head on his shoulder for a few moments, before she thought better of it, and sat up straight.

*****

The children helped Hope and Milly unload their purchases and carry them into the houses, while Lucas unhitched both teams.

*****

Several days had passed and the train had exchanged untold numbers of passengers during the trip, before it departed the station in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

“Can you believe how crowded everything looks?” Mark asked as he looked out the window at the passing countryside.

“You’ve never be east of the Mississippi?” asked Jake.

“No, I was born in Oklahoma and we moved around a lot before settling in North Fork, but I’ve never been this far east.”

“It only gets more crowded the closer we get to Cambridge,” commented Gwen.

“I was born in Cincinnati, I’m in just as much awe as Mark,” Jake replied.

“Well, I was born in Cambridge, but I was just a baby when my parents left with me. I just remember all the stories my father would tell me about the various towns he’d been to, when he’d put me to bed. Cambridge is going to be as much a surprise to me as it is to the two of you,” Gwen replied with both excitement and nervousness.

*****

As the train traveled North to Cambridge, the new passengers took notice of Mark’s rifle leaning against the seat upon which he sat; they noticed how he always had it in his hand when he would move between cars or get up to stretch his legs.

Upon their arrival at the train station, Jake, Gwen, and Mark waited for the majority of the passengers to disembark before they stepped from the train, however, once they did, Mark was surprised to see two men approaching them, handguns drawn as some of their fellow passengers pointed in his direction.

“You’ll need to come with us, sir,” the taller of the two men stated, reaching for Mark’s rifle.

“Why and where are you taking me?” asked Mark, not willing to let go.

“Sir, we have laws around these parts and a person can’t just go carrying rifles around like sticks,” the shorter man stated. “Only lawmen are allowed to carry weapons in the open. Now if you’d had it in a carry case…”

The tall man placed his hand on the barrel of Mark’s rifle.

“I think my U.S. Marshal’s badge is the only permit I need,” replied Mark as he opened his jacket and showed his badge.

The tall man let go of Mark’s rifle as both men placed their weapons within their holsters.

“A U.S. Marshal? I’m sorry, sir. It’s just that we received wires regarding a man carrying a rifle out in the open was on the train and some people were pretty upset. I’m Officer Cooper Brady and this is my partner, Officer James O’Hanrahan, welcome to Cambridge, Massachusetts. We’d like to make this up to you, and your friends, may we see you to your hotel?”

Officer Brady was a tall fellow, with little meat on his bones. His dark hair was in stark contrast to his pale complexion. The uniform he wore was crisply pressed; the crease of his pants was unbroken as the hem barely touched the highly, polished black shoes he wore.

Officer O’Hanrahan, was just a little taller than Mark, and his large frame carried his weight well. Whereas his partner had been clean shaven, O’Hanrahan wore a large handlebar mustache, just as red as the hair under the hat that sat crooked upon his head. His uniform was clean, but lacked the spit and polish Brady’s appearance presented.

“My name is Mark McCain, and my traveling companions are Jake and Gwen McCafferty.”

The group exchanged handshakes and apologies.

“Where’s your handgun?” Officer O’Hanrahan asked.

“I never took to using one. The rifle was good enough for my Pa, its good enough for me,” replied Mark.

“Your ‘Pa’ a lawman?” Brady asked.

“Not officially, but when needed, he’d step up as an acting marshal when our town marshal had to be out of town.”

“Hey, I remember reading in the newspaper a few years back about a lawman who used a rifle instead of a handgun,” O’Hanrahan exclaimed.

“That was Mark,” Jake replied.

“You’re the rifleman?” O’Hanrahan asked.

“No, his father is the Rifleman. Mark is the Lawman,” Jake was proud to answer.

Those closest to them to hear the boast started murmuring amongst themselves. As the group walked along the sidewalks, Mark’s rifle continued to draw stares from those they passed.

“As you can see Marshal, it’s like we said… Here, people rely on us to protect them. Citizens don’t go around carrying weapons.”

“Can’t wait for the day that can happen in North Fork,” commented Mark.

“Virginia?” O’Hanrahan asked.

“No, New Mexico,” Gwen answered.

“Jim, I thought you said you read that newspaper.”

“I did, it’s just been a number of years and I don’t remember all the details. ‘Sides, I didn’t hear you correcting me…”

Turning his attention back to their new friends, Brady stated, “You three came a fair piece. What brings you this far to our little town?” asked Brady.

“Little?” Jake choked out.

“Compared to New York, Philadelphia, and others, Cambridge is little,” Brady answered.

