"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
When you have a child, you have a bond that surpasses any bond they can have with any other person. There is a physical connection. And even when you are far apart, you still feel that other person. When everyone else thinks your child is dead, your heart tells you differently. That’s the way it is with my son and me.
This is a hard story to tell, but it’s one that must be told, because it shows the bond that binds us and makes us important to each other. It happened on hot afternoon. As is often the case, Mark and I were working together on our chores. I was chopping the wood. This was a chore that was a hard job, and though Mark had his moments of doing it, I knew that it would be a few years before he had the strength to chop the wood as easily as I could. But today, Mark saw how hot I was getting and he offered to help me out. I knew I had already chopped enough wood, but I also knew it made him feel important. So I handed him the ax and sat down to take a drink
Mark had only hit the wood with the ax a couple times before he stopped. He looked out over the land. I’m not sure what made him reflect at that moment, but I would carry his spoken words with me through the whole ordeal. "Pa, do you ever get that feeling that we are the only two people in the whole world?"
"Sometimes I do son when I look out at that prairie. It's a big hard land Mark. Out here everybody gets lonely one time or another." I told him that was enough wood for now, it was time for supper.
We started working together to clean up the wood. Suddenly, an arrow flew past my left shoulder and hit the barn. The peaceful feeling suddenly left me, and I shoved Mark to the ground. Thankfully, I had my rifle right beside me and I immediately started shooting. I got off three or four shots, I think, before and Indian snuck up behind me and hit me on the head really hard, knocking me to the ground.
Mark immediately tried to jump up and run away, but the Indian grabbed him. The whole clan of Indians rode up beside us. The Indian that had Mark threw him over the saddle as if he were a doll, then they all rushed off. I was able to lift my head and watch them ride off with my boy. But everything was really fuzzy. Then I passed out cold, helpless to do anything.
Some time later, I woke up. I could hardly move my head, it hurt so much. Hattie and Micah were standing over me. Micah looked relieved I was finally awake. “Hello Lucas,” he greeted. “You’re a hard man to kill!”
I could hardly talk. My head hurt so much. But I had questions, and I needed answers. “How long’s it been?” I was able to ask.
“Just last night,” Micah answered. That was a long time to me! My son was scared and alone out there. “Caleich rode by and found you.”
“Go after them, Micah!” I begged. They were here taking care of me while my precious little boy was out there frightened and alone in the hands of these madmen!
"We're leaving now,” Micah assured me. “It will soon be sun up. It would have been a waste of time trying to track them in the dark," he tried to explain.
But my mind was focused on only one thing. My son. "Why did they take Mark?" I yearned for an answer. I needed my son back!
Hattie suddenly rushed over to the bed to comfort me. I was in so much pain. I was totally lost. I couldn’t think. I didn’t want to feel. I just wanted to run after my boy and hug him, telling him he wasn’t alone!
My vision was blurred. I saw someone standing in the door. He looked just like an Apache Indian – like the one who took my son…my senses were all messed up. I reached for my rifle, but I was much too weak. Suddenly, I heard the Indian say, “Lucas.”
I had managed to lift my head off the pillow for a moment. “Buckhart,” I said as I laid my head back on my pillow.
He had a sorrowful look on his face. They all looked sorry, but they all still in here instead of out looking for my boy!
“We've been friends a long time, I hope you don't let what happen last night change that." Buckhart came up to the bed and looked down at me.
“I’m sorry, Sam,” I said softly. “You look like him.”
“Like Chaqua?” Sam asked.
Dread entered my eyes. “Chaqua,” I muttered.
“That’s why I’m here, Lucas. Chaqua’s a renegade again.”
I was desperate. Chaqua had my son. That meant he was indeed in a lot of trouble. “Micah, put me on a horse!” I ordered. But I could hardly lift my head from the pillow, much less stand up. He told me what I knew – that I’d only slow them down. I felt so lost. I needed to find my boy!
“I’ll find him if I can,
Lucas. I’ll bring him back if I can,” Chaqua promised. That wasn’t good enough for me. I was confused.
Sam started to leave, but I had more questions. “Sam,” I stopped him. Then I choked out, “Why did he take my son?”
