The Rifleman
"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
'Smokescreen'
Episode 68

You know it happens to me all the time.  I decide to take a relaxing trip to town and I suddenly find myself in all sorts of trouble!  Between my luck in finding trouble and Mark’s growing up, I don’t know how I’ve survived this long!

Like I said, it started out innocent enough.  Mark and I were taking a relaxing ride to town in the buckboard.  Mark was driving today so I was just relaxing a bit.  But there was this woman named Marge Crandell who just loved to race her horse wherever she went.  Mark and I turned around to wave at her.  Mark’s turning around to wave it where the first problem arose.  The horses started driving off the road and I grabbed the reins to stop them from going even further off the road.  That annoyed Mark a bit since he saw it as me not having the confidence in him to do the job himself.  “I could have held them, Pa!”

I handed the reins back to him.  “Of course you could son,” I assured him.  “It’s just the way Marge Crandell came racing by!  She got me rattled.”

Mark agreed that she was indeed pretty hard on horses.  As we sat there talking, Marge ran into another rider and the horse threw her.  She laid on the ground.  Mark and I raced to make sure she was okay.  I jumped from the horse and ran to help her, but as soon as I touched her, Marge sat up, turned around and slapped me hard across the face!

But immediately, she was sorry as she realized who I was.  She thought I was Doug.  I gave her an annoyed look.  I don’t care who she thought I was, I didn’t appreciate a slap in the face!  Suddenly, Doug did run up to us to make sure she was alright.  "Her arms not broken," I answered sarcastically. 

Margie apologized to me again then turned on Doug.  “Now see what you made me do?  It’s all your fault!  You’re always making me do things I’m sorry for!”

I didn’t want to be part of this lover’s quarrel, so I excused myself to go get her horse.  Doug tried to help her out, but she waved him off, insisting she was perfectly capable to take care of herself.  She assured him he didn’t have to follow her.  He folded his arms and stated, “I do as long as I work for your father!”

“I see!  Keep an eye on Marge, Daddy says, so the faithful bloodhound does!”  She was still raging mad.

I walked up to the couple with Marge’s horse.  "Luke, what do you do with a girl like that," Doug suddenly asked me.  I just couldn't answer that - or should I say, there's no way I would answer that. 

By Marge wanted me on her side.  "Well, Mr. McCain, you’re a father.  Would you talk about your daughter as though she were a sack of potatoes; arrange her marriage, her children, tell her where her house was going to be built, on what section of the ranch? Would you?" 

I stared at her for a minute, still not wanting to answer.  All I could say was, "Your bridles broken Miss Crandell.  You won’t be able to use your horse." 

She wasn’t happy about that.  But Doug welcomed this opportunity!  “Now, will you be sensible and ride back to the ranch?” he asked with a big grin on his face.  “We could ride double!”

She stared hard at Doug.  “With you?  Ha!”  Then she turned to me and asked me to take her into town.

“To see Fred Tate?” Doug yelled.

“Maybe,” Marge answered.

“Now listen here, your father-“ he started.

But Marge didn’t want to hear it.  “My father…I can just hear him!  You gotta keep the bit tight, Doug!  She’s a mighty high-strung filly!  I ask you Mr. McCain, do I look like a horse?" 

Mark didn't have to think about it.  He answered for me.  "No, ma'am, Miss Crandell!"  

She and Doug continued fighting over Fred Tate.  Marge was mad that Doug was trying to tell her who to flirt with.  She was certainly a spoiled brat and wasn’t shy.  “I’m free, female and twenty-one and I’ll flirt with anyone I want to.”  I listened to her with humor.  Man, I felt sorry for her father!  But I sure wasn’t laughing when she grabbed my arm and said, “I’ll even flirt with Mr. McCain.” 

She batted her eyelashes at me and smiled really big.  I couldn’t believe this girl!  Doug got mad and rode back to tell her father what was going on.  She suddenly realized she was still holding on to me.  She apologized to me again and let go.  I just gave her a disapproving look.  This girl sure was something else!  She asked me to take her into North Fork.  “I don’t have any choice, do I?” I asked as I motioned for her to go to the wagon.

When Doug got back to the Crandall ranch, he announced that he quit.  “Well, I like my job, but I’m in love with Marge; and as long as I’m working for you I…well, I keep fighting with her!”  Mr. Crandell started to say something, but Doug stopped him.  “Don’t call her a high strung filly!  I got in enough trouble agreeing with you about that!  Now I gotta go see if I can get myself out of it!”  He turned and left.

