"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
'Mail Order Groom'
Romance is an interesting thing. It
comes in many different styles and ways. Sometimes it starts out
blind and ends up sweet. Sometimes it starts out sweet and ends up
blind. But no matter what, every
romance has it’s challenges along the way. This story isn’t about me
and romance. It’s about a North Fork spinster and a friend I met who
changed her life.
Mark and I both knew that Isabel Dent was expecting a mail order
groom named John Jupiter to come join her here in North Fork soon.
We also knew that today was the day he was to arrive. It was time
for our Saturday shopping again and Mark and I were busy at the
General Store. As we stood on the boardwalk looking at brooms, she
approached us. Before she could get out her reason for talking to
me, Mark piped up. You know boys and their loose tongues! “Oh good
morning, Miss Isabel! Is this the day Mr. Jupiter’s coming in?” Mark
“Mark,” I chided him. He knew better then that! But Isabel told him
it was. She needed my help. She nodded across the street and I saw
what was giving her worry. The Profit boys were back. I hadn’t seen
them in a year. Ever since Judge Hanavan sold her an option on 40
acres of land, they had been giving her trouble. They found out she
sent for a husband from back east. I was beginning to understand her
problem. She was afraid they’d start badgering Mr. Jupiter as soon
as he got off the stage. I asked her if she’d talked to Micah.
“I want Mr. Jupiter to like North Fork, Lucas. I certainly don’t
want him to think he needs the marshal’s protection here!” I
understood that. “I’d rather not meet the stage. Especially with the
Profit boys there embarrassing me. Sides, I need the time to prepare
a welcoming meal. So if you could explain and bring him by at supper
I understood that this was an important moment for her, so I decided
to do it. “Well I tell you what, Isabel. You invite us to your
wedding, and you have a bargain!” I answered her.
Suddenly, the stage was arriving in town, so Isabel hurried off
before he saw her. As the stage stopped, Jess Profit said, “McCain,
you be careful! That woman’s spoke for!” as he watched the stage
That annoyed me. I found it very disrespectful for him to talk that
way. “Growing up, Mark, you’ll learn one thing for sure. You can’t
judge the size of a man by the size of his mouth,” I stated loudly
so the Profits would hear.
We watched a great big man get off the stage. The driver said he’d
find a couple men to haul the trunk down, but Mr. Jupiter just
reached up and grabbed it as if it were nothing. I was shocked!
"Looks like the Profit boys finally grabbed the tail of the wrong
bear," I said, feeling pretty sure he could take care of whatever
came his way. Mark and I smiled at each other.
Mark and I went to greet him. "Welcome to North Fork Mr. Jupiter.
I'm Lucas McCain. Isabel Dent asked me to come and meet you."
Mark immediately began examining the trunk, still a bit shocked that
John had lifted it all by himself. “Who’s this other fellow with ya?
Your brother?” John asked.
“No sir, I’m his son Mark,” Mark answered him. Then he had to ask
him a question. “Mr. Jupiter, how heavy is this trunk?”
You should have seen the look on Mark's face when he gave him his
answer. “Why Mark, that’s as light as a butterfly’s heart. There’s
nothin’ in there but my winter duds, forty or fifty books, and my
tools.” I smiled at Mark’s expression.
Suddenly, I watched the Profit boys approached. I frowned, knowing
they were about to cause trouble. "Mister I understood there was
suppose to be a Mail Order Groom clear from Ohio on that stage, you
run into him?" John extended his hand and introduced himself, but it
only took a second for him to loose his friendly smile. Neither of
the Profit boys were making him feel very welcome.
"It seems like we got enough beef out here without them shippin' it
all the way out from Ohio," said Jess, blowing smoke in Jupiter's
It was Jim’s turn next. "Yep, looks like they dress their beef
pretty fancy on the hoof Jess.” They were both standing really close
to John, trying to intimidate him.
I told them that was enough. "Is this your brand of pesky flies?"
John asked as he stared at them.
“You might call ‘em that, Mr.
I answered as he picked up his trunk and started for the hotel. As
he entered the hotel, I was explaining to him why Isabel hadn’t met
him at the hotel. “Isabel just wanted to make sure everything was
right before you see her housekeepin’ or taste her cookin’.”