“It’s pretty big compared to North Fork,” Jake replied.

“Do you have family here you’re visiting?” asked Brady.

“I’m here to see about an inheritance. My grandfather passed away last year and I received word in November that I was named in his Will,” answered Gwen.

“Was your grandfather an important man?” O’Hanrahan asked.

“I don’t know. I never met him. His name was Howard Trevor St. Paul, we’re here to meet the lawyers, Hawes and Hawes,” answered Gwen.

“Then you’d best watch your steps and your backs,” Brady commented.

“Are the lawyers that shady?” asked a concerned Mark.

Brady answered before O’Hanrahan could get a word in, “No, we just know who Mrs. McCafferty’s aunt is, Mrs. Mary Catherine Glendening, herself.” Brady tipped his head from side to side with each word of her name. “That woman is enough to drive a man to drink; in fact I think she’s driven her husband to drink. She acts so high and mighty as if she’s better than everyone else. Now, Mr. St. Paul… your grandfather, ma’am…,” Brady tipped his hat, “he was a real gentleman, took good care of the people who worked for him and cared for the less fortunate in town. He also was known to be a major contributor to the firemen and policemen, making sure we had the equipment needed. It made all the papers when he passed. You have our condolences for your loss.”

“Where did you make arrangements for a room?” O’Hanrahan asked, as they reached the main street.

Jake answered the question, “Hawes and Hawes said accommodations would be waiting for us at the Cambridge Hotel.”

The officers hailed two horse drawn carriages and requested they be taken to the Cambridge Hotel. The three from North Fork marveled at the elegance of the black carriages; the gold mantled lanterns on the sides, windows in the doors, and the plush seats upon which they sat. The harness the horses wore was of high quality leather, and the horses themselves were of good confirmation.

“It’s beautiful,” commented Gwen as they pulled up in front of the hotel and stepped from the carriage.

O’Hanrahan answered, “It’s only been open about a year and a half now. They say she’s a Queen Anne-style building. Right next to it is Engine 7. There’s stables in the back, as well as coal bunker they share with the fire department. She also has indoor plumbing in the rooms, with hot and cold running water.”

“Engine 7?” asked Mark.

“Oh, it’s the name of this particular fire department. They’re good men, but do consider themselves to be somewhat the ‘black sheep’ of the fire department,” O’Hanrahan answered.

Officers O’Hanrahan and Brady tipped their hats and bid those from North Fork good day.

A man wearing a tall, black, stove-pipe hat and a fancy ruffled shirt, that protruded from the opening of his jacket, opened the door for them to enter, he tipped his hat as Gwen passed by.

*****

They were greeted upon signing in, “Mr. and Mrs. McCafferty and Mr. McCain, welcome to The Cambridge Hotel. I’m Gordon Dewsbury, the hotel manager. We’ve been eagerly anticipating your arrival.”

“You have?” answered Jake.

“If you’ll follow me, I’ll see you to your rooms.” Turning to call to out, “Jimmy, Bobbie, get their luggage!”

“Sir, we can…” Mark attempted to say.

“Nonsense, this is The Cambridge, we treat our guests with respect. And we’ve been given instructions to treat you as if you were the queen herself.”

The manager led them to what appeared to be an alcove off the side of the lobby. The group entered and turned around, upon not seeing any other exit. Curiously they watched as the manager appeared to close a metal door and then pressed a button on the wall. The three from North Fork startled when they felt movement beneath their feet.

“Don’t be afraid, most buildings with three or more floors have installed these, they’re called elevators.”

“How do they work?” asked Mark curiously.

“We have a pulley system the runs from the roof of the building all the way to the basement.”

Gwen held tight to Jake’s arm as they watched the walls on the other side of the cage disappear beneath their feet.

When the elevator stopped, Dewsbury opened the door and motioned for them to follow him.

“This is our presidential suite,” Dewsbury stated as he opened the double doors and showed the three into the suite on the top floor of the hotel. Two maids were finishing opening the blinds, allowing the afternoon sun to brighten the room. Flowers adorned either end of the mantle over the fireplace, as well as a larger bouquet on the table in front of an opulent couch.

Upon handing the room keys to Jake McCafferty, Dewsbury stated, “Dinner is served in the main dining hall beginning at five o’clock.” Calling to his employees, “Maria, Amelia, this way ladies. Jimmy, Bobbie, do not stand there waiting for tips. Out!” To his guests he said, “You have separate sleeping rooms one to your left and one to the right. Both have large, plush beds. I’ll let the three of you settle.”

