"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
You all know who Eddie Halstead is. He owns the hotel here in North Fork and he’s a really good friend of mine. I guess that’s why when he suddenly had to face events from his past, he chose me to talk to. I was about ready for a beer anyhow, so we headed over to the saloon to talk.
It was early yet, so things were really quiet. Sweeny had just opened up and hadn’t even taken the chairs off the table yet. We stood quietly at the bar as Eddie told me what was on his mind. “It ain’t easy to tell, Lucas. There ain’t many men you can talk to. Not about a thing like this,” Eddie said quietly.
“Well Eddie, there’s dark corners in everybody’s life. Sometimes it don’t help to go poking around in them,” I stated, letting him know that I understood and was here for him.
“I don’t blame Martha. I was spending most of my time in the hotel and this drummer…he was quite a fellow. Good looking…Could tell a funny story fit to make you bust! And Martha always was one for laughing. I never could understand what she saw in me.” He sure was putting himself down! I asked him if he hadn’t heard from her in all this time. “No, just the one letter…said she married him after the divorce and put the girl in a fine school in St. Louis. Fifteen years ago, that was. The girl would be 23 now.”
I could tell Eddie was taking this all hard. “Eddie, it’s no good to go looking down the road again. I’d just let it be,” I stated.
He showed me a tin-type of her that he had found in a trunk. “I remember that I said to myself when Martha went away. I said ‘Eddie,’ I said. ‘You’re alone now. You got nobody to think about but yourself.’”
He sure was worried! But I was beginning to think there was something worrying him more – He was probably more worried about what his daughter would think about him then what she would think about North Fork. That’s why he brought me in. He needed me there with him – someone he could trust not to judge. He wanted me there for moral support while he got used to the idea. I told him I’d go with him to meet the stage in an hour, then I offered to buy him another beer.
Eddie looked down at his glass. He wasn’t much of a drinking man, so he said he better not. He was so nervous. He laughed and I laughed with him to try to ease his pain.
We were outside to meet the stage when it came in. Eddie sure was nervous! He was telling others about meeting his daughter, and one such lady told him she would have to have them both over for supper. Everyone was interested in meeting his daughter. But the moment she stepped off the stage, I knew Eddie was as surprised at what we saw as I was. She had on one of those feathery hats and was all dressed up - and had make up on and such. It was obvious that she had worked as a bar-maid or dancer.
“Well, I declare!” I suddenly heard the woman that had been talking to Eddie state.
When she got off the stage, Eddie was even more nervous. He held back, afraid to go up there. I gave him a friendly nudge and silently told him to go on up there. He walked up to the fancy lady and called her name. “Miss Halstead?”
The lady turned around. “What can I do for you, sonny?” She asked in that experienced voice of hers. She wouldn’t even look at him.
Eddie hesitated again. Her appearance didn’t help him any! “I’m your father,” he announced hesitatingly.
She turned and stared at him. “Well, maybe I can get used to the idea,” she stated unhappily.
“Yes.” Eddie started to reach for her trunk. Trunks were heavy, and Eddie certainly wasn’t a strong man so I stepped forward and told him I’d get the trunk. I lifted it up onto my shoulder. As I waited for Eddie and his daughter to go ahead of me, Miss Halstead turned around and gave me one of those revealing smiles of satisfaction. I couldn’t believe what I had just seen! I shook my head. Boy now, this woman was a piece of work. I know that Eddie had his work cut out for him.
By the time I carried that heavy trunk up to the room she would be staying in, she was already in there making herself look beautiful. When I knocked on the door, she took time to hide her bag before opening the door for me. I greeted her warmly. I tell you, she wasted no time in coming onto me! As I sat the trunk down, I heard the door close. Then I heard her say, “Hello.” I didn’t like the way she said it.
She asked me if I lived here and I told her I lived nearby, not really wanting to get into any personal details on myself. Suddenly, I took my hat off and held it in my hand. I started to tell her something, but she interrupted me, asking me to call her “Lil” instead of “Miss Halstead.” I tried to say what I came to say again. But this time, she asked me what she should call me. I was doing my best to let her know I wasn’t interested. Finally, I said, “Lucas will do.” Then I tried again.
“I was gonna say that folks here in North Fork take a little knowing.” My words made her laugh, and I didn’t understand what was so funny.
She quickly let me know, “I couldn’t care less what anybody in this tank town thinks!” she declared. Then I asked her about her father. “What about him?” she asked.
