"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
A parent teaches his child the best he can. In the end though, it’s
up to the child to obey. I had to watch my son go through a learning
experience where he learned the value of my teachings the hard way.
Someone had to die for him to learn this lesson. And as a father, I
had to force myself to stand back and watch him struggle with what I
hoped would be the biggest battle of his life.
It happened one day while I was in the barn. I had Mark chopping and
stacking wood up outside and never ever dreamed he would be getting
himself – or others – into trouble. Mark was on his way to put wood
in the house when his friend, Charlie, showed up with his cousin
Fred from Santa Fe. Charlie had told Fred about my rifle, but Fred
thought he was a liar. Mark was always proud to brag on me. “Nope!”
He smiled really big as he stated proudly, “Why, at fifty feet my Pa
can drivel six nails with it in less then three seconds.” Fred
wanted to look at it. Mark hesitated, stating I didn’t like anyone
touching it. “He says a firearm isn’t a play toy.” They begged him,
but Mark wouldn’t give in…at first.
Finally, Fred said, “Oh, forget it Charlie! Your friend’s gun shy.
Probably ain’t nothin’ special anyway!”
Fred’s words got to Mark. “Nothing special, huh?” Mark suddenly
asked. “Well, you just get set to put your money where your mouth
Mark hurried inside and picked up my rifle. Fred hurried over and
grabbed it from Mark. He started messing with it. He wondered what
the ring was for. Mark got nervous and tried to take it from Fred,
but Fred pulled it away from him, declaring he knew all about
rifles. He turned from Mark and cocked the lever. Mark begged Mark
to give him the gun, but he pushed the lever down.
Charlie fell to the ground. Both boys turned and looked in horror.
I heard the shot and ran out of the barn. I went and grabbed the
rifle out of Fred's hands. "Give me that! This rifle's no toy boy!"
I turned to Mark and started yelling at him. "I told you a
thousand..." I suddenly stopped when I realized the boys weren't
paying any attention to me. They were looking at Charlie lying on
the ground. When I realized Charlie had been shot I laid down the
rifle and rushed over to him.
As he lay on the ground, I examined him to see if he was alive. In
horror, I realized the truth. I picked the boy up into my arms and
walked over to the boys. “This boy’s dead!” I put it bluntly.
Lou, Mark and I attended Charlie's funeral. Mark was taking it
pretty hard. We walked quietly out of the graveyard. "That's the end
of Charlie. Just lying in a box with rocks and dirt over him.”
I hurt for my boy, but there was nothing I could do about it. It was
a tuff way to learn a lesson! "Let's go home son."
"Sure. Go home and step over the spot where he was killed with your
rifle.” Mark stared at my rifle as he spoke those words.
I had to be honest with him – to make him see the truth. “Don’t
blame the rifle, Mark. It didn’t trigger itself.” Mark said nothing.
He just stood there looking very lost. “It was an accident, son.
Don’t let yourself brood. That can twist a man’s mind until he can't
think straight anymore.” I put my hand on his shoulder and again
suggested we go home.
“Uh…Pa?” Mark stopped me. He turned and looked at me. The look in
his eyes was…very painful for me. “I don’t want to go home right
now. Would you mind? I…I’d just like to ride somewhere by myself for
He was hurting. I knew I couldn’t just hug his hurt away. “See you
at supper.” I watched my son leave with a heavy heart. Lou invited
me back to the hotel for coffee. I nodded. I helped her in the
buggy, then started around to the other side. I stopped and looked
at my rifle. Then I got in the buggy and we rode off for town.
In town, a man walked into the saloon. He was a big, tired man and
asked for a whisky and water chaser. Sweeny asked for two bits. The
stranger only had 20 cents. Sweeny said it would cover it this time.
The stranger asked if there was a hotel there. Sweeny suggested Lou
would let him do some chores for a meal. The stranger got all
defensive, stating he wasn’t a dishwasher. “I don’t work for no
women! I’ve got some advice for you, beer boy! Don’t crowd your luck
when you’re talking to strangers!”
