The Writer's Corner
Chapter 114 - Life's Changes
Written by Deanne Bertram
“Hope, how are ye and Mark?” Lou asked of Hope as they each
bumped into the other as they came from the separate rooms where
their husbands slept.
“We’re doing okay, what of you and Johnny?”
“He’s arguing that he has a town to protect.”
“Sounds like Johnny. Mark’s not doing any arguing, just yet.”
“Wha’ tis that smell?” Lou asked, scrunching her face at the
“Mark’s clothes, not sure what all was spilled on him, he smells
just as bad as his shirt and pants.”
“Let me take those and I’ll have them laundered.”
“Lou, that’s not necessary, you have enough on your hands with
taking care of Johnny,” Hope answered. “But I do appreciate your
The two women giggled over their worries for their own husbands,
yet still wanting to help the other.
“Well, if there is anything I can do for ye or Mark… Ye just let
me know. I could have Chelsea prepare a bath for Mark at the
“I’m afraid he can’t be moved that far, at least not yet.”
“How bad did they beat him up?”
“Those… those…” Hope couldn’t bring herself to say what she
really wanted to say. “He suffered a pretty good concussion,
Thadd wants to keep him quiet for a little while longer.”
“I’ll see if a couple of my workers can bring a tub over and
arrange for some hot water. I’m sure he’ll be feeling better if
he were to smell better.”
The two women hugged before they went their separate ways.
With Hattie and Micah in their bedroom and their young children
asleep in bed, Lucas and Milly sat on the front porch of their
home, allowing the coolness of the evening air to relax some of
the tension both felt.
“Lucas, who is Elizabeth?” Milly asked, leaning back to her
“Elizabeth? Elizabeth who?”
“I don’t know who, it’s just that…” Milly gave a brief shiver.
“While I was waiting for Doc Burrage to arrive last night, Micah
whispered the name Elizabeth.”
“Elizabeth…mmm… She was Micah’s first wife.”
“Wife, I didn’t know he was married…what happened?”
“She died.” Lucas stated, he continued when he heard Milly’s
sharp intake of breath, “They were up in Montana when a good
friend, Micah’s partner, took all their money and left, saying
he’d come back with it doubled. No one knew how bad or quick
winter was to set in. Elizabeth got sick and Micah had no way to
go for help or even pay for a doctor. Micah never saw the man
again until after he settled here. Mark and I found a man
gravely wounded out on the road and took him to town. Doc Jay
asked if I’d be willing to donate blood to try to save the man’s
life. Micah came in shortly and told me to let the man die.”
“That doesn’t sound like Micah,” observed Milly.
“No, it didn’t. After Doc released me, I tracked Micah down and
asked why? That was the only time he ever mentioned Elizabeth. I
encouraged Micah to come back Doc Jay’s to see the man. Before
he died, he handed Micah an envelope, inside was the money; he
kept his promise and doubled their money.”
“Why would Micah call out to her and not Hattie?”
“Doc Thadd told you that Micah could have died, maybe he sensed
“Milly, it’s been a long day, why don’t we just be thankful for
what we have,” commented Lucas.
“I am thankful; thankful that Mark is going to recover and that
Micah is alive. Guess we should go pull in a couple of the cots
from the storage locker in the barn…”
“I almost would prefer to sneak over to sleep at Mark’s.”
“I’ll not have the children wake during the night and wake
Hattie or Micah, looking for one of us,” Milly declared.
“I said ‘almost’,” teased Lucas as he helped Milly to her feet.
After Mark had bathed, Hope helped him return to the bed at the
clinic, she pulled the blankets over his shoulder and kissed him
goodnight before she returned to collect her children from the
daycare, where Gwen had watched over them for the day.
“I’m so sorry to put you out like this, Gwen. I remember how
uncomfortable I was during the last month of my pregnancies.”
“Hope, your children are angels, besides, I had Mrs. Donner
helping to watch all the children today,” Gwen replied.
“Well, I’m just glad to hear they were on their best behavior
The following morning, Deputy U.S. Marshal Coltrane Walker
settled into watching over North Fork until her own lawmen could
return to duty. He’d previously seen two of his deputies
transfer Tag-a-long Riley from the jail on to the train for the
final leg of his trip to Yuma.
“Morees, I’m gonna walk the town,” Coltrane stated as he placed
his hat on his head and left the office.