“He’s been looking forward to seeing you,” I assured her. Obviously I was stepping on a sore spot with her. “Suppose you let me handle my father!” she stated.
“You like plain talk, I’ll give it to you!” I stated, getting more upset with her attitude by the second. “Eddie’s been carrying a picture around of you for years. It’s yellow and it’s faded, but his memory isn’t. No matter what you’re like now, your still the girl in that picture to him.”
She was bitter when it came to her family. She seemed to be using her bad luck with her family as an excuse for being the way she was. “My mother died when I was 17. Where was my father then?” I told her he had no way of knowing that she was alone. She couldn’t blame him. But she did. “I remember the girl in the picture too. I remember her first job. And all the other jobs that followed. Six in as many months! It was always the same! Did you ever dance in a cheap saloon? Dance with as many drunks that would pay the price? Where was my father then?” I told her that I wouldn’t get a nickel for the way I dance. “Well, I did! I made it, and I made it good!”
I was suddenly beginning to get a clear picture that she was here for payback – because she wanted something from my good friend. I got angry and snapped at her. “Then what did you come here for? To stick a knife in him and twist it around? Your feeling sorry for yourself, but the sorriest one is Eddie! You blame him. But he’s blaming himself. And that’s a lot worse.”
But she was still angry, trying to convince me that Eddie was to blame for this fault – that he had let her mother and her go. She was angry that he didn’t try to find her. I told her she was here now. “That’s right. And now is when I need him. Now is when he’s gonna be around!” she declared.
I knew there was an ulterior motive for her being here. I turned to leave. “You just walk into his life and walk right back out again, huh? He would have been better off if you had left well enough alone!” Then I walked out the door.
After I left, Lil went over to the bed and poured a lot of money out of her handbag.
Downstairs, there were two men harassing Eddie. They were demanding he tell them Lil’s room number. It was obvious to everyone that she was a saloon girl, and the men were interested in getting to know her better. I heard the commotion as I was coming down the stairs and ordered them to leave Eddie alone. They asked me if I had a special interest in the lady. “No, but he has!” I stated. “He’s her father.”
Upon hearing this, the two men started backing out of the hotel. They commented that they thought she was a dancer they had seen. After they walked out, Eddie told me he knew it was her. I tried to reassure him. “Working in a dancehall’s not the end of the line, Eddie.” Eddie also knew that Lil was blaming him for everything that had happened to her. She was cold and hard.
That’s when I tried to make a convincing speech to make him feel better. “She’s not as cold she makes out. You know, I once knew a fellow that got kicked by a horse. Scar clear across his forehead. He used to wear his hat way back on his head and daring anyone to say something about it. Lil’s kinda like that, I think. All you have to do is get inside that bluff.”
I could tell that he needed more encouragement. I invited him and his daughter out to the ranch for supper tomorrow night. “We’re having venison, and I haven’t seen a woman yet who wouldn’t soften up for a small boy.” I told him I’d see him tomorrow, and all they had to bring were two appetites.
Two men rode into town the next day. One of the men stated, “You aren’t gonna start that again, are ya?” As the other man looked toward the saloon.
“I was born thirsty. I’ll probably die thirsty. The trouble with you, Albie, is you have no major vices.” Albie stated he was temperance and his folks were too. Tracy Blanch smiled and headed into the saloon.
They were there to get “the money.” Blanch stated, “To get the money, we must find Lil. To find Lil, we must ask questions. Now that we’ve trailed her this far, I can assure you Albie…No one talks more then a bartender!”
He was right. Blanch bought whisky and Albie bought water. Then Blanch asked about Lil. Sweeny wasted no time in telling them she was Eddie’s daughter and was staying over at the hotel. This made the two men very happy. Blanch drank his whisky and Albie told him that was the last drink he was going to have for awhile. Blanch just laughed. “Regular little watchdog, aren’t you, Albie!”
“Johnny DeLong would’ve been alive in here right now if you hadn’t have been drunk!” Albie stated.
That made him mad. “Keep your mouth shut, Albie! Keep your mouth shut!” Sweeny asked him if he said something. “Just goodbye, friend.” Blanch answered as he threw his money down on the bar. “Just goodbye.”
While Lil was getting ready to come out to the ranch, Eddie saw her come down the hotel stairs. He froze when he saw the dress she was wearing. The dress was revealing and not exactly attire a young woman should be wearing in a town like this when she’s having supper with a family involving children! “What’s the matter? Don’t ya like it?” she asked when she saw her father’s expression. She continued primping herself in the mirror.
