The Impatient Christmas Gift
by  Patti H.


Summary:  The night Johnny Lancer entered the world.

Usual Disclaimers Apply - No Beta – Flying Solo


~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~


The couple snuggled under the feather bedspread in the gigantic bed that had been hand craved for Murdoch Lancer to satisfy his large frame in his nightly slumbers or other pursuits.  At 6’5” he towered over most men and certainly stood a good foot and an half taller than his petite dark-haired passionate wife, Maria.  At the present moment Maria’s ice cold feet were squarely pressed against his rock solid muscular thighs, which lucky for him were encased in his woolen union suit but he could felt the cold penetrating through the material.  Maria was attempting to warm her frozen feet after she had draped them over the edge of the bed outside the warm confides of the coverings.  She hated to be restricted in any matter and was it not for the prevailing artic-like wilds blowing across their land from the north she would have been sleeping au natural with no blankets instead of wearing a long nightdress that was yakked up to her thighs.  Murdoch could not help but notice that she was more restless this night than last night.  He estimated that it had to be close to 9:00pm and Maria tossed and turned instead of sleeping soundly this night.

Murdoch listened to the prevailing winds blowing and whistling outside his adobe hacienda, Indian legend had it that when the winds sounded like a coyote mourning the lost of its mate, changes were coming.  He smiled with profound satisfaction as he placed his large warm hand over Maria’s swollen belly, at least aware of one pending transformation that soon would be part of their world.  He felt the continuous rapid motion inside her womb.  He could see the impression of a foot, possibly an elbow, maybe the bump of a bottom or perhaps the head of an extremely active babe that seemed ready to burst into the world to make his or her presence known.  He reached downwards to stroke some warmth back to her freezing feet.

“Su hijo quiere encontrar su papá, mi marido,” (“Your son wants to meet his papa, my husband,”) murmured Maria as she placed her diminutive hand on top of his.  Her dark doe-like eyes shone in the moonlight that penetrated through the slit in the drawn curtains.

“My son?” croaked Murdoch as his eyes held hers in the moonlight that was one source of light in their room; the other was the diminishing flicker from the fireplace.  “How can you tell this Maria?”

“Usted verá, mi marido, una mujer, sabe estas cosas, y el tiempo me demostrará derecho. Esto es un chico, con un ánimo para la vida, que dejará su marca sobre el mundo. Juanito está más ansioso por salir y ver el mundo”.  (“You will see, my husband, a woman, knows these things, and time will prove me right.  This is a boy, with a zest for life, who will leave his mark upon the world.  Juanito is most anxious to come out and see the world.”)

“John, Maria, his name will be John if this is indeed a boy.  Or Catherine if it is a girl,” said Murdoch as he stroked the rising and falling mound as his wife took long measured breathes of air.

“Juanito, es bueno,” ("Juanito, be good,”) she murmured as she felt another elbow or knee strike against her bladder, forcing her get up to use the chamber pot again for the third time that night.  She quickly finished with her ablutions and climbed back into the bed, fixing her nightgown while Murdoch adjusted the pile of pillows for her to recline upon in a sitting position to ease her back strain.

“When do you think our child will come?”  Murdoch watched with concern as Maria gasped from another sharp kick as he traced with his eyes the clear impression of a foot pressing against her stomach.  He rubbed her belly in an attempt to calm the fidgety baby but the child continued his or her motions inside its small, dark confided world.

“Dos tiempo de días, mi marido, este bebé llegará en Navidad”.   (“Two days time, my husband, this baby will arrive on Christmas.”)  As soon as Maria said that she gritted her lips together moaning.  “Madre de Dios... quizá no, pienso que su hijo quiere venir esta noche”.  (“Mother of God...maybe not, I think your son wants to come tonight.”)

“Maria?  Maria?”

“Va estela su amigo de doctor, Murdoch, es tiempo.”  (“Go wake your doctor friend, Murdoch, it is time.”)