Dewsbury bowed as he backed out of the suite and pulled both doors closed.

*****

“This room can’t be for us,” Gwen stated as she removed her traveling bonnet. “He must have us mistaken for someone else.”

“Gwen, he greeted us by name. How many McCafferty’s and McCain’s would there be traveling together.”

“We can’t afford to stay here. It must cost a fortune,” Gwen replied as she continued to look around the suite.

“The room is for us,” Mark answered having found an envelope addressed to the three.

Mr. and Mrs. McCafferty
Marshal McCain

Please make yourselves comfortable this evening. We shall anticipate your arrival at our offices tomorrow mid-day.

Until then,

Edmond Hawes, III, Esquire
Creighton Hawes, Esquire
Hawes and Hawes

*****

Shortly before five, the three walked down the staircase, not trusting the elevator, and returned to the grand entrance.

“Mark?! Mark McCain?!” they heard from across the lobby.

Looking around Mark saw a vaguely familiar gentleman, waving his hat, trying to gain Mark’s attention. Mark motioned for Gwen and Jake to join him.

“I hoped it might have been you they’ve been talking about,” William Walsh stated as he extended his hand. “You sure know how to create a buzz around town.”

“Mr. Walsh, it’s been quite a while,” replied Mark as he proceeded to introduce his traveling companions.

“And I thought the last time we met that you were going to call me Will?” Turning to his companion, a portly man with long, curly white hair and an even longer white beard, “Senator Rush, I’d like to introduce you to Mark McCain. And I’m sure he has some interesting stories to tell.”

“Please to meet you young man. Would you care to join us for dinner?” invited Senator Rush.

“I’m sure you have business to discuss…”

“Poppy-cock! I want to hear new voices. I’ve spent way too many evenings talking newspaper and legal briefs and legislation...” Taking Mark by the arm, the Senator escorted the group to a smaller dining room reserved for private parties at the hotel.

“So, Will here, heard mumblings of your arrival and says that he knows you from out west. Just how far have the three of you traveled?”

“North Fork, New Mexico sir,” Gwen answered.

“Well, if my memory serves me correct, one of my esteemed colleagues has ventured out that far; came back with quite an adventure to tell. Can’t see traveling that distance myself, at least not until those territories decide to accept statehood,” Senator Rush stated before ordering brandy for everyone.

“Sir, I don’t mean to be rude, but water or coffee would be just fine for me,” insisted Mark.

“Same for us,” Jake stated.

Senator Rush motioned away the waiter after having taken their orders for drinks.

“In fact there he is.” Calling louder, “Senator Borden, over here!”

“Coming Senator Rush,” Borden called before making his way to their table. “Thomas, I see you’ve invited new friends to join… Marshal McCain! What brings you to Cambridge?” Senator Borden extended his hand in greetings.

“You’ve met?” Rush asked.

“Of course we have. I told you the story of my last trip to visit my sister,” replied Borden.

Introductions of the McCafferty’s were made again before the group settled.

“Do you always address each other as Senators?” asked Jake.

“Only when we want to draw attention to ourselves for better service,” Senator Rush answered with a jovial laugh. “Now, what’s this about you being address as Marshal? Will you didn’t tell me he was a Marshal?” Turning to Mark, “How are the people who elected you handling the fact that you’ve left their town without a marshal?”

“Sir, with all due respect, the badge I wear is for the U.S. Marshal Service. Our town still has her marshal and deputy while I’m here.” Mark turned to Senator Borden, “Sir, the last time we met, I was only a deputy marshal for our town. How?”

“I keep well informed about the people I think have promise to do good for our country. I’ve followed your career quite closely. From part-time town deputy, to a deputy U.S. Marshal, and finally to your being sworn in as the Territorial U.S. Marshal for New Mexico.” Leaning close, he whispered so only those at the table could hear, “I also know that you married the young woman you rescued when you cooked up my ‘assassination’.”

Rush spit up his brandy upon hearing the word ‘assassination’. “This man tried to murder you, George?”

“Only in the newspaper, only in the paper. I told you of my last trip to Arizona, others were attempting to take my life to start a range war. In order to draw them out into the open, this young man cooked up the scheme to report to the world I had been killed. My sister was quite shocked yet relieved to see me standing in her doorway. Surprised she didn’t faint dead-away.”

Will turned to Mark, “Mark you have quite a way with the newspaper, are you sure you wouldn’t rather have a job as a writer?”

“I write plenty enough reports as it is, I know they say ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’, but if you don’t mind, I’ll stick with my rifle.”

“A lawman with a rifle. By jove, you’re not that Lawman, are you?” an amazed Rush asked.

