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Lost Son by Linda L.

Word Count 8,960

Chapter One

Murdoch awoke with a start. As he lay in the darkness of his room he started to remember the nightmare he had just had. He got out of bed then walked out into the hallway. The clock at the end of the hallway said four a.m. He sighed. In two hours everyone would be up and eating breakfast. He turned to go back into his room when he remembered his nightmare. There was a child calling out for help, yet he knew there were no young children in the house.

He walked across the hall to Teresa’s room. He opened the door quietly and walked in. Teresa was sleeping soundly. Murdoch stood there looking at his ward. He gently pulled the covers up over her shoulders then he left the room. He walked on down the hallway and entered Scott’s room.. Scott was lying on his back with one arm flung across his face. His blonde hair, which was usually in place, hung down over his forehead. Murdoch smiled and thought to himself had it only been six months since Scott and Johnny came home?

He turned and left Scott’s room and quietly moved into Johnny’s room across the hall. Johnny was lying on his stomach with one leg hanging out of bed and one arm hanging out the other side of the bed. His black hair badly needed cutting. It hung over his forehead and in his eyes. Murdoch slowly walked over to his son. He gently picked up Johnny’s leg and put it back on the bed. He then pulled the covers up over his shoulders, and pushed the hair out of his face.


“Murdoch?” Johnny mumbled. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong, Johnny. Go back to sleep, son.” 

Johnny rolled over on his side and went back to sleep. Murdoch stood there and watched him sleep like he had done so many years ago. It was still hard to believe after all these years that his son was finally home. He turned and walked slowly back to his room.

He sat down on his bed and looked at the pictures of his two beautiful wives. One was blonde and the other dark haired just like their sons. His eyes lingered on Maria’s picture. He sighed and thought to himself, eighteen years ago I woke up and you and Johnny were missing. “Why Maria? Why?” he softly cried. “I wanted so much to bring Scott home and make us a complete family. I guess I just couldn’t make you happy.”

He thought back over the last month they had together. Maria had been sick most of the time. She had no energy to keep up with Johnny and she was so quick to lose her temper. Then the gambler rode into the picture. Oh sure he was nice enough, too nice actually. By the time Murdoch had figured out what was happening she was gone and Johnny with her.

He felt like his whole world was falling apart. If it hadn’t been for his foreman, Paul O’Brien, he probably never would have come out of his depression. Now Johnny would be twenty one in a few months, and in California that made him a man of legal age. He laughed at himself again. Yeah Johnny would legally be a man, but in many ways he was that years ago, and in other ways he was still a kid. Murdoch thought about his nightmare again. He could still see the young man running and yelling for help. Murdoch leaned over and blew out the lamp then lay back down and fell asleep.


In the morning Murdoch overslept. When he came downstairs his family was already eating.

Johnny looked at Scott and Teresa and winked. “Tough night Murdoch? Didn’t sleep well?” Johnny asked.

“Matter of fact I didn’t,” Murdoch replied, smiling at his three children. He laughed and said, “You know you three look like angels when you’re sleeping.”

Teresa replied, “We are angels all the time.” Murdoch started to laugh as Teresa put her hands together above her head to make a halo then started to dance around in circles giggling.

“Oh no, Teresa, that’s all wrong, you have to have some horns under that halo to hold it up” Johnny drawled, laughing.

“Now Johnny,” Scott chimed in, “you know how sweet and perfect Teresa is. she doesn’t need horns to hold up her halo.” Scott ducked as Teresa playful slapped at him after he jokingly said, “She just needs to polish it once in a while.”

Johnny, who had just taken a drink of milk, almost choked as he started to laugh at Teresa’s and Scott’s playing.

Jelly, walking in on that, laughed as well and said “No, only when you’re sleeping. Any other time you’re just downright trouble.”

Everybody at the table laughed. 

Scott looked over at Johnny and said, “You know he’s talking about you, brother.”

“Ha ha!” Johnny answered back. “Like you’re an angel, Boston?”

Okay boys, enough of the teasing. We have work to do. Johnny and Scott, I want you to go to the north pasture and check on the fences. I have some mail I need to look at and go over the figures in the ledger for the last week. So let’s get busy. I’ll see you at supper.” With that Murdoch arose and went into his desk.

As he read through his mail and worked on his ledger he reflected back on his dream. Suddenly there was a knock on his door. When he went to answer the door it was Jim, the telegram messenger. “Mr. Lancer,” he said. “This telegram came in early this morning and I brought it right out to you.”

Murdoch opened the telegram and read it slowly. Jim watched as a look of total disbelief came over Murdoch’s face. 

“Would you like me to wait for your response, Mr. Lancer?” Jim asked. Murdoch slowly walked back to his desk, sat down, picked up a pen and started writing. He handed the note to Jim and said, “Tell him I’m on my way. Teresa!” Murdoch yelled. “Come in here now!”

Teresa came running, “Murdoch what’s wrong? What happened?”

 “Teresa, something has happened. Tell Scott and Johnny I have to meet Jarrod Barkley in Stockton. I’ll be back in a few days and don’t worry, I’ll be fine. Tell Jelly to please get my horse ready. I’ll be leaving in about fifteen minutes.” With that he turned and walked out of the room.

Teresa ran and did as she was asked then she went and fixed a few sandwiches for Murdoch to take along.