When we rode into town Marge asked Mark to take her horse to the livery and have her bridle fixed.  Mark was more then happy to help her and asked me if he could.  I gave him my permission and told him to meet me back here.  “Looks like I’m gonna have to round up the smithie.”  There was a sign on the door that read “Back in 10 minutes. Gone for a beer.”

Nels was there listening to some pretty manly talk.  Mr. Quenten, a drummer, was there talking about women with two other boys.  He was talking about a woman who was a “fine figure of a woman” but then they probably hadn’t seen a woman like that this far west.  Quenten stated he hadn’t seen a good looking woman since he came to this town.  One of the men mentioned Marge Crandell.  “Now you’re talking!” Tate said.  “She ain’t just bustles and corsets!”

I walked in then and went to talk to Nels.  Tate interrupted me before I can even get started.  "Ain't that right Luke?" 

"What?" I asked. 

"Marge Crandell.  I was just saying, now there's a girl with a figure that ain't just bustles and corsets.”

  I didn’t like what he was saying.  "I wouldn't know," I answered sternly.  Then I turned back to talk to Nels. “Nels, I got a plow and some wheel rims that need fixing.”

But Tate wasn’t done yet.  "Oh come on, Luke!  Your practically neighbors to old man Crandell.  You mean to tell me when she comes riding across the prairie bouncing there, that you…uh…you ain't even looked?  Come on now, how about it?" 

I don’t care if this was a saloon or not, I wasn’t going to tolerate that kind of talk!  I grabbed him by the shirt.  "Now listen to me boy, when I want your conversation, I'll ask for it." 

"Now, gentlemen, gentlemen, a saloon is no place to talk about a decent girl," Quenton said.

I had Tate right up in my face, but that didn’t keep him from saying it.  “That depends on what you mean by decent!”

I took a firmer hold on him and glared at him eye to eye.  “Now I’m gonna give you something you didn’t ask for – advice!  You got a nasty tongue.  Keep it in your head and keep it quiet unless you’re really looking for trouble.  You  got that?”  I angrily shoved Tate away, then Nels and I left.

Later, the Tate and Quenton were standing outside the bar when Marge came walking down the street.  Tate walked out in front of her and stopped her.  She asked him to step out of her way.  He physically stopped her this time.  “Come on, Marge.  The boys just want to know if what they hear about you is true.”

She stared at him for only a second before she slapped him and demanded him to let her by.  Tate grabbed her hand and started laughing.  He grabbed her and she struggled to get away as he laughed at her.  Doug rode into town and saw Marge trying to get out of Tate’s grip.  He raced his horse toward them, then jumped off and tackled Tate on the ground. 

They began punching each other.  Tate had his gun out and the two boys started struggling.  Doug tried to get the gun away from him before he used it.  Micah saw the fight and ran across the street.  I heard something going on and walked out of the Blacksmith’s shop.  Tate fired the gun into the air and I raced across the street to sop the fight.

Micah and I got there at the same time.  I grabbed Doug and Micah grabbed Tate.  Micah demanded to know what was going on.  “He was insulting Marge Crandall!” Doug answered.

Marge got mad.  “I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself!  I don’t need you to start a street brawl over me!”  I looked at Doug.  She had a point there.  Suddenly, she turned to Mr. Quenton and smiled at him.  She told him she’d like to see his new material patterns.  She took his arm and they went off together.  She gave Doug a sly smile as she left.

Doug didn’t like it and started forward.  I put a hand against him and told him to take it easy.  Micah picked up Tate’s gun and announced he would hold onto it until he simmered down.  Tate started back into the saloon, but Doug stopped him.  “If I see you near Marge Crandell again, I’ll kill you!”  After that threat, Micah told Doug to give him his gun too.  Doug handed it over declaring, “Alright, Marshal.  But that won’t stop me.  I’ll use my bare hands “

I suddenly turned to him.  "What kind of talk is that, boy?  Killing a man never solved anything.  You should learn to control your temper,” I advised him. 

I turned to Nels after Doug walked off.  “Come on, Nels.  Let’s see if we can get to my plow and wheel rims before something else happens!”

Nels looked at the plow and asked me how soon I wanted it.  I told him I wanted to take it home with me today.  I asked him if he could have them ready.  “If you can lend me a hand, it would save me some time and you some cash!” he answered me.

I agreed to do that.  Mark came up then and told me that he had all the wheels in.  “Gonna need me anymore?  Howey’s waiting for me.”  I told Mark to go on because I’d be here the next few hours.

