A Proud Town
— episode #31
Two children were out in the wilderness on a cold
evening. They had a ways to go, and Mike told Abby
to drink while she could. Jason saw them and rode up
to them. He watched the girl try to drink from the
declared, not enjoying the taste of the water at
all. Mike softly stated that horses and cows drank
it, so it couldn’t be that bad.
“You two out here all alone?” Jason asked as he
walked up to the two children. The children,
suddenly fearful of this big man who stood over
them, jumped up. Mike clung to Abigail protectively.
Jason gently offered them some chow. “Did Mr.
Stoddard send you out here to get me?” Mike suddenly
“Mr. Martin Stoddard over in New Hope?” Jason asked.
“I knew it! Well, I ain’t going back!” Mike cried.
Jason assured the children Mr. Stoddard hadn’t sent
him. He was on his way to New Hope to do some work
“He’s got a gun,” the little girl observed as she
clung to Mike. Jason quickly hid the gun so it
wouldn’t scare the little girl. “And he’s bigger
than all the other ones!”
Jason lowered himself to be closer to the children,
wondering which ‘other ones’ the little girl was
talking about. “The one’s who are working for Mr.
Stoddard,” Mike answered. Jason quickly introduced
himself and told them he was on his way to New Hope
to build a new water system for their city.
“Now, how about the three of us having a nice, hot
They ate heartedly. Mike was sure glad Jason hadn’t
come to get him. He sure was obliged for the food!
Mike said they had to be getting’. “We have to find
a Texas Ranger,” Abigail announced.
“Well, that may take a long time,” Jason said
softly. “Why don’t you wait for good weather. Go
back home now.”
“I can’t go back home!” Mike argued. Jason told them
he sure wouldn’t run off two days before Christmas!
“Mike’s scared to go back!” Abigail declared. “He
shot Mr. Stoddard’s son.”
“I’m not scared!” Mike suddenly shouted. “But nobody
will listen to me unless I can get a big law man
like…like a Texas ranger to MAKE them listen!” Jason
gently told Mike he’d listen. “I didn’t shoot at
nobody, Mr. McCord.” Abigail explained to Jason that
Randy Stoddard got an awful bullet hole in his
shoulder and might die. “I didn’t shoot him!” Mike
“Mike, I know how it feels to be blamed for
something you didn’t do. But the best way to settle
it is to go back and face up.” Mike was still leery.
Jason promised him he’d talk to Mr. Stoddard and his
“We ain’t got no folks,” Abigail announced then.
Just Mr. Perrin.” Jason looked towards Mike for an
“Did he adopt you?” Jason asked.
“Hm?” Mike looked blank.
“Well…he just takes care of kids who ain’t got
folks.” He has eight kids in all. “And Mr.
Stoddard’s awful angry at him. He says he’s gonna
make him take all the kids and get out of New Hope.
That’s why we just gotta find a Texas Ranger!”
Abigail nodded her confirmation to Jason.
“Look kids…I think you better ride back with me to
New Hope in the morning,” Jason said sternly. “I
don’t know if I’ll do as well as a Texas Ranger, but
I sure will do my best.” Jason smiled, trying to
ease their minds.
“You won’t let them hang me?” Mike asked.
Jason leaned forward to look Mike right in the eye.
“Mike…The law won’t allow anybody to hang a young
“But in New Hope, Mr. Stoddard IS the law!” Jason
looked to Abigail who gave him a slight nod.
The moment they rode into town, two cowboys told
Jason to hold up. “Where’d you find the Indian pup?”
One of them asked.
“Outside town. I’m taking them home,” Jason
“Thanks. We’ve been looking for him.” The cowboy
told Jason to hand him down.
“I said I’m taking him home!”
The cowboy took the gun from his holster. “I said
hand him down.” Jason looked at the children, then
back at the cowboy.
“Alright.” Jason slid silently off the back of his
horse and reached up to Mike. “NO!” Mike cried.
Jason moved his lips as if to tell him to stay
quiet, then quickly turned and punched the men
giving the orders. Then he pulled his gun on them.
“Your starting a lot of trouble, Mister! Martin
Stoddard’s got business with that kid.”
“And I’ve got business with Stoddard myself. Where
is he?” The cowboy assured Jason he’d
hear from him. “Alright. Pick up that gun and move
out.” They did as they were told knowing they had no
choice. Jason re-holstered his gun then climbed back
up on his horse behind the children. They smiled at
They rode for the Perrin place. The kids and Mr.
Perrin rejoiced when the door opened and Jason
presented the two missing children. Mike quickly
explained who Jason was. Mr. Perrin automatically
wondered if the children had eaten. Jason assured
him he’d fed them. Mr. Perrin told the two children
to join the others. Then he apologized to Jason for
‘forgetting his manners.’ Mr. Perrin complimented
Jason on his coat, but declared he could have done
better with the hat. Jason laughed, admitting that
his hat was in pretty bad shape.
