"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
Well now, this day started off just fine! Mark and I had gone over
to Gabe Fenway’s place to time him riding his horse. Mark was amazed
at how fast his horse ran. “Twenty-three seconds!” he exclaimed.
Gabe asked me what I thought. “Well, I’d say that if I was a betting
man, I’d put all my money on you in that Charity Day race Saturday!”
Then Mark and I left. We had a lot of work to do.
As we were leaving, Jake Preston rode into Gabe’s yard. The first
thing he said to Gabe was that he had told him to get rid of all
those horses. “Mr. Preston, it’s just my brood mare, my stallion and
this colt here,” he answered him.
“You’re a sharecropper! I fed you and your wife and your three kids
for almost a year now. I didn’t bargain on you wasting all your time
training those horses!” Mr. Preston complained. Gabe told him to
stop pushing. Mr. Preston had given him an option to buy that land
and he was indeed going to buy it! But Mr. Preston warned him. “You
better get rid of those horses. Because if you don’t, I’m gonna
shoot ‘em and use them for wolf bait!” With that, he left.
Gabe started hollering for his wife as he came inside. “And where
would I be, Gabe Fenway except right here getting your dinner like
I’ve been doing for the past fifteen years.” They greeted each other
with an affectionate hug and kiss.
He was so excited as he told her about Sapphire running 23 seconds.
He knew that if he won that race, he’d be able to sell the colt and
make Jake Preston eat crow. She had seen Preston talking to him and
wondered what he wanted. “Just complaining about me keeping the
horses on the place. Says I’m wasting time on ‘em.”
“Why can’t he leave us alone?” she asked suddenly.
“Because it ain’t his way,” he answered.
“But you’ve held up your end of the bargain,” Molly declared. He
told her that was just it – Preston had never figured he’d be able
to hold up his end of the bargain. She was concerned that she was
complaining too much. She promised that she wouldn’t complain if he
wanted to move on, but Gabe wanted to stay there. He was determined
to make it work!
Later that day, Mark and I were at home working on the corral fence
to the barn. Actually, I should say I was working on the fence –
Mark was daydreaming as usual. "What are you daydreamin' about
Mark?" I asked.
"Twenty-three seconds…that’s pretty fast, isn't it?" Mark answered.
"Oh you mean Gabe's Sapphire colt, huh? Well it's no world’s record
for a quarter horse, but I figure it's fast enough to beat any horse
that will be in that race." As I spoke, I hung my hammer on the
fence and walked up to stand behind my boy.
"How fast do you think Blueboy could run?" I could tell the wheels
in his head were turning!
“Blueboy? Hard to say,” I answered. Mark wanted to time him
sometime. I smiled. “I thought you wanted to make a cutting horse
out of him,” I gently reminded him. Mark shifted gears, stating that
Mr. Fenway was going to sell Sapphire. I explained to him that there
were a lot of horse buyers watching these quarter horse races, and
the winning horse could usually bring a good price.
“I wouldn’t sell Blue Boy, even if he won!” Mark declared.
I smiled. “Well, you aren’t Mr. Fenway trying to make a home for a
wife and three children.”
Suddenly, Mark got all excited. He turned around and had excitement
in is eyes. “Say Pa, just for fun – just so I’d know – could we time
Blue Boy?” I told him we could measure out a quarter of a mile
sometime. He was a step ahead of me though. He already had it
I gave him a mock stern look. “You been running that horse?”
“But Pa, Blue Boy loves to run more then anything!” He explained. I
smiled, telling him he wouldn’t be much of a horse if he didn’t like
to run. I gave in to him. I couldn’t disappoint my excited boy after
all! I took the watch while Mark went to get Blue Boy saddled.
I clocked Blue Boy at 22 seconds. “22? And I didn’t even let him
out! He can do better then that.” I sternly told him that was enough
– he needed to cool him off now.
We went into town later. The town was all decked out with red,
white, and blue flags everywhere and banners announcing the Charity
Day race. Mark was sure excited to see it! Mark saw the horse
buyers. They were the same one’s that were here last year. “I don’t
care how much they offer me, I won’t sell ‘em Blue Boy even if I do
win the race!” Mark declared.