John had no objections. “I’ve waited a long time to meet that woman.
Waiting a little while longer isn’t gonna hurt me none,” he
I invited him to have lunch with Mark and me in the dining room. He
thought that was a fine idea. “A couple of beef steaks might wet my
appetite!” I must admit that statement threw me off a bit. I put my
arm around Mark and grinned as we walked into the dining room
Apparently the Profit boys hadn’t gotten their fill of teasing John,
because as soon as Mark and I left the lobby, they walked in and
began making fun of him. They suggested he had petticoats and lace
hankies in his trunk. But John didn’t let them bother him. He just
picked up his trunk and walked up the stairs.
After he started eating, John asked me who those two men were that
had been pestering him. I told him who they were and that they were
fair weather ranchers. “They work their ranch a spell, and they head
to town and spend their money on trouble. Someday they’ll buy more
then they can pay for.” He wanted to know what their reason was for
pestering him. I told him what Isabel told me – they wanted that
piece of land for themselves.
"Ya' know lot’s of folks might think it a little peculiar for a man
to travel two thousand miles to marry up with a women he never laid
his eyes on.” I told him there were a dozen wives in North Fork who
got married that way, but he was a man. I told him he didn’t have to
explain it to me, but he wanted to. “Back in Ohio, there just wasn’t
any woman that would have me. I only felt half a man without a
wife." He started to laugh. "My cousin told me one time, he said
‘You so ugly that a healthy horse’ll turn sick just looking at ya.’
I walloped him for saying that, but doggone it, if he weren’t
right." He asked me if Isabel was pretty.
I had to answer honestly. “Well now, John. She’s got the prettiest
smile I ever saw!” I answered. He said that was good enough for him.
He’d be scared with a pretty wife. “Well John, I’ve known her for
some time. She’s a woman who’ll last. You two should hit it off
fine,” I assured him.
Suddenly, Mark spoke up and gave his opinion. And boy, did he ever
give his opinion! "Well, She's the only old maid in town that the
kids don't make fun of."
I suddenly looked at him, hardly believing those words left my son’s
mouth! “Mark, that’s enough,” I stated firmly. “What you and the
kids don’t know about old maids will fill a bunch of books!”
But Mark then tried to make his statement sound better. "Well, I
didn't mean any harm by it, Pa. I like her.
“Well then you be a little more careful on how you talk about her,”
I sternly suggested.
Well heck Mr. Jupiter, your lucky to get someone....." Mr. Jupiter
started laughing and Mark stopped talking, realizing that he had
done it again. “Well, what I mean is,” he started
But Mark suddenly realized that he wasn’t going to get himself out
of this hole too easily. “Face up to it, son. It’s just not your
day!” I told him to finish eating so he could order pie. “One thing
he is an expert on, John, is apple pie!”
I was just finishing up my chores. I came out of the boot maker’s
shop and put the last package in the wagon. I asked Mark if he
remembered to get the pepper. Him and his mouth were still at it!
“Sure Pa. I wouldn’t forget the pepper when I was so behind on my
sneezing, would I?”
“Well dog gone if somebody didn’t pull the stopper out of you!” I
Mark laughed, but suddenly he saw John Jupiter coming down the
street. He was all spiffed up in a new suit. I must admit that I was
a bit taken aback by his appearance. "Now if that isn't what I call
a woolly booger of an
"Shucks Lucas, you oughta, cost me almost eighteen dollars. You know
Lucas, for that kind of money, you’d think they’d furnish a man to
wear it!" He was still a bit early, but he wasn’t sure if he could
walk in his new suit, so he thought he’d get a head start. He sure
was nervous about meeting Isabel! Suddenly, in a moment of weakness
he asked me if we wanted to come along with him.
"You think we oughta, John?" I asked. I knew the answer to that, and
so did he.
“Well no,” he answered nervously. “It’s the kinda thing that a man
has to do by himself!”
“Well there’s nothing to worry about,” I assured him. “That
outfit’ll…uh…take all the fight out of her!” I grinned a knowing
grin at John. He laughed back at my joke and went on his way.
