"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
It was one of those nice, lazy days for Mark. He and his friend, Lorrie,
went looking for arrowheads. Mark was going a little too slow for
Lorrie. "Come on slow poke! I'll race you!" Exclaimed Lorrie as she got
a head start. They had raced
and jumped fallen trees for quite a way,
with Mark winning. When they finally stopped, Lorrie exclaimed, “So, you
beat me! Do you have to be so smug?” Mark said he didn’t say a word.
“Well…you were thinking it!” Lorrie exclaimed. Mark just smiled. He knew
He told Lorrie that where they are going wasn't too far there; and Mark
decided to cut through the old hermit, Tony's property. When they got to
Tony's place the road had been wired off with a "NO TRESPASSING" sign
and Joe Stanic, an old acquaintance from the old country, was getting
ready to cut the wire when the kids rode up.
Mark asked him when Stanic when Old Tony had fenced off the trail. "I
don't know when he fenced it off...but I know it's not going to stay
that way. That man has pushed me just a little too far!" Said Joe as he
walked over and cut the wires to the fence.
Suddenly shots rang out. Joe mounted his horse and took off. The shots
spooked Lorrie's and Mark's horses. When they got them stopped there
stood Old Tony holding a rifle. He slowly approached the kids. "Don't
you know enough to ask a man's permission when you cross his land?"
"My Pa asked you once...you said it was alright," Mark reminded him.
"I don't believe you! Who is your Pa?" Tony asked.
"Lucas McCain.....and he did so ask ya'!" Tony then scolded them for
running their horses. He ordered Lorrie and Mark to take care of their
overheated horses by giving them some water.
Lorrie and Mark did water the horses. Lorries told Mark that Tony scared
her and she wanted to leave. Mark told her he heard a lot of things
about Tony, but was beginning to think his bark was a lot worse than his
bite. Tony came out of the house and told them not to let the horses
drink up all the water, being that it had been a dry year. Mark thanked
him and told him they would be leaving. Tony then asked them if they had
a lunch in their saddle bags. Mark told him the bags were for
arrowheads. "We're looking for old Indian Flintstones," said Mark.
Again he scolds them, this time for not having any food on them. They
ride all over the country then go home hungry and fill up on pie and
belly ache all night. Lorrie and Mark couldn’t help but laugh. He told
them to come into the house and he would feed them.
Tony had fixed them a mighty fine spread of meatloaf and potatoes. The
kids really enjoyed their meal and thanked Tony for it. Mark noticed a
guitar leaning against the wall and
asked Tony if he played as he picked
up the guitar. Tony just about bit off his head and grabbed the guitar
from Mark's hands.
Mark was a bit taken aback by Tony’s brutality. “I wouldn’t harm a
musical instrument, Mr. Tony!” Mark declared. “A guitar’s like a
friend…or…or a part of you. I have one of my own.”
Tony calmed at Mark’s explanation. “Oh, I didn’t mean to holler,” he
apologized. “It’s just that…it’s a keepsake kind of.” He didn’t suppose
it was any good for anything anyway.
Mark sat down and started
tuning the guitar. Old Tony complained that strumming wasn’t any
good unless one sang to the music. He complained about the songs of
today – they’d all gone to ruins like everything else. There were no
pretty song left…like
be patient while this song loads, it may take a few seconds to load
but is well worth the wait!
note..... when clicking on the link to this sound wav - it will
download to your computer.)
Mark smiled as he began to play. Then he sang the words as Tony sat
mesmerized, listening to the beautiful song.
*Please be patient while this song loads, it may take a few seconds to
load but is well worth the wait!
Tony and Lorrie enjoyed listening to Mark as much as Mark enjoyed
playing and singing for them. But Mark’s singing that song took Tony
back in time. It made him sad. “I had a son once. He was about your age.
He used to sing that song to me in the evenings. That was his guitar,
you know. Oh, it’s been a long time since I heard music like that!
You're the first company I had. A man feels lonely for someone to talk
to. Perhaps that's why I holler so much...because I’ve sort of forgotten
what it was like to hear the sound of a human voice."
It was time for Lorrie and Mark to leave. They had quite a ways until
they would get to Red Bud Canyon. Tony told them there was a lot more
relic's right here in Sycamore Canyon. Mark reminded him that it was his
land and no one was allowed there. Tony gave them his permission to look
for Indian relics on his land. They couldn't thank him enough and told
him they would bring some arrowheads back for him.
That afternoon, I rode into town to see Micah. I told Micah I’d have
half a cup of coffee. I teased Micah that it was time for him to invest
in a new coffee pot. Micah wondered why I was in town. “Having supper at
the hotel with Mark and Lorrie. If they ever get here,” I answered.
“They should’ve been here by now.”
Suddenly, Joe Stanic walked in. He was angry! “I demand you do
something!” I couldn’t help but laugh at how angry Stanic was. Micah
wondered why he was so angry. Stanic said Tony ought to be put away.
