The Writer's Corner
The Next Step…
Chapter 40 – Introductions
Written by Deanne Bertram
Sunday dawned early for the household, as it had ever since the
birth of the McCain trio; babies needing to be fed and changed
at all hours of the day and night. Today was their first outing.
Everyone was dressed in their Sunday best. As they prepared to
leave Micah and Hattie’s, Milly carried little Ted, while Lucas
carried Myra on his hip. Great-Grandparents Micah and Hattie
carried Joshua and Zachariah, as Mark escorted Hope on his arm –
he hadn’t wanted Hope to walk to church, he felt she still
needed time to recover.
“Mark, I’ll be fine as long as I’m on your arm. Besides, Doc
said I do need to get up and about.” She looked into his eyes
and Mark knew he couldn’t refuse.
Towards the end of the service, Reverend McCafferty stated that
Nils Swenson had returned to town and as Nils stated his
‘piddlin’ injury wouldn’t keep him down’. The Reverend offered
thanks to Marshal James Carson, who had returned Nils home.
“Unfortunately, Marshal Carson was recalled to Denver, where he
could recover from his own injuries with his family. I pray for
his quick recovery.” At Lucas’ request, the Reverend did not
mention the fact that he and Mark were also wounded during the
capture of the Domingo Gang.
Then Reverend McCafferty asked for the McCain’s to please stand.
“Now as everyone present knows, a blessed event happened four
days ago over at Hattie and Micah’s. I spoke with the proud
parents earlier this morning and I’d like to introduce to
everyone, Theodore Scott McCain, the new son of Milly and Lucas
“My brother,” Myra said as Lucas lifted her and set her to his
hip. Which brought a few laughs from their friends.
“And, yes Myra, he is your baby brother.” Reverend McCafferty
answered. “Also, everyone, I’ll like to introduce, Joshua Lucas
McCain and Zachariah James McCain, sons of Hope and Mark
“My brothers too,” Myra called out, before Lucas could put his
hand over her mouth.
That brought a spate of laughter from practically everyone
present. It brought a blush to the McCain’s. It took a few
moments for Reverend McCafferty to bring everyone’s laughter
“Now, I’m sure both sets of parents will raise their children,
proper, in the eyes of the Lord, and I look forward to
performing each baptismal.
As the McCain family walked down the steps, members of the
congregation stopped and offered further congratulations to the
proud parents. All the women hugged both Milly and Hope, whereas
the men shook hands with Lucas and Mark. Afterwards, the
McCain’s, the Torrance’s, and the Drako’s headed to the Mallory
House for lunch. As they were sitting back from finishing
dessert, they heard the afternoon train arrive in town. Mark
stood up and told everyone he would return shortly, “Love, it’s
been a tradition for the Marshal or Deputy to meet the train.
Right now, I’m the only law officer fit duty.” He stopped next
to Hope and lifted her chin and lightly kissed her. “I’ll be
back soon, I promise.”
Those present watched as Mark picked up his rifle and put his
hat back on his head as he left the restaurant.
As he approached the train, he caught the packet the conductor
had tossed his way, “Thanks Jesse,” he called.
Mark turned as he felt the presence of someone standing behind
“I understand many congratulations are in order, Marshal
McCain.” The man stated as he held out his hand. “It’s been
quite a few years since I’ve been back in this territory. Can’t
believe how much North Fork has grown.”
“Marshal Buckhart, what brings you here?” Mark asked, as he
shook his hand.
“On assignment, Mark. At least until your Marshal or Deputy can
resume their duties. Tom Benton filed his initial report and
when Cole Barker told me about the situation, I volunteered to
help out,” Sam stated. “Let me get my horse from the livestock
car and I’ll join you. By the way, there’s someone else on the
train I think you’ll be pleased to see.” Sam pointed over Mark’s
Mark turned around to see a soldier stepping down from the car,
his bag in hand.
“Major!” Mark called as he rapidly walked over and welcomed his
“Mark, congratulations! When I got the wire, I just had to come.
How are they?” he asked as he released Mark from a hug. “How are
“They’re doing fine. Not so sure I am?” Seeing the expression on
Seth’s face, “Oh, nothing that getting a little more sleep
wouldn’t fix sir.”
As Mark walked with the two men to town, he invited Sam to join
them for lunch.
“Mark, you’ve family to tend to. I’ll take the packet and expect
you in the Marshal’s office in two hours. You’ve a report to
write so we can close the file on the Domingo Gang. I’ll also
need to talk with your father, too.”
“Yes sir. I’ll let him know.”
Sam led his horse and tied it up in front of the Marshal’s
Office and entered.
