"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
Old Man Running
Mark was coming back to the house from the barn when he saw a rider approaching our ranch. I was having my second cup of coffee when I heard Mark called to me. “Pa, we have a visitor coming.”
I walked out onto the porch to see who it was. Before the rider crossed the bridge I knew who it was. I went back inside and grabbed my rifle. “Get inside, Mark.” I spoke firmly.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"You heard me son, get inside and close the door." Mark was puzzled, but did as he was told.
The old man stopped in front of me and started to get off his horse in front of me. "Don't bother getting off!" I said.
"I need help Luke," the man said.
"You came to the wrong place." I informed him.
"Maybe so...but ah...I got no place left to go Luke. There are three men on my trail.....the Sherman brothers. They're gonna kill me for sure if somebody don't help me."
He had his nerve showing up at my home. Just seeing him made me furious and now he’s asking me for help? I walked up close to him as he was sitting on his horse and angrily spoke. "You were always good at running away from things...keep running!" I knew that Mark was watching out the window and I tried to keep my temper in check and my voice low enough so he couldn’t hear me.
He asked if Mark was here, to which I replied, "I swore a long time ago the next time I saw you I'd kill you! Now don't press your luck!"
"Maybe that's what you oughta do then," he said. "I came here asking you for help Luke. I guess I got no right to do that, I won't do it again. I do think I've got a right to see the boy."
I couldn’t believe what he was saying. "You've got a right to ride off my property without being killed, and you've got that right because I'm giving it to ya'! Now git goin' before I change my mind!" I started for the house. He just sat there. I turned and looked at him. "Didn't you hear me?" Still he just sat there, so I raised my rifle and shot into the air. I wanted him gone! He quickly turned his horse and rode off.
Mark came running out of the house. He looked up at me and asked me who the rider was. I told him, “Someone who has no right being here, son.” My blood was boiling. I was angered that he come had here. After all these years, I thought I’d put it in the past and that’s where I wanted it to stay. I couldn't tell Mark who this man was or what he wanted, I just went into the house.
When the man arrived in North Fork, he walked to Micah's office. He asked Micah if he minded if he helped himself to coffee. Micah told him the only thing he serves is coffee and law and order, and if he wanted something to eat he would have to go to The Mallory House. The old man told Micah he would settle for law and order if it was as real as the coffee. Micah assured him it was.
"Does that include protecting innocent people?" he asked.
"It does.....if their innocent," said Micah.
"Is that a promise Marshal?"
"That's not a promise.....it's an oath! The same one I took when I put this badge on," Micah answered from behind him.
The old man slowly turned around. “Have you ever heard of…Jeb Sherman?”
“Yes I have,” Micah answered. “First time about eight months ago when he killed a railroad agent. Last time, about…twenty minutes ago.” The old man was visibly upset. "Is your name Samuel Gibbs?"
Gibbs asked him how he knew that. Micah told him he just gotten a telegram about twenty minutes ago about Jeb and handed it to Gibbs to read. Gibbs read it. “Well…I guess their… closer then I thought.”
Micah nodded. I figure they’ll be in about midnight.” Gibbs asked Micah if he wanted him to leave town. Micah reassured him that he was here to protect the innocent, not run him out of town. Micah told Gibbs that they would handle the Sherman's and that he would have no problem getting deputies in North Fork.
Gibbs told Micah that the Marshal at Bensenville told him he would send his reward money to North Fork for him. Gibbs pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket. It was a will. He wanted Micah to witness his signature. “Just in case. “Granted all the wording may not be all legal like.”
Micah took the paper and read it. “I Samuel Lee Gibbs, in case I get killed, want all the reward money coming from turning in Jeb Sherman and all things that I won to go to my grandson…” Micah paused in his reading as he saw the next words. Mark McCain. In surprise, Micah looked up at Gibbs. “You’re Mark’s Grandfather?” Gibbs nodded.
Meanwhile, the Sherman’s were at a camp eating. Jeb Sherman was looking at an hour glass. “You know boy, I never get tired of looking at this glass. It reminds me of a man’s life…” He laughed. “Kinda makes you think, you know. It’s kinda like Ma said when she gave it to us.” The brothers are tired and wonder how much longer they have to ride. “The way I figure it, we’ve only got a couple more hours ride to Sam Gibbs’s funeral.”
We were in the barn gathering eggs. Mark dropped another one. I reminded Mark I had promised Lou six dozen today. “I’m sorry, Pa. That one just slipped out of my hand.”
"Pa.....I can't help wondering about that man that came here this morning. I hardly even saw him, but…” He hesitated, not sure how to proceed. “…but I saw you and I saw the way you looked after you talked to him."