Murdoch jumped from the bed, noticing beads of sweat forming on his wife’s brow, as she bite her lower lip from a spasm of pain that made her shut her eyes tight, suppressing for certain a cry of agony.  He noticed that the mattress was damp and assumed this was the beginning of the birthing process, her water had to have broken.  He threw his right leg inside his trousers, then his left, yakking them up, quickly buttoning them, while he grabbed his shirt thrusting his long arms inside, bending over he gave Maria a light kiss on the top of her head, gripped her hand tightly, “I’ll be right back, Maria.”

“Si, Murdoch, pronto,” (“Yes, Murdoch, quickly,”) she implored with urgency.

Murdoch in two long strides reached the door and pulled it open, stepping out into the hallway, he reached the closed guest door where Doctor Sam Jenkins had been staying for the past week at Murdoch’s no nonsense demand.  Having lost his first wife due to childbirth, Murdoch had been insistent that Maria have the proper care to bring their baby into the world, he was taking no chances with this wife and this child.  Murdoch knocked noisily on the heavy oak paneled door several times then pushed it open, “Sam, its Maria...the baby is coming.”

Sam was awake and on his feet in seconds, taking only a moment to pull on his pants and shirt before grabbing his doctor’s bag.  He followed Murdoch back to the estancia’s largest bed chamber where Maria was panting heavily as she gripped the sheets in her hands, they shook as another wave of contraction came and went.  He quickly assessed the situation, as Murdoch paced in the background, pausing only to light the oil lamps to their full wick and stoking the fire to bring more warmth into the room.


In a second the tall man was at the doctor’s side.  “Yes, Sam, what is it?”

“First, I need you to stop pacing, second go downstairs and get Angel to heat water, plenty of it, third, get me clean sheets, towels and fourth, don’t come back up here until I call for you.  The last thing Maria needs or I need is an impatient father looming over my shoulders, breathing down my neck.  Angel is welcomed to assist me, however, you, my friend are not.  Go downstairs and don’t come back up here until I call you.”

“Is that right?”

“Move it along man, your wife is in hard labor.  Your child is on the way.  If we’re lucky tonight will be this baby’s birthday otherwise tomorrow morning for sure.”

Murdoch flew down the stairs, pausing to throw on his jacket before realizing he was barefooted, he flew back up the stairs as Sam came to the landing with his socks and boots in his hand.  “I don’t need you getting pneumonia at this time Murdoch, put these on, and then go.”  He turned to go back to his patient, grumbling about idiotic fathers to be.

Murdoch sat down hard at the base of the stairs to comply with Sam’s instructions, before hurrying into the crisp night air via the great front door of the hacienda.  His boots struck against the adobe tiles in a fast pace cadence as he rapidly approached the nearby adobe home where his foreman, Paul O’Brien and his wife Angel had lived for the past six years.  Banging his large knuckles sharply on their door, he waited for what seemed like an eternity before he saw through the window the flicking glow from a candle coming nearer the door.

“Murdoch, what’s wrong?”

“Sorry to disturb you Paul, but Maria...”

Angel standing behind Paul held her robe tightly together at her neck against the coldness of the night, “The baby?”

“Yes, Angel, the baby is coming and Sam wants you to heat water, lots of it and assist him.  I must get back to find sheets and towels.”

“Murdoch, you’ll do no such thing, everything has been prepared.  You’ll only get underfoot.  Paul, get dressed and stay with Murdoch, keep him company in the Great Room, put on a pot of coffee and let the doctor do what needs to be done.  Just stay out of the way is the best thing for you Murdoch Lancer.”

Murdoch looked at Angel, a saucy red-head who just issued orders like a battle ready General leading troops off to fight.  She was now standing with her hands on her hips, with her chin jutted out, daring him to go against her directives.  Murdoch shook his index finger at her, “You better get dressed fast, Mrs. O’Brien.  I got the strong impression that baby is in a hurry to get out to take a look around.”

Angel laughed, “Sounds just like the father.  Paul, why don’t you two go over to the main house and start coffee?  I’ll bring your clothes with me.”

