Welcome to The Writer's Corner
The Margaret Years…
Chapter 26 - The Family Feud
Written by Michelle Palmer
The golden sun cast rays into the windows of the Enid
Community Church as families entered the small building that
Sunday morning. Men hastily opened windows, knowing that
regardless of it being only March, this many people would
cause the heat to quickly build up in an enclosed building.
A gentle breeze flowed through the windows. A bird sang from
a nearby tree, announcing that spring would soon arrive.
Fathers gave their children stern looks, reminding them
silently that they were to sit quietly and straight, not
taking their eyes from the preacher who would soon come in
to speak. Mothers held their small ones on their laps. The
nice, pleasant weather brought more worshipers out than
ever. Margaret frowned that their reason for coming wasn’t
to worship God, but rather to enjoy the pleasant air while
soothing their guilty souls after a round with the devil the
The door at the front opened and the reverend stepped in.
His black suit was pressed, and his graying hair slicked
back. He stepped up to the pulpit as voices suddenly died in
the crowd. He held his arms up and requested everyone to
stand. “This is the day the Lord has made! Let us rejoice,
and be glad in it!” His voice boomed over the crowd.
Quickly, he led the congregation through hymns. It was only
the second verse when the children started fidgeting. The
boys pulled at their collars, messing up the ties around
their necks. The girls pulled on their dresses. Parents gave
their children firm looks, but little did they know just how
bad things were about to get.
Earlier that morning, the parents had gone through great
pains to make sure their children were prepared for church.
Julie had asked her husband to go ‘prepare the boys’ for
church. Abe, knowing this was a weekly ritual, had gone out
and called to his sons. After all four of the small McCain
boys were lined up in front of their father, he folded his
arms and asked them to repeat the rules for church. Then he
held out his hand and told Charlie, “Hand it over.”
Charlie, being more like his Uncle Luke was when he was
little, put his arms out to the side and innocently asked,
“You know what,” Abe had declared. “Come on now. Hand it
“Oh Papa…” Charlie started to roll his eyes, but when he saw
his father’s eyes suddenly narrow, Charlie sighed. “Yes,
Charlie reached in his pocket and removed the frog he had
caught earlier. Abe took the frog and sat him on the ground.
Turning to his son, he said, “That could have cost you a
trip to the barn, you know that.” Abe turned to his other
sons. The triplets were often in cahoots with their older
brother. Today was no exception. “Well?”
Adam and David looked at each other and shrugged. Adam
proceeded to take the small baby garter snake from his
pocket while David took the worms from his own. Abe rolled
his eyes. “Is there anything else you should be freeing
before we go to church?”
“No sir,” they answered.
“Good.” Abe walked back into the house and assured his wife
it had been taken care of, but apparently it had been many
years since Abe was a boy himself. He had forgotten that you
never turn your back on four mischievous McCain’s.
Surprisingly, the scene at Peter’s house wasn’t much
different. Tiffany came from the bedroom all dressed and
checked on her roast she had put in the oven that morning.
“Peter, you should go have a talk with Ruthie now,” Tiffany
“Now Honey, I…” But Tiffany pressed her lips together and
glared at her husband. He sighed. “Yes ma’am.”
Peter walked to the bedroom and opened the door. Ruthie sat
quietly on her bed talking to her doll. “It’s about time to
go, baby doll,” Peter said.
Peter stepped into the room and bent down beside her small
bed. “Your Mother…” Peter sighed. “Ruthie, you know how a
young lady behaves in church.”
“Yes sir,” she answered.
“You don’t…have any surprises today, do you?”
Ruthie flashed her beautiful, innocent-looking eyes at her
father. “Like what?”
“I think you know…Like something that will cause a whippin’
like last Sunday?”
Ruthie turned back to her doll. “Can Miss Polly go with us,
Peter chuckled. “I think she should probably stay here,
Little Ruthie.” Peter waited for her to answer. “Well?”
Ruthie slid off the bed and hurried to the door. “Don’t
worry, Papa. I don’t wanta spankin’!”
That was the best he was going to get!
“Our text today comes from Psalms. The greatest King of
Israel wrote this Psalm…”
Charlie started. He wiggled against the back of the pew and
tugged at his tie. Abe barely moved his head and only
lowered his eyes to his son. Charlie stilled the moment he
caught his father’s warning glare.
Ruthie coughed into her hand and was quickly nudged by her
mother. Then the triplets each took a turn at coughing.
This time, Abe DID turn his head around to look at his sons.
The triplets knew he was warning them to stay quiet and look
straight ahead at the preacher.
It was Sammy McCain who glanced at his Pa before slowly
removing the living thing from his pocket. He saw that his
father was engrossed in the sermon and slowly leaned
forward. His cousin, Abby, sat quietly beside her father
(her mother hadn’t returned to church since the death of
their son). She was the most well-behaved of the cousins,
and they resented her for it. Suddenly, Abby let out a loud
scream. The boys burst into laughter. At that moment, the
snake David McCain had retrieved from the ground slid from
his pocket and down the bench. A girl across the way saw it
first, her eyes growing wide as she let out a cry and
climbed on top of the pew.
Total chaos suddenly broke out. The boys all took various
creatures from their pockets and turned to the girls and
women who would scream. Ruthie clapped her hands and jumped
up and down as she too removed a small bug from the pocket
of her dress where she had hidden him earlier. Tiffany’s
Reverend Gentry had stopped in his sermon and stood in utter
shock in front of the church.
The snake continued to crawl across the floor. Parents
quickly tried to corral their children. Girls stood on
benches and pointed in horror at the snake, the mouse, and
two other creatures they couldn’t make out. The boys all
chuckled and pointed at the silly girls.
“Help me, Luke!” Abe shouted as he grabbed the arms of two
of his offending boys. Lucas jumped over the short pew and
grabbed the arms of the other two McCain brothers and
ushered them outside. Tiffany threw a shocked hand to her
mouth as she watched her three year old daughter giggle and
chase her cousin Abby with the bug. Jeremiah went to work at
getting hisr frightened daughter out of there immediately.
And Margaret…Margaret stood and watched all the chaos that
had erupted in front of the church. This was the third
Sunday in a row. Enough was enough!
