"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
This was an exciting day for my boy Mark. We were taking a trip, and this time we weren’t going by stagecoach. We were going by train all the way to Kearney, Nebraska! As we handed the conductor our tickets, Mark was all smiles. He happily announced that we were going all the way to Kearney to visit his Aunt and Uncle for their wedding anniversary. I was curious to know when we’d arrive. He told me noon tomorrow.
Mark was suddenly more excited. “Tomorrow?” He could hardly believe it!
“Tomorrow,” the conductor assured him. “She gets forty-one miles on the straight-way, son. Why Lucifer himself couldn’t catch her!” He exclaimed.
Suddenly, Mark was a bit nervous. Forty-one mile an hour was beyond his comprehension, I’m sure! "Forty-one miles per hour, that's awful fast", he commented.
“Sure is,” I agreed. I grabbed a hold of him to push him forward onto the train. But then I suddenly stopped. Two men were coming through. One man (a Marshal) had the other man handcuffed. And I knew this other man. After the passed me, he stopped and turned around. "Small world, isn't it McCain?"
“I read about them catching you again,” I stated as I looked at him. “Congratulations!” I told the Marshal.
The Marshal suddenly asked if we had a score to settle. “Well, if we had Marshal, it was settled years ago,” I answered as I stared at the prisoner.
I watched them board the train. Mark could tell seeing the man upset me. “Who is he?” he asked.
“His name’s Walt Ryerson. Fifteen years ago, by mistake, he shot and killed a friend of mine,” I answered.
“By mistake?” Mark asked, puzzled.
I nodded. “He thought he was shooting at me.” Then I led Mark onto the train.
It was night when we traveled and we sat down across from an old timer. I commented on his nice looking rifle. “Bessie,” he said. “I wouldn’t go no where's without Bessie.” I laughed.
Ryerson wanted his handcuffs off. The Marshal told him he’d take them off after they pulled out of the station. Apparently he found something the Marshal said quite funny because he suddenly laughed.
The old timer told Mark his name and that he was going to be hung next week in Omaha. “We’re lucky to be riding in the same car,” he commented.
“Well, you got odd taste, mister!” I stated. “Riding on the same car with a killer isn’t my idea of luck!”
I introduced myself to him. He told me his name was Nathaniel Cameron. “You heard of me,” he stated. I told him I hadn’t. “I used to be a peace officer myself.” I asked him if he was still in the game. “Uh no, not exactly. Retired,” he answered. “I’m 72 years old, McCain. I’ve seen my days. Now if you ask Billy or Cole or any of them Younger Brothers my name, they’d stand back and tremble any time I go by.” He laughed.
I rolled my eyes as I looked at Mark. Here we go again! He said just what Mark wanted to hear, and I knew what I was going to have to listen to for the rest of the trip! “Billy the Kid and Cole Younger?” Mark exclaimed. “You really knew them?” He told Mark his hand used to be really steady.
Cameron asked Mark if he wanted a hard boiled egg. Mark started to say yes, but I quickly interrupted him. “We got our supper, Mark.”
That Mark, though, he had a way about him! “We haven’t got hard boiled eggs,” he argued with me. I relented hesitatingly.
The conductor called “All Aboard,” and there were two men who hopped on at the last minute. As the Conductor came into the car, one of the men stood up and asked if the train stopped at White Water. “I’ve got some good friends there.” The conductor told him it wasn’t exactly a stop – they were just picking up fuel. The one man looked familiar, but I couldn’t place him.
Mark was all ears as Cameron talked. “Hey Mark, let me tell you about them cow thieves I caught in ’45…no make that ’46…by golly, it was ’46!” Mark was all ears as he listened. I could have cared less. This was going to be a long trip indeed!
After we were on our way, the Marshal took Ryerson’s handcuffs off. Ryerson asked him if he was scared of him, and he told Ryerson that he was scared of anything poisonous. The Marshal told him to lay back and get some sleep. “That’s right, Marshal. It’s a long trip and I want to be nice and fresh for my hanging, don’t I Marshal?” Then he laughed his evil laugh.