Chapter Two

Later that evening when Johnny and Scott arrived home Teresa gave them Murdoch’s message. After they finished supper Scott went over to Murdoch’s desk. There he saw the telegram where Murdoch dropped it. He slowly read it and exclaimed, “Johnny, Teresa, Jelly come here! You’ve got to read this!” As the telegram was passed around there was looks of confusion on everyone’s face.

The telegram read 

**** *** Come quickly your son is very sick. Jarrod Barkley. **** ***

Scott looked at Johnny and said, “I’m not sick are you? I’m also not in Stockton”

“Well brother I ain’t sick and I ain’t in Stockton either,” Johnny replied.

“Ha ha! Ya all think you’re so funny,” Jelly snapped. “Something is wrong and your pa went to check it out and that’s all I’m gonna say about it. But ya all better follow him and make sure he’s ok. And this ain’t no trick.”

“I ain’t going”, Johnny replied as he walked over and poured himself a drink and then went over and set down on the couch.

“Me either, Murdoch can take care of himself this fine”, Scott added as he poured himself a drink and joined Johnny on the couch.

“Besides last time we did that we ended up chasing cows and rounding em up in that new breeding program of his. Murdoch can take care of himself just fine without our help and if he needed it he would’ve asked for it. So we will just sit back and wait till he’s ready to tell us what is going on,” Johnny replied.

“Well I never,” Jelly fumed and stormed out of the room.

“Scott what do you think about that telegram ? “I wonder why Murdoch never told us he had another kid?” Johnny asked.

“I don’t think he knew,” Teresa answered, “I know my father would of have said something about if he had known.”

“I guess will just have to wait for Murdoch to contact us, but right now I’m tired and dirty so I’m taking a bath before I retire this evening.” Scott commented as he turned and walk to the bath house.

“Well hurry up brother cause I want a bath also,” Johnny added.


It was early in the afternoon when Murdoch arrived in Stockton. He went directly to Jarrod Barkley’s law office. Jarrod brought a folder out for Murdoch. He told him, “You need to read this letter first.”

The letter was from Maria. Murdoch face went from anger to shock as he read what Maria had written.

Murdoch if you are reading this letter you know by now that I was pregnant when I left Lancer and took Johnny with me. I was young and jealous of all the attention you were giving Johnny. Then you were talking about bringing Scott home, and the new baby on the way? I just couldn’t take it all. I thought Tom was the answer, and soon as the baby was born it was taken away from me by Tom. He couldn’t stand Johnny and he wasn’t going to have another half breed Lancer brat on his hands. I do know the baby was a boy ! Johnny never knew about the baby I thought that was for the best. So if you ever find our son please love him like you loved Johnny and Scott. I’m sorry you’re being hurt like this. You deserve better.

Maria Lancer.

Murdoch looked up at Jarrod with a look of shock still on his face. “Jarrod, where is my son?” he asked.

“He’s at the ranch,” Jarrod replied. “My brother Heath found him about a week ago. He was badly beaten, robbed and left for dead.

He had several broken ribs and a concussion. Heath found this letter in his pocket.

Murdoch – he’s just a kid, still not even eighteen yet! Who ever beat him up most likely thought he would die. I can tell you this – Matt put up one heck of a fight his knuckles were blooded and scraped”.

Murdoch started to pace back and forth as the reality of the whole situation took hold. He opened his mouth to speak but for the first time in years he didn’t even now what to say. He just closed his mouth and started thinking back over the years.

Johnny would be twenty one in December and he was about two and a half when Maria left. And she couldn’t possibly been more than a month pregnant, so that would made Johnny a little over three years old when the baby was born.

“Jarrod – will you take me to him, and does he know that he has a father and two older brothers?” Murdoch asked.

“Yes, he knows about you and Johnny and Scott,” Jarrod replied.

“I need to send a telegram to Scott and Johnny asking them to join us. However I’ll do it later. Let’s go see this boy,” Murdoch said. “Jarrod, by the way, did you say his name is Matt?”

“It’s Mathew, but he will tell you on no uncertain term’s to call him Matt,” Jarrod laughed.


It was early evening when Jarrod and Murdoch reached the Barkley ranch. Murdoch was greeted with a hug and a kiss from Victoria Barkley. She then briefed him about how Matt was feeling and then took him upstairs to Matt’s room.

Murdoch was taken back by the appearance of the young man laying in the bed. He had black wavy hair that hung down over his eyes. Oh and those eyes! The same blue eyes that both he and Johnny had, only Matt’s eyes had that same haunted look that Johnny had that day when he first walked into the house. Matt’s face was bruised, and his ribs were wrapped. Matt‘s eyes never left Murdoch’s face as he walked over to the bed.

Murdoch set down in the chair next to Matt’s bed and slowly began to speak. “Matt, I know you don’t know me. My name is Murdoch Lancer and I am your father.”

“I know,” Matt answered slowly. “I was coming to find you when I was robbed. He got the jump on me. He took my horse and everything Except a letter my Mother put in my blanket when she got rid of me, and Mr. Sanders Will. I made myself a promise when I left that orphanage four months ago. No one would ever beat me again and live to tell about it.”

Murdoch was shocked at the anger in Matt’s voice. What had this young man been through in these few short years? He silently cursed Maria. Now there’s two sons you have taken away from me.