Charlie, David, Samuel, Adam, and Rutie all stood
side-by-side outside the church as Abe stood in front of
them. His arms were folded and his face was red. Not even
his thick beard could hide the anger on his face. Not a word
was spoken as Abe preceded to look into the eye of each of
the offending children.
A few yards away, Tiffany had her arms folded and glared at
her husband. “Oh now honey…” Peter started. “She’s a McCain.
You can’t expect her to be…”
But Tiffany turned away from him. “Peter McCain, I told you
this morning to talk to her! You let her tug at your
heartstrings AGAIN!” Tiffany whirled around. Her fists were
clinched to her sides. “I don’t want her to grow up a tom
boy! My daughter will be a GIRL!”
“Now honey…” Peter laid a hand on her shoulder. Tiffany’s
head shot up even higher and her eyes blazed balls of fire.
Peter jerked his hand back as if the mere look in those eyes
caused his hands to burn. “It’s the way she was made,” Peter
tried again. But he knew the damage was done.
Tiffany McCain would expect Peter to dish out his punishment
to their daughter who was currently under the stare of her
uncle. “Abe should NOT be the one to punish your daughter,”
she pointed out sternly. She knew Peter had a soft spot.
Abe finally spoke as he turned and looked at his boys.
“WHY???” His voice boomed like thunder. His sons
straightened their backs, unable to speak. “Somebody better
start answering me…NOW!” The boys all swallowed knowing
their father was just about to hand out whippings. Peter
hurried to stand behind his daughter, Ruthie. “It seems,”
Abe said as he tried to calm his voice. “…that we took care
of the ‘critter’ problem before church. I even warned you
that a trip to the barn would be in order if you disobeyed
me. Now, WHY did you do it?”
All four boys looked at each other. Ruthie lifted her head
up into her father’s face as he stared down at her. He was
angry with her and she could tell. But what she didn’t know
is that he was more angry with her because her mother was
angry with him. She knew she was in for another whipping as
well. “Well?” Peter asked his daughter in a quiet,
“Sorry, Papa,” Ruthie said as she widened her eyes and
forced the tears to come.
“That won’t work, and you know it,” Peter growled. “You were
“We’s just bored, Pa!” David finally confessed. “It’s hard
to sit still in that dumb ol’…” David cleared his throat
when his father narrowed his eyes. “…I mean in that church.
Two hours, Pa! That’s a awful long time.”
Abe folded his arms and again glared at his sons. “That
doesn’t excuse you. Your behavior was just plain old
defiance. You deliberately brought those critters after I
ordered you not to!”
“Yes, Pa,” David said as he lowered his head. “Charlie
“Hey!” Charlie stopped him. “Don’t say it!”
“But you did…” Adam started. “You said it’s worth the
tannin’ we’d get not to be bored and…”
Abe stepped forward and looked down at his oldest son. “Is
that true, son?” Abe’s voice was just louder than a whisper.
Suddenly, the McCain family heard laughter. It was low at
first, as if the person laughing was trying to keep it from
happening. Then suddenly, he busted. He began laughing
uproaresly. Abe turned to glare at his baby brother. His
face turned red as a beet as he stepped toward him. Lucas
held up his hands, trying to get his laughter under control.
“WHAT IS SO BLASTED FUNNY?” Abe questioned Lucas.
Margaret put a hand to her mouth in horror that her husband
would dare to laugh at a time like this. These children had
just misbehaved in church and were deserving of any
punishment they were getting. They had interrupted church to
a point that the minster had to cancel the remainder of
church. Yet, here was her husband laughing as if it were the
funniest thing he’d ever seen.
Lucas cleared his throat when Abe folded his arms and glared
at him. “I’m sorry, Abe. It’s just that…”
“That WHAT???” Abe asked.
“Well…I recall a time when…you were a lot older than Charlie
and you almost said the exact words your son said just now.
I also remember what Pa said. ‘I hope you have a son who
does this to you some day. Maybe then you’ll understand the
grief you put me through!’ It seems that was quickly
followed by forty lashes.”
“Luke!” Margaret gasped.
“Okay, okay…maybe not forty, but it sure DID feel like it!”
“That true, Papa?” Charlie asked then, feeling a bit hopeful
that maybe he wouldn’t get the punishment he feared after
Abe continued to glare at his brother. “I’m not perfect. I
never claimed to be,” he growled out, ignoring his son’s
voice. “But it was those lashes that learned me, Luke…just
like they learned you.”
“Papa, ya do that?” Adam asked loudly.
“I did it,” Abe answered.
“Papa bad too!” Adam laughed. “That means that…”
Abe looked around at his family. “We’ll be along in a bit.
You all just go along. Peter and I will bring these five
children home…AFTER they’ve had their punishment.”
Margaret couldn’t help feeling sorry for the five children
who all hung their heads. She watched as Abe slowly started
unbuckling his belt. Margaret bit her lip. She remembered
when they were children. She remembered watching Lucas and
Peter as they were led away to get the strap nearly every
Sunday. Her heart went out to those children.
“Come on, Margaret,” Lucas said softly as she took her arm
and led her to the wagon. Margaret sat in the seat, but
continued watching as Abe removed his belt from his waist.
“This doesn’t concern us, honey.”
Margaret felt the jolt of the wagon as Lucas started it in
motion. “Luke…” Margaret waited for him to look at her. “If
we had a son and he behaved like that in church…would you…I
Lucas sighed. “I remember all the whippings I got as a
child, Margaret. I know that Abe strongly preaches the spare
the rod and spoil the child, and I agree with it to a
Lucas sighed. “They DID cause such a distraction that the
remainder of church had to be canceled,” Lucas answered
“They’re just children, Luke…Active children! It’s hard for
them to sit still for two hours!”
Lucas shook his head. “This goes far beyond the sitting
still, Honey. They intentionally brought critters inside the
“Today. But some days it’s just the boys wiggling because
they have to go to the bathroom, or Ruthie crying out when
her father gives her a light smack to stop wiggling. Luke,
they need a…” Margaret paused. She could tell Lucas wasn’t
paying a bit of attention to her. “Well…something simply
“Amen.” There was a tense silence in the air as the prayer
ended and Abe lifted the plate to pass around. Margaret
listened to the clatter of silverware against dishes and
turned her head to look at the five solemn children who sat
on a bench along a wall of Peter McCain’s house. Their
cheeks were still wet from tears after receiving their
whippings. Their feet sat flat on the floor and their hands
were folded in their laps.
