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The Next Step…
Chapter 53 - Myra, The School Girl
Written by Deanne Bertram


It was a family affair as Myra got ready to start her first day of school. Since Mark had to stand his watch as deputy, he offered to let Myra ride in front of him, in the saddle, as they took her to town.

“Why can’t I ride Blue Boy?” Myra asked.

“Because today is your first day and we want to take you to school.” Lucas answered.

“Buy why do I have to ride in front of Mark?”

“Do you want to ride in the seat of the buckboard between your father and me?” Milly asked.

“No,” Myra answered dejectedly. “But I’ve been doing real good in learning now to ride.”

“Yes, Mark has said such. But sweetheart, you only have one very first day of school. This is a big occasion for you and we all want to be there. And it will be some time before you are allowed to ride Blue Boy to school by yourself,” Lucas stated as he watch Milly fussing with Myra’s dress.

“Do you want to upset your brother that you don’t want to ride into town with him?” Milly asked.

“No. I know, I promised to be good. I’m sorry.”

*****

As Lucas pulled the buckboard to a halt in front of the school house, they saw Stevan Griswald and Percy Bullock greeting the children. Today would be an introductory day for the first year students and a day to get the other students thinking about school. There were several other families who had children starting to school for the first time.

After introductions were made, the parents were informed that the first year students would only be required to attend school half days for the first week, but then full time afterwards. Percy stated that the younger children, the first year through sixth year, would accompany him to the other school house, “And parents, you are more than welcome to come and say goodbye to your children there.”

Seth Lane and Johnny Drako stepped from the Marshal’s Office as they saw the parade of families pass by. Seth remembered back to Ethan and Hope’s first days of school, while Johnny wondered about Connor’s first day, next year.

Mark walked Copper and stopped him in front of the Marshal’s Office.

“Big day for the McCain family? Eh Mark?” Johnny asked.

“You’ll find out next year Johnny.”

“I think Myra has an unfair advantage over the other students, seeing as how her Ma used to be a teacher and her brother used to be a student teacher,” Seth offered.

“I’m just happy that she likes studying more than I did. You should see her of an afternoon. Pa seems to be a bit relieved that he doesn’t have to fight her to learn like he did when I was her age.”

“Mark, give her time. She’s a McCain. I’m sure one of these days that stubborn McCain streak is going to show in her too,” Johnny quipped. “Okay, if you two don’t mind, Lou and I, and the children, will return in two week’s time. Take care of my town and try to see that she stays in one piece while we’re gone.”

Seth and Mark said their goodbyes to Johnny and then turned and watched as the parents left the school house, and their children. It was hard to tell who was more upset, some of the parents or the children.

*****

That night, neither Lucas nor Milly were prepared for the explosion that hit their home.

“Argh,” Myra yelled. “Just how hard is it to learn your alphabet?! Even some of the second year students don’t know it! If I know more than them, why do I have to go to school and have Percy tell me what I already learned!”

Lucas tried hard to keep his laughter to himself. He knew it was a serious problem, but not the problem he expected. He remembered how long and hard Margaret had worked to get Mark to learn his alphabet and to spell simple words. How, Mark hated going to school, because he struggled to understand. Now, Lucas had the same problem, but for the opposite reason.

“First off, young lady,” Lucas stated as he pulled a chair out to sit down at the table with Myra. “You will NOT take that tone of voice in this house. Secondly, you will call your teacher by his proper name, Mr. Bullock.”

“But Papa…”

“And Thirdly, you will not interrupt me when I am scolding you. Or would you rather have a seat in the corner?”

“No Papa,” Myra stated as she leaned back in her chair.

“Now, young lady, you will go to school and you will sit there and you will learn what Mr. Bullock has to teach you,” Lucas stated.

“But I already know what he’s teaching!”

“Right now you do, because your Ma has taught you. Not every child is as lucky as you are that their parents are educated. But there will be more for you to learn as you continue going to school.”

“Then let me stay home until Mr. Bullock gets there,” Myra complained.

“Myra,” Milly started. “There are only two teachers at the school and the older students, they sit and listen to your lessons. How do you think they feel? Do you think they come home and yell at their parents about you?”

“But Mama, you were a teacher. Why can’t I stay home and you teach me?”

“Because I’m not a teacher any more. I gave up that job to be a mother.”

“Well Papa was a father to Mark and he still taught him.”

“Myra,” Lucas stated with a stern voice. “I had no other choice with Mark. His growing up years were a lot different that yours are.”

“Because his mama died?” Myra asked quietly.

“That’s part of the reason, but regardless, when we settled in a town, he did go to school.”

“But I…”

“This discussion is over. You will go to school and you will pay attention in class and you will listen to what Mr. Bullock has to teach. Any more argument from you will result in time in the corner,” Lucas stated.

