"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
Mark and I were on a hunt for a cougar. As we rode along, I came upon some large cougar tracks. Mark was amazed. “Look at the size of that paw!” Mark declared. Mark wondered if it was the same one that got Sam Decovan.
“Those tracks are fresh, Mark. And they…they lead right over that way.” I pointed to a downward hill and a tree. Mark wanted to go with me. “No, you stay with the horses.” I could tell Mark was disappointed. “I won’t go far, son. I’ll keep you in sight. You’ll be safer that way.”
I started downward to follow the tracks while Mark took the horses over near a tree. I turned and held my hand up to him, indicating for him to stay right there. Then I walked on down the hill to track the cougar.
Meanwhile, Mark went to sit on the ground – away from the horses. He didn’t know it, but there was a cougar close by. He walked to a tree and climbed up it. It was right behind Mark! As Mark sat there, he suddenly heard the cougar cry out. He turned and stood up. He was staring right into the face of a cougar.
Mark was very afraid! He couldn’t say anything at first – he was terrified! But the cat kept screaming. As the cat grew angrier and more threatening, Mark finally managed to cry out to me with terror in his voice. "Pa.....Pa.....Paaaaa....!"
I came running and saw the cougar in the tree right near Mark. I immediately aimed and fired my rifle at the cougar, but I missed. The cougar jumped and ran off. I didn’t even noticed I had missed. I was too worried about what could have happened to Mark.
I was angry at Mark for disobeying me! I ran up to him. "I told you to stay over there with the horses, didn't I?" I yelled.
"I...I...I just came over here because it was shady...I thought it would be alright." You could tell Mark was still really shaken from his near death experience.
So was I! "Never mind what you thought! When I give you an order you obey it and no back talk! You remember that!"
"Yes sir...but the cat could have jumped me over where the horses were..."
I interrupted him. "I said no back talk Mark! Now what do I have to do to make you understand what.....?" I suddenly realized I missed the cougar. I was too busy blaming Mark for what had happened. I stopped yelling at him and looked at my rifle. He asked me what was wrong. “Me,” I answered as I stared at my rifle. “That’s what’s wrong, son. I missed. You wanted to come with me, but I said you’d be safe down here. And now you could be lying dead…because I missed.”
"But he ran off," said Mark.
"He could have just as easily jumped you Mark instead."
"But he didn't and...everything's alright now Pa." Mark’s voice was suddenly soft and full of concern for me.
"Is it?" I asked my son. I told him we better head home. I was upset with myself. There must be something wrong with the rifle. I just couldn't have missed, not at the time Mark needed me most. That's it! Maybe it's the rifle or maybe my eyes. There had to be an explanation for this.
Mark talked to me all the way home about some plans he had. He was still talking about it as we came inside. I sat down in my chair and just stared at my rifle…and thought…how could I have missed that Cougar? How could I have when my son’s life depended on it?
Mark rattled on about some of the kids willing to help on their school vacation. I really didn’t pay much attention to what he was saying. He was sure excited about his idea to build an irrigation ditch. His idea would allow us to plan whatever we wanted right in our back yard. "If you want strawberries some morning you could walk out back & pick 'em." “What do you think, Pa? Can we start on it tomorrow?” I didn’t answer, but just sat there thinking…”Pa?” Mark asked.
I turned to him and gave him a small smile. “Oh, I’m sorry, son. I guess I wasn’t paying attention.” He didn’t think I heard a word he said. “I heard you,” I tried to assure him. “We’ll see about it tomorrow.” I stood up and told Mark I’d be back before lunch. I was going to the gun shop to see Angus.
I raced into town. I was still pretty angry. I wasn’t sure at who at the moment. As I walked in, Angus asked me if I’d had any luck tracking the cougar. “That’s what I came to see you about, Angus.” I held up my rifle. “I’d like you to take another look at this.” He was confused. He’d just given it a thorough going over the other day. “Well, you better go over the sights again. They’re off!” I declared.
“Off?” Angus looked down the barrel. “In what way?”
“You’re the gunsmith. You tell me,” I answered. But he was confused. He started to tell me he double checked it, but I didn’t let him finish. “Well, you check it again!” I ordered. “And when you fix it, bring it over to Micah’s. I’ll be waiting.”
“Something went wrong?” Angus asked.
“Yeah. Something went wrong!”
"Al...alright Lucas...I'll get it right this time."
"You do that!" I said. Then I headed over to Micah’s.
