The Rifleman
"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"

Episode 51

It was Saturday again and Mark and I were riding into town to do more of our Saturday chores. I waved at old Matt Simmons (Pop) as he came out of the saloon where you could find himThe Rifleman - Legacy - Episode 51 on a daily basis. He appeared to have been drinking a lot again. After stopping the wagon, I heard some commotion from behind me. The Mitchell boys were on their horses. Both had a hold of Pop’s arm and were going around and around with him. I jumped off my wagon and yelled at them, but they paid me no mind. I went up to them and grabbed their horse. “That’s enough of that!” I demanded. I was afraid they might hurt Pop.

"We were only funnin', Mr. McCain,” one of the boys stated. I told them their fun was over and to get going.

“They’re always up to some horseplay, Pop,” I stated, still irritated at what they had done.

But Pop was an understanding sort who couldn’t hold a grudge against anyone. “Just boys Lucas, just boys."

I was a bit worried about him, but he assured me he was alright so Mark and I went on our way. But no sooner had we walked back to the wagon when I turned to see Pop wasn’t alright. He was clutching his chest and had a pale look on his face, down on his knees. Mark and I raced over to him. I grabbed his arm to steady him. “Go get the doc!” I ordered Mark.

We got him to his room at Mrs. Adam’s boarding house and got him changed and in bed. The doc examined him while I watched on, worried. I could hear the doc talking to Pop, and the news wasn’t good. The doc said it was a miracle we got him here alive. “Heart, and of course that liver of yours,” Doc Burrage announced. Doc delivered more bad news then.

“It could happen at any moment, or a week from now.”

I stood, trying to allow the news to sink in myself, but it was hard. Really hard. Mark suddenly came down the stairs and asked Pop if he’d be okay. Even in his condition, Pop stayed brave for my boy. “I’ll be up and about soon.” Then he immediately started complaining about Mrs. Adams fussing over him. He complained that he wouldn’t get his whisky now. Doc announced that he could have some – an ounce every day.

“An ounce? Suffering blue belly jellyfish!” He muttered. With Mark and Mrs. Adams in the room, I suppose that’s as close as he felt safe to go in cursing his situation.

I started to leave. The old man needed his sleep, after all. But Pop asked me not to leave. He wanted to talk to me. I could tell it was important, so I told Mark to wait outside for me. Mrs. Adams didn’t want to leave, but Matt wanted everyone out, so I assured her I’d feed him the broth.

When we were alone, he asked me to start with the whisky. I wouldn’t do it. I must admit that I felt sorry for a man, having to depend on the bottle so heavily. I gave him a bite of the broth

He sure did start the conversation off with a bang! “That Mark’s a fine boy.” I smiled. I must admit that I agreed with him completely. "I suppose you love your son, like I love my son," he said.

I looked at him, surprised. There had been rumors, of course. But I never paid much mind to rumors. No one believed he had a soThe Rifleman - Legacy - Episode 51n. We always thought he was making it up. But he wasn’t. “Luke, I’d just love to see my son before I cash in,” he said suddenly and seriously. I asked him where he was. “He’s in Boston. He’s a lawyer.” Pop smiled with pride. “What do you think of that? I’m proud of him too, though I doubt if he has very much to be proud of me.”

I got on to him for talking down about himself. But Pop had a favor for me to do. He wanted me to send his son a telegram and tell him that he was ailing and didn’t have long to live. It had been 24 years since he saw his son. His son was only three when Pop last saw him. I thought on this. He sure had a sad story. His wife had died when his son was three, and he took the drinking route. It sure was sad to think on that – he wanted to drown his sorrows and forget about her, leaving the boy with his sister.

After 24 years apart, I wondered if his son would come.  That’s when he dropped another big surprise. He thought his son would come if I worded the telegram right. He wanted me to tell his son, Phillip, that he was my partner in the ranch. That would get him out there. Then he’d tell him the truth.

I was a bit leery about this deception. What if something were to happen? Pop realized I wasn’t comfortable with it, and he started to back out. But I knew this was his dying wish and I wanted him to have this chance with his son. As a father, I tried to think what I would want. So I agreed. I would send the telegram. That made him happy. He didn’t feel like he deserved all the care he was getting.

“The truth is, you’re a fine man,” I stated. Then I fed him the rest of the soup.

It was dark when Mark and I finally headed for home. “Pa, he will get better, won’t he?” Mark asked with a hint of fear in his voice.
“No he won’t, son,” I plainly stated. There was no use sugar-coating a plain, hard truth.

