"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
The Journey Back
I reckon we all have those dark secrets in our lives we don’t want people to know about. But when Mark had to come face-to-face with the fact that sometimes these dark truths come out, he had to learn yet another hard lesson about manhood!
One day, Mark and I were working on our range rounding up strays. We found one calf that was just taking off across the range. I told Mark to cut him off. He went to do as I asked when suddenly, he heard someone calling to him. “Boy! Boy!” Mark stopped and stared at the man in front of him.
This man had a huge burn scar on his left cheek. The man announced he wanted to ask a question, but Mark scared and came racing back to me. Meanwhile, I had caught and thanked Mark for bringing him back to me.
Mark was acting really strange – he was quiet and acted like he’d just seen a ghost. “Is something wrong, Mark?”
“Nothing’s exactly wrong,” Mark stated. Then he turned and looked behind him. “Except I saw someone back up on that hill.” I asked him who it was. “I don’t know, some stranger,” Mark answered. “But he had some scars on his cheek like…I don’t know what.” Mark rubbed his cheek as he spoke.
“You mean you just looked at him and ran off?” I asked him sternly. Mark nodded and hung his head. “Well, don’t you think you might have hurt his feelings?”
“I didn’t take time to think, Pa,” Mark answered honestly.
Just then, the man rode up to us. He quickly dismounted and introduced himself as Will Temple. He looked at Mark and assured him he didn’t want to scare him – just to talk. Mark stared at him. Temple rubbed the scar with his hand. “Maybe it’s wasn’t the calling out that did it.”
Suddenly, Mark realized he was wrong in staring. “Oh, no, I…” He stopped, not able to go on.
Mr. Temple saved him from anymore embarrassment when he suddenly started talking again. Mr. Temple had just purchased the Hanson place after the judge had evicted the squatters. He complained that it was really run down – whoever lived there before didn’t work hard at keeping things up.
"You say you wanted to talk to Mark about something?"
"Ah, yes...You…uh handle a team boy?" He asked Mark. Mark told him he did. “Well, I have a field that’s gonna need stumping if I’m gonna put anything in the ground come planting time. He'd pay Mark fifty cents a day.
Mark got all excited. "Pa...you remember that watch I was admiring at Miss Millie's?"
I reminded him he still had his chores at home that needed to get done. "I know Pa.....but.....", he turned to Temple....."How 'bout if I come over tomorrow after I finish my chores!" I couldn’t help but smile at his enthusiasm. He certainly was excited!
"That suits me fine. You gotta be able to hold the team.....keep a steady hold on the pull."
"Yes sir," said Mark. He turned around and smiled at me. “Pa?”
“It’s up to you, son. It won’t be easy, holding down two jobs,” I warned him, but I continued smiling at him.
“Thank you!” Mark declared. He turned back to Temple. “I’ll be over there tomorrow!” He was so excited, you’d think he was just told he’d never have to go to school again!
As Mr. Temple got on his horse to leave, Mark said, “You sure fifty cents?”
“Fifty cents a day!” Mr. Temple assure him.
“I’ll be there!”
We watched Mr. Temple leave. “You know, stumping a field won’t be as easy as that last job you took working in a stable,” I warned him. I remembered how exhausting that job had been for him and couldn’t help but wonder how he’d do this time.
“Don’t expect so,” Mark stated with a grin.
“You figure on getting to bed early tonight?”
My poor lad didn’t even hear my question. His mind was on something else! "That sure is a handsome watch," said Mark.
"Might not be so handsome at sundown tomorrow night," I stated. We laughed as we went back to work.
True to his word, the next day Mark worked for Mr. Temple. He did some hard work clearing the sumps out. Mark drove the horses to pull while Mr. Temple stood back and helped push the stump out. It finally gave way – boy, did Mark feel good!
They stopped for a drink of water. Mark sure was remembering everything I taught him! He even politely waited for Mr. Temple to drink first! As Temple took a drink, Mark stared at his scar. Temple noticed and looked at him. “I’m…sorry for staring.”