Mark escorted Seth to the hotel. As he entered the restaurant,
the look on his face asked where his family was. Lucas called
over to Mark, “They’re upstairs, room three.” Lucas stood and
walked over and welcomed Seth Lane, while Mark ran to be with
He knocked on the door and heard Hope say, “Come in.” Hope was
sitting in a rocker, nursing one of the babies while Hattie was
changing the other. Mark set his rifle down next to the door and
placed his hat on the dresser, then walked and knelt down next
to his wife.
“I still can’t believe this life we created,” Mark said as he
ran his hand over the back of his son’s head. Hattie came up and
handed the other baby to Mark.
“I’ll leave you four be.” And she left.
Mark looked to his son in his arms and then to his wife. Hope
pulled Zachariah from her breast when she sensed he stopped
nursing. Mark set Joshua in his lap and took Zach, allowing Hope
to re-dress herself. Then he handed Joshua to her. After Mark
finished changing Zach, Mark announced, “There’s another
surprise for you downstairs.”
“Mark, I am tired. I guess the walk to and from church and
everything else took more out of me than I realized. Can your
surprise wait?” Hope asked, apologetically.
“No, but I can bring your surprise up here.” Mark helped Hope
get up from the rocker and into the bed. He placed Joshua and
Zachariah on the bed, next to Hope. “I’ll be right back.”
Mark arrived downstairs and walked to stand beside Seth, “Sir,
Hope is tired, but I think seeing you will perk her up. Today
was her first day up and about, and I guess the walk to church
was a little much for her. If you’d come with me, I’ll introduce
you to grandsons.”
Seth followed Mark upstairs to room three. Mark lightly knocked
on the door before entering. As he peaked in, he saw Hope
caressing one baby and then the other, “Hope, do you care for a
visitor? I’ve someone here who really wants to see you, and to
meet his grandsons.”
“Meet his… Father!” Hope exclaimed as Mark opened the door wide.
He closed the door behind them once they were inside.
“Hope,” Seth stated as he walked to his daughter.
“Congratulations! When I received Mark’s wire that the babies
had been born, I told Colonel Albright that I was taking time
off to spend with my grandsons, and their family. I just can’t
“Sir, if you’d like, have a seat,” Mark motioned to the rocker.
Seth sat down and Mark picked up one of their sons from the bed,
quickly peaked at the boy’s wrist. Joshua Lucas, I’d like you to
meet your Grandfather Seth. Sir, this is our first born, Joshua
Seth took the baby in his arms, a smile was beaming across his
face. “With twins and both being boys, how are you so sure this
one is your first born?”
“Joshua has a birthmark on the inside of his left wrist, right
now, it’s the only clue I have,” Mark said with a slight laugh.
“And my other grandson?”
Mark took his other son from Hope’s arms, “Zachariah James, I’m
pleased to introduce you to your Grandfather Seth. Sir,
“Father, please don’t be upset that we didn’t name one after
you. But Mark and I talked that, that honor should go to Ethan,
when he and Annie have children,” Hope said, hoping her father
“Hope, as long as you and the babies, and Mark, are healthy, you
could have named them Ebeneezer and I wouldn’t have minded,
well, maybe not that name. Hope, these boys are yours and Mark’s
family, I’m just proud to have a small part in your family.”
“Father , it will never be a small part. Even though you live at
the fort, the boys will know you as they grow up.”
A short time later, there was a knock at the door, Lucas stuck
his head in. Well I see I’m being challenged already for the
title of Best Grandfather,” and laughed. “Mark, just checking to
see how you are and to let you know that Milly and I are heading
back to Micah and Hattie’s.”
Mark stepped to the hallway to talk with his father.
“Thanks Pa, I think I’m going to talk with Lou about us staying
here tonight. Today took a lot out of Hope.”
“I understand, but make sure when Hope sees Doc Thadd tomorrow,
that you talk to him about this. Remember Mark, Hope is young,
and with the difficulties during her pregnancy and then birthing
the twins, it’s going to take her a while to regain her
strength, But, don’t brush it off.” Giving Mark a squeeze to the
shoulder, Lucas bid goodbye.
“Oh Pa. Marshal Buckhart is in town. He volunteered to help out
until Doc Burrage releases either Micah or Johnny for duty. He
wants to talk with you so he can finish his report. As soon as I
see Hope settled, I’m heading to the office.”
“Let Sam know I’ll stop in tomorrow morning.”
Monday morning, Mark and Hope walked to Doc’s, each carrying one
of the boys. First Mark checked at the Marshal’s office. Lucas
was just finishing give his account to Sam. As he was getting
ready to leave he told Mark,
“I’m heading to the ranch to work for a while this morning. I’ll
be back this afternoon, your Ma has an appointment with Doc
Burrage. Good luck with your appointment this morning.”
Mark said goodbye to his Pa, then turned to Sam, “Sam, I’d like
to introduce you to my wife, Hope and our sons, Joshua and
Zachariah. Hope this is Marshal Sam Buckhart, he’s here to help
out until Doc Burrage allows Johnny or Micah to return to duty.”