Micah got a special mailing from the U.S. Marshal in Tucson. The
stagecoach driver told Micah he’d been passing those out all along
the line. Micah opened it. I walked up to him just then wondering
what it was. It reported that a man named Vantine busted out of jail
in Tucson just before his hanging. I watched a short little man get
off the stage. “Any description?” Micah and I both stared at the
little man, and he stared at us.
“6 foot, 2…200 pounds, 38 years old, light complexion. He gunned
down both deputies that had him in custody. “ He was supposed to
find 10 men to join the federal posse. I wanted to help him, but I
was really worried about Mark. Micah understood. Right now, my place
was at home with my grieving son. As I left, Micah started rounding
up men for the posse.
When I got home, Mark was setting the table and had the stew cooking
on the stove. I came in cheerfully, hoping he was doing better.
Casually, I informed him we should get to bed early, we had some
fencing to work. I looked over at Mark. He wasn't paying any
attention to what I was saying. I had to reach out to him – to break
through his mood. "Your ride today help you clear things up?"
He didn't answer me. He just told me supper was ready. He had only
set the table for one. “Have you eaten?” I asked as I walked over to
Again, he evaded my direct question. “I…I’m not hungry right now,
Pa.” He turned to walk away.
“Mark!” I grasped the back of the chair and looked at him. “You and
I aren’t like this. When there’s a problem we usually talk it out.”
Mark just said he needed to get to bed. I watched my boy walk to the
bedroom door. He opened the door and started to walk in. “Mark, shut
the door and turn around, please,” I ordered in a calm voice.
He obeyed me because he knew he had to. “There’s nothing to talk
out, Pa!” Mark declared.
“I want you to get what’s bothering you off your mind, son.” I
turned and looked at him.
"That's what's bother me! I can't stand to look at it anymore!" Mark
yelled as he pointed to my rifle.
"Mark...there's been times if I hadn't had that rifle, you might not
have been born."
"I Wish I hadn't been!" Mark cried.
I couldn't believe what I had just heard. His words shocked me to
say the least! "When I hear you say that about the life your mother
gave you, I...I know your not yourself." I walked over and picked up
my rifle. "You know son...when I was a boy...your grandpa gave me a
knife. It was something I had been yearning for, for a long time."
All the time I'm telling him this story I am handling the rifle. "My
mother didn't want me to have it. Anyway, I found me a choice piece
of wood and I set out carving a pipe rack for my Pa. I guess I got
careless because the knife slipped and I cut myself. It was a bad
cut. I threw the knife down and just ran home. It took a long time
to stop the bleeding. But when it did stop.....my Pa asked me where
that knife was. I told him I never wanted to see it again. You know
what he did? He told me to go out and find it. Well I found it
alright, the only thing was, I couldn't pick it up. I just stood
there and looked down at it, until my Ma came along. She picked it
up...she closed it...she put it in my hand. And she looked at me and
she said...'I'm not afraid anymore son and you mustn't be'."
I looked down at my rifle. Holding it firmly, I drew my finger to
myself. “Commere, Mark.” Mark walked over to me slowly. “Don’t you
be afraid. Take the rifle.” I held it out to him.
Mark backed away. “No…please, Pa.” He turned his head away –
couldn’t even look at it!
“Mark…” I walked towards him. “Take it!”
“I can’t! I can’t!” He gasped. “Don’t you understand, pa? I get sick
just being near it!”
“Take the rifle, Mark!”
“No!” Mark screamed. He turned and ran into the bedroom. I walked up
to the closed door. I started to go in, but figured I’d done enough
damage for one night. I really didn’t know how to reach him. That
Lou was in the hotel kitchen with Mr. Fitch, a dress salesman. She
had just settled on buying a new dress and told him she’d pay it in
the morning for it. After Mr. Fitch went up the back stairs to his
room and Lou started straightening up, a knock sounded at the back
door. She was surprised to find that her late night visitor was
Mark. “Mark, what are you doing here this time of night?” Lou asked.