Suddenly, just as they were about to get back to work, some riders rode up. "Mark...you know them?"
Mark looked at the riders. "Yes sir..that's Arnie and Jess Grady. They're the squatters Pa was tellin' you about."
They rode up to Mark and Mr. Temple. "You fixin' to dirt farm this poorly land?" Jess asked. Temple didn’t answer. “Maybe you don’t hear good, I just asked you a question.” Temple asked them what they wanted. Jess stated they came to see what the place looked like.
“Is that all you came for?” Temple asked.
“Likely it ain’t,” Jess answered, studying his rifle. “See, we heard tell some…scum moved on here after the law moved us off. Folks are all talking about how you never told where you came from. Why’s that?”
"None of your business," Temple answered.
They laughed at him. "He's mean," said Jess. "Are you as mean as you are ugly?"
Temple knew there was going to be trouble. He told Mark to go on up to the house. But Mark stood his ground. “I’ll stay, Mr. Temple.”
"He's just like his Daddy, ain't he Arnie?" Jess stated "Standin' up there straight up and proud like."
Arnie laughed. "Only thing is…he ain't got no rifle standing up next to him.”
“I want you to get off this land,” Temple ordered as they continued laughing. They continued laughing. "You heard what I said,” Temple warned.
Jess got down off his horse. "Now you listen to me. You tellin' us to git is the same thing as inviting yourself into a hole. Our Pa and us, we worked this land. And no driftin, scar face scum is gonna tell us to git!"
Temple stared at them. Pointing a finger at them, he firmly stated, “You're trespassing. You use that gun, you'll hang. I don't think you've go the stomach to walk up to a rope head on." He started towards Jess.
"Take one more step and I'll blow your head off,” Jess warned him. He aimed his shotgun at Temple. Temple wasn't afraid of him he just kept moving closer and closer to Jess.
Arnie started yelling for Jess to shoot him, but he never did. Arnie got louder and more excited. Soon, Temple was standing right in front of Jess. He had a really mean look on his face. Temple grabbed the shotgun from Jess. He took the shells out of it and banged it against the stump, busting it. Then he punched Jess hard. He grabbed Jess by the jacket and stared straight at him. "Now you get on that horse and go. Don't you let me catch you on this land again!” Temple was really mean and angry!
Those two bad boys quickly rode off. They had learned their lesson!
Mark watched quietly the whole time. He sure was impressed. Temple walked back over to him and suggested they pull another stump before I showed up. “You sure had me worried there for a minute,” Mark declared.
Just then, I rode up. As I dismounted, I asked if that cloud of dust I passed was the Grady Boys. “Sure was, Pa!” Mark couldn’t wait to tell me. He started bragging on Mr. Temple, but Temple quickly interrupted him.
He put an arm around Mark and told me Mark put in a good amount of work today. I smiled, proud of my boy. He said Mark worked the land that he was born to it. “With all that dirt he’s wearing, I’d say he better save some of those wages for soap and water!” I teased my boy. I grinned at him. He invited us to stay for supper – he was having fried chicken. Mark, of course, didn’t hesitate to say yes. I said yes too.
“Maybe after supper, we can see which one of you holds the tall hand at checkers!” I pointed to Mark and started to declare him as the champion, but Mark beat me to the punch. “Why, Pa’s the best checker player this side of Denver! Except when I beat him, of course."
Mark put the horses away while I went to get cleaned up myself. The supper was wonderful! I decided that Mr. Temple and Mark could start their checker game while I started washing up the dishes. Then the looser of their game would relieve me of washing dishes. Mark ran to the closet to get the checker game. When he opened the door, he saw a Calvary uniform hanging there. He studied it for a minute, always impressed to talk to a soldier!
"We're you in the Calvary Mr. Temple?" Mark asked as he sat down at the table. "I saw your uniform in the closet. Fourth Calvary, wasn't it?"
