The Rifleman
"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
'Mark's Rifle'
Episode 150

This is another huge stepping stone in my life as a father.  I didn’t know it, but my boy was going to take a great big leap towards manhood today.  You see, Mark and I were in town and there was a man gathering quite a crowd as he shot off rifles in the air.  This cowboy’s name was Marty, and he was a drummer for the circus.  He was telling everyone about the high-wires, exotic animals and clowns, not to mention his fancy show with his pistols.  The town seemed to enjoy Marty and was quite interested in the circus coming to town.  Then, he showed something that my boy was really interested in. 

He pulled an old rifle out of his saddle boot.  He held it up for the crowd to see.  “I have here for your inspection a 1795 genuine flint lock, used by none other than Daniel Boone himself!”   He passed it around and let the crowd take a look at it. 

I watched as Mark took it.  He began holding it as if he was going to shoot it and really seemed to be enjoying himself.  Marty noticed Mark as he handled the rifle.  "Well son, I can tell by the way you handle that rifle you must be a cracker jack shot!  I'll tell you what I'll do...I'll load that rifle up and we'll show the folks just how good you are! How about that?" Marty said. 

“Oh…Well, I’ve never really…fired a rifle before,” Mark answered nervously. 

"Well your certainly old enough to learn," said Marty.  I didn't like what Marty had said and I left him know it by the look I gave him. 

Micah approached Marty and told him that the street was not a midway and he didn't want to see anyone get hurt.  He told Marty to tuck the rifle away.  Marty was eager to do what Micah said.  Marty told the crowd to be sure and watch out for the circus and that the exact date would soon be announced.

Mark was inspired by Marty's shooting display that he approached me about getting his own rifle.  "Pa...I've been asking you for an awful long time now...can I...would...would you let me have a rifle?"   Though it shouldn’t have, his question caught me by surprise.  I opened my mouth to answer, but Mark wanted to say something before I delivered my answer.  "Would you say I'm old enough Micah?" 

Micah wasn’t quite sure how to answer.  He certainly didn’t want to get in trouble with me for saying the wrong thing!  "Well I'd say you've been putting in plenty of time Mark.” 

You could see how excited Mark was.  "Is it really asking an awful lot Pa?"  I didn’t say anything.  I just looked at my boy.  "I...I'd just use it for hunting rabbits and possum and I'd never take it off the ranch!"  I tried to talk again when he told me he'd be really careful and I would never regret it.  "Please!" 

I just wasn't sure, he took me by surprise, but seeing how excited Mark was, well I gave in.  "Alright...maybe you are old enough at that."  Micah went back to his office and Mark and I headed over to the gunsmith's. 

   Angus, the gunsmith, first showed Mark a Winchester center fire, .44-40.  "That's too much Angus, what about that Winchester model 73?" I asked.  Angus said he did have a used .22, he took it on a trade.  He said he worked it over and it was in perfect order and he'd let me have it for seven-fifty.  Mark tried it.  He said it felt just right. 

Just then Marty came in.  "There ain’t none better!  That's a real smart gun to start the boy off with, sir! If you don't mind my saying so," Said Marty.  Mark asked Marty if he liked this model.  Marty said he had cut his teeth on that model and that it taught him to be respectful of all guns.  Mark introduced himself, and me to Marty.  He told us he was Marty Blair and he hoped we hadn't thought he showed off  to much in the street and that he was just trying to create interest for the circus.  I told Marty he handled himself well.  He said he was going to rest up today and head out tomorrow to some more towns and let them know the circus was coming. 

“Would you like to come out to our place for lunch?”  Mark asked Marty.  I wasn't too happy about that, but Mark already asked him, so I told them it was alright.  I told Angus we'd take the rifle.  That pleased Mark.  Before I knew what was happening, Marty was showing Mark how to aim.  I wasn't pleased with that at all!  There was just something about Marty I did not like.   

When we got to the ranch, Marty continued with his lessons on shooting the rifle.  I soot and watched.  I wasn’t too pleased with my boy learning from this man, but I didn’t say anything.    I watched as Mark shot at some bottles.  He missed and got frustrated.  Marty just told him to have patience and try again. 

