The Writer's Corner
Chapter 3 - A Distraction
Written by Michelle Palmer
There was hardly a moon that humid, Sunday night in early June.
Just a tiny sliver hung in the dark sky. The lights previously
shining along the street had recently been darkened by the
Marshal as he made his final rounds. Now, the only light that
lit the way was the moon. The street was quiet at this dark
hour, except for the saloon that was still alive with the sound
of men’s drunken laughter as the piano played. Still, the night
was eerie and quiet.
The silence at the end of the street was slowly interrupted but
a drunk old man’s singing as, he slowly stumbled up the road,
stopping every once in a while to take a long, slow drink from
his last bottle of whisky. He came to the old warehouse – the
one that had closed down a year ago. The old man slowly stepped
on the first step. He stopped, laughing at his own drunkenness,
then grabbed a hold of the post and stepped up the second step,
though it took some doing. He took one more long drink from the
bottle, then cursed when he realized it was empty, his voice
slurred as he threw the bottom down. The bottle shattered on the
He stumbled a few more paces before lifting the cigar to his
lips. The old man struggled to take a puff off of it, but his
hands shook. He groaned as he felt dizziness come to his head;
and he reached up a hand to his forehead, his words slurred as
he cursed again. The cigar slowly slipped from his fingers and
landed at his feet on the boardwalk.
The old man cursed as his world began spinning out of control.
After taking one more step, he fell to his knees. His head
swirled around for a few minutes and his eyes rolled in the back
of his head before he finally fell, face down on the boardwalk.
He was out cold. The music down the street filtered through the
darkness as the cigar continued to slowly burned.
May had been a dry, hot month that year, so it didn’t take long
for the boardwalk to catch on fire. The entire boardwalk was
engulfed in flames in mere moments. The men at the saloon down
the street were unaware that a fire was starting to rage in
their nice little town; a fire that could easily destroy it.
The old man on the boardwalk never woke up as the flames
Julie McCain awoke that Monday morning early in June when she
felt her husband’s arms slip around her. As was often the case
for the entire McCain family, they were awake before the sun.
But this was the time of day, when everything else was still
asleep, that Julie and Abraham were able to spend some time
alone together. This was when they could really talk to each
other before the day awoke and demanded their attention.
Julie mumbled as Abraham, laying against her with her back to
his chest, gently moved his hand down to her fat belly and
rested it there. The life growing inside her seemed to protest
at his touch. Julie smiled and placed a hand on top of his.
“Good morning,” he mumbled. The baby kicked his hand. They both
chuckled as the baby made his presence known. “Good morning to
you too!” Abraham declared.
Julie rolled onto her back and smiled into her husband’s eyes.
“He’s been doing that all night!” She exclaimed. “It feels like
a regular wrestling match going on inside!”
‘Oh…” Abraham bent and kissed her lips. “What do you know about
wrestling matches, my dear?” He loved teasing his gentle
Julie gave a short laugh and stared at her husband’s face in the
darkness. The tension from the last month could be seen in every
line, and she could tell he was trying really hard to hide it
from her. “You have three brothers that you ‘wrestle’ with all
the time! I know about wrestling matches!” Her voice was
teasing, yet gentle and soothing. Abraham smiled quietly as he
scooted down in the bed and laid his head on her chest to listen
to her heart. It was small, comforting moments like this that
helped get him through his rough days. Slowly, Abraham slid his
hand under her gown and gently ran his hand over her belly as
the baby again protested his touch.
Julie sighed contentedly. She always loved feeling her husband’s
hands on her. It always amazed her that they could be hard as
steel one moment as he pushed a plow or took it on himself to
give one of his siblings some old-fashioned discipline, yet so
gentle the next as he touched her soft skin in a way that made
her shiver. As they quietly lay in the dark, Julie began
thinking on those things that had recently occurred in their
family. “Abraham…how do you think Margaret’s doing?”
“Hm?” Abraham mumbled, a bit annoyed his own thoughts had been
interrupted. His hand paused only for a second as the question
slowly penetrated his mind. “Oh, I don’t know honey. I wish she
had something to occupy her days. I couldn’t imagine having to
wait for my love to come back to me.” He lifted his head and
kissed her cheek. Then he lowered it back to her chest. “I
talked to Scott the other day when we were in town and he said
she can’t seem to concentrate on her chores these days, she’s so
worried about Luke.”
“How about you?” Abraham stayed quiet as he continued to run his
hand in circles on her bare belly. “How are you dealing with all
this?” Julie coaxed him to speak. Abraham still didn’t answer.
He never liked to talk about his own thoughts and feelings.
Julie touched his bearded face with her hand and lifted his head
toward hers. “Do you have any hard feelings toward Luke?”
Abraham sighed as his hand again rested on her belly. “I don’t
know, Julie. Luke and I did a lot of talking when I saw him a
few weeks ago, but…” Abraham kissed her lips softly. “I guess I
just miss Pa terribly bad. I still expect to see him out in the
fields or sitting at the table stealing a kiss from Ma. I just
never expected the time would come when…” Abraham allowed his
thoughts to die as he again kissed Julie, this time a bit
Julie returned the kiss as his hand again began caressing her
belly. When their lips parted, Julie kept her hand on his
bearded face as she spoke softly. “Suddenly being the head of
the McCain family…having to make the decisions…it’s hard.” She
could see the pressure he felt in his eyes. She could hear
confusion in his voice. And his touch, as gentle as it was, felt
different as he weighed so much on his mind. She longed to draw
those intimate thoughts from him so she could help remove the
tension he was feeling.
“I think every day about what I’d give to have Pa back here with
us,” Abraham spoke quietly. These were intimate thoughts for
him. They were hard things to share with his wife, let alone the
rest of his family. “With Pa gone and Luke in the war, we’re
really short-handed on the farm. Jeremiah’s working on his
house, which is a slow painful process with having to care for
the crops as well. Peter and Jeremiah both are feeling a
bit…resentful that I’m in charge now.”
Abraham continued running his hand across her belly as the baby
again began kicking. “You’re the oldest, Abe. That’s the way Pa
wanted it, for you to be in charge,” Julie mumbled tiredly.
“Yeah. But they don’t always agree with the way I want to do
things.” Abraham sighed as he removed his hand from her belly
and lay back down beside her. Julie suddenly felt like she had
lost him as far as talking him through his worries. “You aren’t
sleeping either.” That was just another thing Abraham felt he
had to worry about.
“It’s hard for a woman to sleep this late in the pregnancy,
Abe,” Julie tried to explain. “If you remember, I was just as
tired with Charlie.”
“I know,” Abraham mumbled as Julie turned on her side and laid
her head on his chest. She started moving her hand across his
chest in gentle circles as they continued to talk. “I’d take
some of it away from you if I could.”
“You say that,” Julie smiled. “But I don’t think you mean it!”
“Oh no?” Julie heard the challenge in his voice. He put his hand
under her chin and lifted her face up as he planted a long kiss
on her lips. His arms went around her as they continued to kiss.
He ran his hands up and down her back.
When their lips parted, Julie let out a soft moan as she laid
her head back on his chest. “If you remember right, it was a
kiss like that that got me in this predicament in the first
place.” She moaned again, but this was a moan of pain as a foot
kicked her hard.
“Oh Julie…” Abraham ran his hands through her soft hair. “I have
to put so much work into the farm now. I’m away so much and
you’re so close to your time. I worry about you, honey. I hate
leaving you here all alone with Charlie!”
Julie smiled. “I’m fine, Abe.” She lifted her head from his
chest and lay back on her pillow. Abraham turned on his side to
face her. “You put that bell right outside for me,” Julie said
as she stared into his eyes. Their hands touched each other’s
cheek as she softly spoke. “ I can ring it if my time comes. You
already told me you could hear it from the farm.”
“Yes.” Abraham finger traced her cheek. “But regardless, I worry
about you and our baby.”
“Oh.” She lowered her head and circled her finger around a hair
on his chest. “Some of the ladies in town told me I was the
fattest pregnant lady they’ve ever seen! I must admit I’m much
bigger than I ever was with Charlie…Mrs. Robinson said it looked
like I was having an elephant instead of a baby!”
“Ol’ Mrs. Robinson…” Abraham mumbled as he kissed the top of her
head. “She just likes to say cruel things. Don’t let it bother
Quietly, Julie asked, “What if I stay fat after the baby like
Mrs. Robinson says I will?”
Abraham chuckled softly as he lifted her face up to his once
again. He drew her pregnant body against him as best he could,
and again began kissing her. Their kisses deepened as they
enjoyed being in each other’s arms. He desired intimacy, but
knew it was impossible in her present condition. Abraham ran his
hands down her back as she returned his kisses. Her kisses
always left him tingling all over, even after three years of
sharing a bed together.
Their intimate kisses were suddenly interrupted by a desperate
knock on the door. Abraham groaned as he jumped out of bed and
pulled his pants on. Julie sat up and reached for her robe. When
Abraham opened the front door to their house, Peter was standing
there. Julie lit the lamp on the table. The light revealed the
worry on Peter’s face. “Well? What is it, boy?” Abraham
“Abe, Hal just came by…” Peter stopped as he took some deep
breaths. Something had gotten him really excited.
Abraham grabbed Peter’s shoulder and pulled him inside.
“Alright, just stay calm!” Abraham demanded as he began
buttoning up his shirt. “Tell me what happened.”
“The old warehouse…” Peter gasped. “…in town! It’s on fire!”
“ Oh no!” Abraham breathed.
“What is it, Abe?” Julie asked as she hurried up behind her
husband holding the lamp.
“The town’s on fire!” Abraham grabbed his boots and sat down to
put them on. Without looking up, he started shouting orders to
his brother. “Peter, you run to the Gibbs Ranch and get Uncle
“What about Scott?” Peter asked.
“No!” Abraham yelled as he shoved his head upwards. “If I wanted
Scott there, I would have said so!” Peter’s face showed signs of
annoyance, but Abraham quickly shook his head. “With his lame
leg, he’d be better off staying at the ranch with his family.”
Abraham worked on his other boot. “Oh, and send Margaret over
here to stay with Julie. With all us men gone, she’ll need
someone with her just in case.” Abraham slipped his boot on and
jerked his head up when he realized Peter was still there. “Get
going!” He yelled.
Peter turned and hurried back toward his horse without saying a
word. The sun was just beginning to peak over the hill. Julie
stayed quiet about sending Margaret over, knowing that her
husband was very worried about her. Besides that, she wouldn’t
mind having Margaret here to visit with.
Abraham stood and turned toward her as he tucked his shirt into
his pants. “Julie, get Charlie dressed. I’ll drop him off at the
“Abraham, no!” Julie protested suddenly.
“Do as I say!” Abraham ordered as he fastened his belt. “I don’t
have time to argue!” Abraham grabbed his hat and started out
onto the porch. “I want him ready by the time the horse is
Though Abraham did tend to be a bit overbearing and liked to
throw out orders, he was usually not so forceful with his orders
toward her. But he was worried about many things and had a lot
of pressure on him. So Julie brushed his crude orders off and
hurried to obey him without arguing.
Julie grabbed the clothes from the chair and hurried over to
Charlie’s bed. She pulled the covers off of her one year old son
and bent over to kiss him. “Charlie?”
Charlie slowly opened his eyes as his mother’s voice. “No Mama,
no!” Charlie cried. He wasn’t used to waking so early and wanted
to go back to sleep.
“Come on, we have to get you dressed, honey.” She lifted him
from the bed and sat him on her lap.
“Mama!” Charlie cried as she began dressing him. “Mama, no,” he
“Your going to visit grandma this morning, honey. Papa will take
“Mama…” Charlie cried again. “Mama!”
“Shhhh….” Julie slipped his shirt on over his head then stood up
as she picked him up. She hugged him close as she hurried into
the front room. “I bet grandma will have a nice big breakfast
all ready for you when you get there!” She sat him on her lap as
she put his shoes on.
“No, Mama! No!” Charlie cried. Julie saw Abraham coming as she
slipped Charlie’s last shoe on.
Abraham hurried inside and reached out for Charlie. “Come on, my
little one.” Charlie cried as Abraham took him in his arms.
Abraham held tight as Charlie continued to protest. He was
definitely not a morning person, and his folks did their best to
ignore his behavior first thing in the morning. “Julie, I want
you to stay inside and don’t try to do any work!” Abraham’s
voice ordered her as he plopped Charlie firmly on his hip. He
grabbed a piece of bread from the plate Julie had just uncovered
and handed it to Charlie. “You make sure to eat something and be
careful!” He hurried out the door. Julie followed him off the
porch as he wrapped Charlie’s arms around him and mounted his
“Abraham, be careful!” Julie begged.
Abraham paused and looked down at her. He gave her a nod, then
turned his horse and hurried off. Julie pressed a hand to her
belly as she watched her husband ride across the prairie toward
the main house.
Julie turned to go back inside. It was hard for her to even move
right now! She felt so fat and tired all the time! Julie
breathed a quick prayer for all the men involved in fighting the
fire, then went to get dressed.
Though Abraham had ordered her to stay inside, Julie had to go
milk the cow so she’d have some fresh milk. She also gathered
eggs from the few chickens they had. After fixing a small
breakfast, she began to wash dishes.
Samuel Gibbs and Scott were just getting their boots on at the
Gibbs Ranch when a loud knock sounded on their front door. Scott
hurried to answer it. “Scott, there’s trouble!” Peter exclaimed.