I had no idea that my boy was going to do something to get himself into trouble!  I don’t supposed my boy knew it at the moment either.  But when he went out back to see Howey, he suddenly became secretive.  Mark was a bit leery at first, but followed Howey away from the door a ways.  Howey pulled out a cigar and showed it to Mark.  It had fallen out of Mr. Quenton’s pocket.  “Gonna smoke it?” Mark asked.

“You game?” Howey asked.  Mark hesitated.  “Or are you scared?” Howey challenged.

Naturally, my boy said, “Of course not!”

“Alright!” Howey tried to hand Mark the cigar.  “You can bite off the end.”

Mark looked at the cigar and tried to talk his way out of it.  “Well, it’s yours.  You can bite it.”  Howey did bite the end off and spit it out.  Then he took out a match and lit the cigar, taking a puff off of it.  Mark smelled the smoke.  “How is it?” he asked.

“Swell,” Howey answered as he handed Mark the cigar.  “You try.”  Mark gave in and took a puff off of it.  They took turns smoking the cigar. 

They both were feeling pretty sick after a while, but neither of them wanted to admit it to the other.  Suddenly, they heard laughing.  “Someone’s coming,” Mark said.  Howey handed Mark the cigar and took off.  Mark stared at the cigar still in his hand.  He let it drop in the dirt then left himself.

A little while later, Nels and I were working in his shop when Nels remembered he left his shaping anvil outside.  I told him I’d get it so he wouldn’t loose the heat.  But when I bent down to pick it up, I saw a pair of feet sticking out of some tall grass.  I stared at them and slowly stood up.  I walked over and looked.  Then I hurried back inside.  “Nels,” I said as I rolled down my sleeves and picked up my rifle.  “Keep your eye on the street.  Don’t let anyone go around the back of this building.”

 Nels suddenly turned and looked at me.  "Is something a matter?" he asked. 

I nodded worriedly.  "It's Marge Crandell.  She's been murdered."

I ran and got Micah and we went back to examine her body.  Micah concluded that she had been strangled.  I knew this would hit her father hard.  Micah noticed her fingers where rings used to be.  I hadn’t noticed her rings, but I had seen a bracelet.  She wasn’t wearing one now though.

We took a look around.  Micah found her purse, but there was no money.  I found the remainder of a cigar – it was an expensive brand and the only person around here that smoked that brand was Mr. Quenton, the drummer.

We went over to the hotel to question him.  He was very nervous.  “This is impossible, Marshal” he stated.  “You can’t be serious, why  I hardly knew that girl!”

“Didn’t seem that way while back, mister,” I commented.

“You were right friendly with her,” Micah stated.

He nervously explained that she was embarrassed over the bar room brawl from earlier.  He was simply trying to help her out.  “She was a customer for my goods.”  Micah asked him about the cigar.  He hesitated, but Micah insisted on an answer.  He said he didn’t know.

I decided to help him out.  “Did you give one to anybody?” I asked. 

“Yes,” he answered.  “That’s it!  I must have!”  I could tell he wasn’t telling the truth.  He was grasping for an explanation.    Micah asked him who he gave the cigar to and he couldn’t answer.

Suddenly, the hotel door opened and Doug came in.  "Is he the one?" He demanded to know.

“We’re just asking questions, Doug,” Micah answered.

Doug started to go for him, but I immediately restrained him and pushed him back.  “Micah will handle this, go on outside!” I ordered as I pushed him out the door.  “Go on!”

Suddenly, Quenton was even more nervous.  “I’ve got to get out of this town!  You’ve got to help me, Marshal!  You’ve got to get me on that stage!”

“You’re not getting on the stage, Mr. Quenton,” Micah assured him. 

I had been watching out the door.  Doug got on his horse and headed out of town.  I told Micah we best get Quenton out of there before Mr. Crandell got into town.

Micah decided to take Quenton to the jail for his protection.  “Folks round here tend to take matters into their own hands right quick!  Now come on.”  We led Quenton across the street to the jail.

Dave was standing outside the Marshal’s office.  “Dave, have you seen Mark?” I asked him.  He told me he had seen him at Hattie’s store while ago.  I asked him to find Mark and tell him to wait for me over at the Blacksmith’s.  With a murderer close by, I’d feel better knowing my boy was somewhere safe.

Before long, Dave came pounding on Micah door.  “Tell Luke I found Mark behind Hattie’s and he’s a sick boy!”

I suddenly came to the door.  “Sick?” I asked worriedly. 

“Well, I tried to get him to go to the docs with me, but all he did was moan go away!”

What else could happen today!  I was suddenly worried about my boy and hurried off to see what was wrong with him.  When I saw him, he looked white as a sheet!  “Mark!” I hurried up to him and put my hand on his shoulder.  “What’s the matter, boy?”

