The Rifleman
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The Next Step…
Chapter 59 – Sugar and Spice
Written by Deanne Bertram

Through what remained of June, a member of Mark’s family was always close by. He had finally talked out his fears with his family, but they still were concerned. Could he slip back down that road again? Mark knew of his families’ concerns because it concerned him. He worked hard to regain his physical strength and he chose to talk of his future, rather than his near death experience.

One afternoon while Lucas and Mark were working on the corral, Mark said, “Pa, I know we’ve talked about what happened and don’t worry, I’m not slipping backwards. But, there was one little thing that stood out in the dream Ma showed me about my future.”

“Your future in having to deal with a daughter who’s just so much like you?” Lucas asked as he gave a little laugh as he remembered Mark describing his dream and dealing with a daughter who didn’t want to go to school.

“Well, it’s getting to be that, maybe, Hope and I should purchase our own buckboard. I mean you and Ma have your hands full with Myra, Little Ted, and Levi, and Hope and I have the twins and Eli, with one more on the way.” Mark looked to Lucas and smiled as he said, “It’s getting a little crowded in the back of the family buckboard.”

“And…” Lucas asked.

“It also would mean to purchase a second team of horses. We’d need to build a second barn for all the horses we have. Money-wise it wouldn’t be a problem. Hope and I can afford it, it’s just that…”

“Go on.”

“This is still your ranch. I mean, I know it’s our ranch, together, but such a big undertaking to build a new barn, I felt I should have your approval first.”

“Mark, we’re partners. You don’t need my approval to build a barn. Especially since I’m not paying for it. This ranch is as much yours as it is mine.”

“Once we finish fixing the corral, do you think we could measure and stake it out and then put together a list of everything we’d need to purchase?”

“Sure Mark. So is this going to be a father and son project?” Lucas asked.

“No, I think its time the McCain’s celebrated. I was thinking about a good, ole fashion barn raising. We could start passing the word at the Fourth of July celebration. And schedule it for the end of July. That’ll give us enough time to get all the lumber ordered from the Hardware Store and people to put it on their calendars. Figured it would take the weekend and Saturday night we could have a hog roast with all the trimmings.”

“Sounds mighty wonderful. Been a while since the McCain’s have had a big celebration out here.”

“Yeah, the boys’ first birthday. I can’t believe they’re going to be three already,” Mark replied as he let out a whistle.

“I can’t believe you’re twenty-three.”

*****

As a family, the McCain’s headed to North Fork to celebrate Independence Day and to start spreading the word about the barn raising and hog roast.

Oat Jackford and his crew came into town and after he heard the news, he headed directly for Mark McCain.

“And just what’s the big idea?” Oat demanded, catching Mark off guard.

“Big idea?” Mark sputtered out.

Lucas tried to intervene.

“McCain, you stay out of this. This is between Mark and me.”

“Sir?” Mark replied.

“I hear tell you’re planning a barn raising with a cookout. Ain’t Jackford cattle good enough for you?”

“Jackford cattle?”

“Boy, you can’t have a barn building and a cookout without Jackford cattle being served!” Oat laughed and slapped Mark on the back as he sat down next to him. “Well, come on. Tell me about this shindig you have planned?”

Lucas stepped aside, laughing at himself for forgetting just how ‘soft’ Oat really was when it came to Mark McCain.

*****

Though the next several weeks, Mark pushed himself to get stronger, he wanted to be ready to really work while his barn was being built. It was the Friday before the big weekend, when Hope informed Mark, “You have an appointment with Doc Burrage this afternoon.”

“What? Why?”

“Because I said so. Mark, you’ve been pushing yourself to get better so you can do your fair share when it comes to building our barn. I just want to have Doc say that you’re really doing okay. Please? Besides, I have an appointment for him to see how our baby is doing, too.”

“Okay. If it will put your mind to ease,” Mark stated as he pulled Hope to his lap after she set their breakfast on the table.

“We go too?” Josh asked.

“Don’t you want to stay here with Grandma and Grandpa?” Mark asked.

“We see Grandpa Seth?” Zach asked quietly as he looked at his parents.

“See Ganpa,” Eli mimicked.

“Okay,” Mark answered as he allowed Hope to get off his lap and then sit down in her chair.

*****

They arrived in town that afternoon to have Nils holler over to them, “Hey Mark!?”

Mark pulled up the team.