In no time at all Angel arrived in the kitchen, it seemed to her that Murdoch had lit every lamp in the Great Room and kitchen, while Paul had made coffee.  Murdoch was having a difficult time settling down, he took the mug that was thrust into his hands by Paul, who tried to lead him to the sofa in front of the fireplace, which was blazing.  Paul got Murdoch to sit down but the chiming of the large grandfather clock, announcing ten o’clock got the edgy Scotsman back to his feet and pacing.

Paul watched each time with interest as Angel hurried down the stairs into the kitchen with instruments that needed to be sterilized, or arms full of soiled linen.  Each time she appeared, Murdoch charged to the foot of the stairs to greet her with a look of apprehension and anguish etched upon his face.

Murdoch made a grab at the whirlwind as she tried to dodge past him back up the flight of stairs.  He held her in place.  Angel’s arms this trip were piled high with clean linens and what seemed to be a fretful expression on her face, her lips pressed taut.

“Angel, stop!  What’s happening?  How is Maria?  What’s taking so long?  Is the baby here yet?”

“Murdoch, everything is fine,” she assured him, however keeping her eyes downcast as she spoke.  “Maria is okay.  Doctor Jenkins has everything under control.  Babies come on their own schedule, when they have a mind too.  Besides, I’ve only been upstairs for only twenty minutes or so.  Now, please, Murdoch, go sit down.  Try to relax.  Paul, would you give Murdoch more coffee?”  She motioned to Paul to add in some of Murdoch’s sipping Scotch into his drink before she made her way back up the stairs.


~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~


Murdoch allowed Paul to guide him back to the sofa in front of the blazing fire, and dutifully took the cup of coffee, sipping at the hot contents now fortified with a liberal quantity of alcohol.  He stared into the flicking flames as they lapped at the dry hickory and cherry logs which burned slowly.  His insides were warmed by the liquor as his mind eye’s replayed significant events that had taken place in his world since his arrival at Lancer seven years ago.

Paul stared at the man he knew for seven years, ever since they sailed from Boston to San Francisco they had been like two peas in a pod, working side by side this land, rebuilding the ranch house, expanding it and the cattle operations into one of the largest in the San Jacinto Valley.  Paul knew Murdoch like a brother, hell maybe better than a brother and he realized only too well that Murdoch was thinking back to six years ago the previous week.  When at that time Murdoch’s first wife, his Boston born and bred genteel, sweet, demure Catherine had been sent away for her own safety and that of their unborn child, which as the fates allowed turned out to be their first and only child, a son, Scott.


~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~


Judd Haney had started a range war, in his imprudent attempts to confiscated land that did not belong to him.  Haney was the devious mastermind behind cutting fences to rustle cattle from their rightful owners’ lands, the burning of the smaller ranches either completely down to the ground or empty charred shells left smoldering, forcing many land owners to cave-in abandoning their property after pot shots were fired upon the ranchers attempting to save their homes and burning fields.  Haney did everything possible to drive ranchers from their land, short of raping their wives and daughters or taking hostages or killing anyone.  And it had worked as one by one another family packed up their remaining possessions and pulling up stakes.

Only Murdoch Lancer would not budge; he fought back against Haney and his band of mercenaries tooth and nail to impede their attempts attack after attack.  Several attacks were too close for comfort to the main house so Murdoch decided it was more prudent to send Catherine away, despite her protests that the time for their baby’s arrival was extremely close at hand.  She wanted their baby born at Lancer.  But Murdoch simply would not risk his wife and unborn child to become Haney’s targets, accidentally or intentionally. 

Paul waited to drive the wagon with the precious cargo tucked inside away from Lancer.  While inside the wagon Murdoch held his wife close, pressing soft gentle kisses against her furrowed brow and blonde tresses, making what would turn out to be their final goodbye to the other, little did either realize it.  The wagon wheels were wrapped in blankets to muffle any noise; the horses wore feed bags to soften any snorting sounds from carrying across the open land as Paul guided the horses down the back trails.  Jose rode shotgun while Catherine rested on the thick feather mattress, wrapped in quilts while Angel held her hand as they made their way away from the thick protective walls of the adobe ranch house.  Catherine murmured a pray that her husband remain safe, their child be born healthy and sound and that she return to her home as quickly as possible with their baby.