"How did I look?" I asked Mark.
"Well...you looked like you hated him." He told me he didn't think he ever saw me look that way before.
“Son, hate’s a terrible thing. It’s…something and I don't want you to feel for anybody if I can help it. Now, the man you saw this morning is probably well on his way to Mexico by now. Chances are we’ll never see him again. Mark...I'd like to leave it at that." Down deep inside I hoped and prayed that he was out of our lives for good. After all these years, I still wasn’t prepared to relive that past.
"Alright Pa." We hitched up the buckboard and started off to town to deliver the eggs to Lou.
When we got to Lou's there was nobody at the desk. So, we walked to the counter and I rang the bell as Mark placed the basket of eggs on the counter top. Lou was just on her way down from upstairs.
"Well it's about time the rest of the McCain Clan made their way to town," Lou said in her brightest Irish brogue.
"The rest of the McCain Clan?" I asked.
Lou apologized for saying anything; she thought maybe it might be a surprise. Mark asked her who she was talking about. She then showed Mark the register with the entry, Samuel Gibbs.
"Well.....who is it?" Mark asked.
"Well it's your grandpa, Mark!" Lou answered.
Mark looked at me. The look on Mark’s faced rattled me. I could tell he was trying to understand what Lou had said, trying to put together a puzzle and he didn’t have all the pieces to. “My grandpa?”
“I’m sorry you had to find out this way, Mark.” I told Mark with heaviness in my heart.
“He’s the man that came out to the ranch this morning. Isn’t he, Pa?”
I simply nodded. “Let’s go outside and talk.” I asked Lou to excuse us. This was something between me and Mark.
"Why didn't you tell me before who he was, Pa?" Mark asked after we got outside.
Trying to control my voice, I answered. "Because I'd also have to tell ya' what he did and I'd hoped I'd never have to do that."
Mark was upset with me. "Pa...I'm not a little kid anymore. I've got the right to know what's real so...well so I can make up my own mind about things.” I struggled to find words to explain what had happened.
I sighed heavily. "Alright Mark." I put an arm around his shoulders as we started walking toward the stairs. "What was real the night your mother was dying, was that the doctor said that the only medicine that might help her was in Oklahoma City, ninety miles away. Your grandfather came by that night...tried to borrow some money. I didn't have to ask him what for, I could see he was still sober. I told him to stay with your mother that I was riding to Oklahoma City. She begged me not to go son. She said...’send Pa'. She begged me Mark. I gave him the money for the medicine and helped him saddle up. He never came back. That was the last time I saw him until today." The whole conversation was hard for me. The memories were still so real. "After I buried your mother...I only had one thought Mark.....to find Gibbs and to kill him!" I went on to tell Mark that after some time I realized making a home for him was more important than tracking down a man and killing him for revenge.
“Then he killed Ma,” Mark declared quietly.
“No, Mark. He didn’t kill her.” I couldn’t help thinking back to that day…the day I lost my wife. “But he might have saved her.”
"But that's the same thing as killing her...isn't it?"
I could tell Mark was struggling. Trying to understand what I had just told him and also trying to understand why I’d never told him before, we’d never kept secrets from each other. He was understanding that if it hadn’t been for this man, his own grandfather, that he might have grown up with both a father and a mother.
As we sat on the steps I knew this was a matter that Mark and I needed to resolve between us. The streets of North Fork were no place for Mark to come to terms with what I had told him. Mark headed for the buckboard, lost in his thoughts, and I slowly followed, pained with what my son was now going through. I wanted to get my boy home.
Suddenly, Lou called over to us. “Lucas! Where are you going?” She walked up to me.
“Back to the ranch,” I answered.
“Without even seeing Mr. Gibbs?”
“That’s right Lou.” I used that tone of voice with a warning in it – that warning should have told her to back off. But she didn’t heed the warning.
“What about you, Mark?”
“I’m going back too,” Mark answered.
Lou was upset. “He came all this way…and he’s risking his life just to see Mark!”
I was still trying to protect my boy. I had to be blunt with her. "Lou...this is something that doesn't concern you."
“Well, it concerns me that he’s liable to be killed. Micah too if you leave town.” I wondered what Micah had to do with this. “His job!” Lou declared. Her Irish was really up as she turned and went back to the hotel.
Nils hollered to me before we could leave. He said Micah had just asked him to ride out to the ranch to get me. Mark and I walked in to the Marshal’s office.
Micah was glad to see me and told me to pick myself out a badge. “What’s this all about?” I asked. He asked me if I’d see Mr. Gibbs. “What’s that have to do with your handing out deputy badges?”