“Matt,” Murdoch began. I have something to tell you about your family. I never knew about you till about two days ago. Because if anyone would have let me know I would have came for you! You have two older brothers, Scott and Johnny. Scott’s the oldest he’s your half brother, Scott’s mother died after he was born, Johnny and you have the same mother, but she ran off with Johnny when he was about two and a half. I didn’t even know she was expecting you.”

Matt looked at Murdoch sadly. “She didn’t want me did she?” he asked.

“I guess not, son,” Murdoch replied. “I sent a telegram to your brothers. They should be here day after tomorrow. I want you to come back to Lancer with me and your brothers. We have some years to catch up on,” Murdoch said.

Matt looked at Murdoch and smiled. “I would like that., he said. “But there are some things you need to know about me. I’m going to be a real hardheaded about finding out who murdered Mr. Sanders and Bob! I made a promise to myself I would bring the guilty party to justice! I won’t give up, so if you don’t want to help just say so and I’ll be on my way!”

Murdoch raised an eyebrow and looked at Matt as he replied. “Well Matt you’ll just fit right in with your brothers.” Especially Johnny he thought. “Matt, I’ve got something else to tell you. This family stand’s together!”

Chapter Three

The next day and a half Murdoch and Matt spent talking about the ranch and Murdoch’s hopes and dreams for it now that he had all his family together.

Matt was intrigued with everything Murdoch told him about the ranch, he could already picture the big white hacienda and the arch you passed under, the barns and corrals. 

He could even picture Jelly with his whiskers fussing over Dewdrop, but the images that were really etched in his mind where those of his brothers and Teresa. 

Scott tall and thin with blonde hair, blue eyes ,easy going most of time until someone hurt are insulted his family, then he was a force to deal with. Johnny somewhat shorter with black hair and blue eyes that danced with mischief most of the time, but when angered those same eyes turned into hard steel and would frighten most any man!

Then there was Teresa dark hair with matching eyes and smile that would light up a room just by entering it.

The anticipation of meeting his family was almost too much to take in.

Scott and Johnny arrived about mid afternoon a day later, hot and sweating and still wondering to themselves what really was going on.

Soon they where in the Barkley’s house in Jarrod’s study setting with a cold glass of lemonade and a sandwich listening as Murdoch filled them in on what was happening. 

Johnny told Murdoch as he picked up his glass to take a drink that he didn’t remember anything about any baby being born. 

Murdoch assured him most three year olds wouldn’t remember that. 

“Murdoch I know the only reason my mother kept me was to hurt you, but to abandon a baby, that’s heartless, I don’t see her doing that voluntarily, ” Johnny said so enraged that he couldn’t sit still.

His thoughts traveled back to his Mother, he could still remember her singing to him and comforting him after Tom would get mad and beat him. No it’s probably good she gave Matt away. Because Tom wouldn’t have qualms about hurting a baby.

“Johnny, Scott I want you both to read this letter from Maria,” Murdoch answered as he handed the letter to them. Murdoch watched the expressions on his sons’ faces go from disbelief to rage

“I don’t understand how any mother can just let some man take away her child like that! Why didn’t she send Johnny and the baby back to you!” Scott was fuming as he paced back and forth trying to get his anger under control.

“I understand now why she did it. Tom beat my mother and me senseless several times, he wouldn’t think twice about killing a baby. He was a mean hateful excuse for a man and after the last beating I told him if he ever crossed my path again he was dead! What I don’t understand is why she left Lancer in the first place!” Johnny ranted as he to started pacing also.

“I don’t know” Murdoch answered sadly, “I probably will never have the answer to those question this I do know there is a young man waiting upstairs to meet his older brothers,” Murdoch said with a smile.

Matt was sitting up in bed reading when Murdoch knocked on the door. “Come on in, its not locked, “Matt said.

Scott entered the room behind his father he was amazed just how much Matt resembled Johnny.

Matt looked up from the book he was reading. “Hi, I’m Matt. You must be Scott and Johnny. Murdoch told me all bought you,” Matt said with a smile.

Johnny just stood there looking at Matt. Even at seventeen he could tell that Matt was going to have Murdoch and Scott’s height, Johnny walked over and stuck his hand out. “Hi I’m Johnny, Maria’s other son.”

Matt stared hard at Johnny. It was like looking into a mirror. He was amazed at their resemblance even after his father had told him that they looked so much alike.

Murdoch broke the silence as Johnny, Scott and Matt just stared at each other without saying a word. “I know you three have a lot to talk about so I will leave.” With that being said, Murdoch turned and walked out of the room.

Johnny spoke first. “You look like ya took a trip to hell and back,” he said smiling while sitting on the edge of the bed.

“I feel like I’ve been to hell and back,” Matt laughed. “I didn’t know you could hurt in so many places all at one time,” a smiling Matt said.

“Do you have any idea why someone would jump you and leave you for dead?” Scott asked as he pulled up a chair

“I don’t remember what exactly happened, but I have my suspicions as to why it happened,” Matt said yawning. 

Just then, Mrs. Barkley knocked on the door and entered. “Boy’s,” she said “Matt needs his rest so why don’t you plan on talking to him later this afternoon?” 

Matt smiled at his brothers then rolled his eyes and said with a grin, “The boss lady has spoken” 

“Ok brother will talk this afternoon. We don’t want the Mrs. Barkley mad,” Scott said smiling. With that being said him and Johnny turned and exited the room.  