"Well I...quit the army a while back Mark, for good," he answered.
But as usual, Mark was full of questions! "Well didn't you like it? I always thought it would be excitin', wearin' a uniform, fightin' for your country.”
I was listening from the kitchen. "Don't ask so many questions Mark," I warned him.
But Temple didn’t mind. "That's alright Lucas, I don't mind. A boy’s gotta ask questions that's the only way he can learn. To answer truthfully Mark, I don't think I ever liked the army, least wise not at first. I grew up on a farm. Ran off when I turned to join the army. That was a long time ago. Born into this world, a man’s gotta fight just to stay alive! Ah, seems like you’re always fightin’…I fought more times I care to remember to stay alive. Chickamauga…Shiloh…then after the war the 4th Calvary fought at Cheyenne.” Temple was reflecting on the harder times of his life.
"Is that when you hurt yourself," Mark asked.
Temple nodded his head. "All that fightin' to stay alive there comes a time when I just wanted to die. I talked to God about it boy...I purely pleaded with him a tad...it did no good. Guess he wasn't listenin'." Temple rubbed his scar. "This was done to me with fire. Sometimes at night I can still feel it crawling...burning."
I listened from the kitchen. “Will, were you at Willow Creek with the Fourth?” I asked.
He said he wasn't. "Well, we better get on with this game, other wise your Dad’s gonna be done with them dishes before we get a king crowned." That was the end of the history lesson.
One day, a Lieutenant rode toward our ranch. Unbeknownst to him, a man was following behind him.
It was early that morning. I had fixed a nice breakfast for Mark to send him off to work. When it was ready, I banged on the bedroom door and opened it. “Morning!” I called in a cheerful voice. Mark stretched in bed and said good morning – sure didn’t sound to chipper to me! He wondered what time it was. “It’s past the time for feeding the stock and past the time you went to work!”
Mark sat up on the side of the bed, promising he’d get his chores done as soon as he got dressed. I walked into the room to talk to my boy. “Son, I saw Milly yesterday and I ordered your watch. I put up the money for you. You can pay me back when you’ve earned it.” I sat down on the side of the bed and looked proudly at my son. I laid my hand on his. “But I want you to know I did it for a reason. I looked proudly into his eyes. “Mark, I’m not only proud of you for how you’ve carried yourself like a man ever since you went for work for Mr. Temple. I’m proud of you for something else. You’ve learned not to dislike a man just because he’s unfortunately scarred and looks kind of unsightly.”
“I know what you mean, Pa,” he said.
I patted his leg. “Get dressed,” I ordered on my way out the door. “I got some pancakes and maple syrup waiting for you.”
While Mark and I were having breakfast, there was a knock at the door. It was Lt. Vaughn. He was from the 4th Army Provost. “The Marshal told me you could tell me how to find…Will Temple’s place.” I gave him directions. He thanked me. “By the way,” he asked then. “What kind of fella is this Temple?”
“I don’t know too much about him, but I’d judge he’s a good enough man,” I answered.
“Is his real name Will temple?”
Now I was confused. “His real name?”
“Well see, the army is looking for a man. Uh…William Trader. I have been trailing him for the better part of three months now.” I looked over my shoulder to see Mark stand up and start walking over towards me. I was afraid we were going to hear some disturbing news. Part of me wanted to protect my boy – but the other part of me knew that Mark had to learn this was part of being a man.
“ He…uh…passed through here a short time back, about the time the marshal said this Temple settled here.”
Mark was standing right beside me. I looked down at him as I asked my next question. “What does the army want with the man you’re looking for?”
“He’s a deserter,” Lt. Vaughn answered.
Mark suddenly jumped to Temple’s defense. “Well…he couldn’t be talking about Mr. Temple. He wouldn’t desert.”
“Do you know why he deserted?” I asked, ignoring my son’s denial.