Samuel walked up behind his son to see what the trouble was.
Peter immediately lifted his head to look over Scott’s shoulder
and rushed inside. “Uncle Sam, Abraham sent for you…” Peter
gasped breaths of air to calm down his exciting breathing. “The
warehouse…it’s on fire! It’s burning!”
Abraham reached for his hat and gun holster. “I’m coming with
you!” Scott declared.
“No! You stay here with the family,” Sam ordered. “With your
lame leg you couldn’t do much!”
Scott’s leg had been lame since he was a little boy. It had gone
lame after an accident and was no one’s fault. Nobody blamed
him. But still, Scott didn’t like being treated like less of a
man because of his handicap. “But Pa!” Scott started.
“I said stay here!” Sam ordered.
“Pa, can I help?” Johnny asked as he hurried from the bedroom.
“Abraham said we just need your father!” Peter answered.
“Abraham’s right. You both stay here and tend to your chores!”
Peter hurried out after Samuel. In all the excitement, he forgot
all about sending Margaret to Abraham’s house.
Something had suddenly awakened Margaret from her sleep. She
wasn’t sure what it was, but got up and lit the lamp in her
room. Beth mumbled from her bed across the room as the light
flooded in. “It’s time to rise and shine, sleepy head!” Margaret
declared to her 16 year old sister. She sat down at the table
and opened the latest letter from Lucas so she could read his
words once again.
Yes, I did receive your letter. I read it through five times
before I allowed your words to sink in. I’m glad to hear that
you love me.
I have been able to rejoin Johnny and Andy, as well as the rest
of the men, but Margaret, if it’s all the same to you I’d rather
not talk about the war too much. We are awaiting orders and
that’s all I want to say to you. I’m afraid our chances of
writing will be few and far between very soon, so when I get the
chance to write I’d rather focus on happier moments.
I do hope everyone’s well. I’ve written a letter to Ma as well,
but now that Pa’s gone, I suspect she’s keeping pretty busy. I
hate the strain my being gone has placed on the family. I wish I
could be there to help the family.
How’s Julie? Has she had the baby yet? How’s little Charlie? Oh,
but I bet he’s growing fast! He just turned one a few days ago,
huh? Is Jeremiah married yet? I laugh that he’s marrying a woman
named Emily. That sure will be confusing in our family.
Yes, I’m eating and trying to put the meat back on my bones. The
doctor has ordered that I get a double helping of rations until
I look fit and healthy again. They don’t like us with too much
meat, just enough to make us strong. The food is nothing like
you or our mothers can fix, but it keeps me alive.
Oh, I wish I could write more, but the Captain is calling us to
line up. I’ll send this with the cook when he goes for more
I love you.
Margaret folded the letter and allowed a lonely tear to slide
down her cheek. There were times when she didn’t have time to
think about Lucas, but this wasn’t one of those days.
“Margaret!” She heard her mother calling. “Margaret Ann!”
“I’m coming, Mama!” Margaret called back. She opened her desk
drawer and gently laid Lucas’s letter inside. Then she wiped the
tear from her eye and stood up. She walked into the living room.
“Margaret, Peter just rode by. There’s some sort of trouble in
town this morning. He came to get your father and they all rode
out together. Margaret, Julie’s so close to her time and I doubt
anyone’s with her. I don’t think she should be left alone right
now. Would you go check on her? If she’s by herself…”
Margaret nodded. “I’ll go stay with Julie, Ma.”
Jennifer quickly went into the kitchen and picked up an apple
turnover she had made for breakfast. She wrapped it up in a
cloth and handed it to Margaret to eat as she waited for her
horse to be saddled.
Margaret hurried outside where Scott was bringing her horse out
of the barn. She hurried up to the horse, but Scott held up a
hand and shook his head. “You eat that first!” He demanded.
Margaret obeyed. Then she handed him the empty cloth as he
helped her up then waved as she raced away.
Margaret couldn’t help being a bit excited as she raced across
the prairie to Abraham and Julie’s house. The arrival of Abraham
and Julie McCain’s second baby was expected any day now. They
hadn’t been in church the day before. Emily assured Margaret
everything was okay, but Julie in her advanced pregnancy could
no longer travel into town to attend church.
Margaret raced into the yard and jumped from her horse. After
tying Golden to the hitching post, she knocked then entered.
When she got inside she found Julie working on washing the
dishes. “Does Abe know you’re doing that?” Margaret could tell
from the look on her friend’s face that Abraham would not
approve of such a thing. “Now, you just come sit right over
here!” Margaret exclaimed.
“I’m fine, Margaret! I’m pregnant, not sick! Just leave me be!”
Julie argued, but Margaret kept a firm hold on her friend and
insisted she sit. “For Pete’s sake, I’m TRYING to talk this baby
into coming out! If my doing dishes makes it happen, I…”
“The baby will come out when he’s good and ready!” Margaret
declared as she took over washing the dishes. “You’ll need every
ounce of strength when your time comes.” Margaret turned and
watched Julie slowly sit down at the table. “Where’s Charlie?”
Julie smiled. “He’s over at the main house. Peter rode out here
before sunup and said Hal Dodd stopped by their house.
Apparently there’s a fire and they need every able-bodied man
there to help put out the fire.” She shook her head. “Abraham
demanded he take Charlie to the main house for Ma and Emily to
watch over him. I was given strict orders not to argue.”
“Oh, I see.” Margaret went to open the window. She knew Abraham
was under a lot of pressure. She also knew not to get involved
in the family matter.
But Margaret couldn’t help being upset with Abraham. Why did he
leave his wife alone? He should have sent for her or Emily to be
here! But this wasn’t something she wanted to bother Julie with.
She’d tell Abraham what she thought of it later. “It’s going to
be another hot day!” She continued to wash the dishes while
Julie sat at the table fanning herself with her apron.
“Have you heard from Luke?” Julie asked then.
The dish slipped from Margaret’s hand and fell back into the
soapy water. Margaret gasped as water splashed all over her.
“I said, have you heard from Luke.” Julie chuckled softly. “My,
but you are as nervous as a mouse in a cat’s mouth when that
name is mentioned!”
“I’m…sorry.” Margaret tried to calm her shaking hands. “I bet
you never felt this way when you and Abraham courted!”
“Oh…” Julie smiled as she stared into Margaret’s eyes. “So, you
do admit you’ve been courting!” Margaret blushed as she turned
back to work on the dishes. “Yes, Margaret. I was nervous. I
still get nervous at times when Abe’s not here…like right now,
he’s fighting that fire and…”
“At least you know where he is,” Margaret mumbled to herself.
“Oh, blasted!” She turned from the sink and threw a hand to her
forehead. “How much longer will this cursed war last?” Margaret
gasped and widened her eyes in horror as she realized what had
just come from her mouth. “Oh! I’m…” Margaret blushed.
Julie leaned back in her chair and put a hand to her swelled
belly. “I don’t’ suppose now would be a good time to bring up
the Hundred Year War?”
Margaret gasped again. Julie nodded. “Luke’s only been gone for
two months, Margaret.”
“It seems like it’s been two years!” Margaret declared as she
turned back to the dishes. She lifted her head and stared out
the window. “I can’t stop thinking about it, Julie. Everywhere I
go reminds me of Lucas. Everything I do…Why, even standing here
washing these dishes like this. I remember the night at our
house when Lucas made the announcement and…” Margaret stopped.
“Well,” Julie cringed as she stood from the chair. “I think you
need to find something to take your mind off of him.”
“Like what?” Margaret asked. “I have my responsibilities at
home, but I…” Margaret stopped and turned back toward Julie. “I
just don’t know what to do with myself!”
“We just need to find you some sort of distraction is all!”
Julie walked over to Margaret. “This heat is so…” She suddenly
stopped and grabbed her middle.
Margaret dried another plate, but stopped and turned when Julie
suddenly let out a groan. “Julie?” She sat the plate down and
hurried over to her. Julie was clutching the chair so hard her
knuckles were turning white. “Julie, is it the baby?” Margaret
Julie tried to answer, but the pain was so intense she couldn’t
speak. She nodded as she took deep breaths. Then she clutched
her middle. “Oh!” she gasped as a large puddle began forming on
the floor at her feet.
“What’s that?” Margaret asked as her eyes grew wide.
“My water just broke!” Julie’s voice was pained as she made the
announcement. She tried to stay in control of her situation.
“Oh, where’s Abe?” she groaned suddenly. Then she reached out
and grabbed Margaret’s hand. “Help me to bed, Margaret,” she
suggested painfully. “Then you need to get the doctor!”
They started for the bedroom. “It’s not…” Julie began breathing
harder. “It’s not going away! I don’t…OHHHHHHH!” Julie suddenly
stopped as she started to drop to her knees on the floor. She
continued to groan as the pain again intensified.
Margaret grabbed Julie under the arms and dragged her into the
bedroom. Julie slowly sat down on the side of the bed. Margaret
helped her undress, then Julie got under the covers.
Julie lay back on the pillow and closed her eyes, trying to
quietly get through the pain. She knew right off that this
wasn’t going to be a regular delivery. She wasn’t having
contractions, per se. Julie had a feeling the baby was going to
make his presence known very, very quickly.
“I’ll go for the doc!” Margaret announced as she turned toward
“No!” Julie shouted. She flung her head from side to side as the
pain once again became more intense. “There’s not time!”
“What?????” Margaret’s eyes grew wide. “I thought these things
take lots of time!”
“Not always,” Julie moaned out. “Sometimes…” She groaned again.
“You’ll have to help me, Margaret!”
“Julie, I don’t know anything about birthing babies!” Margaret
“Well, you’re going to learn today!” Julie took a deep breath as
the pain subsided briefly. She reached out and grabbed
Margaret’s hand. “You’ve helped your father and brothers birth
cows and horses, Margaret. You can do this.”
“It’s not the same!” Margaret declared.
“Margaret, we have no choice,” Julie stated. “We’ll do
“No!” Margaret exclaimed. “You need the doctor!”
“There’s no time!” Julie bit her lip and pressed her head deeper
into the pillow as the pains started again. “With Charlie, it
was a…a…” Julie swallowed. “It was a slow process, but this baby
wants born right quick.” Julie grabbed a firmer hold onto
Margaret’s hand. “I need you to go put some water on to heat.
We’ll need it once the baby’s born. He’ll need a good washing.”
Margaret hurried back into the kitchen and quickly dug through
the cupboards for a large pan. She finally found one and filled
it with water to heat. “Margaret!” Margaret hurried back into
the room. “We’ll need a knife to…to cut the cord and…and…some
towels and sheets.”
Margaret hurried and gathered up everything she would need. Then
she hurried back into the bedroom. “We need the doctor!”
Margaret exclaimed. She knew how dangerous child birth was. She
had personally known women who died during childbirth, and
babies who never made it into the world alive. She didn’t want
this to happen to Julie.
Julie saw the hesitation in Margaret’s eyes, but she had to stay
strong for Margaret. She had to convince her friend. “We can do
this, Margaret. We can!” Julie closed her eyes as another pain
went through her body. “It won’t be long now. Not long at all.”
She again dug her hands into Margaret’s and gasped loudly as the
contraction wracked her body.
Meanwhile, in town things were heating up, and not all the heat
was from the fire. The men worked diligently on putting out the
fire in the building, totally engulfed in flames. “Maybe if we
start watering down the next building, it’ll weaken the fire!”
Jeremiah suggested to his brother. “Then we could…”
“No!” Abraham shouted. “Jeremiah, you get over to the fire
wagon! Peter, you come with me to the creek! We’ll get more
buckets!” As Abraham threw out orders, he pointed with his
finger. His voice held a tone that warned for everyone to do
exactly as he said.
“Why can’t we try?” Peter asked. “It won’t hurt to try!”
Abraham whirled around and glared at his brother. “Now’s not the
time to argue with me! I’ve given you my orders, now get going!”
Abraham yelled as he took Peter roughly by the arm and hurried
toward the creek.
“What’s his problem?” Hal Dodd asked from behind Jeremiah.
“The same thing it’s always been. He thinks this fire’s bad…just
wait until it’s over! Then we’ll really give him something to
yell about!” Jeremiah declared as he hurried to do his brother’s
When Julie had quieted again, she said, “Tell me about how you
feel…I mean how you feel about…Lucas.”
“This isn’t the time to…” Margaret started.
“Take my mind off the pain, Margaret. Tell me about Lucas.”
“Well…” Margaret smiled in spite of the situation she was in.
“What are you wanting to know?”
“Did he…” Julie licked her lips as the contraction intensified.
“Did he ask you to marry him?”
“Marry me?” Margaret asked, shocked. “Of course not! He just
admitted he loved me, and had since I was 14.”
“You two were the last to know!” Julie gasped as she smiled.
“Know what?” Margaret asked.
“That you were in love with each other. They say love is blind…”
She sucked in her breath. “Okay Margaret, I need you to check
“You have to go down to the end of the bed and look. See if you
can see the head.” Margaret lifted the blankets and looked. “Do
you see anything?”
Margaret’s eyes grew wide. “I…I…” she gasped. “I see something,
“Margaret…” Julie licked her lips. “I can’t hold out any longer.
I’ve got to bare down! I’ve got to…” Julie cried as she gave a
giant push. Margaret watched but saw no movement. “Did he
actually say I love you?” Julie asked as she rested between
“Who?” Margaret asked.