While walking the town, he surveyed how much North Fork had
grown since his first visit; new business establishments and
homes were flourishing, as were the number of children he saw
heading towards the two schools.
Before returning to the office he heard, “Marshal Walker! Do you
have a minute?”
“How can I help you Sweeney?” Coltrane replied.
Sweeney opened the doors to the saloon and invited Coltrane
inside, “Can I get you a cup of coffee?”
Coltrane removed his hat as he took a seat at one of the tables.
“Marshal, I don’t know who to talk to…” Sweeney stated as he
handed Coltrane the cup of coffee and took a seat on the
opposite side of the table. “I mean with the Marshal’s laid up
Coltrane observed Sweeney’s hands shake as he took a seat and
reached for his own cup of coffee. “What can I do for you?”
“I didn’t’ expect it to be like this… I’m not exactly cut out to
do this kind of thing. I just wanted to…”
“Maybe you should tell me what’s troubling you, from the
beginning,” Coltrane suggested as he enjoyed a long sip on his
“The other night, I killed two men,” Sweeney explained as he
tried to settle his nerves with a drink of coffee.
“It’s never easy to face the aftermath.”
“I just didn’t want to be used against this town anymore and I
thought that as long as I knew how to use it, it wouldn’t come
to that… At my insistence, Mark taught me how to use a shotgun.”
Sweeney looked to the two boarded up windows in the front of his
“Sweeney, you didn’t go looking for the trouble that came to
North Fork. But consider this had you not acted as you did, it’s
very possible that this town would be burying a number of her
citizens instead of those outlaws…”
“How do you do it? How do you live with the fact that you’ve
taken a life…”
“When I’ve had to kill, I accept it based on the circumstances.
Did I callously take the life or did I do it to protect my own
life or the lives of those I’m sworn to protect?”
“But I’m not a lawman…”
“Doesn’t matter,” replied Coltrane. “As a citizen of this town,
any town, if you know how to use a weapon you have an obligation
to protect others. That’s what most people don’t realize, but
then North Fork has those like Lucas and Mark who’ll step up.”
“But Mark’s a lawman…” Sweeney interrupted.
“He wasn’t always… He wasn’t a lawman when he joined that posse.
His weapon at that time was that he knew how to track as good as
his Pa. He felt obligated to help.”
“I think I understand what you’re saying…I just never expected
to have to use that blasted shotgun.”
“Me and a lot of other people of this town are thankful that you
had the courage to use it. When it comes to being a lawman, it
helps to know that the town will help back ya. Sweeney, why
don’t you spend some time with the parson, I think he might be
able to relieve your conscience. You have nothing to feel guilty
about, in the eyes of the law. But maybe you are feeling that
way, in the Eyes of God.”
“I think I’ll do that. I’m feeling a little better just talking
to you, and maybe I just need to know that God won’t hold this
“See you later.”
Coltrane collected his hat and left the saloon, ‘Yes, this town
sure had changed.’
Several days later, when Mark could consistently sit up and walk
a short distance without any ill effects, Thadd released him
from the clinic with instructions to head home, or better yet,
to Seth’s since he and Lilah had yet to return. Lucas and Hope
assisted Mark as he climbed the steps to the house; yet allowed
him to walk across the floor on his own to sit in the big
overstuffed chair in the parlor.
“Where are the children?” asked Mark after having taken and
exhaled a deep breath.
“Uncle Johnny and Aunt Colleen are watching Eli and the girls
today while the twins are at school. I asked them to bring them
back around four, that should give you time to take a nap.”
“A nap?” complained Mark.
“Yes, a nap. You rattled your brain pretty good and Thadd told
you to take it easy.”
Knowing his son, Lucas stated, “I did stop by the office and
Coltrane gave me a packet of reports for you to review…”
“I’ll review the reports,” answered Mark as he took the packet
“I’ll check in on you tomorrow,” Lucas stated,
Hope saw Lucas to the front door and thanked him, “Pa, thank you
for being here.”
“No need to thank me, but you send word if he gets stubborn,”
Lucas stated. He placed his hand to Hope’s cheek and wiped away
an errant tear. “He’ll be fine, just like always. I know he’d
rather see you smiling than crying.”
“Thanks Pa,” Hope answered as she smiled and reached up to
squeeze his wrist.