"I've got a lot to learn.....it's not as easy as it looks," said Mark.  "Pa.....I'm not so good.....I keep on missing those bottles."  Marty told me that Mark had a real steady hand and all he needed was practice.  Mark started to brag about what a good shot I was.  I wasn't happy that Mark did this, he knew how I felt about showing off using a weapon.  But when Marty took Mark's rifle and shot at one of the bottles and hit it, I couldn't help myself, I was glad for the opportunity to show Marty just how good I was. Marty was impressed, but I still wasn’t too happy about it.

     "When did you start shooting, Mr. McCain?" Marty asked. 

"I was young...too young," I said. 

“no, I don’t believe a boy can be too young!” Marty declared as he looked at Mark.  “Makes him that much better when he grows up.

"That's where you and I disagree Marty!"  He asked me if I ever killed anyone.  "I've had to shoot my way out of a few scrapes," I said. 

Mark asked Marty if he ever shot anyone.  “Oh, I’ve never shot at anyone that didn't shoot at me first, Mark.”  He turned to me.  “That would be the same with you.  Wouldn’t it, Mr. McCain?”

“It is.”  I nodded.  I looked at Mark.  “It’s getting near supper time, son.”  I couldn’t believe it when my son asked Marty to stay for supper!  I opened my mouth to protest.  Thankfully, Marty declined Mark’s invitation.  He said he had to head back to town and get cleaned up and get a good night’s rest so he could get an early start in the morning. 

As Marty started to leave I asked him how long he's had his job with the circus.  He said a little more then five years.  I asked him where the circus was now.  He told me they should have just finished playing somewhere around Ohio, they should be somewhere near the Great Plains now, heading for here.  Something just wasn't right here, and I can't say I hated to see him go.  "Were you like him Pa?" 

"No!" I answered quickly – too quickly.  Then I admitted, "Well...I guess in a way I was son."    Maybe that was the problem.

Marty rode back into town and got a room for the night at the hotel.  Lou recognized him as the young man who put on the show in the street that morning.  She smiled at him.  Even Lou liked him!  After Lou signed him in, he asked her if she could change a fifty dollar bill.  Lou said she thought she could, and she would check.  The safe was behind the desk and Marty watched Lou while she opened the safe.  What he wanted was the combination to her safe and now he had it.  She gave him the change and he asked her where good place for dinner was.  Of Course Lou suggested the hotel.  He then invited her to dine with him.  She told him she wouldn't be in the hotel that evening, she had other plans.  This is just what Marty wanted to know.  With Lou not being in the hotel, everything was perfect for him to rob the hotel that night.  

Marty waited until it was dark and quiet.  Then as quietly as he could, he made his way down the stairs and to the desk.  Then he began to go to work on the safe.

    Lou and I had spent the evening together.  We had a nice time and then I took her back to the hotel.  “I’ve never seen you look prettier than you do tonight, Lou!” I declared as I picked a piece of straw from her hair.

 She smiled.  "Back in Ireland they use to say...'when you look at the full moon, you get stardust in your eyes," said Lou.  We talked and laughed and then I helped her out of the wagon.  She almost forgot her shoes.  We said goodnight and I waited until she got inside before I started to leave. 

Just after she walked in, she heard a noise.  Someone was in there.  Lou got frightened and suddenly ran to the front door.  She ran out and yelled for me.  "Lucas...hurry!" I grabbed my rifle and hurried up to her.  I asked her what was wrong.  “I think there’s a prowler in the lobby.”

I told her to stand back as I stood behind the door.  There was definitely somebody in there – I saw his shadow.  He took a shot at me than ran.  I saw him go through the door.  I fired a shot, which went right through the door.  Slowly, I opened it with Lou right behind me.  Looking around, I didn’t see anyone.  But then I heard groaning.  I looked down.  Marty was laying on the floor.  He’d been shot! 

Just then Micah and some of the town folks came to see what all the shooting was about.  Micah yelled for someone to get Doc Burrage.  “I was coming back from the stable   I saw this man run out of the back door.  I tried to stop him, but he shot me as I…I…” Marty passed out. 

"He's lying Micah," I said. 

“It’s possible, but…” Lou started.

"He shot at me inside. I got him through the door after he ran out. There's nobody else!"  Micah asked if Lou or I could see well enough to swear it was him.  "I just said he was lying!"  Micah wanted to know if I could prove it.  Well I couldn't, but I knew! 

They took Marty to his room in the hotel.  Doc Burrage told Lou to look after him.  Micah came in and said the safe had been open but the robber must have been scared off before he could take anything.  He wanted to talk to Marty but the Doc said he had to wait until morning.  “Was the other man hit?”