Margaret bit her lip, feeling sorry for the five children.
She wanted to voice her opinion, but knew it wasn’t her
place. She remembered back to her own childhood. Their folks
had made them sit straight and respectful in church as well.
Unlike today, however, they had to continue sitting through
the afternoon. They weren’t allowed to make noise or play on
Sunday. After church, the children were expected to read
quietly or sew, but not much else would be allowed.
She had heard Abe’s lecture to the children and knew he was
speaking from his own experience as a child. But
still…Margaret couldn’t help but feel sorry for the
children, especially children as lively as these.
When she could no longer stand the silence, she cleared her
throat. “I was wondering if I may discuss an idea I’ve been
Her words being the first spoken since the prayer, heads
lifted and turned toward her. She felt her husband’s eyes
studying her carefully. Though she had been thinking on the
matter the last three weeks, Margaret hadn’t discussed the
matter with him yet. But she couldn’t allow another Sunday
to go by without at least voicing her thoughts. “What is
Margaret turned her head sideways and again glanced toward
the children. “Abe…Peter…Please?” Margaret asked softly.
“Perhaps it should be discussed later,” Lucas spoke quietly.
He wasn’t too happy that Margaret had something to discuss
with the family before speaking to him about it.
Margaret heard the warning in his voice. She knew it would
be best to heed his warning, but something inside her made
her press on. “Please…”
Abe grunted as he stuffed more food in his mouth. The
children still hadn’t moved a muscle, so afraid of receiving
more punishment. “Abe…” Julie dared to speak. “Maybe you
should…” Her eyes pleaded with her husband.
Abe nodded then stood up. “Children…” He wiggled his fingers
toward his sons. They all stood quietly and stepped forward.
Peter nodded toward his daughter as well, permitting her to
stand. Abe ushered them outside and followed them with the
bench. “The same rules apply out here.” He moved the rest of
the children on the porch to finish eating.
Margaret didn’t think making them go without Sunday dinner
was appropriate punishment, but she bit her tongue knowing
this was none of her business. She waited for the door to
close before speaking. “I wish to discuss the…incident…that
happened in church this morning.”
“The incident?” Abe gave a short laugh. “It was a disaster,
plain and simple!”
“It was a nightmare!” Peter declared, giving his angry wife
another side-ways glance.
“I recall four McCain boys doing the same sort of stuff when
they were children,” Margaret pointed out carefully. “And my
brothers were right there with you.”
“I believe Beth was as well,” Luke grunted.
“Yes.” Margaret took a sip of her tea and lifted an eyebrow
when she heard Laura snicker.
“Laura Rose…” Abe’s voice warned the child. “Would you like
to join the others?”
Laura quickly wiped the smirk off her face. “No sir,” she
answered as she stuck another bite in her mouth.
Abe cleared his throat and turned back to look at Margaret.
“Regardless of the fact that we behaved that way…That’s no
excuse for what happened today, Margaret.”
Margaret nodded in agreement. “I’m not trying to excuse
them, Abe. I’m merely pointing out that…”
Lucas tapped her leg, warning her to tread lightly with
whatever she was about to say. She was on a thin sheet of
ice and it wouldn’t take much to crack it. Margaret took
another sip of her tea as she gathered her thoughts. “I’ve
read recently about how some churches back East are creating
a Sunday School for the children.”
“School on Sunday?” Jeremiah questioned, his eyebrow lifting
in a skeptical arch.
“It takes place during church,” Margaret explained. “While
the preacher is preaching to the adults, the children are
being taught a Bible story and singing songs they
Margaret paused as the men looked at one another. Nobody
said anything. Abe picked up his coffee cup and swirled the
contents around as he worked his jaw. Jeremiah continued
arching his eyebrow as he slowly chewed on a thick piece of
roast beef. Peter rubbed his jaw and slowly sat back in his
chair. Lucas raised both his eyebrows doubtfully and pushed
the remaining food around on his plate.
The women sat quietly, knowing their husbands were thinking
on how to answer her. Finally, it was Jeremiah who spoke.
“When we were children, Margaret, we got up and did our
chores before church while Ma fixed us a hearty breakfast.
As soon as breakfast was over, we were dressed in our Sunday
best, rather there was church or not. If there was no
church, we were expected to sit at the table and listen to
our father read from the Good Book. If there was church, we
had to WALK, not run or ride in a wagon, to church. There
was no loud talking in the church yard. There was no talking
inside the church. The preacher would preach for two hours,
then we would quietly walk home and eat our lunch.
“Afterwards, Pa expected all of us kids to sit and read or
whittle on a piece of wood while the girls could sew
quietly. Sunday’s were pretty calm.”
“I know that,” Margaret stated quietly. “Sundays were like
that for us as well.”
“Sometime along the way,” Jeremiah continued as if Margaret
had never spoken. “Our folks let up on us some. Maybe it was
because they had to work on Sundays to get everything
done…Maybe it was because they realized how hard it was on
us…But now, we don’t limit the children to sitting on Sunday
afternoons. They can ride the wagon to church. They can
play, go fishing, and carry on normally after church. We
don’t require them to have chores unless they misbehave.
Like Abe, I make my daughter sit on a bench like we used to
have to when we were children, because it teaches them just
how well they have it today.”
“Jeremiah…” Margaret started again.
Abe shook his head slightly and held up his hand. “Margaret,
all we ask of the children on Sundays is to sit quietly and
still for two hours out of the respect for God while the
preacher delivers his message. I don’t think that’s asking
too much. Children need to hear about the Lord as much as we
do.” Margaret turned and looked at Lucas, hoping to receive
his support, but Lucas kept his eyes shifted away from her.
“I don’t think we are asking too much for the children to
behave while the preacher delivers his sermon.”
“Part of the problem is that Reverend Gentry delivers a
sermon that’s easy for adults to understand, but not
children. In Sunday School, they would learn about Noah and
the flood, Jesus and the twelve disciples, the Cross, and
the Ten Commandments…”
“They can learn about that stuff in church, worshiping with
their families as well,” Abe said quietly. “That’s the way
it’s always been Margaret. The families should be together
on Sunday morning, worshiping God as one.”