Within fifteen minutes of beginning to read the reports, Mark’s
head started bobbing and a few moments later the papers slid
from his fingers. After picking up the reports, Hope lovingly
placed an afghan over Mark’s shoulders, smiling as she shook her
Mark slept through the train whistling its arrival at the depot.
He startled awake upon hearing a man call, “We’re home! Where
are my grandchildren?!”
“What?” mumbled Mark as he tried to figure out where he was and
who was home?
“Father!” Hope declared as she ran from the kitchen.
“What happened to you?!” asked a shocked Lilah upon entering the
parlor and seeing the bullet graze across Mark’s temple.
“Seth? Lilah?” Mark groggily asked, shaking his head to clear
the sleep from his mind.
“What could happen, indeed,” Seth declared as he set their
luggage down inside the front door. “Where’s Micah?”
“Father, please…” Hope pleaded.
“Would someone tell me what happened while we were gone?” Seth
asked in a reprimanding tone.
“We had a little bit of trouble,” answered Mark as he sat
forward in the chair.
“Mark, you go back to sleep and I’ll answer all Father’s
questions,” replied Hope.
“I’ve slept enough,” answered Mark.
“And you’ll sleep some more. Do as I say; don’t make me go get
Thadd… or send for Pa!.” Turning to her father, “Father, Lilah,
please, come into the kitchen and I’ll explain everything.”
From behind the kitchen door, Hope watched as Mark reached for
and drank from the glass of water, which she had earlier placed
on the side table. Mark settled back in the chair and his eyes
closed, Hope closed the door to the kitchen knowing it was a
rotten trick to lace the water with Laudanum.
“So, do you care to tell me what happened?” asked Seth, with a
disapproving look on his face.
“It probably would have been best had you stopped by the
Marshal’s Office and talked with Deputy Walker before coming
home… but you couldn’t have known to do that.”
“Father, Lilah, please have a seat.” After waiting for them to
sit at the kitchen table, Hope sat down and answered, “The
Wildcat Bunch was in town attempting to break one of their own
from being transferred on the train. They kidnapped Sarah
McCafferty to force Reverend and Mrs. McCafferty to leave so a
fake preacher could come to town. No one thought anything of a
new parson asking questions, attempting to learn about the
people. Turns out, he was Wildcat Riley. Some of his gang got
rowdy at Sweeney’s and Mark tried to stop them…:
“By himself?” asked Seth.
“Not really, from what Thelma told me, they only thought there
was the one drunk… It wasn’t until after Mark has been shot when
everyone realized there was more to it than just the one man.”
“How bad was he injured?” asked Lilah
“Another concussion, Johnny was shot in the shoulder, and John
Hamilton took a bullet wound through his forearm.”
“Johnny’s back?” asked Seth.
“He returned the night this all happened,” replied Hope.
“Good God, why didn’t you…”
“Father, that’s not all… evidently Micah saw Mark already
unconscious at Sweeney’s, he rode for Pa… He suffered a heart
“Lucas or Micah?!” asked an alarmed Lilah.
“He’s not dead, is he?” Lilah couldn’t keep the fear from her
“No, Doc was on his way out to Lucas and Milly’s this afternoon
to see if he’s strong enough to return to his own home; I lent
him your surrey. Hattie’s been out at the ranch with him since
the morning after.”
“And Coltrane Walker is the only one protecting North Fork?”
“He was in charge of transferring the prisoner and he’s been
temporarily re-assigned here. He also has another deputy U.S.
Marshal helping out.”
“Hope, why didn’t you wire us?”
“You couldn’t have gotten home any sooner. This all happened
Friday night into Saturday.”
“What of Sarah and the others?” Lilah asked.
“With the help of Coltrane, Nils, and Percy, Pa was able to
rescue her. Reverend McCafferty returned home that night with
Johnny, they had been staying in Marionette, waiting for word
from those outlaws. Maggie brought Johnny and Lou’s children
“Hope, by your asking us to come in here, I’m presuming Mark
doesn’t know about the others?” Seth cautiously asked, looking
to the kitchen door to make sure Mark didn’t come in.
Trying to keep control of her emotions Hope answered, “He knows
about Johnny and John, but we’ve not told him about Micah.
Father, he’s going to have to give up being a deputy. The next
time something happens…Thadd said it could kill him.”
Hope couldn’t keep her tears any longer; Lilah walked to Hope
and wrapped her arms around her.