“You mean Mr. Simmons is going to die?” I nodded and told Mark he was a pretty sick man. Then we started for home.
Micah and I met Phillip at the stage when he got in. I took him to Mrs. Adams’ Boarding House. I took him to Pop’s room. Doc lingered at the stairs, and I motioned for him to come on up.

Things were awkward for the two. Phillip had a little trouble starting the conversation. “How are you, sir?” he asked. Matt didn’t like being called sir and requested he call him father. “How are you…father?”

“You don’t hate me, do you boy?” Matt asked hopefully.

“Why should I?” Phillip asked.

Pop felt guilty. He had ran out on him suddenly. “You know, all these years, son, I’ve thought about you. Everyday, son, you’re in my mind and my thoughts. You’re the only thing I have left in the world. Soon, you’ll be the only thing that’s left of me.”

Phillip was a little uncomfortable. “I can’t pretend I have any feelings for you,” he said regretfully. “I love no one. No one’s ever loved me.” Matt reminded him of his aunt. “Yeah, Aunt Emma…well, she…she was really good to me, but it wasn’t the same as…When I was old enough, I was sent away to school. You can’t imagine what it was like. During the Holidays, all the other kids would go home and I was left-“

Pop knew how he felt. Phillip suddenly wondered why Pop didn’t send for him years ago. But he couldn’t answer that question. Instead he asked Phillip why he came. The answer is what finally sent Matt to his grave.

“Well frankly, the telegram was a blessing. You see I…well, I need some money. Yeah, you see, I have this chance to buy into this really important law firm in New York. It’s one of the oldest, the most respectable.”

Pop was visibly upset. “And you came all the way out here because you thought I had money.” Those were his last words. Those were his lost thoughts. As he died, he heard his son begging him for money. He had come all the way out here for money and nothing else.

Doc and I were waiting just upstairs when Phillip yelled for us. I came down the stairs with doc. Pop was dead.  I took off my hat in mourning. “Well, at least you had some time with him,” I tried to console Phillip.

“So many things were left unsaid,” Phillip commented.

“They usually are.” I couldn’t help thinking back to times I stood in Phillip’s position. Death was indeed one of the saddest processes we faced on God’s earth.
I sat out in the lobby of the Boarding House while Mrs. Adams brought Phillip out the rest of Pop’s things. It was a shaving mug with a few items in it. “A pauper leaves more!” Phillip declared, very upset.

“What to you think Pop was?” Mrs. Adams snapped back at him. I tried to stop it before an argument got started, but Phillip began accusing Mrs. Adams of robbing him blind. I realized then that Pop hadn’t gotten a chance to tell Phillip the truth. I decided it was time for us to go get a drink at the saloon and discuss the truth.
But as soon as we walked out the door Toomey came up to me and started making things worse. “You brought Matt Simmon’s body over to my place. Now, what am I supposed to do with it?” He asked.

Could he not tell there was a man standing here beside me? I wished he would have more respect for the dead! I told Toomey I’d talk to him about it later, but then he made it worse. He said he couldn’t afford free burials. That was bad enough, and I regretted that when it came from his mouth. But he made it a lot worse for everyone when he stated Pop shouldThe Rifleman - Legacy - Episode 51 be buried in Potter’s field.

That upset Phillip, and I didn’t blame him. That was pretty ugly to say about anyone! “Now wait just a minute!” Phillip suddenly said.

“Everybody’s always trying to tell me my business! Ol’ Pop Simmon’s a penniless old reprobate who drank himself to death, and I don’t see why-“

I stopped him with anger in my voice. “This is Matt’s Simmon’s son,” I stated. Not that it did any good now. The damage was done.

Toomey suddenly changed his tone. “Oh, Pop’s son? I’m sorry, son. I said things I shouldn’t.” Toomey was suddenly full of regret. Yeah, he sure did say things he shouldn’t! But it’s too late for that now. Phillip was angry as he looked at me. He said that Toomey seemed to be the only one telling the truth.

Toomey said he could make arrangements, but I stopped him. He’d already said enough. Too much. I was upset with him. Phillip was upset with everyone. The situation had suddenly gotten a lot uglier, and I seemed to be right in the middle of it!

“So you lied about the ranch?” Phillip accused.

I tried to explain Pop’s position. “Your father wanted your respect before he died.”

“Yes, so he tried to buy it with a lie!” I couldn’t say anything. Though it may be hard to swallow, what he said was true.