“Oh. Ye…yes. Several times.” Margaret watched as Julie pushed
again. Julie grabbed on to the top of the bed and let out a loud
cry, but the baby still didn’t budge. She gasped as she gave
another hard push.
Margaret watched helplessly as Julie continued to bare down and
rest. She made no progress.
“Nothing!” Margaret announced after ten minutes of Julie’s
pushing. “What do we do?”
Julie gasped. “My mother…she had to have my help once and I…”
Julie sucked in deep breaths. “You may have to pull.”
“Pull?” Margaret asked.
“Like you pull a calf out sometimes. You have to pull!” Julie
“But sometimes that kills the cow, Julie! I don’t want to hurt
you!” Margaret argued.
“It’s hurting me more to have this baby inside me! You have to
“This isn’t working, Abraham!” Peter yelled. “We should try
“It has to work!” Abraham shouted. “The fire’s already spread to
the freight station next door. We’ve got to…”
Peter threw down his bucket. “This fire is out of control! We
should try Jeremiah’s idea!”
“I said no!” Abraham shouted.
“You aren’t the leader in this operation!” Peter shouted. “You
can’t boss all these men like you boss us! And you can’t boss us
“Look, this isn’t the time to…”
Nobody noticed that the sun had suddenly disappeared under a
dark cloud. A loud clap of thunder suddenly sounded and the sky
opened up as rain began pouring. The men cheered as they watched
the fire slowly die down as the rain continued to pour.
Abraham turned and started to walk away, but Peter suddenly
reached out and grabbed his arm. “I’m not finished with you
yet!” his voice boomed louder than the thunder.
“What are you talking about?” Abraham asked as he turned back
around. “What’s gotten you so riled!”
“Ever since Pa got sick, you’ve been acting like the foreman of
the farm, the family, and this town! I’m getting fed up with
it!” Peter yelled.
“I’m the head of this family now, Peter! What I say goes!”
Abraham boomed out as he shook his arm out of Peter’s grip.
“To the point of overlooking a whole mess of wrongs?” Peter
pointed toward the blackened building. “You were wrong about the
fire today! You were wrong about how to plant the wheat field!
You were wrong about telling Lucas our father died before he
actually died! You were DEFINITELY wrong on ordering Lucas
around the way you did!”
“I am doing my best to run my family!” Abraham shouted.
“Run your family?!” Peter laughed sarcastically. “Oh yes, nobody
argue with Abraham Almighty! He knows all! Abraham doesn’t need
to sit down and discuss important decisions with the family!
When it comes to giving orders, you certainly do your best!”
Jeremiah hurried up to the two fighting brothers. “It’s my job
to make the decisions of this family!” Abraham declared. “It’s a
“Pa always talked to us about his decisions. He always discussed
why and asked for our thoughts before rendering a final
decision! You could care less what we think!” Jeremiah shouted
“You stay out of this!” Abraham shouted back.
“No!” Jeremiah shouted as he pointed a finger in Abraham’s face.
“I am right in the middle of this! I’m your brother!”
Town folks watched as the three brothers continued to fight in
the middle of the street while the storm raged around them.
Back at the Abraham McCain farm, there was another storm
happening as the thunder boomed outside.
Julie began pushing again as a loud clap of thunder shook the
house. Margaret dug her hands around the baby’s head and gave a
great big pull.
She felt the baby give way and slide the rest of the way out.
Margaret laughed as the baby slid out onto the bed. “Oh my
gosh!” She stared in wonderment. “The baby’s out! He’s out!” she
“He?” Julie laughed painfully. “It’s a boy?”
“I…think so.” Margaret grabbed a towel and started wiping the
baby off. Through deep gulps of breaths, Julie told Margaret how
to tie and cut the cord. Margaret cut the cord and held up the
baby wrapped in the towel. The women laughed only for a minute.
“Oh my…Oh my…” Julie gasped as she grabbed her middle. “I think
Margaret still had the baby in her hands. She looked down to see
another baby quickly sliding out. “Oh!”
She turned and laid the baby down in the cradle behind her. Then
she grabbed the second baby as he slid out. “It’s another boy!”
Margaret laughed. “I can’t believe it! You didn’t tell me you
were having twins!”
“I didn’t know!” Julie exclaimed in disbelief. Margaret started
wiping that baby off too.
Margaret laughed as she held the baby up for Julie to see. “Now
you and Abraham are in trouble! You have three boys to contend
Julie reached out for her baby. Margaret laid him on her chest.
Julie laughed as she stared into his eyes. “He looks just like
Margaret couldn’t help but smile. She would love to have a baby
boy just like him someday. She wondered if she and Lucas…
Margaret stopped herself. She felt her face reddening at the
mere thought that crossed her mind. But she couldn’t suppress
the thought of marrying Lucas someday and giving him a son. It
was a powerful feeling that came from deep inside her.
“Margaret!” Her thoughts were interrupted by Julie’s painful
shout. She shot her head up, concerned something was wrong. ‘You
better take the baby. Something’s wrong. I…” Julie let out a
loud scream as Margaret took the second baby. She laid him in
the cradle opposite of the first one.
Another clap of thunder sounded. Lightning flashed outside the
window as Julie let out a long, loud yell.
Margaret turned and looked down. Her eyes grew wide. “Make that
four boys!” she declared as she stared at another life coming
from Julie’s body. “Or three boys and a girl.” Margaret looked
up at Julie. “Push, Julie! Push!”
“I can’t!” Julie cried. “I’m just too…too…exhausted!”
“You have to, Julie!” Margaret held her hands up. Julie was
falling asleep, she was so exhausted. Margaret rushed up to
Julie. Margaret shook her as she shouted, “I told you to push!
The rain poured.
Julie opened her eyes and leaned herself forward as she gave
every ounce of strength she had left. Margaret hurried to the
foot of the bed and grabbed the third baby as he came out.
Julie laid back on her pillow feeling completely exhausted. She
sucked in deep, cleansing breaths. “No more…” she whispered.
Margaret was praying the same thing. She didn’t think she could
handle anymore herself! She waited for the final afterbirth to
make its way out. “Triplets!” She laughed as she worked on
cleaning off the third baby. She held it in her arms “I’ve heard
of them, but never…” Margaret stopped when she saw that Julie
was asleep. “Well…” she looked down at the little fellow in her
arms. “I hope you don’t mind waiting a few minutes. Then we’ll
see if she can feed you. I’m sure you’re starving!”
Margaret turned and looked at the two babies in the cradle. They
were doing their best to cry. “Well…” Margaret wrapped the third
baby up in the last blanket. She hurried across the room and
grabbed a drawer from the dresser, while holding onto the baby,
she dumped the contents out on the floor. After lining the
bottom with another blanket, she gently laid the baby down.
“I’ll check the water,” she assured baby number three.
For the first time since the babies had been born, Margaret saw
the sun shining . She shook her head at the wonders of Mother
Nature and how quickly the weather changed this time of year.
Opening the front door, Margaret breathed in the fresh morning
air. It was only then that she realized just how tired she was.
Every bone and muscle in her body ached, and she felt she’d been
running all morning!
She looked up towards the sun. That’s when her eyes focused on
the bell. The bell that she could have rang hours ago! She
couldn’t help laughing to herself. She had been so busy with all
the activity that she hadn’t even thought about the bell.
Margaret rolled her eyes as she gave a good ring on the bell,
hoping someone would hear it and come running. With three babies
and an exhausted mother, she sure could use some help!
Margaret didn’t waste much time waiting for help to arrive. She
had three babies she needed to get fed and cleaned up.
Margaret hurried back inside and checked the water. She prepared
water to bathe the babies, then prepared a nice, soft bed on the
table to lay them on as she bathed them. She walked back into
the bedroom and shook her head at the sleeping mother. Helping
herself to the dressers, she found some gowns to dress the
babies in along with diapers. Then she prepared to bathe them.
Carefully, Margaret picked up baby number one and carried him to
the table. She carefully bathed him and dressed him. She was
unsure of exactly how to put the diaper on; she’d never had to
put a diaper on before. She had watched Julie diaper Charlie and
tried to remember exactly how it was done. After she dressed the
first baby she tied a piece of white string around his wrist.
Next, she swaddled him in a blanket as he screamed his protest
and laid him back in the cradle. She did the same for baby
number two, except the string she placed around his wrist was
black. Then baby number three had no string on his wrist.
Margaret knew the babies had to eat. She shook Julie gently to
wake her up. Margaret helped Julie sit up so she could feed her
babies. Margaret could see the pain and tiredness in her
friend’s eyes. Her heart reached out to Julie. She wished she
could let Julie rest, but this was something that just could not
be put off!
Margaret took babies 1 and 2 in each arm and sat them at their
mother’s breasts. Margaret smiled as she watched Julie gently
coax them to eat. It didn’t take long before the babies began
suckling. “Ohhhhhhh….” Margaret laughed softly.
Julie laughed tiredly. “Triplets…” she mumbled. “Wait until
Abraham hears about this!”
“I rang the bell some time ago!” Margaret declared. “Nobody
“They must all be busy,” Julie mumbled.
“They can’t be any busier than we’ve been!” Margaret declared
with a nod of her head.
Julie smiled as she looked down at her sleeping babies still at
her breasts. “I guess they’re satisfied,” Julie whispered as she
allowed Margaret to take them and lay them down. Margaret handed
her baby number three. “I guess your Pa will have to build a
couple more cradles!” Julie kissed him on top of the head. She
shook her head, still in shock. “Triplets! I can’t believe it! I
just can’t believe it!”
Margaret stood and readied the drawer with clean sheets. When
the third baby was done, she laid him down. She knew Julie
needed cleaned up, so she helped Julie out of bed and to the
chair. Julie sat down and began bathing herself while Margaret
went to work on a clean bed. Soon, Julie was in a gown and back
in bed fast asleep. Margaret smiled at the babies, all asleep in
their swaddled blankets.
After seeing Julie and the babies sleeping, Margaret hurried
around the house and gathered up all the dirty linens and
clothes. She shook her head at the piles they had accumulated in
the short time. Margaret found herself humming as she heated up
more water and dragged out the wash tubs.
She had just hung the first sheet on the line when she saw a
trail of dust far down on the prairie. She shaded her eyes and
shook her head when she realized who it was. Then she went to
scrubbing the next sheet.
Abraham rode into the yard and started to tie his horse up.
“Never mind that. Best go for the doctor,” Margaret announced
with a smile. She didn’t even pause in her chore.
“The…doctor?” Abraham asked.
“Yep.” Margaret looked up at the father. “He needs to check your
sons and wife.”
Abraham walked up to Margaret and raised his eyebrows as he took
off his hat. “My…sons?”
“Go on inside and meet them.” Abraham hurried toward the front
door. “But be quiet!” she warned. “All your babies…and your wife
Abraham’s eyes slowly narrowed as he gave Margaret a strange
look. “All my…” Abraham slowly turned his head and looked toward
the door. He was suddenly afraid of what he would find inside.
“What exactly went on here while I was gone?”
Margaret shrugged as she went to hang a sheet on the line. She
smiled. She could hardly stand waiting to see the look on his
Abraham turned and rushed inside. He hurried toward the bedroom,
Margaret came in just behind him. Abraham opened the door and
froze. He saw his wife asleep in their bed. He looked down to
see a baby in a drawer. Then he went to the foot of the bed and
looked into the cradle. Two babies looking very content were
sleeping in the cradle.
Abraham was speechless. His mouth gaped open as he again looked
at the baby in the drawer. He again looked at the babies in the
cradle. He scratched his hand as he continued staring. “Where
did all these babies come from?”
Margaret folded her arms and shook her head. “Men!” Abraham
turned and looked at her. He had a very perplexed look on his
face. Margaret smiled. “Those are your babies, Abraham.”
“All of them?” Abraham asked as he swallowed. “All…three of
“We’ve been pretty busy while you’ve been gone.”
Abraham bent down and picked up baby number 3 from the drawer.
He held the little boy in his arms as he walked over to the bed.
He gently sat down on the bed and nudged the little boy’s cheek.
“Now, don’t go waking him!” Margaret warned.
Abraham turned and lowered his head down to his wife as Margaret
quickly left the room and closed the door. Abraham kissed his
wife’s cheek as she slept. Julie mumbled as she slowly opened
her eyes. “Abe…” she mumbled softly. “Did you see them? Did you
see all of them?”
“Yeah.” Abraham looked down at the baby in his arms, still in
shock. “All three of them! That explains why you were so big and
“Yeah…” Julie smiled up at him. “That explains it alright.”
Abraham scooted down in the bed as he laid the baby on his
wife’s chest and cuddled her close to him. “How did this
happen?” he wondered, still in a daze.
Julie grinned tiredly as she stared into her husband’s eyes. “I
think you can remember back, my dear husband. It was last
September. We were…”
Abraham kissed her. “I remember that part!” He declared. “I
remember everything. But this isn’t the first baby you had. In
fact, we have a little boy just across the fields from us who’s
going to be so surprised when he comes home.” Abraham kissed her
again. “What I don’t understand is…how we came to get triplets.”
“God has blessed us?” Julie mumbled as she closed her eyes and
leaned her head against her husband’s chest.
“Blessed?” Abraham shook his head. “It sounds more like a…”
“Abraham McCain, don’t you dare finish that sentence!” Julie
ordered. Julie laid back tiredly. “By the way, how’d things go
“Oh…” Abraham stood from the bed and went to the cradle. He bent
down and nudged each little baby on the cheek. “The rain put out
the fire, but…I’m afraid we’ve started more.” He smiled at the
beauty of his sons. “I can’t believe, three of them?” Abraham
“Three of them.” Julie lifted painfully from the bed and
groaned. “What do you mean you started more fires?”