“Got a wire that your buckboard is coming in on today’s freight train. I let Billy Lehigh know yesterday and he said that he or Oat was going to bring to town those two horses your purchased. If you’d like, later this afternoon, I can hitch the team and bring them over to the hardware store and we can use your new buckboard to load your supplies for this weekend. If you want, I can even drive the new team for you.”

“Thanks Nils, I appreciate it if you would, hitch the team and buckboard and get them to the Hardware store, Pa said he’d ride in later this afternoon and he can help me get the new team and everything back home.”

“No problem Mark. We’re still on to start at eight o’clock tomorrow morning?”

“Only if my wife let’s me get to sleep tonight.”

“Mark!” Hope exclaimed.

“See ya Nils!”

*****

Mark drove the buckboard on to Seth’s home and dropped his three sons off.

“Father, I hope you don’t mind. But they wanted to come to town and spend a little time with you.”

“No problem. Come here boys and give your Grandpa a big, ole hug.”

Both Hope and Mark smiled at the scene and then headed on to the clinic.

*****

“Hope, everything is as it should be. Your baby’s heartbeat is strong. You’re to start taking things a little easier, seeing as you’re in your final two months of pregnancy. I don’t want you over doing it this weekend.”

“I don’t think anyone will let me lift a finger,” Hope stated as she saw Mark about to reply.

“The only thing she’ll be lifting is a fork to eat with,” Mark answered.

“Good, now Mark, your turn. Go ahead an unbutton your shirt please.”

Seth proceeded to examine Mark, checking out how well the scars had healed. Only faint traces remained. He listened to Mark’s heart and lungs.

“Okay, Hope, I declare Mark fit enough for this barn building shindig, but if you see him tiring in the least little bit…”

“I know, I know,” Mark answered.

“Okay, well, Abigail, Savannah and I should arrive around ten o’clock tomorrow morning and then we’ll be there for the rest of the day.”

*****

The morning dawned bright at the McCain Ranch, Hattie and Micah along with the McCafferty’s were the first to arrive. Mark and Hope’s home was to be where all the children five and under would be watched, while Lucas and Milly’s home would house the children up to ten years old.

Sarah McCafferty walked to Milly after Lucas had helped her down from their buggy.

“Miss Milly?” she asked.

“Yes Sarah,”

“I was wondering, if…”

Milly looked at Sarah and waited patiently.

“Well, I don’t know if you know it, but, I’ve been helping Miss Hattie and Mr. Micah at the day care and I’ve also been spending a lot of time at the clinic, helping Miss Abigail and... I was wondering, if today, I could watch over the young children. I’m so much wanting to be a nurse and Doc says I have good instincts about what to do.”

“Sarah and think that Hope would love to have someone else help her watch out over all the young children who will be here today. She’s far enough along in her pregnancy that I’m sure she’ll appreciate your help.”

“I didn’t want to say something and have her think poorly of me.”

“Sarah, no one will think poorly of anyone today, when it comes to people wanting to help out. Go on, get over to Hope’s and ask her.”

*****

The bulk of the barn had been framed, the deck of the hayloft had been constructed, and the roof was in place when Lucas and Mark called an end to the day’s construction. Only a few smashed thumbs had to be tended to by Doc Burrage.

Most all the town’s men folk had come out to help build and their wives came to cook or had bake pies and cakes for the occasion. It was shortly after the sun had set when the final person left to head home. As each person left, Lucas made sure everyone realized that church was to be observed on Sunday and for those who wished to return, they’d see them back to the ranch no sooner than one o’clock.

Milly had put their young children to bed and then went out to help Lucas and Mark finish cleaning up for the night.

*****

“We had a wonderful turnout for Mark and Hope’s barn raising,” Milly stated as they entered their home.

“That we did.”

“It was so good to see Mark laughing and doing. I mean, if someone hadn’t known what happened the beginning of June…”

“I know how you feel.”

“It was also good to hear and see you laughing, too.”

“Me?” Lucas replied as he sat down in his chair, he pulled Milly close to him.

“Lucas, I know you too well. Admit it, until today, you still had a little doubt that Mark could truly put that whole episode behind him.”

“I did have that little bit of doubt, but today, it totally disappeared.”

“You know Lucas, you could really use a bath right now,” Milly stated as she stood up from sitting on Lucas’s lap.

“I’ve been working all day.”

“I know you have and you smell that way,” Milly replied with a laugh.