Hm…”Just when did we decide you were going to enter Blue Boy in the
race?” I questioned him sternly. That boy sure does jump to
He begged me to let him. I scratched my nose. I wasn’t too sure it
was a good idea, but I told him we’d think it over before we
decided. Okay, so he had already decided, but I hadn’t!
As we got off our horses, Mr. Preston rode up to us. I immediately
complimented Gabe Fenway’s crop he had brought in. “Well, it could
have been a slight better if he attended to business. That’s how it
goes. You try to help a man and he’ll take advantage of you every
time!” Jake commented.
Quite frankly, I wasn’t interesting in
hearing his sorrowful stories – especially since they weren’t true!
“Not, he’s supposed to be raising wheat for me on shares, not
fooling around with those broken down nags of his!”
That hit a sore spot with Mark! “Mr. Preston,” Mark argued. “Those
are about the best horses this country’s ever seen!” Mr. Preston
asked him if he was a horse expert. “I know a fast horse when I see
one,” he answered.
“Well, if that’s so, you can make a lot of money,” Preston stated.
“Isn’t that right Lucas?”
“Well, Mr. Preston, from what I hear, more folks go broke then get
rich picking fast horses!” I answered him matter-of-factly.
Jake suddenly asked Mark about Blue Boy. "He's faster then Mr.
Fenway's Sapphire. We timed then both, didn't we Pa?" My boy always
did talk to much. I wasn’t too thrilled with his giving Preston that
"Oh, are you planning on entering him in the big race," Preston
"I'd like to, if Pa would let me," Mark answered as he looked at me.
“Let you?” Preston asked. “Why I bet he’s just busting with pride
cause you’re gonna do it,” he stated. “Ain’t that so, Lucas?”
I gave him a hard stare. His trying to play me against Mark did not
make me happy. “I haven’t decided yet, Jake.”
But the sternness in my voice didn’t give him the hint I wanted him
to take. “Why not? You got a fast horse!” That encouraged Mark to
ask me why not. That did not make me happy!
“What’s the matter? You afraid the boy will get beat? Is that it?”
“The boy knows nobody wins every time, Mr. Preston,” I answered. I
was becoming annoyed very fast.
Mark said he knew he could win this one. "Now that's the kind of
confidence I like to hear. That's the way you go about it son. You
just find out what you want and go out and get it, no matter what
gets in your way," said Preston. Preston then rode off. That boy had
so much hope on his face. I could tell he really wanted a chance to
race Blue Boy.
I came to my decision as I looked at the hope on my son’s face. Mark
asked me again as Preston rode away. I crossed my arms to lecture
him. "Son, if your gonna race horses there's one thing you oughta
learn. Don't give away all your secrets."
"Then I can race him?" Mark asked excitedly.
"Now if I was about your age and had a horse as good as yours, I'd
want to," I answered with a grin.
"You mean it?" Mark asked, not quite believing it yet.
"I mean it!” I said as I lifted his hat from his head and plopped it
back down. “Now let me buy you a sarsaparilla."
"Yahoo," Mark hollered as he hopped on my back. I turned, a bit
surprised and grabbed a hold of his legs as he headed through town.
Mark worked hard on getting Blue Boy ready. He ran him to get him
ready. One day, he stopped and gave Blue Boy some encouragement.
“Now, all you gotta do is just get in there and run like you been
doing! And forget about all those other horses. Just do your best!”
Mark patted him. “Your’re gonna win!”
Unbeknownst to me, Mr. Preston was there spying on Mark. “So you
figure that colt is fast enough to beat Gabe Fenway’s horse, huh?”
Preston asked my son. Mark was confident that Blue Boy could do it.
Casually, Preston asked Mark to see what he could do. Mark was
hesitant, and for good reason! Had I been there, I would have
immediately stopped it, but Mark was easily talked into it, wanting
to show off his fast horse, and let Preston time Blue Boy. “If I
beat Mr. Fenway, that won’t keep him from selling his horse, will
it?” Mark was suddenly concerned. Preston assured him it wouldn’t.
When I was in town one day, I saw Gabe. He said he hoped I had
plenty of money bet on his Sapphire colt. “I couldn’t do that, Gabe.
