The Rifleman
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Written by Markisddg aka Jan

Mark leaned on the hitching post in front of the Marshal’s office listening to Lucas explain why Micah was in Willow Springs. Lucas had been appointed once again to cover in Micah’s absence while he testified at a hearing for Jed Salter who was going to trial for bank robbery. He had also attempted to rob the North Fork bank and had been apprehended by Micah and now the Marshal would be gone for days giving an account of the robbery. As Mark half listened he was busy watching the stage pull into town and wondered if there would be any new people coming to North Fork. It had been weeks since he had seen a new face, that being Miss Campbell who had come to marry Leo Rawlins who owned the ranch just out of town.

Lucas said “Remember we have to get back by six o’clock cuz you’ve got that board to fix in the barn Mark.” and turned around and headed into the office to find that jail key he had misplaced. As the stage door opened the usual riders embarked and as Mark started to look away out of the corner of his eye he caught sight of her. Her long brown hair hung down over her arms and as she stepped out of the coach he thought he had seen a vision. A man was just speaking to her, had tipped his hat and walked away. She wore the usual riding clothes but her face was between pretty and beautiful. He had to find out who she was. As he approached he heard her asking the driver where the nearest hotel was. Abe said, “The only one is right down the street, Ma’am can’t miss it.”

Mark found himself walking towards this girl and as she bent down to check her belongings, he looked down at her and said “Afternoon Miss, almost forgetting to remove his hat. She looked up from her satchels sideways and he saw those dark eyes and full eyelashes for the first time with her brown hair falling about her face. This girl was taken by Mark’s soft brown eyes and smile and moved by how his long strands of shiny hair had shielded his right eye as he removed his hat. He quickly pushed them away. “Well hello there and who might you be?” she asked as she stood up and extended her hand to him. Mark took her hand and spoke slowly to find the right words, “I’m Mark McCain…. haven’t seen you before do you live in town?” She remarked “Well no not quite, I’m all the way from New York and finally I’m here. I’ve been on the road for weeks bumping and thumping on dusty trails. If you could lead me to that hotel I’d be most grateful. Oh I’m Rachel.”

Mark was convinced she was the most beautiful girl he had seen in quite some time. He started to walk her to the hotel when she indicated her suitcases. He picked them up and asked her about her journey all the way from the east.

As they reached the door of the hotel Mark stopped and asked her if she was visiting someone, secretly hoping it wasn’t a man. Rachel said in passing that she was visiting a friend of the family and hoped he was still in town. Miss Lou checked in this friend of Mark’s, welcomed her to North Fork and gave her a fine room at the top of the stairs. After getting her room key Mark announced he would be helping her with her bags as Lou let her know dinner was 5-7p. Mark walked her upstairs and after opening the door, she walked into the room and Mark guessed he should stay outside. He was a bit nervous when he said “When you’re ready if you want to join Pa and me for dinner downstairs it would make for a fine evening.” He put his hat back on his head then decided he maybe should keep it off. He added, “They make the best cherry pie and the fried chicken is the best in the territory.” Rachel replied she wanted to rest a bit and clean up and would be ready around five to try the best fried chicken in the territory. Mark nodded and joyfully turned to leave and the smile on his face was not lost by her one bit. She smiled to herself.

Lucas was just starting to pull out a book of papers and sitting down at the desk when Mark entered. “Pa I just met her…..her name is Rachel all the way from NY and you and me, well, I kinda invited her to have dinner with us tonight. You have to meet her Pa she’s so pretty and……” Lucas put up his hand and stopped him for a second. He reminded Mark that he had to get home tonight and finish fixing the back of the barn where the cow kicked the side through but Mark insisted on eating first. Lucas yielded and was happy to see Mark so excited about a girl. He was hoping he wasn’t going to be disappointed like the last time when he met that girl Sally. She had treated him like a child with a crush but Mark was older now and seemed more mature.

As the time ticked by Mark hung around outside the Marshal’s office fidgeting until five o’clock. He and Lucas made their way down to the hotel dining room and found themselves a table. Martha came over and asked if they were both having the fried chicken special when Mark spoke up that she should make that three specials. As he spoke his eyes fell on the girl coming into the room. She was different now she had on a blue dress and black shawl almost beaded and approached the table. Lucas and Mark stood up as Rachel said, “I certainly feel better now since I had some rest and when I woke I remembered your thoughtful invitation, Mark. This must be your pa and I hope I haven’t kept you waiting?” Mark introduced them and Lucas took her hand, said he was glad to meet her and his expression implied she was quite attractive.

