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 asked.
“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 time.”
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 ride in.
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 face.
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. Jupiter,” 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 answered.
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 together.
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 retorted.
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 outfit, John."
"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 come."
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 for four.”
“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 disappointed!
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 disappointingly.
“Mark, you know better then that!” I scolded him. “Isabel doesn’t want company the first night she and her intended have supper together!”
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 own supper!
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 with him.
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 sneered.
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 behind me.
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, boys. Let’s 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 the door.
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!
Piddlin stuff.....John Anderson played Jess Profit in the 'Mail Order Groom.' Now here is a familiar face. How many times did he star on the show? 'The Retired Gun' ~ 'Shivaree' ~ 'The Hawk' ~ 'The Patsy' ~ 'Shotgun Man' ~ 'Face of Yesterday' ~ 'The Journey Back' ~ 'Incident at Line Shack Six' ~ 'Old Man Running' ~ 'Day of the Hunter.' He also appeared with Chuck in "Geronimo."
We saw him so much 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?
He bore a strong resemblance to President Abraham Lincoln and portrayed him twice. He was unaccredited as the voice of the animatronics Mark Twain in the American Experience at Walt Disney World's Epcot (World Showcase) in Orlando, Florida.
Peter Whitney has appeared 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. He was 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 played the stage coach driver in this episode. He also was in another episode of "The Rifleman," 'The Gaucho' as a cowboy. He appeared in a number of John Wayne movies and made headlines in 1953 when he roped Pres Eisenhower as a gag during his inaugural parade. He asked the President's permission first, but Secret Service agents were not amused by the incident. Monty Montana was a fixture on the rodeo circuit in the USA and Canada. He also appeared in more than 60 annual Tournaments of the Roses parades in Pasadena, CA waving to the crowd from a silver saddle.
Michael Jeffers was in 'A Case of Identity' as one of the townsmen - 'The Coward' as a barfly - 'Lou Mallory' as one of the cowboys helping Lou get her hotel in order - 'Mail Order Groom' as a hotel clerk & 'The Blowout' as the diner proprietor.
This cowboy went mostly unaccredited. I know you have seen him around many of the TV Westerns. Besides "The Rifleman" he has appeared on "Gunsmoke" - "Bonanza" ' Alias Smith & Jones" - "The Virginian" - The Guns of Will Sonnett" - "The Wild Wild West" - "Big Valley" - "Have Gun Will Travel" - "Zane Grey Theatre" - "Outlaws" - "The Texan" - "Wanted Dead or Alive" - "Bat Masterson" - "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" & "Tombstone Territory."
He has done several other TV Series and several movies.
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.
Sometimes Archie was a stand-in for Paul Fix.
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
Bloopers for this episode & other episodes
A Case of Identity
Day of the Hunter
around The McCain Ranch