If I was a bettin’ man, I’d have to keep it in the family!” I
He was glad to hear Mark was racing Blueboy. "The more the merrier,"
he said. "I'll tell you something, though. I'm glad that Blueboy
ain't been trained for racing. Boy's got quite a colt there. With
the difference between my weight and his-"
I didn’t want to turn this into a competition, so I stopped him.
"It'll be a fine race Gabe." I wished him luck as I went to see
There was trouble brewing! Gabe went to see Hattie about a list of
supplies he needed. Hattie was visibly upset. She didn’t want to
tell Gabe the news, but she had no choice. “Gabe, there isn’t any
other way to tell you this except to come right out and say it. Jake
Preston told me not to give you anymore credit.” The news upset
Gabe. He had a deal with Preston to charge against his account until
he brought in the wheat crop. “Jake Preston’s a pretty important man
around this town. Now, that doesn’t mean I have to like him, but it
does mean I have to run his account the way he wants it.”
Gabe was upset. This news was really going to be hard on his family
and Hattie knew that. He started to walk away but Hattie stopped
him. She told him that if he needed food or things for the children,
she’d help him; but Gabe was a proud man and wasn’t about to accept
Gabe went looking for Preston.
He found him over by the saloon. He was placing bets. Suddenly, Gabe
came over and started in on him. They started arguing. Preston
wasn’t happy about Gabe wasting all his time on those “grass
burners.” Gabe felt that Preston was just afraid he would be able to
come up with the money to pay him. Suddenly, Preston announced that
he didn’t want a sharecropper and his outlaw kids for neighbors.
That made Gabe made. He grabbed Preston and they began pushing and
shoving each other around.
Micah and I heard the commotion from his office and rushed over to
stop the fight. Micah demanded to know what it was all about. Gabe
stated it was personal. Preston told Micah he called “those nags of
his grass burners because that’s what they are.”
“You never had horses like those in your life and you never will!”
Preston suddenly stated that he didn’t see any reason for him and
Gabe to fight about it. “Now, if that colt’s as good as you say he
is, why don’t you put your money where your mouth is.” Preston said.
“Or are you all talk?” Gabe reminded him he had no money to bet.
"Alright, my share of the crop against yours, if your horse don't
win," Preston declared. Gabe hesitated but Preston told him he was
"Alright, you got a bet!" Gabe agreed.
I didn’t like what was going on! I suggested to Gabe that he should
cool off first, but the damage was already done. “Now wait a minute!
I don’t want any backing down on this. If your horse doesn’t win,
you forfeit. You all hear that!” Preston walked away.
I looked at Gabe and asked him if he knew what he was doing. “Well,
it’s too late now,” Gabe answered as he walked away.
I was deeply concerned. I wasn’t just concerned about Gabe – he was
a grown man and made his own decision. “Micah, I don’t like this
kind of bettin’ going on,” I said worriedly. I didn’t like the idea
of Mark being in the middle of this whole thing! This was more then
a bet. "I wish I hadn't told Mark he could race."
“I wouldn’t worry about it, Lucas. This fight is between two grown
men. Mark wouldn’t get mixed up in it in any way.” Micah tried to
assure me, but my gut told me something different. I wanted my boy
to stay safe and participate in just a fun, charitable race. This
race wasn’t going to be that.
“Well, I’m not too sure,” I said as I started to walk away.
Suddenly, somebody stopped me. "Lucas, what do you think? Is Mark's
colt as fast as Jake Preston says he is? I ain't bet yet, but I'm
sure gonna if that colt’s so fast."
I had no idea what he was talking about. I looked at Micah and gave
him a “what now” look.
"Ain't you heard? Jake Preston just bet a thousand dollars that your
son's colt’s gonna win the race." Boy, you should have seen the look
on my face! I was suddenly steaming mad! My son was right in the
middle of this ugly bet!
I had gone back to the ranch to wait for Mark to come home. It
wasn't going to be easy to tell my son he couldn't race Blueboy. He
rode in all excited about the race. "Pa! He's even faster then I
thought he was! I couldn't get to sleep last night just thinkin'
about him. Do you think I've really got a good chance of winning?"
