"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
I must admit that this story is one of those…rather strange stories.
I’m not quite sure how I got mixed up in this mess, except that I’m
a nice guy…and I just happened to be filling in for Micah while he
was out of town. I was just walking through
town from the Marshal’s office minding my own business when
suddenly, I bumped into someone – Hannah Shaw! I apologized, but she
excused me, stating she was too busy thinking about her new hat.
She was wondering if the stage was late today, and I informed her
that it usually was! I asked her if she was meeting someone as she
stood there primping herself. She reminded me that Jeremiah Crowley,
an artist from New York, was arriving today.
I told her I’d walk over with her. “Mr. Crowley is coming all the
way from New York just to paint my picture. He doesn’t do that just
for anybody,” she announced proudly as she took my arm and we
started across the street. “Daddy’s giving it to me for my
Meanwhile, Jake Shaw, Hannah’s father; and Ben Travis, Jake’s hired
hand came outside to wait for the stage. He saw me with Hannah.
Travis sat down to light a match, stating I was taking Micah’s place
for a couple days.
Hannah made sure I stuck around to meet the infamous artist. We
gabbed a bit while we waited for the stage. Then we all watched
curiously as the riders began to climb down. She was awful anxious –
like a school girl. She turned to me. “Oh, I do hope he remembers
me! We haven’t seen each other in three years!”
We watched as the stage driver helped the passengers down. Finally,
there was one more rider left. The driver looked inside and said,
“Alright, mister. This is North Fork.”
I must say that we were all a little shocked when this man stepped
off the stage. He hiccupped, obviously drunk. "Greetings to North
Fork. My happy destination." He was so drunk he couldn't even walk.
He fell to the ground. I grabbed him before he hurt himself.
I helped him onto a crate and started lightly smacking his face,
trying to shake him out of his stupor. Everyone was upset. Jake was
upset because he was drunk. Hannah was worried about him because he
never used to drink. Jake had seen enough. Hannah begged him to
wait, thinking he had some logical explanation for his behavior.
“I ain’t paying out good money to a drunk like that!” her father
declared. She reminded him that he had hired him. “No law says I
can’t fire him!” he declared then. “Catch him hanging around, I’m
liable to loose my temper! I’ll get my money back form his hide! You
tell him that, McCain!”
Travis tried to console her gently, telling her not to worry – she’d
just make a mistake. But she didn’t want to hear it. “I did not!
When I knew him, Jeremiah Crowley was a decent man with feeling – a
real artist! Kind and understanding – more then I can say for you!”
Travis tried to stop her, but she kept yelling. “You and my father
have no appreciation for the finer things in life! All you can think
of is ranching! Well, there is more to life then cattle and horses!”
Then she turned from Travis.
Her father brought the wagon up and ordered her to get in. She
stubbornly announced that she was staying there, but he ordered her
in. She started to get in, but turned to me, asking me to take care
of him. I told her I’d try.
I took Crowley over to the Marshal’s office and set him in the cell.
Later, I had Mark bring over supper for him. Mark came in as I was
sobering him up and sat the tray in front of him. “One more,” I said
as I poured him another cup of coffee.
“Oh please, I’ve had six already! If I drink another cup, I’ll turn
into coffee!” Crowley declared.
I told him it was good for him and told him we had dinner for him.
He asked what it was. Mark removed the cloth from the tray. “Fried
pork chops,” he announced. But apparently, Crowley didn’t like pork
chops because he ordered us to let him die in peace.
He laid down on the cot, not remembering when his last square meal
was. “Do you have any money?” I asked. He took out one coin. “Is
“Well, there would’ve been a commission from Mr. Shaw, but what’s
the difference?” I told him he better sleep here – he’d need that
coin for his stage ticket to Santa Fe. “Your hospitality’s most
generous,” he mumbled.
“I wouldn’t call it hospitality, Mr. Crowley. Necessity’s a better
word!” I stated gruffly. He rolled over and went to sleep, not
wanting any lectures.
Mark and I headed to the hotel to turn in for the night. I got Mark
settled in bed for the night and sat down in a chair to read a book.
“Pa?” Mark asked as he laid there in bed thinking.
“Hm?” I asked.
“Do you suppose Mr. Crowley is…well, is really as fine an artist as
they say?” I told Mark I didn’t know as I turned a page in my book.
Suddenly, Mark asked me why he drank like that.