 Later that afternoon, when Matt woke up, there was no one around. He knew that he was supposed to stay in bed for at least one more day, but he was tired of being pampered and babied.

 So he got dressed and made his way downstairs. He was heading for the front door when a deep voice stopped him.

 “Aren’t you supposed to still be in bed, young man?”

Matt slowly turned to the voice he’d come to know as his Father’s. 

Murdoch stood there with his hands on his hips trying not to smile at the startled look on Matt’s face. 

“I…I…I was…just going……….to get some fresh air,” he said as he backed toward the front door. 

“Oh really?” Murdoch said. “I thought the doctor, Mrs. Barkley, and I had made it clear you were to stay in bed one more day.” 

Matt looked up at Murdoch’s face and could see the twinkling in his eyes. “Well sir,” he replied with a smirk of his own. “I told you I was hardheaded and liked to have things my own way.” 

All of a sudden “Oh no” was heard in the hallway. “Not another Johnny!” Scott exclaimed.

That’s all it took. Murdoch started laughing till tears ran down his face. “Oh Scott,” he said laughing. “You don’t know how right you are.”

Chapter Four

About that time Victoria Barkley walked in the front door and saw Matt standing there. “Young man WHAT ARE YOU DOING OUT OF BED!” she said with a very stern voice and hands on her hips.

Matt looked over at Murdoch for help who was trying hard not to smile.

“Sorry son I learned long ago not to argue with women you will never win, so I would suggest you turn around and head back up those stairs before you’re really in trouble.”

“Yes sir,” Matt said sadly as he turned to go back up the stairs.

“Matt wait a minute, why don’t Johnny and I come up with you and we can talk some more and get to know each other better?” Scott asked.

“Sounds fine with me if the boss lady don’t care.” Matt replied as he grinned at Mrs. Barkley.

 “The boss lady won’t mind as long as you follow doctors orders young man and you just remember I have three son’s of my own so I know how to handle young men.” 

“Yes ma’am,” Matt laughed as he started up the steps with his brothers following behind him.

Once up stairs Matt walked over to the window and looked out. Heath was walking across the yard and looked up and waved with a smile.

Matt turned towards his brothers and sighed. “If I don’t get out of this room soon I’m going to go crazy. All they allow me to do is lay in that bed and I’m getting sick of it!” he complained. As he turned around and moved back over to his bed and got back in it

“When are they going to allow you to get out of here?” Johnny asked. As he sat on the edge of Matt’s bed.

” Doc said I could go downstairs tomorrow if everything looks good,” Matt answered. 

“That’s not too long. We’ll sit up here and talk to you, after all we have seventeen and half years to catch up on,” Scott laughed 

“Ok” Matt grinned “You’re the oldest tell your story first.”

“Why is it always the oldest first?” he grinned as he sat in the chair next to Matt’s bed 

“Don’t you know big brother it’s a unwritten law so why not get started?” Johnny laughed. 

Scott quickly filled Matt in on where he was raised about college and the army he left out the part about being in Libby for a year he didn’t think Matt needed to know about that part of his life just yet. 

Johnny went next. It was hard for him to begin, he got up from the bed and walked over to the window and stared down at the active in the yard slowly he turned and faced Matt, with his arms wrapped around his middle he wondered, how do you tell someone about their Mother when the woman didn’t even want you! 

Matt listened sadly as Johnny talked of his life with Maria. He knew Johnny’s life was worse than his had been but lest he knew a Mother. 

When it came Matt’s turned to talk “I don’t remember much of life before I turned five,” he said why trying to get comfortable.

“I lived in a orphanage till I was about eight. Then Mr. Sanders came into my life. His son Bob was my age.”

“Mrs. Sanders had died about six months earlier after being sick for almost a year. Bob was lonesome and missing his mother so his father thought if there was another child in the house that might help Bob.”

“I don’t think he really knew what he was getting into,” Matt said laughing.

“What Bob didn’t come up with I did, his father was strict but fair. I lived with the Sanders till I was almost sixteen. By that time we caught fire to the barn, shot windows out of the barn, and climbed up on the school roof and stuffed rags in the chimney so we could get out of school early, broke into the wine cellar, got drunk-“

“Hold up there brother!” Johnny laughed. “How did Mr. Sanders react to this mischief?”

“Lets just say we ate more than one meal standing up,” Matt laughed.


Murdoch came upstairs and paused out side of Matt’s door. He had heard Matt’s answer to Johnny’s question, and laughed to himself as heard Johnny and Scott’s laughter along with Matt’s. It was good to hear the laughter of his son’s; it was something he had missed for years.

But he wasn’t prepared for what he heard next. It almost broke his heart to know his son had seen and suffered so much in the last year and half.

Matt stopped laughing and a look of sadness appeared on his face. “Mr. S. wanted to adopt me. He was told that a man who left me at the orphanage said I was never to be adopted. I was a half breed and no good for anyone.” Matt paused for a second.

Scott looked at Matt. He could tell Matt was having a hard time keeping his emotions in check. “Matt what happened to send you back to that orphanage?” Scott asked gently.

Matt looked up with tears in his eyes. “Mr. Sanders and Bob was murdered one night coming back from town. I would have been with them except that I was home with a broken leg. Three day’s after their death a man showed up, he told the sheriff he was Mr. Sanders cousin.”