My heart ached at what I had to say, but I had to do it. I felt like
I was punishing him for something others had done. It was a rotten
deal all around. Carefully, I started the hard talk. "Mark, did you
know that Jake Preston bet a thousand dollars on you?"
"No foolin'!” Mark gasped excitedly.
He didn’t understand the
problem. “That must mean he really thinks I'm gonna win!"
I tried again to drop a hint at what I was leading up to. “Son, I
don’t like this betting business,” I stated sternly.
“I didn’t know anything about it,” Mark stated. “It’s alright, isn’t
“I don’t think so,” I answered honestly. “It’s gotten to be sort of
a grudge fight between Jake Preston and Gabe Fenway,” I explained
carefully. Mark knew they never liked each other very much. “Well,
that’s not the point. I don’t want you getting tangled up in this
sort of thing.” I tried to explain it the best way I could.
I think he was beginning to understand what I was leading up to
because he suddenly got defensive. “But Pa I didn’t do it!”
“No, I know you didn’t but you can become a part of it, Mark,” I
tried to explain. He said he couldn’t help it if someone wanted to
bet on him. I knew this was going to be hard on him. Finally, I
decided to just come right out and say it. “Mark, maybe you better
wait until next year to race.” I looked him straight in the eye when
I said it, letting him know the decision wouldn’t be his to make.
He was immediately disappointed. "Pa, you promised me. I've been
counting on it almost more then anything I've counted on in my
life.” I knew that, and I knew this wouldn’t be easy on him. “It's
not just me, but I promised Blueboy.” Mark patted Blueboy. “I guess
that sounds sort of silly doesn't it?"
“No, it’s not silly, son. I understand.” I did understand that he
was having a hard time with this. But as an adult, I knew that we
had to face disappointment. They were a part of life.
“Then I can race him? Alright? Can I?” Mark asked. I was already to
tell him he couldn’t race Blueboy – that was my intention this whole
time. But when I saw the incredible disappointment in his eyes, I
knew I owed it to him to try once more to see if I could get the
race back to where it should be.
I sighed as I came to the decision to go back into town before
telling him no. I sighed. “Mark,” I said sternly. “Don’t get your
heart set on it, huh?” I told him I was going into town and to do
As I rode off Mark told Blueboy, "Don't worry Blueboy. Pa will let
me race ya'. He knows how much it means to us."
Sure enough while I was in town I ran into Preston, or rather
Preston saw me and gladly came to talk to me. “Sure hope your boys
taking good care of that horse of his,” he said.
“Why’d you bet a thousand dollars on him, Jake?” I asked him. He
said that he figured Mark was going to win. “It doesn’t make sense,
you betting that much money, unless you know something that doesn’t
meet the eye,” I stated.
He suddenly became defensive. I told him I didn’t like what he was
doing to Gabe Fenway. “Doing to him? Why, I take him in, give him a
chance, feed him and his family. What thanks do I get? He spends all
of his time training those nags of his!” What an excuse! I told him
that it wasn’t the first time he had trouble with tenants. “You know
you’re right? They’re all the same! You try to help them and they
take advantage of ya. Now, look at that outfit last year – walked
out on me just at harvest time.”
“Leaving you with both shares of crop,” I stated. “You didn’t loose
any money, Jake.”
Suddenly, he boasted, “Lucas, I ain’t in business to loose money
either on my farming or my horse racing.”
Well, I guess that was that. “That’s what I thought, so I thought I
better tell you. You can recall your bets on Mark. He’s not racing.”
I left him staring at me.
Needless to say, we didn’t have too pleasant of an evening at our
house! Mark was fuming mad and not taking this news very well. I was
trying to stay calm with it, knowing it was hard for a young boy to
accept disappointment. Mark was pacing the floor while I sat outside
smoking my cigar. “Well I don't care what you say it isn't fair!"
“I know how you feel Mark,” I softly stated.
“No you don’t! Well if you did, you wouldn’t tell me I couldn’t
race!” Mark accused me.
I stayed calm as I tried explaining it one more time. “I already
told you, son. If you take part in it, you’re gonna get involved in
a fixed race.”