I told Micah what happened. I also told him I took my rifle over to Angus’s. I’d already had some coffee and just paced back and fourth as I waited for Angus to finish his examination. Micah told me to have some more coffee, but I just ignored him as I continued pacing his office. "Lucas...Angus is one of the finest gunsmith in these part, he's entitled to one mistake.”
"Not when it come to my son's life he isn't."
"If you would have been shooting target practice you wouldn't have been so riled," Micah pointed out.
"I keep seeing that cat leaping at Mark's throat instead of running away. If that had happened..." Micah interrupted y grievous thoughts.
"If is a troublesome word."
"There wouldn't have been any if...if Angus would have done his job right," I declared.
“No...maybe not," said Micah.
I stopped then, and turned toward my best friend. "What do you mean...maybe?" I asked.
"Just that the gun sight might have been lined up proper," said Micah.
"Your saying it was me?" I asked.
"I'm saying it's a possibility, " said Micah.
"Not under those circumstances my good friend."
"Under any circumstances it could happen once," said Micah. He could see Angus heading towards the office with my rifle. Micah stood up. "Anyway...we'll soon know, here's Angus."
I told Angus that I hoped he fixed it right. Angus held up the rifle in front of me. “Nothing to fix.”
“What do you mean?” I asked quietly.
“Just what I said. Nothing was wrong with the sight. It checked out absolutely perfect.” He could tell I didn’t like that news! “Sorry, Lucas.” Angus left.
“He must be wrong, Micah!” I declared as I aimed my rifle and looked at the sights myself.
“If that’s what you wanna think,” Micah answered.
“Oh, what else can I think?”
“The simple truth,” Micah answered.
I glared at him. “You mean when it comes to a real emergency where Mark could have always counted on me…now he can’t? If that’s what you are hinting at, Micah, you say it out!”
“You’re saying it, Lucas boy,” Micah answered. “That’s why this incident has you afraid. Because the one time you missed might have cost Mark his life, You’re letting fear take over for common sense.”
I stood up and grabbed my hat. Micah wondered where I was going. “To see Doc Burrage,” I answered. “If it wasn’t the rifle, it…it must be something else.”
I started to walk out. “Like what?” Micah asked. I said it could be my eyes. “I don’t think so.”
“You a doctor?”
“No,” Micah answered.
“Then don’t give any medical advice!” Then I walked out.
The doctor tested my eyes. When I realized I could see it perfectly, I was even more upset. There was nothing wrong with my eyes. The doctor was surprised to see me so upset about the good news. He wondered if my trouble was something he could help me with. “Something nobody can help me with, Doc,” I said. Then I left.
I slowly approached Razor, my horse. Micah called to me. I ignored him. I got on Razor and he called to me again. I knew what he wanted. I didn't say a word, I just rode off. I was too upset to talk anymore. I need to think.
That night I couldn't sleep. I just lied in bed with the day going over and over in my head. Mark was starting to stir. Suddenly, Mark started to stir. He called to me. He was screaming about the cougar. I rushed to his side. I grabbed him by the shoulders and woke him up. He opened his eyes and clung to me. “You’re all right now, son.”
But he continued grasping me as he looked into my eyes. “Pa, I…I dreamt the cougar was gonna…” Mark started.
I was upset! “I know, son…I…I’m sorry I.” Mark told me it was only a dream. But I couldn’t get the reality of what happened out of my head.
He was worried about me. “Haven’t you been to bed?” he asked. I didn’t answer. I just told him to go back to sleep. I tucked him in and went back over to my bed to think some more.
When Mark woke up the next morning, he heard me shooting my rifle. Afraid that something was wrong, he jumped out of bed and ran out onto the porch. There he realized I was target practicing. He just stared at me. He could tell I was really bothered about something – something he knew I’d have to work out for myself.
Then I rode into town. Maybe a nice cold beer at Lou’s would help calm me down.
I wasn't there very long when Lou approached me. I wasn't very friendly. Lou even remarked about her new dress, but I had other things on my mind. "It's a little early in the day to be dinkin', isn't it?" I just turned and looked at her. I didn’t even smile. “My, you’re…you’re a screaming banshee today!” I just grunted and took another drink of my beer. “And sure now, I thought there was no end to my wit.”
That got an answer. “There’s nothing wrong with your wit,” I assured her.
“And there’s nothing wrong with you either, Lucas McCain!” Lou declared. “No matter what doubts you’re plaguing yourself with!” I turned and stared at her. “Micah told me,” she answered my silent question.
“He ought to mind his own business!” I took another drink of my beer.