The night sky was dark; there was no full moon guiding their way, only the soft twinkling of thousands upon thousands of stars high over head as the night chill crept into the bones of the travelers while the temperature dropped steadily.  Once they were down the road, away from Lancer, Paul and Jose removed the coverings from the wheels and the feed bags from the horses to quicken their pace.  The warm air escaping from the horses’ muzzles sent traces of willowy wisps into the night air as it was cold enough for frost to form.  Angel drew her woolen cloak tighter around her shoulders and layered another blanket on top of Catherine.  Catherine was as quiet as a church mouse, resting with her eyes closed.  A single rolling tear managed to run down the side of her cheek as she realized they had left Lancer property.  In her heart she knew she would never again return and only hoped that her baby would survive this trip to know what a wonderful man his or her father truly was.

It did turn out to be too near to Catherine’s time.  For Catherine delivered her baby in the small covered wagon, near the town of Cartersville on the way to San Francisco.  No doctor was nearby to assist with the delivery, only a farmer’s wife with limited skills and knowledge in the process of bringing human life into the world was enlisted to help along with the wide-eyed Angel who knew nothing at all about the process.  Catherine lost too much blood and died shortly after giving life to the pale baby boy with solemn blue-grey eyes and a heedful of soft blond peach fuzz.  He cooed and fussed softly as his mother held him tight, smiling faintly at the beautiful son she and Murdoch had made together.  The farmer’s wife listened to her whispered, strained voice as she gave him the name of her maternal grandfather, Scott Preston Lancer, looked longing with maternal instinct and loving affection at her baby before dying holding him protectively in her arms.

Catherine was buried in Carterville and the small group of sad travelers continued on towards San Francisco, knowing that Catherine’s father had been expected to arrive.  Arriving in San Francisco the weary group was quickly relieved of baby Scott as Harlan Garrett proved to be quite insistent in handling the matter of his grandson’s welfare.  Paul realized that Murdoch’s hands were full with the land grabbers and Angel unfortunately did not seem to have been blessed with any nurturing skills or disposition was have immense difficulties caring for the infant.

The small group left for Lancer as quickly as they were able after assuring themselves that Scott was in good hands with his grandfather, who had brought along not only a nanny skilled in the care of a baby but a wet-nurse as well to assist his properly brought up daughter out in the wilderness.  Harlan gave his word that Scott would be well taken care of and all Murdoch need do was come claim him when Lancer was secured from the hostilities.  Little did Paul recognize that day would be a long time coming, had he known, he would never have trusted the conniving old man, grandfather or not, with Murdoch’s son.

Since that time, Murdoch had seen his first born son only once, and that was when he had made the long journey across the country to Boston, Massachusetts, via a ship that sailed around the Horn.  Arriving in Boston, filled with hope and expectations he arrived at his wife’s father’s home.   Harlan Garrett after the death of his dear, precious, sweet daughter had claimed Scott as his own and had been caring for the baby, who was now celebrating his fifth birthday.  Murdoch wanted Scott home with him on his developing and ever growing ranch.  Harlan rebuffed his attempts and swore to drag him through every court in the land in order to retain full custody of his son, taking away his ranch in the process. 

Murdoch then and there, made a solemn promise to himself and to Harlan Garrett that one day, Scott would come home to his birthright, come what made.  Harlan simply laughed in his face as a dejected Murdoch Lancer left Boston to return empty-handed to Lancer, his “little empire”, the old miser called it as he gleefully closed the ornate front door of his own little empire with a bang.

Murdoch returned via overland, planning on visiting an old friend near the Texas-Mexico border for advice.  As fate would have it, Marshal Joe Barker, was out chasing a band of bank robbers.  A tired and angry Murdoch turned his horse towards the dusty border town of Matamoras, Mexico.  There he planned to drown his pent-up irritation at his former father-in-law, when fate again tapped him on the shoulder as he spied an enchantress, a raven-haired, brown-eyed beauty who danced and sang for drinks along with her keep in the local watering hole.  His hungry eyes devoured her curves, the musical tone of her voice mesmerized him, and her smoky eyes seemed to burn like hot coals as she watched him watching her.