“There was no other man, Doc,” I answered.

“Well, I understood the boy was chasing a thief.”

“You understood wrong!”

Micah wasn’t going to take sides.  “We’ll know more about that when we talk to the boy.”

Marty suddenly woke up.  “The man was running out of the back!  I tried to…”   Doc told Lou to keep him quiet – he didn’t want him to open the wound.  “I’m telling the truth…You’ve got to believe me!” 

“You don’t believe he’s telling the truth, do you Micah?” I asked.

“The trouble is, like you said…You didn’t get a look at the thief’s face,” Micah answered.  “We’ll get to the bottom of this, Lucas Boy!  He ain’t going anywhere for awhile.”

The Doc said that the bullet pierce the end of a nerve and that he was liable to be left with a partial paralysis in his right hand.  The Doc said to let him get some rest, so we all left except Lou.

I told Mark about what happened.  He decided to go to town and visit Marty, his latest idol.  I hurried out of the house and began polishing my saddle.  It was obvious I was upset.  Mark followed me out.  “You riled cause I’m going to visit Marty?”

“I think that’s plain without you asking,” I answered.

“Then tell me not to go and I won’t, Pa.”

I wanted to do just that!  Oh, how I wanted to!  But I knew that would only cause more contention between us.  There were some things Mark would have to learn for himself.  “If you feel you have to visit him, then go ahead.”

            “Pa, I remember you telling me something once.  If you believe in something or someone, no matter what the odds are, you should always back your own belief." 

“I’m not telling you anything different now, Mark.”

Mark sighed.  “I’m not just being stubborn, Pa.  But Marty’s my friend.  There’s been some sort of a mix up.”

I turned to Mark.  “Everything that happens points to him as being the thief. He’s a born liar!”  I went back to my polishing.

Mark was getting angry.  “That’s just the way you feel!”

“Granted!”

“Then tell me not to go.”

He presented me with another chance to show my authority.  But instead, I said, “If your old enough to own your own rifle, your old enough to make your own decisions!”  I watched Mark mount Blue Boy and ride off.  I was disappointed – I was really hoping he’d make the right decision!

Marty sure was happy when Mark stopped by!  “Didn’t thing your Pa would let ya.”

Mark smiled.  “Well, he wouldn’t stop me!" He assured Mark that he wasn’t mad at me – he didn’t hold any grudges.

“My Pa…he feels the same.  He’s sorry it happened,” Mark said.

Marty knew Mark was lying.  He knew I didn’t like him – even the day before when he was showing Mark how to use the rifle. 

I rode into town while Mark was over visiting Marty.  I watched Mark mount up and leave.  I wasn’t happy.  Micah told me he was trying to contact the circus.  “But all I could gather is that it left Springfield, Ohio a week or so ago., and it’s somewhere between there and here – no telling where.” 

That's about what Marty had told me, this much seemed to check out.  I still believed he was using that circus for a front.  “If I knew you were right, it would give me something extra to go on,” Micah said.  “But it may take me weeks before I’m able to find out.” 

“Meantime?” I asked.

“According to the law, his word is a good as yours.”  I didn’t like that answer.  “You can’t hold him without an identifying witness.  Once the Doc says he’s sufficiently covered, he’ll be on his way.”  I stared out the window.  “That boy could charm the bark off a tree!”

“Or kill a man if it serves his purpose.”

Micah just stared at me.  Then he spoke.  “Lucas, do you mind if I say something as an old friend?”  I told him to go ahead.  Micah stood up and walked towards me.  “It’s a personal matter with you.  Even beyond the hotel shooting.  Mark has taken quite a shine to him.”

I nodded.  “He sees something in him I sure don’t!”

“Maybe it’s something you don’t want to see,” Mark declared.  That gave me something to think about.

That night at the supper table Mark told me he had gone to see Marty.  He didn’t have to tell me that.  I already knew!  “He doesn’t hold any bad feelings.”

“You know I do,” I stated honestly.  “Usually when it comes to judging people, Mark, we pretty well see eye to eye.  What is it about Marty that makes us feel so different?”

“I wish I knew,” Mark answered.

“What makes you like him?”

“I just do,” Mark answered as he thought on it.  “Can’t always explain those things, but…Maybe it has to do with his not being much older than me and yet he’s all on his own.  Able to do what he wants and able to take care of himself and go where he wants…You gotta admire that!”  I frowned at my son’s pride.  I didn’t like it.  “Why do you feel the opposite of me?