Using the Seth’s surrey, Thadd drove the team to the McCain
Ranch. Upon his arrival, he was pleased to see Micah sitting at
the table, eating lunch with the children.
“Well,” Thadd stated after examining Micah in the McCain
bedroom, with Hattie anxiously watching. “I think you are
recovered enough that you can return to town. But you’re still
to take it easy until I say otherwise.”
While Micah buttoned his shirt, Thadd informed Micah and Hattie
that he expected to see Micah in his office every week, for at
least the next six weeks.
“I’ll let you know when we can stretch it out. I just want to
make sure that your heart is responding to the medication,”
Thadd stated. Hearing Micah complain at the restriction, Thadd
continued, “Micah, if you become too active too soon, you could
set your recovery back. If you follow my instructions, in six
weeks we can probably move your appointments to once a month.”
“Micah, please…” pleaded Hattie. “Do as Thadd says?”
Upon returning to the front room, Micah tried to be in a better
mood, “Guess you’re ready to get your own bed back?” he teased.
“As long as Doc says you’re ready to go home, otherwise, you and
Hattie can stay here for as long as you need,” answered Lucas.
Hattie rested her head on Micah’s shoulder, with his arm wrapped
around her, as they sat in the back of the surrey for the trip
back to North Fork.
Having seen Micah inside his home, Thadd drove the team to
return them to the livery when Isaiah Cooperton ran up and
informed him that he was needed at the schoolhouse.
“What’s wrong?” Thadd asked.
“Mr. Bullock thinks Adam Tunneson broke his leg. He fell out of
“Tell your teacher I’ll be right there.”
Reaching for his bag, Thadd jumped down from the surrey and
followed Isaiah to the schoolhouse.
Finally returning home just before midnight, a weary Thadd
Burrage sat down in the chair in his bedroom, and looked to his
sleeping wife as he pulled off his boots. He thought on all he
had done since having woke; checking John, Johnny, and Mark,
driving to the McCain’s to bring Hattie and Micah home, taking
Adam Tunneson from the school to the clinic to cast his broken
leg, before being called out to Oat Jackford’s place; to tend to
one of his hands who had been thrown from a horse when a
rattlesnake spooked the animal. He sank back in his chair as the
events of the day pulled him to sleep.
The following morning, Abigail found her husband still asleep in
the chair; she knelt in front of him and gently shook him awake.
“Thadd?” Abigail quietly called.
“Who needs me?” Thadd wearily asked.
“No one. Thadd, why didn’t you come to be last night?”
“I guess I was too tired. Abigail, as much a North Fork has
grown, she needs a second physician. I just can’t continue to do
it all on my own anymore.”
“Have you received any response to the wires you sent?”
“Not a one. Abby…”
“Talk to me.”
“I’m worried that as exhausted as I’m getting… I’m going to make
a mistake, and it could possibly cost someone his or her life.
I’ve been lucky for far too long...”
“You’re a wonderful physician,” Abigail stated.
“Wonderful or not, North Fork needs more than just me.”
Several more days passed before Mark and Hope returned to the
clinic, hoping today would be the day Thadd would release Mark.
After a thorough examination, Thadd was extremely pleased with
Mark’s improvement in dexterity and ability to focus, after
suffering the concussion.
“I think I’ll let Seth and Lilah’s home return to normal and say
you can return to your own home,” Thadd stated as he put away
his equipment. “But Mark…”
“You’ll still need to take it easy for a while. If you get even
the slightest of headache, I want to know about it.”
“Will do Doc. I guess Micah’s been enjoying his continued time
at the office,” stated a cheerful Mark.
Hope gasped at Mark’s comment.
“Mark, we’ve kept something from you that I think I should
finally tell you,” Thadd stated.
“What’s wrong?” Mark looked to his wife and the smile that had
been on his face disappeared.
“Mark,” Hope started to explain. “When the Wildcat Bunch was in
“Micah? What about Micah?” an alarmed Mark asked. “Come to think
about it, I’ve not seen him. What happened to Micah?!”
“Micah’s going to okay, but he suffered a heart attack that
night,” Thadd answered.
“A heart attack? How?”
“Mark, you were already unconscious in the saloon when he rode
“The stress and strain of seeing you unconscious and racing his
horse out to the ranch, it was too much exertion on his heart.
