There comes a time in a man’s life when he has to make the right choice, even if that means going against the advice of everyone around you – including your own children. I had to make one of those decisions – to choose to do what was right even if it meant dying. It was a matter of principle. The decision was quite easy to make, but difficult for others to understand. Let me explain.
You see, one day Blue Boy got really sick. He was so sick that Mark and I were really worried he would die, so we rode into town talk to Doc Burrage. As we were walking to the office, Mark was obviously worried and he suggested we give Blue Boy some sulfa and molasses, but I wanted to get the doc’s opinion.
As we knocked on his door, Mark stated worriedly, “Doc sure must know his business…taking care of people and horses both." I told Mark to stop worrying, but I knew how special Blue Boy was to him, so I knew I was wasting my breath.
Doc Burrage didn’t answer my knock, so I decided to go over to Micah’s and see if he’d seen him. “Do doctors have to go to school for a long time, pa?” Mark asked as we walked over there. I told him that doctors, lawyers and judges had to go to school for a long time to learn their jobs.
When we got into the marshal’s office, I was surprised to see the doc there tending a patient. There were also two men in there. Micah informed me that the man had gotten bushwhacked outside town.
"Bushwhacked?” I was surprised. “That's all open country!”
Micah agreed, "That's what so puzzling about the whole thing," he said. “The shots seemed to come from no wheres.” The two men were deputies and were on their way to Silver city for a trial.
Suddenly, the doc stated harshly, "Not much medicine can do for a dead man!"
"Might as well open the jail door right now and let Slade out," remarked one of the deputies. "Slade Burrows?" I asked.
Micah introduced the deputy to Mark and I as Deputy Phil Rogers.
I preceded to question the deputy about Slade Burrows. Even Mark had heard of this gunslinger.
“I couldn’t agree with you more! He’s just downright mean! That’s one part of this I don’t like. Leaving that boy of yours without a father for the likes of my brother! But he is my brother. He looks after me, I look after him. It’s an old family custom. And that boy will grow up with or without you, McCain. All kids do. So that’s how it is.” I listened to his speech, but still didn’t understand it.
He told us that Judge Marks from Silver City has been trying to get a case that would stand up against him in court. He had one until this witness got killed. I questioned what they had charged him with. He told me that about a month back Slade killed a man near Silver City, but he claims he was visiting his brother in Arizona Territory at the time. Now the only witness who could prove he was in Silver City was laying dead before us. I looked at the man closely. “That’s the same man all right,” I stated, recognizing him.
“Micah, you remember last month when I was over in Silver City on some cattle business?” Of course, Mark had to pipe in that he remembered! “I saw this man riding with Slade and another rider out near the Landon Ranch."
The Deputy stated the killing took place at that ranch. I then reported that I had seen a third rider who was an older man with a beard. "That's Elijah Manor, the man Slade killed," Deputy Rogers excitedly stated. “Mr. McCain, you just cut Slade Barrow’s Arizona alibi out from under him! It looks like you’re our new witness.
Of course since the first witness had already been killed, Micah wasn’t too thrilled about my being a witness. I know he was thinking from the heart instead of the head. Of course, at this point, Mark was really excited that I would be doing something so important. “Lucas, do you want to get mixed up in this?”
It didn’t take long for me to decide. There was only one right answer in my opinion. “I’ll be there,” I stated. As we were leaving, the deputy stated they would see me safely to Silver City. Ha! Right, I saw how the first witness safely ended up there. I had my own idea, and told him I’d get there myself.
We left to talk to Doc about Blue Boy. After I left, Micah worriedly stated, “Lucas McCain is one of the best-liked men in North Fork.” The deputy stated that he was sure going to make the judge happy. “Sure,” Micah answered. “If he gets there alive!”
I was walking outside when I heard Mark talking to his friend, Freddy. “We came town to get doc. Now my pa’s gonna be a witness.” Of course Freddy wanted to know what for. “Well, he’s gotta go to Silver City. What he knows is gonna hang Slade Burrows,” Mark was boasting to him. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told that boy not to boast! I wasn’t too pleased and interrupted Mark. Freddy left and I scolded Mark for bragging. “But everyone’s heard of Slade Burrows! And you’re gonna see to it that he get’s strung up!”
That boy! I quickly corrected his little mind. “I don’t know that I’m going to do anything of the kind. I saw something and it’s up to me to get up in front of the court to say so. I’ve always taught you to tell the truth. That’s all I’m gonna do!”