Abraham quickly stood and hurried back to his wife. He gently
pushed her back down and tucked the covers around her. “You lay
back down until I get the doctor out here. After an ordeal like
that, I’m surprised you can even move!” Abraham declared.
“You have no idea…” Julie mumbled as she looked up at Abraham.
“What kind of fires did you start?”
“We’ll…talk about that later, honey. I need to go get the doc.”
Abraham started for the door, but then he turned and hurried
back to her. “Three boys!” He bent over and kissed her, then
hurried into the front room.
As he walked back toward his horse in the front yard, Margaret
looked up from her washing. “Well? What do you think?” she
“I don’t know yet! It’s a lot to take in.” Abraham mounted his
horse. “I’ll stop by the farm and tell the family. You’ll stay
here?” Margaret nodded. “I’ll let your family know what’s going
on too.” Abraham turned his horse around. Then he shook his head
toward the house. “Triplets…” He chuckled. “Unbelievable!”
Margaret smiled as she went back to her washing. She was hanging
up another sheet when she saw Ruth and Emily hurrying over the
hill with their skirts lifted as they ran. Emily had Charlie in
her arms. “Is it true or has my brother gone loco?” Emily asked.
Laura came over the hill then and Margaret smiled at all of
them. “It’s true. Julie had triplets this morning.”
“Why didn’t you go for the doctor?” Ruth asked.
“There wasn’t time!”
“Why didn’t you ring the bell?” Emily asked.
“Well, I did when it was all over. You never came. Before, it
was too busy inside to even think about it! It all happened
pretty fast.” Margaret shook her head. “It was nothing like
birthing a calf or foal.”
The two women hurried inside while Margaret went back to the
Abraham paced the room as he and the ladies anxiously waited for
the doctor to emerge from the bedroom. Margaret worked on fixing
supper of fried chicken as she bounced Charlie on her hip. “Abe,
would you sit down?” Ruth asked gently.
“I can’t, Ma. I’m too worried.” He stopped and hurried back to
the table. “Ma…how did this happen?” He just couldn’t stop
If he expected a different answer from his mother than he got
from his wife, he was very disappointed. He heard the back room
fill with the sound of babies crying. “My dear son, you are 26
years old, and if you need to ask me that question…well, maybe
you should ask your brothers. Unmarried or not, I reckon they
“Mother!” Abraham declared. “I mean triplets!” Abraham bent down
in front of his mother. “Have you ever known anyone who had
Ruth smiled. “Read about it in a magazine once. I remember
feeling sorry for her.”
A knock sounded on the front door. “Is it true?”Jeremiah asked
as he and Peter rushed in. “Did Julie have the baby?”
“THE baby?” Abraham asked sarcastically. “No, dear brothers, she
didn’t have A baby. She had THREE babies!”
Jeremiah and Peter stared at each other. Their mouths gaped
open. “You mean…it’s true?” Peter asked. “Ol’ Matt down at the
Circle Q told me that, but I couldn’t believe it! She really had
The door to the bedroom opened before Abraham could answer.
Abraham hurried to the doctor. “Well?”
Doctor Stevens sat his bag down and went to pour himself a cup
of coffee. “I’ve never seen healthier babies.” He shook his
head. “They are all as healthy as can be!”
“Doctor…” Abraham sighed as he tried for the third time. “How
did this happen?”
Doctor Stevens turned to the perplexed father and looked up at
him as a grin spread across his face. Abraham held up his hand
before the doctor could say a word. “I mean the triplets!” he
“It’s a complicated medical process, Abe,” the doctor answered.
“Sometimes a woman’s body just releases more than one egg at a
time and….well, if they’re in the right place at the right
The women at the table giggled. Abraham turned and glared at all
three of them. Laura sat quietly beside her sister. “Nevermind,
Doc!” Abraham sighed. “What I want to know is…all those times I
brought Julie in to be checked and not once did you determine
she was having twins or triplets! How could you miss that?”
Doc. Stevens scratched his head. “Abraham, I birthed you and all
your brother and sisters. I birthed most of the citizens of this
small town; I’ve even birthed twins and never did we get a
surprise when it was time. I just have no answer for you.” Doc
Stevens took a drink of his coffee. “None at all!”
“Stay for supper, Doctor?” Ruth asked.
“No. No,” Doctor Stevens shook his head. “I’ve got a patient at
the Circle Q.” Doctor Stevens sat down the cup. “Abraham, make
your wife stay in bed for a week. I gave her some stitches and I
don’t want them to break open. She needs time to heal anyhow.
Those babies, though…” Doctor Stevens shook his head. “They’ll
probably sleep a lot of the time, but I don’t envy you when all
three decide to wake and want fed or changed!” He picked up his
As he watched the doctor leave, he saw the rest of the Gibbs
family coming. Margaret stayed busy on the kitchen while the men
went to greet the family.
The remainder of the evening was spent rejoicing in the special
births of the triplets.
If Abraham and Julie thought they’d get any sleep that night,
they were sadly mistaken. Abraham put Charlie to bed then
carefully climbed in beside his wife as the babies slept. He
laid awake remembering everything that had happened that day. It
had started out well enough with cuddling with Julie that
morning, but the knock on the door had ruined any peace he would
have for a long time.
Abraham sighed as he put a hand behind his head and stared
upwards in the dark. The fire had been bad enough, but what had
come after the fire…that was worst than bad, and he wasn’t sure
what to do about it. Things had been said. Not only had his
brothers spoken out of line, but he’d said some pretty rotten
things himself. They had stood in the rain and yelled at each
other, in front of the whole town. Finally, Peter turned and
walked into the Circle Q, even though Abraham had ordered him to
get back home and work on the farming. Then Jeremiah had
declared he was going to go see his fiancée, Emily.
So much had been left unsaid. Abraham turned and looked at Julie
as she slept beside him. He got up and checked on his three
newborn sons. Then he quietly walked out of the bedroom. After
checking on Charlie, he walked out onto the porch and sat down.
Abraham stared up at the stars. His father had only been gone
for a few weeks, yet the foundation he had spent years building
was slowly crumbling. Abraham wanted so desperately to fix it so
the house wouldn’t come crumbling down.
The foundation his father had built was the McCain family.
Marcus had always been proud of his family. He’d always been
able to handle the family quite well, and everyone was happy
with the way things had been.
Abraham sighed as he leaned against the post. He had to find a
way to keep the farm running. He had to come up with a plan. He
had to convince his brothers he wasn’t there to take control of
everything. He didn’t want to be a foreman, but as the oldest he
had certain responsibilities. He had…
A cry sounded from inside the house. Soon, another one sounded.
“Abe! Abe!” Julie called from the bedroom. Abraham shook his
head as he turned toward the door. The triplets…that was just
another thing he now had to worry about…
Emily stepped outside and called to Peter announcing breakfast
was ready. Peter and Jeremiah both emerged from the barn and
told their sister they would be there soon. After washing their
hands and blessing the food, they began eating. The meal was
shared in silence. Emily and Ruth looked at each other as they
wondered why the two men were so upset.
The door opened. Abraham stepped into the house. “Well boys, I
hope you eat plenty. We’ve a lot of work to do today,” Abraham
“I’ve got crops to weed,” Peter mumbled as he stared into his
plate. He refused to look up at his oldest brother.
“And I’ve got a house to work on,” Jeremiah declared as he too
refused to look at his older brother. “Peter and I have already
decided what we’re doing today.”
“Peter and you…” Abraham crossed his arms as he walked inside.
The door slammed behind him. “Since when did you two make the
decisions without me?”
“Abraham Lee McCain!” Ruth stopped him. “I don’t know what’s
going on here, but I don’t want any fighting at the breakfast
“What about the apple orchard?” Abraham asked softly as if he
hadn’t even heard his mother’s warning. “Who’s going to harvest
the apples? They are getting ripe, you know. We’ll need to sell
Peter and Jeremiah said nothing as they continued eating. “Did
you hear me? I said…”
“Brother Abe?” Laura stood up. “I’ll help.”
“No, I’m sorry honey. You’re too young.”
“I’m seven years old!” Laura declared as she lifted up her chin.
“I’m stout! Luke says so!”
“Yeah? Well Luke ain’t here right now!” Abraham announced. Peter
and Jeremiah finished eating and stood up. They grabbed their
hats and walked outside.
Abraham followed them out. “Now, would you mind telling me what
the…” Abraham closed his eyes and clinched his fists to his
side. “Jeremiah, I understand your need to build your house, but
there are so many things that need done here on the farm.”
“Abe…” Jeremiah turned and stared at his brother. “I don’t
really want a rematch from yesterday. Pa gave me some land, and
I plan to plant my own fields and crops there next year. You
should do the same with yours.”
“That’s not the way Pa wanted it!” Abraham shouted. “Pa wanted
this farm to keep running like it always has! He wants…”
“Pa’s dead!” Peter shouted. His voice echoed as the brothers
stared at each other. Peter sighed. “I’m…sorry.” Peter turned
away from Abraham. “I don’t want a rematch from yesterday
either, Abraham. As long as you are trying to control everything
we do, this farm won’t stay like Pa wanted it. You just can’t
“I’m trying to keep everything running like it always has!”
Abraham shouted. “That’s why…”
“No, Abe!” Jeremiah shouted. “You are trying to run it the way
Abraham wants it to be. Pa always consulted his family on
things. We were all able to give our thoughts on decisions he
made. We sat down as a family. Then Pa made the final decision.”
“Look, I…” Abraham felt he was quickly losing control of
everything. He threw up his hands. “Whatever!” he shouted.
“Fine, if you think this farm can run without my contribution,
“That’s not what we’re saying!” Jeremiah shouted as Abraham
started to walk away. “We want you to be head of the family,
like Pa wanted! We just want to have a voice!”
Abraham continued to walk away. His shoulders slumped as he
slowly walked toward his horse. Without another word, Abraham
rode back to his own home.
But when he got inside, everything was in chaos. Margaret had
come over that morning to help out. Julie held two babies in bed
with her while Margaret chased one year old Charlie around the
house, attempting to dress him. The other baby lay screaming in
the cradle. Abraham caught Charlie as he ran around the table.
“Whoa there, cowboy!”
Margaret put her hands on her hips and blew strands of hair from
her face. “Abraham, where have you been? Can’t you see you’re
needed here? Julie’s beside herself! This house is a mess
and…why did you run out on her this morning?”
“I didn’t run out on her this morning, young lady!” Abraham
answered angrily. “I went to talk to my family, but apparently
they don’t need me anymore!” He sat Charlie down on the table
and started dressing him. “When I left here this morning,
everything was okay! I told Julie I’d be back as soon as I…”
“Just like you did yesterday morning?” Margaret lashed out at
“What are you talking about?” Abraham planted a fist on his hips
and turned to her.
“When you heard there was a fire in town you dropped everything
and went running! You just left your wife here all by herself
and didn’t even think about the fact that she could go into
labor while you were gone!” Margaret accused him as she began
walking baby number three. Charlie began screaming as Abraham
tried to dress him. “You didn’t even think about staying with
her just in case or sending for someone!”
“I did!” Abraham shouted over the noise. He picked Charlie up
and sat him down on the floor. Then he turned toward Margaret.
“I told Peter to send you over when he want to get your father!”
Abraham voice suddenly died as realization hit him. “Didn’t
Peter tell you? Isn’t that why you were here?”
Margaret closed her eyes and turned from Abraham. She had really
allowed her tongue to run away with her this time. She threw a
hand to her mouth in regret. “Oh, I’m sorry Abraham! I shouldn’t
“Then why were you here?” Abraham asked.
Margaret turned back around. “Because Mother and I thought Julie
may need some help. We were right.”
“So my brother didn’t…” Abraham angrily turned from her. “And he
is accusing me of not giving him enough responsibility…”
Margaret slowly turned toward Abraham. “Abe…” She walked toward
him and gently laid a hand on his arm. “Abe…I think we’re all
still in shock over Uncle Marcus’s death. Maybe…maybe you should
give everyone some…time to adjust.”
Abraham suddenly turned toward her. His eyes turned colder. “We
don’t have time! The crops must be cared for or we won’t be able
to feed our families through the winter!”
Abraham hurried toward the door. “Where are you going?” Margaret
asked as she stood in the middle of chaos.
“Out to the barn…to do my chores!” Abraham shouted.
Margaret stared at the door as it slammed shut. She couldn’t
believe the attitude of Abraham. He had always been a bit bossy
and had a “take charge” sort of attitude, but he had never been
Abraham rested his head against the back post of the barn as he
tried to calm his nerves. He felt so much pressure. It was hard
having to make the decisions for his family. And now his
brothers were angry with him. Jeremiah was about to get married,
throwing more work into the mix. Abraham would have to help
Julie out a lot now that they found themselves with triplets.
And with Lucas gone, that left a full man’s shift that needed
filled. Abraham just didn’t know what to do.
He’d give anything to have his father back…to ask him what to
Slowly, he sat down the pitchfork and walked out of the barn.
Abraham didn’t hear any screaming escaping the house, so he
hoped it would be safe to go inside. Slowly, he approached. When
he walked inside, he found Margaret wiping the counter. The
chaos from earlier had finally disappeared as the house was
quiet. “Where’s Charlie?”