He told me about the Sherman boys and figured them getting to North Fork around midnight. I matter-of-factly told him how I felt. “Well, that’s his problem, Micah. And if you want my advice, you’ll tell him what I told him…Keep movin'!"
“You mean to tell me this Gibbs fellow lied to Micah? He ain’t really Mark’s grandpa?” Nils asked.
“No. I’m saying it doesn’t make any difference!” I answered. I turned and looked at Nils. “Now look Nils, if you’re doing this for me, forget it! He’s not worth it.”
Micah knew I meant business. He told Nils to put the badge down. I know I wasn't helping matters any, I was not only putting Gibbs’s in danger, but also Micah’s. But my mind was still reeling.
After Nils left, Micah turned to me. “I know you must have reasons for feeling the way you do, Lucas, but this town still has to operate on the basis of law and order.”
“Micah, I want you to send Gibbs away!” I ordered.
“I can’t do that! I already gave him my word!”
Mark’s voice was broken as he spoke. He sounded angry and hurt…confused…I heard a million different emotions in that voice of his. “You don’t know what he did, Micah.” In our minds, Gibbs had committed the worst possible crime he ever could!
I couldn’t let Mark be involved in this. I wanted to get him home so we could talk. “Mark, wait outside, son.”
Mark grew angry. “You…You gotta tell him!” my boy yelled. “You gotta make him understand!”
My heart ached for Mark. I wanted to take him in my arms and take away his pain. My voice remained calm as I again spoke to him. This time, my voice was sterner and I touched his arm. “Mark…wait outside, son. Please.”
Micah watched Mark walk out. “I never thought I’d see Mark so filled with hatred for another human being.”
“Well, maybe it’s because Gibbs deserves it,” I answered.
"The only Gibbs I know is an old man willing to die to see his grandson," Micah declared.
Micah was trying to get me to see reason, ‘Was I so filled with hatred for this man that I was turning my son against someone that he’d not had a chance to judge for himself?’
‘Was I willing to sacrifice law and order just because of my feelings?’
While Micah and I were talking, unbeknownst to me, Mark went to confront Gibbs and ask him to leave town.
Mark arrived at the hotel room and knocked on the door. Gibbs reached for his gun as he got off of the bed, not sure who was on the other side. “Come in.”
The door opened. Mark stood inside the doorway. They looked at each other. Mark looked at the gun. So…this was his grandfather. Gibbs knew exactly who he was looking at – it was his grandson – his daughter’s son. He looked so much like Margaret.
He invited Mark to come in. Mark held reservation on his face. He couldn’t take his eyes off this man in front of him – his mother’s father…and his mother’s murderer…He allowed the door behind him to slam shut in anger.
“Well boy, do you know who I am?”
He didn’t hesitate to answer. "You're the man who killed my Ma!" Anger was flashing through Mark’s mind. He was trying to keep his emotions under control.
The words upset Gibbs. He slowly turned and walked to the mirror. “Well now…did your Pa tell you that?”
“You trying to say he was lying?”
“No. I ain’t trying to say he was lying, boy. He was telling the truth, your Pa was.”
Mark stared at his grandfather’s image in the mirror. “You…you mean you admit it?”
Gibbs turned from the mirror in silence. He slowly walked over to the bed and sat down. “That's what I came here for son. To admit it…” He looked up at Mark as he added the last words. “…and to ask you to forgive me."
Mark was shocked. He couldn’t believe…In disgust, he asked, “Forgive you!?”
"That’s right, son. Forgive me. I don't know if I killed Margaret exactly...but I'm admittin' that I'm to blame just same as if I did kill her. Never admitted that to your Pa." He’d never even admitted it to himself. “I just kept running from the truth…like I always ran from everything.” Gibbs went on to tell Mark what happened before his mother died.
“It was eleven years ago...it was a cold rainy night...I rode just about as far as I could go. I was afraid your Ma would die if I didn’t get back in time. I just thought that if I got one drink, it would give me the strength to go on. At least that’s what I told myself. Well, when I got back, your Ma was…dead and buried. Then when I rode up to that empty farmhouse, I went out to your Ma’s grave…and I sat down and waited for Lucas to come.”
“Why?” Mark asked.
“I wanted him to kill me.” They just looked at each other. Neither could speak on that. Finally, Gibbs stood up and crossed the room. “Well boy, you can…go now. It ain’t easy for a man to ask someone to forgive him. I can’t ask a second time.”