“Okay, I know you won’t want to share my bed until after I’ve bathed. I’ll just head down to the creek…”

“No you won’t Lucas McCain. I’ve the tub already filled with warm water in our bedroom.”

Lucas looked to his wife, “Lucas you’ve also been worried about me. Could I put behind me the fact that I can no longer have children? Lucas, it’s been almost five months. Tonight, I’m going to be your wife and I’ll not hear any protesting from you.”

Lucas stood and with his arm around Milly’s waist, he closed the door behind them as they entered their bedroom. Lucas saw the lantern turned down low on the table. He saw the wash cloth and soap on a small crate next to the tub. On one of the kitchen chairs, Milly had brought into the room, he saw several towels neatly folded as well as his shaving blade and shaving cream.

Lucas proceeded to strip and then stepped into the tub and sat down. As he reached for the wash cloth and soap, Milly batted his hand away, “This is my responsibility tonight,” she said as she picked them up and worked to soap the wash cloth into a good lather. Lovingly Milly scrubbed Lucas’ back and then from behind, enjoyed reaching around and bathing his chest. She was as gentle with Lucas as if he was her child, but she knew he was her husband, and deep down she yearned. She allowed Lucas to rinse himself off before she sat on the edge of the tub and proceeded to shave away the stubble from his face. As she set the blade back to the seat of the chair, Lucas reached for Milly and pulled her into the tub with him. He didn’t feel her tense; in fact, he felt as if Milly had planned the whole evening to happen as it was. Passionately he kissed her and he felt her respond. Lucas reached around and unbuttoned the back of Milly’s dress. In time, Lucas stood and set Milly to her feet. He carefully pulled her dress from over her shoulders, letting it fall into the tub. Milly slipped off her camisole and slip and let them fall into the water as well. Lucas lifted Milly and carried her to their bed.

Neither had been asleep for very long when the rooster outside announced that the sun was rising.

*****

By the time Lucas and Milly had their family ready for church and out the door, Mark had already harnessed and hitched both teams. Mark smiled as he saw his parents exit their home and walk with their youngest children to their buckboard and loaded the children into the back.

“Sorry if we worked you too hard, yesterday, Pa,” Mark stated as he handed the reins to Lucas.

“You’ll be even sorrier if you don’t wipe that smile off your face. Today is Sunday,” Lucas answered.

“I know and last night was Saturday night.” Mark replied then he ran to help his family get in their buckboard.

“You little imp!” Lucas hollered.

“I don’t think the ‘acorn’ fell too far from the ‘tree’, Pa.”

With Lucas and Milly leading the way, Mark and Hope followed.

“What was that all about?” Hope asked.

“Don’t you know?”

“If I did, I don’t think I’d be asking,” Hope replied.

“Didn’t you see the expressions on Ma’s and Pa’s faces as they came from the house?”

“So?”

“Guess your pregnancy really has you out of sorts, if you can’t pick up on what happened in their home last night.”

“Mark McCain, they’re your parents!” Hope exclaimed.

“I know. How do you think all their children came to be born?” Mark couldn’t help the devilish smile that spread across his face.

“You better put an extra offering in the plate today to atone for your thoughts!” Hope laughed as she covered her mouth with her hand.

“So you do understand.” Mark laughed and rein slapped the team to catch up. “Should I give extra for you, too?”

*****

It was the beginning of August when Mark was allowed to return to standing watch over North Fork. His first night back, Seth and Johnny insisted on being present. Both had known the struggles Mark had faced, and even though he had come to terms with what had happened and had seen him enjoying himself like never before at the barn raising, no one knew exactly what would be in store on Mark’s first night back.

That night, a number of trail hands and drifters were having a good time and getting drunk over at Sweeney’s. It was approaching midnight and the party appeared to still be in full steam. Sweeney had tried to close the bar down, without any luck, when he finally went to the Marshal’s Office.

“I need your help, and I know it might…” Sweeney started as he entered.

“What’s up Sweeney?” Johnny asked.

“They won’t leave. Say they’re having too good of a time. I need to close the bar down for the night,” Sweeney replied.

All three, Johnny, Seth, and Mark returned to the saloon with Sweeney. Outside the door, Mark hesitated as his thoughts flashed back to that night. Soon he felt hands on his shoulders and a firm squeeze. He looked left to see Johnny and right to see Seth.