“I thought it was his smile.  It comes too easy,” I answered.  “To polite with it, like he’s pressing to make you like him.  Anyway, after something Micah told me today, I know if that’s the real reason.”  I told Mark I had an idea that could prove which one of us was right.  “You…plan on seeing him again tomorrow?” He did.  “This will be asking you to play kinda a trick on him, but if he’s the kind of person you think he is, it won’t matter.  If he’s not, well…that’ll pretty much prove that he was the thief at the hotel.”  Mark was willing to take a chance.

The next day, Mark rode into town to talk to Marty.  Lou was in there talking to Marty.  He asked her if she believed what Lucas said about him.  “I don’t know, Marty, rather it’s true or not.  But if it is, you might not be so lucky with the next bullet.”

Marty asked Mark why he had a long face.  He felt like it was me – I don’t cotton up to Mark’s visiting him.  He told Mark how he appreciated him coming to see him but he didn't want to come between him and I.  “Well that’s alright,” Mark answered.  “Pa’s not holding it against me.” 

Marty told Mark it would only be a day or two before he’d be able to move on.  Mark was surprised he was planning on leaving with his hand still in the sling.  He didn’t want Marty leaving before he proved he was in the right.  “Do you want to prove your Pa wrong?”

“I don’t care about that,” Mark answered.  “And I don’t think he does either.  He just wants to get at the truth – even if it’s not what he thinks.”

Marty smiled.  "Listening to you, I believe he does!”

Mark thought maybe there was a way of it happening.  “I heard him and Micah talking about locating where the circus is traveling.  They sent a telegram to a town up ahead.  They…should be getting an answer pretty soon.”  Marty wondered what time they sent the telegram.  “Checking rather or not you’ve really been working with that circus.  If you have, they…they figure you had no need to rob that safe.  But if you’ve been using the circus posters as a trick then…” Mark stopped.

“You act as though that’s what I’ve been doing, Mark.”

“Well…I can’t help to think that it’s possible,” Mark admitted.  "But honest Marty, mostly I believe you’re just what you say you are.”  Marty simply told Mark he’d been a real true friend.  He didn’t want Mark to worry about the answer.             

That night I positioned myself in the livery stable behind a bale of hay.  A real good view of the door, that way I would have no problem seeing who was coming in the door.  I hadn't been waiting very long when I heard someone coming in the door. I ducked down out of sight and watched as the door slowly crept open.  “Pa?”

“Mark!”

Mark hurried inside.  “I couldn’t stay home, Pa!  I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t!  Don’t make me this one time!” Mark begged.  “Please.”

I didn’t like having him here, but what was done was done.  “Alright, close the door and come over here!  Quick!  Mark did as told then made his way over to me.  “Now, you stay behind this way.  And no matter what happens, don’t you move!”

Mark agreed to do that.  “But nothing’s going to happen.  I know it won’t.”

"And if your wrong?" I asked Mark. 

"Then I owe you an apology," said Mark. 

"The same goes for me," I said. 

We waited all night.  He never came.  Maybe Mark was right after all!  A rooster crowed.  I heard Mark yawn and turned to look at him.  “It’ll be daylight in about an hour.”

“Then we can go home, son.”  Mark yawned again.  I smiled at him.

Suddenly, I heard the door.  I watched as it opened.  It was Marty.  I turned and looked at Mark, slowly nodding my head.  Mark was disappointed.  I watched as Marty slowly walked to his saddle.  He could feel us watching him.  "Who's there?"

Mark and I came out from behind the bale of hay.  "I've been waiting for you Marty," I said. 

Marty nodded.  “It just occurs to me…what Mark said about the telegram was crap, wasn’t it?”

Mark answered for me.  “And all the time I was wrong.”  Mark grew angry.  “You’re nothing but a liar!  A liar and a thief!” Mark yelled as he bolted forward.  I grabbed his shoulder to keep him from going at Marty.

Marty wanted mark to understand.  "I've been on my own since I was a kid, I never had any breaks. I was kicked around, no family, always trying to find some place to roost. I tried to make it go with the circus kid, but they just didn't pay enough to take care of me and my horse.”  As he spoke, Marty was taking his gun from the sling in his arm.  He asked Mark to believe him that he’d never hurt anyone. He held the gun behind his back, cocking it.