Margaret pointed toward the cot in the corner. Charlie was fast
asleep, curled up into a ball. “Margaret, I appreciate all
you’ve done. You can go home now.”
“Abraham, I can stay if…” she started.
“No. You go. Thank you.” Abraham started toward the bedroom.
Julie turned to look at him as she sat up in the bed. Her face
held disappointment and hurt. Then she quickly looked away.
Abraham knew that even she was upset with him. “I’m sorry. I
should have stayed this morning.” Julie said nothing. Abraham
stuffed his hands in his pockets and began pacing the floor. “I
just feel so much pressure right now, Julie…I…I…I just don’t
know what to do!”
Julie turned toward him. “What happened in town yesterday?”
“In town?” Abraham ran a hand through his hair. “Oh…in town.”
He walked to the end of the bed and stared at the three babies
all wrapped up, sleeping as if they had no cares in the world.
“I was trying to tell Peter and Jeremiah what to do and they got
upset with me. They said they were fed up with me trying to act
like the foreman of the family.”
“You’re taking on too much, Abraham. Something got to give!”
Abraham shot his head up and glared at her. “What part do you
want me to give up, Julie? Do you want me to reject my father’s
wish for me to become head of the family? Or maybe you want me
to reject my responsibilities of helping Laura now that Pa’s
gone. Or maybe I should not worry about being your husband or
their father!” Abraham felt himself losing control, and there
wasn’t a thing he could do about it. “Which one of these things
do you want me to give up, Julie? Which one???”
Julie felt hot tears well in her eyes as she listened to her
husband’s angry words. “Abraham, what’s happened to you?
Yesterday morning you desired to make love to me, and now
you…you don’t even want to be near these children! What’s going
on? Talk to me!” Her voice pleaded.
Abraham turned from her. He had to bring his anger back under
control. Finally, he turned back. His angry expression was
replaced with a forced smile. He slowly walked over to the bed.
“We need to name the babies, Julie.”
“Abe…” Julie whispered pleadingly. She stared into his eyes as
he sat down next to her.
“Then I’ll get to work on making the cradles. That’s one thing I
can do without anyone getting angry with me. Right?” His voice
was lined with sarcasm.
Julie bit her lip and closed her eyes. She hated seeing her
husband cut her off like this, but she knew him well enough to
know she couldn’t press him right now. Swallowing, she decided
to discuss the matter at hand. “Well, we discussed Samuel and
David. We never agreed on which one.” Julie swallowed. “Now we
have to decide on one more name.”
Abraham took her hand and kissed it. He felt horrible for how he
was treating her, but he had so much confusion inside. He felt
so lost and was striking out at everyone these days. “How about
if baby one is named Samuel Marcus McCain?”
Julie nodded as a tear slipped from her eye. “And how about if
baby two is named David John McCain?”
“I love it.” Abraham kissed her forehead softly. “And for the
last one, we could name him Adam James?”
“Perfect.” Julie laid a hand on his cheek. “You see? We made
those decisions as a family.” But she could tell from the look
on his face that he didn’t understand a word of what she had
Abraham stood up abruptly and walked toward the door. “Well, I
best get started on those cradles.”
“Abraham?” Julie called.
“What?” His voice snapped at her.
Julie hesitated. “Nevermind.” She felt her eyes fill with tears
as Abraham turned and walked out of the room. The she laid back
on her pillow and sobbed.
“Margaret, eat your supper,” Jennifer coaxed her daughter.
“I’m sorry, Ma…” Margaret moved her peas back and forth on her
plate. “I’m just…not hungry.”
Samuel sat down his fork and peered sternly at his daughter.
“Just how much longer is this moping for Luke going to go on,
“Moping for…” Margaret slowly lifted her head. “Pa, I’ve been so
busy I haven’t even had time to think about Luke!” Margaret
shook her head. “I’m worried about Abe and Julie.”
“Yeah! How about that!” Johnny declared from his place at the
table. “Three babies at one time!” He turned toward Scott. “Say,
how did that happen anyway? You didn’t tell me that part!”
“Scott…” Samuel sighed as he peered at his son with raised
eyebrows. “When I’m ready for Johnny to hear about it, I’ll be
the one to tell him.”
“It’s a little too late now, Pa…” Johnny declared with a
chuckle. “Scott’s done told me all I need to know about women!”
“Johnny, go to your room!” Samuel declared. Johnny threw down
his napkin and walked away without argument. Margaret turned and
watched her brother’s bedroom door closed. “Now, why are you so
worried?” Samuel asked.
“Oh Pa…” Margaret shook her head. “Abraham’s under so much
pressure! I mean he’s suddenly finding he’s the head of the
family. He lost his father, Luke’s gone leaving even more work
on the farm and now…he’s just become the father of triplets.”
Samuel sat down his fork and wiped his mouth. He sat back in his
chair and studied his daughter. “Honey, I remember when you were
three years old. You found a little scrawny kitten that was so
near death. You begged me to allow you to care for him and he
lived. You want to fix everything that’s broken, and now’s no
different. But honey, you can’t get involved in their family
“But we’re part of their family!” Margaret declared.
“Honey…” Samuel started.
“Pa, you and Uncle Marcus have always said that the McCain and
Gibbs couldn’t be any closer if we were blood related! We’ve
always dealt with problems together – always helped each other
Margaret watched as her parents spoke to each other through
their eyes. “Uh…Scott, Beth, if you two are done…” he nodded
toward the door. They nodded and walked out, leaving the three
alone at the table to talk. “Alright, Margaret.” Samuel sat down
his coffee. “What’s on your mind?”
“I’d like to help Julie out.” Her words came out in a rush as
she looked from her mother to her father.
“How?” Jennifer asked.
“I’d like to offer to come over every day and do some of her
chores, help with the kids, and stuff. She’s going to be in bed
for another week, and after that she’s still going to need
help.” She saw her parents look at each other. “Oh, I know it’s
asking an awful lot! I know I have my own responsibilities here
on the ranch but..”
Samuel chuckled as he patted her hand. “Since Luke left, you
haven’t been able to concentrate on the responsibilities of the
ranch yet, daughter. Maybe this is what you need – a
distraction…Something to take your mind off Luke.” Samuel took
another drink of his coffee. “Besides, unless I miss my guess, I
think we’ll have to learn to live without you since you and Luke
will probably marry once he gets back from war.”
Margaret blushed. “So I can help Julie?”
“We’ll go talk to them about it in the morning. If Abraham says
it’s okay then you can do it.”
“Abraham?” Julie rolled her eyes and groaned.
“You have to have his permission, honey,” Samuel gently reminded
“I know, Pa. It’s just that…” Margaret looked up from her plate
again. “Pa, he’s not treating his wife right. She was in tears
when I got there this morning. Has four little ones to care for
and she can’t even get out of bed! I don’t understand.”
“Julie’s not the only one he’s treating badly these days,
Margaret.” Samuel sat back in his chair again. “He’s treating
his brothers the same way.” He looked over at his wife. “They
got in a big yelling match in town yesterday. You wouldn’t
believe some of the things said!” He turned and looked at
Margaret. “He’s under a lot of pressure right now, honey. The
McCain family is strong…as strong a family as I’ve ever seen.
They’ll weather this storm.”
“I just don’t know how much more they can take before somebody
explodes!” Margaret declared.
Abraham couldn’t sleep again that night. As he got out of bed,
he kissed his wife on the cheek then bent down to look at his
babies. He loved those babies already, and felt such
responsibility. But he wasn’t sure if he was ready to be a
father to these children all at once. He didn’t know how they
were going to handle their growing family. Julie hinted that she
needed him around the house more, but how could he stay around
when he had a farm to run and brothers to try and control?
Abraham walked outside again and sat down on the porch. He was
so tired and had so many questions to ask, but he didn’t know
who to ask. He’d never really been able to talk about his
feelings and problems too freely – liked to keep things to
himself and deal with them in his own way…But this was almost
too much for him to handle. In the last three weeks, he’d become
the head of the McCain family, the main decision maker on the
ranch, and a father of triplets.
He thought of everything he had to do. Between tending his
family’s farm and his own, he didn’t know where he was going to
find time to help out his wife or build on to their small house
so they’d have more room.
He heard crying erupt from his quiet house once again.
“Abraham!” he heard Julie call from the bedroom as all three
babies once again started crying. Abraham leaned his head
against the fencepost and closed his eyes. “Abraham!” He stared
out over the prairie, suddenly wishing he could run as far and
fast as he could. He hesitated going into the house. But
finally, he stood and walked inside, closing the door on the
peaceful world he had been sitting in only moments before.
Abraham grunted as he picked up a sack of grain and carried it
toward the barn the next morning. He was half-way there when he
heard riders coming. Turning, he saw Samuel Gibbs and Margret
riding into the yard. He sat the sack of grain down and slowly
walked up to them. After helping Margaret from her horse, he
folded his arms. “What brings you here so early in the morning?”
His voice was gruff. The last thing he needed right now was
“Could we go inside and talk?” Samuel asked. Abraham turned and
looked toward the house. They had no idea the mess that was
inside. It really wasn’t too presentable. “Well, on the porch
then?” Samuel asked in understanding.
Once they were settled on the porch, Samuel cleared his throat.
“Margaret asked her mother and I for permission to come help you
and Julie out for awhile and…”
“I appreciate the help she’s given already, but I don’t need…”
Abraham started to rush out.
Samuel held up his hand. “Please let me finish.” Samuel cleared
his throat. “Now Abe, the McCain’s are a proud family, and I
understand that. When your father was starting out, he was much
the same as you. He wanted to believe he could do everything
himself. I don’t know if you remember, but when Luke was born,
your mother was sick for a spell. They had four growing boys and
Ruth was feeling very overwhelmed. We finally convinced your
father to allow a neighbor girl to help out. She was there for
almost a year. I’m surprised you don’t remember her.”
Abraham bent his head down and rubbed his hands together. “Like
I said, I appreciate the offer, but I’ll care for my own
“I want to help, Luke!” Margaret declared.
“Margaret Ann,” Samuel warned. He stood. “We got our answer.”
But Margaret couldn’t accept that answer. She was too concerned
for Julie and the strain all this was putting on Abraham. “Think
about Julie, Luke! Think about someone other than yourself!”
Margaret suddenly shouted at him.
“Margaret Ann Gibbs!” Samuel’s voice shouted in disbelief.
“I’m sorry, Pa, but I can’t stay quiet about this!” Margaret
glared at Abraham. “When I came yesterday, Julie was in tears.
All I want to do is help out – do some of the chores inside the
house and help care for the babies. That’s all!”
“I can’t pay you!” Abraham said. “Our family can’t…”
“I was just telling my parents last night that you are part of
our family. Maybe I was wrong.” She paused as Abraham sucked in
his breath. “Regardless of what you think, I want to be here for
the family. And I don’t want paid for it. I thought you knew me
better than that.”
Abraham turned from her. He thought on the situation then turned
back around. “Alright. You can come for a few hours. Say around
lunch time, that way you could help with lunch and the children
through the afternoon. That would free me up for other
She knew how much that had cost Abraham to say.
So with the agreement in place, Margaret started that very day.
Beth took over gathering the eggs until Margaret was able to
return to her regular duties. Margaret’s parents watched their
daughter leave everyday with excitement on her face. They
wondered if her love for Luke made her feel more like part of
the McCain family, and caring for Abraham and Julie was like
Margaret caring for Lucas.
Every day, as soon as Margaret arrived to help with the caring
for the babies, Abraham would leave without a word to either
Margaret or his wife. The mornings were spent working on chores
around his farm, while in the afternoons he would go to the main
farm and try to find some sort of control over his life.
After Abraham had ridden out of the yard the other morning,
Jeremiah and Peter decided to allow Abraham to boss them, hoping
time would show that he had too much responsibility on his
plate. They kept hoping he’d come around.
When Sunday came, Julie got out of bed, assuring her husband she
was feeling quite well. Abraham lifted an eyebrow at her, but
stayed silent as he prepared to go finish the cradles that sat
in the barn. Julie sucked in her breath at the announcement.
Though she and the triplets weren’t quite ready for church, she
had hoped Abraham would lead his family in a short Bible study
at home, but Abraham declared he had too much work to do and
started to leave the house, again in a huff.
Once again, Julie began crying. Abraham didn’t comfort her, but
instead hurried to the front door and opened it “Even God rested
on the seventh day!” she spat out angrily.
Abraham froze in his steps. Julie watched her husband lift his
body to his full height, then slowly turn toward her. His face
held anger and his hands clinched at his sides. “God wasn’t a
farmer with a whole mess of responsibilities!” Abraham said in a
“No,” Julie answered curtly. “He asked Adam and Eve for help.”
Her words came out slowly and deliberate. She waited for Abraham
to lash out at her, but instead he merely turned and walked
That’s when Julie realized the pressure Abraham was putting
himself under. He had even turned his back on God. And for a
McCain, that was bad.
Margaret didn’t come over on Sunday, but that afternoon, Emily
and Laura walked over to check on things. Emily told Julie she
and her mother were going to work on canning that week She
assured Julie they would can plenty for her and Abraham as well,
since Julie had her hands full and would be unable to help.
Abraham came inside at one point and nodded his head toward his
sisters. Laura jumped up and ran over to her big brother. “Abe!
Abe!” Laura hugged him. “Peter says you’re picking apples this
“That’s right,” Abraham answered without looking up from his
“Can I help? Can I please?”
“No,” Abraham answered.
