It happened on a beautiful spring morning. Mark walked outside, sniffing the air and grinning really big. I called to my boy and told him to get the cow milked. He said he would, but then just stood outside breathing in the nice air. Buttoning my shirt, I went to the door. “Be sure you keep the chickens out of the barn.”
Mark rolled his eyes at me. “Yes, Pa,” he answered. Then he went over and chased the chickens out of the way. He sat down to milk Bessie, commenting on the beautiful spring morning. But suddenly, bits of hay began falling down on him. “Oh no!” Mark declared. “That ol’ chicken ain’t up there again, is she?”
Mark got up from the milk stool and climbed up the ladder. “Hey Bernice, you come down from there! Lay your eggs where we can find them.” He started calling for the chicken. But suddenly, he stopped.
There before him was a young woman and a boy asleep on her lap. “Hey…Who are you?”
The boy woke up and looked up at Mark. “My brother…He is very ill,” the young woman answered. “We…we took shelter here last night. I think he needs a doctor.” Mark scampered down the ladder and ran to get me.
After Mark left the barn, the young woman promised her brother everything would be okay. “What…if they find us?” the boy asked.
“They won’t find us,” the sister answered. “I won’t let them. Even if they find us, well…we shall handle it ourselves…won’t we?” She held up a gun then stuffed it back in her bag.
We had the doctor out at our house in no time. Mark stayed outside while I watched Doc Burrage examine Charles and determined it was the measles. “Hey, that’s an interesting looking medallion you got there, son,” Doctor commented.
Charles quickly hid it inside his shirt and looked at his sister as if having the medallion was a crime. He quickly explained that it was a gift from his father.
Doc told me he’d drop some medicine off in a few days. He told me to keep him here for a few days – he didn’t need to go into town. He’s already been overexposed as it is. Jennifer, the sister, suddenly piped up that it wouldn’t be necessary, but doc assured her it was. “And Lucas, don’t worry about Mark. He’s not liable to get them again.”
I followed the doc outside. “Quiet as a couple little mouses, ain’t they?” Doc declared. “Who are they, Lucas?”
“Well, like she said, Jennifer and Charles Morrison.” I explained to doc that they had been going to school back East when their father died. He left them a ranch out West.
“Does that sound like the truth to you?” Doc asked.
“More or less,” I answered." I figured she’d get around to it eventually.”
Doc decided to give me a piece of information. He had read in the paper from Denver about a woman and her brother who were going to school. “Well, it seems that they…uh…just ran away a couple o’ weeks ago. Just packed up an’ left.”
“What’s your point, doc?” I asked then. I didn’t much care for gossip.
“Oh nothing’,” he answered. “You know…that was a peculiar looking medallion, wasn’t it?”
“Uh huh,” I answered.
“Oh shucks,” Doc said as he picked up his horses’ reins. “I always did read too much. Con on, Archimedes!”
I shook my head. Turning, I looked at my boy. I knew exactly what he was thinking! Then I watched my son turn with the milk can and run right into Jennifer. He dropped the can and spilled some milk out. “Excuse me, ma’am! I’ll go get a rag!’ Mark declared.
I went back to my coffee as I stood by the porch. Jennifer thanked me for taking them in. She told me she’d always been very independent. I told her we all needed help sometimes. “I’m very anxious to learn how to run a ranch. I shall chop the wood, an’…an’…weed the field…an’ whatever you deem necessary.”
Boy, she sure was anxious! I assured her life on a farm wasn’t that hard – she might even like it! She assured me she was going to give it her best shot. She hurried back inside. Mark ran into her on his way back out. I shook my head. That boy! Mark hurried up to me. He was really anxious to hear the truth. He grabbed my arm excitedly. “Pa, did you ask her?”
“Ask her what?”
“About…about what the doctor said!”
I stopped my boy’s wonderment right there! “Now, Mark, just forget about what you heard.”
But Mark decided to argue with me. “Oh, but Pa…suppose she is?”
I had to be more stern with him. “Son, I said forget it…now! Whatever she is or she isn’t…she’ll tell us herself, no other way.”
“Oh, Pa!” Mark started. I quickly interrupted him, telling him we needed to set up a couple cots up – they’d be staying here. That got my boy all excited again. I started up on the porch and Mark practically leapt in front of me. “Here?” Mark asked.
“Here,” I answered.
Jennifer didn’t waste any time in learning about the farm. I taught her how to milk a cow. I explained to her that it was easier if she used both hands. She tried it and laughed, seeing the advantage of that. “You know, I did always drink it from tins. I…I really never thought about where it came from.” I smiled at the city girl!
Mark was confused. “Tins?” I laughed.