“The fourth Calvary lost nearly a whole troop at a place called Willow Creek.” I had heard about it. “Trader was the man who told the Cheyenne where the troop was hidden. They captured him while he was riding patrol.”
Mark was upset. "I don't believe it's him!" Mark shouted angrily.
“Mark,” I warned him gently.
The Lieutenant kept going, mentioning that the Marshal had said he had a scar. “Yes, on the left side.”
“Does it look like it was done with fire?” I turned my eyes toward Mark. I hated where this was going – it was going to break my boy’s heart! I nodded slightly. “The Cheyenne’s way of branding a man a coward.” I assured him I knew that. “As long as that man lives the Cheyenne will recognize that mark on him.”
Mark was taking this news badly. He got mad. "I don't care what you say! He's not a coward and he not a deserter!" I must admit that I was a bit disappointed in my boy. He needed to learn to accept stuff like a man!
“Mark, do not talk like that,” I ordered harshly. “When did he desert, Lieutenant?”
“The Cheyenne turned him loose after they hit Willow Creek with a full war party.” That’s what they heard from a brave they had captured. “But he never went back to his company. I guess he figured the army thought he was dead.” The Lieutent thanked us and said he had to be on his way. But he stopped and pulled something from his pocket. “This is for you, son. Miss Milly sent it along.” He handed the package to Mark. I told Mark that was his watch. "You know you could be right about your friend son, I hope you are!"
I watched Mark’s actions after the Lieutenant left. He was crushed! He was finally allowing the truth to sink in. I felt bad for him, but there was nothing I could do to make it better. So, I did the only thing I could do. I treated him like a man. Standing behind him, I put my hand upon the door. Leaning towards him, I said softly, "There's times when every man wants to be alone, Mark. Is this one of those times?"
He looked like he was about to cry. "Yes sir."
“Alright, son.” Without another word, I gave Mark a supportive pat on the shoulder, then went in and closed the door. As much as I wanted to be there to comfort him, I knew that Mark needed to be alone with his thoughts.
After dealing with his emotions, Mark rode over to Mr. Temple’s ranch. He wanted to get the truth from his friend. Mr. Temple was riding his Bible when Mark arrived. He banged on the door. When invited in it was obvious to Mr. Temple that Mark was upset. The question was hard to ask, and it took Mark a few moments to muster up the courage to ask the question. But he finally did.
"What's your name? Your real name, I mean?"
As I was riding the range, I heard a man groaning. I looked around to find the source of the noise. Suddenly I saw him – Lieutenant Vaughn! He was mortally wounded. “Who did it?” I asked as I examined the wound. He called my name. “Come on, who did it?” I asked desperately. I knew he didn’t have much time.
“A man named Carney. He was waiting for me at the fork. He had rode scout for the fort. He’s been following me ever since I left the southwest. Carney lost two brothers at Willow Creek. He swore he'd get Trader if it took him the rest of his life.” This was gasped out. I went to get him some water, but it was too late. The Lieutenant died.
Back at the ranch, Mark was having his own struggle. “I'm not ashamed of this scar and what it stands for, that's not the reason I ran away." said Temple. "I stood up to everything the Cheyenne did to me. When I told.....I don't think I even knew it, not then. You see boy, God…He didn't make us the same way as he did the red man. I guess we're just not as strong inside."
Mark was still angry. "You didn't have to run away, though. You could have told them how it was.”
"I could have, but every man in my company knew the Cheyenne mark. They would have wondered.....wondered just how much I endured before I told. I knew I couldn't go back. All the old faces gone… Jason, Hardy, Bellows. Men I rode with a long time Mark. They're all gone. It was a one man's weakness, mine!" It was really very sad. Mark was sad. Trader was sad.
“Trader!” They suddenly heard a man call from outside. Trader started for the door, Mark close behind him.
Trader turned. “Stay in the house, boy,” Trader ordered. He turned to leave. Mark started to argue and Trader turned and looked straight at him. “I said…stay in the house,” he ordered.