You forget, he’s a lot older than your Pa,” Thadd explained.
“But he’s not looked so young in a long time. I mean after
Johnny… He has a spring in his step when he’s helping…” Mark’s
voice conveyed his confusion.
“Yes, he has, but that’s an outward expression of how he feels.
I’m talking about his physical health.”
“Where is he?” asked Mark.
“He’s stayed for a number of days at the ranch. The day Thadd
allowed you to leave the clinic and return to Father’s, Thadd
rode to the ranch and returned Micah and Hattie to their home.”
“Mark, he has to realize marshaling is for the young…”
“Giving up wearing the badge is going to kill him…” announced a
“He’s done it before…” stated Thadd.
“But that was his decision,” argued Mark.
“Continuing to be placed in these situations will kill him,
eventually. Mark, I know it’s not going to be easy for him,”
“You’re asking him to give up his life…”
“No, I’m asking for him to give up a job so he can still have a
life to live,” corrected Thadd.
After leaving the clinic, Mark said goodbye to Hope, allowing
her to continue to her father’ as he stopped by the Marshal’s
“Afternoon Mark, So…has your doctor returned you to active
duty?” Coltrane asked.
“Yeah, I can return tomorrow. Johnny, you knew about Micah?”
“I did,” replied Johnny. “Mark, I’m sorry we kept the news from
you, but Doc and Hope felt that in your condition, it was risky
telling you. I’m dealing with my own guilt for pinning that damn
badge back on him.”
“I know…” Mark didn’t hide his own guilt from his voice. “How
about Micah? Have you told him that he needs to give up the
badge?” asked Mark.
“I can’t bring myself to do it,” admitted Johnny. “It just
doesn’t seem fair, he has so much insight and knowledge to offer
up and coming lawmen.”
“Johnny, if I may?” Coltrane interrupted.
With his arm that was not in the sling, Johnny motion for
Coltrane to continue.
“What if there was a way for Deputy Torrance to continue. I
agree he has a lot to offer…”
“What do you have in mind?” asked Mark.
“Mark, remember when you first became a deputy U.S. Marshal?”
“What if we have training classes here, in North Fork? Or Micah
could travel to Denver. He can be one of our instructors; he can
still keep up with wanted posters and have a position here in
the office… He can work with your lawyer, Robert Garrison, and
discuss courses of law and responsibilities… ”
“I like that idea,” Johnny stated as his mood considerably
“Johnny, I need to get my family home, but I’ll be back tomorrow
morning to officially return to work. I’ll bring Micah with me
“That means we need to talk with Robert,” Johnny stated as he
looked to Coltrane.
“See you tomorrow!” called Mark as he left the Marshal’s Office
in a much better mood than he had entered.
Lucas and Milly welcomed Mark and his family back home by
inviting them over for supper. The children had fun catching up
on everything that had happened while they had been separated,
The children we asleep in their own beds when Lucas walked
across the yard after seeing Mark sitting on the porch of his
“Hope told Milly that you were told about Micah today,” Lucas
stated as he sat down.
“Yeah, I feel guilty…had I been more observant I could have
prevented this whole fiasco from happening. I’m sorry…”
“Mark, you were one man against four. You couldn’t have
“I know that, but still… Pa, I’m going to talk with Hattie
tomorrow about Micah.”
“That’s not going to be an easy task…”
“Easier than you think, if Hattie agrees to our proposal.”
With the sun having set, Lucas couldn’t make out the expression
on Mark’s face, but he heard something in his son’s voice.
“Just what are you proposing?”
“Moving the U.S. Marshal training classes to North Fork, with
Micah as one of the lead instructors. Pa, being a marshal runs
in Micah’s veins, he’s taught me so much over the years and
Johnny agrees that he has a lot more to offer than being put in
a rocking chair on the porch. Coltrane was the one who suggested
it, and no one impresses him very easily.”
Mark interrupted, “Pa, we won’t do it if Hattie is against it, I
just know how Micah needs to feel… needed. That he belongs…”
“I was about to say, if Hattie agrees, I think it’s a great
The sun was well on its way marking the morning sky when Mark
returned to town and knocked on the back kitchen door to Hattie
and Micah’s home, removing his hat when Hattie opened the door.
“Mark, it’s good to see you up and about.”
“Thank you Hattie… How’s Micah?”