“But Papa, it’s not fair!” Myra pouted.

Lucas pointed to the corner of her bedroom. Myra stood from her chair and walked over and sat down and waited.

*****

Later that night, Lucas and Milly were preparing for bed, when Milly stated, “She does have a point, Lucas.”

“Don’t I know, but don’t you tell her I agree with her. I think back on all the ‘discussions’ Mark and I had about his schooling and here, I’m having a totally different conversation, but about the same subject. My child trying to get out of going to school.”

“Maybe I should talk with Stevan and Percy, to see if there’s any way she can be advanced to more than a first year status. She is really smart…” Milly replied.

“That’s what we get for you starting her so young.”

“Lucas, I just took advantage of her natural curiosity. To her, learning is fun. She wants so much to be a big girl and emulate Hope so much.”

*****

Morning came and both Lucas and Milly were prepared for another battle with Myra.

“Good morning Mama, Papa,” Myra stated as she came from her room and sat at the table for breakfast. “Are you going to take me to school today?”

“Yes,” Lucas stated. “Once you’ve eaten your breakfast, you’ll get your school work and I’ll drive you into town.”

“Can’t I ride Blue Boy to school?”

“Do you think you deserve to ride him?” Milly asked.

“Guess not.”

“Besides, I have to take the buckboard into town to drop off the long saw blades that Mr. Swenson said he sharpen for me,” Lucas stated.

After finishing his coffee, Lucas headed out to hitch the team. In time, Myra came out and Lucas lifted her to the front seat and climbed up himself.

As he drove he turned to his daughter and saw she was still pouting, “You still mad at me?” When she didn’t answer he said, “Myra, I’m sorry for how you feel, but things will get better, I promise. Besides, next week, when you start school full day, you’ll have a lunch break and you’ll get to meet knew friends and you’ll get to play for a while, after you eat.”

“You really think school will get better, Papa?”

“I know it will, sweetheart.” The continued to talk as Lucas drove them to town. As Lucas halted the tem in front of the school house, he said, “When you get done at school today, wait at the school house. Mark will be there to pick you up after he’s finished his time as deputy.”

“Yes, Papa.”

*****

Mark walked Copper over to the school house and watched as the children ran down the steps. Not seeing Myra come out, he tied Copper to the railing and walked inside. He saw Myra sitting at her desk and Percy sitting on the desk in front of her.

“Myra, I know your Ma has worked with you and you are a very smart girl, but you have to give the others time to catch up.”

“Then let me stay home until they learn what I learned.”

Mark cleared his throat causing Percy to look up.

“Myra, you will continue to come to school and if you behave yourself, I’ll give you some work that you don’t know. Now, I need to go keep an eye on the other children and your brother his here to take you home.”

“Gabby?” Mark called from the back of the room.

Myra stayed seated at her desk. “Don’t be upset at her Mark,” Percy stated as he walked past Mark.

“Thanks Percy.”

“You mad at me too?” Myra asked.

“Why would I be mad at you?” Mark asked as he walked up the aisle and sat down on the seat next to his sister.

“Because I don’t want to be here,” Myra pouted.

“And why don’t you want to be here?”

“Papa didn’t tell you?”

“He told me his side of the story. That you yelled at him and Ma last night. I thought you were supposed to be a good girl.

“I am a good girl! Can I help it if I know more than the others who are first year? Mark, I know my alphabet, Ma and Hope worked with me over the summer. Even some of the second year students don’t know their alphabet.”

“Oh, that’s a problem. What if I talk with Mr. Bullock?”

“About what?”

“Well, he did mention giving you some advanced work.”

“Ad-vanc-ed?”

“That means work that you’re ready for and the others aren’t. Sort of like me for the last two and a half years I was in school.”

“Mark, can I ask you a question?”

“That’s what learning is all about,” Mar replied.

“You didn’t like school so much and didn’t understand when you were my age and then to liked school and did ad-vanc-ed work when you got older?”

“Yes.”

“Well, I like school work and I think I will like ad-vanc-ed work, does that mean I won’t like school when I get older?”

Mark couldn’t keep his laugh to himself, “Gabby, as long as you enjoy learning and keep learning, that’s all that matters. I wish I had been as eager to learn as you are.”

“Will I get to be as smart as you and Hope?”

“Not right away, but in time, I hope that you get to be even smarter than Hope and me. Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t learn something because you’re a girl.”

“Mark?”

“Yes.”

“Does my temper tantrum mean I can’t have a riding lesson this afternoon?”

“Do you think you were a good girl and deserve to have a lesson?”

“I guess not. If I say I’m sorry to Mr. Bullock and Mama and Papa, can I have a lesson tomorrow?”

“Come on, let’s get your punishment started.”

The Next Step — A Young Woman's Fancy

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

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