“Did he have proof? “Scott asked

“Sheriff said he did. I never saw a thing! Next thing I know the ranch had been sold, and I was sent back to the orphanage. Found out later the Sheriff and Mr. Sanders cousin high tailed it out of town,” Matt replied 

“Matt why do you think that Mr. Sanders and Bob were murdered?” Murdoch asked. While trying to control his own rage at the injustice done to his son.

Matt sat up and leaned forward staring at his father intently he could see the angry written all over Murdoch’s face, and even though he knew ii was not directed at him it, still made him uncomfortable.

“Murdoch they were killed because the railroad wanted Mr. Sanders’ property and he refused to sell. He received a threatening letter in the mail about a week before he was killed.”

“I have a copy of that letter I let Mr. Barkley put it in there safe a long with a copy of Mr. Sanders’ Will. Bob was driving the wagon that night of the so called accident there is no way Bones or Chubby would run off like everyone said. Bob and I both had driven that team back and forth to town numerous times with out any problems.” 

“Murdoch, Mr. Sanders cousin turned that ranch inside out looking for that Letter and Will, I just played dumb there is nothing in that Will about any cousin!” Matt exclaimed angrily. “Further more after he shipped me back to the orphanage weird accidents started to happen, a rope broke a bale of hay almost fell on me, there was a fire and my door was locked from the outside. What really made me suspicious was I was shot at! I don’t believe it was an accident someone wants me dead,” Matt said.

No one really knew what to say after Matt’s last statement. Finally Murdoch spoke. “Matt would you mind if I see and read that will? You already know that I read your mother’s letter, maybe there is something in that will that can explain why someone wants you dead.”

“I can tell you exactly in that Will. If anything happened to Mr. Sanders, Bob and I would inherent everything! With both of them gone I’m the only heir and with me gone nobody stands in the way of his so called cousin getting everything!” 

“So that’s why I want Jared Barkley to write up my Will so I can have some say of what happens to the money,” Matt spoke angrily. As he brushed his hands across eyes so no one could see the tears welling up.

“I already know the railroad bought the ranch and yes I believe they had something to do with Mr. Sanders and Bob’s death, but I can’t prove it and who’s going to believe a half-breed?” Matt fumed. 

“You know the railroad can use whatever means they want to get something, even murder. And those idiots in Washington don’t care who’s hurt or killed as long as they get what they want!”

With that statement being made Matt jumped out bed and stormed over to the window, with his back to his family he just stood and stared out the window.

Murdoch stood up and jerked his head toward the door. Knowing their father wanted time alone with Matt, Johnny and Scott got up to leave. But not without putting a hand on Matt’s shoulder and giving it a gentle squeeze as they walked out.

Murdoch moved behind Matt and gently rested his hands on Matt’s shoulders. He could feel Matt trembling.

Slowly he turned Matt around to face him; he reached under Matt’s chin and raised it up. He felt as if his heart was breaking when he saw the tears flowing down Matt’s face.

He opened his arms and engulfed Matt in them. It seemed to Matt all of the hurt he had ever suffered came out that day as his father held him and let him weep.

For the first time since Mr. Sanders had died Matt felt secure and really wanted and loved.

Murdoch pretty much knew Matt was not one to give into tears like he was doing now. He also was sure Matt had no time to grieve for the man who basically raised him, or his son, and this was the release Matt needed.

Murdoch placed his hand on Matt’s back and rubbed gently. “Son I wish to God things could be different. If I had only known about you, I would of moved heaven and hell to find you.”

“Murdoch my life wasn’t all that bad, I had some great times with Bob and his Pa. It just hurts so bad knowing I was never able to say goodbye,” Matt replied tacking some deep breathing to get himself under control.

“I know son I know sometimes life just don’t seem fair at all,” Murdoch replied.


Later that evening, when the Doctor stopped by to check on Matt, he had a pleasant surprise for the family. 

“Murdoch, I think Matt will be well enough to travel in the next couple of days if you take it slow and don’t push him. I would give those ribs about four more weeks before he tries anything like bronc busting,” Doc said with a grin.

Victoria Barkley jumped up off the chair she was sitting on when she heard the yell.

“Nick, how many times do I have to tell you don’t yell in the house,” she admonished.

“Mother it’s not me yelling,” Nick answered pretending to be hurt. 

“I think its Matt, Mother,” Heath replied.

Just about then Murdoch, Matt and the Doctor came walking downstairs Matt had a grin on his face the size of Texas and Mexico combined!

“Well Victoria it looks like me and my boys will be heading home in a couple of days if everything goes right.” 

“Oh Murdoch that’s great but we’ll miss you and the boys.”

“Sir are you sure Matt’s well enough to travel? You know we’ll have at least one night of sleeping on rough ground,” Scott asked taking a sip of his scotch.

“I’m not some old man or little kid if the doctor says I can travel I’m going home,” Matt spoke angrily taking a threatening step toward Scott.

“Hold on little brother. Scott didn’t mean ya can’t go home, with those busted ribs bouncing around on a horse ain’t going to feel the best and we don’t want no set backs,” Johnny spoke up as he moved in front of Matt’s advancement.

“Stop treating me like a baby,” Matt snapped at both his brothers.

“Then stop acting like one,” Scott snapped back. The look on Matt’s face would of frozen water in the desert on the hottest day of July!

“BOY’S” Murdoch bellowed “We are guest in this house if you remember? So conduct your self accordingly please.