Mark struggled to get his words out. He was confused about his feelings. And he loved Micah and didn’t want to see Micah, or anyone else, get hurt. "Mr. Gibbs...I came here to ask you to leave town, before someone gets hurt."
"You want me to keep running?" Asked Gibbs.
"I.....I want you to leave town!" Mark was trying to keep calm, but he wanted this man to know he didn’t belong in North Fork, nor did he want him as part of his family.
He told Mark he would leave, that it would be easier to run from gunmen then it would be to keep running from himself and admit what he had done. He told Mark he would be gone within an hour and asked Mark to tell Micah.
Mark turned to leave. When he got to the door, Gibbs stopped he. “Mark?” Mark didn’t turn, but paused and waited for him to speak. "I took pleasure in seeing you boy." Mark turned and looked at Gibbs. Gibbs wished Mark good luck. Mark said nothing as he walked out the door.
Mark came straight to Micah’s office where Micah and I were talking. “He’s leaving, Pa. Mr. Gibbs is leaving.”
“How do you know that, Mark?” Micah asked the question I was wondering.
Mark looked me straight in the eye as he spoke. “I went to see him.” He looked at Micah. “I asked him to. He promised he would.”
I wasn’t sure on how to think on this. I’m not sure if I was happy or sad about this – about Mark’s talking to his grandfather. Mark wanted to go home. We had a lot of talking to do.
Micah told us to go on, looks like it was going to be a quiet night after all.
We walked out the door. Neither of us spoke. I looked at my son with mixed emotions. I really didn’t know what to say. I waited for him tospeak. After we were seated in the wagon, he told me that Gibbs admitted it was his fault. “He said he…he came here to ask me to forgive him.”
Mark couldn’t even look at me. I studied him a moment before asking. “Did you forgive him, son?”
The next words Mark spoke shocked me. “No, I didn't think you’d want me to.” This caused me concern. I tried to raise my boy by the Good Book. My son loved me so much that he wouldn’t forgive someone he didn’t know, just because of how I felt. Knowing my own emotions and reasons was one thing, but to see them mirrored in my son...
As we were sitting there talking, three men rode in. I couldn't help but wonder if they were the Sherman's, but Mark just had to ask, “Are those the Sherman’s?” I didn’t answer. Mark looked up at Gibbs hotel room window. The light was still on. He hadn’t had time to leave. Mark looked at me. I know what he expected me to do.
I wasn’t too often that I walk away from trouble, but this time I wanted to be alone with my son. We headed for home.
Micah was putting away the deputy badges when the Sherman's entered his office with their guns drawn. They started pushing Micah around. They made Micah sit down and sat the hour glass in front of him.
Just then Lou came to talk to Micah and walked in on them. They pushed her over behind Micah. She was not a hostage as well.
Mark and I didn't get too far when I had a change of heart, not for Samuel Gibbs, but for my boy and for Micah. I realized that Samuel Gibbs arrival had rattled my good senses. I decided to go back into town, just in case Micah did need some help. I left Mark sitting in the buckboard and told him to wait there for me. “Gibbs is my problem, Mark. I don’t need it to be yours or Micah's.” I grabbed my rifle and quietly ran back into town.
Jeb told Micah that his mother gave them the timing glass and to always give a man time to think about what he’s dying for. He may decide it ain't worth it. Micah had until the sand ran out to decide if Sam Gibbs was worth dying for. One hour wouldn’t change Micah’s mind. He regarded their attitude with contempt and pushed the hourglass off his desk and onto the floor where it broke. This made Jeb angry, he hit Micah across the face knocking him to the floor. Bob and Littleboy Sherman were getting ready to shoot Micah when Lou pleaded with them not to. She couldn't let them shoot Micah, so she told them where Gibbs was. Jeb and Bob went to the hotel and left Littleboy to watch over Lou and Micah.
I got there just when Jeb and Bob were getting ready to enter the hotel. "Hold it!" I warned, training my rifle on them.
"What's the trouble, cowboy? Can't a man go into the hotel without somebody throwing a rifle at 'em?" Asked Jeb.
"That depends!" I then called to Micah. No answer. I called again.
What I didn't know was that Little boy had his gun pointed straight at my back and was getting ready to pull the trigger. Lou saw Micah's gun belt hanging on the hook in the office. She was torn between her own safety and saving my life. She slowly moved toward the gun.
“Micah, you alright?” I yelled.
Suddenly, I heard a gunshot. That distracted me long enough for Bob to shoot at me. Jeb then tried. Both thankfully missed me and I fired my rifle, killing them both with two quick shots.