Suddenly, Mark asked me why men got so nervous about women. There
was never an end to his surprising me with questions, and this
wasn’t a conversation I wanted to have with him today. So I gave him
an answer that only a parent can get away with. "Well that's
something every man’s gotta find out for himself, son. Your day will
John walked with a spring in his step towards Isabel’s house. But
suddenly, he was stopped. Two lasso’s were swung and tightened
around him. It was the Profit boys coming to pay him another
friendly visit! They dragged him over to a hitching post and tied
him to it with the ropes, yelling and jeering at him the whole time.
They began messing up his suit. Then Jess poured whisky all over him
John was boiling with anger, but he couldn’t do anything. “Now, you
tell that horse-faced, sharp-tongued woman of yours you got a
present from the profit boys!”
After they left, he was very angry. He worked the hitching post back
and fourth until it came out of the ground, knocking him onto the
ground with him still tied to it.
That’s how we found him as we rode our wagon through town. Mark and
I untied him and helped him up. He suddenly looked at himself. He
looked terrible. And he smelled even worse! There was no way he
could go to Isabel’s house looking and smelling like that! “I’m not
a man to loose my patience, but I don’t mind telling you those boys
are getting to me!” I went to tell Isabel what happened.
Mark was surprised that Mr. Jupiter was able to bust that hitching
post. “Well son, I was just a little bit cranky,” he answered.
On my walk over, I wondered how I always managed to get myself in
the middle of things that didn’t even concern me. I knocked on her
door, and it was obvious that she had been expecting Jupiter. I
hated breaking the news to her. “He’s not coming, is he Lucas?” She
was suddenly very sad. “Has he left town?”
I told her it was nothing like that. I told her there had been some
trouble. She didn’t even have to ask – she knew who the trouble was.
I told her what they did to him. “Lucas, you fetch that man, Jupiter
for me this instant!” she suddenly demanded.
I didn’t think she understood. “Well you see, Isabel, they poured
whisky all over him. He smells.”
“I don’t care if he smells like a saloon on Sunday mornin’. If he’s
my man, it’s time I started doin’ for him. You bring him, ya hear?”
The lady had spoken. I had my orders!
Mark and I sat in the wagon and watched them meet. They greeted each
other with much care and sincerity. They certainly seemed to hit it
off right away! He was embarrassed by his appearance, but she
assured him there was nothing wrong with it. She suddenly told him
to give her his coat. He did, with a big grin on his face. Suddenly,
as if just realizing Mark and I were there, she turned and invited
us to stay for supper. “I think I have chicken and dumplings enough
“Chicken and dump-“ Mark started excitedly. Anytime food was
mentioned, Mark was there. You see, Mark had manners, but when it
came to food…well, his manners seemed to come second.
But I stopped him before he could go any further with his hungry
thoughts. “No Isabel, we…we’ve already had our supper thank you,” I
answered, politely declining.
Mark looked at me and started to argue, but I gave him that look
that told him not to say another word about it. He sure was
I waved Mr. Jupiter to go on. He sure did look nervous as he stepped
up onto her porch and walk into her house. He acted like she was
about to tie him up or something!
I smiled as I prepared to leave. "Pa, we didn't eat supper. I sure
wish you would have taken her up on that invite,” Mark stated
“Mark, you know better then that!” I scolded him. “Isabel doesn’t
want company the first night she and her intended have supper
If I thought my boy’s mouth was finished for the day, I sure was
wrong! Because he was on a role – had been all day long! “But that
sure is a funny way to order a husband – by mail!”
That boy! I knew I had some frustration in my voice as I tried to
explain, but by golly was there no ending to his smart remarks?
“Look son, she didn’t order a husband by mail! They just wrote
letters back-“ I suddenly stopped. By explaining it that way, I was
simply confirming what he just said. I tried again. “Look Mark,
uh…there’s a lot of people in this world who are lonely; who want
very badly to love and be loved. I don’t think we should call it
funny. No matter how they go about tryin’, well, tryin’ not to be
lonely anymore.” I nudged him as I asked if he understood me. It
wasn’t a question – it was more of a “you better understand me”
question. I told him we needed to get home – we had a ham for our
Before Mark and I even got out of town the Profits came to hassle
us. They suddenly jumped in front of our wagon, scaring our horses.