Lucas had never seen Mark so talkative asking her if they had horses in New York City and what was it like there. She said “The city is one busy place with the omnibus pulled by horses along the roads picking up riders and in some parts real electric streetcars run along steel rails. The streets are ablaze with electric lights not oil or gas.” She talked of other attractions and Mark looked at Rachel with his head down and his eyes looking up that the girls in school had found attractive and asked her once again who she was meeting in town. Rachel spoke after a second or two “Well now that’s right I never did tell you, I’m on a mission to meet someone who just might live here in North Fork. My mother passed on about a year ago and told me before she died to look up Micah Torrence and last I heard he was headed to New Mexico territory.” Mark couldn’t believe that she was friendly with his good friend. Lucas was equally surprised that a girl all the way from New York would know Micah. “So your mother knew Micah?” asked Lucas. Rachel added how her mother had never mentioned him until the day she was dying and she wanted me to look him up. “You see my mother was friendly with Mr. Torrance many years ago and recently found out he was here.” Mark told her that he wasn’t in town, he was testifying at a hearing in Willow Springs about a two day ride and she could see him then. “He’s the Marshal of North Fork.” All of a sudden a look came over her face and she said she was pleased to have eaten with them but she must go to her room now. She went for her handbag but Lucas said the pleasure was theirs and no need for that. She thanked them, excused herself and as she was leaving the table Mark stood up and reminded her “You didn’t even try the pie.” But she turned and left.

Mark and Lucas had headed home that night so Mark could fix the barn and be there next morning to milk the cow. Cows had to be milked Lucas always told him. Mark hadn’t said much the night before and today was Saturday which meant he wouldn’t be going to town. Lucas was still deputy marshal so he had to ride in. Mark had quickly done his chores and round about 10 o’clock informed Lucas he was fixing to go to town. Lucas asked “So would it have anything to do with that girl you met yesterday, maybe find out her connection to Micah?” Mark didn’t answer right away but shrugged and said what was keeping him home. Lucas informed him maybe his chores? So later in the day Mark took off to town and was hoping Miss Devon would accompany him on a ride around the country. He had never gotten her last name but Lou had let him read the hotel register.

He went to the hotel asking Lou if she was in and she informed Mark she had left the hotel to check out the town. Mark walked around and found her in with Lucas at the Marshal’s office. He stopped at the door and saw her sitting close to him. As Mark entered Lucas looked up and then stood up. “Well Miss Devon here he is, I knew he was coming in to see you.” Rachel stood up also and greeted Mark. “I wanted to apologize for running off so suddenly last night but I was surprised finding out that Micah was the Marshal. I had no idea. Ma didn’t tell me that.” Mark was glad that she still seemed interested and asked her if she wasn’t too busy would she accompany him on a buggy ride to show her some of the land. “Now Mark,” she said, a ride around this beautiful country is just what I need, I’ll meet you outside the hotel.” Mark showed his excitement and said “That’s good I have to go see Nils and rent the buggy.” As they both went their separate ways Lucas wondered why she had been asking him so many questions about Micah?

Mark took Rachel back towards the ranch and headed towards the south section. He wanted to be alone with her and listened while she talked about life in the East. It was a fine sunny day for riding and the wind was strong enough to send her chestnut hair blowing in Mark’s direction. Rachel saw ranges, pastures and hills in all directions extending an unlimited number of miles. Mark explained how farming, ranching, horses and cattle were all he knew about and asked her what she had been talking about with his Pa. She simply said she was asking about Micah.

He followed an old wagon trail that cut across a dry wash and followed the wash down a hill to a large rock. He inquired, “How’s about seeing the view from the big rock?” She got out of the buggy and Mark helped her up onto the big boulder and she marveled at the beauty of the valley. After some conversation she turned to him and asked “Mark, do you like me much?” Mark didn’t say a word he leaned forward and stared into her eyes. He took off his hat and tossed it on the rock. He knew what he wanted to do and gently began to kiss her not caring if he was out of bounds and then she responded and kissed him back. Rachel pulled back a bit and Mark said “I guess that answers your question.” He had learned a few things with the girls in school. The smell of lilacs was intoxicating as she smiled and he kissed her again fervently this time and she put her arms around his neck and leaned back onto the warm rock pulling him to her. He now tried to take more liberties which she allowed to Mark’s delight until suddenly she pushed him off, jumped off the rock, running and yelling “Beat ya to the tree.”