Eddie was trying to find the words to tell his daughter that the dress wasn’t appropriate when two men came in and commented that the dress was beautiful. She froze in the mirror for only a second before going back to primping. “What are you two doing here?” she asked.
Blanch laughed evilly, stating she wouldn’t have any idea. “Not the slightest!” she stated. Then they announced to her that Johnny DeLong was dead. She stated she knew that. They told her she didn’t belong in a town like this. “Why not? I like it!” she answered.
Eddie was suddenly concerned. He wanted to know if there was trouble since they were talking about someone being dead. “Well Mr. Halstead, Johnny was a man who liked to live high, wide, and handsome! He didn’t figure to last long!” Blanch stated.
Then Albie stated that he had left some money to someone, and it was obvious that they thought that person was her. They warned her that they would be around. Lil continued primping herself this entire time. After they left, Eddie confronted her, showing her that he was a concerned father. “You ain’t in trouble, are you Lil? Because if you are, I want you to tell me. That’s what a father’s for.”
Lil was touched by what he said and turned around. But she wasn’t quite ready to allow him inside her hardened heart, so she suddenly got tough as she started out the door. “Look, Pa. You stay out of their way. Those two could eat you for breakfast!”
At the ranch, we all had a very pleasant supper. Mark wanted to fix popcorn after supper, so he and Lil went to sit by the fire while he worked with the popper. Eddie and I sat at the table and talked. But I could still hear their conversation. Mark was showing Lil how to make the popcorn. He told her that I told him to make sure the dampness stayed in the corn for a better pop.
Lil stated that I knew just about everything, to which Mark stated, “Of course, he’s lived quite a long spell.”
“Getting kinda old, is he?” she teased Mark. “Probably be a while, though, before he finally falls apart!” I looked up at her at that.
Mark laughed at my expense. Something happened and without thinking Mark put his hand in to steady the popper. Some of the hot corn spilled out and burned his hand. Mark cried out in pain, and as his father, I jumped up to see if he was okay. I examined his hand and decided the burns weren’t too bad, but I still rubbed some butter on it just to make sure the burning would stop. Mark was brave, though, and told me he was fine. I could see on his face, though, that it did hurt some.
Eddie tried to make light of the situation and commented that it was a heck of a way for Mark to get out of washing dishes. “Well, it won’t stop him from drying dishes, will it son?” I asked as I looked sternly at him.
Mark knew exactly what his answer should be. “I guess not,” he answered hesitatingly. “I can wash them too.”
Eddie stated he would help Mark. Then I said I would go out and feed the cow. Lil wanted to go with me.
Once we got out to the barn, she started talking. “My father says that your not one to back away from trouble,” Lil stated.
“Nor go toward it!” I answered.
I started feeding the cow without saying a word. “What’s she got that I haven’t got?” she questioned.
I told her that the cow was plain and simple and did her job. Suddenly, she told me two men came to see her. My head shot up. I should have known there was a reason for coming out here. “I used to work for one of them. He wants me back.” I asked her if she told Eddie. After all, he was her father! “Eddie?” she laughed. “What good would he be?”
Suddenly, I turned my full attention to her. “You didn’t come out here to look around. You want something. What is it?”
I knew she had me figured all wrong when she told me she wanted to see the last of those two men that had come to see her. I suggested she go talk to the Marshal. I wasn’t in the killing business. She laughed at me and told me that going to the Marshal would stir up talk. “Your not one to giving into worrying much about talk,” I shot out.
When she realized her straight talk wouldn’t get her what she wanted, she tried to seduce me into playing her game. “Alright,” she came to stand right in front of me. “Those men are in my way. They stand between me and the only kind of life I want.” She suddenly put her hands on my chest and began running them up and down my chest, trying to turn me on. “You can be a part of that life, Lucas.” She touched my face then. “It must be lonely for you.” She began drawing her face closer to mine as her seduction became more intense and her voice itself became more seductive.
I suddenly grabbed her. She drew her face up closer to where we were only inches from each other. “I watched you in there with the boy. Your face was soft, kind like a woman’s should be.” Our lips were almost touching now as I searched her eyes. She thought she had me right where she wanted me. But suddenly, I stated, “You’re a fake, Lil. A pretty fake. Your not gonna use me!” Then I roughly pushed her away.