At the ranch, doc didn’t have very good news about Blue Boy. “He’s a pretty sick Colt. He may not pull through,” he informed me. I was worried about how Mark would take the death if he died, but the doc was more worried about something else.
He pulled me aside so he could talk to me without Mark’s hearing. “Mark can get over loosing a horse, but loosing a father’s something else. Whoever gunned down that witness will be after you next.” My mind was made up. I was going to do the right thing. “What you saw isn’t that important!” Doc protested.
"I saw Slade Burrows,” I argued.
"What happens to Mark if something happens to you?"
I didn’t want to think about that. I had to think about what was right. “A man lives by certain principles, doc. Take those away and he might as well be dead.”
Doc said that sometimes principles have to bend a little. "If you start bending principles, then they're not principles anymore. Like the fellow who says he wants to be a little dishonest, it just can't be done," I said.
“You’re a darn fool, Lucas!” But I knew he understood how I felt and respected me for my beliefs. I thanked him…for coming out.
The next day, Mark was at school. At recess he and Freddy started talking about my going to Silver City. Freddy stated that I was never going to get there. “Nobody’s gonna bushwhack my pa!” Mark stated confidently.
Freddy informed Mark that I wasn’t any different than anyone else, but Mark was indeed proud of me, so he stated, “Well, I know my pa! And if he says he’ll get there, he’ll get there!”
Freddy didn’t know when to stop though. That boy of mine had a temper, especially when things were said against me. “He’ll get there in a pine box, that’s how he’ll get there!” That was it as far as Mark was concerned. He fought Freddy for what he said.
Toomey was making a nice coffin for the witness. He told me he’d watch that ranch for me. I knew exactly what he was thinking.
While the fight was going on at school, I decided to go talk to Hattie about taking care of Mark. The minute I walked in, she started in on me! “Well, if it isn’t the town hero, Lucas McCain!” she stated sarcastically. I told her not to start. I just stopped by to see if she’d take care of Mark, not for a lecture! “You make me sick!”
I didn’t expect her to go that far! “Huh?” I asked, surprised.
“All day long I see people here in this store, but that don’t mean anything. Come night time I go home, what do I got? Nothing but a cat named Penelope that meows and craws up in my overstuffed chair. I’ve got nothing and nobody. There’s lots of other folks in this town that are just as lonely as I am. Yet, you don’t find them galley batting off risking their necks. And then there’s you! You got a fine son. And yet you just can’t wait to let somebody use you for target practice!” I was as good as buried already! “Well, you can’t fight what you can’t see!” Hattie argued. “Loneliness is just about the hardest thing a person has to live with. I’d give anything to have that boy of yours for good, but I know how much parents mean to a kid. I should. I never had any.” I felt for her, but I still had to do what was right.
I mentioned the “certain principles” to her, and that didn’t go over well with her either, “I’m a woman, Lucas. Don’t you talk to me about principles! Principles never tucked a boy in at night, or principles never washed behind his ears when he needed it.”
It was time for me to go, so I simply stated, “But they’re the only thing that will turn a boy into a man.” I gently thanked her and went on my way.
While in town, I heard about the fight at school. I knew I had yet another person I had to face about my decision. So I hurried home to find my boy. As I called his name, I heard him crying in the barn. Going in, I stood close to him and waited for him to talk. "He's no better Pa," Mark said. I knew that wasn’t all that was bothering him, but it was a good place to start.
"He might not get better son," I told him honestly. “You may just have to face up to it.”
Then he got down to what was bothering him even more. “I don’t want you to go to Silver City.”
“I know you don’t.” I still had to do what was right.
“Freddy’s pa says you won’t get there!” Mark stated.
Suddenly, I became very stern with him as I bent down next to him. “And I say I will, Mark,” I stated as I looked straight into his eyes. We locked eyes for a moment, and I knew he still didn’t understand, but he knew the word on it was final. “Now, let’s go get you cleaned up!”
I didn’t sleep well that night. I’m not sure if I was more concerned that I might get bushwhacked on my way, or if it was because I was upset that everyone else was concerned about me. Regardless, I tossed and turned most of the night.
My boy didn’t sleep well either. In fact, sometime in the night, he got up and went into the other room. He got a glass of milk. But he was really worried and restless, so he walked over to the door, opened it, and stood in the doorway, gazing out at the horizon we enjoyed looking at each evening from our porch. This time he was alone, and in the darkness, a small boy alone can fill the night with his own fearful imaginings. Fortunately, I woke and noticed his empty bed. When I found him standing there in the doorway, I came up behind him and just stood right behind him awhile, just letting him know I was there.