“Oh I don’t believe it!” Mark shot back at me. I suddenly looked up
at him angrily. “Well as long as I race Blueboy fair and square and
do my best to win-“
That was enough! I had allowed him to fume and it was time he
understood exactly where I stood. "I already told you Mark. The
answer is no.” My voice told him that the subject matter was closed.
He stomped into the house and went to his room.
I didn't feel good about telling Mark he couldn't race, but I had no
Mark rode into town the next morning without my permission. He saw
Mr. Preston who said he was going to win the race. “I’m not gonna
enter him,” Mark announced. “I changed my mind.” But Mark was angry.
“Why’d you have to go and spoil everything? You didn’t have to bet
all that money on me. That’s why my Pa won’t let me race.”
Mr. Preston suddenly told Mark he called the betting off. There
shouldn’t have been any betting and there’s not going to be any – he
called the whole thing off. Mark was happy to hear that. Maybe he
could race after all. “Well, if there’s not gonna be any bettin’…”
“Then there ain’t no reason for you not to race,” Preston stated.
But Mark was worried. He had snuck off without telling me, and he
knew I’d be upset about that. He didn’t think he had much of chance
racing either way. Preston tried to get Mark to go ahead and sign up
for his entry, but Mark knew better. He knew me well enough to know
that would not have been a smart thing to do. He would wait for me.
Preston was worried. He turned to his hired hand and told him to go
take care of Gabe Fenway now just in case I wouldn’t let Mark race.
Gabe was down in the stable talking to his horse. He was getting
ready for the race, but suddenly he was hit from behind and went
I made breakfast the next morning. I assumed Mark was still in bed
fast asleep. “Come and get it, Mark!” I called as I put scrambled
eggs on his plate. I didn’t hear anything. “You gonna sleep all day
son?” I called then. “No reason why we can’t go watch the race. You
might learn something. You’ll be ready next year.” I still got not
response from the bedroom. I tried one more thing. “Micah tells me
they got an Apache Indian with a trained bear.” I looked toward the
bedroom. Suddenly, I decided to go check on him. It was too quiet.
When I opened the door, I found his bed empty. I knew exactly where
that boy had gone. I was angry! I grabbed my rifle and raced off for
Mark went into the stable to talk to Mr. Fenway and tell him the
race was about to start. He found Gabe slumped over a bale of hay.
He tried to give him a drink of water but he was too weak.
When I got into town, I asked Micah if he’d seen Mark. He started to
tell me he went up to the stable when Mark suddenly came racing
toward us. “Pa, Pa! It’s Mr. Fenway!” he shouted. I raced up to the
stable on my horse to see what the problem was. Micah ran after me.
He could hardly talk. I examined his head. “Somebody wanted to make
sure you weren’t in that race. It doesn’t take much guessing who,” I
“If Sapphire isn’t in that race, Gabe will forfeit his crop!” Micah
declared. Gabe was in no condition to ride.
Suddenly, I got an idea. “Now wait a minute! Mark you wanted to be
in that race. The bet was on the horse not the rider. You think your
up to it son?"
Mark was all excited again. "You mean me ride Sapphire?"
I nodded. "That's what I mean."
"Sure," he said excitedly.
He untied Sapphire. “I’m sorry about what happened this morning,” he
I guess he thought he was getting off easy. But sternly, I said,
“We’ll talk about that later.”
"Don't worry Mr. Fenway, I'll ride Sapphire and we'll win, no matter
what. Thanks Pa." Mark jumped on Sapphire and raced off.
Preston was gloating, thinking he had this bet won, but when he saw
Mark on Sapphire his gloating turned to worry.
Micah sent me out to watch the race. I certainly wanted to see this!
I hoped Mark could save the day.
I watched the race. They took off as soon as the gun went off. Mark
raced good and hard! And Mark came in first place. Boy, I was mighty
proud of my boy! My heart just swelled up with pride. I felt so
proud when my boy crossed the finish line! “Good boy!” I yelled
pridefully. Hattie yelled really loud for him as well.
As for Jake, well, he wasn’t too happy! “Now that ain’t fair!” he
Mark came racing up to me knowing I was proud. He leapt into my
won Pa, I won. Did you see me?"