Mark sat there feeling he was under her spell and ran after her. She was already sitting down at the tree and Mark dropped to his knees. “Mark I need for you to help me.. would you do something for me? Mark asked why she ran off, but Rachel turned away and said “You got a bit greedy!” then asked pointedly “Mark I need to know how to use a gun.” She had his attention now and was surprised that a girl like Rachel would even consider a gun. Mark hesitated as he didn’t know just how to get one. He said “My pa never let me have a handgun just a rifle so I don’t know anything about any revolvers.” She added quickly, “Mark I need a gun and soon will you get me one? You said you would help me!” Mark demanded haughtily “But why do you want a gun?” She stared down at the valley below and answered “There was a man on the stage with me all the way from Oklahoma and I couldn’t get away from him. He wouldn’t take no for an answer. I forgot about him after I met you yesterday but then he showed up this morning at the hotel and wants me to be available to him. I need it for protection to keep in my room?” Mark listened and replied, “Well I can show you my .22 and you can decide if you want it or not…it’s out at the ranch not far from here if you just want it for show.”

When they arrived at the house Mark was glad that he was alone with her and told her he seriously didn’t know about a gun. He said “I can get Micah to make sure this guy doesn’t bother you anymore and my Pa can too.” She looked away and said that she didn’t want their help only his. Mark didn’t know what to say but started to get them some biscuits and jam from breakfast. She told him she wasn’t the least bit hungry and maybe he could at least show her his gun. He knew Pa would never allow him to let her borrow his gun much less to show her how to shoot it. Mark went into his room where he left it on the table and brought it out. She was near him and asked if he would show her now how to shoot. He was reluctant to but she had her ways of persuasion. Out on the range he taught her how to squeeze the shot instead of jerking the trigger and she learned easily and he said if she just used it for show then he could let her borrow it. Mark took her back to town with his .22 not feeling too confident about his decision.

On Sunday Mark got up early and dressed himself in his finery for church. His plan was to drop by the hotel after church and see her. Lucas wasn’t surprised that Mark was ready to go with him so he took the buckboard. Lucas said “Mark if you’re going in for that reason then you go to church and don’t be hanging around the hotel and did you ever get to your homework?” Mark was all ready with his answer, “Sure Pa all done and after church I’ll just happen by the hotel, besides Micah’s due back today and I’d like to see him.”

When they arrived in North Fork he got out and went towards church and Lucas had gone into Micah’s office. Then Mark noticed that service was just beginning but decided to go to the hotel instead. As he walked into the lobby, he saw Rachel dressed like Millie used to dress in pants coming from the dining room. “What brings you out on a Sunday morning and all dressed up… Church?” Mark said that was his plan and Rachel told him he better get going as she heard the church bell ringing. Mark instead sat down and asked, “Where ya headed?” Rachel said nowhere special just waiting for an offer. Mark couldn’t hold back and said he wasn’t going to church and…..” Rachel cut in and said “I know a picnic I can get everything I need from Miss Mallory but you get to church and I’ll get everything ready.” She ascended the stairs and turned around to see him leaning his crossed arms on the banister with his chin on them watching her. “I’ll wait right here,” he added.

Mark took the buckboard as Lucas didn’t need it, got Rachel settled on the bench then he got up front and took the reins. As they rode along Rachel said she never learned how to ride a horse and told Mark. “Now I’m too old to learn,” she said and started to hum a tune. Mark asked her if that guy had paid her a visit. She answered that he hadn’t. Mark was wishing that he had never given her that gun. Soon they came to the lake where Mark liked to skim rocks and the fish were always biting. He stopped the horse, got down and reached up to help her climb down. As she got down his lips brushed hers and she said, “Mark McCain it’s Sunday remember and I bet you’re hungry.” After Mark stuffed himself with fried chicken, biscuits and cider he stretched out on the blanket hoping this pretty girl would come closer. Rachel put everything back into the basket and stared at Mark. “How old are you?” she inquired. “You know I never asked you that. I’m almost twenty.” Mark hesitated but knew he couldn’t lie so he replied, “Old enough.” and reached over and grabbed her around the waist. She laughed saying “I like that answer. But you know we can’t do this anymore because I’ll be leaving North Fork soon and then what?” Mark didn’t hear that right and almost stammered when he said, “Leaving? Why you haven’t even seen Micah yet and what about me?” She told him that she hadn’t planned to stay anyway and just because she had fallen in love with him wouldn’t change a thing. Mark asked her how she could say she was leaving after saying she loved him.