Mr. Cameron finally suggested to Mark that we hunker down and go to sleep. “Mr. Cameron’s right, Mark. Let’s get some shut-eye,” I said. Then to give him a hint that was exactly what he was to do, I laid back and closed my eyes.
But Cameron wasn’t done talking to Mark yet. He showed Mark an old blanket. “Old Daniel Boone himself gave this to me.” He told Mark something about keeping the flies off of him in the blizzards or something like that. But what really got me is his telling Mark that Daniel Boone thought he was a better man then him any day of the week. Of course Mark would sit there and listen to this nonsense all night, so I suddenly nudged Mark back on the seat. Mark knew I meant business, so he laid back to go to sleep.
Everyone was going to sleep. Mark had fallen asleep and was lying against me. I couldn’t sleep very well. I kept looking at those two men behind me, trying to figure out who they were. The conductor came to turn the lantern off that was above our seat. I asked him about those two men, hoping he could give me some clue as to who they are. He told me they were going all the way to Kearney, same as me. He asked me if anything was wrong. “I guess not. I just thought I knew them,” I answered. Then I laid back and went to sleep.
“Bang, bang!” I suddenly heard. I woke up to find Mark and Cameron already away. Cameron was filling Mark’s head with his stories, and Mark was really enjoying it. I rolled my eyes as I sat up to “enjoy” more of the fun stories. “I told them coyotes, I said hands up, you hear me? Throw your guns out the window or I’ll blast you to kingdom come!” Mark wondered what happened then. Cameron got a little confused, but finally answered that he whipped them all single-handed.
Suddenly, the conductor announced that we would stop at Whitewater Junction soon. I stood up to ask the conductor if we were making a stop, and he told me we were just stopping for water. I started to sit down when Ryerson suddenly stopped me. "Hey McCain, I ah, see you still keep that rifle with ya'."
"That's right!" I answered.
"You think you'll need it?" Boy, this man sure got under my skin! The Marshal apologized for him and said that he wasn't going to be with us too much longer. Ryerson had to get his two cents in. "You know, maybe I'll come back from the grave for ya'. Maybe they'll give me one more chance," Ryerson suddenly told me. I
“I wouldn’t count on it, Walt,” I answered him.
“Well, you never can tell!” Ryerson stated hopefully. He sure did hate me!
I went back to my seat. Suddenly, Mark’s excited voice said, "Pa, Mr. Cameron said we're heading into a northeastern!”
"A what?" I suddenly asked as I looked out the window.
"Yeah, look at those funny clouds!” Mark exclaimed.
I stared at the dark swirl of clouds. "Those aren't storm clouds-", I started to say anxiously. But suddenly the train stopped.
The two men in the back suddenly got nervous. The conductor came through and said we just hit oil on the tracks. I decided to go back. I told Mark to stay with Mr. Cameron. Then grabbing my rifle, I went to check out the problem.
It didn’t take long to determine the problem – grasshoppers. They were swarmed all over the tracks. “Well, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen it. When I was back in the Nation’s, I saw them eat everything in sight – pastors, even the bark off the trees!” I announced. We wouldn’t be able to move until they got sand on the tracks for some traction.
I decided to go back to the car and tell the passengers what was going on. But as I started toward the door, I heard several gunshots. I hurried to the door but it wouldn’t open. Fear gripped me.
My boy was in there. I was out here.
I began banging on the door calling Mark’s name. “Open up in there,” I demanded. But I got no answer. I was frightened for my son. Why wasn’t he answering? I continued knocking on the door and calling Mark’s name over and over as I became more and more afraid. Why wasn’t he answering?
I didn’t know it, but those two men from the back had opened gunfire. One of the men was holding a gun and shouting orders. He went over to check Ryerson who had been shot in the leg. Mark stared, not being able to speak because of fright. Ryerson got tired of my yelling. “Get away from that door or you’ll get your head blown off!” he threatened.
I continued banging on the door and calling Mark’s name. I had to hear his voice – I just had to! Suddenly, Ryerson yelled at me. "Your boy’s with me McCain. Now stay back from that door,” he yelled through the door.