“Moping about… he’s been waiting for you or Johnny to come and
“Hattie, I think we’ve come up with a way to keep Micah from
harm, but to still keep him feeling that he’s needed. Once a
lawman,” Mark stated.
Hattie finished, “Always a lawman. Just what did you have in
“Actually, Marshal Walker came up with the idea, after Johnny
stated how much Micah still has to offer to new lawmen. We’re
thinking of moving the training sessions for the U.S. Marshal
Service to North Fork or maybe the two of you traveling to
Denver, Micah would be an instructor to those new to wearing a
badge. He’d work with Robert Garrison in teaching the law…”
“Mark, I think it’s a wonderful idea. Oh, he’s coming down the
stairs…” Hattie started pushing Mark out the back door. “You get
to the front door and pretend that we’ve not talked. Get him out
of the house. It will do him good.”
Mark slipped out of the house and made his way to the front door
and knocked, Micah opened the door.
“Marshal, I presume you’re here for your badge,” Micah glumly
“Morning Micah,” Mark offered cheerfully, hoping his secret
would brighten Micah’s eyes. “Yes, I’m here for the badge, but
also the lawman who wears it.”
Micah paused in his walking to the fireplace, turned, and looked
to Mark; who had removed his hat and entered the foyer.
“The lawman...” Micah humf’d. ‘I’m not that man any more… I’m an
old man, lived beyond my use. Put me out to pasture.”
“I don’t know about putting you out to pasture, but Doc released
me to return to work today, said you were recovered enough, too.
And besides, you still have a job in town. So, get your boots on
and pin that badge back on your vest!”
Hattie came from the kitchen, “Mark, it’s good to see you. What
brings you to our home?”
“I’m here for one of my deputies who thinks it’s okay to
derelict his duties.”
“I have no duties, Hattie told me what Doc said,” Micah
answered, disappointment still in his voice.
“Doc doesn’t understand once a lawman, always a lawman. Come on,
Johnny, Coltrane and I want to discuss with you your new
responsibilities with the U.S. Marshal Service.”
“New responsibilities…Marshal Service,” Micah’s voice perked up.
A smiling Hattie closed the door behind Mark and Micah, pleased
to see life returning to her husband’s eyes.
Once at the office, Johnny, Coltrane, Mark, and Robert discussed
their plans with Micah. After an hour, Micah followed Robert as
he returned to his office where they could discuss more
specifics, having seen the overview of the program that Mark had
drafted the night before.
While making his afternoon rounds, Mark was stopped by Johnny
Gibbs, who had stepped from the front of the hardware store.
“What’s up Uncle Johnny?” asked Mark.
“Just thought I’d let you know, the tubs and large kettles you
and Lucas ordered are scheduled come in on the train this
“Thanks, Uncle Johnny, I’ll let Pa know.”
Having said goobye to Coltrane Walker and Deputy Morees Saturday
morning, Lucas and Mark loaded their orders into the back of
their buckboards and returned home. They halted in front of
their respective homes, with Jake McCafferty and Johnny Gibbs
having followed them home to help unload the tubs and carry them
into the homes.
Upon attempting to carry the first tub into Lucas and Milly’s
home, Johnny laughingly stated, “Guess we need to take the doors
off so we can get this through.”
Setting the tub down, Lucas made quick work of removing the
doors and once the tub was inside the room, he re-hung the
Mark and Lucas worked throughout the afternoon to hook the pipes
to the drains and pumps, and install the water heating systems
Mark had designed so neither of their wives had to lug buckets
of water from the kitchen into the tub room.
When they finished the last of their projects in Mark and Hope’s
home, they stood to the side admiring their handiwork.
“I could really enjoy a hot bath in that tub after all the work
to get them installed,” commented Lucas.
“Oh no you don’t!” called Milly as she and Hope entered the tub
room in Hope’s home. “Hope gets to enjoy the first bath in their
“Well, okay, Mrs. McCain, I didn’t mean this tub, I can wait
until I get to my own tub,” teased Lucas.
“Not so fast… I get to enjoy the first bath in our tub room,”
“Pa, I don’t think either of us will win this argument,”
answered Mark as he smiled at the jovial family exchange.
Mark explained to Hope and Milly how the water heating system
worked; “Use this pump to add water to this kettle and start a
fire underneath it. When it’s hot enough, use this other pump to
drain the water from the kettle into the tub. And this final
pump allows you to add cooler water so the water isn’t too hot.”