“But in Sunday School…”
“Margaret, I’m not much on church going,” Peter spoke then.
“But I must agree with my brothers on this. It’s the way
it’s always been. A child’s place is with his parents on
Sunday morning. If they don’t understand, it’s the parents’
Margaret lowered her eyes and studied the tablecloth.
Slowly, she lifted her eyes. “’Suffer the little children ,
and forbid them not, to come to me, for as such is the
Kingdom of Heaven.’ Jesus himself spoke those words.”
Abe lifted his eyes and looked at his brother. Lucas cleared
his throat, knowing that the look in Abe’s eyes was a silent
warning. “Margaret, that’s enough,” Lucas said through
clinched teeth. “Let’s drop it.”
“Oh Luke…” Margaret started.
“I mean it, Margaret. Drop it.”
Margaret looked around the table. She knew she may have
trouble convincing them of the idea, but she had no idea it
would ever be like this. She was disappointed that they had
such closed minds. She was especially disappointed in her
husband, whom she expected support from.
After bedding down the animals, Lucas stepped into his
house. The house held a cold chill in it, and it wasn’t from
the weather. His home was usually a pleasant, welcoming
place to come; but tonight, he’d much rather sleep in the
barn. He wouldn’t be so worried about the weather inside the
house if Margaret was banging things around and yelling. It
was her silence…the sadness and disappointment in her eyes
that he couldn’t bear. She hadn’t said a word – not one word
since he had told her to drop the matter she had brought up
earlier. She had managed a very stiff ‘goodbye’ to their
family, but had remained silent all the way home. Lucas had
no desire to go into the house when they arrived home and
had found things to take up the remainder of his day and
But he could no longer stay away. There was a searing pain
in his heart, and he knew the longer he stayed away the
harder things would be. Bravely, he stepped into the house
and allowed the door to shut a bit hard. Margaret’s back was
to him as she stood at the stove preparing dough to bake the
next day. Margaret’s head lifted at the sound of the door.
Then there was silence…an eerie silence.
When Lucas finally spoke, his voice sounded loud in the
silence that had hung over her all evening. “Margaret, I’d
like to speak with you please.” His words were deep and
Margaret didn’t move for a moment. Lucas watched her lift
her hands to her cheeks and swipe away her hidden tears.
Then she lifted her head and turned around. Her lips were
pressed together in a thin line. “Certainly,” she answered
obediently and quite stiffly.
Lucas motioned toward the table. “Sit down,” he grunted.
Margaret lowered herself in the chair he had pulled away
from the table. Lucas pulled out his own chair and
positioned it directly in front of her. He straddled it then
lifted an eyebrow. “I want to know why you are upset with
Margaret averted her eyes and slid her eyelids down over her
eyes. A small sniff escaped her throat. Slowly, she opened
her eyes and turned back to look at him. “The fact…that you
have to ask that makes it even worse, Luke.”
“Margaret…” Lucas reached out to take her hand, but her head
lifted and her eyes pierced through him. Lucas shot his hand
back as if he’d just touched a snake. “You’re upset because
I made you stop talking today?”
“No, Luke. You were right. The time had come for me to hold
“Then you’re upset because you didn’t get your way?” Lucas
questioned. Margaret’s eyes continued boring into him.
“That’s a bit childish, don’t you think?”
“You want to know why I’m upset…No…” Margaret shook her
head. “I’m not upset with you, Luke. I’m furious. I’m
disappointed that my own husband would…” She fisted her
hands and punched the air. “Oh Luke…how could you all be
“Close minded?” Lucas lifted an eyebrow at her. “Margaret,
it’s how we believe! You can’t judge us because…”
Margaret stood abruptly from the chair and stepped away from
him. “You can’t even…” She turned and again fisted her hands
to try to keep control of her emotions. “You wouldn’t even
give me a chance to speak! I tried to explain, but you…” She
started sputtering her words. “You wouldn’t even let me
speak, Luke! It was YOUR opinions…none of the other women
DARED to speak to the almighty…”
Lucas watched in complete surprise as Margaret whirled
around and hurried out of the house.
His head was spinning. He couldn’t understand why she was so
upset. She had expressed her opinion, then the men had
politely explained to her why she was wrong. She WAS wrong.
Lucas knew that without a shadow of doubt. Why would she
want to try and change a tradition that had been in place
for hundreds…no, thousands of years? Wasn’t she taking the
scripture out of context when she had quoted the words of
their Lord earlier? Didn’t Jesus expect the children to come
to Him at church with their parents?
Lucas slowly stood up and walked to the window. He saw the
barn door close. Lucas went to sit in his chair and opened
his Bible. Lucas said a quick prayer, asking God to guide
him to the answer. It took several minutes of searching, but
he finally found it. It was right there in Matthew 19. Lucas
read that the parents brought their children to Jesus. His
own disciples rebuked them, telling them not to waste Jesus’
time on the children, but Jesus rebuked his disciples.
“Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto
me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
Lucas slowly lifted his head and leaned it against the back
of the chair. His own disciples had tried to hinder the
children from talking to Jesus. Is that what Margaret felt
they were doing? Was forcing the children to listen to a
two-hour long sermon directed toward adults hindering the
children from learning everything they needed to learn about
their Savior? Lucas wasn’t a praying man. Margaret prayed
that someday he would become more prayerful, but Lucas found
himself getting on his knees. He felt he needed to ask for
forgiveness for not seeing the truth his wife tired to show
The barn door slowly squeaked open. Lucas found the barn
dark and slowly lit the lantern. There she was. She was
weeping in the stall as she hugged her filly. She had been
out there for a good hour. The sight of her red eyes and
tears was almost more than his heart could stand to see.
Lucas slowly made his way to the corral. He bent down beside
her and petted the filly. Taking her in his arms wasn’t
something he could do at the moment, but he hoped that
before the sun came up the next morning he’d be able to hold
“I’ve hurt you.” It was a quiet statement of fact. Margaret
merely nodded her head, but still didn’t look at him. “I
looked up that scripture you quoted, Margaret.” Margaret
then lifted her head and looked at him. There was a look of
surprise in her wet eyes. Lucas chuckled in spite of the
situation. “I know. It surprised me too. But when you ran
from the house, I knew the situation was desperate.”