“Pleased to meet you Marshal Buckhart, but I think we’ve met
before,” Hope stated.
“Ma’am, it’s my pleasure, but I’m not sure we have. It’s been a
long time since I was last in North Fork.”
“No, it wasn’t here. I think you visited the reservation. Sir,
I…” Hope looked to Mark.
“Sam, for six years, Hope lived with the Kiowa tribe lead by
Iron Heart. She came to live in North Fork shortly before we
Sam looked at Hope and a look of recognition came across his
face. “Dawn Fire, if my memory serves me correct.”
“It does,” Hope replied with a smile.
“So, I would be interested in learning how the daughter of Major
Lane became the daughter of Iron Heart, and then the wife of
Mark McCain. Maybe we could share supper one night.”“Sam, why
not tonight?” Mark asked.
“It would make a great celebration,” Sam stated.
“Celebration? Sam what are you talking about?” Mark asked.
“Mark, when we met at the train yesterday, I told you that many
congratulations were due to you. First, I’m a little late in
congratulating you on your marriage. Second, for the birth of
your sons. Third, you already know, but maybe it hasn’t quite
sunk in yet. Cole Barker told me I was to exchange your town
deputy badge and give you this one.”
Sam Buckhart held out his hand to Mark and presented him a new
badge, stamped U.S. Marshal.
“But, I’ve not made my mind up, Marshal Benton said nothing
could happen until I turned twenty-one,” Mark stated.
“Mark, you’ll still be located in North Fork, we won’t ask you
to travel about as a lot of us do, but this gives you more
authority for when we do need you. Besides, Benton said I wasn’t
to take no for an answer and remind you that you’ve already
taken a bullet in the line of duty as a U.S. Marshal.”
“Sam, I need to get Hope and the boys over to Doc’s.” And then
seeing the expression on Hope’s face. “Give me some time to talk
with Hope. I’ll be back later.”
“Mark McCain, what did he mean that you’ve already taken a
bullet?” Hope demanded once they were out of the office.
“Hope, we’ll talk, once we’re done at Doc’s,” Mark said as his
After finishing his examination of Hope, Doc Thadd stated, “I’d
really prefer if Hope stays in town for another week or so.
Nothing’s wrong, I just want to keep an eye on her for a little
while longer. Hope, you still are weak, it’s nothing to be
overly concerned about, but this way, you won’t try to do too
much too soon to help out, as you would if you were out at the
ranch. And I know that Hattie will keep an eye on you and the
“Doc, we can’t continue to be a burden on Hattie and Micah. I
mean, they’re like family… But Hattie has her hands full keeping
“Mark, if you feel that way, then stay at the hotel. Besides, I
think Abigail might appreciate talking with Hope, seeing as how
we’re expecting our first child.”
“Thadd, that’s great news!” Mark exclaimed. “When?”
“Around Thanksgiving. Abigail told me shortly after you found
out the two of you were expecting twins. We kind of kept it
quiet, but she’s really starting to show, so, the whole world
can know now.”
“Doc?” Hope asked. “Maybe I might get a straight answer from
you. Did you know Mark was shot?”
Thadd looked to Mark and saw him nod his head. “Yes Hope, I
did,” Thadd stated as he looked at Hope.
“So everyone was just going to keep this a secret from me?”
“Hope, please, let’s go where we can talk,” Mark replied.
“No! I’m your wife and no one has said anything about this? Who
Neither Mark nor Thadd said anything. Abigail entered the room
after hearing Hope’s voice.
“If Marshal Buckhart hadn’t said anything, would you have told
me?” Mark could hear her anger and worry.
“I…” Mark started.
“No, I don’t want to hear it from you! You wanted to keep this
as a secret, so keep it!”
Turning to Abigail, Hope asked, “Abigail, would you help me get
MY sons back to Hattie’s?” Abigail looked to Mark and then to
her husband, who nodded.
After the women left, Thadd turned to Mark and said, “I’m sorry
“It’s not your fault Thadd. With the babies and everything else,
the opportunity just never presented itself to tell her, I just
didn’t want to worry her. And it’s not bothered me since those
first couple of days after Pa and I got home…”
Milly spent the morning with Lou at the hotel, after lunch,
Lucas joined her for the walk to Doc’s, where they received news
that she and little Ted could go home.
As they were starting to leaving, Doc Burrage spoke, “Lucas,
Milly, know how anxious you probably are to head home. But, you
might want to stay in town for a while though. I think Mark and
Hope could use your help right now.”
Thadd proceeded to tell them what happened earlier, neither had
realized that Mark hadn’t said anything to Hope.
The Next Step — Broken Fences
This is a story based on the TV
series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
around The McCain Ranch