“Ever since we came over on the boat together, I’ve had to listen to his
insults!” Micah wondered what his complaint was this time. “He took a
shot at me. That’s what! He tried to kill me!”
I stood up and invited myself into the conversation. I tried to calm him
down. “Well, why don’t you ask your own boy? He was there!”
At the mention of Mark, I really got interested in the conversation. I
asked Joe where Mark and Lorrie were. He didn’t know – he’d hollered for
them to go with him but they didn’t. “Joe, are you sure that Tony took a
shot AT you?” He said he wasn’t a man who joked much.
Micah and I decided to ride out and see what was going on. Joe also came
Lorrie was busy looking for arrowheads while Mark set under a tree
sleeping. She was getting discouraged because she hadn't found any for a
while and was surprised that Mark was sleeping under the tree. She
approached him and asked him what he was thinking about. "About Old Tony
and how lonesome he must really be."
Lorrie was thinking about Old Tony too. "I wonder what his wife was
like," asked Lorrie. Mark didn’t respond. He was busy napping.
"Mark?” Apparently, Lorrie wasn’t going to leave him alone. He put his
hat back on top of his head. “Do you ever wonder what your wife will be
like...I mean when you get married?"
"I suppose so.”
"Well...what would she be like?" Lorrie wondered.
"Real pretty and a good cook," Mark teased.
"Oh Mark...can't you ever be serious?" she scolded him. "Do you think
that is all there is to marriage?"
"No...not really! There's a lot more.”
"Well...Pa and I was talkin' about it once. He was talking about my
mother. I'll never forget a thing he said. He said that they were more
than just in love...they were friends.”
"I don't think I understand," said Lorrie. "Well he meant that she was
someone he could talk to....about his troubles and about anything."
"Like us Mark?" Lorrie suddenly asked with a big smile on her face.
He laughed. “Sure I guess...we're best friends and we can talk..." Mark
suddenly realized where this talk was going. He stopped. “Uh…” He sat up
straight and suddenly looked really nervous. “You better go look for
those arrowheads if you plan on getting any. And don’t go off too far
and get yourself lost!”
That made Lorrie mad. She suddenly got to her knees and planted her
hands on her hips. "Mark McCain...will you stop treating me like a
little girl?" Lorrie grabbed her sack and took off to look for more
Mark was relieved. He laid the hat back over his head, leaned against
the tree, and went back to his napping.
When we got out to Tony's Joe showed us where he had his run in with
Tony and where he had seen Mark and Lorrie. Just then we heard two
shots; it was Tony with his rifle. Micah told him we wanted to talk to
him. He didn't want to talk to Joe. The two just kept arguing. “Tony, I
just want to talk to you about a couple of children,” I shouted. “My son
Mark and a young girl.”
Tony permitted me and Micah to come up and talk to him. Joe had to stay
there. When we got up there, I questioned Tony on the whereabouts of the
kids. “All I want to know, Tony, is where Mark and Lorrie went after
they left here!”
But before Tony could answer, Joe started his shouting again. That got
Tony to shouting back. Before we knew it, they were shouting at each
other over something about cows. Tony suddenly lifted his rifle toward
Joe. I hurried over and ordered him to put down his rifle. “Now look,
Joe…You either shut your mouth or get out of here!” I asked Micah to
send Joe home. We weren’t getting anywhere with him here!
Finally, Micah told Joe that he was checking into his complaint and he
had to leave. Joe told Micah that if he didn't take care of Tony he
would go straight to the governor, and then he rode off.
While Mark napped Lorrie went ahead looking for arrowheads. While
searching, she wandered further and further away. Before she knew it,
she had wondered right into a swamp full of quicksand. Her feet suddenly
couldn’t move. She started screaming for Mark as she struggled to get
Mark finally woke up from his nap and stood up to find Lorrie. They had
to get started back home. But as he hollered for her, she didn’t answer.
It didn't take long before Lorrie was up to her waist in quicksand, not
being able to move, she kept screaming for Mark.
Mark started looking for Lorrie and calling her. The more he called, the
more worried he got. "Lorrie...Lorrie...Are you alright?"
We tried talking to Tony. "What do you expect when the three of you come
breaking in here with guns all over you? What's a man expected to do? A
Man's got the right to protect his property, don't he? Or do you tell me
that the law only works for Joe Stanic?" Tony yelled.
"The laws available to you if you want to use it, same as anybody
else...but you keep hiding out..."
Tony didn't let Micah finish, he interrupted him. "This is my ranch...I
can live alone if I want to. There is nothing for me out there...never
has been...not since my wife died," said Tony.
"Well I lost my wife too Tony...quite a while ago...I didn't like it
either, but the world kept right on turning," I told Tony.
"Ah that's easy for you to say...you had son to look after and love. I
did to...but no more. I lost a son too."