Next, I showed her how to wash dishes. Again, Mark watched with curiosity when he was supposed to be sweeping the floor. I told her to use hot water – wash, rinse, and dry. She even learned how to do laundry!
Then we got to the horseback riding. I took her for a ride around the ranch and gave her a few pointers. She was doing very well! She was surprised at how much land I had. While we were sitting still on our horses talking, Jennifer said, “Come on. I’ll race you home!” I tried to stop her, but she took off!
She beat me home alright, but Mark watched as the horse reared. “Hold it, Jennifer!” Mark warned. But she fell off.
I pulled up beside her and jumped off my horse. I hurried over and helped her to her feet. “Are you alright?” I asked.
“Perfectly delightful!’ she declared happily. She put her hands on my shoulders. “I won, didn’t I?”
“You sure did,” I answered. As I looked into her eyes, I could tell just how important learning this and succeeding was to her. I smiled at her. “You’re doing very well, Jennifer.” That made her happy. She hurried toward the house, but Mark stopped her.
Mark handed her the Medallion she had dropped when the horse threw her. He turned and smiled at me, hoping now he’d get some answers. But she volunteered no information – just stuffed the medallion in her pocket and went to get her brother’s dinner.
Mark sure was disappointed! I knew what he had planned and walked up behind him. I put my hand on his shoulder as he continued staring at the door. I looked at the door with him. "Ya' know Pa. I think the doctor was wrong about her."
“Why?” I asked.
“Well,” Mark folded his arms. “I’ve been watching her and she just doesn’t look like a princess.”
"Oh? Well how should a princess act?" I asked my curious boy.
“Well…Royal, I guess. You know what I mean! She…She even likes washing dishes!” Now, if you knew how much Mark hated washing dishes, you’d understand why Mark was so upset about this whole thing!
“Oh, now that is peculiar!” I declared. But then I gave him something else to think about. "You know something son? If Jennifer is a princess that would make Charles a prince, wouldn’t it?"
“Uh huh,” Mark answered. I walked away to avoid the explosion that would happen when he had time to think on that. Suddenly, Mark’s eyes grew wide. “Yeah!” he declared as he started toward the house.
Jennifer ran into the house, all excited! She started telling Charles all about her riding horses with me. Then she told him how exciting it was to wash the clothes and hang them on the bushes. She kept telling Charles it was “Exciting” and “Perfectly delightful!” A big smile was on her face. “Oh, and tomorrow, he is going to show me how to rope a calf!”
Charles had watched the expression on her face with great interest. Suddenly he asked, “I say, Jennifer! Are you in love with him?”
Her smile disappeared as his shocking question and observation. “In love with him?”
“Why, no Charles,” she answered. “What made you think that?”
Charles pointed out that she talked about me a lot. “I do?” She started thinking on this and realized that there was some truth to what Charles was saying. She left the bedroom with the try in hand. She stopped at the door, turned and looked at Charles again. He was right – she was falling in love with me!
."I'm feeling much better you know,” Charles announced. “We should be able to leave soon."
“Oh, that’s wonderful, darling! Just wonderful!” Jennifer answered as she sat down the tray.
"We are awfully lucky they haven't found us yet!" She agreed with him and opened the door to watch me while I brushed down the horses.
On night in town, two men got off the stage. A third man went over to them. “Any word?” one of the newcomers asked.
The man announced, “We’ve definitely traced them into the area. We’re canvassing all the farms. There’s no possible way for them to escape. We’re watching all the roads.” It was just a question of time.
The next day, Mark came home from school and hurried inside with a book. He caught Jennifer looking at his mother’s picture. Jennifer told Mark she was beautiful, but then we both knew that already! Mark studied the picture, then looked at Jennifer. “You look a little bit like her, Jennifer.” That made her happy.
Mark walked toward the bedroom. He wondered if Charles was awake. She told him he was getting dressed. Mark was surprised. She explained that I wanted to take him in to see the doc today. ‘Oh. Well then I guess that means that you will be leaving.” Mark was quite disappointed. “We’ll sure miss you. I mean we’ve gotten kinda used to having you around!” Mark declared.
Mark hurried into the bedroom and started dropping hints to pick up clues again. He told Charles about a book his teacher had given him called “King Author’s Book.” Mark stopped, waiting in anticipation for Charles to respond. “Oh my, that sounds kind of good,” Charles declared. “Doesn’t it?”
“Yeah,” Mark answered. He decided to drop another hint. “It sure must have been swell living in those palaces and all.”
“Yes, I imagine so,” Charles answered. Mark was a little disappointed Charles wasn’t biting! Then Charles asked Mark to fasten his suspenders for him. That was the end of that.