Suddenly Micah was there with the Mitchell boys. Oh no, more trouble! The boys apologized about Mr. Simmon’s dying.

"Are these the ones who killed him?" Phillip had a lot of bitterness inside him, and he wanted to strike out at anything that was there. I thought kill was pretty strong language.

Micah tried to reason with him.

“They meant no harm. They’re just boys. Their father gave them a good strapping.”

Phillip wasn’t satisfied. “And you the law here. That satisfies you?” He asked.

Micah informed him that Matt had a bad heart.

Phillip was angry at the way he’d been treated, and he used these two boys as a way of getting back at all the wrongs in his life. "I'm swearing out an arrest for murder. And if I can’t make that charge hold, I'll see that they are convicted with manslaughter."

True to his word, Phillip did just that. The very next day, Phillip turned in a warrant for their arrest. Micah had no choice but to lock them up. I felt bad for them. I knew they meant no harm. Kirby asked me why they were there. I couldn’t answer. I was upset to see them being treated this way, and I didn’t know what to do about it.

Pop’s funeral was at three that day. Until then, I would try to find a solution to this problem.

Micah didn’t think there was a jury that would send them to jail. But I wasn’t so sure. Simmons was a lawyer.

Suddenly, the Marshal’s office was anything but peaceful. Seth Mitchell came charging in. “Good thing I wasn’t here when this happened or you wouldn’t be alive right now!”

I could see a man with a temper boiling over, so I tried to calm him down, but Seth told me to stay out of this. He was very angry. “Micah, we’ve been friends for a long time, so I’m gonna take it easy on you. Now you let my boys out of there right now!”

Micah wanted to let them out, but he couldn’t. There was a warrant issued. That calmed Seth down knowing Micah’s hands were tied. Micah informed him the boys would be tried in front of a judge.

He was upset about his boys.The Rifleman - Legacy - Episode 51 He blamed himself for not taking enough time with them after their mother died. They needed a woman’s hand. “I didn’t have time. I was busy scraping and fighting and digging a living out of the earth before. I didn’t have time.” He suddenly began crying. “I didn’t have time for my boys!” I felt like crying myself. As a father, I couldn’t imagine how it felt to see the boys you loved behind bars, knowing they did nothing wrong.

I had to try and talk to Phillip one more time. I knocked on his door. When he opened it, I froze, seeing the half-packed suitcase on his bed. “You leaving?” I suddenly asked.

He turned from me. “I’m going to Yuma. I’m going to see the circuit judge there. I’m going to ask for a change of venue.”

This was unbelievable! “A change of what?” I asked, still not believing how an old man wanting to see his son suddenly turned into such a mess!

“I’m requesting the trial be held in another town,” he explained to me. I wanted to know why. “I’m not fool, McCain. No local jury would convict those boys.”

I was disgusted. I couldn’t believe this man! But I knew I had to get through to him somehow! "Do you know what will happen to them if they’re sent to prison?” I suddenly asked.

“That is not my affair.” He was angry. I was getting more and angrier with him!

“Have you ever been to the Territorial Prison in Yuma? That's where they'll go. They are just eighteen years old, Simmons. Boys! By the time they come out, they'll be hardened criminals."

He shouted at me that they were criminals now. “You can’t mean that!” I said.

“I do. And I’m not going to rest until I see them punished for killing my father.”

Pop Simmons was my friend, and right now I was ashamed for him. “A lot of things killed your father including time,” I stated. “I might understand if you have some feeling for Matt, but you didn’t. And you still don’t.”

Simmons suddenly asked me what the Mitchell boys were to me. “Let’s just say that I’m a father too,” I answered. And this was very burdensome on me. He laughed. For some reason he found that funny.

“That’s sentiment, McCain. Real sentiment. Like wiring me telling me my father had money. You oughta open up a mission. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I want to get ready for the 3:00 stage.”

Three O’clock stage? His father’s funeral was at three o’clock! “I know,” he stated. I turned and walked out, feeling very sorry for Pop. His own son didn’t want to be at his funeral. He wanted to fight against him from his grave.

Seth was still at the Marshal’s office. He wanted to put money up for bail, but Micah informed him no bail had been set yet. “Seth, if it was up to me, I’d put them in your custody until the trial, but the law…”

“Common thieves, criminals, gunfighters; they’re entitled to bail. But not my boys, huh?” Seth was really taking this hard.
I came in as Seth was leaving. I announced to Micah that Simmons was going to ask for a change of venue. “Well can he?” I asked suddenly, grasping for something I could do the render this situation.