"I don't feel good Pa.  It's my stomach,” Mark groaned.

I grabbed him by the arm.  “Come on.  We better get you right over to the docs,” I said worriedly.

“No,” Mark answered.

“Well, we gotta figure out what’s wrong,” I explained to him.

“Well, I know what’s the matter,” Mark answered hesitatingly.  “Well, it-it…I was smoking.”  I suddenly sat down.  He knew better then that!  “Not corn silk.  A cigar.”

“Cigar?”

“Well, Howey had it.  It fell out of that salesman’s pocket.”  That sure got my attention fast!  “I feel awful!”

I got to thinking about this.  “Where were you smoking, son?” I asked, suddenly very anxious to know.

“Behind the blacksmith’s.  We heard someone coming so we threw it away.”  So, it was the boys smoking that cigar!  That meant Quenton was telling the truth!  “But we should have thrown it away sooner.”

I had to get back to Micah’s.  “Well, you stay here and breathe deep,” I advised him.  “Fresh air’s the only thing that’ll do you any good!” 

I started to leave, but Mark stopped me.  "Pa, ya think I'll live?"  I couldn’t feel too sorry for him.  He should have know better.  I just grinned. "I think so."  I knew he was learning a hard lesson!  I don’t know if Mark was so sure or not.

As I headed back to Micah’s office, I suddenly stopped.  There was a large crowd outside of Micah’s office.  I ran forward and pushed people out of my way to get inside.  Doug had a gun on Micah and Mr. Crandell had Quenton pinned to the desk, choking the life out of him.  I hurried inside.  “Crandell!” I rushed over to him and grabbed him.  “Stay out of this!  He didn’t do it!” I pulled him off.  “I just found out.  It was my boy, Mark, who smoked that cigar.”

Micah reminded them he had tried to tell them that.  She was robbed.  “I told you I didn’t do it!” Quenton stated as he gasped for breath.  “Why should I steal?  You think I wanted her jewelry or a couple of ten dollar gold eagles?"  Micah told Quenton he could go.

  Crandell was so heart broken and wanted to know who did it.  Doug blamed Tate. 

“You jump to conclusions too fast, boy!” I warned him.

Just then Nels came rushing in.  "Micah, look what I found out in my slag heap outside."  It was Marge's things.

Micah looked at the things.  “Two rings, bracelet, and two ten dollar gold eagles.”

“She always carried them,” Mr. Crandell said sadly.  “I didn’t want her to be without money.”

Suddenly, it hit me.  "Micah, those gold eagles.  You didn't know she had them.  I didn't.  Quenton just said, two ten dollar gold eagles."  We all rushed over to the hotel.

When we got there Quenton was checking out.  When he saw us he knew that we knew.  "Mr. Quenton, how did you know Miss Crandell had two gold eagles in her purse?" Micah asked.

 He stood there silently and looked at each one of us.  Total defeat  suddenly came over him.  Whimpering, he said, "I didn't mean to hurt her.”  He started to cry.  “Heaven forgive me, I didn't mean to hurt her.  We, we were just taking a walk.  I.....I was telling her how lonely a man gets on the road.  How lonely.....I put my arm around her.  I thought she was teasing with me, flirting, and she started to scream.  I begged her not to.  I was afraid.....I put my hand over her mouth.  I begged her not to scream.  She wouldn't stop.  I told her.....I started to squeeze, then I squeezed and I squeezed.  Oh heaven forgive me, I didn't mean to hurt her."  He got on his hands and knees.  "I didn't mean it."  He started sobbing.  "I didn't mean it." 

Crandell drew his gun.  He was going to kill Quenton.  As soon as I heard the cock of his gun I got in front of him.  “Get out of my way, Lucas!”

“What good is that gonna do?” I demanded to know.

“He murdered my daughter!” he answered bitterly. 

“So you kill him.  Then Micah arrests you and you hang!  That’s great isn’t it?”

But he wasn’t listening to me.  All he could think about was that his daughter was dead.  “Lucas!”

I saw the look of pure rage on his face.  I knew no words could bring back his daughter.  I stepped out of his way.  "Alright Pete, kill him.  But before you do, take a look at him.  Take a good look Pete.  He's already destroyed himself.”  Quenton was kneeling on the floor with his head in his hands, sobbing.  “Every minute he's alive he's gonna have to live with what he did.  Don't make it easy for him."   Pete then put his gun back in his holster.  I walked up to him and put my hand on his shoulder.  "Go on home Pete."  I looked into his eyes, showing him that I was deeply sorry for his loss – father to father.