“I’m gonna have the things I need!” she assured me. I told her that wanting and needing were two different things. “Just food? A place to go when it’s time to sleep? That’s not enough! People are gonna look up when they walk by. That’s Lil Halstead, they’ll say.” I didn’t believe her. She was lonely, and she was putting herself there. I turned the lantern out and walked out of the barn, leaving her there all alone.
We said good-bye to them. Lil promised Mark she’d bring him some more popcorn tomorrow. I walked inside, plopped down in my chair, and opened my book to read. Mark stood beside the table for a second. Then he asked, “Pa, what’s a hussy?”
I must say that I was quite shocked! I was very concerned that he had heard that word, and I demanded to know where he could have possibly heard that word from. He told me that some of the girls at school were giggling and joking about Miss Halstead being a hussy. He was curious to know what it meant. Instead of telling him it was none of his business, I used this as a teaching moment and tried explaining it. I was a bit uncomfortable about it, so I shifted through the pages of my book as I talked. “Well Mark, it means a worthless woman."
Had I been looking at him, I would have seen shock register on his face. “You mean shiftless and no account? Well, she ain’t that! Not Miss Halstead! Well those girls! I’ll tell them a thing or two!”
I understood why Mark was so upset. He had really taken a liking to her. I tried to gently tell him that those girls were probably repeating something they heard.
Mark just couldn’t understand in his child-like mind why anyone would want to say such things about Lil. I knew I would have to be a bit more involved to teach him about what was going on. I closed my book and told Mark to come sit beside me so I could look into his eyes and talk to him.
“Name calling’s a handy thing for some, Mark. They smack a label on somebody or some thing and that’s it as far as their concerned. It’s kinda a special way of hating because they don’t…take the trouble to understand.”
“Well, you have to put a label on some things like…say like a pickle jar,” Mark pointed out.
I agreed with him. “But you be mighty sure there are pickles in that jar first.” I saw understanding register in Mark’s eyes. “See, sometimes, snap judgment can be cruel, son.” I told Mark to go to bed.
My boy didn’t much like going to bed, and tonight was no exception. Sometimes a stern look was enough, but sometimes threat of punishment had to be given before he would finally “agree” with me. Well, tonight it came close to that. Mark stood up and looked around as if he was trying to find an excuse not to go to bed. I picked up my book and started reading it.
Mark discovered that Lil had left her bag. I told him that she would be back for it tomorrow. Then Mark tried to insist that we try to catch up with her. Since this was the second time I had to ordered him to get to bed, I said, “Nevermind that, you get to bed!” Then I gave him a warning nudge on the back side with my foot.
This was one of those days that Mark decided to see how far he could push me. He sat down. I acted like I was really concentrating on my book, hoping that would give him the hint. “You know she dresses kinda funny, but boy does she smell nice!”
I knew I would have to be a bit uglier tonight. So I lowered my book and got a stern look on my face. Mark was intentionally not looking at me. “Mark,” I suddenly said in that warning voice that told him the next time would not be a very pleasant goodnight.”
Mark suddenly realized that I meant business. He quickly got up and walked to his room, a satisfying smile on his face that he had actually been able to push me to my limit and no further.
While I was fighting with Mark to get to bed, Lil and Eddie were about to find themselves in a little trouble. As soon as Lil got into her hotel room, she realized something was really wrong. Her hotel room had been destroyed. Even the mattress had been cut up. She looked around for her purse and realized she had left it at our ranch. But before she could escape to safety, those two men were there. They knew it was her hotel room because it smelled like Lilies of the Valley.
Albie grabbed Lil’s arm and pulled it behind her back so hard that it was hurting her. They were demanding her to tell them where the money was. Blanch knew she had it because Johnny DeLong, who helped them rob a bank, had the money when he died in her hotel room. Lil was still not willing to tell that she had the money.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. It was Eddie. Lil screamed for him to go away. She felt this was her fight and didn’t want him involved. Blanch called for Eddie to come in, knowing he now had a more powerful weapon to use in order to get the money. As soon as he walked in, Eddie saw the two outlaws and started assessing the situation. Albie slapped Eddie, which shocked Lillie. He then pulled a knife and held it to Eddie’s throat.
She no longer had a choice. She admitted that it was at my house. Albie continued to hold the knife at Eddie’s throat threatening Lil that she better be telling the truth. They then followed Lil and Eddie to my ranch.
I was still reading when I heard the horses ride up and someone call my name. I jumped up and opened my door. There in front of me was Eddie, Lil, and who I soon found out were the two outlaws, Blanch and Albie. I grabbed my rifle and came out onto the porch. “The lady forgot her handbag,” Blanch stated.