Rachel heaved a sigh and replied, “Mark I know I’m not right for you and I don’t belong here. I’m from New York and you don’t even know me.” Mark cut her off asking her how she could say these things now. He said, “You just told me you have fallen in love with me…well you must know how much I care for you. He grabbed her and this time he didn’t care if he was being too forceful. He was on top of her and kissing her like the way he saw Mr. Foster kiss his new wife when he found them at the back of the barn at the church social. Passion had taken over and he was lost for the moment. She didn’t fight him, on the contrary she was kissing him as forcefully. He had this impetuous feeling that he never had before with other girls. He was at the right place and the right time and wanted to discover the pleasure within. His hand started to unbutton her blouse and she tried to sit up and spoke, “No Mark, I can’t.” Mark stared at the weave of the blanket saying nothing. Rachel said, “Be sensible, I can’t do that to you. You know what happens when two people get together like this. Besides I’m leaving tomorrow!” Mark couldn’t believe what he heard. “Leaving?” he demanded as if to challenge her. She spoke softly, “I was so poor growing up. It was just my mother and me and when my pa left we lost our farm. My mother had a cousin in New York so we managed to secure the passage and went there to live. She worked so hard and we scraped by. I got to even go to school. I have an opportunity to marry a man who could give me a new life but I had to get away and think it through. Meeting you has gotten me all mixed up.” Mark got up, looked down at her with an expression of utter sadness and went to the buckboard. “We best get back to town,” he suggested dolefully.

They spent a quiet ride back to town with Mark just staring ahead not even looking her way. Micah had not arrived yet. Rachel thanked him for taking her to the lake and Mark only nodded. When Lucas was done they both rode back to the ranch. Lucas advised Mark to slow down with her as she seemed to be setting a bead on him. He had seen them leave together earlier from town but Mark could only say, “You don’t know her, Pa. You just don’t know her.”

When Lucas and Mark arrived at the ranch Mark jumped out and headed towards the house. Lucas knew something had happened between them. Instead of Mark talking on and on about Rachel this time he had nothing to say.

When Lucas entered the house he asked Mark to stop getting supper and sit down. Lucas said, “Mark I think things aren’t what you thought they were. Did this girl say something to discourage you?” Mark looked at the floor and said very quietly, “I don’t want to talk about it, Pa.” Lucas told Mark how things have a way of working themselves out. “When you meet someone like Rachel you think that life can never be so good. But you have to be careful because you only just met her and Mark you don’t really know anything about her. She seems like a fine person but you have never met a girl from so far away.”

Mark was angry with his Pa and interjected “How can you know anything about her. She is the sweetest and prettiest thing I’ve ever seen. She told me she loved me, Pa, loved me, and in the same breath she said that she was engaged. So now what am I to think?” He got up and proceeded to peel potatoes and told Lucas he didn’t want to talk about it anymore. But Lucas wouldn’t let it end. “Mark you only have known her for a brief time. I know at your age you can fall hard. She’s a beautiful girl and there’s nothing I can say to you to make it easier. I’m sorry Mark. It’s hard.”

He rode off to school Monday morning and thought he would stop in at the hotel and see if she was there. Miss Lou said she wasn’t in her room and had not been back since Sunday. Mark went to school and only thought of her. He couldn’t concentrate at all and the day was wasted. He left school and saw Micah’s horse out by the hitching post. He was back and saw Lucas was over at the general mercantile. Rachel would now get to meet Micah. He was on his way to see Micah when he noticed the shades had been pulled down and he managed to find a break in the shade and saw Micah standing by his desk and looking forward towards the back of the wall. There he saw Rachel standing holding his gun, Mark’s .22 on Micah. She didn’t look the same her face was different almost wild, looking at Micah. Mark didn’t know what to do and stepped back, but where would he go? He had purposely made sure the gun wasn’t loaded just in case, so he tried the door and found it was locked. It got their attention and as Micah moved towards the door she shot the gun at him just missing his arm. Mark heard her say “Let him in.” Micah moved to open the door for Mark to enter. He didn’t know if he had done the right thing but he was now in the middle.