“Mind stepping aside? I don’t want to run you down!” I warned. They
informed me that they and Isabel have a personal business matter
that hadn’t been settled yet. “Like I said, step aside. You don’t
want me to run you down!” I tried again. He kept on, so I said,
“Have it your own way!” and started the horses up. They jumped out
of the way, angry at my actions.
Mark and I went to visit John at his new house he had bought for him
and Isabel. He was doing some work on it because there were some
things Isabel didn’t like. “Well, I tell ya Lucas. When I first
bought this house, seemed to suit Isabel right down to a tee. But
ever since then somehow, she keeps noticing a thing or two. You know
how it is.” He grinned at me.
I’d been there! “Well, when a woman stops changing her mind, you
better call a doctor!” I stated. We both laughed at that.
I suddenly noticed the “new” buggy he had bought. It sure didn’t
look new anymore! When he first bought it, he took Isabel on a
picnic ride. They left it by the road and walked down by the river.
When they came back the horses had gotten loose and his rig was all
broken up. He knew it was no
accident – the Profit boys had done it, but he couldn’t prove it so
he didn’t bother to tell Micah. They were really getting to him. Not
because they were bugging him, but for the last couple of days it
was coming between him and Isabel. “She expects me to get rid of
them boys before we get married,” he stated.
I told him that was fair and he agreed. He said he was afraid.
“Afraid? A big man like you?” I asked, a bit surprised. But then he
showed me the problem. He picked up a thick piece of wood and
chopped it in two with his bare hand. My eyes just about popped out
of my head when I saw that. Boy, I was glad he was on my good side!
“I almost killed a man with these back when I was in Ohio!” He held
up his hands. “Now, suppose I was to hurt one of them boys. Maybe
even kill him. You think Isabel’s gonna marry me then? No sir. Best
thing for me to do is to stay out of fights! Well, I’m darned if I
do, and I’m darned if I don’t!”
I understood his problem, but I warned him he may have to fight
them. The Profit brothers weren’t going to give up without a fight.
He said they won’t run him out of town – he wouldn’t go. Mark agreed
Then there was another day Mark and I were in town. I was actually
looking for Mark when I saw John coming out of the hardware store. I
wondered if he’d seen Mark. “Half an hour ago. He was on Minnie
Graham’s front porch telling her how to bake a blueberry pie.”
“Oh,” there he goes again! “Well, he’s a shad better at eatin’ then
bakin’, but I’m sure Minnie knows that!” Then I started to go hunt
that boy down.
Suddenly, Mark came running up to us all excited. “Pa! Mr. Jupiter!
It’s burnin’, it’s burnin’!” Mark yelled.
“What’s burning, Mark?” I asked him.
“Mr. Jupiter’s house!” he announced. We all ran to his house. But it
was too late – it was all burned when we got there. But as we
searched through the ruble, John found something. It was coal oil!
His house had been burned on purpose, and he knew exactly who was to
blame! He rushed up into town. Mark wondered where he was going.
“Well son, Mr. Jupiter’s about to descent on his tormenters like a
cyclone in a field of corn. I wouldn’t wanta try to stop him!”
He was angry! He charged into the saloon where the Profit boys were
celebrating their latest accomplishment of burning down the house.
But they weren’t prepared for Mr. Jupiter! He rushed right up to
them and pointed at Jess’s shirt. “That looks like coal oil!” John
Jess told him to rub his nose in it. But John tore it off his shirt
and smelled it. That made Jess mad. “It is coal oil!” In one motion,
he grabbed Jess and flung him out the window. Then he turned on Jim
and flung him out the door into the street. He wasn’t finished with
him yet though! He suddenly picked Jeff off the street and flung him
up over the saloon sigh where he was stuck. John turned back to Jess
to finish him off. He raised his fist to punch him. I was there in
time and grabbed his fist with a sharp warning in my voice.
He froze. I breathed out a sigh of relief as he lowered his fist. He
had come close to severely hurting this man! “Just one thing I’m
sorry for. Didn’t get to see that fire. Musta been a real wooly
booger!” I couldn’t help but laugh with him over that!