Margaret continued petting the filly, still not ready to
trust her voice, or the words that may come out. She wasn’t
an angry person, and she always believed one should be slow
to anger. Since they were married, Margaret hadn’t always
lived up to her belief, but Lucas had a way of making it
rough at times. They just sat in silence, both petting the
poor filly that was probably ready to flee the confines of
the barn so she’d be left alone.
Finally, in the silence of the barn, Margaret allowed
herself to speak. “I was wrong too, Luke.”
“No, Margaret,” Lucas shook his head. “I asked God to show
me, and He did. You are right about the children.”
“I think so,” Margaret agreed. She blinked and wiped the
tears with the kerchief Lucas held out to her. “That’s not
what I was wrong about.”
“What then?” Lucas coaxed gently.
“I was wrong about…” Margaret hiccupped. “I was wrong about
speaking out before talking to you first.” She lifted her
head. “I just can’t stand to see those children…It just
seems so unfair and I couldn’t…I just couldn’t bite my
“It’s painful, I know.” Lucas smiled. “I’ve bitten it
“You?” Margaret stared at him in mock surprise. “When did
you ever bite your tongue, Luke?”
Lucas nodded. “I deserve that, Margaret.” Lucas stopped
petting the filly. He scooted a bit closer to his wife and
slowly lifted a hand up to her cheek. Gently, he touched a
tear that sat there unknowingly. The touch was butterfly
light. He removed his finger as Margaret’s head turned
toward him. “I’m willing to listen to what you have to say
now, Margaret. You’re right. I have been close minded.”
“You’re a McCain,” Margaret gave a slight shrug. “Us
women…we come to expect it from you.” Lucas lifted an
eyebrow in disapproval to that statement. “So…will you
“Mm hm,” Lucas answered softly. Then he touched her cheek
with two fingers. “Will you…forgive me?”
Their eyes locked. Margaret’s eyes softened, then she let
out a loud cry. “Oh Luke!” She threw her arms around him and
wept into his shoulder. “I hate fighting with you. I just
Lucas kissed her hair and wrapped his arms tightly around
her shoulders. He slowly moved his hand up and down her
back, soothing her as she cried. He felt tears filling his
own eyes as they held each other. “I hate it when you are
cross with me, My Love,” he mumbled into her hair.
“Margaret, I…I love you…” He pushed her back and took her
face in her hands. “I just love you so…so much!”
Their lips found each others’ and they kissed a long,
passionate kiss that held volumes of forgiveness. They were
in each other’s arms. Their kissing lengthened and grew
deeper. Lucas pressed his body against hers, pressing her
back up against the wall of the stall. Suddenly, the filly
gave a protesting kick.
“Ouch!” Lucas cried as he straightened and rubbed his leg
where Sunshine had kicked him. “If I didn’t know better, I’d
say you told her to do that.”
Margaret giggled as she pressed her forehead to his. “Oh
Luke…I love you. Thank you…Thank you for agreeing to listen
Lucas stood up and chuckled. “Should we continue this
discussion in the house?”
“Mm hm…” But Margaret wrapped her arms around him and stared
lovingly into his eyes. Lucas lowered his mouth to hers and
they again gave into passion. Slowly, he lowered her down
onto a soft blanket of hay. The harsh words spoken earlier
were soon forgotten.
Margaret poured coffee in Lucas’ cup and slowly sat down at
the table. She tried to stifle a yawn, but didn’t quite
succeed. Lucas reached out and squeezed her hand. “I’m sorry
our fighting kept you up all night.”
Margaret blushed, remembering what had occurred in the barn
earlier. “It wasn’t just the fighting…It was the making up,
“Maybe we should fight more often,” Lucas teased. But he
lost his smile when he saw the worry enter his wife’s eyes.
“I’m ready to listen.”
Margaret shifted her eyes toward the window. “The sun’s
coming up, Luke. We’ve got our morning chores to do.”
“They can wait,” Lucas declared. “Clemintine can wait for
her milking, and I don’t reckon those eggs in the coop will
go far either.” Lucas took a sip of his coffee and stretched
his legs long under the table. “I can’t think of anything
more important than discussing our children’s future.”
“Our…children?” Margaret questioned.
Lucas nodded. “I want our children to learn about Jesus at
church as well as here. I want church to be a positive
experience for our children, Margaret.” He took another sip
of his coffee. “Tell me about this Sunday school.”
Margaret’s eyes lit up. “Well…it would occur during church,
Luke. We could let the children stay inside while we sing
the songs, then they could be dismissed just before the
preaching starts. While Reverend Gathers is delivering his
sermon inside, we can be outside…or if weather won’t permit
that…at a nearby building teaching the children Bible
stories. We could even give them Bible verses to learn. Then
when church is over, the children will rejoin their
“It sounds simple enough,” Lucas nodded. “Who would do the
Lucas slowly sat down his cup. Margaret could tell he was
mauling this over and she didn’t like the way he was looking
at her. Slowly, he leaned over the table. “I don’t like the
idea of you never hearing a sermon, Margaret. I don’t
“I could see if some of the ladies would help, Luke. We
could take turns. Then at Easter and Christmas, the children
could put on a program for the whole church. We could work
with them…teach them Bible Stories and…” Lucas stood and
went to the window. He stared out across the land deep in
thought. “Oh Luke…” Margaret jumped up and hurried up behind
him. “Luke, please say I can do it…PLEASE!” Her voice
pleaded as if she were a little girl wanting to walk herself
to school for the first time.
Lucas turned from the window and placed his hands on her
shoulders. “Margaret…” Lucas sighed and lifted an eyebrow.
He knew he would have to tread softly to keep her from
getting upset with him again. “I have a few things to say.
Now, I value your opinion, and I ask you to value mine. I
don’t want you to get angry or defensive. You can speak
after I’m through. Agreed?”
Margaret lowered her head and looked down at his boots. She
felt two fingers touch her chin and lift it until she was
again looking straight into her husband’s eyes. “Agreed?”
“Agreed,” Margaret answered a bit hesitatingly.
“Okay.” Lucas motioned her back to the table. Margaret,
knowing breakfast wouldn’t come that morning, quickly got
the cinnamon bread from yesterday and the butter. After
buttering a piece of bread and handing it to Lucas, she did
the same for herself. Lucas took a bite, then cleared his
throat. “Now, whatever we decide, we’ll decide on it
together and we’ll agree together. We can’t go against each
other on this.” Margaret nodded as she took another bite.