He came back over to me. “To make an Apache of him. He came for the boy, Lucas. Not for the horses. Not to kill. But for the boy. Chaqua’s own son died two months ago. He found himself another. One who’s father was known to be a brave man.” I listened in disbelief. It gave me some relief to know he wasn’t intending on killing my boy. Some, but not much. I watched Sam leave and closed my eyes in pure frustration. I cried for my son. I knew I had to find him and bring him back, even if it killed me!
It was now daylight. It was pure will-power that got me out of that bed. Hattie helped me get ready to go. It didn’t matter how bad the pain got, I would not stop until I found my boy. No father could lay in bed while others looked for his son. I had to be there – to try finding him myself. There was a bond that would help me locate him – a bond that no one understood.
Hattie brought my hat and canteen to me as I was fixing to leave. “Thanks for leaving the store and tending to me, Hattie. I really appreciate it,” I said, trying to stay strong for her.
Hattie had tears in her eyes. Worry was etched all over her face. "I won't say for you not to go Lucas. I love that boy too much." I started to mount up, but Hattie stopped me. She was like a mother to me, and she could read me so well. She knew I needed encouragement. "Lucas,” she stopped me. “The thing is to stay alive. Ride easy." It took all the strength I had to get onto my horse and ride off.
Even though the posse had several hours head start on me, I was able to catch up to them. The men were restless and complaining. Micah loved me and that boy so much that he was pushing his men harder then usual. They hadn’t been resting very long before the told them to get ready to head out again. Toomey didn’t have the confidence that Micah and I had. “Micah, I don’t think we’re gonna bring that boy back,” Toomey admitted. “ Neither do you.”
Micah obviously didn’t know what he was meaning. Toomey pointed out that had several hours lead on the posse. “I have a wife. Two small sons. I shouldn’t have come in the first place!” Micah began questioning the other men. They all agreed that Mark was gone. They wanted to give up.
"Alright Toomey. Go ahead. No ones gonna stop you," said Micah.
I had heard a lot of what was being said. It hurt me that these men I call my friends were giving up on a ten year old helpless boy – my son – so easily. I rode right up to Toomey. “That’s all right, Toomey. You can turn back if you want,” I stated. Pain etched my face. But it wasn’t all physical. Some of it was mental anguish.
Sam told me we’d ride out in the morning. "I can't see in the dark and I don't want you dropping out of the saddle on me.”
Under normal circumstances, I probably would have wanted to go on. But the truth was, I was very weak and in a lot of pain. I couldn’t have lasted much longer in the condition I was in and I knew it. So I didn’t even put up a fuss. Sam helped me out of the saddle. I started to remove my bedroll, but Sam told me he’d get it. Again, I didn’t argue, but went to sit down.
Micah unsaddled my horse for me and ordered the men to unsaddle the horses. Buckhart reminded them there was to be no campfires. The night was getting cold. In my weakened state, the coldness affected me more then usually. Sam brought my jacket to me and helped me put it on. I was frustrated. Sitting still made me feel worse. Mark was out there alone with strangers, confused and frightened. And I was sitting under a tree staying warm. It just didn’t seem fair.
“Sam, wouldn’t it pay to travel by night? Try to outguess them?” I asked weakly.
I don’t think so. I don’t think you can outguess an Apache!” Sam answered.
Caleich was walking by then and heard him. "Not even by another one," he asked sarcastically. Sam told him he was a tamed Apache that put him at a disadvantage. "Do you really want to find them Buckhart?" Asked Caleich. "I hear them Apaches really have a time for themselves when they catch a tame one!" I told Caleich to let Sam alone. "Your son Lucas…your hunt," said Caleich as he walked away.
This wasn’t a hunt! It was a rescue mission.
I asked Sam how much longer. He said he didn't know, but he felt they stopped running. “You’re gonna have to spell it out for me. I know what the Cherokee would do,” I sated.
“They’re gonna be waiting for us. Like Caleich said, I’m a trained Apache. I’ve been living with the whites for some years now, but I’m still much Apache! They’ll be waiting for us all right!” he answered.
I wanted to know more about Chaqua. "I know of him. He's a brave man. His son died last winter.” Sam turned and looked at me. “He was ten years old." I knew that would make it a lot harder to get him back.