“Yes, Mark is The Lawman, Thomas. See, I told you Mark,” Will interrupted before Rush could say anything more. “People want to read about the west; they remember you from my articles.”

*****

Once dessert was served, Senator Rush asked, “So Will, tell me, how is it that you came to write about this young man?”

“Thomas, I met his father by chance, in Albuquerque. After finding out he was The Rifleman, I wanted to write an editorial on him. However, Lucas McCain wanted nothing to do with helping me, so I traveled to their town and talked to the people; found out the Rifleman had a son who was a Lawman, so my story was born. I agreed to their terms in order to be able to write my story.”

“I remember reading… The Legacy Continues… Got ourselves a real celebrity here and I’m trying to trump him by bragging on being a senator. What terms did they force upon you?”

“They had to approve my articles before I submitted them,” Will replied. He also left out the other provision, not to mention their wives or children.

“Sir, I’m just a U.S. Marshal…” Mark attempted to explain.

“No ‘just’ to it! We’re only blocks from Harvard Law School. I’m chair of one of the committees and I insist that you come to speak as a lecturer while you’re here,” Thomas Rush demanded.

“Sir, we’re only here for a few days, Gwen and Jake have business to tend to in town, I really can’t.”

“Non-sense! George, we’ll be delaying our return to Washington, better yet, Marshal McCain, you’ll accompany us to Washington!”

“Sir, I must decline. Honestly, I can’t go with you to Washington,” Mark insisted.

“But Mark, its Washington! Our Founding Fathers…” a wide-eye Jake stated.

“Our own founding fathers are back in North Fork. We’re here to address family business for Gwen and then we’re heading home. Sirs, if you’ll allow us to pay our bill for supper… we’ll say goodnight,” Mark stated as he stood.

“I won’t hear of it!” declared Rush. “You were my guests. But I’ll still get you to lecture at Harvard before you leave. That, I promise.”

The group left the dining room and returned to their hotel suite.

“But Mark, he invited you to Washington. How can you pass that up?” Jake asked as they entered the room.

“Because we have families back home and I want to get home as soon as possible.”

“Mark?”

“Gwen, if Senator Rush had that reaction to finding out who I was, can you imagine the rest of Washington? Besides, Ethan told me about some of the senators he had to deal with when he was posted here. No, thank you. They might seem to be your friend, but it’s only to get something, a game of one-up-men-ship. I’m here for the two of you and that’s it.”

*****

The following morning, William Walsh greeted Gwen, Jake, and Mark in the hotel dining room.

“Sorry about last night. Thomas can be quite insistent. That’s why he makes such a great senator. You said that Mrs. McCafferty has business in town?”

“Yes, with Hawes and Hawes, we’re to discuss my late grandfather’s estate, Howard Trevor St. Paul.”

“Oh, my. I’m glad you didn’t blurt that out last night,” Will let out a deep breath afterwards.

“Why?” inquired Gwen.

“You’d never have been released from the dinner table last night. Thomas and Howard were good friends. Even though your mother didn’t care to marry his son, the families remained closed.”

“My mother dated Senator Rush’s son?” a surprised Gwen asked.

“No, they didn’t date. They were good friends but Thomas, Jr. knew your mother loved Monty,” William answered.

“How is it that you know all of this?” asked Mark.

“I’ve been invited to Thomas’ home for dinner on many occasions. One night Howard, your grandfather, was also there and I overheard Thomas, Jr. trying to defend himself to his father about why he let Howard’s youngest daughter get away.”

“Just when you think the world is large, you find out how small it really is,” commented Jake.

As if he had been shot, William blurted out, “Oh, my. Gwen, I don’t envy you meeting your aunt. Mrs. Mary Catherine Glendening can be a handful. I wouldn’t trust her…”

“Will, that’s why I’m here,” interrupted Mark.

“We’ve already had one meeting with her, and that was one time too many,” answered Jake.

“She came to our town, trying to locate me. She showed up on my wedding day, demanding the marriage to be annulled.” Gwen shivered at the memory.

Jake, sensing his wife’s discomfort, wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close.

****

Over breakfast, William Walsh explained that he was now a senior editor with the Cambridge Chronicle. “It’s a highly respected weekly newspaper, here in town.”

After breakfast, Will hailed a large carriage to transport the group to Hawes and Hawes. He waited in the reception area while Gwen, Jake, and Mark entered the large and austere boardroom.

*****

After introductions were made, they were shown into a much smaller room where Mrs. Mary Catherine Glendening sat with her husband, Winslow Glendening.