“You’re too little,” Abraham mumbled as he searched for
“I ain’t too little!” Laura argued. “I want to help! Ma and
Emily won’t let me help with canning. They said I get underfeet…so
I wanted to help with…”
“NO!” Abraham shouted as he lifted his head toward his sister.
“Now, unless you want me to punish you, you won’t say another
word about it, Laura Rose!”
Emily stood as tears filled her sister’s eyes. Laura hung her
head. “Yes, Abe.” Then she slowly walked out of the house.
“You had no right to talk to her that way, Abraham McCain!”
Emily suddenly declared as she started for the door.
“She’s got to learn not to talk back!”
“She just wants to help the family. She sees how much pressure
you’re under and…”
“That’s right,” Abraham answered as he slammed the drawer shut.
“And I’m too busy to listen to my little sister lecture me!”
Emily watched Abraham stomp out of the house and back toward the
She hurried out to hug Laura who was in tears. Then she turned
and said goodbye to Julie as they started for home. “I wanta see
the babies!” Laura cried.
“Maybe tomorrow, honey,” Emily answered as she led her sister
The next morning, the tension in the McCain family was growing.
When Emily came home to report Abraham’s behavior toward Laura,
both Peter and Jeremiah were all set to go give Abraham a piece
of their mind. Emily begged them not to and they finally agreed
to bide their time a bit longer.
At breakfast on Monday morning, Jeremiah turned to his sister.
“Laura Rose, I have some small pieces of wood that you can carry
in after breakfast.”
“Yes, Jeremiah.” Laura ate another bite of her eggs. “Then can I
help Ma and Emily?”
Jeremiah looked up toward his mother and sister. They shook
their heads. “Honey, the jars are awful hot and they don’t want
you to get hurt. Maybe next year.”
“Then can I go to Abe’s and see the babies?” Laura asked.
“I’m sorry, honey. Things are really busy around here and with
Abe’s temper... I think it’s best you stay here,” Peter answered
for his brother.
“Do I have to?” Laura asked.
“Yes,” Jeremiah answered. “You obey us, Laura Rose. Understand?”
“Yes sir,” Laura said as she started to stand from the table.
Jeremiah suddenly cleared his throat. “May I be excused?”
Meanwhile, at the Abraham McCain farm, things were just as
tense. Julie had stayed quiet after witnessing the confrontation
the day before, but Abraham could tell she was very upset with
him. He didn’t have the energy to ask her why, not that he
really needed to. He had a pretty good idea why. “Will you be
here this morning?” Julie asked, trying to bring some sort of
peace back to her home.
“I’ll be chopping wood this morning,” Abraham answered coldly.
Again, Julie wanted to cry at the coolness in Abraham’s voice.
She felt like there was a wall between them.
Silence fell over them again. Julie tried to think of a way to
reach out to him. Finally, she decided to bring up the incident
from the day before. “Abe…your sister is feeling lost and
confused. She’s only seven years old, and she just lost her
father. Her favorite brother just left for war. She doesn’t
“Julie, I think I know how to discipline my seven year old
sister!” Abraham suddenly shouted as he stood and walked out.
Julie shook her head. She knew something was just about to
break, and she wasn’t sure how the McCain family was going to
take it. She didn’t pretend to understand the pressure her
husband was under, but she did know that shutting God out and
refusing to ask anyone for help was only going to cause more
problems. Soon, he would break and she wondered who would be the
victim when that happened.
The answer to her question was closer than she ever dreamed.
Abraham looked up from the wood he was chopping to see Emily,
coming up the path. She hurried into the yard, worry shining on
her face. “Abe, have you seen Laura?” she asked.
Abe sat the axe down and hurried toward Emily. “Not today. Why?”
Emily sighed. “She wanted to come see the triplets, but Peter
told her he felt it best she stay away, until things settled
down and one of us could bring her over.. After breakfast, she
got underfoot, so we told Laura to go out and feed the chickens.
Mama and I are working on canning beans today. Jeremiah’s over
working on his house. Peter’s in the fields trying to get the
crops watered. I went out to check on Laura and she was gone!”
Emily threw her hands to her face. “Oh Abe, we’ve been looking
for her everywhere!”
Abraham grabbed his sister by the arm to calm her. “Now just
don’t get so excited. Did you check the pond?”
“Yes,” Emily answered.
“How about the barn?” Emily nodded. “Did anyone check…” Abraham
stopped when he heard a noise from the side of the house.
Slowly, he sat his axe down and walked toward the noise. He
heard shuffling. Abraham turned and looked at Emily who gave him
a slight nod. Abe cleared his throat as he turned back toward
his house and folded his arms. “Alright, come on out of there,”
The culprit of the shuffling didn’t move. “NOW!” Abraham’s voice
He and Emily watched as Laura slowly walked around the corner of
the house. She hung her head low. “Laura Rose McCain…” Abraham
said in a stern voice. “Come here, young lady!”
Slowly, Laura stepped in front of her brother. She kept her head
down. “Stand right in front of me, young lady.” She softly
padded toward Abraham, but kept her head down. “Laura Rose,”
Abraham warned as he heaved a deep sigh.
Slowly, Laura lifted her head all the way up until she was
looking at the angry face of her brother. “What do you have to
say for yourself, young lady?”
“I…” Laura gulped. “…I jest wanted ta see the babies,” she
“Did you ask Ma?” Laura gulped as she nodded. “And?”
“Peter said no.”
“And why did Peter say no?” Abraham asked.
“He said with your temper yesterday, I best stay away,” Laura
Abraham slowly lowered himself to be eyelevel with his sister.
“So why did you disobey?”
“I…I wanted to see the babies,” Laura answered again.
“Do you realize you worried your mother and sister half to
death? You were given a chore to do and you didn’t do it!”
Abraham spoke with a loud voice.
“I’m sorry, Abe. I won’t do it again!” Laura cried. “I…jest
“…see the babies, I know,” Abraham answered. “But you know
better. Don’t you?”
Laura hung her head as she started crying. “Laura Rose, answer
“Yes sir,” she answered.
“Abraham,” Emily warned.
Abraham lifted his head and looked at Emily. “Stay out of this.”
Then he looked back down at Laura. “You disobeyed Ma, Emily,
Jeremiah, and Peter. You broke the rule about leaving the yard
without permission. You didn’t feed the chickens like you were
supposed to. You will be punished, Laura.”
Abraham stood up. “Abe, I don’t think you…” Emily started again.
“Emily, I’ll handle this!” Abraham answered. “Alright, let’s
go.” Laura raised her head. He pointed toward the barn.
“Abe, ya gonna lick me?”
“Yes. I am,” Abe answered gruffly as he took her arm and led her
toward the barn. Emily threw her hands to her mouth. Laura
screamed, begging Abraham not to whip her, but he paid no mind.
Just then, Julie hurried form the house. “What’s going on?”
“Oh Julie! Laura’s been wanting to see the babies awful bad!
We’ve been so busy…it’s partly our fault for not taking the time
to explain things to her. It’s hard for a child to understand
why we all work so hard and…well, she disobeyed. She should be
punished but not like this…not right now…” Emily cried.
Julie wiped her hands on her apron. She hesitated for only a
moment before she hurried forward. “Abe! Abe!” Abraham turned
from the door of the barn. “Abraham, let’s talk about this!”
“Julie, Laura disobeyed. She must be punished!” Abraham said.
His voice held finality. His face held anger for being
challenged in front of Laura. “I’ve spanked her before.”
“Yes, Abe. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t spank the child, but
we should talk…” Julie declared.
“Julie…” Abraham sighed. “We’ll talk about it later.”
Julie watched the barn door close. She stood and stared at the
closed door. Soon, she heard Abraham spanking Laura as Laura
cried. She hurried back toward the house shaking her head.
Abraham soon opened the door. Laura came out with tears running
down her cheeks as she cried. “Now then young lady, I want you
to go home with Emily. Do your chores and then sit in your room
for the rest of the day. I’ll be over later to talk to you.”
Emily slowly walked up to Laura and put her arms protectively
around her sister as Abraham walked past her and went back to
Margaret came up the lane just as Emily and Laura were leaving.
She saw tears on both their faces. “What’s wrong?” she asked.
“Ask Abraham!” Emily shouted angrily as hot tears fell from her
eyes. Margaret stared as Emily angrily hurried away.
Abraham didn’t look up as she came into the yard. “What’s wrong
with Emily and Laura?”
“I had to punish Laura. Emily didn’t like it,” Abe answered. He
went back to chopping wood. Margaret stood and waited, but that
was all the explanation she was going to get. She knew she was
to ask no further questions on the matter. She hurried into the
Julie wiped her eyes as Margaret walked in. Charlie toddled over
to her and raised his arms. Margaret bent over to pick him up.
“What’s going on? Emily and Laura are crying, and now you.”
Julie didn’t answer. She untied her apron and sat it on the
counter. “Margaret, would you stay in here with the children? I
need to talk to my husband.” Her voice shook as she tried to
control her emotions. Margaret nodded as she watched Emily
slowly walk out. She could tell Julie was very angry.
“Abraham,” Julie called as she closed the door to the house.
Abraham stopped chopping as he turned toward his wife. “I want
to talk to you.”
“I’m busy,” Abraham answered gruffly.
“In the barn.” Julie folded her arms. “NOW!”
Abraham watched Julie’s angry form march toward the barn. Never
in their three years of marriage had his wife ever spoken to him
in such a manner. Abraham slowly sat down his axe and followed
her. Once they got inside, Julie closed the door. Then she
pointed to the bench. “Sit!” Abraham was in such shock at the
anger in her voice that he sat down without argument. “Now…”
Julie stated in a controlled voice. “I have a few things to say
to you, Abraham Lee McCain, and I don’t want any interruptions
until I’m finished.”
Abraham nodded as his mouth gaped open. Julie began pacing the
barn as she prepared herself to speak. “I understand that you
are overwhelmed with responsibility. With your father gone, you
are now the head of the family. You have to make some decisions
that you haven’t had to make before. And…you now find yourself
having to discipline Laura when she needs it. To add on top of
that, you are now the father of triplets. You are under a lot of
“Yes I am,” Abraham nodded. He wasn’t sure where this is going.
“I’ve put up with a lot over the past week, Abraham.” Julie
stopped pacing and turned to look at him. “I’ve put up with
watching you refuse to ask for help. I’ve watched you treat your
brothers like…like…disrespectfully. I’ve watched you walk out on
me and the children. And I kept telling myself that you just
needed time. Then yesterday you turned your back on God.”
Julie’s eyes filled with tears. “But what you did today was
downright inexcusable!” Julie declared.
“Laura disobeyed!” Abraham shouted. “She…”
“I’m speaking!” Julie stomped her foot and put her hands on her
hips. “Laura is a seven year old CHILD who just lost her father!
She doesn’t understand what’s going on! She is confused and
hurting. Everyone’s too busy to stop and explain to her just
what’s going on. No one will take time to show her how to do
more responsibilities! We all just expect her to understand all
this…this stuff that even we don’t understand! She sees the
strain on the family and wants to help, but you all won’t let
“She’s too little!” Abraham declared.
“No, Abe. She’s not. You’re too busy!” Julie paused as she
stared into her husband’s eyes. “Oh Abraham!” She bent down in
front of her husband and put a hand to his bearded cheek. “I
love you…I love you more than anything else in this world, but I
don’t love the man you have turned into this week! You can’t do
this alone! You have managed to isolate yourself from the entire
family. Everyone is miserable and you can’t see that instead of
bringing this family together, you’re driving it apart!”
Abraham couldn’t say anything. He just stared at his wife as her
face pleaded with him to understand. He’d only seen her look at
him that way once before in his life, and that was just after
his father had taken sick and she begged him not to shut her out
from talking about his emotions. It broke his heart to see his
wife in such a state. Abraham suddenly stood and turned away. He
couldn’t look into her face anymore.
He was so ashamed.
“Abe, your father is dead! He’s gone!” Julie spoke, still
crouched from her position. “Nothing you do will ever bring him
back.” She watched his head slump down. “We all love you and
want to help you.” Julie slowly stood and walked up behind her
husband. She wrapped her arms around his middle from behind him.
“I want to help you. Will you let me?”
Finally, Julie’s words penetrated his heart. He slowly slid to
the floor as flashes of all the things he’d done the past week
ran through his mind. His thoughts abruptly turned to the latest
event with his baby sister. “What have I done?” His voice broke
suddenly. “Oh Julie, what have I done?”
Abraham’s voice held such regret and shame in it.
He wasn’t a man too easily given to tears, and now was no
exception. But Julie turned his face toward hers and stared into
his moist, shameful eyes. “You panicked, just like anyone could
do in your position. Please speak to God, Abraham. Ask His
forgiveness. Then you can talk to me. And then…” Julie lowered
her head. “I think there’s a little girl who desperately needs
to talk to you.” She saw that Abraham needed to be alone. She
suspected he needed to cry, but he couldn’t do it in front of
her. She kissed him softly then stood and walked toward the barn
“Julie?” Abraham’s voice broke as he called her name. Julie
turned, silently lifting her eyebrows “Um…ask Margaret to get
the families together for supper tonight. I think we…we have a
lot to talk about.” Julie nodded. “…about how to go about making
all this work. I want to include the Gibbs in this. I think
that’s how Pa would want it.” Those were the last words Abraham
could speak. He forced his tears to remain at bay until his wife
Julie nodded. “I’ll be waiting for you. I’ll send Margaret home
so we can have privacy when you’re ready.”