“First of all, the reaction you got from my brothers
yesterday is nothing compared to the reaction the rest of
the town’s going to give you. We are just a bunch of
closed-minded fools, and I’m afraid to say that a lot of the
husbands don’t allow their wives to have any sort of voice
in their homes.”
“What about your brothers?”
Lucas held up a finger. “My brothers have been known to
silence their wives in the past, but then so have I.” Lucas
cleared his throat. “But the McCain wives are all
head-strong and will eventually break through the wall that
separates them. My brothers are open to allowing their wives
to have a voice, as well as your brother, I believe.”
Margaret nodded in agreement. “Remember, you’re listening
“Now…I just want to warn you that this could be opening a
crate full of rattle snakes, Margaret. Change is something a
lot of the men…and women…around here don’t come by easily,
and you know that.” Margaret nodded. “I want you to ask
yourself if this Sunday School thing is really worth the
chance of opening up that crate of rattlers. I want you to
think long and hard on it, Margaret. Then I want to remind
you how close our family has always been. Something like
this…it could put us at odds, and I don’t want that to
“Oh, neither do I, Luke! I…” Margaret slapped her hand over
her mouth when Lucas sternly held up his hand.
“So, I’m going to say that if you still want to pursue this
after thinking long and hard on it, and I want you to take a
week to think on it…”
“A week? Luke!”
“A week,” Lucas nodded sternly. He cleared his throat. “Then
we can approach our families cautiously on this issue. If we
can get our families in agreement – and only then – will I
permit you to take this any further. Nothing can be
accomplished with the children if it can’t be accomplished
within our family.” Adding this last statement softened
Margaret’s expression. She knew that was true. “If it goes
further, I will go with you to discuss this with Reverend
Gentry. Then it’ll have to go before the deacons. If we
can’t get full agreement there, we’ll pursue it no further.”
Margaret lowered her eyes to the table and thought. “Can I
“I’m done…for now.”
“What if…what if we can’t get agreement, Luke? Does that
mean we allow the children to suffer…go against God’s Word
“No, Darling.” Lucas took her hand and squeezed it. She
lifted her eyes to his. “You know better than I do that if
God’s hand is in something, we can overcome the barriers
that stand in our way. It’s God’s timing, not ours. Just
because Margaret McCain is ready for Enid, Oklahoma to see
Sunday School doesn’t mean Enid, Oklahoma is. God knows the
“He’s put this on my heart, Luke. Oh, I KNOW His hand’s in
this!” Margaret declared suddenly.
Lucas laid a gentle hand on hers. “Then it will work out,
Margaret. You’ve taught me that as long as we let go and let
God, we’ll do right by Him.” Margaret smiled at him and
nodded. Then Lucas held a stern warning finger in the air.
“One more thing, young lady…You will not take this on
yourself. I permit this if, and only if, you can find some
other ladies willing to work with you. Regardless of the
decision, I’m sure none of the other men will want their
wives to devote so much time to the children that their own
“Alright, Luke.” Margaret smiled at him. Lucas stood and
leaned over and kissed her. “Thank you, Luke.”
“Remember…you must wait until next Sunday…pray about it and
really think hard on this BEFORE we bring the matter up
again. Then if next Sunday you still feel you want to pursue
this matter, you tell me and I will talk to my brothers in
private first. Agreed?”
Margaret jumped up from the table and threw her arms around
her husband. “Yes! Oh, YES Luke!”
As requested, Margaret prayed about Sunday School every day.
She thought about it after going to bed in the evenings and
before her days got too busy. One evening as the couple were
retiring for bed, Margaret listened to Lucas speak of their
sister-in-law, Em. He said she was doing better, but
Jeremiah had still not been able to see the sparkle in her
eyes. Margaret mumbled that it would take time, and Lucas
agreed. He mentioned that she felt lonely just having the
one child to tend to and longed to hold a baby in her arms.
Then Margaret laid in bed and silently thought on that. She
began to wonder if maybe…just maybe…helping her organize
Sunday School could give Em the distraction she needed and
give her more children to love. Then Margaret thought about
Anne and how depressed she had been since her last
miscarriage. Both women loved children and desired to fill
their lives with them, but both women had been heart-broken
in that area of their lives. Ann’s arms ached to hold a baby
of her own. Em had her daughter, but she was quickly
growing. Em had come from a large family and had hoped to
have several children.
“Luke…” Margaret finally said quietly as she laid on her
side. “Do you suppose Ann and Em could help me?”
Lucas, who wasn’t quite ready for sleep, was sitting up
reading a newspaper in the dim light. He turned his head
toward her. “Help with what, Honey?”
There was a pause. Margaret heard the newspaper rattle.
Lucas didn’t speak until after he had blown out the lamp and
laid down beside her. “Do you really think that would be
“Why not?” Margaret asked as she turned on her other side
and faced her husband in the darkness.
“Well…I mean being around the children may remind them
“They love children, Luke. Maybe God’s put the special love
in their hearts so they would love His children – not just
their own. Maybe He’s called them to this moment.”
Lucas chuckled as he wrapped an arm around her and nuzzled
his nose in her neck. “You sound like John the Baptist or
one of them revival preachers!”
The following Sunday when Lucas and Margaret were getting
ready for church, Lucas glanced at his wife in the mirror as
he tied his tie. “You really want to do it, don’t you?”
Margaret paused in pinning her hair up and looked at her
husband in the mirror. Their eyes met through the glass.
Margaret smiled and nodded her head. She saw a hint of
regret on Lucas’ face and turned. “Oh Luke…you will try,
Lucas sighed and returned to tying his tie. He didn’t want
to tell Margaret about all the reservations he had about
this. He too had petitioned God that week. Deep inside, he’d
hoped God would bring Margaret to her senses. He didn’t much
like to see Margaret going against the town, and he knew
that’s what she could be up against. “Now Luke, you
promised!” Margaret declared suddenly.
Lucas sighed again. “Yes, Honey. I promised.” Margaret stood
from her dressing table, turned, and took over her wifely
duty of tying her husband’s tie.