Edmond Hawes unsealed the envelope that contained the Will and began to read:

I, Howard Trevor St. Paul, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, being of sound mind and body, do make and declare my last will and testament as follows:

To my daughter, Mary Catherine St. Paul, now Glendening, having already married into the Glendening family and having squandered herself, I only leave my wishes that your life is a long one. Any inheritance you get your hands upon, shall come for your husband; as you chose to marry for money instead of love, so be it.

To my daughter, Emily Marie St. Paul, now Shawnesee, having married Montgomery Shawnesee and left for parts west, I was saddened to hear of your passing. I know that my youngest bore a child and should that daughter still live, I leave to her my entire estate, including all bank accounts. Gwenivere Shawnesee shall have one year (12 months) to make her presence known to my attorneys, it shall be up to Hawes and Hawes to to track down my granddaughter. Should my granddaughter not be found within this time period, my entire estate shall be sold off and all the monies split evenly among the charities listed within the addendum to my Will and Testament.

However, should Hawes and Hawes fail in their attempt to locate my granddaughter for their or anyone else’s gain, charges for robbery and embezzlement shall be preferred against them.

Gwenivere, what you wish to do with your inheritance is your choice; I only wish that I had the chance to know you. As you are your mother’s daughter, I hope you will carry on my legacy.

Edmond Hawes folded the pages and waited for Gwen to look up, after hearing the reading of her grandfather’s will.

“I’ll dispute this! He cannot leave me out of his Will!” Mrs. Glendening declared. “Do something!”

“Mrs. Glendening,” Creighton Hawes spoke. “Your father did not leave you out of his Will. You are mentioned and provided for per his wishes.”

“You’ve not heard the last of me!” Mrs. Glendening demanded as her husband pulled her from the office.

“Mrs. McCafferty, if you would like to visit your grandfather’s home, we would be happy to show you.”

“Sirs, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but just how much was my grandfather’s estate worth?”

Creighton Hawes allowed his older brother, Edmond, to answer, “I think you should see his home first, that was one of his provisions.”

The Hawes brothers had previously arranged for two carriages to wait and transport them to the home of the late Howard Trevor St. Paul.

“This can’t be…” Gwen’s eyes were wide in disbelief as she spoke.

The carriages stopped before a three story, white marble home, with lovely hedgerows and trees lining the driveway. The door was opened by a man dressed as a butler, “Welcome, home, Mrs. McCafferty.”

“Mason, as you know the residence better than us, would you show Mr. And Mrs. McCafferty round. We’ll see Marshal McCain and Mr. Walsh to the library.”

*****

“Mark, we understand how upset you must be for Mrs. Glendening’s actions from November,” Edmond started the conversation.

“Upset is the least of my reactions,” snapped Mark.

“We were not aware that she had ‘interfered’ with the Pinkerton Agency in our attempts to locate Mr. St. Paul’s granddaughter, until we received your wire.”

“My only question is, how do I ensure Gwen’s safety and the transfer of all this?” asked Mark as he looked around the library.

“We would offer our services to Mrs. McCafferty, but do not wish to give the appearance of a conflict of interest. Mr. Walsh would be of assistance in locating another law firm.”

“Mark, I would be happy to make any further introductions, but Edmond and Creighton are held in high esteem by Senator Rush.”

“You know Thomas?” asked Creighton.

“Only in passing. We met last night over dinner,” replied Mark.

*****

Upon Gwen and Jake’s entrance to the library of her late grandfather’s home, the Hawes brothers stepped from the room to allow them privacy to talk.

“It’s like a museum,” offered Jake.

“You would not believe all the metal armor and the statutes, and the paintings,” whispered Gwen.

“Mrs. McCafferty, your grandfather was a patron of the arts. Many of the books within this library are first editions, priceless,” Will stated as he walked across the floor and started naming many of the authors.

“Gwen,” Jake said as he wrapped an arm around his wife. “Are you okay?”

“I can’t. This all can’t be mine. I wouldn’t know what to do… My home’s in North Fork, with Jake…”

“Gwen, Brady and O’Hanrahan said your grandfather always took care of those who were less fortunate as well as the police and firefighters…” Mark started to formulate an idea.

“Go on,” encouraged Gwen.

“Your grandfather also stated that he hoped you would carry on his legacy…”

“Mark, what are you suggesting?” asked Gwen.

Mark opened the door and asked for Mason to step inside.

“Mason, how many people work here beside you?” asked Mark.

There are two chefs, three maids, there are four men on the grounds crew, the stable, oh, ma’am, I’m sorry, I forgot to show you the stables.”