The next morning, we started off again. Sam was in the lead. We suddenly came to a narrow passage. “They went through here,” Sam stated. “I would be a good spot for an ambush. We could go around.” It would take a day or longer to go around. I couldn’t wait that long. Every second my son wasn’t with me, he grew more lonely and more worried, I’m sure. I had to get him back! I couldn’t wait!
We got our rifles ready and started riding through the pass. We kept our eyes open, carefully scanning everywhere for the Apaches. They let us get all the way through before they struck. Our backs were to them. Suddenly, I heard the sound of an arrow as an arrow hit one of our men. He cried out in pain. A second arrow came down and hit another man. He cried out in pain. I shot my rifle at them. “Take cover!” Sam ordered.
We all jumped off our horses to hide. I ran to help Micah down. Then we took cover as well. Sam climbed the rocks to look for them, but they were gone.
Caleich had been hit in the arm with an arrow. He was begging Toomey to pull it out. He was in a lot of pain. I ran to check the other man. He was dead.
“They’re close, Sam!” I stated. “I say we go after them!”
Sam disagreed. “No, not this way,” he argued. “Only by stealth now. They outnumber us,” Sam explained. Toomey walked up to us. I pointed to the dead man. “We’ll bury him,” I stated sadly.
“McCain, for nothing! He died for nothing! Your boy’s dead!”
His words made me angry! I felt my son in my heart. Every ounce of my being assured me he was still very much alive. I stared at Toomey. “We’ll bury him!” I said angrily. Then I turned and walked away.
After we said our final words at the burial, Toomey confronted me. He was angry this man died. “McCain, I say we go back.” I wasn’t stopping him. I never tried to stop him from going back. “You have no right to kill these men too!”
What did I have to do to convince Toomey that I was the boy’s father and I knew the truth? My heart screamed it out to me! “My boys up there. He's alive!"
"If I thought he was still alive, I'd be the last to turn back!" Exclaimed Toomey. "Ask your friend there. The Apache don't give their prisoners back Lucas!"
I grabbed Toomey as he started to walk away. I was desperate. I needed my boy! I was nothing without him! "I need help Toomey! I counted five or six of them! I need help!" I was begging now. The thought of living without my boy was too much for me to bare! But even more unbearable was his living in fear. He was afraid, and I knew it. He needed my protective arms around him. I had to help him!
"No Lucas," Said Toomey. "He died for nothing. The boys lost to you." With that Toomey walked away.
I couldn't give up, I had to keep trying. I had to know for sure. My son is only lost to me when I give up searching. Nobody was going to tell me Mark was gone! I must keep going until the very end. The others went back with Toomey. It was just Micah, Sam and myself left to search for my son.
I kept going. I pushed myself until I fell out of the saddle. Micah and Sam ran to my side. “Lucas!” Micah said. I was so tried and pushing myself so hard, but my boy was still out there!
Micah and Sam knew I needed rest. We had to make camp. I couldn’t talk. I didn’t want to stop, but I knew I couldn’t go on. Nor right now. My weakened condition was again causing me to feel the coldness of the warm. They put every available blanket on me. Micah was worried about me. “These blankets aren’t enough!” he declared. “we need to build a fire.”
Sam warned Micah that the Apaches would be able to find me, but Micah was too concerned about me. I finally managed to state, “No Micah.”
Micah was so worried about me. He knew how much I love Mark. He knew how strong our relationship was. Sam came to Micah to comfort him. "He's a strong man Micah, he'll live."
“Without the boy?” Micah asked. I knew I wouldn’t make it without him. I would die. Micah knew that too.
“Tomorrow I go alone,” Sam stated.
Micah disagreed with him. “One man? That’s not enough!” he declared.
I could hear them talking. “You better take him back,” Sam stated.
That was it. I turned and grabbed my rifle – without Mark, it was the only defense I had left. In my weakened condition, it was the only way I knew to stay in control. "You take me back and I'll kill ya'."
Micah and Sam whirled around. “You think you’re gonna be any help, Lucas?” Micah asked.
“He’s my son!”
Didn’t they understand that as long as my son was out here, I had to be too? I didn’t want another dead man fighting my fight! I just needed a little sleep. Just a little, then I’d be ready to go.