"Maybe you can understand why I might be worried about mine!" I declared
“Yes I can understand that," said Tony. "You see I was just starting out
after them when you came in. Maybe that's why I lost my head, sorta.
Maybe that's why I got the feeling if anything should happen to the two
kids it was my fault. It was I who sent them into Sycamore Canyon," said
Tony. That concerned Micah. He was afraid they might have gone beyond
the canyon and into the swamp. Micah said that place was full of quick
sand. I told Micah that Mark had better sense than that. Tony said there
was no reason for them to go beyond the canyon. The Indian burial ground
is at this end. "I just want to help now Mr. McCain, that's all. I just
want to help."
“The main thing now is to get over there and look for them!” I declared.
Mark kept looking and calling for Lorrie. Suddenly he heard Lorrie
yelling for help but he couldn't find her. "Lorrie...I can hear
ya'...just keep on yelling.”
“Mark! Mark! Help! Help!” Lorrie screamed.
Mark was very concerned. Her screams sounded frantic. He kept following
the sound of her voice until he came upon her stuck in a swamp. The
quicksand was up to her chest by now.
He rushed to help her. He reached for her hand and tried to pull her out
of the swamp, but with the force of trying to pull her out he just
pulled himself into the swamp with her.
When we got to Sycamore Canyon we came upon their horses, but no kids. I
hollered for Mark, but got no answer. We found where they had dug for
arrowheads. Further up I could follow Mark’s and Lorrie's tracks. It
looks like Lorrie had gone on ahead and Mark followed. I told Micah and
Tony that the best thing was for the three of us to split up and circle
back. Hopefully, one of us should run into them.
Tony went up the hill toward the canyon. He heard Mark and Lorrie both
yelling. Then he saw the problem – both Mark and Lorrie were in the
I was getting worried, it would be dark in an hour and those kids could
have gone into any one of the many canyons. “Micah, I can’t believe Mark
would get lost – not in this country!” I declared. Micah suggested that
Mark got hurt and the girl went for help. He wasn’t helping me any!
“Micah, do you think there’s any possibility that I haven’t thought
about?” I told Micah all we could do was keep looking.
Mark tried to keep Lorrie calm, but it wasn't working. The more she
struggled the worst things got.
Tony rushed to the road and called to me, telling me to come quickly, he
had found them in the swamp in quicksand. I grabbed my rope and followed
Tony to where they were. Fear gripped my heart! I ran to the swamp as
fast as I could. All the time, I could hear the kids’ screams! I knew
time was of the essence.
Lorrie was struggling. Mark was doing his best to calm her, but to no
avail. “Lorie, be still! Don’t move!” I demanded as I made my way out
onto the edge.
“Pa, hurry up!” Mark screamed in panic.
“Be still, kids!” I ordered as I slowly edged my way on the hard land
with the rope.
“Pa, hurry!” Mark begged again.
“Don’t move!” I demanded again. When I was as far out on the hard land
as I could get, I threw Tony one end of the rope and tied the other end
around my waist. The kids continued panting, fearfully as they continued
sinking deeper into the quicksand. I bent over and grabbed mark around
the shoulders. I ordered him to hold on tight to Lorrie while I pulled
I pulled Lorrie away from Mark and held Mark against me for a second,
happy I could once again hold him in my arms. I was thankful he was
So was Mark! "Pa...I sure am glad to see you!"
"Me too son,” I declared between breaths. “Me too." Never, had I been
more happy to see him!
We got the kids back to Tony’s and let them warm up by the fire as they
sipped hot tea. Micah lectured Tony. There wouldn't be any charges this
time, but he can't go waving the shotgun around anytime the notion
struck him. Micah told him that he would admit that Joe Stanic was hard
to get along with but, so was Tony. "Maybe if you two old goats would
stop butting heads together....."
Tony stopped him. "I guess I've been alone too long, I've forgotten how
to get along with people.”
“You made a good start toward it today, Tony.” I would be forever
“Ah…kids getting into trouble…tracking mud all over the house…They
didn’t even remember to bring me the flints they promised me!”
Lorrie told him that she lost all the good ones in the swamp, but she
and Mark would come back another time and get him some. Mark agreed.
"Huh...so you're gonna come back to see me," laughed Tony. "I didn't
even ask ya'! Next thing you know they'll want me to take them to the
fancy hotel and buy them supper."
“When that time comes Tony, the supper will be on me and I hope it will
be soon,” I declared.
Tony then turned to Mark. "Hey! What you sittin' there for? You said
yourself the guitar need tuning! Well go ahead...tune it up!" I just
shook my head as we all laughed.
piddlin' stuff.....Stefan Schnabel
as Old Tony, the man who welcomes Mark & Lori into his home.
Martin Kosleck played Joe Stanic. He was the one who filed a complaint against
I want to thank each & everyone of you who have visited The Rifleman....."Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
Please stop back
often.....I do have some new things I am presently working on. ~Cowgirl!
around The McCain Ranch