“How many men work the stables?” asked Mark.

“Three, sir.”

“And if this place is sold, what becomes of you and your jobs?”

“That depends upon who purchases the estate. More often than not, the existing servants are left without a job once the new tenants move in.”

“What if you are made caretakers of the estate?” Mark offered.

“Sir, we are already caretakers…” Mason stated, not understanding what Mark was implying.

“Oh, Mark, I love the idea,” squealed Gwen. “Mason, if I were to convert my grandfather’s residence to a museum, open to the public and available for banquets, all of you would retain your employment as stakeholders. You would make the decisions on how to keep my grandfather’s home as he would want it.”

“Ma’am you don’t know us?” Mason stated.

“No, but my grandfather did. I want to continue his legacy. Each of you who currently were employed by my grandfather shall stay employed. We can set up a trust fund so you have living expenses and a salary.”

Gwen walked over and took Mason’s hands.

“But Ma’am, this is your inheritance…”

“And my grandfather stated in his Will it was mine to do as I please.” Turning to Mark, but still holding Mason’s hands, “Mark, would you ask the lawyers to come inside.”

*****

Both men were sitting and in complete surprise when Gwen finished her proposal.

“You want to set up a trust to run the residence?” Creighton asked, trying to understand.

“No, not a residence. I want to convert my grandfather’s home to a museum and possibly a banquet hall. Mason and everyone who is currently employed shall oversee the day-to-day operations. Also, a trust fund shall be created to see to the less fortunate in town. This is the legacy I believe my grandfather spoke of.”

“And you will take nothing from your grandfather’s estate,” Edmond stated.

“I don’t know how much his estate is worth, but I know it’s more money that I could ever use. If my grandfather has an accountant, I wish to meet with him, to make provisions final. I also wish for you to set up appropriate contracts with each member of the staff so they may have it in writing what I wish to do,” Gwen said.

The Hawes brothers sat in amazement at how the young woman who had never met her benefactor could be so much like him.

“We can have the contracts drawn up within two days and have them ready for your signature,” Edmond stated.

*****

As Gwen and Jake stepped from the library, they were greeted by the entire staff, each one thanking them, truly humbled.

“We know your aunt and had feared her arrival,” one of the maids stated.

“I’ll do everything in my powers to ensure each one of you has a home and a job,” Gwen humbly stated.

“Ma’am, it weren’t a job. We did it because we loved your grandfather. He treated us better than any other employer ever done,” one of the stablehands replied.

“Then you’ll all see to it that the Howard Trevor St. Paul Museum keeps its reputation.”

William Walsh had taken notes the whole time, “Gwen, I’d like to put this story in the paper, I believe it deserves to be told.”

*****

Jake, Gwen, and Mark sat in the common area of their hotel suite.

“So, how much are you going to accept from your grandfather’s estate?” asked Jake.

“I don’t know. Maybe enough that we can pay off the mortgage the bank holds, and you’ve wanted to start raising cattle. Enough to purchase a few head and provide for them. This has been a very tiring day, do you mind if I take a nap before supper?”

“No, go ahead.”

Gwen stood from the couch and was halfway to their sleeping room before she called, “Jake?” and fell to the ground.

*****

The doctor stepped from the sleeping room to be confronted by an extremely worried Jake, “Doc?”

“Sit down young man,” the doctor said as he escorted Jake to sit on one of the couches.

“Gwen, is she okay?”

“Nothing that time won’t cure.”

“I think I’ve heard that before,” Mark said as he tried to hide his grin.

“Mark, what, what’s wrong with Gwen?” Jake pleaded.

“Well, you two are married…” Mark answered.

“I know we’re married…” Jake stated, not understanding.

“Jake.” Mark placed his hand on Jake’s shoulder. “With marriage come certain… pleasures.”

“Be we’ve not, not since we left North Fork and when we have, she’s not gotten sick…”

The doctor tried to keep from laughing, not wanting to embarrass his patient’s husband. “This started about two months ago.”

“She’s been sick for two months?!”

“Young man, this isn’t exactly a sickness,” replied the doctor.

“Then what? Tell me what’s wrong with Gwen!” pleaded Jake.

Jake looked up when he heard Gwen laughing as she walked into the common room, quickly he was at her side.

“Congratulations!” wished Mark.

“Congrat… Gwen’s si…” Hearing Mark and Gwen laughing, Jake looked to his wife. “You’re not sick.”

Shaking her head, Gwen replied, “No, I’m not sick. I’m pregnant.”