Finally, in the silence, I gave a voice to his fear. I said, "World looks awful big and lonely at night, doesn't it son?" I put a hand on each of his small shoulders and tried to reassure him, as I smiled down at my little boy. I wanted my smile to take away some of the burden my decision to go and testify had put on my son. Mark accepted it then. He knew nothing could ever really separate us, and that I would indeed return. We turned, closed the door, and went back to a more peaceful sleep.
The next morning when I came out of the house looking for Mark I saw a strange horse outside of the barn. I asked Mark if he knew whose horse it was. Without hesitation and as if it was the most normal thing in the world, he stated, “Oh, that’s Brad’s. He’s washing up outside.”
"Brad, Brad who?" I asked, concerned that strangers were inviting themselves onto my ranch without coming to me. “I don’t know. He’s the one that fixed up Blue Boy. Brewed up something special for him.” I knew Mark would love any stranger who fixed that horse, so I had to approach the next questions with caution. “It’s awfully early for a stranger to be up doctoring someone else’s horse,” I commented as I looked at his hat. That’s when Mark informed me that he spent the night in the barn. This concerned me a bit because a man usually asks for permission for a night’s lodging. I didn’t like the feel of this, but I kept silent. I had nothing solid to go on and I knew Mark trusted mankind. “What’s the difference, pa? Look how he fixed up Blue Boy.” The next words that came out of his mouth concerned me. “Brad’s my friend.” I had to set him straight on his trust of strangers. "You act in haste son, you repent in leisure." I told him that it's best to make friends slowly. Just then Brad entered the barn and introduced himself as Brad Davis. I was still a little suspicious of him, but told him I was grateful for his helping Blue Boy. Brad asked me if he could share breakfast with us, and I said he could. “You got a good-sized spread to attend here alone, Mr. McCain,” Brad stated as we ate. I assured him I wasn’t alone. Mark was a good work hand. Brad and Mark looked at each other and smiled. Brad was on his way to Silver City and had heard I would be going there. I’m certainly grateful the friends who seem to be so worried about me are making it know to strangers! “Pa’s gonna be a witness!” After all my lecturing, he was still at it. So, I sharply stated, “I told you not to boast about that, boy!” Brad wanted to ride along with me, but I had no intention on letting a stranger come along, so I simply told him that I wasn’t sure when I was leaving yet. I hadn’t told anyone, not even Mark, my plan. I thought it was best to keep the knowledge to myself.
As Brad and Mark went out to the barn, Mark told Brad he really didn’t want me to go to Silver City. This surprised Brad since Mark was so proud of me. Mark simply stated that he didn’t want anything to happen to me.
Micah rode up while they were walking into the barn. Brad wasn’t too happy to see him and watched from the door cautiously as Micah made his way inside. What Micah told me startled me a bit. Apparently, the person who bushwhacked the first witness used a rifle with a telescope mounted on it. I had heard of such things, but never seen anything like it. It’s pretty impressive, I thought. That’s when I decided to let Micah in on my decision on when and how to go to Silver City.
Tonight, after I make sure Mark is settled in for the night and asleep, I would leave for Silver City. A telescope wouldn't help the man then. I told Micah to come out in the morning and take Mark into town. That way no one would ever know I left. I felt pretty confident that everything would be okay.
I went outside to see Micah off and get Mark off to school. I just happened by Brad’s horse and noticed there was no rifle in the boot. As I was studying this fact, Brad came out and pretty easily figured out what I had just discovered. I knew a confrontation was about to happen. “Bout time for school, isn’t it, Mark?” I stated. “Go on, boy. Get your lunch. Go on.” I was trying to get Mark away from here as quickly as possible
Thoughts were already spinning in my head. I was trying to figure a way out of this latest situation. Brad asked me what was troubling me, and I just decided to be point blank with him. “That’s a pretty big rifle boot not to have any kind of gun in it,” I commented. Of course he tried to make a likely excuse that he sold the gun, but I wasn’t buying it. “Maybe you didn’t sell it,” I stated.
He slowly moved his hand to the gun he had strapped around him. “What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked cautiously.