“Well, you both can wash up out back, supper is on the table,”
Milly stated as she secretly relished the bath she would take
Once their children were down for the night, Milly slipped into
the tub room and appreciated the sheer simplicity of not having
to lug water buckets to fill the tub. In anticipation, she had
purchased a new product that Lou had recommended, a soap that
bubbled up when agitated in the water; Milly inhaled deeply of
its fragrance. Slipping from her clothes and with her left foot,
she tested the water temperature before climbing all the way
into the tub.
Milly enjoyed relaxing and stretching out in the warm water
while she bathed herself. She was just thinking of how large the
tub was when she heard a quiet knock on the door and for a
moment regretted that she hadn’t latched the door closed when
she saw it begin to open.
“Care for someone to scrub your back?” Lucas asked as he peeked
around the door.
“Lucas McCain!” Milly called out.
“Shhh… you’ll wake the children. I thought you’d enjoy some
Lucas entered the tub room, turned, and latched the door. In the
dim light provided by the lantern on the table, Lucas unbuttoned
and removed his shirt and dropped it to the floor. Next, he sat
down on the stool and removed his boots and socks. Standing up,
Lucas removed his belt and finally his jeans, before he slipped
from his undergarments.
Climbing into the tub to sit behind Milly, he reached in front
of her and took the washrag and soap. It had been a while since
Lucas had felt the feelings that stirred in his body as he
gently ran the soapy rag over his wife’s back. He leaned forward
and kissed the back of her neck.
In time, Milly leaned back against Lucas and whispered, “My
The two switched placed in the tub, allowing Milly to sit behind
Lucas in order to scrub his back. Once Milly finished with
Lucas’ back, she pulled him backwards towards her, and she
reached around and ran her hand with the soapy rag and her other
hand over Lucas chest.
Lucas was first to step from the tub and dry himself off, he
wrapped the towel around his waist while Milly washed her hair.
Lucas poured clean water over her head to rinse the soap from
her hair. He assisted Milly from the tub, before he pulled the
drain plug. Still kneeling beside the tub, he watched Milly
towel herself dry, admiring the woman who was his wife. Lucas
stood and walked to his wife, took the towel from her hands and
wrapped it around her body. After blowing out the lantern, he
unlatched the door as he proceeded to lead Milly to their
bedroom. With the door closed, he lifted her into his arms and
as he lay her gently on the bed he pulled the towel from her
body and crawled in bedside her, removing the towel from around
his own waist.
“I love you Mrs. McCain,” Lucas whispered as he pulled the
covers over their bodies and began caressing his wife.
Lucas wasn’t alone in the fire that welled within him that
night, Milly felt the fire too, running her hands over his
muscled chest, toying with his chest hairs; sighing at the
pleasure of Lucas running his hands over her body.
Milly lifted her head and began teasingly kissing Lucas, but
Lucas turned the kiss passionate by wrapping his arms around her
and holding her tight against him. Lucas felt the softness of
Milly’s skin as she pressed her body against his and that only
drove his desire deeper. Both gave into their desire for passion
and the pleasures of being husband and wife.
When they finally lay apart, each lying on their side, facing
the other; Milly wondered at the depth of feelings she still had
for Lucas; how after even all these years of marriage, the
desire to make love to him could be so strong; even stronger
than their wedding night.
“Lucas, I pray our love never grows old,” Milly whispered.
“Our love will only grow stronger. I’ve told you before how
you’ve completed my life; what we share is more than I ever
imagined,” Lucas replied as he lie next to her, marveling that
he could share his life with a woman who made his life this
complete, again. “Do I still make you feel giddy like a
“No, it’s been a long time since you’ve made me feel that way. I
feel like…a woman.”
“Yes, you do,” mused Lucas as he ran his hand along her arm down
to her hips and to her thigh.
Mark and Hope placed their children to bed and oversaw their
nightly prayers, before retiring to their own bedroom.
“If you’d like to take a bath, you can. I don’t have to be
first,” Hope offered. “The water should be hot enough by now.”
Mark stood next to Hope and wrapped his arms around her back,
pulling her close to him. He leaned his head down to her lips
and passionately kissed her. He broke his lips from hers long
enough for him to reach down and lift her into his arms.
“Mark?! What are you doing?” queried Hope.