Mark avoided the question by complimenting her on her new dress. “Is
Mark sat down his bag and told her nothing was wrong in an
unconvincing voice. “I’m just going on a trip and I…well, I thought
I’d get an early start from town. I didn’t think you would mind if I
stayed here until morning.”
Lou knew there was something going on, but she played along with
Mark until she could get to the truth. She invited Mark to sit down
at the table so he could give her his opinion of her apple pie.
While she got the pie out of the oven, she casually asked him where
he was taking a trip to. Mark wasn’t sure. “I mean, there are a lot
of different places I haven’t been to.”
“Oh, I envy you, Mark! Travel is a wonderful thing!” Lou declared.
She turned from him. “As a matter of fact, I’m surprised your father
didn’t mention it this afternoon.” Mark wanted to change the subject
so he complimented Lou on how good her pie smelled. Lou turned
around, scooted a chair out from the table, and sat down beside him.
“Mark, does your father know you’re taking this trip?” Mark got
really quiet. He suddenly looked so lost. “I’m your friend. I won’t
pry, but I do want you to know I want to help.” Mark just looked at
her. “You want to talk about it?” Mark started crying. Lou put a
hand on his shoulder and waited for him to talk.
Micah had gotten a posse together. He was talking to them outside
the gunsmith shop. They couldn’t start going through the brush until
daybreak. Until then, they’d wake up every rancher and check for
missing horses. Their orders were dead or alive. Vantine was
watching from above as the posse rode out. With the marshal gone,
you had the run of the town!
When I realized my son had run away, I hurried into town hoping he
was there. I didn’t have to look too hard. His horse was tied just
outside the hotel. I walked into the hotel. Lou was in the front
lobby. “Lou, that’s Mark’s horse outside,” I announced. She’d been
expecting me. “He’s here, isn’t he?” She said he was in room five.
“Did he…say anything?”
“He told me his feelings about the rifle. And he asked me for $25.”
I stared at her. “Travel expense to California.”
I couldn’t believe this! “California!” I mumbled.
“Go along with him a little. Don’t force things right now, Lucas.” I
reminded Lou that running away from a problem wasn’t the right
answer. She knew that. “But does a big galoot like you have to hear
the right answer every time?” She was getting at something. I asked
her what. “I think you’re gonna have to make a choice.”
“What do you mean?”
“Between putting your rifle aside for a time or giving up your son
for a longer time.” I looked at my rifle as I heaved a sigh. Then I
looked toward the stairs. “What are you going to do?”
Well, for starters, I wanted to talk to my son. “Have you got a key
to number five?” I asked. Lou told me there was no lock on the door.
I started to go up the stairs, but then I looked at my rifle. Maybe
the talk would be easier if I didn’t have my rifle. I put it safely
behind the check-in desk. I wasn’t so preoccupied that I didn’t
notice the pretty new dress Lou had on though. I complimented her on
“I’m glad you like it,” she smiled at me. “I bought it from the
dress salesman.” I started to go up the stairs. She stopped me as
she said, “He had one that was all red beads. What there was of it.
But I was afraid I’d make trouble among the customers!”
Oh, a man’s mind could wonder…”Yeah, you might have at that!” I
declared with a knowing grin.
Mark was sitting on his bed looking really lost when I opened the
door. His back was to me. He turned and saw that it was me and
turned back around. “Can I come in?” He just said sure. I walked
inside and closed the door as I spoke. “Lou told me she loaned you
$25.” I took some money out of my shirt pocket. “I thought you might
need a little more to carry you where you were going.”
Mark didn’t waste any time getting to the heart of the matter.
“Uh…didn’t you bring your rifle?” I told him I left it downstairs.
While I was talking to Mark, Loud was downstairs working in the
kitchen. She heard a noise and turned to investigate. There it was
again. Slowly, she made her way to the doorway and peaked out. When
she closed the door, she found a man standing behind the door. She
let out a startling gasp and asked him what he was doing down there.
He wanted her to give him something to eat. “Breakfast is served
from six to nine tomorrow morning!” Lou declared. “And use the front
door next time.”