Micah walked away. He knew where I was coming from, but on a professional level, he couldn’t agree that I was right. He understood though. Sam sat down to talk to me. “Do you know what the Apache word churenga means?"
I told him I thought it meant.....'hunt.'
"Not just that. In English you would say a quiet hunt. A still hunt, by stealth...alone. It's an Apache word Lucas...it's a thing the Apache can do better then anybody else in the world. Chaqua will not leave his horses. They are to an Indian what gold is to a white man. He must go along those mountains. Then around and over into Arizona. I can go up Lucas.....I can save a day, maybe more. I can follow him. You know the Cherokee, but I know the Apache. I know what must be done. I know that if their senses warn them that something is wrong, they gotta stop breathing, stop living, stop being for the moment. And they have to think of happy things and don’t sweat. Because they can smell it and it’ll kill you. You don’t attack by day, but lie quiet…wait and crawl. Crawl so they will not see you. Crawl so they will not hear you. You must kill them in the darkness, Lucas. Even the Apache must sleep. That’s when you must take them, Lucas. When they sleep. Toomey is right. The apache does not give back prisoners."
I listened in silence. The words upset me, but I knew as soon as I regained my strength I would be back looking for my boy. Nobody or nothing could stop me. I loved my boy. If they wouldn’t give Mark back to me, then I had to take him by force.
Sam left me alone to think. Then he told Micah he was going to go out about two miles then start his climb.
"I'll say it again Sam," said Micah. "One man is not enough."
"We'll see," said Buckhart as he started off on his journey. Sam started on his journey, but he soon got to a place he had to either walk around or jump over. He chose to jump. He knew both Mark and I needed this to end. We couldn’t go on any longer. I was getting worse. Mark’s mental
anguish was probably getting worse. So he jumped and succeeded the obstacle.
I rested only for a little while. When I woke up, I felt I had enough strength to go on. I had to go. Not only was my son’s life in danger, but now a friend of mine was out there fighting for his life as well. I took the same path Sam took. I cam to that same ledge where I knew I’d have to jump over. Even in my weakened condition, I decided to jump. I don’t know what got me there in one peace, except that I knew I had to live in order to save my son.
Sam made it to the Apache’s camp. As he tried to sneak into the camp, an owl sounded. This startled one of the Apache’s. Sam immediately got down and started crawling, but somehow they knew someone was there, trying to sneak into their camp. The apaches were all awake, waiting to attack him. The attack happened, but it was over fast. One of the Indians hit him over the head and knocked him out.
Mark awoke at the commotion. One of the Indians went to make sure Sam was alone. Chaqua discovered it was Sam. Artak wanted to kill him, but Chaqua wanted to take him with them. Suddenly, Artak looked at Mark. “The boy!” he suddenly stated. “Kill the boy Chaqua. He means
death to us. I can smell it. Let the man with the rifle bury him.
This of course scared Mark.
Chaqua refused. “It will be better if you kill him,” Artak insisted.
This made Chaqua angry. “Will you make me kill him, brother?”
“Your son is dead!” Artak sputtered. “His skin was brown. Not white like this!”
“You fool!” Chaqua cried. "This is life. He is an Apache! I will make him so. The sun will change his skin, and I will change his heart.” Chaqua continued. "I give this boy my love and protection. He is my son. One more night we camp then we are home."
Mark listened to the conversation. He wished there was a way to escape, but there wasn’t. Suddenly Chaqua came up to him. “Buckhard…is he your friend? Do you know him, boy?” he asked Mark.
Mark only stared at Sam for a moment. Then he did what any ten year-old would do. He got mad. He thought Sam was dead and he started
hitting Chaqua. He was angry, but he was scared and terrified. So he started crying as Chaqua held him tight.
"Apaches do not cry. Only the women." He then walked away. My poor boy was confused and afraid. But I was coming. I was coming.
It was morning before I caught up to Chaqua’s band of Indians. I watched them travel in front of me. Suddenly, there was my boy in front of me. I rejoiced! My heart hadn’t lied after all. I looked at my rifle but knew there wasn’t a chance. I couldn’t risk endanger Mark anymore. Suddenly, I saw Sam. He was a prisoner. It was all up to me.