That got me to thinking. “How come any man drinks?” I asked myself
that question out loud as I thought about it. “It’s not an easy
question to answer, Mark. A man usually takes to the bottle when
he's not sure of himself, when he loses his confidence. It has
nothing to do with the kind of work he does, rather he’s a rancher
or a blacksmith or a…even an artist.” I went back to my book,
hinting that I wad done with the conversation and that Mark should
get to sleep.
I guess that was good enough
for Mark too, because he yawned, stretched, and said, "Pa, I sure
hope Micah doesn't come back for a week." He fluffed his pillows as
I suddenly looked up at him. What a strange thing for my boy to say!
"Why do you say that son?"
"Well, I kinda like sleeping in this hotel bed. It's almost like
being on a vacation."
Hm, I can fix that problem right quick! "Well, it won't seem like a
vacation when you go out to the ranch tomorrow to do some work." You
should have seem the look on his face! He certainly wasn’t happy to
hear about that. I smiled into my book. "Goodnight Son."
Mark gave me a great big smile.. "Goodnight Pa." I couldn’t help
looking up and smiling really big at my boy.
The next morning, Crowley gathered up his stuff and left the
Marshal’s office. He saw the saloon and headed for it, not caring if
it was open or not. Hannah rode into town and called his name, but
he kept on walking. She hurried over to him. “Don’t you remember me?
I’m Hannah Shaw!”
Crowley took off his hat and smiled. “Hannah. Well, an artist never
forgets such beauty!” He apologized for the day before, stating he
hadn’t been feeling too well. Hanna told him she had to talk to him.
He told her he was on his way for breakfast and to wait for the next
They both entered the saloon. A man across the street at the General
Store saw them walk in. Sweeney told then he wouldn't be open for
another hour. Hannah told him they just needed some place to talk.
But Crowley had come for something else. He handed Sweeny some money
and said, “I want a bottle of whatever that will buy.” Sweeny tried
to argue, but Crowley begged.
Hanna wanted to know what happened to him. He was different in New
York. He told her nothings changed. He told her it that was a long
time ago. She still wanted him to paint her portrait. He started
pouring a glass of whisky. “I was given to understand your father
had changed his mind,” he answered her. She said she hadn’t – he was
brought there to paint her portrait and she still wanted it done!
“If nothing else, then to prove to my father and other around here
that you’re a fine artist. Not a-“
“Drunk?” Crowley finished for her. He started to pour another drink,
but she put a restraining hand on his arm and asked him to stop. He
looked sadly at her. "I wish I were the man you once knew."
She smiled at him. "You are Jeremiah."
"Very well then, when do we begin?"
"Right now," she said.
That man in the General store just happened to be a friend of Ben
Travis. He rode out to the ranch to tell Travis about Hannah and
Crowley going into the saloon together. He showed up in town when
they were still in there.
While that was going on, I was trying to get my son off to school.
As he climbed up on his horse, I followed close behind him with his
books. I reminded him to go out to the ranch and check the stock
right after school. Then I threw his books up to him, ordered him to
be back in time for supper, and sent him on his way.
No sooner had he left when I heard a scream coming from the saloon.
Of course I had to go over there and investigate.
What I found was a very angry Travis beating the daylights out of
Crowley, who had undoubtedly come
in for a morning fix. Hannah begged me to stop him. I hurried over
and peeled Travis off of Crowley. “Travis, if this happens again,
your gonna find yourself in jail!” I warned him.
I shoved him away and he went up to Hannah. "I don't want to see you
around that drunk anymore. You’re making a public spectacle of
But Hannah wasn’t afraid to tell Travis how it was going to be. "He
came here to paint my picture and that's what he's gonna do,” she
"No he ain't. You heard what your father said yesterday, well that
goes for me to," Travis yelled back.
"Who do you think you are Ben Travis, giving me orders?"
I could tell this was about to get ugly, so I stood up and came over
to the feuding couple. “Travis, Mr. Shaw also said yesterday he was
firing this man. I’d say your business with him his done. Just let
it go at that!”
Travis knew my word was final. He turned and started out the door.
But then he turned back around. "I just hope he's got the good sense
to get out of town, because if he don't he's gonna live to regret
I took Crowley back to Micah’s office where he doctored his beating.
I asked him how he felt. “I’ve had worse beatings,” he answered.
Then he started to tell me about one of the beatings he had gotten.
"Why are you doing this to yourself Crowley,” I suddenly asked.