One week later, having bedded the vivacious temptress every night, he felt the profound twinges of duty and honor nipping heavily at his subconscious, despite his attempts to thwart his affection he discovered that he was head over heels in love in what had become a whirlwind courtship of the spicy morsel.  Bringing her back to Lancer as his new wife had proven to be invigorating to his wounded soul and heavy heart at not returning with his five-year old son, Scott.


~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~


Maria and Murdoch spent the next several months learning about the other, she had a sudden temper that was comparable to striking a match to dynamite, while he was stubborn and unmovable if the situation warranted it.  The Lancers arguments were thunderous affairs that finished more times than not in the master bedroom where their disagreements became noisy, lusty love-making sessions.  A byproduct of one such match was this, the impending birth of their first child.  Murdoch was hoping for many more, as Maria was much more serene and peaceful while pregnant.  This was a condition that he found to be very easy to live with and one that Doc Jenkins mentioned tended to settle women down as they accepted their position and purpose in life, motherhood, along with the duties and obligations of being a wife and by default the primary person to manage the management of the household.


~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~ JML ~


Watching the flames lap at the firewood, Paul added another log then refilled Murdoch’s cup, hot coffee and another touch of his beloved Scotch.  Murdoch nodded his appreciation to Paul, as the grandfather clock’s ticking seemed to ricochet in the room as the seconds ticked away, into minutes.  Another quarter hour went by, moans and groans could be heard each time the door opened, then closed, as Angel again and again made trips down the stairs, soiled linen, fresh linen, hot water, there seemed to be no end to the hot water that was needed to bring a baby into the world.  Murdoch jumped up each time, especially when a clear shriek was heard, only to be pulled back down by Paul.

“Murdoch, take it easy.  You’ll know when the baby is here, we’ll all know.  Why, I’ll bet you a week’s wages that the hands will hear him or her wailing clear out in the bunkhouse.”

Murdoch threw a half-smile at Paul, “Since when did you become an expert on the subject?  You and Angel have been married for a long time, but when are you going to settle down and start a family?”

Paul shrugged his shoulders, whispering, “Murdoch, you know as well as I that Angel isn’t exactly very motherly.  If it happens, it will be a blessing.  Now that Maria will have a young’un perhaps Angel will decide she wants one too.”

Murdoch looked at his friend, “Sorry Paul, I forgot about Angel’s aversion to motherhood.  I seem to recall that she didn’t care much for the idea of an expanding waistline or some such nonsense.”

“Amongst other things, my friend.  Not to worry, Murdoch, once she sees how quickly Maria bounces back, it will change her mind.”

The two became quiet, sitting side by side, waiting.  Murdoch could not think of another time when he felt so helpless, so useless, after a bit he could no longer just remain still or drink anymore coffee, with or without Scotch.  Murdoch began pacing down and up, up and down the length of the Great Room, occasionally stopping to check the time on the ticking clock.  “What’s taking so long?” he asked. 

Paul shrugged his shoulders since he had no answer to that question, other than, “Murdoch, it only seems long to you and me.  Ask Doc Jenkins later, he’ll probably not agree with you.”

Just then there was a sharp slap as a hand met a bottom, followed by a protesting, deafening, boisterous wailing that filled the air as Murdoch checked the grandfather clock, eleven-fifteen on the 23rd of December, 1853 he thought as he smiled at Paul. Paul jumped up and slapped Murdoch on his back, “Congratulations Murdoch, a baby, you’re baby, born here on Lancer!” 

Murdoch’s heart swelled with pride as the wailing continued and Angel rushed out the door and looked down at the waiting men.

“It’s a boy, Murdoch!  You have a son!  And a fine pair of lungs he has indeed!  Listen to him!”