“Pregnant, but how?” Jake asked innocently, without realizing what he was asking.

The doctor could not contain his laughter any longer, “Young man, did your father not speak to you about this before you married?”

“You’re pregnant! You’re pregnant!” Jake declared as he started hopping around the room. “You’re pregnant!”

“Jake, I think that’s already been determined,” giggled Gwen.

*****

The following morning the leading story in the society section of the Cambridge Chronicle read: St. Paul Home to Become Museum

“NO!!” Mrs. Mary Catherine Glendening declared after reading the article. “She can’t!”

“She can and she will. I told you years ago, the way you cut off your sister, and the way you treated your father, you have no one else to blame but yourself,” said Winslow, wearing an old, smoking jacket as he poured himself a glass of brandy.

“Keep out of this. If you weren’t such a sniveling husband, had you stood up for yourself! No you had to go a drink away your respect… You could have taken over as President of Glendening Holdings!”

“As I said, you have no one else to blame. You did enough talking for the both of us. I should have listened to my mother, all those years ago.”

“YOUR MOTHER!”

“Yes, my mother. She tried to tell me you were after nothing but my name and my money. Well, you got both, and all you have left in my name. Woman, leave it be… If anything happens to your niece, I’ll be the first one to testify… for the prosecution.”

The man turned and left his wife standing in the middle of the parlor.

“Winslow! WINSLOW!!”

*****

Having returned to their quarters, after supper, Mark started the conversation, “So I guess you’ll also need to be making arrangements for that little one of yours, costs a lot to raise a child.”

“You’re speaking from experience?” Jake teased.

“Yeah, all five of them. But Jake, Gwen, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love each and every one of them. Each has brought their own blessings to our family.”

*****

Two days later, Gwen finished signing all the necessary documentation for the continued employment of the St. Paul home staff, setting up a board of directors to oversee the running of the St. Paul Home Museum and Banquet Hall, and the setting up trust funds for the less fortunate in Cambridge. Donations were also to be made to the policemen’s and firemen’s associations.

*****

“Marshal McCain!”

Mark turned to see Senators Borden and Rush, as well as Officers Brady and O’Hanrahan approaching as they returned to the hotel for the final night.

“I hear tell that you companions have finished their business in town. Now to my business, either you come with me or else these fine officers of the law will promptly throw you in the hoosegow!” Senator Rush declared.

“Do I have a choice?” asked Mark.

“No you do not!”

Taking Mark by the arm, Senator Rush and company escorted Mark to the largest auditorium at Harvard Law School. Senator Borden showed Gwen and Jake to their assigned seats in the front row, and sat down next to them. Mark attempted to follow, but was restrained to Senator Rush, who escorted him to one of the chairs on the stage. Senator Rush waited for the crowd to quiet before he stepped to the podium.

“Thank you. Thank you one and all for coming today. I know my announcement was on short notice, so I am pleased to see so many of my esteemed colleagues and associates in attendance, as well as many students who grace these fine hallways.

“The laws of today are an attempt to civilize people, set boundaries for what’s right and what’s wrong. Should wrong’s be committed, these laws outline punishments that will be handed down. When our founding fathers set forth our constitution, it wasn’t just to let Merry Old England know that we were tired of our status as a colony, but to say, We are America!” Senator Rush pounded the side of his fist on the top of the podium to emphasize his point.

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

“Most of you sitting here fall under certain auspices of the Preamble… However, there is one person present who stands to defend our domestic tranquility and provides the common defense… A number of years ago, William Walsh, Editor for the Cambridge Chronicle wrote a series of articles regarding two men, father and son, both who stood for what is right in our country.

“Over dinner, several nights ago, I was honored to meet the son, the son who is better known as The Lawman…”

The crowd started murmuring as the audience members turned left and right to ask if they had heard correctly.

“Gentlemen, I present to you, U.S. Marshal, Mark McCain from North Fork, the New Mexico Territories.”

The audience stood to their feet, clapping a hearty welcome.

“Thank you, thank you,” offered Mark upon walking to the podium.

“Louder boy, they need to hear you in the back rows,” Senator Borden called from the front row.

“Thank you,” Mark moved his arms to encourage the audience to sit down.

“Are you really The Lawman?” someone in the audience yelled.

“If you’re asking am I the lawman the articles were written about, yes. But as I’ve tried to say before, I’m not The Lawman. I’m one of many who try our best to defend the laws of our nation, and protect the rights of others. I’m no different than any other man who wears the badge of the law, other than I was written about in the newspapers.

