A Man With A Dream
by  Sprite
Rating: G

Summary: Musings of a good man

Copyright: I really am infringing on someone elses copyright, but I mean it in the best possible way.

Thank you Cat for the beta – someday I’ll learn the difference between threw and through.


When running a big ranch decisions had to be made.  Some were big, some were small, but all of them had to be made.  This morning he’d made a decision.

Today was a warm spring day and his thoughts should have been turned to his future success. But instead they looked back at the past.

His name was Lancer.  Murdoch Lancer.  He was a big man, over six feet tall by a few inches.  He was built like a barrel with legs, stocky and thick and easily weighed in over 200 pounds and even now he didn’t run to fat, although he was honest enough to admit that he had let his belt out a notch or two more that it had been in his youth. He had thick brown hair, which was just starting to gray around the temples and clear blue eyes.

His family was from Scotland.  He didn’t advertise that fact much, only to a few close friends. He’d seen the writing on the wall when he’d lived in the East. He’d found it ironically amusing that a country founded by immigrants was amazingly intolerant to the new immigrant.  He carefully hid his brogue and reminded himself it didn’t matter. He wasn’t a Scot anymore, he was American.

He’d come ashore in Boston after working his way across the ocean as a cabin boy. He took up odd jobs in the bay town doing anything and everything that would put money in his pocket as long as it was honest work.

It was there he had met his bride. A beautiful woman that had captured his heart with a smile and a soft word. Catherine Garrett had consented to marry him; despite her father’s disapproval and to this day it still amazed him.

Together they had a dream to go west and build a ranch. And they went had done it -together. It took much longer than expected, but they’d made it.  They had bought a piece of land sight unseen from the soon-to-be bankrupt Mexican government and took over a rundown hacienda and built a ranch. He foresaw, as many others did, that it wouldn’t take long before California was under the protection of the United States.

He and his wife had weathered those early hardships.  He still remembered the way the moonlight came in through the glassless windows the night she had told him she carried his child.  He felt his heart was going to explode in his chest as he puffed with pride.

She’d laughed at him.  His tiny, delicate wife was by no means afraid of him. She wasn’t afraid of anything.  But when claim jumpers came into the area his fear for her and their child had become all-consuming. He’d decided that the danger was too great and sent her back to Boston.

It had been a horrible error. His beloved Catherine had not survived the trip. And to add insult to injury his father-in-law had taken custody of his child. His first-born son. A beautiful, blue-eyed little boy that his mother had, with her last breath, named Scott.

For the first few years, he had to admit, he’d left the boy in the safety and security of his grandfather’s house in Massachusetts. But soon the ranch was succeeding and things were politically less volatile.  As the lawlessness of the area was beginning to wane and more people headed up to the gold fields outside of Sacramento, he reconsidered his hasty decision.

He’d written to his father-in-law and requested the return of his son.  Harlan Garrett had promptly referred Murdoch to his attorney. It was only the beginning of a long and eventually fruitless battle.

He began to feel like the General who’d been sent to capture Sparticus.  He kept losing every battle even the ones that he’d been sure he’d win. And then the battle began on the home front.

For the longest time he felt he’d never fall in love again. When an exotic dark-eyed girl slipped under his fences and stole his heart again. He’d married her a lot quicker than he’d intended. But the reasons did matter, because love her he did.  More than he liked to admit, even to himself.  She’d stolen his heart, and given him a wonderful gift.  A dark-haired, blue eyed bundle of energy they’d named John.

And two years later, she’d done the unthinkable.  She’d stolen his son. His second born. She’d known of the long protracted battle to get his oldest boy back so her taking his second son was a cruel blow. One, from which, he didn’t think he’d ever recover.

The loss of his second son fueled his desire to retrieve his eldest. He’d made the trip to Boston and met Harlan face to face. But his father-in-law was none too subtle in letting him know that it would be an ugly court battle that would ruin him financially and then he’d still not get his son back. And he’d have no money left to look for his other son.

So he tucked his tail and returned to California. He continued to run his ranch, as it was all he had left. All his passions and frustrations, anger and resentment were channeled into every fence post, outbuilding and head of beef. The ranch known as Lancer became his passion and his saving grace.

Every season lessened the pain, but not the yearning. As the ranch grew larger, he became more influential. But money and influence didn’t give him what he truly wanted.

In the beginning the hard times had been lack of supplies, an ever-changing government, and bad weather.  Later, as the gold fields began to play out, he had new worries.  Claim jumpers, cattle thieves, and worst of all squatters.

The big man sighed as he surveyed his holdings.  The everyday business of running a ranch seemed so much harder now than it had in the past.  Was it really harder now? Or was he just getting old?  He sighed again, after all, he was only 47 years old.  That wasn’t old, but he surely felt every one of those years, today.

This morning he’d made a decision. He knew what he wanted. He wanted his sons, and he wanted them here, with him. And Harlan Garrett and backwater border towns were not going to stop him. Even if he had to hire every Pinkerton Agent in the country.

Murdoch Lancer was force to be reckoned with.  He was a man with a dream.

The End of how it was.
By Tory Fischer
October 2001



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