"You know why, it's gone. I haven't got it anymore. It's been gone
for three years. For three years I've done nothing. Nothing, you
understand? It's gone McCain. The touch, the feeling." He certainly
was feeling sorry for himself!
If what he said was true, then I didn’t understand what he was doing
here. "When Jake Shaw sent for you, why did you come?"
He explained it to me alright. He was broke and his creditors were
closing in on him. “Besides, if you wanta know the real truth, it
would’ve been an easy commission. What would a rancher know? He’s
buying my reputation. I could’ve painted Hannah’s portrait good or
bad – who’d a known the difference except myself?”
“Then what you’re saying is you’d be committing fraud, and you’d be
the only one who knew it.”
"One learns to live with oneself," Crowley answered.
"Sure,” I said sarcastically. “But what happened to the man Hannah
use to know in New York?" I asked.
"That man no longer exist.”
. I didn't believe him and I told him so. “Then why are you here?” I
asked as I started opening his paint box. “You expect me to believe
you came all the way out there just to make a few dollars? I don’t
believe that, Crowley. You wanta try again, Crowley.” I picked up
one of his brushes and touched it. “You wanta try the same brand of
work you used to do.” I held up his paining supplies. “It’s only
He looked at me then asked me if I knew what all my lecturing was
leading up to. “A terrible thirst on my part.”
“Well, you are going to just have to stay thirsty, because the only
thing we have to drink in this jail is water,” I answered him.
“You make it sound as though I was under arrest.”
“Protective custody,” I assure him.
see, the only way you’re gonna be able to square things for yourself
as well as everyone else around is to do what you came out here to
do – paint Hannah’s portrait the right way!” I ordered. He said he
couldn’t, but I was sure he’d be his old self again without the
bottle for awhile and…I suddenly looked around the office. “With a
An idea was forming inside me at this very moment. I loved the idea!
“Well, I’d say this old jail would be as good a place to start as
any!” I stated. “You know, Micah never did like this color. You’re a
painter, Crowley.” I came over to wear he was sitting. “You paint.”
And paint he did! He painted the walls in the cell as I watched.
Mark came in after school and watched before I sent him out. He
painted the walls – I’m not talking about just painting the walls,
either! I’m talking about painting landscapes with mountain ranges.
He even painted people on the way and slapped hats on them with real
rifles…I walked in the next day to see what he had done. “Oh
brother,” I exclaimed in shock. Then I laughed. “Wait’ll the Marshal
sees this.” I may be in trouble…He sure did have a sense of humor
though, I’ll give him that!
He turned around and looked at me. “Well, with all these drab
surroundings, I thought I oughta brighten it up a little,” he
explained as he slapped a hat on a headless outlaw with his hands up
against the wall.
“I’m glad to see you’ve got a sense of humor.” I just hoped Micah
had a sense of humor when he got back!
Crowley stated it was the first time he had felt like living
since…”Well, it must have been the milk!” I laughed again.
Suddenly Mark was riding up and yelling. "Pa, Pa! You better come
out to the ranch. One of the steers got into some loco weed."
“Loco weed?” I mumbled as I grabbed my horse. Crowley wanted to
know what loco weed was. I explained that it did to cattle what
drinking did to some men. I told him to keep painting, the I took
Travis saw me ride out of town. He decided that while I was out of
town would be a perfect time for him to hassle Crowley.
He got Crowley over to the bar, but Crowley only ordered milk.
“Milk?” Sweeny asked.
“If you don’t mind,” Crowley asked nicely.
“Mister, I ain’t got any milk. This here’s a saloon!” Sweeny walked
on down the bar.
Travis smiled at Crawley, pretending to be his best buddy. He said
he’d invited Crowley in there so there wouldn’t be any hard feelings
between the two of them. Then Travis held the bottle and glass up
toward Travis. He asked him to have one drink. But Crawley was going
to stay strong. He refused. “Then do you mind if I have one?” Travis
asked. Crowley shook his head as Travis purposely poured a drink in
his glass right under Crowley’s nose.
"Here's to burying the hatchet.” Travis held the glass up to Crowley
then took a drink.
. "Are you sure Mr. Shaw said that I could paint Hanna's portrait?"
"First thing in the morning.” He took another drink. “Like I told
him, ‘a man has the right to a drink now and then." He just kept on
drinking and holding it up in front of Crowley until Crowley finally
"Maybe just one," Crawley said weakly. Travis was pleased with
himself. He had Crowley right where he needed him.