I could tell there was trouble. Lil begged me to get the handbag. “Is that the way you want it, Lil?” I asked. She said it was so I slowly went back inside and grabbed the handbag. But as I was picking it up, I looked inside and saw that there was money. I came back onto the porch and just stood there as the demanded me to give them the handbag. Albie had a hold of Eddie’s arm behind his back and yanked it hard, causing Eddie to cry out in pain. Lil cried out, begging me to give it to them because he was her father. She couldn’t stand to see her father hurt.
I threw it out on the dirt so they would have to come forward and grab it. Then I stood back and waited for the opportunity I was hoping for. Like clockwork, Albie let go of Eddie’s arm and went for the handbag. In that split second, I yelled Eddie’s name as I lifted my rifle. He pushed Lil down on the ground and got on top of her as a father protects his child. I then fired my rifle at the outlaws.
Bang! I hit Albie and he fell to the ground. Then I trained my rifle on Blanch. He immediately put his hands up over his head in surrender. I commanded him to drop the gun belt. He started to lower his hands. “One hand,” I demanded.
He took his gun belt off. “I was cold sober, Albie. And it didn’t make a bit of difference, did it?” Blanch commented as he dropped the belt on the ground.
I heard Lil’s crying and suddenly drew my attention to them. They were sitting on the ground holding each other. Lil was crying, begging for comfort and Eddie…her Pa…was giving it to her, assuring her that everything would be alright.
It took a tough event to break through her coldness, but everything would now be okay.
The next day, Lil and Eddie left on the stage. Lil was dressed conservatively now and had her hair up in a bun. She was even wearing a beautiful hat. She looked like a totally different woman, but she was more beautiful. She said goodbye to Mark with a kiss on his cheek, and I smiled, knowing how that must have made Mark feel. Lil would have to testify in Blanch’s trial, and Eddie wanted to be there when she did. Mark asked if Lil would have to go to jail, and Micah told him no, but she would be a witness at the trial.
We stood there and watched the stagecoach ride away. Mark suddenly asked me a question. “What do you say the name of that perfume was that she was using?”
What an odd question! But no question Mark asked should surprise me! “I think it’s called Lilly of the Valley, Mark. Why?”
Mark suddenly folded his arms and said, “Golly it’s nice! You know, we could sure use some of that around our barn!”
I looked at Micah and laughed. "That’s my boy!"
*hussy.....a bold or lewd woman. Mischievous or ill-behaved girl.
Piddlin' stuff.....The dress that Lil wore to Lucas' for dinner, looks like the same dress Hanna Shaw wore in the beginning and the ending of the episode of The Illustrator.
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.
Gloria DeHaven played Lillian, Eddie's daughter.
Peter Whitney appeared in nine episodes ― Eddie's Daughter as Tracey Blanch, he's the big dude who came looking for Lil ― Mail Order Groom as John Jupiter, he was the Mail Order Groom, the one that Jess Profit (John Anderson) kept picking on ― Heller as Andrew Bechtol, the mean stepfather ― Strange Town as Ott Droshek, he ran the Strange Town ― The Queue as Vince Fergus, again he was the bully, the instigator who picked on Wang Chi ― Long Gun From Tucson as John Holliver, he was the cowboy who came back for revenge ― Lou Mallory as Neb Jackman, the Pa of the Jackman clan ― Gun Shy as Vantine, he was the man who was holding Lou hostage ― Which Way'd They Go? as Neb Jackman, the Pa of the Jackman clan.
Ray Teal played Albie, he was Blanch's partner. But I'm sure you would remember him best as the no-nonsense Sheriff Roy Coffee on Bonanza.
Kathleen Mulqueen appeared in four episodes ― The Sharpshooter as Nancy Hanavan, the clerk at the hotel ― The Actress as the Landlady, she was the lady who tended Jacob until Lucas could fetch his wife ― Eddie's Daughter as the lady who was talking to Eddie before the stage came in - she gasped when she saw Lil stepped off the stage ― The Angry Gun as Mrs. Peterson, the lady who took care of Mark until Lucas returned.
John Barton appeared in five episodes ― The Sharpshooter as a Townsman ― Eddie's Daughter as a Townsman ― Heller as a Townsman ― The Lonesome Bride as a Barfly ― Meeting at Midnight as a Townsman.
Jeff Daley as Sam, the one cowboy who grabbed Eddie, and was shaking his finger at him.
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.
Bloopers - Eddie's Daughter
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
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