Later that afternoon, I was saying goodbye to Nels.  I sure was happy to be going home after the day I had!  Mark had been laying in the back of the wagon.  But as I got ready to leave, he sat up and came up to the front of the wagon.  “Pa, I feel better now.”

I had a cigar in my mouth and took it out, looking at it.  I had to find out if he had indeed learned his lesson or if I needed to do some lecturing when we got home.  “Come on up front,” I said

Mark did as told.  When he was all settled in, I took a cigar out of my pocket and put it under his nose.  “Would you care for one of these?”

Mark reared away from it as if it was a poisonous snake.  “No, Pa,” he stated.  “I’ve made a resolution.  I’m never gonna smoke again as long as I live!” Mark promised.

I nodded my approval.  Lesson learned – with no help from me!  “Let’s go home, huh?” 


piddlin' stuff.....Jenifer Lea played Marge Crandell.  She is the girl who is killed in this episode.  Jennifer has appeared in "My Three Sons" ~ "Family Affair" ~ "Gunsmoke" ~ "M Squad" ~ "The Thin Man", just to name a few.

Paul Carr appeared in four episodes of 'The Rifleman."  He played Derek Hanaway [the groom] in 'Shivaree.' Garth Healey in 'The Woman' ~  He was the one who was in love with Miss Adams. Fred Harris in 'Letter of the Law'  ~ He gave his life to save Micah. Doug Carter in 'Smokescreen' ~  He was in love with Marge Crandell, the cowgirl who got killed. He had a starring role in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. He played Dr. Peter Taylor [#1] in the soap "General Hospital." He appeared in shows like "Peter Gun" to "Hardcastle & McCormick."   I Love that "Hardcastle & McCormick!"  "Hunt 'em, hear 'em and hang 'em, that's the code of the West!"

George Neise played Roger Quenton the traveling salesman.  He's the one who almost got away with killing Marge Crandell.  George has done many shows back in the 50's, 60's.  He appeared in a couple episodes of "The Untouchables".  The last thing I found on him was in 1971. "The Barefoot Executive".  He passed away in 1996.  Wonder what he was doing all that time?  He appeared with Chuck in "Tomahawk Trail" as Lt. Jonathan Davenport.  He had several recurring roles in "Zorro" as Captain Felipe Arrellanos.

 Douglas Kennedy played Peter Crandell, the father of Marge Crandell.  Now here is a familiar face.  Remember him from "The Big Valley" as Sheriff Fred Madden and
'Steve Donovan, Western Marshal' as Marshal Steve Donovan?  He has appeared several times in "The Lone Ranger" ~ "Wagon Train" ~ "Maverick" ~ "Gunsmoke" ~ "Bonanza"  and "Hawaii five-0".  He was known as the policemen who was taken over by the Martians in the 1953 sci-fi classic "Invaders From Mars."

Warren Jones played Fred Tate.  He is the one who was forcing himself on Marge.  (3rd picture—the Cowboy talking with Marge)  He was a regular in two TV series.  "The Blue Angels" as Captain Wilbur Scott and "Window on Main Street" as Harry McGill.  He really hadn't done too much.  He has appeared in "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Mr. Lucky".

Richard "Dick" Alexander played Nels the Blacksmith in four episodes of "The Rifleman.'  'Smoke Screen' 'The Martinet' ' The Deserter' and 'Meeting at Midnight.'  How many actors played Nils or was it Niles or Nels?  Was it Swenson or was it Svenson?  

William "Billy" Benedict as Dave Prentice.  He was the man who Lucas asked to look for Mark.
 He played some of his larger parts in serials and in the East Side Kids/Bowery Boys features in which he was a regular.

Johnny Collier as Howey.  He was Mark's friend with the cigar.

Chet Brandenburg as one of the townsmen in 'Smoke Screen''The Blowout' as a barfly and 'The Boarding House' as one of the cowboys who ran Fallon & his gang out of town.  He appeared in over 40 films between 1924 and 1957. He later did a lot of TV series such as "Gunsmoke" - "Have Gun Will Travel" - "Bonanza" - "Outlaws" - "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" - "Klondike" - "The Texan" - "Bat Masterson" - "The Untouchables"

Archie Butler—Stuntman—Stunt coordinator—Actor - Archie has been in more episodes then anybody with the exception of the regular cast and he probably was in more episode then some of them.  ~Arnold Laven 
Remember him in 'The Sharpshooter?'  Remember when
Lucas shot the whiskey bottle and it shattered into pieces?  Archie was the cowboy who slid the whiskey bottle to Lucas.

We have a bartender here.....but no Sweeney!

You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
Mark's Memories

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