“You okay? We can do this if you’re not up to it,” Seth stated. “I was there too Mark. No cause for shame.”

“No, I’m alive. We can do this.” Mark stood a few inches taller as they walked into the saloon.

The noise in the saloon quieted as the patrons realized who had just walked in the room. Slowly, one by one, every man turned around.

“Now men. The owner of this establishment has requested that closing hours be observed. You are asked to quietly leave this establishment and sleep off your liquor,” Johnny stated.

“And who says so?” one man asked.

“The marshal of this town,” Johnny replied.

“And his deputy,” stated Seth.

“And a U.S. Marshal,” Mark said last.

“U.S. Marshal?” someone else managed to squeak out.

“So if any of you are more willing to spend a night in our jail, sobering up…?”

Slowly, the men filed out of the saloon.

“You be okay Sweeney?” Johnny asked.

“Thanks, I appreciate it.”

Seth and Mark watched as the men walked or staggered to wherever they were heading. From behind, they both felt a hand placed on their shoulders, as Johnny came up between them and said, “You did good, real good. You ready to head back to the office?”

“Yeah, Johnny, thanks for the understanding and support,” Mark stated.

As they were half way across the street, the sound of a running horse could be heard approaching. Mark steeled himself, took a deep breath, and turned around.

“Marshal, Marshal, where’s the doc?” the rider yelled.

“Sleeping at home, like you should be. Freddie Toomey, what are you doing racing your horse through North Fork at this hour?” Johnny called.

“It’s Carolina, the baby, I think the baby’s coming!”

“I’ll go get Doc,” Mark said as he finally exhaled and ran to Doc Burrage’s.

*****

The McCain ranch was full of activity as summer wound down and Mark and Lucas, with the help of Jake McCafferty, prepared for harvesting their crops and weaning the cattle in preparation for winter. September was close to an end and since Hope was still pregnant, Mark had moved her into town, and stayed at the hotel with her. Milly had insisted she could take care of all the children, however, Hattie and Micah would not hear of it. They insisted on their being allowed to care for the twins and Eli until the blessed event happened.

“I can’t believe I’m still pregnant,” Hope said as she and Mark lay in bed, Mark massaging her back. “I must look like a pregnant cow!”

“Well, you know women are the one’s to always keep men waiting, guess she’s letting us know she’s all female,” Mark laughed as Hope laughed and then reacted to Mark getting the right spot and relieving the discomfort in her back. “Are you so sure of the date when we made this little one? Maybe you got the date wrong.”

“Mark McCain!” Hope stated with a little bit of a mocked tone in her voice. “Oh how I wish she would just get this over with.”

“All in due time. All in due time.”

In time Hope and Mark fell asleep for the night. It was close to three o’clock when Mark woke after Hope let out an involuntary groan and bolted upright in bed. “Mark! I think its time!”

Mark jumped from bed and quickly pulled on his pants and boots. He helped Hope get up from bed and helped her pull on a robe. Carefully, he helped her down the stairs and out the front door of the hotel. Another groan escaped from Hope as she doubled over from the pain, grabbing at her belly, “Mark, I can’t. It hurts.”

Mark leaned over and picked Hope up in his arms and carried his wife the rest of the way to the clinic. He entered the clinic and carried Hope into the first available room.

“Hope, I’ll be right back, let me run and get Doc.”

“Oh hurry Mark! She’s not waiting,” Hope called and let out another groan.

*****

The sun was peaking over the hills surrounding North Fork when the sound of a baby crying came from the room. Thadd handed the baby to Abigail, who took the baby to the basin filled with warm water and proceeded to bathe the child.

“Doc?” Mark asked as Hope laid back against him, exhausted.

“Well, I think that’s the quickest you’ve ever delivered a child Hope,” Doc commented and he proceeded to tend to Hope.

“Doc, do we have… a son or… a daughter?” Hope asked as she tried to relax.

“Oh, the baby. Did you have a preference?”

“Doc?!” Mark asked.

“You have a beautiful baby daughter,” Abigail replied. “Thadd shame on you for teasing them in such a manner.”

“Typical female! Makes you wait forever and then quick to demand everyone’s attention!” Mark commented.

“Mark!” Hope quietly said as she looked up to Mark.

“Abigail, once you have the baby cleaned up, why don’t you bring her over here so the proud parents can look her over.” Then turning to Mark, “Mark just let Hope rest back against you until Abigail brings the baby over, then you can help her sit up so she can nurse the baby.”