I relaxed a little, but needed to know just how bad things were in there. "Marshal Dixon, what happened? Answer me Marshal!" I yelled, afraid of knowing the truth.
But it was Ryerson who answered me. "He can't hear ya'. The Marshal just gave me a reprieve.....by dying!”
I froze for a moment as I allowed this information to sink in. The Marshal was dead and my boy was in there with this murderer, whom I wouldn’t put it past to kill my son to get back at me. I was fearful and suddenly desired to rescue my son.
I banged on the door. "Ryerson, let my boy out of there or I'm gonna break this door down!" I started to kick the door in, but he shot a warning shot that went right through the door.
Suddenly, I heard my son’s precious voice. He shouted at me because he was suddenly worried that Ryerson had gotten me. "Are you alright Pa?"
“I’m alright, Just do what he tells ya',” I yelled back to him. I was glad he was okay.
“He’s hurt bad, Pa! In the leg!” That’s my boy! He just gave me some information that may help me later. Ryerson told him to shut up.
“Now you listen to me, McCain, and you listen good! You tell that engineer and his crew they got fifteen minutes to get this train going. Fifteen minutes or somebody is going to die! And they will keep dying until she rolls! Like your boy said, I’m hurt. I need a doctor.”
Mark had believed Cameron’s stories and asked him to tell Ryerson who he was. Mr. Cameron told him that sometimes telling did no good.
One of the other passengers with me asked me if I thought he’d really kill them. “He’s got nothing to lose,” I sated worried. My son was in there, and saving him was my main concern at the moment.
I went to talk to the conductor. I told him that one of those two men I had asked him about was Ryerson’s brother. I should have recognized him. We told the conductor we only had fifteen minutes before he started killing people. The conductor announced there was no way we could get the train started in fifteen minutes. I went back to tell Ryerson.
I banged on the door “The wheels have no traction, Ryerson! It could be hours. There’s nothing we can do!”
But he didn’t want to hear that. He told me we better find something to do. “You got fifteen minutes!”
Ryerson and his brother were talking. His brother was worried about him and suggested they could get off the train and walk to the junction where they had horses waiting. As Johnny moved away, Mr. Cameron started to tell Mark another story to keep his mind off what was happening, but Ryerson yelled at him to be quiet. “You want to be the first?” he asked Cameron. Then he pointed the gun toward Mark. “Or maybe the kid here.” He flung his gun around at different people, growing more nervous and hysterical.
Johnny suddenly warned him to stop shouting or we’ll come busting in there. “Well, maybe they will! Maybe they won’t be so glad, huh? Maybe I’ll get McCain to,” he said as he looked at Mark. That scared Mark.
Johnny moved the passengers down to the other end of the car. Ryerson needed to talk to him. “I’ll tell ya' something. I’ve been thinking about dying. I spent a year in that jail just thinking about it. It’s a lonely thing…dying. It needs company.” He laughed evilly, which made his brother Johnny nervous. “Well what’s the matter? You want out?” he asked suddenly. “Did I figure you wrong for this? Suddenly one of the passengers ran for the exit as he tried to escape.
Bang! Johnny killed him. Ryerson smiled. “I guess not.”
I started banging on the door to make sure my boy was alright. It was killing me to be locked away from him with his life in grave danger. "Mark!" I yelled. "Mark, are you alright? Answer me son."
I sure was relieved when Mark quickly answered me. “I’m alright, Pa!”
“He’s alright so far, McCain!” Ryerson yelled. “But don’t count on anyone in here being alive if this train doesn’t roll in 12 minutes!”
I was suddenly desperate. I didn’t know what to do! I asked him if he thought he could stay alive for 12 minutes without a doctor. He said he could.
Mark was really disappointed in Cameron. He looked at the blanket where his rifle was hidden. He just didn’t understand how a fighter as great as him could just sit there.
“You’re hurt, Ryerson! Unless you get a tourniquet on that leg, you’ll bleed to death!” I warned him, hoping that would scare him into something.