"Don't trust him Pa!" I went for Marty.  As he lifted the gun to shoot me, I kicked the saddle bench over.  It knocked him to the ground.  His gun went off.  He was that close to shooting us.  Mark immediately turned to me.  “Pa...I apologize for being wrong." 

Later, while Mark and I were in town, Mark brought in his rifle.  He immediately went to the gun shop.  “Mr. Angus, I want to return this rifle.”  Mr. Angus wondered what was wrong with it.  “It’s me.  I realize now that…that I’m really not ready for it after all.”  Angus wondered if it was because he couldn’t get the hang of it.  “No, it’s not that.  I just…Please!” Mark shoved it toward Angus.  “Will you take it?  Pa left me at the wagon while he went in to see Micah, and I want to get back there before he does.”  Angus agreed to take it.

But it was too late.  Micah and I walked in.  Micah needed his shells.  I walked up to Mark who held his head down.  I saw his rifle sitting there. We assessed the situation.  Micah and I both knew what was going on.  "Like I was saying, this fellow being older, wasn't any wiser, he was taken in to," said Micah. 

I kept eyeing my boy.  "Well you can't always tell a book buy it's cover," I said. 

"Still you have to give someone credit who will stick by what he believes, until he's proven wrong," said Micah. 

"One way to learn is to make the other fellow proves his point.”  I kept my eyes on Mark the whole time, but he never looked at me.  “Well, come on, son.”  I tapped his arm.  “Come on.”

Mark started out the door.  “Uh Mark?” Mark stopped and turned around, but he still didn’t look at me.  "Didn't you forget something?" 

He finally looked at me.  “What’s that?”

“Your rifle,” I answered.

We just stood there looking at each other.  Then I watched as Mark slowly walked over to the counter and picked up his rifle.  He walked back over to me.  He looked up at me.  I looked down at him.  We had a new respect for each other and what we believe in, and while we didn't always see eye to eye, it never changes the love and admiration we have for each other as father and son…and best friends.                                               


piddlin' stuff.....Mark Goddard played Marty Blair, he was the fancy shooter in this episode.  He also was in another episode, 'The Raid' as Walt.  He was one of the cowboys that went to look for Mark.
After only three weeks in Hollywood, he signed a contract with Aaron Spelling to play the continuing role of Cully in the series "Johnny Ringo."  He also appeared in "Lost in Space" as Major Don West and he played  Sgt. Chris Ballard in "The Detectives."  He also appeared in two soaps - "One Life To Live" & "General Hospital." 
 
  He finished college after an absence of thirty years and went on to receive his Masters Degree in Education. He is currently a special education teacher for "at risk" youths at the F. L. Chamberlain School in Middleboro, Massachusetts.

Eddie Quillan played Angus Evans in this episode.  He was the Gunsmith  He also appeared in another episode of "The Rifleman"'Conflict' as the same character.
He also had a guest appearance in "Hardcastle & McCormick."  "Hunt 'em.....Hear 'em and Hang 'em, that's the code of the West".....says ole Hardcastle!
Eddie was seven years old and performing in vaudeville with his sister and three brothers in an act called "The Rising Generation."
He owned and operated a bowling alley for a time but eventually came back again to TV and the Motion Screen. 

Ralph Moody appeared in a total of 12 episodes of "The Rifleman" beating John Anderson and John Milford out at 11 episodes.  He appeared in 9 episodes as Doc Burrage and in three other episodes.  'The Visitors' as Jonathan Dodd 'The Spoiler' as Roy Merrick and 'The Hangman' as Eban Muchen.
There were two doctors before Doc Burrage although neither of them were ever named or given credit.  Those two episodes were 'The Sharpshooter' and 'The Marshal.'  In 'End of a Young Gun' Lucas told Hank he would go get Doc Sedley?  Doc Burrage was first introduced to 'The Rifleman' in 'The Pet.'

Doc Burrage was a regular character ~ how many different actors played Doc Burrage? Can you name them?

Patricia Blair played the hot-tempered Irish lass who was a razor-sharp businesswoman, Lou Mallory, owner of The General Store, Madera House, a farm and several parcels of land.  Patricia Blair appeared in 17 episodes as Lou Mallory and was introduced to "The Rifleman" in "Lou Mallory."

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.

This is a great father and Son story! 

*Drummer - to drum up, to obtain or create (customers, enthusiasm, etc.) through vigorous effect.

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

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