Murdoch beamed at the news and rushed to the stairs, taking them two at a time to the top.  He was stopped by Angel at the landing, “Not just yet Murdoch, he needs to be cleaned and the doctor is busy with Maria.”

“Maria?  Is she okay?  Angel, is there anything the matter with Maria?”

“Murdoch, calm down.  Doctor Jenkins is finishing up with her.  I’ll call you when you can come in, but for now if you could get me some lukewarm water to bathe your son, I’ll get him ready to meet his proud papa.”

“Angel, what are you not telling me?”

“Murdoch, I don’t know what to say, only that Maria lost a lot of blood and the doctor is busy with her.  I’m not a doctor and I don’t know anything else.  Now, please Murdoch, get the water and be patient just a tiny bit more.  Paul, help him with the water will you?  I need to get back inside.”

“Oh and uhh Murdoch, your son, John is perfect in every way, why the little dickens even let his feelings be known for Doc Jenkins’ methods, smacking him on his backside like he did.  John’s got perfect aim with that little pistol of his.  He squirted the doctor just as soon as he was turned right-side up.  Got him in his eyes, his nose, and his slack-jawed open mouth from the first drop that splashed on him!  Never saw a man get as red in the face as he did,” Angel giggled as she told the tale of Murdoch’s infant son’s first few seconds of life.

“Imagine that little tyke, coming early just so he could piss on the man who brought him into the world.  I’m surprised that Doc Jenkins didn’t try and push him back inside as surprised as he was!”

Paul slapped Murdoch on the back again, guffawing at the news, “There you see, he’s a chip off the old block.  Your son is taking after you already, got some of that stubborn Scotch blood flowing through his veins and out of them too, whizzing on the doc, betcha he’ll be one to watch out for as he grows up!”

“Funny, Paul,” said a beaming Murdoch who was chomping at the bit to get inside his room and see both his wife and his new baby boy.  His pacing increased to the point of making Paul dizzy watching his quick pace back and forth, up and down the carpet runner in the Great Room.  They both could hear bits of conversation drifting from what had to be an open doorway.

Finally Murdoch could not, would not and did not contain himself any longer.  “I do not care what Sam Jenkins or Angel has to say, I’m going up to see Maria and Johnny for myself.”  He took the stairs two at a time, with Paul hot on his heels.  Pausing at the open doorway, Murdoch watched with deep concern as Doc Jenkins was busy administering treatment to his wife.  His eyes sweep the room and he saw Angel attempting to swaddle a protesting bundle of energy that seemed to be all legs and raised arms with tightly clenched fists waving about, his face was a remarkable hue of red as he protested the treatment with long and deafening cries of indignation.

Doc Jenkins saw the looming figure in the doorway, “Murdoch, take charge of your son.  I think he’s more than Angel bargained for in trying to get him diapered and settled down.  At least he’s clean, now, despite his reluctance to his bath.”

Murdoch stood frozen for a second as he watched the doctor changing a bandage from underneath his wife, who looked paler than he had ever seen.  “Maria?” he asked with a voice filled with concern.

“Not now Murdoch, let’s see if you can’t get Johnny to settle down first,” commanded Paul throwing at quick look towards his wife who appeared to be getting more perturbed at the squirming baby.

Murdoch crossed his room to reach the struggling pair and gently took his wailing baby from an anxious Angel.  Peering down at the squalling baby lifted the fidgeting infant, with quiet tones, in a voice filled with pride, patience and authority, “John Lancer, this is your father speaking.   Stop your wiggling and howling, young man.  You wanted to come into this world desperately, now cease your struggles, take a look around and see what you can see.” 

Murdoch held his son against his chest, who did cease his crying and look up in big-eye wonder at the large face in front of him.  Murdoch saw that his son had been blessed with Maria’s dark raven hair, there was a full head of hair on Johnny, and a few strands almost reached his strikingly vivid Lancer blue eyes.  Murdoch gently pushed the locks away from his son’s forehead to get the full view of the lad and the unruly locks dropped back from where they were.  Murdoch was surprised to see that Johnny was staring at him and he couldn’t help but laugh at the baby, who hiccupped in surprise at the booming laugh.