“I’m sorry Mrs. Barkley please forgive my rudeness,” Scott asked blushing.

“Me too ma’am,” Johnny added, his own face red also.

Matt didn’t say a word he stood glaring at his newfound brothers. “Matt, Mrs. Barkley is waiting for her apology,” Murdoch said with an edge in his voice, and a rigid stance.

Matt turned to look at his Father there was no humor on Murdoch’s face or in his eyes. “I’m sorry Mrs. Barkley please forgive my rudeness also, it won’t happen again.”

” Scott, Johnny I owe you an apology also. It’s just been so long since I had someone to care about me I guess I took what you said wrong.”

“That’s not a problem little brother just don’t make a habit of it” Scott replied throwing his arm around Matt’s shoulders.

“Matt one thing you will learn is Lancer’s take of their own and if you forget will remind you,” Johnny said grinning. Putting his arm around the other shoulder.

Chapter Five

Victoria stood up and looked at Murdoch who still had that . ‘I’m not happy with your behavior look on his face.’

“Murdoch, Silas just announced before you came downstairs, that dinner was ready and since this is Matt’s first night downstairs let’s just go in and have a pleasant dinner.” Murdoch smiled at Victoria took her arm and escorted her to the table.

The table was set with beautiful china with a rose pattern and gold trim. The serving bowls all matched the pattern. On the table there was a huge bowl of mashed potatoes with a gravy bowl filled with thick brown gravy that had small chunks of meat in it along with sweet potatoes swimming in brown sugar, green beans and sweet corn there was rolls with butter. A large pitcher of ice-cold milk and red wine to go with the roast beef topped the meal off. The aroma coming from the table was tantalizing and made mouths water. Both families sat down to eat. It wasn’t long before the conversation turned to cattle and horses.

After dessert of apple and cherry pie along with chocolate cake, the families moved into the parlor where Heath and Johnny immediately became involved in a game of chess. Nick and Scott stared a conversation about a new breed of cattle that was being introduced to California, and debated whether or not that breed would adapt to the terrain. Victoria and Audra were looking at some new fashion magazines from France.

Murdoch asked Jarrod if he had some time to discuss some legal issues dealing with Matt. Jarrod answered that he did and would Murdoch and Matt please join him in his study. Once inside Murdoch started the conversation by telling Jarrod that Matt wanted to draw up a will.

“Matt why do you feel you need to draw up a will?” Jarrod inquired.

“Mr. Barkley…” Matt started to say.

“It’s Jarrod, Matt. Mr. Barkley is too formal,” Jarrod interrupted.

“Ok Jarrod,” Matt began again. “You still have that copy of Mr. Sanders’ will you put in your safe?”

“Yes I still have it I will get it now that your father is here and you’re feeling better,” Jarrod replied as he walked over to his safe and opened it and removed the will. 

“I do want you understand since you are under twenty-one, and your father is alive anything you receive will have to go into a trust for you,” Jarrod stated.

“I understand all of that Jarrod, that’s not a problem,” Matt replied. “I want the will in case if something happens to me. I don’t want Mr. Sanders’ cousin to get his hands on any of that money!”

“Matt, if something happens to you where should this money go?” Jarrod asked.

“I want a fund set up for the children of the ranchers and farmers who were killed when they wouldn’t sell out to the railroad. I want them to have money for school,” Matt replied 

“Murdoch is that alright with you?” Jarrod asked. 

“That’s fine with me. Matt what else do you plan to do with the money?” Murdoch questioned. “I would like to use it for school. I thought about studying law, or becoming a doctor,” Matt answered.

“Matt that’s great if you want to study law or medicine. I’ll support you all the way. I do have a request. I think since I’m your father why don’t I pay for your schooling? The money from Mr. Sanders could be set up in a trust fund for the children of the ranchers and farmers who were killed protecting their property,” Murdoch suggested.

Matt rubbed his hand over his chin a couple of times and with a raised eyebrow looked Murdoch square in the face and asked in disbelief. “You’ll do that for me?”

“Matt you’re my son. I was never able to do that for your brothers, and I would be honored to pay for your schooling,” Murdoch answered.

“Thanks Murdoch I will accept your offer, I just don’t plan on leaving for school right away is that ok with you?”

“Matt that’s fine with me, I would like you stay around awhile also.”

Jarrod what are your feelings about this? I would really like to do something to help those kids,” Matt said.

“Matt I think it’s a wonderful idea and with you having the will I don’t see any problems with this. You do know Matt that Mr. Sanders’ cousin still could make trouble. He was not happy when he was informed a will had been found.

“I’m going to draw up your will then you and your father need to sign it, and I will witness it. Matt, Murdoch you both need to know this will can be contested since Matt is under age. I also will get the paperwork going for the trust. When it’s ready I’ll send you a telegram, and you can meet me in Stockton to sign those papers. Is there anything else we need to discuss?” Jarrod asked.

“Yes, there is Jarrod. Matt will need a horse to get home on. Do you have one we could borrow or buy?” Murdoch inquired.

“That’s not a problem Murdoch. We’ll let Matt pick out a horse tomorrow,” Jarrod replied. “Let’s join the rest of our families before they think we deserted them.”

As Jarrod walked into the parlor Victoria looked up with a smile, “Is everything all right son?”

“Yes Mother everything is fine. Matt just had legal work that needed to be done and since he is under age Murdoch had to approve and sign also.”