Abraham turned and closed his eyes. He sat quietly on the floor
of the barn. Then finally, he allowed tears to fill his eyes.
“Oh God!” Abraham suddenly cried out. “Forgive me!” Then he wept
as he prayed.
Emily came out of the kitchen when she heard the front door
open. She stopped and took a deep breath when she saw her oldest
brother standing in the doorway. Abraham took his hat off and
stood in front of her quietly. Emily turned her head sideways.
Ruth hurried from the kitchen wiping her hands on her apron.
When she saw Abraham standing there, she stopped dead in her
tracks beside her daughter. “Hi.” The two women merely looked at
him. “Uh…did Margaret come by?” Emily nodded. “You’ll be at our
house tonight at six?” Emily nodded again. “Julie’s fixing a
roast with all the trimmings. We’ll talk then.”
“Abraham…” Ruth started.
Abraham looked up when his mother spoke. Both women could see
the regret and shame in his eyes for what he’d done. “Ma…I’d
rather not right now. I…” Abraham’s voice broke. “I have a
little girl who’s very hurt and I need to talk to her.” Ruth
nodded. “Is she here?”
“She’s in her room,” Emily answered coldly, not quite ready to
trust him yet. “She said she’ll stay there until you come. She
doesn’t want…” Emily swallowed as a tear fell from her eye.
Abraham raised his head and sighed deeply. “I’ll take her with
me. We have a lot to talk about.” Abraham started for Laura’s
bedroom. “If that’s okay with you, Ma?”
“I don’t want her hurt anymore,” Ruth answered in a reserved
“Yes ma’am.” Abraham swallowed. “I’ll try to make amends.” Ruth
nodded. Abraham turned back toward the bedroom and softly
knocked on the door. There was no answer. “Laura Rose?” Abraham
called her name softly.
There was still no answer. Abraham slowly turned the doorknob
and opened the door. He saw Laura sitting on the opposite side
of the bed with her back toward him. “You knew I was here?” he
asked softly. Laura nodded her head as she sobbed.
Abraham closed the door and slowly walked to the bed. He sat his
hat on a nearby chair and sat down on the opposite side of the
bed, his back toward her. “I guess you’re pretty mad at me,
huh?” He got no answer. “You know, I was thinking that…” Abraham
swallowed the tears in his throat. “I was thinking that it’s
been a while since you and I went on a ride together.” He turned
on the bed. “Remember how you used to ride in front of me?”
Laura nodded. “Would you like to ride with me today?”
Laura shook her head no. Abraham slowly stood up and walked
around the bed. He bent down in front of Laura to talk to her,
but Laura quickly turned from him and moved to the other side.
Abraham sat down on the floor and lowered his head. “Laura,
I…I’m sorry.” Abraham felt tears again well up in his eyes. “I
shouldn’t have whipped you. I should have talked to you.” Laura
stayed silent. “What do you want me to say, Laura? Just tell
me!” Abraham pleaded.
Laura turned around. Abraham’s eyes widened when he saw the look
of extreme sadness and hurt on her face. Her eyes were red from
crying, and her lips quivered. “Promise me you’ll never spank me
again!” Laura begged.
Abraham slowly stood up. He walked toward the door. Then he
turned and held out his hand. “Laura Rose, come here.” Laura
gasped. “I’m not going to lick you. But we are going to
talk…just the two of us.” Laura stood from the bed and took a
step towards him. Then she stopped. “You’re not in trouble. I
“You are?” Laura asked then as her eyes grew wide. “Mama gonna
“No.” Abraham dropped to his knees in front of her. “But Julie
took me to the barn.”
“Did she give you a whippin’?” Laura asked then.
“No. She just told me I was wrong. She helped me to see some
things. You know what?” Laura shrugged. “You…” Abraham tapped a
finger on her chest. “You are the first person I want to share
those things with.”
She still wasn’t ready to hug him or forgive him, and that broke
his heart. But Abraham knew he had done her a great wrong in
treating her the way he had. It would take some time to gain her
trust back. “I’d really like for us to talk. Can we go to the
“Like where Luke takes me when I’m upset?” Laura asked. Abraham
nodded. Laura took his hand. They walked out of the bedroom.
Emily and Ruth came from the kitchen and looked at the brother
and sister. “I’ll have her with me until tonight,” Abraham
assured them. They nodded.
All the way to the pond, they walked in silence. Laura kept her
hand in his big one until they got to the bank. Then they sat
down together. When Laura sat down, she kept her back towards
him. Abraham looked out over the water. “I sure miss Pa…” he
mumbled. “Things just aren’t the same without him here.” Abraham
turned and looked at his sister. “Do you miss Pa?” Laura nodded.
“You know Pa’s in heaven?”
Laura turned then and looked at Abraham. “Margaret told me all
about it but…” Laura bit her lip. “It’s not fair, Abe!”
“What’s not, sweetie?” Abraham asked as he reached out and
touched her cheek.
“All you…even Emily got him for a long time. I only got him for
seven years.” She lowered her head. “I’m afraid he left ‘cause
Abraham leaned forward in surprise. “Why would you think that,
“I’m bad. He didn’t want to stay and watch me grow up ‘cause I’m
bad!” Laura began sobbing again as she put her head in her
Abraham felt like he’d just been kicked in the gut. All these
weeks, he was worried about trying to fill his father’s shoes,
yet he wasn’t being a father to Laura like she so needed. “No
Laura!” Abraham declared. “No! You are not bad!” Abraham leaned
forward and picked her up. Then he sat her on his lap and began
cradling her. “You are a seven year old, inquisitive child. Pa
loved you very, very much!”
“Then why did he leave me? Why?” Laura sobbed.
“He didn’t want to!” Abraham answered tearfully, “Papa didn’t
want to leave any of us. It hurt him to leave, but his heart…”
“I asked Jesus every night to give Papa a new heart. Why didn’t
he?” Laura asked as she cried into his chest.
Abraham squeezed his arms around her. “Oh Laura, I don’t know
honey! I don’t know!” He felt tears fill his eyes as he shared
the pain with his sister. He suddenly felt closer to Laura than
he’d ever been before. “I ask myself the same question. But…”
Abraham put his finger under her chin and tilted it upwards.
“But Laura, you cannot blame God. God made us. If God took Pa
early, it was for a VERY good reason!”
Laura grew quiet. She had finally been able to cry all her
concerns out. Abraham could tell she felt relieved. “Oh honey,
why didn’t you talk to Ma about this?”
“Ma’s so tired, Abe. She and Emily are so busy!” Laura answered.
“They say I get underfoot.” Laura sniffed. “I just wanta help.”
“And you should!” Abraham answered. “Laura Rose, we’re having a
family meeting tonight and we’re going to talk as a family to
make things better.” He kissed her on the top of her head.
“Things? Like your temper?” Laura asked suddenly.
Abraham raised his eyebrow at his sister. “My temper?”
Laura nodded. “Peter said not to bother you cause your temper..”
“Oh, I see,” Abraham cleared his throat. “How’d you like to get
some new responsibilities?”
“Like what?” Laura asked.
“Well…” Abraham grinned as he looked down at her. “Like picking
Laura gasped excitedly. “Honest?”
“Then you promise you’ll never spank me again?” Laura asked.
Abraham allowed his smile to die. He thought of how to answer
her question. “No, Laura. I don’t.” Laura started to pull away
from him, but Abraham held her tight. “Whoa there, little one! I
would love to just be your brother, but I have a big
responsibility now. With Pa gone, I’m now the man of the house.
You know what the man of the house means?” Laura shook her head.
“Well, it means I help make all the important decisions. I try
to run the house the best I know how, and…when little girls
misbehave, I’ll punish them.” Abraham raised his eyebrows at
Laura lowered her head. “Like today?”
“No, Laura. Not like today.” Abraham sighed. “I was very, very
wrong today, Laura. I’ve said and done some things over the last
few weeks that I’m not proud of. And spanking you like I did
today was the worst thing I did. I should have never whipped you
the way I did. I should have talked to you first to figure out
why you did what you did. I never should have spanked you
“You were wrong?” Laura asked
“You were wrong in the things you did today. I’m not saying I
shouldn’t have spanked you, but I think I understand why you did
what you did. We’ve all been so busy that no one’s taken the
time to talk to you about how you feel about all this. Well,
tonight we’re going to. Can you tell everyone how you feel?”
Laura nodded. “And I should have given your more
responsibilities. I was wrong in that too. But…” Abraham held up
a finger when she started to speak. “You better obey your Ma,
sister, and brothers next time. Or there just may be another
trip to the barn!”
“Yes Abe,” Laura answered. “Abe?” Abe continued looking at her.
“I miss Luke.”
“Me too, Laura. Me too.” Abraham pushed her away from him a bit.
“Now then…will you forgive me?”
Laura put a finger to her chin as she thought about this. “You
gonna fix your temper?”
“I’m definitely going to try to fix my temper!” Abraham declared
with a chuckle.
“Then I’ll forgive you!” She kissed him then threw her arms
He stood up. “And I know I’m not as great as Luke, but if you
need a brother to talk to, I’m always here for you.”
“Abe!” Laura lifted her arms and Abe picked her up. She ran her
hands through his beard. “I think you are as great as Luke…now!”
Abe kissed her and nuzzled her face with his beard until she
giggled. “Let’s go! I want you to help Julie and Margaret with
the babies and supper!”
“Honest?” Laura asked excitedly.
“Honest!” Abraham declared as she climbed around to his back and
rode all the way back to the house. Then, after Abe mounted his
horse, Laura sat in front of him as he tightened one of his arms
around her and they rode for his home.
Laura was certainly happy to see the babies. Julie and Abraham
laughed as they watched their little sister coo over them. She
commented that they were almost as small as her doll. Abraham
just laughed as he motioned for Laura to leave the room.
Julie sent Abraham in search of more tables and chairs while she
and Margaret…and Laura…worked on finishing supper preparations.
Laura felt very useful as she learned to peel the carrots
without cutting herself. Soon, Emily arrived to help. When
Abraham returned with the tables and chairs, Julie left to shout
out orders on where to put them. Like most women, she had to
have everything just perfect, and today was no exception! After
all, in their three years of marriage, Julie hadn’t ONCE hosted
a Gibbs/McCain dinner at her house!
Laura was sent out to watch for guests while everyone diligently
worked at getting everything ready. Laura soon saw a wagon
coming up the road and hurried inside. “They’re coming! They’re
coming!” Laura cried excitedly. Julie gasped and took her apron
off. She ran to the mirror and smoothed her hair down the best
she could. “Why you gettn’ all prettied up? They’re just our
family!” Laura declared.
“Because, young lady, I’m the host and the host always tries to
look her best!” Julie declared with a nod. Then she pointed at
her young sister-in-law. “And don’t you ever forget it!”
Laura wasn’t one for dressing and fancying up. She had even
begged to wear britches every now and again, but her mother had
forbade such a thing from happening and her father had put his
foot down on the matter too. Laura began to wonder how Abraham
felt about it. But after remembering the trip to the barn
earlier, she decided that now wasn’t a good time to mention it.
Laura hurried to the door and held it open as the members of the
Gibbs clan came in. The only missing guests were Jeremiah and
Peter. Abraham turned and looked at Julie who only shook her
head. But within a few minutes, Abraham saw his brothers ride
up. They dismounted their horses and tied them to the hitching
post. Then they slowly walked toward the door.
Abraham knew automatically that they were angry with him.
Jeremiah saw Laura standing close to his brother and looked down
at her. “How are you, Laura Rose?” Jeremiah asked protectively
as he glared at his brother.
“Don’t be mad, Jeremiah!” Laura begged. “Abraham promised to
work on his temper.”
“He better,” Jeremiah grumbled. “Because if he EVER whips you
like that again, I’ll belt him one!”
“Jeremiah McCain!” Ruthdeclared. “I told you not to say anything
about it until after we hear what your brother has to say.”
“It’s okay, mother,” Abraham said as he closed the door. “I
deserve that.” He cleared his throat as he motioned for everyone
to sit down. The food was still simmering on the stove until
after they had the talk. “Now then…” Abraham started as everyone
looked at him. “First of all…I want to apologize to each and
every one of you for my behavior these past few weeks.” Abraham
sighed. “I…don’t really have an explanation for it. I was just
trying to do everything myself…” Abraham cleared his throat.
“Not only have I been rough on all of you, but I haven’t been a
very good husband…” Abraham turned and looked at Julie who
lowered her head. “…or father…or brother…” Emily laid a hand on
her sister’s shoulder as Abraham looked down at her. “But I
rejected God and today I took my anger out on a little girl who
so desperately needed to understand this…too.”
Abraham looked at his two brothers who were keeping their eyes
averted. “My brothers…tried to tell me that I wasn’t handling
things like Pa did. Their words made me angry, not because they
were wrong…but because they were right. We always had family
meetings to discuss important things. When there was a decision
to be made, Pa would sit us down and ask us for our opinion
before he made it. I haven’t done that…Well…” Abraham dug his
hands in his pockets. “We have some big problems, and tonight I
want us to all get our feelings out in the open and try to build
our lives up in a way that would make Pa proud.”
Ruth cleared her throat. “I think you should go first, Abraham.
We all really want to know what you’re feeling.”
“Ma, I…I’ve never been good with…” Abraham shook his head.