After we left, the Profit boys got to talking. Jim wanted to leave
North Fork. He had had enough, but Jess hadn’t learned his lesson
yet. He thought he could still win this battle! As he got his gun
out and twirled the bullet chamber, he said they’d been going about
it the wrong way.
They walked right into Isabel’s house while she was preparing our
lunch while we worked over at John’s place cleaning it up. She told
them to go away, but Jess just went over to her picnic basket,
opened it up, threw Jim an apple and said “Close the door, Jim. Ya
born in a barn?” He then dug threw her picnic basket and began
eating one of the sandwiches. “Where’s that poor excuse for a man ya
drug out here for a husband?” She told him he wasn’t there. He
suddenly took out his gun and knocked a glass shade off her lamp. It
fell to the floor and busted. She stared at it as he said, “I didn’t
ask was he here. I asked where was he? I got a bone to pick with
him. He tore my only other shirt.”
“You scum! Scum! Not fit to wipe his shoes, either of you! "You live
like pigs and you act like pigs!" He suddenly slapped her across the
face and asked here where he was.
She flinched from the slap. “Over at his house,” she answered with a
shaky voice. “Where his house used to be. With Lucas McCain.” She
didn’t know when he’d be coming back. “Haven’t you done enough to
him?” she suddenly questioned.
Suddenly, Jim hollered our a warning that “McCain’s kid’s coming.”
He dragged her to the door to answer Mark’s knock, but told her to
keep quiet about them being there. Mark told her that Mr. Jupiter
said we could eat as much as she could bring. She was crying and
upset, and Mark could tell. Mark was bothered by the way she was
acting. She hadn’t been herself just then and my boy knew it.
Jess saw Mark standing there just outside the window and suddenly
tapped on the window. Mark turned around and saw him in there
holding the gun. He was suddenly frightened for Miss Isabel and took
off to warn us. Jim asked Jess why he had done that. “Just came to
me. That boy’ll go screaming that I’m over here and man’ll come
runnin’ with a gun in his hand. There won’t be nothin’ for me to do
but shoot him! Self defense.”
His plan almost worked too! It would have if I hadn’t been there to
stop him. Mark came running back screaming that he was there. When I
asked who, he told us that Jess Profit was at Isabel’s. “He must of
done something. She’s crying!”
Suddenly, John ran over and grabbed my rifle and started to take
off. But I ran over and laid my hand on his arm. “Hold it, John! I
wouldn’t want to see you runnin’ wild with a rifle in your hand!
You’d be too easy a mark!”
"Lucas, they tied me to a post and ruined my eighteen dollar suit.
They wrecked my buggy. They burned down my house. Now they're
badgering the only women that’ll have me, and by thunder I'm gonna
drive them clear to Canada." He sure was mad, and I was glad it
wasn’t me he was mad at!
I told him it wasn’t Isabel they were after – it was him. “Have you
ever used a rifle before?” I asked. He said he hadn’t. “Well this is
a poor time to start!” I grabbed my rifle away from him and he went
charging over there with a board in his hand. Mark was worried. He
thought I should go with him. “I don’t want this rifle to spark any
shooting, Mark,” I answered.
“But suppose he needs help!” I knew he was right. I was his friend
after all. Frustrated that I was again forced into the middle, I
threw down the stick in my hand and took off over there, Mark right
They were waiting for him. Jess sure was happy when John showed up.
But he wasn’t armed with a gun – only a big board! John yelled for
Jess to come out there. He was angry! I told Mark to go for Micah. I
wanted Micah here to arrest them, and I wanted Mark out of danger.
Jess didn’t even wait to see if John had a gun. He charged out the
door and shot John. I took a shot at Jess, knocking the gun right
out of his hand.
John flinched only for a second before he charged at Jess and hit
him on the back with a board. Then he went charging for Jim. Jim
dropped his gun. He didn’t want to fight John. But John was mad. He
squeezed Jim against the post and kept squeezing him. Jim moaned in
pain but John just kept squeezing as he slowly strangled him.
Isabel came out and started yelling for him to stop. She began
crying, begging John to stop. He finally let Jim go, and he slid to
the floor of the porch.