I sure did!
I took Gabe's horse back home with us. I was working him until Gabe
got better. "Pa, do you think that it's true that I won that race
because I'm so much lighter then Mr. Fenway?" Mark suddenly asked.
"Weights a big factor in the race, no doubt about that.” I answered.
“What's the matter, you think your horse still could have beaten
"I guess I'll always wonder who would have won,” Mark commented
"Well, why don't we find out. You see that boulder down at the end
of the road, that's the finish line." We got in position. “Ready?”
“Ready!” Mark called excitedly as he got in the position.
"Go!" I yelled. We raced hard, but I got to the boulder first and
won. Then I asked Mark if he was satisfied.
"Yeah but, just wait until next year. Blue Boy will be a little
older and I'll be a little bigger."
I smiled at that boy of mine. "Well son, as far as I'm concerned
your pretty big right now,” I said proudly.
piddlin' stuff.....James Westerfield
appeared in two episodes ― 'The
Woman' as Pa Healy,he was the boss/Pa of this 'very different' clan
― 'The Fourflusher' as
Jake Preston, he was the man who
wanted Gabe Fenway to lose the horse race so he could get control of his
Bissell appeared in four episodes ― 'The
Patsy' as Sam Barrows the Barber, the man who Sully Hobbs and his gang were
terrorizing ― 'The
Fourflusher' as Gabe Fenway,
the sharecropper for local landlord Preston,
who plans to run
his quarter horse Sapphire in a local horse race ―
'The Hangman' as Volney
Adams who is accused of killing Eban Muchen ― 'Long Gun from Tucson'
as Henry Waller, the Gunsmith who was scared to face Holliver and his men.
K.T. Stevens was in five episodes ―
'Heller' as Muriel Bechtol, she was married to that evil Andrew Bechtol
Fourflusher' as Molly Fenway, she was married to a sharecropper who entered
his colt in the horse race ― 'Face of Yesterday' as Nancy Clay
was the wife of the man he killed in the Civil War ― 'Honest
Abe' as Emma Lincoln, the sister to Able Lincoln who claims that
he's the Great Emancipator Molly Fenway in 'End of the Hunt' as
Granny Mede, Reef Jackson was her nephew, Lucas knew them from when
he lived in the Nations.
Hope Summers as Hattie Denton, owner
of The General Store. Hope Summers appeared in 16 episodes as Hattie
Denton. Hattie was first introduced to "The Rifleman" in
'Eight Hours to Die.'
Ian Murray played Harley Hannabury in seven episodes ― 'The
Challenge' ― 'Blood Brother' ― 'Obituary' ― 'Meeting at
Midnight' ― 'The Hangman' ― 'The Illustrator' ― 'The
Fourflushers' as one of the townsmen.
Ralph Moratz as one of the townsmen.
Ralph has appeared in several episodes of "The Rifleman,"
sadly he doesn't remember the names of all of them. To read more
about Ralph you can go to his Blog - 'In Another Time'
Ralph was accepted by Central Casting in November 1953 and was a
very active background actor/extra for10 years. His growing family
forced him to seek more reliable work and went to work for Pacific
Airmotive Corp in Burbank in 1963. When he retired in the mid 1990s
He returned to his first love and was instantly re-welcomed by the
George Sowards appeared in five
episodes ― 'The Sharpshooter' as a barfly ― 'The Fourflusher' as one of the townsmen
― 'The Promoter' as a boxing spectator ― 'The Clarence Bibs
Story' as one of the townsmen ― 'End of the Hunt' as one of the townsmen.
Kermit Maynard appeared in two
episodes as one of the
townsmen ― 'The Fourflushers'
and 'Two Ounces of Tin'.
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
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. Sometimes Archie was a stand-in for Paul
Joe E. Benson appeared in "The
Rifleman" many times, probably more times than listed. Sometimes
credited & sometimes not. *Please note: In 'Dark Day at North Fork'
he appeared as two different characters - as one of the townsmen &
Joe was a good friend & a neighbor of Chuck's. He helped Chuck build
a tree house for the boys and also help build the addition onto the
house which was later called the den. (One of the several
Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
Character Actors Index
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