The conductor came back in to tell me it was really bad out there. He said it would be a long time before they got enough sand on the tracks to roll. “You go back out there and try again!” I demanded. “And keep on trying!” I desperately needed to find a way inside where my boy was!
Ryerson’s leg was getting worse. He was weakening. He saw Cameron reach across the seat to his blanket. Cameron smiled innocently at him.
Ryerson knew he needed to stop the bleeding. He asked his friend about the tourniquet, but Johnny had no idea what it was. “He means you should apply a tourniquet,” Cameron said. “A tourniquet’s a thing you put around your leg to stop the bleeding.“ Cameron didn’t know how to do it though. “But if you don’t do it proper, you might get gangrene.”
Suddenly, Mark spoke hopefully. "My Pa does.....I think.”
"McCain!" Ryerson suddenly yelled. "Your boy here tells me you know something about doctorin'."
"That's right!" I answered hopefully.
"He says you know how to apply that tourniquet you were talking about." I waited anxiously, hoping he would say more. “I’ll make a bargain with ya'.”
Relief flooded my very being! “Start talking,” I answered.
“You come in here and fix my leg, I'll let your boy and the others go. When the train reaches Whitewater we'll pick up our horses and be out of your hair. Is it a bargain?"
“Nothing doing unless you let the passengers go first!” I answered.
“Not until you fix my leg,” he answered.
I thought on this. I had no choice. I had to be with my son! “Alright Ryerson,” I answered. I knew I had no other choice. I handed the man with me my rifle. He told me not to take the chance. I didn’t even think about anything else. “My son’s in there, Mister,” I stated in a way that told him that was an easy choice to make, hands down.
I was finally inside. My boy was there, and he was fine. I slowly walked up to Ryerson. I looked toward Mr. Cameron and asked him to hand me the piece of leather. Ryerson didn’t quite trust me. I told him I had to tie off the artery to prevent the loss of blood. I also told him that gangrene was a decay of the tissue if any part of the body is cut off from the blood supply for too long. “If it’s not applied properly, you can get blood poisoning,” I stated.
“How do I know you’ll apply it properly?” Ryerson asked.
I just looked at him. “That’s a chance you’ll have to take,” I answered. “Do you still smoke a pipe?” I started to reach into his shirt pocket to get his pipe, but that made him nervous. I told him I had to have it to twist the tourniquet. He kept the gun held to my head.
I applied the tourniquet for him. The whole time he held that gun on me. As I twisted the pipe into the tourniquet, he flinched. “Hurt?” I asked, hoping it did.
“No,” he lied. Every emotion on his face told me it did hurt…a lot.
“No, huh?” I finished my job. “Alright Ryerson, let the rest of them go back to the baggage compartment.” He laughed his evil laugh at me. “Well, I didn’t expect you to keep your word, but I had to try,” I stated.
He called me a fool. I told him he had me, that’s what he really wanted. “You think you can buy me that cheap? You think I’m afraid? I was afraid of you once, but I’m not now.” He looked over at Mark who was watching the whole thing intensely. “You know, I want your boy to see this. I want him to know how it feels to see you die. I want him to see you down on your hands and knees begging for your life!”
He was scaring Mark. “Pa!” Mark cried suddenly. Ryerson told him to shut up.
“You can kill me straight up if you’re so anxious. I’m not begging for my life! It got under your skin, didn’t it, Ryerson? All those months you sat in that call and thought about how life cheated you! Well, let me tell you something, you’ve been cheating yourself! You’re nothing but a braggart and a blow hard whose bark is bigger then his bite. As a matter of fact, I don’t think you’ve got the guts to kill me!” I yelled at him.
He was getting madder with each word I spoke. That’s just what I wanted! “You’re wrong, McCain!”
“Look at your hand, it’s shaking!” I stated.
“I want to see you sweat!” he stated. “I want to see you cry the way I cried! You get down on your hands and knees!“
Suddenly, Cameron grabbed his rifle and jumped up. “Stand back, everybody!” he hollered as he pointed his rifle right at Ryerson. Ryerson looked at him for a minute then started laughing evilly again. “Why you old windbag! You wouldn’t pull that trigger. Why, it’s not even cocked!” He stated. “Now, put it down! Put it down, I said!”