I ran over and grabbed Jess, lifting him up to his feet as Micah and
Mark ran into Isabel’s yard. Jim ran out of the yard. “Alright,
see what I’m serving in the main cell for dinner tonight, shall we?”
Micah said as he led them away.
Thankfully, John wasn’t hurt too bad. He said it wasn’t more then a
bee sting. He was still a little upset and promised her he’d come
work on cleaning up her place tomorrow. But suddenly she said, “You
will not! We’ve dawdled long enough. We’re getting married tomorrow!
That mad John awful happy! She wanted to fix his arm up herself.
They were both smiling at each other. John put his arm around her
and smiled like a possum as they walked into her house and closed
I couldn’t help but watch their blooming romance! Suddenly, my boy
with the mouth piped up again. “You were right, Pa! That mail-order
stuff sure does work!”
I suddenly turned and stared at him. I opened my mouth to say
something, but changed my mind. “Come on, son. Let’s go home,” I
said. As we walked, I looked down at my loose-tongued boy and shook
my head at him. That boy!
Anderson appeared in eleven episodes ―
'Shotgun Man' as John Beaumont, he was the man that wanted
revenge on Lucas for sending him to jail ― 'Shivaree' as Chet
Packard, he was the one who Derek shot in the leg ― 'The Hawk' as
Ely Flack, he was the man who was looking for Walt Hake/Reed Young ―
'The Journey Back' as Will Temple, he was the man who had the
scare on his face 'Day of the Hunter' as Cass Callicott, the
famous frontiersman, trapper, scout, buffalo hunter, one of the old
original mountain men ― 'Mail Order Groom' as Jess Profit, he
was who slapped Isabel across the face ― 'The Retired Gun' as
Owny, he was the one who threw the coin on the ground ― 'Face of
Yesterday' as Hank Clay, the mean step-father ― 'Incident at
Line Shack Six' as Gangling, he was the one who killed Charley
Breen ― 'The Patsy' as Sully Hobbs ― 'Old Man Running'
aka 'The Wanted Man' as Samuel Gibbs, Mark's Grandpa, Lucas'
We saw him so much on "The Rifleman" that you would have
thought of him as part of the family. Come to think of it, he was
part of the family. Do you remember which episode that was?
Peter Whitney has starred in nine
episodes of "The Rifleman." 'Eddie's Daughter' as
Tracey Blanch. He's the big dude. 'Mail Order Groom' as John
Jupiter. He was the 'Mail Order Groom' ~ the one that Jess
Profit (John Anderson) kept picking on. 'Heller' as Andrew
Bechtol ~ the mean stepfather. 'Strange Town' as Ott. 'The
Queue' as Vince Fergus - again he was the bully. 'Long Gun
From Tucson' as John Holliver. 'Lou Mallory' as Neb
Jackman. 'Gun Shy' as Vantine. 'Which Way'd They Go?'
as Ned Jackman - he played this character in two episodes and the
father of this clan. Another guest star on the "Untouchables."
He was on just about everything back then. From "Superman" to
"In the Heat of the Night."
Alice Backes played Isabel Dent.
She was the one who was to marry John Jupiter. She has played in a
number of things from "Dragnet" to "Columbo." She also
has appeared in many westerns. Her recurring roles were "Kolchak:
The Night Stalker" as Dr. Shropell and "Mayberry R.F.D."
She played Miss Pringle.
Sandy Kenyon played Jim Profit. He
was the other Profit brother who picked on John Jupiter [Peter
Whitney] in 'Mail Order Groom'. He has appeared in many
things from doctors, cowboys, soldiers, spies to comedy.
Montie Montana appeared in two
episodes ― 'The Gaucho' as one of the townsmen ―
'Mail Order Groom' as
the stagecoach driver.
Michael Jeffers appeared
in five episodes of "The Rifleman" ―
'The Blowout' as
the diner proprietor
as a barfly ― 'Mail Order Groom'
as the hotel clerk ― 'A Case
of Identity' as one of the townsmen ―
'Lou Mallory' as one of
the cowboys helping Lou get her hotel in order.
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
Lucas' story, now hear Mark's