"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
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 him
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
“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 son.
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
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 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
“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
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
“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,
“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 should
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
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
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.
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
“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 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
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
"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,
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
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
I laid a hand on his shoulder. “Nothing to be ashamed of, Mark. A
Mark and I left for home. Peace was once again restored in North
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
Pyle appeared in five episodes
― Bloodlines 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
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.
Paul Jasmin played Alison
Mitchell. He was the other brother who was funnin' with Pop when he
had his attack.
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.
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.
appeared in six episodes — New Orleans Menace as
Tiffauges Rider ― Legacy as the preacher — Lariat
as the card dealer — Baranca and on of
Angels ― The Vaqueros as one of the townsmen and
Quiet Night, Deadly Night as one of the townsmen.
appeared in two episodes ― Home Ranch as Clyde, he was the Cowboy who rode into camp with Jackford
― Legacy as Ed the stagecoach
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 —
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 ― Obituary ― The Legacy ― The
Horse Traders ― The Spoiler ― The Deserter ―
The Hangman ― A Time for Singing ―
Strange Town as a townsfolk at Droshek Town.
Robert H. Robinson has appeared in
thirteen episodes ―
The Safe Guard ―
Duel of Honor ―
New Orleans Menace ―
The Gaucho ― The
Pet ― The Photographer ―
The Mind Reader ―
The Patsy ― Legacy ― Shotgun Man ―
Day of Reckoning ―
Hostage 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 ― Obituary ― The Legacy ― The
Horse Traders ― The Spoiler ― The Deserter ―
The Hangman ― A Time for Singing ―
Strange Town as a townsfolk at Droshek Town.
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!
Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
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