Carney told him he was in the barn. Trader stood on the porch, staring at the barn. "What's a matter, you scared?" Trader slowly made his way to the barn. When he got there, Carney stood behind him with a rifle pointed at him. “That’s far enough, Trader!”
“What do you want here, Carney?” Trader asked. Carney told him to think on it and he’d figure it out.
“I followed an army man a thousand miles across the wasteland knowing he’d lead me to you!”
“Well I…did the best the Lord gave me strength for, Benny.” Carney didn’t believe him. “I would have given my life, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
“Well, I’m gonna give you another chance to do that,” Carney stated. “Too bad you couldn’t have seen my brothers, Trader, after the Cheyenne were done with them. I waited for you to come back, but you never did…did ya'?”
"Get it done with Carney. I'll not crawl for you," said Trader. He told Trader to turn around as he cocked his rifle.
But then I rode up. I jumped off my horse and grabbed my rifle. “Is Mark alright?” That was my biggest concern! Tracer told me he was in the house.
“Alright, Mister, this is none of your affair! Get movin’!” Carney stated. I didn’t move. “I said get movin’! I don’t wanta kill you too!”
"You've done all the killing you're going to, now drop that rifle," I ordered.
Carney was non-cooperative…"I've come a long way mister and I haven't finished what I come here to do," said Carney.
"I'm going to have to take you to town Carney. Now do you want to go lying across your saddle or sitting up on it?" I waited for his answer.
Carney turned and fired a shot, but I was faster and fired a shot at him first. I killed him and he fell to the ground dead. I guess he preferred laying across his saddle!
I walked up to Will. "Will, I think it will go better for you if you turned yourself in." He went to saddle his horse.
Mark stepped out of the house. “Pa!” Mark cried. I waited for my boy to run to me. I held out a hand and welcomed his embrace. After the day he had, he needed I big bear hug from me! “It’s alright, son,” I comforted him.
That night, Mark was sitting by the fire reflecting. I knew my boy probably had a lot on his mind, so I quietly walked up behind him and waited to see if he wanted to talk. “Pa?” I sat down next to him. “What will they do to Mr. Temple when he gets back?"
"Court marital,” I answered honestly. “After that I don't know. Turning himself into Micah will be in his favor though."
Mark finally said the words that had weighed so heavily on his mind all day. "And he's not a coward, is he?"
I had to put Mark’s doubts to rest. So sternly, I stated, "No Mark, he's not a coward."
"I couldn't think bad of him no matter what. Will he be alright?"
"As long as he keeps making friends like you Mark, he'll be alright." Then I asked him a question. "What time is it?”
He pulled out his new watch. "Nine o'clock.” I smiled from behind him, waiting for the realization to hit him. When it came to his bedtime, there were no if’s, ands, or buts about it! He suddenly realized what I was expecting.. "Oh, ‘night Pa." He turned and kissed me on the cheek. You should have seen the smile on my face as I rubbed my cheek! Boy, but that sure made my day a whole lot better!
“Night, son,” I said softly as I smiled at my boy’s retreating figure and rubbed the spot he had kissed me.
That’s my boy!
What a cast! Yeehaw!!!!!
Gee how many times did John Anderson star in The Rifleman? Who appeared in the most episodes: Chris Alcaide or John Anderson? Hmmmmm.....how about John Milford? Anybody set any records?
Willow Creek? Is this between North Fork and Bitter Creek?
piddlin' stuff.....John Anderson appeared in eleven episodes ― Shotgun Man as John Beaumont, he was the man that wanted revenge on Lucas for sending him to jail ― Shivaree as Chet Packard, he was the one who Derek shot in the leg ― The Hawk as Ely Flack, he was the man who was looking for Walt Hake/Reed Young ― The Journey Back as Will Temple, he was the man who had the scare on his face ― Day of the Hunter as Cass Callicott, the famous frontiersman, trapper, scout, buffalo hunter, one of the old original mountain men ― Mail Order Groom as Jess Profit, he was who slapped Isabel across the face ― The Retired Gun as Owny, he was the one who threw the coin on the ground ― Face of Yesterday as Hank Clay, the mean step-father ― Incident at Line Shack Six as Gangling, he was the one who killed Charley Breen ― The Patsy as Sully Hobbs ― Old Man Running aka The Wanted Man as Samuel Gibbs, Mark's Grandpa, Lucas' father-in-law.