“I saw the stock of a rifle in there this morning,” I stated, again getting right to the heart of the matter. “I don’t think you had time to sell it between now and then.” Brad suggested we get Mark off to school before anymore was said. As Mark walked out of the house, he asked Brad to stay. I was trying to get him out of there as quickly as possible, so I stated, “Sure he will, son!” I answered for him. “He’s our friend, isn’t he?” I said this last part sarcastically as I glared at Brad. Then I hurried Mark onto his horse and sent him away. As soon as Mark was gone, Brad whipped out his rifle from behind a hay bale. It was a “Lyman Special - ten power scope - full windage - elevation knobs. Optics, best made in Europe. I don’t think there’s more than three like it west of the Mississippi.” Brad was making me very nervous. He was putting that rifle right at me. “You don’t need a telescope at this range, mister! What are you waiting for?” I asked. Brad simply put the rifle back in its boot and ordered me into the barn so I could saddle a horse. He was planning on killing me, all right; but in his time. He wanted to make sure everyone thought I had set off to Silver City and then was killed, just like the first witness. “What’s Slade paying you for this, mister?” I was surprised to hear that Slade was his brother. “Brother or no, he's not much of a man to kill for,” I commented. With a gun pointed at me, he led me into the barn. As I walked in, I tried to think of a way out of this. I picked up my saddle to saddle my horse when suddenly we heard Mark call, “Brad!”
This distracted Brad and I hit him hard with the saddle, knocking him to the ground and the gun out of his hand. We wrestled. He grabbed a pitchfork to kill me with, but I happened to be laying beside a bale of hay and used it to block the pitchfork. He stabbed the bale instead of me. He then grabbed a halter off the wall and started swinging it. I was able to duck before it hit me.
Meanwhile, my boy grabbed his gun. I gave Brad a hard punch, knocking him out, then gasping for air, I hurried over to Mark and grabbed the gun from his hand. “What brought you back, Mark?”
“I got to thinkin’ bout what you said, pa.” Mark explained. I asked him what I said. He reminded me I had said something outside. “Oh, well I was just trying to get you out of the way so you didn’t get hurt,” I commented, still trying to catch my breath.
“Before you told me make friends slowly. Then you said Brad’s our friend. It just didn’t add up!” Mark explained.
“Well, I’m mighty glad it didn’t!” My boy had come through for me again! We still made a good team!
“Life sure is funny, Pa!” Mark stated. “How a person can be so good to animals and so mean to people!” I smiled. “That’s a sign of your growing up, son.” I commented proudly. He questioned this statement. “Well Mark, the older you get, the more question that don’t have answers!” I smiled at him.
The next day I got ready to go. My boy was right by my side to see me off. “Mark and I have fishing plans for sun up tomorrow!” Micah announced. Boy, I wish I could go with them! It was now time to say goodbye to my boy. It doesn’t matter what the occasion is, or how long it’s for, saying goodbye to Mark is always rough. “Bye son,” I said, trying to act normal. But suddenly, my boy jumped into my arms. He threw his arms around me and I gave him a kiss. I always relish these times! “I’ll be back in a couple days,” I promised him. “I know you will, pa!” Mark stated. I remembered something Hattie had said earlier. “Don’t forget to wash behind your ears,” I said tenderly as I put my hand behind his ear. “I won’t, pa!” Mark smiled at me. The goodbye was so much sweeter since we both knew I’d be back in a couple days.After one more smile, I put my boy down, turned around, jumped on my horse and rode away. It was easier to ride away from my son knowing for sure I’d be back!
piddlin' stuff.....Michael Pate appeared in 5 episodes - he first appeared in the 'New Orleans Menace,' he played Xavier, the man who thought Lucas to be 'a muchy man.' His next episode was 'The Second Witness,' he played Brad Davis, he was the man dead set on killing Lucas for testify against his brother. In 'The Visitor' he played Pete Morgan, he tried to kill Ann Dodd in this episode. In 'The Mescalero Curse,' he played Mogollan, an Apache Indian who put 'The Mescalero Curse' on Lucas. The last episode he played Sanchez, in 'The Executioner,' the Indian and one of the heavies that came to collect his share of stolen money from a friend of Lucas's that just got out of jail.
He also appeared with Chuck Connors in "Branded" in 'Call to Glory,' as Crazy Horse. [aka ~ Blade Rider, Revenge of the Indian Nations]
He was born in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. When World War II broke, he served in the Australian Army in the SWPA unit. He was later seconded to the 1st Australian Army Amenities Entertainment Unit - The Islanders - in various combat areas.