Mark stepped into the office and before he could speak Rachel said “Mark you shouldn’t have come.” Mark just stood there motionless. Here was this girl that he had confessed to how much she meant to him and she was holding a loaded gun on his friend. Rachel said with dry resentment “Mark McCain meet my father, that’s right my dear father. He left my mother and me years ago and now after a year’s searching I have a chance to make things right.” She paused for a moment and then continued. “Ma told me at first he was coming back, then, that he was dead but as she was dying she told me the whole story. Tell him Mr. Torrance, tell him how you walked out on a woman and a child in need. She waited for you to come back but that waiting turned to years. Why you never even looked for us.”

Mark could not believe this was that fascinating girl he had just been with. Now she was tortured and distraught. Lucas had appeared at the door and entered. He heard the shot and others were standing outside. He stood next to Mark and asked her to put the gun down. Micah spoke now “No Lucas she’s right, I know what I did way back, I can’t forget it.” Then he spoke directly to her. “I thought about you often, Rachel, what had happened to you but I knew I couldn’t face your mother after being gone so long. I was a broken down drunk by then, you two didn’t need me. I was no good. I had troubles and it wasn’t until Lucas helped me that I was given a second chance. I went back to Oklahoma but there was no sign of you and all this time I’ve wondered if you were even alive and how you would hate me.” Micah almost wept. “I’m changed though and not the same person who abandoned you. Please understand I don’t expect forgiveness but I want you to know”………….But Rachel interrupted with another blast from the gun this time hitting the gun rack.

Lucas started to make a move towards her but Mark cried out “Who are you? You’re not that same person. That girl was kind and gentle” and he paused and said, “I loved you. I cared about you and I thought you cared about me. You told me you wanted that gun for protection….you lied…you lied to me. You just used me as a pawn in your game.” Rachel looked up and was quiet as she turned to Mark. “I’m not the person you knew, no, I came here for a reason and now I stand here with a gun on this broken down old man who you call a friend. Tell my mother that, left with a child to raise alone. Do you wanna know how hard it was? I saw in her eyes how she wanted to give up but knew she couldn’t not with a child, so she and I somehow did it together. No thanks to him.” She added with a jerk of her head. She turned her attention back to Micah and said “I just came here to tell you. I just wanted you to know” and she stood firm. Mark walked up to her not caring that she now had pointed his own gun at him. Lucas spoke up “Mark get back.” But he didn’t. He told her how his ma died at his grandfather’s hand and how when he returned he forgave him. If you shoot Micah it would be murder.”

Mark continued. “ Micah ….why he’s been like a father to me. He had his problems in the beginning but he’s now like family. Rachel looked directly at him, “Well I’m sorry Mark real sorry it turned out this way.” Her face softened as she whispered, “She told me to find him and tell him that he has a daughter.” Now my mission is done.” Mark reached out for the barrel of the gun and she gave up saying “I guess I have my answer, I can’t shoot my own father.” She turned her back on them. “Ma never said to kill him but I wanted to do it for her. What would that prove to anyone? She head dropped, “ I’ll be leaving on the next stage if you’ll let me.” She brushed past Mark and Lucas and out the door. Mark started to go after her but Lucas implored him to let her go. Mark replied “I can’t Pa” and walked out. Micah let out a deep breath and Lucas just stared.

Epilogue: Rachel was on the three o’clock stage alone as Mark came to the window. She had been in her room all alone not allowing him in. He spoke slowly “Is there anything I can do to make you stay?” She answered, “You’ve done enough. You’ve saved his life. I didn’t know if I could shoot him or not. I might have but you made me realize that the hate and rage I had for him almost destroyed me and now maybe I can go back and forget. You trusted me enough to give me your gun…I hope you can forgive me for what I’ve done. Please tell my father I forgive him too!” I’ll write to you, I promise”

She gave him her hand and as the stage pulled out he ran and held onto it until he had to let her go.

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

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