We saw him so much on The Rifleman that you would have thought of him as part of the family. Come to think of it, he was part of the family. Do you remember which episode that was?
*I enjoyed seeing John Anderson's character and Lucas and Mark on a friendly basis in this episode. They usually are against each other.
Chris Alcaide appeared in ten episodes ― The Trade as Hamp Ferris, he was the cowboy who wanted to turn Morley in for the reward ― Obituary as Panama Billings, he was the gunfighter who rode into North Fork trying to make a name for himself and another notch on his gun ― A Case of Identity as Lon Perry, he was the cowboy along with his partner Captain James Gordon who scheme to make Wingate think Mark was his son ― A Time for Singing as Spence, the leader of a gang of bank robbers who were going to rob the North Fork Bank ― Meeting at Midnight as Schroeder, he was working with Benton & Morgan to break Carl Miller out of jail ― Dead Cold Cash as Ben Casper, the attorney for Sara Caruthers ― The Wyoming Story part 1 & 2 as Ross, the Henchman for Forbes McKee the Indian Agent ― The Journey Back as Will Carney, he was looking for revenge for his brother's death ― Squeeze Play as Dave Rankin, the heavy for Willard Prescott.
Gee how many times did John Anderson star in The Rifleman? Who appeared in the most episodes Chris Alcaide or John Anderson? How about John Milford?
Harry Carey Jr. appeared in two episodes ― The Deserter as Lt. Paul Rolfe ― The Journey Back as Lt. Vaughn.
In both episodes he played a Lieutenant and in both episodes his orders were to bring back a deserter.
John Milford appeared in eleven episodes ― (Hmmmmm.....does this set any record or maybe there's a tie or maybe someone did more then John? Who could the other Cowboy be?) ― The Blowout as Ross Porter, one of the Porter brothers who was after Al Walker ― The Coward as Dub, he was the one who was reading from George's Journal and making fun ― The Horse Traders as Jonah Winters, he was the dude with the knife ― A Time for Singing as Bro Hadley, he dude who was a bit slow ― Meeting at Midnight as Morgan ― The Pitchman as Marsh Watson, he was the one who tied Mark up ― Baranca as Hadley, he was the one who killed Sanchez ― Dark Day at North Fork as Jack Solby, he tried to kill Lucas when he was blind ― The Clarence Bibs Story as Reade, he was one of the cowboys edging Clarence on to kill Tanner ― The Journey Back as Jess Grady, as one of the squatters, he was the one who held the rifle on Will Temple ― The Assailants as Lt. Price, the soldier in charge.
Mel Carter appeared in eight episodes ― End of a Young Gun as an outlaw, he rode with Hank Fulton ― The Safe Guard as Walkerman, one of the guys who help rob the bank ― The Challenge as a cowhand in the saloon ― The Woman as Jed Healy, the one who shot his Pa ― The Journey Back as Arnie Grady as one of the brothers that Will Temple threw off his ranch ― Outlaw's Shoes as Jeems, he was George Vale's partner and the one who shot Lucas and grazed him in the head ― Lou Mallory as Bo Jackman ― Death Never Rides Alone as Mark Jones. Gee.....does this set any records?
Thanks Nancy from the Yahoo Group.....for everything!!!!! ~ Cowgirl
Bloopers - The Journey Back
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
Character Actors Index Page
Have you ever been watching TV or a movie and wondered who is that guy?
Bloopers for this episode & other episodes
around The McCain Ranch