Mark and Hope were oblivious to Thadd and Abigail leaving the room. Mark was amazed at the newest member of his family. He smiled and looked over his wife’s shoulder as she placed the baby to her breast.

“Your dream came true,” Hope whispered.

“Are we really ready for a daughter?” Mark asked.

“Were we really ready for the twins?” Hope replied. “As long as our house is filled with love, we’ll do fine.”

A rider could be heard whooping it up outside the clinic and then the voice faded away as the rider raced from town.

“I guess Uncle Johnny’s on his way to let Pa and Ma know that their newest grandchild has arrived,” Mark commented.

“He’s just proud of his sister’s boy,” Hope whispered.

After the baby stopped suckling and had fallen asleep, Hope laid their daughter in her lap and re-buttoned her nightgown.

“I love you,” Mark whispered and then pressed a kiss to Hope’s cheek.

*****

Mark had fallen asleep with Hope and their daughter in his arms. Abigail opened the door to the room to allow Lucas, Milly, and Seth to slip inside. After all these years, Lucas was still amazed that this was his eldest child and that he was old enough to have children of his own.

Seth looked on in amazement at his youngest child. Thankful that it had been Mark, not that many years ago, who had managed to bring Hope back to her family. Honestly, he was proud to be a part of the family the two of them were creating.

Lucas picked up a chair and set it beside the bed for Milly to sit down in. Mark heard the noise and started to wake, “Huh?”

“Congratulations Mark, we heard we have a granddaughter,” Milly whispered.

“Guess we fell asleep,” Mark stated still not fully awake.

“That’s okay son. We just wanted a peak and didn’t mean to wake you,” Lucas replied.

“We can come back later,” Seth stated.

“No, give me a minute…”

Mark crawled from the bed, trying hard not to disturb Hope. He walked to the wash basin and pulled a rag from the ring on the wall, wet it and then wiped his face.

“We were up sort of late last night talking and Hope’s back was really bothering her. Then this morning, Mykaela demanded to make her appearance.”

“So your dream came true?” Lucas asked.

“Yes sir.” Mark walked over and picked up the bundle that held his daughter, from lying next to her mother. He carried the bundle and handed her to his Ma. The baby started fussing a little bit. “Mykaela Elyse, I’d like you to meet your grandparents. Ma, this is Mykaela Elyse. She’s sort of named after Hope’s mother.”

Milly commented, “Myra is going to be so happy to have another girl in the family.”

The quietness of introductions was interrupted when they heard a child screaming for his Mama. Hope woke at hearing the child’s cries even louder as Abigail opened the door, all she said was, “Mark, it’s Josh.”

Mark hurried from the room while Lucas tried to prevent Hope from getting out of bed. A few moments later, Mark carried Josh into the room, followed by Doc Burrage. Tears stained Josh’s face. Mark held his son as he climbed into the bed so Hope could be there.

“I’m sorry Mark,” Micah stated as he came into the room. “He was so excited to hear he had a baby sister that he ran out the front door and tripped running down the steps.”

Doc Burrage asked Abigail to prepare a syringe with a sedative for the boy. Mark handed Josh over to Hope.

“There, there, Josh. Mama’s here,” Hope quietly spoke as she rocked her son.

“Hope, I’m just going to give him a sedative to make him sleep for a little while. This way we can set his broken arm and put it in a cast.”

Hope nodded. Josh cried out when the needle pierced his skin and Mark flinched as he hurt for his son. A few minutes later, Josh was asleep in Hope’s arms.

“Hope, let’s go ahead and lay him down on the bed. It’ll be easier for me to set his arm that way.”

A half hour after arriving at the clinic, a cast was around Josh’s arm.

“Mark, I’m so sorry, I…”

“Micah, he’s a boy, he’ll mend.” Mark replied.

Lucas corrected him, “No, he’s a McCain. Don’t worry Micah. This was bound to happen sooner or later. At least it doesn’t appear that he knocked out any teeth like his Pa did.”

*****

Mark returned with Micah to get his other children, and Hattie, so they could meet the newest member of the family.

“Don’t worry Hattie, Josh will be fine. If you don’t mind, I’d still like leave them with you and Micah until Doc allows Hope to head home.”

They returned to the clinic. Before they entered the room, Mark reminded his sons that they needed to be quiet and careful around the new baby.