"Maybe that's just what he was doing," said Lou. "As my father used to say...'when you have a true friend that's hurtin'...you'll be hurtin' too'! Lucas...do you think you're perfect? Because if you do, you're mistaken! No man's perfect!"
"I'm good enough not to have missed that cat! I tried to prove it to myself this morning with some targets."
"And?" asked Lou.
"I hit them all."
“So there!” Lou thought that proved her point.
“Hm!” I grunted. “Some pods on a bush, some acorns, what do they matter? I’m talking about my own won, when it counted.”
“Just tell yourself it won’t happen again,” Lou said softly.
"How do I know it won't happen again?" I asked Lou.
"You don't ask that question if you have faith in yourself," said Lou.
Just then a man by the name of *Ben Todd/Ben Kendrick, approached Lou. He apologized for interrupting us but wanted to talk to Lou. He told Lou how he had looked for her when he had gotten back into Denver, but heard she had sold out. He was hoping they would start up where they left off. “Ben, right now I’m not in the mood for your jokes!” Lou stated.
Ben wanted to start up where they left off. Lou stared at him. “We left off nothing, because we never began – except in your mind.” She knew he didn't come just to see her. He did tell her he had some railroad business to take care of in town. He wondered if they should be discussing private matters in front of a stranger. “Mr. McCain isn’t a stranger,” Lou answered him. He just turned and looked at me. I looked at him too. Lou asked him to leave but he wouldn't.
I stood up. "You heard the lady, mister, get out of here!" I demanded. He said he wasn't looking for trouble, just wanted to talk to Lou. But I was in a mood. I grabbed him and hit him. Then I grabbed him and hurried him out of the hotel and threw him out into the street. "Don't come back in here mister...don't you ever come back!"
After glaring at Ben for a few moments, I turned and hurried back into the hotel. “Lucas!” Lou started. I walked right past her. “Lucas, what’s come over you?”
I went back into the bar. “He asked for it, didn’t he?”
“You know he didn’t, not that kind of treatment!”
“Well, if you still want that drink with him, he’s outside,” I said as I shoved on my gloves. Lou said my name again. I grabbed my rifle. “Don’t lecture me!” Then I turned and walked out of the hotel.
When I came out of the Hotel Ben was waiting for me. He called my name as I put my rifle in it’s boot. I stopped and looked up, but I didn’t turn toward him. “McCain, I’m lookin’ for an apology you owe me.” I just stood there. “You heard me.” I turned and looked at him. “You don’t apologize, I’ll have to ask satisfaction. I’m waiting.”
I just stood there frozen. My body was toward my horse, but my head was turned back toward him. Silently, I stared at him. "Which is it going to be? Either you apologize or you give me satisfaction. One or the other!"
I grabbed my rifle out of it’s boot and turned around. “Now you want satisfaction, you've got it! Right here and now!" I said.
“Lucas!” Lou was shocked at my actions. I told her to stay out of it. I started forward, ready to take him on. He pulled his jacket away from his gun, ready for action.
“Alright, Mister. You name it.” He wanted to fire right from where we were.
We were just getting ready to draw on each other when Micah ran out and stopped us. “Now, we don’t’ allow gun fighting on the streets of this town. He knows it.” Micah pointed at me. “Now you know it too.” Todd wanted Micah to make this one exception, but Micah wouldn’t’ do it. Micah told him to keep his gun holstered.
“This doesn’t finish it, McCain. There’ll be another time…and another place,” Todd assured me.
I put my rifle in it’s boot and started to mount Razor. Micah walked over to me. “What are you trying to prove?” he demanded to know. I didn’t answer. “Do you realize you came near to killing a man for no apparent purpose? Why, it would’ve been little short of murder!” I told Micah he didn’t give me any choice. I was so angry with myself I couldn’t even think straight! “You could’ve gotten on your hors and ridden out. That’s what the man I knew two days ago would’ve done.”
“You’re right, Micah. I’m not the same man you knew two days ago, and I don’t know why.” There, I said it. I was confused about my own self!
“I know why,” Micah stated. “That cougar. You’ve been making excuses because she was too fast for you.” I turned and looked at Micah. The Cougar…Micah told me she was still roaming the south country. Merar’s cattle had a lot of trouble last night.
Micah knew what he was doing. He knew I would never be satisfied unless I killed that cat. I had to prove it to myself. It was time to get back to the task at hand. So I headed out of town and started to track her again, but this time by myself. Or so I thought. I didn't know that Ben was following me and was hoping to get a chance to settle what we hadn't finished in town.