Soon, he had Crowley laughing and telling jokes. Travis went right
along with him, acting like Crawley was the funniest man alive.
Suddenly, Travis called to Sweeny and told him that anything Crowley
wanted was on him.
Travis snuck out to talk to his friend. “You sure you got it
straight?” His friend said yes. “Make sure you be careful, that’s
all.” Then he rode away.
When I got back into town the next morning Crowley had vanished. I
was a little concerned to. Of course I went right over to Sweeny’s
to see if he was there. Sweeny reported that he had left late. “Boy,
did he have a snoot full!” Sweeny declared. I turned and stared at
him. Sweeny told me he was by himself when he left. “Before that, he
with Ben Travis.”
I wasn’t too happy to hear anything Sweeny had to report. I was
worried, but I wasn’t sure if anything was wrong. I just knew I
couldn’t find him, and THAT worried me! “He didn’t sleep in the
jail, and he wasn’t around when Mark and I got back from the ranch
Just then, Mr. Hannabury came bursting into the saloon all excited
about something. “Lucas,” he shouted as he ran up to me. “I cam in
to have breakfast with him this morning. He was fitting me. The door
was open I went in, and I found him dead!”
“Dead? Who’s dead?”
“Sam. Sam the tailor.” And guess who was right there in one of Sam’s
new suits? Crowley! Sam's money was stuffed in his pockets and
Crowley was still drunk. I went to check out the situation.
I hurried Crowley to Micah’s office. There was a restless crowd
outside who were ready to string him up! I had to get his story and
find out exactly what happened. He simply told me he didn’t
remember. “But Crowley, you’ve gotta remember!” I ordered.
All he could tell me is that he had gotten a glimpse of a face in
the shadows. “It was my imagination!” He walked back to the door in
frustration. “Oh Lucas, it must have been me!” he yelled. “I could
have done anything. I needed clothes! I- Travis told me-“
“Travis,” I muttered. “We’ll settle with him later!” Suddenly I
looked at him. “Unless that face you saw was Travis.”
But he said it was a strange face. “Lucas, I must have done it!”
But I wouldn’t believe that. “Crowley, a man like you doesn’t kill!”
I declared. That would explain the welt on his head. But Crowley
thought maybe he and the tailor struggled
Suddenly, I got an idea. “That face you saw – could you draw me a
“Well…no…I-“ he stammered.
“Can you do it?” I hollered forcibly. He was going to try.
I went out to face the angry mob. I called out for them all to stand
back and be quiet. They wanted to know what I was going to do with
them. “He’s not only a drunk, he’s a killer!” Travis yelled, getting
the crowd even more riled then before.
"Just a minute,” I ordered. “We’re gonna give him a chance to prove
Travis asked if I thought maybe Crowley didn't do it. "Maybe. I
think he was to drunk, Travis. Thanks to you."
Travis laughed. “He got drunk all by himself!” he hollered, again
getting the crowd to hollering.
“At any rate, he was drunk – too drunk to know what’s going on.
Somebody slugged him, took him over to Sam's place and made him look
like the killer." That’s what I was going to try to prove anyhow.
"The reason I think that is because Crowley saw the man who slugged
him. Oh, he doesn't know him, but he saw him well enough to draw his
face. That's what he's gonna do right now." I stepped further
outside the door and held up my rifle as I kept a watchful eye on
the crowd. “Mr. Crowley.”
He stepped out the door. As soon as the men in the mob saw him they
began hollering, but my orders would be carried out or someone would
He began sketching. I watched him sketch for a second, then I turned
and scanned the crowd. My eyes stayed alert on every person there.
But as I scanned the crowd, I focused on Ben Travis and his friend.
They looked awful nervous, and I suspected they had a reason to.
Everything was dead quiet as he drew. “How’s it coming, Crowley?” I
Crowley looked nervous too. “Just a few minutes,” he answered. Then
he went back to drawing. I stayed focused on Travis and his friend
as they tried to act calm. They weren’t doing too well. I was very
suspicious of them – I could tell that one or both of them was the
guilty party. I looked down at Crowley’s painting, then back up
again. Travis’s friend was about to move forward, but Travis
silently put a hand on his shoulder. It wouldn’t take much for me to
send him over the edge.
