The Writer's Corner
The Next Step…
Chapter 26 - Mark and Hope’s Wedding
Written by Deanne Bertram
In the weeks leading up to the wedding, Milly helped Hope create
her wedding dress. Together they had worked out the basic
design, chose the material and lace, and sewed all the pieces
together. The dress still needed to be taken in here and there,
and the final stitching for the hem needed to be sewn. Standing
in front of the mirror, Hope looked at herself, trying on the
dress that she would wear to become the wife of Mark McCain.
“Miss Milly, were you scared?”
Lucas and Mark were out checking the herds and riding fence, he
had planned to take this opportunity to talk with Mark.
“Son, I know we had a talk a long time ago about girls, but…”
Lucas paused, not sure how to proceed.
“Pa, I remember that talk and how afterwards I thought it was
gross, all that kissing and stuff. Wow how naive I was back
“Yes Mark, every boy goes through that phase when they first
start getting interested in girls, as girls. But I wanted to
talk with you about your wedding night. I know that you’ll treat
Hope with the respect she’s due, but I wanted to let you know
how she’ll feel. Every new bride feels this way on her wedding
night. They’ll be scared and nervous. Both your Ma and Milly
felt this way. A woman needs to know that you’ll understand this
and accept her and be gentle with her. You’ll both be exploring
something new. Allow her to grow in her role as your wife. Allow
her to reveal herself and her passion for you, to you.”
“I think I understand, Pa.” Mark then asked, “Were you nervous?”
“Both times. With your Ma, it was something new. And with Milly,
Mark, it had been so long since I’d had…”
“A woman in your bed?”
Lucas snuck a look to his son. If felt strange having this
conversation with his son, but if it helped his son to
“Yes, with Milly, it was new because it was something new with
Milly. I was worried that, maybe, the memory of your Ma wouldn’t
allow me to fully love Milly. But I felt Margaret approving. I
felt she was happy that I had found someone to complete my life
While Mark and Lucas were away, Milly planned to take this time
to talk with Hope.
“Hope, in a week, you will become my daughter-in-law and, well,
since your mother is no longer with you, I thought that maybe we
should talk. Talk about what to expect as you become a wife,
more importantly your wedding night.”
“Miss Milly,” Hope started. “I’m so looking forward to becoming
Mark’s wife, but I’m scared.”
“Hope, what you’re feeling, it’s natural. I felt the same way
before I married Lucas. The night of your wedding will be
special, if Mark is anything like his father. But as a woman,
that night, you will give your husband the greatest gift, when
you give yourself unto him. As you start your new life as a
wife, you’ll be anxious, scared, nervous, it is a wonderful
moment, it’s not just you giving yourself to your husband, but
him giving himself to you. You were there when I gave birth to
Myra, bringing a new life into the world is the second greatest
gift you can give your husband, but its only because of your
“What you feel on your wedding night will be more than the way
you felt that day at Miller’s Creek, if you truly love him. ”
“If I truly love him?” Hope asked.
“Hope, I believe in my heart that you do truly love him, for who
he is and not because he saved your life.”
“Oh Miss Milly, I care for him because he saved my life, but
I’ve come to realize that before I met him, he would be the one
I would marry.”
Milly didn’t understand what Hope meant.
“Miss Milly, the night before I ran away from those men, I had a
vision. The elders told me a stranger would come to rescue me
and take me home. It hurt deep inside when Iron Heart and my
brothers left me with Mark. But once I started to know him and
North Fork, I realized the elders hadn’t meant he would take me
back to my home with my Indian family, but that he would be my
home. What I’ve felt when I’m close to Mark and just being in
this house, is what I felt in my vision. This is my home.”
The two women hugged and cried in each other’s arms, until Myra
woke from her nap and started crying. Milly carried Myra to the
bedroom and allowed her to nurse.
Milly returned to the front room to see Hope still wearing the
dress and standing in front of the mirror.
“Hope?” Milly said as she came to stand behind her future
Blushing Hope replied, “I was imagining what it would be like,
my wedding night.”
“Believe me, it will be something wonderful.”
Milly turned as Hope slipped from her dress, and stood there
wearing only her underthings.
“Miss Milly, do men prefer women who are…” Hope stopped speaking
as she hung her dress back on the hanger.
“Who are what?” Milly asked.
“Women who have more… curves.”
Milly turned and watched as Hope ran her hands from her
shoulders, over her small breasts, and ultimately turned
sideways to see herself in the mirror as she ran her hands
across her hips.
“Hope, you are how God meant for you to be. And, if Mark wanted
a woman with more curves, he wouldn’t have proposed to you.”
“It’s just that I see other men watching as women walk by and
their eyes want to pop out of their heads,” Hope sighed as she
turned and faced the mirror again.
“And those men don’t deserve to have someone like you to pay any
attention to them. Most of those men are ruffians or saddle
tramps, not decent God fearing folk. Hope, I know your
transition from living with Iron Heart and the tribe took a lot
of adjusting to, but don’t wish yourself different because of
how you perceive other men. What matters is that Mark loves you,
just the way you are.”
“Are you sure?”
“Isn’t it a little late to be asking that question? Your wedding
is only a week away.”
“Miss Milly, I do love him and I don’t want to disappoint him.”