I tracked the cougar for awhile. Ben tracked me. I went through the woods and up and down gullys until I came to a pond. I finally picked up fresh tracks and went through the bluffs. So did Ben. Finally, I grabbed my rifle and tied up my horse. I kneeled down near the pond to check for tracks.
"Hold it McCain!” I suddenly heard from behind me. I turned to see Ben ready to draw on me. “Stay right there! Don't move! McCain you had no call to do what you did in front of Lou!" I tried to say something, but he wouldn't let me. "A man can't take that kind of insult and just walk away with his tail between his legs and still call himself a man! You see McCain, you give me no choice, I think you can understand that!"
Suddenly, behind Ben up on the cliff I saw what I had been hunting for. I needed to warn Ben, but he just kept talking! "I heard in town you're pretty good with this gun."
I watched the cougar. He was getting ready to jump on Ben! I had to stop him! “I’ve said my peace, McCain,” Ben stated. “Now, I’m gonna give you the same chance I did in town. You could make your apologies to Lou, or you can face me. Your rifle against my gun. Only this time the Marshal won’t be around to…”
That’s it! It was now or never! I suddenly lifted my rifle and fired my shot before Ben could even clear his holster. I fired just in time – the cougar was jumping. Instead, he fell at Ben’s feet – dead!
Ben didn’t know what was going on until he saw the dead cat. I walked up to look at the dead cougar. "I guess I had you figured all wrong McCain.” I looked up at him. “I'd like to put our differences in back of us."
"Well I wouldn't! Not until I apologize first!" We smiled as we shook hands.
That night, Mark and I were getting ready for bed. I was feeling a lot better about things. Mark sat on his bed and took his shoes off. “I hope you have a good night’s sleep tonight, Pa,” he stated. “You didn’t last night.” I looked at him. “What was the matter?”
“Well, I guess I just lost sight of something, Mark,” I answered. Mark wondered what that was. “The fact that you’re growing up. You really are. That’s what Micah was trying to tell me.”
That got Mark to thinking. Now was a really good time to ask me. “Ah Pa…talkin’ about growin’ up…You know, Nils was telling me that he has a…a new man’s saddle for me whenever you’re ready.” I smiled and told him we’d see about it in the morning. That made Mark happy.
Mark laid down in bed. I stood up and went to pull the covers up over him like I usually did, but Mark stopped me. “Pa...I can do it."
I smiled. I knew he could do it, but it was still hard to give up these fatherly habits! They grow up too fast!
piddlin' stuff.....Rhodes Reason played Ben Todd/Ben Kendrick. He was the one who Lucas threw out of Lou's hotel. Lou calls him Ben Todd and the credits say he is Ben Kendrick?????
Patricia Blair as Lou Mallory. Patricia was first introduced to The Rifleman in Lou Mallory. She played a hot-tempered Irish lass who was a razor-sharp businesswoman. She joined the cast in the fifth and final season and appeared in seventeen episodes. Patricia replaced Joan Taylor who played Milly Scott owner of The General Store.
Eddie Quillan appeared in two episodes ― Conflict ― Mark’s Rifle as Angus Evans, the gunsmith.
Ralph Moody appeared in a total of twelve episodes of The Rifleman beating John Anderson and John Milford out at eleven episodes. He appeared in nine 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.
Doc Burrage: Six Years and a Day ― The Actress ― Dark Day at North Fork ― The Mescalero Curse ― Man from Salinas ― Quiet Night, Deadly Night ― Mark's Rifle ― Conflict ― Requiem at Mission Springs.
Doc Burrage was a regular character ~ how many different actors played Doc Burrage? Can you name them?
Tom Smith - How many times has Tom Smith been on The Rifleman? Is it 7 or 9? He was in The Queue as a customer in the dining room Outlaw's Shoes as a cowboy in town ― The Clarence Bibs Story as a cowboy in town ― Millie's Brother as a card player ― The Long Goodbye as a cowboy in town ― Suspicion as a cowboy in town and he was in Squeeze Play which later they used stock footage from Squeeze Play for Conflict and End of the Hunt.
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.
Doc Burrage was a regular character ~ how many different actors played Doc Burrage? Can you name them?
Bloopers - Conflict
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
Character Actors Index Page
Have you ever been watching TV or a movie and wondered who is that guy?
Bloopers for this episode & other episodes
Incident at Line Shack Six
The Anvil Chorus
around The McCain Ranch