Michael Pate began his career in 1938 writing and broadcasting a program called 'Youth Speaks' for ABC Radio with George Ivan Smith. He also wrote for newspapers and magazines and began writing as a book and theatre critic. He started acting in 1941.
He also was a TV Series writer for "Rawhide."
William (Bill) Meigs has appeared in three episodes. The first episode wasDeputy Phil Rogers - remember him? He's the Deputy that offered Lucas safe passage to Silver City when he went to testify. We can understand why Lucas turned him down, being that his first witness got killed while he was guarding him. The last episode he appeared in was 'The Anvil Chorus,' as Sam Benson, he's the guy that went to get his guns from Nils when Nils was acting deputy marshal and Nils called him Lucas.
'The Sheridan Story,' as Colonel Cushman. He was in 'The Second Witness,' as
Robert Foulk played Toomey in several episodes of "The Rifleman." Remember him in 'The Raid?' He was the one who turned back - he didn't go on to help Lucas find Mark when he was kidnapped by Indians. Bummer! But Lucas understood! He was in 'The Second Witness,' 'Three Legged Terror', 'Outlaw's Inheritance' & he played Herbert Newman is the episode - 'The Lost Treasure of Canyon Town.' He also played Roy Trendell in "Green Acres."
Do you know what Toomey's first name was?
Hope Summers as Hattie Denton, owner of The General Store. Hope Summers appeared in 16 episodes as Hattie Denton. Hattie was first introduced to "The Rifleman" in 'Eight Hours to Die.'
Bobby Crawford Jr. was in this 'Eight Hours To die,' 'The Gaucho' and 'The Second Witness,' he played Freddy Toomey. He's the boy that told Mark his Pa wouldn't make it to testify against Slade Burrows.
He also appeared in his own series, "Laramie," as Andy Sherman.
He and Johnny appeared together in the movie "Indian Paint."
We all know who's brother he is, don't we? Do you know who is the oldest of the two?
Fritz Ford appeared in many episodes of "The Rifleman." He was also a stunt double for Chuck Connors on "The Rifleman" along with many other TV Series/movies as "Branded"—"Arrest and Trial"—"99 and 44/100% Dead"—"Soylent Green"—"Tomahawk Trail"—"Captain Nemo and the Underwater City"—"Target: Embassy"—"The Legend of Sea Wolf."
He was sometimes credited as Fritz Apking. He played football for the University of Washington.
William (Bill) Catching appeared as Tom Williamson in 'The Second Witness." He was the first witness that was killed on his way to Silver City to testify against Slade Burrows. He is also credited as the stuntman for this episode.
He also has appeared as a stuntman and a stunt coordinator and appeared with Chuck in "Branded" and "Ride Beyond Vengeance."
He has doubled for such actors as Glenn Ford, Peter Lawford, Robert Stack, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., and Lee Majors.
He has acted and has appeared as a stuntman and a stunt coordinator in just about everything imaginable.
Edgar Buchanan as Doc Burrage. Edgar Buchanan appeared in 6 episodes of "The Rifleman." Five episodes as Doc Burrage and one as Grandpa Fogarty in 'The Long Goodbye.' 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?
Jesse Wayne was a Stuntman for "The Rifleman" in 23 episodes. Besides a Stuntman, Jesse also performed behind the scenes as an Actor - Second Unit Director or Assistant Director - Special Effects - Miscellaneous Crew - Director - Camera and Electrical Department - Cinematographer - Archive Footage
How many actors played Nils or was it Niles or Nels? Was it Swenson or was it Svenson? See my Blacksmith page.
The telescopic rifle used in this episode was a Lyman Special ~ ten power scope ~ full windage ~ elevation knobs. Optics, best made in Europe.
The first modern telescopic rifle was developed in Germany around 1880 - I.E. about the time the episode is set. U.S. made telescopic sites had been around since the 1840's - they were long, running the full length of the barrel (which was shown in the episode), they were heavy, awkward, cumbersome etc. Telescope makers were capable, of course, of making high powered telescopes, but mid-19th century US scopes were usually relatively low power (2.5 to 3x or whatever - - usually nowhere near the 10x described in the episode). Thanks Renewed Fan!
Be sure & read Deanne's 'The Final Witness'
This story answers several questions... What happened when Lucas left North Fork to testify against Slade Burrows, AND why Lucas waited so long to teach Mark how to use a weapon. I hope you enjoy. Deanne!
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
Bloopers for this episode & other episodes
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around The McCain Ranch