But Micah couldn’t help. He said he could get it if he tried hard enough. I didn’t know much The Rifleman - Legacy - Episode 51about the law, but I knew we had to stop this crazy injustice from happening! There was nothing Micah could do. Our hands were tied.

Simmons went over to the saloon for a drink before getting on the three o’clock stage. Seth Mitchell walked in then to talk to Simmons. “You had my boys locked up. Now, you hadn’t oughta done that,” he stated calmly. He nicely asked Simmons to drop the charges, and of course Simmons said no.
Seth couldn’t give up – not on his boys. “Mr. Simmons, them boys liked your Pa. They wouldn’t have purposely hurt him.” He waited, but Simmons said nothing. “Mr. Simmons, them boys are my life. They’re orphan boys. They’re Ma died when they was just babies. And if you was to send them off to jail…I don’t know what I’d do.”
But Simmons was cold. He had no feelings for other people. He finished his drink and told Mitchell that he was busy. He started to leave. But Mitchell loved his sons, and he wasn’t ready to give up this fight yet. He drew a gun on Simmons. “Now, you’re coming with me to Judge Hanavan, and you’re gonna dismiss them charges.”
Simmons stared at the gun. He stated that he had no gun. Mitchell told Sweeny to hand him his. Sweeny slowly sat it up on the counter.

Simmons suddenly grabbed the barrel of Mitchell’s gun and punched him. He punched him twice more before Mitchell managed to get his arms around Simmons’ middle and squeeze. Simmons struggled to get loose, swinging his fists to punch Mitchell. Mitchell had his hands around Simmons throat, choking the life out of him.
But for a city boy, Simmons was a good fighter. He grabbed Sweeny’s gun from the counter and hit Mitchell over the head with it. Mitchell fell to the floor.

Simmons pinned him to the floor and began hitting Mitchell over and over.

Thank goodness that Mark was getting out of school early to attend the funeral. He ran into the Marshal’s office all excited. He announced that Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Simmons were fighting in the saloon. I rushed out the door. Micah rushed out after me, ordering Mark to stay there.

I rushed in the door and flipped my rifle, prepared to use it if I had to. I ordered Simmons to drop the gun. He turned toward the bar and laid it down. Micah ran to check on Mitchell.

“Disturbing the peace,” I suddenly stated. I thought for sure we had something to throw him in jail for now!

But my hope was short-lived. Simmons announced that Mitchell had started it. Sweeny backed him up, but he didn’t think that gave Simmons a reason to pistol-whip Seth.
I was getting desperate. As a father, I couldn’t stand to see another father loose his sons because of another son’s revenge against the whole world. I suddenly got an idea. I went to talk to Ed, the stagecoach driver who was making the Yuma run.

Our plan was put into motion. Ed stopped the stagecoach at Matt Simmons’ funeral, stating he was an old friend of his. I waited to start my speech until Simmons got there. He slowly stepped out of the stagecoach and made his way over. Then I spoke humbly and with a heavy heart.

"I'm not much for making speeches. The fact that so many of you are here is proof that a man can have nothing and still be loved. Matt Simmons had that. His earthly possessions were mighty poor. A man's worth isn't measured by the land he owns or the money he has. Matt Simmons was no pillar of North Fork – no use pretending. Many here played jokes on him, hazed him, laughed at him, sure. He never carried a grudge. He was the first to forgive, he'd just shrug it off. Matt Simmons never hurt anybody, never cheated and never lied, except oThe Rifleman - Legacy - Episode 51nce. To gain the respect of someone he loved.” I picked up a handful of dust and threw it into his grave. That's all I have to say, rest in peace Matt."

My speech got to Phillip. He stood as he listened and suddenly broke down in tears. I suddenly felt sorry for Phillip, but I was happy to see him finally breaking down and crying. I think his tears were for more then I’d ever begin to realize. I slowly walked away, allowing him to have this time alone with his father.

Ed softly walked up to him and told him the stage was leaving. But Phillip wasn’t ready to go. Ed assured him he’d take his bag off the coach. He had a change of heart. After he grieved for his father, he came up to the Marshal and announced that he was dropping all charges. We were all happy to see that he had finally come around and dealt with his pain in a healthy way.

He wanted to know more about his father. The doc offered to give him a ride back to town so they could talk.