Mr. Perrin again thanked Jason for bringing the two
little one’s home. He explained that he was sick
with worry, but he couldn’t leave the other children
to go looking for Mike and Abigail. “I have this
rushed order for the doctor, and if I finish tonight
there will be money for Santa Clause.”
Jason wondered how he had come upon his family.
“Oh…Debra came first. A little baby all alone in a
covered wagon, crying beside her dead father and
mother. Disease took them.” Jason was surprised this
tailor had taken on a baby all alone. “Nobody would
touch her.” He said then there were five…eight…”Then
next week there will be ten.” He smiled about it as
if it were the most natural thing in the world.
“Word gets around. They just send them to me now.”
Jason stood and walked over to Mr. Perrin as he
worked. “Mike told me about the Stoddard boy getting
shot,” Jason announced in a hushed voice.
“He went with Randy. And he told me it was the boy’s
idea to take Stoddard’s gun. But about the shooting,
he won’t say anything.” Jason assured him he’d go
see Stoddard and try to straighten it out.
Mr. Stoddard thanked him, but told him it was too
late. “For a long time, he wants me to go from this
town. Now the shooting gives him a better reason. He
bought the mortgage on this shop. Now I owe him for
a long time back. Now he wants me to be out next
week before the new year.”
“Well doesn’t he realize you’re doing the whole
town’s job? You’re running a home for orphans!”
“You see…In some ways, Martin Stoddard is a good
man. All alone, he built this town. Only this shop
is an eye-sore with him. He wants to tear it down.”
Jason said Stoddard should be paying him. “I’m
different. My speaking ain’t so good, and I don’t go
to their churches. So, Mr. Stoddard and this
town…don’t understand me. To them, Mike is not a
little boy. He’s an Indian…a savage. Do you know
what it feels like to be different, to be an
“Yes, Mr. Perrin. But you’re not a criminal.” Jason
advised him not to let them buy him out like he was
“But you can’t force people to like you,” Mr. Perrin
“But you CAN force them to respect you.”
At Mr. Stoddard’s house, his son Randy was
desperately trying to tell him something. Martin
kept trying to tell him to stay quiet. Stoddard and
the doctor talked. Dr. Coats told him it didn’t look
good. The bullet was dirty. There would be
complications – infection.
As the doctor and Stoddard came down the stairs,
Grace Stoddard ran up to them, begging the doctor to
tell her about her son. Dr. Coats assured her he was
doing everything he could. Stoddard was upset. He
was trying to raise a town with fine, Christian boys
could grow up to be young men. “Is this the tanks I
get? My boy to be shot?” Dr. Coats assured him he’d
be back after making some calls.
Jason had been waiting
quietly by the Christmas tree. He stepped forward
and introduced himself, explaining that he was the
engineer he’d hired. Stoddard apologized, informing
Jason he’d come at a bad time. His son was very ill.
He had a meeting with the town council on the new
town hall. “I know it’s Christmas Eve,” Jason
started on a different topic. “But there’s the
matter of…Julius Perrin and his children.”
Immediately, Stoddard wanted to know what Jason knew
about it. Jason explained he found Mike after he ran
“So…You brought the Indian kid back. The one who
stole my gun and shot my boy.” Jason suggested it
was an accident. “No such thing! Being raised by a
man like Julius Perrin…That kid’s a godless savage!
All those kids are animals! I’m clearing them out of
this town!” Perrin announced angrily.
“Like sweeping the dirt under the rug if you can’t
see it, it’s not there. Is that it?” Jason
questioned Stoddard as he walked up behind him.
That made Stoddard angry. “Who do you think you
are??? I just want that Indian kid.”
“And I don’t think we should turn him over until we
have a chance to talk to your boy,” Jason answered
“You’re not going to see my boy. You don’t have a
job here anymore, Mr. McCord. I suggest you leave.”
“You decide about everybody who stays and leaves
this town?” Jason asked then. Stoddard ordered him
to get out.
The cowboy who had caused all the trouble in town,
Regan, saw Jason leave. “I want you to get Perrin
and his kids out of here. I’ve taken enough. Nobody
can blame me for foreclosing a few days early. Give
them a wagon and team and…Give them this one-hundred
dollars. Make them get out of here tonight!”
Regan did as he was told. The children, oblivious to
what was going on, were excited about the fact that
it was Christmas Eve night. “Where shall I go? How
can I get another shop for so little? What will
become of the children?”
Jason felt bad for Perrin. “Stoddard can’t make you
leave tonight.” Perrin said Stoddard’s man said he’d
wait at the edge of town with the hundred dollars.
“But I will not go. It is bad enough for the
children not to have Christmas, but to have no home
on Christmas…NO…I will not go tonight!”