“Now look sister,” he said as she started to walk away. She turned
to find him holding a gun on her. I ain’t always so mannerly before
I et. You countin’ on being the female around here, you start
countin’ again!” She warned him that if he used that gun they’d hear
him outside. “I think you’re right! But I don’t just see what good
that would do you with your head blowed off, huh?”
Lou got the ham from the cupboard. He was laughing about how he’d
been watching the posse leave from right above her hotel. He thought
it was funny how he’d fooled all of them. Lou picked up the knife on
the ham and he told her to give it to him. He’d cut his own meat.
She decided to warm him some coffee.
But while he sat at the table, Lou struck the match and held it,
wondering if she could somehow- “Hey, when it starts to boil, don’t
get any female ideas about spilling it in my lap, huh? We can be
lots quieter now.”
While all that was going on downstairs, I was still trying to talk
to my son. “Mark, just remember, a rifle is a tool like an ax or a
crowbar, it doesn’t have a mind of it’s own either good or bad. We
talked about that when I bought you your .22. Of course, if it’s
used wrong, someone could get hurt.”
“Someone can get killed,” Mark stated.
Vantine heard some footsteps from upstairs. He asked Lou how many
were up there. She told him there were just two – nothing to bother
about. He wanted to know who. She said a dress salesman and a man
named “Shorty.” Vantine complimented Lou on her desk and how she
smelled. He then asked Lou where her “hubby” was. “I’m not married,”
Lou answered. He was happy to hear she wasn’t married. Vantine stood
up and pulled Lou in an embrace.
Just then, I started down the stairs. “Lou,” I called. Vantine got
behind Lou, keeping his arms around her tightly so he could watch me
come down the stairs. “What are you doing? Talking to yourself? I
just wanted to get a glass of milk for-“ I stopped when I saw the
stranger. Then I slowly walked the rest of the way down the stairs.
I started toward him, but he cocked a gun and pointed it straight at
me, ordering me to back up. I had no choice. He pushed Lou down in a
chair and looked at me, laughing. “The dressmaker, huh?” He laughed.
He wanted the horse and buggy out in the stable. I told him he’d
never get through the posse. “But a bride and groom will.” He must
have been crazy! He said we were going to Rosswell to get married.
He was going to be under the baggage with the gun pointed at Lou’s
I knew he was going to kill both of us after he got away. He said he
may spare Lou if she wanted to spend life with him. “Me…I got a real
likeness for mean red heads! Especially in a dress like this, huh?”
Oh, I was getting mad!
Suddenly, we heard a noise on the stairs. It was Mark wondering
where his milk was. “Excuse me,” he said when he saw Vantine.
Vantine thought he was real polite. He told Mark to come on down.
Then he revealed the gun. “Where’s your Ma at, son?” Mark didn’t
answer. He was surprised at what was going on. “I asked you where’s
I spared Mark from answering. “She’s dead.”
“Aw, that’s too bad,” Vantine declared. “Hey, maybe he’s gonna get a
new one, huh?” Vantine declared with an evil laugh. Mark didn’t
understand. I wanted to send Mark home. I wanted him out of there!
“Oh sure! No one would believe you’d go anywhere without him! Look’s
like the kids comin’ along on a wedding trip, huh? Make it a real
family affair!” He laughed.
Vantine led us all into the lobby. When we walked in there, Shorty
the dress salesman called for Lou. He couldn’t find his soap.
Vantine ran to the stairs and ordered Shorty to come down. I started
to move, but he saw me and ordered me to stay still. He started
coaxing Shorty down the stairs. Shorty came down very slowly. I
nodded toward my rifle. Lou turned and looked at it too. We had to
get to it!
"I think I'm going to faint!" Lou said suddenly. As she dropped down
to the coach, Mark went to see if he could help her. “Under the
counter – the rifle!” Lou whispered.