I quietly followed them, keeping out of sight. Then I took Sam’s advise and waited until night. They were settling down for the night. I slowly crouched down and began making my way forward. Mark was sitting on a rock while the Indians talked.
I heard Artak. He said he was troubled. He thought the problem was Mark. Well, he wouldn’t have to worry about him much longer! I was there to take his burden off his hands! I snuck closer and closer. They were busy talking and didn’t pay attention to the slight crunch my feet made a couple times. I
I snuck even closer, but my foot stepped on something and there was a noise. Suddenly, one of the Indians jumped up to come get me, but I shot him Bang! dead.
I fired shots over and over until everyone of them was laying dead. I hurried forward. My boy was there. I couldn’t wait to touch him! “Pa!” Mark jumped up. He was so happy to see me.
Suddenly, Sam shouted, “Lucas!” I turned to find Chaqua about to pounce on me from behind. As we fought on the ground, Sam told Mark to untie him. Mark had trouble doing it, so Sam told him to get one of the dead Indian’s knives.
I continued fighting. I had to save my boy! His life now depended on it. At one point, I thought Chaqua had me, but pure determination gave me strength from somewhere deep inside me. I was able to pin him to the ground as I choked the life out of him.
Chaqua had his hands around my neck, but I squeezed the breath right out of him. I was so angry. He was weakening each moment I squeezed. Suddenly, the strength in his hands started to go limp. “You took my boy!” I sneered at him. I was suddenly overcome by anger and vengeance. I cried out the words again. “You took my boy!"
The next thing I remembered was Mark and Buckhart calling my name and pulling me off of Chaqua. “He’s dead!” I heard Sam say suddenly.
I stopped and turned to my son. We embraced as tears filled our eyes. I finally had my precious son back! He was safe! I never wanted to let him go. It would be hard to let him out of my sight for awhile, I knew.
I finally broke our embrace and turned to Sam, but my arm was still around Mark. I laid my hand on his shoulder and looked into his eyes. I said nothing. Words could not express my thanks, and anyways, I couldn’t trust my voice. All the emotions from the past days suddenly caught up with me. I put my arm securely around my boy and we walked off.
Chaqua wanted to find himself another son; my son, he wanted one whose father was known to be a brave man. He didn't know just how brave a man I was and what I would do to get my son back and that Mark is my strength!
*What say you? At the end of
when you see Lucas & Chaqua fighting and Lucas is strangling Chaqua, did
Lucas strangle Chaqua to death or did he render him unconscious?
Ansara appeared in two episodes as Sam Buckhart,
Deputy United States Marshal. The Indian and The Raid,
were spin offs for Law of the Plainsman.
Foulk appeared in five episodes, four times as Toomey ―
The Raid as Toomey, the man who wanted to turned back,
he didn't want go on to help Lucas find Mark ― The Second
Witness as the Toomey, the man who made the coffin for the
Three Legged Terror as Toomey, the man who Johnny
Clover was sketching when his uncle came to Lucas' ranch ―
Outlaw's Inheritance as Toomey, the man who didn't
want Lucas to represent North Fork after finding out out Lucas'
The Lost Treasure of Canyon Town as
Herbert Newman, the man who was trying to hide the secret of the
*According to the credits in The Three Legged Terror
— Toomey is also a Blacksmith — See Arnold Laven's comments on this in
Michael Forest as Chaqua. He was the Indian who took Mark to make an Apache out of him
and claim him for his son.
Pat Hogan as Artak, he was the Indian who confronted Chaqua about killing Mark.
Clancy Cooper as Caleich, he was the Indian who was on guard the night that Buckhart came into their camp.
appeared in two episodes ― The Raid as Walt, one of the cowboys who
went to help look for Mark ― Mark's Rifle as Marty Blair
the fancy shooter with the circus.
Hope Summers appeared in
sixteen episodes as Hattie Denton, owner of The General Store.
Hattie was first introduced to The Rifleman in Eight Hours to Die.
Robert Dix as Davy Clay, one of
the cowboys who agreed with Toomey to turn back.
Guilt over a killing drives an enraged Lucas to kill, again.
This story originally was inspired by a dream
written by BluewindFarm aka Deanne
around The McCain Ranch