Again, I looked down at the drawing to check the progress. It was
almost finished and I stared at the picture. It was Crowley. He had
drawn his own picture out of fear. I would have to bluff them into a
confession! I looked at Crowley nervously, but motioned for him to
I stared straight at Travis’s friend, Tanner, and slapped the barrel
of my rifle with my hand. I turned toward him and glared at him
straight in the eye.
Pure fright was on his face. He suddenly shouted out, "Yeah! That's
my picture he’s drawing! That's me, but I didn't do it! It was
Travis. I ain't gonna take the blame for him!"
Travis pushed him away and drew his gun. “Shut up!” he screamed.
“Now, you back off! Back off!” I lowered my rifle. All these people
were in a dangerous position right now! “Now, you’re not gonna
believe this, but it was an accident. That tailor surprised me!” He
backed off from the crowd as he spoke, trying to get to his horse.
He was nervous. “I didn’t mean to kill nobody! Now, I’m gonna ride
out of here, don’t you try to stop me, McCain!”
I had to let him get on his horse and ride away from the crowd so
they would be safe. Then I stepped out of the crowd and hurried
toward him as he galloped his horse down the street. “Alright,
Travis, hold it!” I warned. But he turned and fired a shot at me. I
lowered myself to the ground and fired two quick shots. Bang! Bang!
Travis fell off his horse. He was dead.
People ran to check him. I began slowly making my way down the
street toward him, Hannah and her father close behind me.
Mark was amazed when he heard the story. He stared at Mr. Crowley’s
picture "You sure must have thought you did it Mr. Crowley, drawing
your own picture.”
"Shows you how low a man can sink in his own mind, Lucas."
Mark asked if he could have
the picture. Mr. Crowley said yes. Then he went to do what he had
come out here to do in the first place – paint Hannah’s picture!
I told Mark to come on. We walked down the street, but Mark turned
around to look at the painter and Hannah. "Ya' know something Pa?”
He stopped walking and turned to stare. I turned to look at my son,
his back to me as he spoke. “That Mr. Crowley sure is different. You
think he'll be able to paint her picture right now?"
I put my hands on my hips and walked up behind him. "Well Mark, if
the old saying that a man does a better job if he likes his work is
true, he'll paint a real good picture."
Mark looked at Hannah and realized what I was saying. Yep, my boy
was growing up! “Ohhhhh,” he said. "aaaaah." He understood exactly
what I meant. Hannah was a very attractive woman. I think he would
have stared at her all day if I had allowed him to.
But I put my hand on top of his head and turned it around. I looked
in his eyes. Yep, that boy of mine was definitely growing up! “Come
on!” With my arm around him, we walked down the street together. The
peace in North Fork was again restored!
Whorf played Jeremiah Crowley. He was the drunken artist.
Midge Ware played Hanna Shaw. She
was the lady who was to get her portrait painted.
appeared in two episode of ―
Lariat as Colonel Craig, he
was the cheater in the beginning of the episode playing cards with
Lariat Jones ― Illustrator as
Jake Shaw, Hanna's father.
Ed Nelson appeared in three episodes ―
Dead Cold Cash as Stacey Beldon,
the gunslinger hired by Sarah Caruthers to kill Lucas ―
as Ben Travis, the cowboy who murdered Sam, the tailor
― First Wages as
Ben Vargas, he
was the cowboy who
took Mark's horse.
Armitage appeared in six episodes of The Rifleman as a
The Hangman ― Baranca ― Dead Cold Cash ―
The Illustrator ― The Lonesome Bride ―
The Tinhorn as Joe, a card player.
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.
Joseph Perry played Tanner. He was
Ben Travis' friend.
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 ―
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
Butler — Stuntman — Stunt
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
Ian Murray played Harley Hannabury in seven episodes ― The
Challenge ― Blood Brother ― Obituary ―
Midnight ― The Hangman ― The Illustrator ―
Fourflushers as one of the townsmen.
dress that Hanna Shaw wore in the beginning and this ending of
the episode, looks like the same
dress Lil wore in Eddie's Daughter.
Mark is heading off to school, he mounts Blue Boy from the right. I
love the way he climbs up on that horse.
*On the wall in the saloon, there is a picture
painted by Charles Russell titled The Herd Quitter. The picture is
of a steer and 3 guys on horses trying to rope it. This picture was
not actually painted until 1897. As the time in the Rifleman is the
early 1880's, this picture hanging on the wall was a blunder. I have
been cross stitching this picture and noticed it right away.
Thanks Gloria Fortner!
Bloopers - The Illustrator
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's