Murdoch somehow knew to lift the bundle to his shoulder and tenderly patted his back until the hiccups subsided.  He transferred the baby back to the crook of his arm and walked to the bed where he smiled at his wife, “Thank you Maria, he is beautiful.”

Maria smiled tiredly at her husband and son, “Murdoch, nosotros debemos ser contentos con justo este hijo. El médico me dice que yo no puedo tener a cualquier más niños”.  (“Murdoch, we must be content with just this son.  The doctor tells me that I cannot have any more children.”)

Murdoch looked over at Doc Jenkins who nodded his head in agreement, while Angel and Paul stood off to one side.  Murdoch turned his attention back to his wife, “Hush, Maria, you get some sleep now.  We have a fine baby boy.  I’m sure you need your rest.  We’ll talk later.”

Doc Jenkins rose from the edge of the bed and walked with Murdoch to the large arched bedroom window.  While Angel wrung out a damp washrag and pressed it against Maria’s worried brow.  “Listen to me honey; Murdoch is head over heels in love with that fine baby boy already, he don’t need any more children to make him any happier.  Heck, he’s about to pop the buttons off his shirt as it is with holding onto Johnny.   Now you listen to him, the doctor and me, get some sleep.  I have a feeling that sooner or later that baby of yours will be wanting to nurse.”

Maria weakly smiled at the back of her husband, holding their baby, his head bent as he listened to what the doctor had to tell him.  The effects of the sleeping compound took hold as the weary young mother drifted asleep.  Meanwhile Doc Jenkins told Murdoch that Maria had a difficult time pushing the baby out which damaged her uterus – there could not possibly be any more babies as he was forced to remove it, as badly torn as it was.  This was the reason Maria had lost a great deal of blood and would require complete bed rest.  He recommended that Murdoch engage the services of Mrs. Milly Tilson as a wet nurse – having recently given birth to a daughter.  He would make the necessary arrangements to have the woman, a recent widow, brought to Lancer along with her infant daughter, Margaret Ann, as he did not want Maria overly stressed trying to nurse their son.

Murdoch listened and nodded his concurrence to the plan, while he continued to gazed down at  Johnny, who yawned broadly, then it seemed to Murdoch forced his eyes to remain open and locked on his face.  Doc Jenkins told him that all babies struggle to focus and would for a few weeks – but Murdoch knew that Johnny was focused on him.  Doc Jenkins clapped Murdoch on the back, told him that he would have Ciprano ride out to the Tilson’s small farm as soon as possible.  Sure Johnny might be quiet and content right now, but give him time and soon the baby would be bellowing for food.

Murdoch waited until the O’Briens and Doc Jenkins departed the room, before he began cooing softly to his son.  He shifted the bundle in his arms so that Johnny could look out into the night sky, there was a full moon hanging above Lancer, illuminating the archway with their name chiseled upon the top of the arch.  Corrals were currently empty of stock, which was ensconced in the stables and barn due to the penetrating cold; the old Spanish guardhouse was a dark silhouette against the night sky. 

Murdoch watched as he saw Johnny’s eyes follow an object in the sky, there was a comet with a long, glowing tail tracing along the circumference of the earth – heading from the western sky towards the east.  Murdoch’s eyes also follow the glowing ball of fire that he took to be a sign that one day soon his sons would be united to grow-up together as brothers at Lancer.

Murdoch’s heart filled with joy and love as he and Johnny enjoyed their quiet solitude while behind them, Maria peacefully slept.  “Happy Birthday Johnny, welcome to the world.  Your mother and I are delighted to finally meet you, the product of our love.  And one day soon, I promise, you will meet your big brother Scott.  There is close to one hundred thousand acres for you two scalawags to roam about along with the finest champions palomino horses for you to ride and plenty of Hereford cattle to round up...”


The End

Patti – December 23, 2009


Happy Birthday James!  Hope you have a grand and wonderful day.  Thank you for bringing Johnny Madrid Lancer to life!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!





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