I hurried into Micah’s office. What I saw was shocking! Littleboy was behind the door, dead. Lou stood there holding Micah’s gun. She was pale and shaken. I was a bit shocked myself as I realized the truth – she had shot and killed Little boy Sherman!
Micah slowly regained his senses and started to stand up. “Gibbs? Did they get Gibbs?” Micah begged to know.
“No.” With some relief, I said, “Gibbs can stop running now.”
Mark and I stayed while Doc Burrage checked Micah out. After Micah was given a clean bill of health, I announced Mark and I would now go home. Mark was really quiet. I knew he had a lot on his mind. “It’s been a long day.” I turned and looked at Mark, but he just stood there, deep in thought.
Just as we were getting ready to walk to the buckboard, Gibbs came leading his horse around to the front of the hotel. He was keeping his to promise to Mark.
"Let's go son" I said in a reserved voice.
“Just a moment Pa," Mark answered. I turned to him, shocked.
I knew then what Mark had been thinking about. Gibbs walked up to us. He told Micah he was going back to Bensenville, he had a little piece of land there. He thanked Micah. Micah told him not to thank him, but to thank me, his son-in-law.
I still had a lot of mixed feelings toward this man. "Forget it Micah...he doesn't owe me a thing. What I did...I did for you and Mark." And I believed that with all my heart!
“I know that, Lucas…I’d like to thank you anyway…and I just hope that someday…you can stop hating me.”
"Now look Sam...I don't hate you!” I declared. “I just can't find it in me to forgive you."
"Well...the book says...not hatin' is the first step of forgiveness. I'll settle for that.” Micah smiled. He knew Gibbs was right. He knew it was only a matter of time before my heart began warming toward this man – my son’s grandfather. I turned and looked at Mark.
By the way he talked, I knew there was a longing and regret in his heart, as he said good-bye.
"Good-bye," Mark replied.
As Gibbs walked away I could tell Mark wanted to tell Gibbs that he forgave him. I asked Mark, “You want to tell him that you forgive him, don’t you son?”
"I do forgive him Pa."
"Well then I think you ought to tell him." Maybe my heart had softened, a little bit. I couldn't let both of them go on like this, even though I knew I couldn’t forgive him. I couldn't let Mark carry that burden if he felt different then me. I didn’t want to see my son torn between his own conscience and his love for me.
Mark looked at me and then called to Gibbs. "Mr. Gibbs...” He waited moment, trying to call out as if unsure of the word to use, “Grandpa...?" Gibbs stopped before he could mount his horse. I could see a change in the man, as if that one word had lifted a burden off his shoulders. Mark walked over to him. They stood there and looked at each other, a boy and his grandpa. Gibbs puts a hand on Mark's shoulder. He knew that Mark had forgiven him without either one saying a word.
My son had lost his mother, possibly, because of what this man had done, yet he found it in his heart to forgive. Maybe someday, I could learn from my son, and offer the same forgiveness.
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.
Adam Williams appeared in six episodes ― The Challenge as Jake Pardee, the leader of the gang and the one who thought he had to prove himself ― The Score is Even as Jax, he was the one in charge and the one who told Andy to kill the McCain's ― The Prisoner as Corporal Troc a ex-Confederate officer and the aide to Major Aaron King ― The Anvil Chorus as Platt, the leader of the gang ― The Executioner (which he wrote) as Russell Ganaway, he was a former friend of Lucas's, just released from jail and the one who hid the stolen money on the McCain Ranch ― The Old Man Running as Jeb Sherman, the leader of the gang and wanted for killing a railroad agent.
Rex Holman was in three episodes ― The Jealous Man as Simms, Travis' hired gun ― Death Never Rides Alone as Billy Graves, he is the one who took Mark's horse, Blueboy and Old Man Running (aka The Wanted Man) as Bob Sherman, the brother of Jeb and Little Boy Sherman, the Sherman gang who was looking for Mark's Grandpa.
Arthur Batanides played Little Boy Sherman. He was the brother that Lou shot.
Patricia 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.
Joe Higgins played Nils Swenson. Is it Nils or is it Nels/Niles? What is his last name.....Swenson/Svenson aka The Blacksmith? Joe Higgins holds the record for playing Nils or was it Niles or Nels? There were four episodes that Joe did not play Nils or was it Niles or Nels?
He played the bartender in Strange Town — Rafe the blacksmith in The Wyoming Story part 2 — Short Rope for a Tall Man as Henry Schneider the horse thief — Stopover as Scotty the Stagecoach Driver.
Stopover was the only episode to run one day over schedule.
*This episode is also the same as The Wanted Man (aka Old Man Running).
Bloopers - Old Man Running
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