I was plowing the field when Jennifer ran out to give me some water. I welcomed the break since I didn’t much like doing sod busting work! As I took a drink of water, I noticed she had no shoes on. She laughed, stating she was trying to get used to going without them. “Well, you better watch out for the burrs,” I stated.
“Oh yes, I will. Thank you.” Suddenly, she announced she needed to talk to me about something. She seemed all bothered about it. “Well…I was reading in that almanac last night you see. And er…well…you’re plowing the field all wrong!”
I couldn’t believe it! “I’m plowing the f-“ I started. I tried to keep a grin from my face. Then asked, “Why?”
She hurried over to me, quite happy to oblige me with the information. “Well, it’s because….It’s because the drainage is all wrong, you see, for strong beans, I mean.”
“Oh,” I answered. “Well, I was thinkin’ about potatoes.” That embarrassed her a little bit. I had to make her feel better. “Is that all?” She said yes. “Well, I guess we’ll make a farmer out of you yet.” I smiled at her.
She changed the subject drastically then. “Mr. McCain, was your wife a blond?”
I told her my wife had hair about the color of hers. That made her happy for some reason. She picked something off the ground and handed it to me. “What’s this?”
I told her it was a redbud. "Locked inside is a lovely red flower. Not all things are what they seem."
"That's the way it is with people too," she said.
"No Jennifer, I don't think so. I think what people are shows."
She was surprised. She had trouble believing that. "You have never been fooled?"
"Oh...once or twice maybe. By occupations mostly.” She didn’t understand. “Professions. But not what's inside. Take yourself for instance. You seem different from when you first came here. But you’re not really. Your like the pod. You just needed a little watering and sunshine to make you a flower." She smiled at my compliment. I headed back to my plowing.
Jennifer hurried up to me. "I like you Mr. McCain."
I smiled at her. "I like you too, Jennifer." She paused. She then went to see if Charles was ready. I shook my head and went back to my plowing.
We all went into town to take Charles to the doctor. I called for the doc as we stopped in front of Milly’s store. Doc greeted us. “Lucas, you still think I was…uh…all wet?” Doc asked.
“All wet?” I asked.
“You know…about this situation here?” Doc patted Charles on the back.
“Maybe just a little damp, Doc. We’ll see,” I answered simply. Doc told me there was just no romance anymore.
Jennifer sure was enjoying her time in town. She watched as two boys pushed each other. As she waited for Lucas and the boys to get done at Docs, she wondered around. Then she stepped in front of the dress shop and saw a beautiful wedding dress in the window. She couldn’t help but smile as she admired it. We returned when she was sitting in the seat. I announced that Charles was now as fit as a colt. “You have a beautiful town, Mr. McCain,” Jennifer declared.
“Well, thank you, Jennifer. I guess we do,” I answered as I started the horses and headed for home.
The three strangers in town saw Jennifer and headed off to see us.
Mark told Charles a story about Indians as we rode home. They both jumped out of the wagon and ran off to play when we got home. I reminded my boy to be easy with Charles. Then I helped Jennifer out of the wagon. Jennifer didn’t want her time to end. She mentioned that they should leave the next day. “Well, there’s no time to rush, Jennifer,” I stated. “I mean, you oughta be sure Charles is well.”
“I love you, Mr. McCain!” Jennifer suddenly declared. I stared at her. Boy, I didn’t see that one coming! Jennifer hurried off, a bit embarrassed. I smiled and shook my head.
When Jennifer walked inside, Charles mentioned their leaving for California. She suddenly looked very sad. “Jennifer, what’s wrong?” Charles suddenly asked.
“Oh, nothing, child. That sounds very good,” she answered as she laid a gently hand on her brother’s shoulder. Suddenly, they heard a horse approaching. Jennifer hurried over to the door and peaked out the window. “They’re here!” she suddenly declared.
I was outside when two men approached me. “Mr. McCain?” I nodded. “May I introduce myself?” The man handed me a piece of paper.
I unfolded the paper and studied it. Wow! I whistled at it’s contents. “Just a minute.”
I walked into an empty house. I started to give Jennifer the news, but nobody was there. I looked in the bedroom. It was empty too. Just when I was beginning to wonder where everyone went, who should come in the back door looking all sneaky-like, but my very own child! Mark turned and stopped when he saw me. Somehow, I knew he had something to do with their disappearance. “Where are they son?”
“Gone?” I asked, waiting for an explanation.
“Out the back just now,” Mark answered. I started to go out the door, but Mark put a hand on my arm to stop me. “Give them a chance to get away, Pa! What difference does it make to you?” I patted his shoulder then went out the door.
I started for the barn, but turned to see Mark hurrying out the front door. I held my hand up, silently ordering him to stay there. Mark didn’t want to obey, but the men restrained him so he couldn’t come.