Suddenly, Mike and Abigail were there begging for
Mr. Perrin to tell them a Christmas story. They led
Mr. Perrin to the table. “The Night Before
Christmas,” Abigail pleaded.
“Now let me see…The Night Before Christmas…It’s a
good story…A very fine story. Only the beginning…The
beginning I forget.”
“Twas the night before Christmas…” Abigail started.
“Oh that’s the beginning? But that’s the name of
Jason smiled at the scene, but came to the rescue,
knowing Mr. Perrin didn’t know the story. “I think
it all…goes like this.” Jason walked up to the
table. Gentle as could be, he started telling the
story. “Twas the night before Christmas when all
through the house…Not a creature was stirring…Not
Meanwhile, Stoddard was meeting with the town
council. He presented the keys to the new Grange
Hall. The men cheered. He stated it was just another
step in the plans he had for New Hope. “I want a
bright, clean, shiny town…A proud town! Next week
I’m tearing down the old saddle shop, and the
rickety tailor shop next to it. I’m going to build a
new church there…so we don’t have to depend on a
circuit parson passing through here on Sundays.”
While Stoddard was making his speech, Jason went
back to Stoddard’s house to see him. Grace assured
him she didn’t know when he’d be home. “When he does
come home, will you speak to him about Mr. Perrin
and those kids?” Jason asked softly. Grace admitted
she hardly knew her husband these last few days.
He’d always been kind and generous. Jason begged
Grace to talk Stoddard into giving Mr. Perrin some
time. “The old man was trying hard to make a suit so
he could earn a few dollars to make a Christmas for
those kids. Well, he ran out of time. Now the best
they can hope for is to wake up tomorrow morning
with a little candy and a few balloons I got for
them. Don’t let Mr. Stoddard take that away. Don’t
let him run those kids out on Christmas eve.”
Grace was moved by Jason’s speech. She assured Jason
she’d try to talk to her husband. Little did they
know that above, Randy was listening.
When Jason got back to Perrin’s place, he found two
men trying to force Perrin out of the house. Jason
immediately started fighting them. Mr. and Mrs.
Stoddard came in while this was going on. “You’ve
got the real Christmas spirit, haven’t you,
Stoddard?” Jason lit into him. But Stoddard didn’t
want to listen. He announced that Randy was gone.
His wife had told him Jason was there. If Jason said
anything to send the boy away…
“I didn’t even see him,” Jason said quietly.
“If anything happens to him, I’ll kill you!”
“If you sand there making threats, you may kill the
boy,” Jason informed him.
Suddenly, another cowboy came in, announcing Randy
had been found. Stoddard ran out the door. Jason and
Grace followed him into the new Grange Hall where
the doctor was examining the boy. Dr. Coats was
surprised. His infection seemed to be down. “I guess
being out in the cold and the snow must have
“Dad, I was going to Mr. Perrin’s to see Mike and
the other kids,” Randy explained. “Dad, Mike’s my
very best friend. I was taking some of the presents
to the kids.” Dr. Coats announced that when Randy
had been found, he was dragging a bag of toys.
“McCord said they’re not going to have anything
tomorrow. Mike didn’t shoot me, Dad. He didn’t steal
the gun either. I did.” Randy had tried to tell him,
but he was so mad. Stoddard wondered why the Indian
boy didn’t say anything. “I guess he was scared that
nobody would believe him. He knew you told me never
to go near that gun case. We only wanted to play
Cowboys. He tried to talk me out of it.”
The gun had gone off. Mike had tried to carry him
It was Stoddard’s turn to face Mr. Perrin. “I guess
when a man gets so big and important, he can tear
down old buildings and put up what he likes. Seems I
did the same with people.” Jason assured Stoddard
he’d done a lot of good things for New Home –
including the new orphanage he’d just built.
“New orphanage?” Mr. Perrin questioned.
“Yes. Mr. Stoddard’s painter made a mistake on the
sign outside. It says ‘Grange Hall.’” Jason turned
back to look pointedly at Stoddard.
“Oh yes…of course…the orphanage…” Stoddard laughed
nervously. “I’ll have that sign taken care of right
Christmas day was wonderful in the new orphanage.
Mr. Perrin declared that was his first Christmas
Day. Stoddard declared he didn’t want Mr. Perrin to
give up his tailor business. He wanted two new
suits! He also wanted Jason to get started on his
job…right after Christmas!
Mike had a Christmas gift for Jason: a wooden saber.
"I made it myself," said Mike. "I saw yours was
broken." "Merry Christmas Mr. McCord."
"Thank you Mike. That's the nicest Christmas present
I ever got." "Merry Christmas!"
“Merry Christmas, kids!” Jason declared. The
children all said Merry Christmas back.
“MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!” Jason said again.
*Thanks to Michelle Palmer for writing this episode!
around The McCain Ranch