Julie laid a hand on her arm. “Well now’s a good time to start,
Abe. We all love you and want to help you. Just tell us what
Abraham stared into her eyes as he tried to gain strength. “Well
I…” Abraham swallowed. He looked down at his hands folded on the
table. “I…” He felt tears well up in his eyes and tried to push
them away. He didn’t want to reveal this side of himself to his
family. Some of them had never seen him cry, and he didn’t want
that to change now. “I need to be strong for all of you. I…”
Abraham shook his head and quickly stood from the table. He went
to the window so nobody could see his tears.
Everyone stayed silent waiting for Abraham to continue. They
could hear him crying and allowed him to his privacy and
dignity. “Before I left to go to Luke, I went in to say
goodbye…” Abraham choked. He cleared his throat before
continuing. “I never…never thought he’d still be alive when I
“Go on,” Samuel urged quietly.
Abraham swallowed. “Well, I…Pa took my hand and he said ‘You’re
the man of the house now, son. Make me proud.” Abraham lowered
his head to his hand and began weeping quietly. Ruth stood from
the table and went to her son. She took his hand and kissed it,
then reached up and put a hand on his cheek. Abraham nodded as
he wiped his eyes and turned back to the group. “Those
words…they’ve haunted me ever since because I DO want to make Pa
Samuel cleared his throat as he leaned back in his chair. “Come,
sit down Abraham. I have something to say.”
Abraham slowly sat down at the table. Julie took his hand and
squeezed it as Samuel began talking. “Being the man of a house
isn’t something to be taken lightly. You have a big
responsibility. Part of that responsibility is learning to
depend on your family. Nobody ever said you could do it alone.
Your father always consulted his children before making
important decisions. If you remember right, he would sit down
with you boys every spring and discuss who would do what and you
would all be in agreement. Why do you think he did that?”
Abraham lowered his head. “Part of it was to keep the peace and
make sure you all understood why things were done the way they
were. But part of it was to…show you, Abraham, how to do
Abraham looked at his brothers. “I’m…sorry…I reckon that’s when
Jeremiah said he wanted to do his own crops the other day I…”
“My words were spoken in haste, Abe,” Jeremiah explained. “I
never should have spoken them.”
“So…we still want to keep the whole farm together, right?”
Abraham asked. Peter and Jeremiah nodded. He looked at his
mother and nodded. “Would you two be interested in…being equal
partners?” They nodded.
“And as partners,” Samuel stated as he cleared his throat. “You
three should sit down with Emily and your mother here to discuss
how you’re going to carry things out. Your father always
included them in the discussions.”
“What about me?” Laura asked, feeling left out.
“You too, Laura!” Abraham declared. “There’s plenty you can do
“What about Julie?” Laura asked then.
“And Julie!” Abraham declared as his wife squeezed his hand.
Everyone laughed. The McCain’s began discussing everything that
still needed done as the Gibbs listened. Abraham watched his
brothers’ anger slowly melt away as they came up with a plan to
run the ranch. They allowed that Abraham should still have the
final say since he was the head of the family, but they also
agreed that he should ASK them what they thought before coming
to the final decision.
Then they turned to the apple orchard, which was always one of
their profit making projects. Even when the crops failed, the
apples gave the McCain family a sizeable sum. There were a lot
of apple trees, and all the recent events had really sat them
back to harvesting the apples. “I can help, right?” Laura asked
as they discussed picking the apples the following day.
“Yes indeed! You’ll get a bucket and pick up apples!” Abraham
“Why don’t we ALL help?” Margaret asked then. She looked at her
father. “Pa, you can spare one day from the ranch to help, can’t
Samuel smiled and nodded his head. “Yes. I think every member of
this family should help bring in the apples.”
“Oh no!” Abraham protested. “Uncle Sam, this isn’t…”
Samuel Gibbs held up a hand to hush Abraham’s protest. “Now,
Abe, you’ve called me ‘Uncle Sam’ ever since you were knee high
to a grasshopper and that’s because we’ve always thought of each
other as family. Just because your father’s gone home to heaven
doesn’t mean that’s going to change. We want to do this…to help
Everyone started discussing plans to meet the next day and
decided to make a family day out of it. Jennifer Gibbs and Ruth
McCain would babysit Julie and Abraham’s little one’s while the
rest went out to the orchard. At lunch, Jennifer would take out
a hearty picnic for everyone to enjoy.
Everyone grew excited, but Abraham sat silently and listened to
his family…his family around him. He couldn’t help but smile.
This was much better than trying to do everything by himself.
Julie held up her hand to quiet the group. “I’m afraid the
farm’s not the only thing that’s been bothering Abraham,” she
said as she turned back toward her husband and motioned for him
to go on.
“Well, I will admit I was a bit overwhelmed to learn my wife had
three babies instead of one,” Abraham declared with a grin. He
took her hand. “I did a lot of thinking on that in the barn
after you left, and if I’m overwhelmed, you certainly are. I’m
going to be there to help you the best I can.”
“And we’ll have Margaret,” Julie reminded him.
“Yes.” Abraham chuckled. “We’ll have Margaret…for as long as she
has time to help us.”
“I want to!” Margaret declared. “I really want to!”
“And as far as Pa’s concerned,” Abraham took his sister’s hand
and squeezed it. “Laura and I had a long talk today. We both got
our feelings for Pa out in the open.” Abraham cleared his
throat. “Speaking of Laura…”
“I think all’s forgiven, Abe,” Peter nodded. Everyone else
nodded as well. “And we understand that your new
responsibilities are hard on you. With Pa gone, she needs
someone to take Pa’s place.”
“It doesn’t have to be me,” Abraham stated. “I…”
“It does…” Ruth declared as she looked toward her son. “That’s
how your father wanted it. You’ve done so well with her up until
today. I don’t think that should change.”
“But she does have two other brothers that can very well help
out!” Emily declared.
“And don’t think I’ll hesitate on bending you over my knee if
you get out of line, young lady!” Jeremiah declared. “But…since
I’m getting married, I don’t feel comfortable with taking charge
“And I definitely don’t think I’m mature enough to do such a
thing!” Peter declared as he held up his hands. “I still get her
“Yes!” Ruth declared. “You do!”
Abraham turned to his little sister. “What do you think?”
“About what?” Laura asked.
“About me being in charge of your upbringing…like Pa was,”
“Really? You’re asking me?” Abraham nodded. Laura smiled. It
made her feel proud to be included in such an important
decision. “Well…” Laura looked at Peter. “I like Peter getting
me into trouble, so maybe…”
“Laura Rose…” Ruth warned then.
“But mama, Abraham spanks HARD!” Laura declared.
“And it’s for your own good,” Abraham answered. “I’m trying to
help Ma bring you up as a young lady – one Pa would be proud
“You won’t lose your temper with me?” Laura asked.
“Only if you rile me, sis,” Abraham answered.
“Alright,” Laura got on her knees in the chair and wrapped her
arms around Abraham’s neck. “As long as I deserve it though!”
“It’s a deal!” Abraham declared. “Oh, and come Sunday I expect
to see every one of you here at church!”
“Me too?” Peter asked.
“You too!” Abraham declared. “Which means no staying in town
and…” Abraham stopped himself as he looked down at his young
charge. “…socializing all night Saturday night! My family will
go to church on Sunday proud! Six days God labored, and on the
Seventh day, he rested.”
Ruth nodded her approval as she smiled. “Your father would be so
proud!” She clapped her hands together. “Now, let’s get the food
on the table!”
The rest of the evening was filled with laughter as the family
mended their bond.
After everyone left, Julie looked so exhausted that Abraham
decided to put off their talk until she was better rested. He
helped her get the triplets settled down for the night. Then he
watched her crawl into bed, turn over, and go to sleep. He
quietly walked out onto the porch and looked up at the stars.
“It took some time, Papa,” Abraham said as he looked skyward.
“But I think I’m ready for the responsibility…”
The next day was filled with activity. By the time Abraham got
over to the McCain house Ruth had a hearty breakfast on the
table. Laura was so excited about helping that she could hardly
control herself. She assured Abraham she didn’t need to eat. She
wasn’t a bit hungry. Abraham gave her quite a stern look,
however, and pointed for her to sit. Remembering the whipping
handed down to her the day before, Laura decided it wasn’t a
good idea to press her brother; so she sat down without
Several times Laura began fidgeting around in her chair,
declaring she couldn’t eat; and several times Ruth ordered her
to start eating again. Abraham, who was enjoying his second
breakfast of the day, finally told Laura that if she had to be
told once more, she would not be going to the orchard, but would
instead be going with her mother to his house with the other
children. That was all Laura needed to settle down and finish
After her last bite was gone, she started to stand from her
chair, but she heard several throats clear at the same time. She
looked around the table at her sister and three brothers and
sighed as she sat her elbows on the table and rested her chin in
her hands. She wasn’t sure she liked having so many adult
brothers and sisters. “Laura Rose…” Ruth warned.
“Laura Rose!” Abraham warned. Laura looked from her mother to
her brother. Then she realized she wasn’t using proper table
manners. She quickly put her hands in her lap. “Well?” Abraham
asked as he raised his eyebrows at her.
“May I be excused?” Laura finally asked. Everyone nodded their
heads. “Boy, I can’t wait for you to get married, Jeremiah!”
Laura stated then. “At least I’ll only have three bossing me at
the table since Abe’s not normally here.”
Abraham started to stand up, but Laura held up a hand. “I’m
sorry!” she declared suddenly. “I just can’t stop my mouth from
“A good bite of lye soap will be in order the next time you
speak like that, young lady!” Ruth declared.
“And you may be excused,” Abraham answered for his mother. “Take
your dishes into the kitchen; then maybe we can talk your mother
and Emily into letting you help me with the buckets while your
brothers get the buckboard ready…”
“You softy!” Emily declared suddenly.
“Yeah! That’s not fair!” Peter said. “I want to get the
Abraham laughed knowing his family was having fun at his own
expense. Laura hurried back in from the kitchen after delivering
her dirty dishes. “Well Mama?” She asked hopefully.
“Well, I don’t think your brother Abraham is as rough and tough
as he wants you to think!” Ruth replied. “Go on! Have fun!”
Laura worked hard helping her brother get everything ready. When
the Gibbs wagon appeared, they all sang merrily as they drove
toward the apple orchard. The family worked all morning
gathering the apples. Abraham made Julie take several rests, and
gave her the job of picking out the rotten apples. Laura did
well helping to pick apples from a short step ladder her brother
allowed her to climb, but she soon tired and joined her
sister-in-law in her chore.
When Jennifer Gibbs arrived with the lunch, everyone sat
together and laughed as they remembered previous outings they’d
been on together. Jennifer cleaned up as she watched the family
go back to work. Julie worked on picking apples for a bit longer
that afternoon, but Abraham sternly told her to go sit down and
rest. He knew she was still recovering from having triplets a
week ago, and he would not allow her to push herself too much.
She had to do a lot of sweet talking to even get to help at all!
By the time supper time came, most of the apples had been
harvested. The brothers asked Scott to go into town with them
the next day to sell their apples and Scott agreed
enthusiastically. By the time the families got back to Abraham’s
house, Ruth and Jennifer had a hearty meal of beans and
cornbread on the table. “What’s for dessert?” Johnny Gibbs asked
after prayer was said.
“Apple pie,” his mother answered.
The house was finally quiet. Abraham sat at the table reading
the latest happenings in the newspaper as his wife tiredly sat
in her rocking chair sewing on a new shirt for Charlie. “Looks
like Lucas’s regiment was in a battle a few weeks ago,” Abraham
mumbled as he read. “Wonder how he’s doing.”
“I don’t know.” Julie stood up and yawned. “I’m turning in,
Abraham smiled as he stood. “I think I will too.” He was hoping
to have a talk with her once they were in bed.
He watched Julie slip from her clothes and into a gown as he
began undressing himself. They crawled in bed under the covers
at the same time. Abraham blew out the light then laid down
beside his wife. He reached out and pulled her over to him so
they could cuddle. “Tired?” he mumbled as his lips pressed
against the back of her neck. Julie mumbled something he didn’t
understand. “Too tired to talk?”
Julie heard the hope in his voice. She turned over in his arms
until they were facing each other. After gently kissing him, she
said, “No. Talk.”
“I haven’t had a chance to…Well, to apologize to you for how
I’ve treated you. It was very rude and irresponsible of me.”
“Yes it was!” Julie declared. “And I forgive you.”
“Well…that was easy!” Abraham gave a short laugh. “I almost
expected to get a lecture.”
“I gave you the lecture in the barn yesterday, honey. And I can
see the relief in your eyes.”
“I’m surprised you let me come back to our bed after the way I
treated you!” Abraham declared. “I deserve a cot in the barn.”
“Now…” Julie cuddled up closer to him as he drew his arms around
her. “If I did that, who would cuddle with me?” she teased.
“Nobody, I hope!” Abraham retorted.
“Abe…” Julie sighed. “I understand you don’t like to talk about
your feelings, but if you ever start feeling…”
Abraham hushed her with a long kiss. After their lips parted, he
mumbled, “I’ll talk to you. I don’t want you to take me to the
“Next time I just may spank you!” Julie declared as she kissed
Abraham chuckled as he pressed his lips to hers. After enjoying
a long, passionate kiss, he groaned as he laid on his back and
she laid her head on his chest. “Soon, honey. Soon I’ll let you
make it up to me…” Julie mumbled as they fell asleep in each
The Years Before — Faith
This is a story based on the TV series
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
around The McCain Ranch