Johnny who had been joking with Heath about cheating at chess looked up quickly and asked, “What legal work? What’s wrong?”

“Johnny, relax I was going tell you and Scott about it later. But since you asked, Matt is it ok to talk about this now? I know it’s getting late and you’re tired, but I believe you need to hear what I’m going to say since it involves you.”

“Yes sir I do believe my brothers need to know what’s happening also,” Matt replied as he tried not to yawn.

Just about then a large crashing sound was heard outside. As the Barkley’s and Lancer’s ran out the door they saw a man jump on his horse and start to ride off.

“STOP RIGHT NOW,” Nick bellowed as he ran toward him. The man pulled his pistol and with a backward glance fired it. 

“Oh God no,” was all that was heard as he rode off.

Chapter Six

It seemed liked time had frozen when Victoria had yelled. Nick laid on the ground vaguely hearing what was going on around him. Heath reached him first as he struggled to get up

“Nick hold on lets check ya out first ya been shot!”

“Heath will you let me go!” Nick snarled as he tried to sit up and as Heath held him down.

“Nick hold still, let me look at your arm,” Victoria commanded.

“Mother I’m fine its just a graze. I knocked the wind out of myself”.

“I’ll be the judge of that, you do as I say. Heath, Johnny, please get Nick into the house. I want to look at his arm better.”

“Mother he’s getting away. I’m able to ride. We need to go after him!”

Victoria looked at Nick and said with a tone that nobody would dare question, and sparks shooting from her blues eyes, “Nicholas, I said you’re going in the house! I’m going to look at that arm. And furthermore you’re not getting on any horse and chasing after anyone. DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR!”

“Yes ma’am you’re making yourself real clear. I’ll go peaceful,” Nick replied sheepishly.

“Boy howdy Nick you sure can rile Mother up faster than any of the rest of us.”

Heath said grinning as he and Johnny helped Nick into the house.

All of a sudden, Murdoch who had been standing with Jarrod and Scott, realized that Matt was missing. “Scott did you see where Matt went? I thought he ran out behind you?”

“No sir I don’t know where he went. I’ll check the house” 

Just about then, a noise came from the barn as the door swung open. A large bay horse appeared, and on his back and riding low was Matt.

“Matt STOP. Wait for the rest of us son,” Murdoch’s command fell on deaf ears as Matt raced by. 

“Pete. Steve some of the rest of you guys saddle up. Nick’s been shot and Matt Lancer just took off after the guy who did it,” Jarrod yelled at the ranch hands who came running out of the bunkhouse when they heard the gunshot.

“Yes sir Mr. Barkley,” Pete answered as he ran toward the barn.

“Murdoch, what’s happening?” Johnny yelled as he ran out the house fastening his gun belt around his waist. 

“That crazy younger brother of yours just took out of here after that man who wounded Nick ! What’s that crazy boy trying to do get him self killed, he doesn’t even have a rifle. When I get my hands on him Ohhhhhhhh he will be sorry!” Murdoch raged as he headed into the house to retrieve his gun belt. 

Matt had been aware his father had hollered something. He just wasn’t sure what it was and right now he didn’t care!

He had recognized that guy right off and neither hell nor high-water wasn’t going to stop him. What he didn’t realize is that Murdoch was going to make hell and high water look mighty tame when he caught up with him!

Tom Scanlen was riding hard as he was thinking to himself, “Why was Murdoch Lancer there and who was that blond guy with him, and damm if that other dark haired man who was playing checkers with the Barkley brother didn’t look familiar too!” 

All of sudden everything came to him in a rush. I’ll be dammed that’s Johnny playing checkers. I haven’t seen that boy since he was about fourteen when I left Maria.

“The other guy must be Scott. Maria mentioned him also but what interest does old man Lancer have in that boy, Matt? Nah it can’t be. I hid that boy too well or I thought I did.”

“I better get the hell outta here before they catch up with me. Johnny said I was dead man after that last time I beat up his Ma and him. Thought I killed them both. I should have stuck around and made sure they were dead!”

Johnny Lancer was riding in silence thinking to himself, “Where have I seen that man before? I wonder, nah Scanlen was a gambler he wouldn’t have the brains to oversee something like this. All he could do was beat up on women and children. I told him he was a dead man next time we meet.”

Matt heard the thundering of the horses hooves on the ground before his Father and brothers along with Jarrod and Heath Barkley and three other men came into view. He stopped till they caught up with him. One look at his father’s face made him wish he hadn’t!

“Matt what where you thinking!! Murdoch bellowed. Matt started to answer when Murdoch yelled again, “Don’t say a word boy, you and I will discuss this when we get back to the ranch!” 

Before Murdoch could yell again Heath broke in, “Matt which way is he heading?”

Matt, still trying to collect his thoughts from Murdoch’s outburst paused for a minute before answering, “He’s heading west toward those mountains. Murdoch that’s the man who said Mr. Sanders was his cousin!”

“What? That man’s name is Tom Scanlen. Mother ran off with him. He left her and me for dead when I was about fourteen,” Johnny interrupted.

“I thought he looked familiar,” Murdoch replied angrily. “Well lets get going I have a score to settle with that man.”

Scott said with a chill to his voice, “Nobody hurts my brothers and then rides off like it was just another day.”

“We need to stop talking and get moving, or he will get away.” Jarrod broke in as he tossed Matt a rifle.