As we watched them leave, Mark told me Mr. Simmons was crying. “I’ve never seen a man cry before,” he stated. I guess I didn’t count on that!

I laid a hand on his shoulder. “Nothing to be ashamed of, Mark. A man crying.”

Mark and I left for home. Peace was once again restored in North Fork.

piddlin' stuff.....James Barton as Matt 'Pop' Simmons, the man who wanted Lucas to send for his son.

James Franciscus played Phillip Simmons. He was the lawyer son who wanted revenge for his father's death.

Denver Pyle appeared in five episodesBloodlines as Henry Trumble, he was the one that the Malakie clan mistakenly killed, they thought he was Lucas ―  The Legacy as Seth Mitchell, he was the Pa of the two young men that was accused of killing Pa Simons The Clarence Bibs Story as George Tanner the gunfighter who came to North Fork to find out what happened to his partner Pretty Man Longden ― The Decision as Frank Hazlitt, he was the dude who threaten Lucas because he was going to testify against his son ― The Hangman as Harold Tanner as the hangman and the killer of Eban Muchen.

Jack Grinnage played Kirby Mitchell. In the beginning of this episode he was the one who said "Hey.....there's Pop.....let's have some fun!" He was the taller of the brothers who was funnin' with Pop when he had his attack.  Jack's website

Paul Jasmin played Alison Mitchell. He was the other brother who was funnin' with Pop when he had his attack.

Fay Roope appeared in four episodes ― Two episodes as Doc Burrage, Legacy and Panic.  He also appeared as Barton in The Spiked Rifle as the man on the stagecoach that was more worried about his money then Mark and as Jeff Stacey in The Brother-in-law, he was the one willing to pay Johnny Gibbs to throw the contest. 

Harry Harvey Sr. played Toomey in this episode of Legacy.

Lillian Bronson appeared in two episodes ― The Baby Sitter as Elizabeth Favor, the hotel clerk Legacy as Mrs. Margaret Adams, the woman who ran the boarding house and took care of Pop Simmons.

Bill Quinn appeared in thirty-eight episodes as Sweeney the owner/bartender of The North Fork Saloon.  Sweeney was first introduced to The Rifleman in The Marshal.

John Harmon appeared in twelve episodes as Eddie Halstead owner/hotel clerk of the Hotel Madera.  He was first introduced to The Rifleman in Duel of Honor.

 Jack Tornek appeared in six episodes —  New Orleans Menace as Tiffauges Rider ― Legacy as the preacher — Lariat as the card dealer — Baranca and on of Baranca's AngelsThe Vaqueros as one of the townsmen and Quiet Night, Deadly Night as one of the townsmen.

Don Kennedy appeared in two episodes ― Home Ranch as Clyde, he was the Cowboy who rode into camp with Jackford ― Legacy as Ed the stagecoach driver.

Ethan Laidlaw appeared in The Rifleman quite a few times unaccredited ― The Indian as a townsfolk — The Mind Reader as a townsman in the audience — Legacy as the man at the funeral — The Coward as a Diner Patron — Heller as a townsfolk — The Grasshopper as a passenger on the train — Strange Town as a townsfolk at Droshek Town — The Silent Knife as a townsfolk — Short Rope for a Tall Man as one of Crown's Henchmen — Honest Abe as a townsman —  Two Ounces of Tin as a townsfolk ― The Day the Town Slept as a townsman.

Jack Stoney appeared in eight episodes as a townsmen ― ObituaryThe LegacyThe Horse TradersThe SpoilerThe DeserterThe Hangman ― A Time for SingingStrange Town as a townsfolk at Droshek Town.

Robert H. Robinson has appeared in thirteen episodes The Safe GuardDuel of HonorNew Orleans MenaceThe GauchoThe PetThe PhotographerThe Mind ReaderThe PatsyLegacyShotgun ManDay of ReckoningSuspicionHostage to Fortune.  He played a townsmen in all these episodes except one and that is Duel of Honor as as John Bradley, a passenger on the stage.  

Jack Stoney appeared in eight episodes as a townsmen ― ObituaryThe LegacyThe Horse TradersThe SpoilerThe DeserterThe Hangman ― A Time for SingingStrange Town as a townsfolk at Droshek Town.

Whitey Hughes was a well known and respected stuntman, he appeared in twenty-seven episodes of The Rifleman and still counting.  Whitey had over a 50-year career as a stuntman and stunt coordinator, he has been praised as one of the top stuntman in Hollywood.  Whitey was the best of the best!

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