“Hope, as long as there is love in your home, you’ll never
disappoint him. Now get yourself dressed before you intended
arrives home and sees you in your, unmentionables.”
Sunday, May 20th. Seems most everyone in the whole town turned
out for the wedding of Mark and Hope. But there were several
surprises in store for them that morning. Everyone worked hard
to keep the two from seeing each other before Hope walked down
the aisle, but when unexpected, but welcome guests arrived; they
had to make sure the two knew, before hand.
Lucas was in one of the jail cells with Mark, trying to tie his
tie, when Micah entered and told them they had visitors.
“Mark, Lucas, you’ve guests who want to see you.” They stepped
from the cell to see Johnny and Colleen Gibbs.
“I couldn’t believe it when I received the letter from Lucas,
Mark, are you really sure you want to go through with this
wedding. I think you should run and spread your wings.” Johnny
stated as Colleen slapped his arm.
“Mark, don’t let him fool you. He enjoys being married. We just
wanted to stop by and wish you well, before you stand up in
front of everyone,” Colleen stated as she placed a kiss on
“Uncle Johnny, Aunt Colleen it’s great to see you. Thank you for
coming. It means a lot.”
“I wouldn’t miss seeing my sister’s son getting married. She’s
smiling at you boy, I hope you know that.”
“I do Uncle Johnny and having you here makes everything else all
the more special. Have you met her?”
“I will, once she becomes my… neice-in-law?” Johnny laughed.
“Once she becomes your wife, regardless of how homely she
looks,” Colleen punched Johnny in the arm, “regardless of how
jealous I am over the beauty you married, I’ll welcome her into
the family with open arms.”
Hope had unexpected visitors as well. Her father and brother
knocked on the door to her changing room in the back of the
Miss Hattie opened the door, slightly.
“Miss Hattie, we have guests who we’d like Hope to see. I know
it will mean a lot to her.”
Miss Hattie opened the door wide to allow the Major, the
Lieutenant, and four others inside. They all stopped as Hope
turned around, wearing her wedding gown.
She took a tentative step forward as tears fell.
“Iron Heart, you and my family, you came,” she quietly cried.
“Your father sent word, asked if we come. In our camp, we have
missed you. The one you marry?” Iron Heart asked.
“Iron Heart, the one I marry is the one who saved my life. The
one the elders told me, in a vision, would take me home,” Hope
said as she embraced those who had been her father, her mother
and her brothers.
“Red Dawn, we will not shame you by staying, but…”
“No, you will shame me by leaving. Please,” then looking to her
father. “Father, I know there is tradition, but does tradition
say anything against two fathers walking their daughter down the
“Red Dawn, our God is not your God, we do not belong…”
“Iron Heart, our God is the same God, we just have different
names for him. You are welcome in his house and the people of
this town will welcome you too.”
All eyes turned to the back of the church as Hope entered, on
the arms of the two men she considered her father. A few people
were surprised, but people seemed to understand.
Mark only had eyes for Hope as she slowly walked down the aisle.
They listened to Reverend McCafferty perform the ceremony. As he
asked, “Who gives this woman to this man?” Iron Heart and Seth
Lane, stated in unison, “We do”. They then gave Hope’s hand to
Soon, Mark heard the Reverend state, “You may kiss your bride.”
He took a tentative step forward, lifted her veil, and placed
his hands to her back, then pulled her close to him. Lovingly he
gave her their first kiss as husband and wife. The Reverend
cleared his throat and Mark took a step backwards, not letting
go of Hope’s hand. Finally, the Reverend turned them and
announced, “People of North Fork, I now present to you, Mr. and
Mrs. Mark McCain.”
Everyone had a wonderful time at their reception. Mark and Hope
danced and laughed. Many of Mark’s former school mates kept
interrupting, insisting they have a chance to dance with the
All too soon, it was time for the final dance. Mark escorted
Hope to Iron Heart and gave her his hand. “Sir, I believe this
dance should be yours.” Mark stepped aside as Hope walked back
to the dance floor. Soon, Iron Heart led Hope to Seth Lane.
Before the end of the song, Seth had returned Hope to Mark’s
Before the end of the reception, Hope stood on the staircase in
the hotel lobby and tossed her bouquet, this time it was Micah’s
turn to be embarrassed, when he realized it was Hattie who had
caught the bouquet.
After their reception was over and just the families remained,
Lucas and Milly handed the couple one last gift. As they opened
the present they saw a bible, their own family bible for Hope
and Mark to record their blessed events. Mark lifted the bible
from the box and opened it. On the events page, he saw that his
Ma had already printed,
Mark and Hope (Lane) McCain, married, and the date.
Tears fell as Mark gave his Ma a hug.
Lucas placed a hand on Mark’s shoulder and said, “Son, I think
it’s time you and Hope head on home.”
“But I thought we were staying in the hotel tonight.”
“Mark, your Ma, Myra, and I will stay here, you take your wife
home. Nils has a buggy out front and will drive you home.”
“Pa, what about…” Mark started to ask.
“No Mark, you don’t need to worry. Everyone has agreed because
of your ages, it wouldn’t be proper for a shivaree. You go on
Everyone watched as Mark and Hope ran to the buggy.
The Next Step — The Wedding
This is a story based on the TV
series The Rifleman
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
around The McCain Ranch