“I’m not exactly sure why Senator Rush was so eager to have me address all of you, but let me say this… I stand here and look out upon all of you, I wonder… How many of you are the future lawmakers, governors, senators, maybe even a future president?

“All I can ask is that you work to keep America a land we can be proud of… If you go on to serve in a higher office, remember the others who worked to get you where you are. Each time I pin on my badge, I’m remember certain men in my life, my Pa, Lucas McCain, who has been called The Rifleman. I’m thankful for the way he raised me. I’m thankful for Micah Torrance who was the marshal in North Fork, and reluctantly gave me the chance to wear the badge that first time. And to Johnny Drako, who now stands as the marshal in North Fork, and encouraged me to read about so I could understand the laws I’ve sworn to uphold; the laws that the people who preceded you through Harvard have written.”

“Where’s your rifle?” was yelled by someone off to Mark’s right.

“My rifle? Well, upon my arrival several days ago, I was advised by two police officers, a Cooper Brady and a James O’Hanrahan, that this was a civilized city, and it was up to them to protect the people. Seems a few people on the train were alarmed that I was carrying it right out in the open and probably reported that I was an outlaw.”

The audience laughed at the image.

“Is it true your Pa was as fast with his rifle as any man who stood against him with a six-shooter?”

“He proved it many times,” replied Mark. “But never once did he choose to act when someone wasn’t in need of his help. My Pa believes in one book, The Holy Bible. Whenever he has been forced to take a life, he spent many an hour reading. I’m sure he also spent plenty of time reading while trying to figure out how to properly raise me.”

Many present remembered their own growing up and laughed at the implication.

“And your rifle is the same?” someone else asked.

“Almost, all except the lever loop. My arms aren’t as long as Pa’s, so I can’t twirl cock it.”

Mark rubbed his shoulder as he remembered the first time he attempted to twirl cock his Pa’s rifle and how much it stung as the point of the site gouged into his shoulder. A few more in the audience laughed.

“What are your thoughts on statehood?” came a question from the far back on the left.

“For New Mexico, I’m for it. I hope I live to see the day that New Mexico is admitted as a state and not just a territory.”

“But you didn’t fight in the war!” declared an angry voice from the upper balcony.

“No I didn’t fight in the war, I wasn’t even born.” Mark’s reply caused a ripple of laughter. “Honestly, wars are a terrible thing, and I hope the War Between the States is the last war this country ever has to fight. To many lives were lost, on both sides. If the laws you enact in the future are balanced and just, maybe we’ll never have to send fathers and sons, or brothers to fight the other.”

“Marshal McCain, I thank you for speaking with us today. It is a thrill and an honor to meet you. Keep up the good work!”

The audience stood and clapped as Mark rejoined Gwen and Jake to leave.

*****

“You did good Mark,” Will stated as he clapped Mark on the back.

“I don’t know what good I did. They’re the ones who are the future.”

“Mark, they needed to see who they’re representing. It’s not just Cambridge and Washington or any other city/town in the east. They need to know there are people west of the Mississippi. The stories I wrote only gave them a glimpse of your lives, they needed to know you were real, not just fiction.”

“Thank you Will. I guess we should say goodbye now,” Mark offered as he extended his hand.

“Safe travel back home, and don’t be surprised if I show up on your doorstep needing to write a few more articles about you.”

Senator Rush came up to the group, “Marshal, are you sure you won’t come to Washington with me?”

“Senator, thank you, but let them,” Mark meant those who were exiting the hall, “carry my message. They’re the future of our country…”

*****

The following morning, the three returned to the train station.

“So, how are you going to break the news to your folks that they’re about to become grandparents?” asked Mark as they settled down for their journey home.

“I hadn’t given it any thought. I’m still surprised to find out I’m going to be a father,” Jake answered as he pulled Gwen closer to him.

*****

Their trip home was uneventful until they reached Oklahoma City.

“Sorry folks, but looks like you’ll all have to get off for a while.” The conductor informed the passengers that problems in the engine were necessitating an extended layover.

The stream of passengers disembarked and headed to several of the hotels close to the train depot. Mark, Gwen, and Jake at lunch and chatted for a while. However, as the afternoon progressed, Mark quieted.

“Mark?” asked Jake for a second time.

“Leave him be, Jake. He’s probably thinking on getting home. He’s been separated from his family for too long,” Gwen responded.

*****

They had just finished easting supper at the hotel when the conductor came in, “Okay folks, give us half an hour to bring the boiler up to temperatures and we’ll be on our way.”

The Next Step — Distracted

This is a story based on the TV series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!

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