The poor old man had tears in his eyes. He knew he couldn’t shoot. I looked at him, begging him with my eyes to shoot him, but he started to put his down. He couldn’t even pull the trigger.
He looked at Mark. Mark. Mark was totally disappointed in him. He begged Cameron to do something – to save my life. But he couldn’t do it. He was defeated. He was old, and all those things he had been saying were nothing but stories.
Ryerson started laughing again. Cameron acted like he was putting the rifle down, but suddenly, he threw it to me. I grabbed it while Johnny shot at Cameron, hitting him in the arm.
Bang! I killed Johnny. I pointed the gun at Ryerson. “I can finish you off,” I yelled at him. “I can finish you off right now, but I’m giving you a chance. That tourniquet has to be adjusted every ten minutes or you’re gonna die. It won’t be easy. It’s your choice.”
He threw his gun down.
I was certainly glad when that train hit Kearney! Mark and Cameron had to say goodbye. Mr. Cameron gave him an extra sandwich as I put my jacket on and got our stuff together. “Say, you want this ole’ buffalo robe Daniel Boone gave me?”
Mark smiled excitedly. “Well, don’t you need it?” he asked.
“No, not anymore,” Mr. Cameron answered.
Mark looked at me for my approval. I smiled and nodded my head. That made Mark even more excited as he took it from Mr. Cameron and thanked him. We said goodbye and got off the train.
"Pa, do you think Mr. Cameron was all he said he was?" Mark asked me suddenly.
I looked at him. There was no way I was going to answer that question! "What do you think?"
We both knew the truth, but Mark wanted to hold on to the legend. It was more exciting. "I think he was."
I smiled at him. "Well then, I think that's all that counts,” I stated.
We smiled at each other as we left the train station together.
piddlin' stuff.....Arthur Hunnicutt played Nathaniel Cameron in this episode. He is the talkative old dude with the rifle by the name of Bessie.
Richard Devon has appeared in seven episodes ― The Spiked Rifle as Austin Stark, the leader of the gang and the man who fooled Lucas into thinking Mark was kidnapped ― Blood Brother as Jethroe, the man in charge of the People's Committee who was looking for John Stoddard ― The Grasshopper as Walt Ryerson, the man in the handcuffs who Lucas applied a tourniquet to ― The Silent Knife as Ben Macowan, he was the guy who picked on big Mark ― Miss Milly as Jack Adams, he was the man Milly hired to be her bill collector ― The Most Amazing Man as Lovett, he was the gunslinger who forced Wade Randall into a gun fight. He was so brave until he saw what a good a shot Wade was (with Lucas' help) ― The Stand-In as Gus Potter, the prison guard that passed out when the two guards were drinkin'.
Stuart Randall appeared in two episodes ― The Gaucho as Curge Palmer, he was the man who was against Juan Argentez buying the Rumson Place ― The Grasshopper as Marshal Dixon, he was the Marshal who was taking Walt Ryerson to be hung.
James Anderson played Johnny Denver. He was the bad guy who shot at Nathaniel.
Arthur Space as the Conductor on the train.
Joe Haworth appeared two episodes ― End of a Young Gun as the Marshal looking for the bank robbers ― The Grasshopper as Davis, one of the men on the train.
Joe Bassett appeared in two episodes ― The Grasshopper as Sammy Morody the passenger sitting behind Lucas on the train ― Duel of Honor as Nat Gilkey, he is the one that Groder gave his guns to hold.
Renny McEvoy as Burke, one of the men on the train.
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.
King Mojave appeared in nine episodes ― Duel of Honor as Ed Simmons, one of the passengers on the stagecoach ― The Safe Guard as Charlie the bank teller ― The Sister as one of the cowboys watching the fight ― The Challenge as a customer in the store ― The Photographer as a cowboy on the Jury ― The Wrong Man as the hotel clerk and a townsman ― The Obituary as a townsman ― The Illustrator as the man getting off the stage ― The Grasshopper as the man in the booth who sold the tickets.
Bloopers - The Grasshopper
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
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