“Shhh… You’ll wake the children,” he replied as he carried her
out of their bedroom, across the floor of the front room, and
into their tub room. “I think the tub is large enough for the
two of us.”
Mark remembered their wedding night as he began to unbutton the
back of Hope’s dress, he ran his hands over the soft skin of her
back, but before he could pull the dress from her body, Hope
turned in his arms and began unbuttoning his shirt, pulling the
shirttail from his pants, and pushing it from his shoulders.
Mark took Hope’s face in his hands as he leaned forward again to
kiss her, while he felt her unbuckling his belt and pulling it
from his pants. He heard it drop to the floor. Next, Hope undid
his pants, but stopped short of removing them from his hips.
Hope wrapped her arms around Mark and passionately kissed him,
she felt his hands move to her shoulders and to her back; and
sensed the coolness of the air against her skin as Mark opened
the back of her dress farther, finally the dress fell to the
“This seems déjà vu, doesn’t it?” Hope asked.
“Only, the first time you revealed yourself to me,” answered
Mark as he slipped from his jeans and undergarments, while
watching Hope remove her own undergarments.
The warm water was three quarters up the sides of the tub when
Mark slipped into the tub; he held his arms open as Hope slipped
in, facing him, lying against his body. They spent a little time
using the washrag and soap on each other, but both felt it more
desirable to kiss and caress the other. Hope giggled as they
changed positions in the tub after Mark stated, “Now’s your turn
to wash my back.”
“You know, you really should shave,” Hope eventually suggested.
“I don’t feel like it, but I know someone who might enjoy doing
Hope reached for the shaving supplies set on the bench beside
the tub, and lovingly shaved her husband. Having set the razor
down, Hope watched as Mark rinsed his face. Without any warning,
Mark rolled around so that he was at the bottom of the tub, with
Hope resting her back against him. Ignoring the fact that the
water splashed over the sides of the tub, they intertwined their
fingers and stretched, enjoying the feeling of the other against
their body, and the warmth of the water.
After a while, Hope stated, “You know, this might not have been
a good idea?” having looked at her hands.
“Oh?” replied Mark as he toyed with her fingers.
“I’m enjoying my bath too much; I’m beginning to shrivel up like
an old woman.”
“Well, let me prove that you’re a young woman,” answered Mark as
he stepped from the tub and helped Hope out, before he dried
himself off. He wrapped the towel around his waist only to see
Hope preparing to slip her nightgown on over her head. “Uh, uh.”
Mark held out her robe and wrapped it around her body; he tied
the sash around her waist before taking her hand and leading her
to their bedroom.
Hope looked to make sure their children’s bedroom doors were
still closed as she wrapped an arm around Mark’s waist. She
closed their bedroom door and felt Mark pulling her towards
their bed. As he walked backwards, he slipped the towel from his
waist before he sat down on the bed. He pulled Hope to him,
where she straddled his lap, taking his face into her hands and
passionately kissed him. She sensed Mark untying the sash from
her robe and felt the robe being slipped from her shoulders; she
lowered her hands from Mark’s face. As the robe fell to the
floor, Mark lifted Hope farther into their bed as he lay down
and pulled the blankets over them.
To both, the fire that had heated the water for their bath, also
heated their desire to make love that night. Hope sighed when
Mark lay down on his side next to her, he propped up his head
with this left arm, while his right knee resting on her thigh.
After pulling the blanket to cover over both of them, he draped
his right arm across her ribs as he ran his hand up and down her
He whispered, “I love you Mrs. McCain.”
“People who don’t know me, call me Mrs. McCain,” Hope whispered
“And who am I, then?”
“The one I love,” Hope whispered as she ran her hand over Mark’s
freshly shaven face.
“So I’m your lover?” asked Mark.
“Mark, I never dreamed that I could love you so much. You’ve
given me the greatest gift a woman could ever receive.”
“And just what gift is that?”
“Besides your love, you’ve blessed me with nurturing five
“Are you hoping you became pregnant tonight?”
Mark ran his hand down her arm, from her shoulder to her
stomach. Hope inhaled at the tingling sensation that coursed
through her body as his hand came to a stop on her stomach; she
placed her hand on top of his.
“If it is to be, I’d love to give you another child.”
The Next Step — Is There A
This is a story based on the TV
series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
around The McCain Ranch