The small group started out again gaining time as they moved along.

Tom had reached the bottom of the mountain when he heard the rifle shot. His horse reared up throwing him off. No one was around as his head smashed into the rocks with his last dying breath he cursed and said, “I should of killed both of those brats when I had a chance.”

Johnny spotted the vultures flying around first. It had been about six hours since they had left the ranch and Tom’s body had already been ravished by coyotes. As they walked up to it they could see the ants already crawling over it blood had flowed out gaping hole in the back of his head parts of brain had already picked at by the vultures. But the most noticeable was the bullet wound between the eyes!

Tom lay where he had fallen, eyes wide open with a look of horror on his face. “I hope you enjoy hell cause ya sure put this family through it,” Johnny snorted as he stared at the lifeless body of the man who caused many nightmares for young Johnny Lancer.

“John don’t, he’s not worth it,” Murdoch spoke as he wrapped his arm around Johnny shoulders.

Matt walked over to Murdoch put his arm around his shoulder and started to speak as Scott joined them putting his arm around Matt.

Murdoch stood looking at the man he hated for so many years, and finally he spoke, “I always thought if I caught up with this man I drop him where he stood. I let my hate for what he did rule my life for too long. I should have let it go, hate’s an ugly thing. It just eats and eats at you till it consumes your whole being. Boys let’s bury him and the hate and try to start healing from the damage he’s done to this family”.

The ride back to the Barkley’s was subdued, as no one really had much to say. Finally Heath spoke up “I sure hope Nick’s ok cause boy howdy, I don’t know what would be worse having Mother mad, or being shot!”

“I’d rather take my chances being shot than dealing with your Mother when she’s mad” Matt said smiling.


Jarrod looked over at Heath and the ranch hands and mouthed, “Lets ride ahead.”

As the Barkley’s and their hands rode off, Johnny looked over at Scott and made a slicing motion across his throat. Scott just shook his head.

“Murdoch wait, I don’t understand why you’re upset. I know how to take care of myself and you don’t have to yell. I’m not deaf,” Matt yelled back.

Murdoch pulled his horse to a stop. His face was like a cold piece of steel. When he finally spoke his tone was frigid “Scott, Johnny go on ahead. I think your brother and I will have our discussion now.”

Scott and Johnny gave Matt a sympathetic look as they rode off. “Scott what ya think’s gonna happen? Murdoch’s pretty upset.”

“Johnny, I don’t know, but I’m sure glad it’s not me back there.”

“Ya, me too.”

Murdoch waited as his two eldest rode off . He then turned back to Matt who was wishing by now he’d just kept his mouth shut! “Matt get off that horse now.” 

“Murdoch, I’m sorry I should have never used that tone of voice.”

“You’re right, you shouldn’t of. I will not be spoken to in that tone by a seventeen year old boy!”

Matt stood staring at his Father, as millions of thoughts ran through his head. The number one thought, “What’s he going to do to me?”

“Matt I want you to understand why I’m upset. A little over a week ago I found out that I had another son. He was injured and left for dead.

 “Today that same son refused to obey when he was told to stop. And as far as you taking care of yourself that’s my job now and I will call the tune, and you will obey! As for you not being deaf, you sure could have fooled me today!” 

Murdoch’s tone grew softer, “Matt, I don’t want to lose you or your brothers again, so please don’t risk your life again like you did today.” 

“I’m sorry. I’ll try to be more careful. Murdoch is that all, or is there more coming?” Matt answered while kicking at the dirt with his boot and looking up at his father with sorrowful eyes.

Murdoch looked at Matt puzzled a minute by his question, then he realized what Matt was asking.

“That’s all for now, but believe me young man, if you ever pull a stunt like you did today you’ll regret it. Do I make myself understood ?”

“Yes sir loud and clear I’ll try to remember,” Matt answered as he breathed a sigh of relief.

“Good let’s catch up with your brothers I’m sure by now they think I walloped you good.” Murdoch said with a smile, not missing Matt’s sigh of relief.

“Well since I’m riding and not walking I think they will figure it out,” Matt said grinning.

Three days later, the horses were saddled and ready to go. The Lancers walked out of the Barkley’s house. “Victoria, thank you for your hospitality. I hope the next time we get together things are not so crazy. Jarrod, send me a telegram when the trust documents are ready.”

 With that being said, Murdoch gave Victoria a kiss on her cheek and mounted his horse. “Boys mount up and let’s go home.”

The Lancers waved good-bye to the rest of the Barkley’s as they rode off.

Late the second day on the trail they topped the hill overlooking Lancer. Matt just sat on his horse speechless as he observe the picture below him.

The sun was setting, putting a rose colored hue behind the house as it went down. The lamps were lit in the windows and beckoning them home.

Murdoch put his arm around Matt and said in a soft voice “Welcome home son.”

Matt looked back at his father and said in a voice so soft no one but Murdoch heard, “Thanks Pa.”

The End

June 2004 – July 2004


Thank you for reading! The authors listed on this site spend many hours writing stories for your enjoyment, and their only reward is the feedback you leave. So please take a moment to leave a comment.  Even the simplest ‘I liked this!” can make all the difference to an author and encourage them to keep writing and posting their stories here.  You can comment in the ‘reply’ box below or email Linda L. directly.


6 thoughts on “Lost Son by Linda L.

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