Vantine ran over and grabbed Mark. He pushed Mark behind the desk –
right where the rifle was hiding! I watched worriedly. I didn’t like
this man pointing a gun at my boy. He demanded to know what Lou had
said. Lou rushed up to him. “I said you might kill us all!” Lou
He pushed Lou back. “You put a maybe in front of that, sister! It
depends on how you behave – all of ya'!” He turned to Mark. “You’re
gonna behave yourself, aren’t you, son?” Mark gave a short nod. “Oh,
I like that!” Vantine backed up toward the stairs where Shorty was
Mark looked at me. I nodded for him to get my rifle. He looked
around and finally saw it, but he couldn’t bring himself to pick it
Skinny wanted to go back to his room. He turned to go up. We all
knew what was about to happen. I watched Mark’s struggle with
himself. He stared at the rifle. I kept silently begging him to pick
it up. I needed it to save us!
Just then, Vantine cocked his gun. Mark knew he had to save Shorty’s
life he reached down and picked up the rifle. “Pa!” he screamed as
he threw it to me. Vantine turned and shot at me.
He missed. I shot at him several times. I finally killed him on the
stairs. When it was over, all three of us gathered close and just
looked at each other. We were glad it was over!
Mark and I went home. I sat in my chair by the fire and watched Mark
unpack his bag. He took out lots of apples. “Well, I’ll tell you one
thing! You wouldn’t have been hungry!” Mark gave me a short laugh
and pulled out a long flannel night shirt. “But you sure would’ve
been warm in those in California!” I took a puff off my cigar, then
reached for his .22. “You know, son, the only thing you forgot was
Mark smiled. “You know I didn’t forget it, Pa.” I smiled, knowing
that was true. "You know...what you said about a rifle not having a
mind of it's own...I knew you were right...I mean inside of me. I
just didn't want to believe it. I guess it was easier to blame the
rifle. But I know now! I guess it's all a part of growing up."
Everything is, son,” I stated. “Why don’t you leave that for
morning?” We said our goodnights. I watched Mark go to his room. I
started to put the rifle back behind the chair. But then I stood up
and walked over to the door where my rifle always sat. I sat Mark’s
.22 beside my own – that’s where it belonged!
piddlin' stuff.....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.
Blair as Lou Mallory. Patricia was first introduced to The
Rifleman in Lou Mallory. She played a hot-tempered Irish lass who was a
razor-sharp businesswoman. She joined the cast in the
fifth and final season and appeared in seventeen episodes. Patricia replaced Joan Taylor who played Milly Scott
owner of The General Store.
Pat Goldin played Fitch the
dress salesman. He has played characters such as a tramp, a waiter,
landlord and a salesman.
Bob Hall played the minister.
Jay Nelson played the stage owner/driver. Can't find anything on this cowboy!
Darryl Richard played Fred. He was the one who called Mark
"Gun Shy" and the one who Mark was struggling with when the rifle went off.
Jimmy Carter played Charlie. He was Mark's friend who was accidentally killed with Lucas's rifle.
Tom Kennedy ― Death Never
Rides Alone as one of the townsmen at the saloon ―
The Assailants as one of the townsmen ― Gun Shy
as a the townsman/man getting off of the stage ― The Decision as
one of the townsmen ―
Executioner as the man reading the newspaper ―
Day of Reckoning
as a churchgoer - Guilty Conscience as one of the townsmen -
Which Way'd They Go? as a barfly -
Outlaw's Shoes as one of
the townsmen - The Challenge as one of the townsmen -
Blind as one of the townsmen - A Young Man's Fancy as one of
the townsmen - End of the Hunt as one of the townsmen.
You can see Tom in
Rifleman many times, probably more times then listed. He
always went unaccredited, but not here at the ranch.
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.
as a member of the posse.
coordinator—Actor - Archie has been in more episodes then anybody with
the exception of the regular cast and he probably was in more episode
then some of them. ~Arnold
Remember him in The Sharpshooter? Remember when Lucas shot
the whiskey bottle and it shattered into pieces? Archie was the cowboy
who slid the whiskey bottle to Lucas. Sometimes Archie was a stand-in for Paul Fix.
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear
Character Actors Index Page
Have you ever been watching TV or a movie
and wondered who is that guy?