Looking good! The bottom picture does more justice to the work as there is less shadow or it's lighter.
I've been poking around on the 'net to see if my Marlin has a stain on the surface or if the natural wood is just sealed with oil. Thinking of taking a very fine (800) sandpaper to it lightly to touch up some scuffs and then using a tung oil to re-finish. If there were a surface stain, I could screw it up and have to do the full strip that you went through.