Before entering the church, the McCain children were all
sternly lectured and forced to promise to be good. For the
most part, they behaved. A small giggle, shuffling, and one
outburst during a song from one of the younger McCain’s was
the only problems that arose for that family. However, there
were children on the other side of the room who had decided
to misbehave, and again, the preacher’s sermon had to be
interrupted because of the outburst.
Margaret gave Lucas a knowing look after he helped her back
onto the seat. Lucas picked up the reins, and before calling
to the horses, he said under his breath, “Maybe this idea of
Sunday School ain’t such a bad one after all. I’ll see what
I can do.”
Margaret smiled, knowing Lucas too had reached his boiling
point with the rowdy children in church. It was hard enough
getting Lucas to come to church on Sunday mornings. This
would only discourage him more.
The McCain/Gibbs family gathered at the Gibbs Ranch for
Sunday dinner. The children all chatted, the babies sat on
their mother’s laps, and the adults chatted. After they had
finished their apple pie, Margaret watched Lucas wipe his
mouth with his napkin then clear his throat. “It was all
very good, Mother Gibbs…Amanda.” Lucas slowly stood from the
table. “How about you men joining me outside?”
Peter, who was enjoying have some adult time with his wife
by his side mumbled that he didn’t rightly feel like it.
Lucas raised his eyebrows at his brother and motioned toward
the door. Peter kissed Tiffany on the cheek then hurried
after Lucas. “You too, Scott,” Lucas suggested lightly.
The women watched the men exit the house and the door close.
“Well…I wonder what THAT’s all about?” Jennifer stood to
start gathering the plates.
Margaret jumped to her feet. “Oh no you don’t, Mother!”
Margaret put a hand on her mother’s arm. “You look tired.
Just sit down. We’ll take care of these.”
“Now Daughter, washing dishes won’t tire me out any!”
“We insisted, Mother,” Amanda declared as she put her hands
on Jennifer’s shoulders and pushed her back down into the
Margaret was nervous as she helped clean the dishes. The
women questioned her on it, but Margaret merely shook her
head. She wasn’t one to eaves drop on conversations, but if
she had her chance, she would have eaves dropped today! The
women watched Margaret chew on her bottom lip and knew there
was definitely something amiss.
Lucas didn’t speak as they walked out onto the range. Lucas
pulled a cigar from his pocket and lit it as the other men
waited for him to speak. Lucas blew smoke from his mouth as
he nervously turned the cigar between his fingers and put a
hand to his forehead. “You know…” Abe folded his arms and
stopped, forcing everyone else to stop as well. “I remember
a time when Luke had something to tell us and he was as
nervous as a cat in a pen full of bulldogs.” Abe raised an
eyebrow at his baby brother. “You going off to war again?”
Lucas narrowed his eyes at his brother. Abe had no idea how
close he was to the truth. “I just may be…” Lucas sat down
under a tree. His brothers, Jason, and Scott followed suit.
And it very well could be a Civil War.
Lucas finally spoke. “Margaret and I had a long,
heart-to-heart talk after leaving Sunday Dinner last
Sunday,” Lucas said gently.
“You straightened out her thinking?” Abe questioned.
“Abe!” Jason gasped; shocked that Abe would say such a
“No. The truth is…She straightened out MY thinking.” Lucas
looked from man to man and could tell they were all
understanding what he was saying. “This is something
Margaret feels God laid on her heart. It’s very important to
“Now Luke…” Jeremiah stated.
But before Jeremiah could say much, Lucas questioned, “What
did your wives have to say about all this?”
Scott shook his head. “Wait a minute. I don’t understand any
of this! You all left the church in such a tizzy after what
happened last Sunday that we didn’t even come for Sunday
dinner. So, if Luke wants to include me in the
Abraham quickly filled Scott in on the conversation from
last Sunday. His version of things, however, weren’t exactly
the way Lucas had remembered them. He was happy when
Jeremiah added a few phrases to give Scott the true
impression of what had transpired. Abe turned back to Lucas
and stated, “Julie and I talked afterwards as well. She’s
agreed to support me in my opinion.”
“Which is?” Lucas questioned.
“Which is that children should be in the church with their
parents. It’s a family matter, Luke.” Lucas heard the
defense in his brother’s voice.
“Okay, before we go any further, I want to make one thing
very clear. I agreed with Margaret after much, much talking
and soul searching. BUT, I informed her that this would only
be pursued if I could get our family in agreement. If not,
it will go no further.” Lucas cleared his throat. “I think
Margaret had a right to be angry. We didn’t let her speak
her peace. Abe, you and Jeremiah took over the conversation,
and that was it as far as you’re concerned.”
“What would Pa say?” Abe asked then.
Lucas raised an eyebrow as he stood and walked away from
them. He looked over the range as he took a few more puffs
from his cigar then threw it into the dirt. Slowly, he
turned around. “Things were different then, Abe. That was
then and this is now. I remember when you approached Pa
about buying one of those hayers. Do you remember that?” Abe
nodded. “Pa cussed a mile about not wanting anything to do
with that hayer, and in his lifetime we never DID see it.”
Lucas grinned at his brother. “I noticed we have one now.”
“That’s different, Luke.” Abe shook his head. “Pa was set in
his ways. He resisted anything new that came along and…” He
stopped when he saw Lucas lift an eyebrow and heard a
snicker from Jason. “Well?” Abe asked his brother-in-law.
Jason stood along with the rest of the men. “I didn’t say
anything last Sunday, because I don’t feel my opinion
“I don’t agree,” Lucas stated. “You are a McCain now, Jason.
And you are impartial. I think your opinion matters a great
Jason looked at Scott. “How do you feel?”
“I believe our children should be with our families. They’re
taught by a stranger five days a week already. My wife and I
can teach my children all they’ll ever need to know about
the Bible. If they have questions they can come to us and
we’ll explain the best we can. It’s been done this way for
thousands of years and…”
“That’s just it,” Jason said as he interrupted. “Being a
doctor schooled back East, I can offer some practical
insight. Since the horrid things that happened as recently
as our Nation’s war, the medical personnel have learned a
lot about medicine. Doctors having to cut legs off as
bullets whizzed around them…Arms held by flesh ripped off
with no pain killers whatsoever…More men died from infection
and disease then were killed by a bullet or canyon.”
“It was bad,” Lucas mumbled.