I started back for the barn. But suddenly, the door opened and Charles stepped out. He was holding a pistol on me. "Don't come any closer Mr. McCain." I ask him if Jennifer was inside. He shook his head no. “We’re going to borrow one of your horses.” I started inside anyhow, but Charles pointed the gun at me even harder and shook his head. “Don’t come any closer!”
I held out my hand. “Give me the pistol, Charles,” I ordered. Charles said no. I bent down on his level, looked the boy straight in the eye, held out my hand and said, “Charles…Give me the pistol” in a voice that grown men wouldn’t even defy.
Charles looked at me and knew I wouldn’t give him a choice. He handed me the pistol. “I’m sorry, sir,” Charles said as he stepped forward. I patted his back as I smiled at him gently. “She’s crying, sir.”
I turned and looked toward the others. “You wait here, son,” I said. Charles went to sit on the steps with Mark. I went inside to talk to Jennifer. I walked up behind her and took off my hat as she spoke softly.
"You see Mr. McCain, you have cultivated a flower. And now you have responsibility to it."
"That's right!" I said.
"Did you hear about my father?"
She still had her back turned to me. "Mm Hm. He died, so you’re the queen now."
She swung her head around. "No! Cause I won't go back! I loved my father, but I won't go back!"
Where will you go?” I asked quietly.
“To California. We shall get a ranch there like we planned.” Then she turned her head and looked at me again. I saw a look of hope in her eyes. “Or maybe…we shall stay here?" I listened to the anticipation in her voice. Her question surprised me a little bit.
"Here?" I asked.
"I want to be free, that's all I want! You see, a princess has to hold up her head, very straight. She cannot show her emotions or cry or run in the moonlight.” She looked at me then. “Or fall in love."
"But a princess isn’t a queen," I told her gently.
"I love you!"
I smiled. "Jennifer, love is the most beautiful thing I know between two grown up people."
"I do love you.”
"No...you love the idea of me. Home, freedom and family."
"Is it so incredible to want that? To want to be like everyone else?”
"Jennifer...different kinds of people have different kinds of responsibilities, that's what life is. And facing them and understanding them is what makes life good. You could never turn away from what you are. I think you already know that." She did. I could see it in her eyes.
“Your majesty,” I heard from outside.
I turned and looked at her. “Your Majesty?”
When she stepped out of the barn, Count Brissara and the gentleman with him took off their hats. Mark and Charles stood up and took off their hats. The Count stated he was happy to find her well. “We understand your…intense personal feelings. We recognize also your human factor your majesty, in human beings. It is possible for you to advocate in preference to a freer way of life if you so desire; but it is certainly not our wish, Your Majesty.”
Jennifer listened quietly. Then she gave her answer. “I cannot turn my face from what I am, and you know that as well as I do.” I sure was proud of her!
She turned to me. "Mr. McCain...my brother and I truly appreciate you hospitality, but we have pressing duties at home. Due to the death of my beloved father and the need for leadership.”
“I understand…your Majesty."
As she spoke, she took off her medallion. "However...we would like you to keep this medallion as a memento of our affection for your country. And by it...remember that friendship is the bond between us Mr. McCain."
I accepted it with great honor. "Thank you your Majesty."
piddlin' stuff.....Annie Farge played Jennifer/The Princess.
She was Angel in her own TV Series in 1960 ~ "Angel." She was on "I've Got a Secret" - Contestant 30. "Perry Mason" and "Kraft Suspense Theatre"
Michel Petit played Charles, the young Prince. He also appeared with Chuck in an episode from "Branded."
He played a gang leader in "Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte." He appeared in several TV shows, such as "Dennis the Menace" ~ "Shirley Temple's Storybook" ~ "Ripcord" ~ "The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters" ~ "Combat!" ~ "Bonanza" ~ "Gunsmoke" ~ "Rawhide" to name a few.
Robert Burton played Doc Burrage. What do we have here????? Another Doc Burrage?
Stephen Bekassy played Count Brissara. He was born in Nyíregyháza, Hungary. He has done many things: "Four Star Playhouse" ~ "The Gale Storm Show" ~ "The Rough Riders" ~ "Maverick" ~ "Tombstone Territory" ~ "Bat Masterson" to name a few.
Ron Penfound played Mr. Smith, one of the men who was looking for the Princess. He is credited as Ron Penford but is actually Ron Penfound.
Everyone who grew up in Northeastern Ohio in the late 50's and 60's remembers him as "Captain Penny", a local Cleveland icon. Captain Penny was produced at WEWS-TV in Cleveland, a major ABC affiliate at the time. I am guessing that the ABC connection landed him a part in the show.
Wonder where this medallion is today?
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
Bloopers for this episode & other episodes
around The McCain Ranch