“What about Josh?” Zach asked.

“He’s already in the room with your Mama. He broke his arm, but Doc fixed it up and he’ll be okay.”

Mark slowly opened the door, he didn’t think the room was big enough for all the people he saw in addition to his parents and Seth, his Uncle Johnny and Aunt Colleen and his cousin, Lillian were there, as was Johnny and Lou Drako and Abigail. Carefully and diligently, the boys walked in. Mark lifted them from the floor to the bed. Hope held their sister and opened the blanket for them to see her. Next Hope handed Mykaela to Hattie, who had tears in here eyes.

After a while, Josh started moaning just as Thadd came back into the room.

“Thought it should be about time for Josh to wake up. Folks, if you don’t mind, could I have a little time with my patients.” One by one their friends and families bid another round of congratulations as they left the room. After looking over Josh’s arm one last time, Thadd stated, “I’ll want to send home something to help ease the pain from his arm.”

“Thank you Doc,” Hope answered.

“When can Hope go home?” Mark asked.

“Tomorrow is soon enough. I do have a favor to ask of you and Hope. You both know that Sara McCafferty is really interested in becoming a nurse and she wants to specialize in pediatrics.”

“Pedi-what?” Mark asked.

“Pediatrics. It’s a medical specialty focusing on young children and babies. Anyway, I’ve been really pleased with how she’s been helping Abigail and I’d like for her to get a little more exposure to working with babies. Just for today and tomorrow, I’d like for you to agree that she can be in here while I’m examining your baby. It’ll be good for her education.”

Hope and Mark nodded.

*****

The following afternoon, Mark drove the team to Hattie and Micah’s. He picked up Zach and Eli and the bags with their clothes and toys.

“Thank you so much for watching them,” Mark stated as he put Eli in the back.

“We’re just sorry about Josh,” Hattie stated.

“Don’t be. You’re still their great-grandparents, nothing to be sorry about.”

Mark climbed into the seat and drove the team to the clinic. Seth waited by the buckboard while Mark entered the clinic and in time he brought Josh out and put him in the back. Before he turned go to back into the clinic, he pointed his finger at his eldest and gave him one of those, ‘behave yourself’ looks. A few minutes later, Mark with Hope carrying Mykaela came from the clinic. Hope handed her daughter to her father and with Mark’s help, she climbed up to the seat of the buckboard. Seth handed his granddaughter, back to Hope.

“Take care of the family Mark and we’ll see you next week!” Seth hollered as Mark picked up the reins.

“Next week?” Mark asked.

“Mark, you need time with your family. My daughter just gave birth to your fourth child and I’ll not have you abandoning her just when she needs you.”

“But… Yes sir. Thank you,” Mark replied.

Looking in the back to make sure his three sons were sitting down, Mark turned and rein slapped the team to head for home.

*****

Milly, Lucas, and Myra were standing on the porch when Mark drove the team to the yard.

“Welcome Home!” Milly called as they stepped to the buckboard.

Hope handed Mykaela to Milly and then allowed Mark to help her from her seat. Lucas had stepped to the back of the buckboard and help his grandsons down.

“GrandPa, look at my arm!” Josh yelled.

“I see. Has your Papa told you of the time he broke his arm?” Lucas asked.

“No!” Mark hollered. “And I do not want to give any of them any ideas that could lead them to do what I did when I broke my arm.”

Laughingly Lucas said, “Come on boys, Grandma has some cookies and milk for you inside.”

Lucas and Milly followed the three boys inside.

Little Ted was already at the table inside. “It’s about time,” he called. “Ma said I couldn’t have any ‘til you got home.”

*****

Hope walked to the front porch and sat down in the chair. Mark pulled a second chair next to Hope and allowed his sister to sit in it.

“Gabby, we’d like you to meet you niece, Mykaela,” Hope stated as she handed Mykaela to Myra.

“Hello Mykaela, I’m your Aunt Myra.” Then looking to Mark she said, “It’s going to be a while before she can play with me, isn’t it?”

“I’m afraid so sis.”

*****

That evening, after Mark had put their sons to bed and Hope had finish nursing their daughter and tucked her into her cradle, Mark pulled their family bible from the chest and set it on the table. From his desk, he brought over the pen and ink well. Hope returned to the front room and sat down next to Mark and lovingly recorded the birth of their daughter.

The Next Step — On the Trail

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

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