“Many were given a drug called morphine.” Jason lifted his
head to Abe. “As a matter of fact, I gave you that drug
after you were shot, remember?” Abe nodded. “But unlike
those men in the war, you were warned that you could become
dependent on that drug. Men are finding now that they can’t
put it down. They have to have it to stay alive like we need
water. It’s an addiction.” Jason shook his head sadly. “You
see, we may have practiced sawing off legs for thousands of
years. We may have practiced many things for thousands of
years, but…that doesn’t make it right.”
“Now just a minute…” Jeremiah started angrily.
Jason held up a hand. “I’m NOT saying having the children
inside the church is wrong. Don’t think that for a second.
There’s something special about having a family together in
church. Now days, there’s so many women who have to bring
their children to church because their husbands are too busy
or too proud or…” Jason shook his head. “Back East, we had
the same struggles. People change. Attitudes change.“ Jason
pointed at Abe. “You and Jeremiah said yourself last Sunday
that you don’t make your children sit quietly all afternoon
like you did when you were children. In fact, when your
father was alive he changed that. Why?”
“I don’t know exactly,” Abe answered. “It happened subtly
over time. I never really asked why.”
“Could it be that your folks were wise enough to understand
that it made you think negative of the Lord’s Day? Was it a
day you dreaded rather than looked forward to?” The
brothers’ eyes met. Slowly, they nodded their heads.
“I know my Pa used to do the same with us,” Scott mumbled.
“He stopped making us do so one day as well, but that’s
because his ranch grew and he needed to work with his cattle
even on Sunday, but he made sure we all spent the morning
“What’s your point, Jason?” Peter asked then.
“I’ve seen Sunday School started in my town, Peter. It
started there for the same reason it started here. The
children were restless. They didn’t enjoy sitting for two or
three hours on a Sunday morning to listen to a sermon that
really WAS above their heads. Why does something that used
to work when we were children no longer work with ours?”
Jason shrugged his shoulders. “I can’t answer that. But I
will tell you that the children started enjoying church.
They didn’t fight to put on their Sunday best. They would be
excited on Saturday night to go to Sunday School, and they
learned their Bible like you wouldn’t believe. Maybe it’s
education that’s caused the change. Maybe it’s something
else…But wouldn’t you rather bring the children in to
learn…something…Where we’re at now, they aren’t learning a
thing in church.”
Lucas cleared his throat. “I searched out the verses
Margaret quoted the other day. The children wanted to come
to Jesus, to listen to Him speak to them…to hear His voice.
But the disciples felt they were bothering Jesus. Back then,
I suppose the children listened and gained insight from
their folks, but Jesus told His Disciples not to hinder the
children – to let them come to Him.” Lucas rubbed a finger
over his nose as the men stared at him, dumbfounded. “Now…I
know I’m not much on church and Bible reading and the like,
and maybe someday that will change, but I DID stop and ask
myself if we were keeping the children from coming to
There wasn’t a sound as the men each soaked in the words
that had been spoken. Abe finally turned and looked at the
other men. He saw understanding in their eyes. Finally, he
turned back and looked at Lucas. “Well now…If I wasn’t
standing right here hearing it come from your own lips, I
never would have believed it, Luke. You…PREACHING to us, and
a good sermon it was too.”
Margaret had to grab hold of the chair to keep from running
out to meet the men as they walked toward the house. As it
stood, everyone who even glanced at Margaret could tell she
was quite anxious to learn about the talk. The women,
oblivious to what was going on, watched with keen interest
as Scott opened the door to his house and stepped inside.
The men all stood in front of the women and removed their
hats. Margaret looked into Lucas’ eyes, but they wouldn’t
reveal the outcome to her. Her heart pounded as she waited
to know what had been decided.
Scott cleared his throat. “I think we should all go into the
parlor to talk.”
Abe turned to Laura who had been watching with much
anticipation. She was very interested in knowing what was
being discussed as well. “Laura, I want you to keep an eye
on the children while we talk.” His voice was firm, and his
eyes warned her not to argue.
Even a year ago, Laura would have stubbornly ignored that
look, but she had matured a bit; and learned, sometimes the
hard way, that when Abe told her to do something, she was to
do so. She made sure he saw the disappointment on her face,
however, as she stood and dropped the book she had been
reading with more force then was necessary. As she brushed
past Abe, he grabbed her arm and lifted his eyebrows at his
oldest child. “Laura…” he said quietly. “I would love to
have you in there with us, but we need someone responsible
looking out for the children. I assure you I’ll tell you
about everything later.”
Well, put that way Laura couldn’t help but lift her head and
smile at her Papa Abe. His eyes crinkled at the corners as
he gave her a gentle pat on the back. “Yes, Papa,” Laura
finally said as she hurried out the door. The door hadn’t
closed yet when the adults heard Laura’s quite bossy voice
laying down the ground rules to her nieces and nephews.
The adults chuckled. Lucas was a bit relieved to hear the
laughter. It would decrease the tension that was obviously
around them. Abe stood as everyone else sat. “Margaret, Luke
told us of your feelings to continue the conversation from
last week, and we have all…” he motioned to the men who sat
on one side of the room. “…agreed to listen to what you have
to say. We’ll discuss this issue rationally, and before we
leave this room today we’ll come to a consensus.”
Margaret smiled. She wasn’t sure if that meant they were
leaning towards or against her proposition, but she knew
this was the best way to handle things. Their family had
always been close and she didn’t want to do anything to
cause turmoil among various members.
And as a family, they discussed both sides of the issue.
They all spoke of the pros and cons, weighing each. They
talked all afternoon. By the time the adults left the room,
they had reached their decision, Lucas and Margaret would
approach the preacher the following day.
As Margaret was lifted onto the buckboard, she was still
smiling. Lucas put an arm around her and hugged her close.
“What if it had gone the other way?”
Margaret looked straight in her husband’s eyes. “It wouldn’t
have because God’s hand was in this. But if it hadn’t, I
would be okay. Because I know it would be for the best.” As
they rode for home, Margaret was already picturing her
children gathered around her listening as she told a story
about God’s love.
She would forever treasure this day in her heart.
Years — The Sound of Children
These stories are based on the TV series
Here are some other great stories. Enjoy!
The Writer's Corner
Table of Contents
around The McCain Ranch