"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
The Score is Even
I love my boy! And I know he loves me. He proved his love for me in our latest ordeal like he did in so many others. Now is no different.
We were out on the trail and were several days from home when Mark suddenly saw a great big buck. “Let’s see you bring him down!” he declared. That boy! He was always wanting to how good I was with my rifle! I sternly reminded him that we were still two days from home and the carcass wouldn’t be any good when we got home. “That’s right.” Mark thought back to something I’d always told him. “A good hunter only kills what he needs.”
I shook a finger at him. “And don’t you forget it!”
Suddenly, a shot rang out. I turned at the sound. Mark foolishly thought someone was hunting, but I disagreed. “Those were more then rifle shots!” We rode into the direction the shots had come from.
We suddenly came onto a shack. I grabbed my rifle and dismounted my horse, ordering Mark to stay there. I slowly approached the shack and cautiously opened the door. My rifle was carefully aimed just incase I would need to use it. When I peaked inside, I saw a man dead on the floor. He had been shot right out of his chair!
I bent down to examine the body, setting my rifle down beside me. Suddenly, a man entered from the back. I looked up. Bang! I was shot right in the face. It hurt bad!
Mark heard the shot and hurried into the shack. I’m sure the sight that met his eyes was horrific! I was lying on the floor, holding my face and groaning in pain. Mark knelt down beside me and grabbed my head. Turning me over, he suddenly realized I was shot. Two men were in the room. Mark innocently turned to them. “Aren’t you gonna help him? He’s bleeding!” Mark begged.
Those two men weren’t good. The dead man was a lucky – turned unlucky suddenly – gold prospector. The two men had killed the poor man for the gold he had. Jax, the younger of the two, was evil. He ordered the older guy, Andy, to kill us.
“There’s already been one killing, and I’m not going to go in there and kill that man!” Andy told Jax. But Jax ordered Andy to get it over with.
Mark sat on the floor, holding my wounded head in his lap and soaking up the blood that was oozing from where the bullet had grazed me. “It’s alright, Pa.” Mark was trying, but trying to keep it together. He knew I needed him.
Suddenly Andy walked in, slamming the door behind him. Mark turned and looked at him. Andy pulled his gun out of his holster. Mark suddenly realized what he was going to do. “No!” Mark yelled. He jumped up and ran to the man, trying to fight him off. Mark put up a good fight, kicking and squirming with all his might. But Andy was a big strong man and finally got Mark in a head lock. Mark continued struggling. Bang!
“Pa!” Mark cried as he closed his eyes, still struggling. He was sure Andy had just killed me. But he suddenly opened his eyes and froze. Andy had shot into the floor. Bang! A second shot was fired into the floor.
Mark suddenly turned to him, relieved when he realized Andy was saving his life. “It’s alright, son. Now you be quiet,” Andy spoke softly.
Andy hurried out of the shack and demanded they get out of there. “Your getting blood shy, ain’t ya'?” Jax observed. “What’s the rush? It’ll be months before anybody finds them. Look, this time we're gonna travel slow and easy...like gentlemen." Jax gave an evil laugh. "We don't wanta get too close to the boarder, too tired to enjoy ourselves!” They mounted the horses. "Muchas gracias, amigos...adios," Jax yelled as they rode off with our horses, supplies, and my rifle.
Mark worked on bandaging my wounded head. Mark told me there were two men and they had taken our supplies with them. “How are we going to get you to a doctor?” Mark worried. I leaned forward in the chair. Protectively, Mark bent down in front of me and put a hand on my shoulder to keep me from getting up. “Well, you better take it easy, Pa,” he warned. “You’re still bleeding.”
I needed some water, but Mark informed me that there wasn’t any. I must admit that I wasn’t to happy to hear that! “Well, the nearest place I can think of was the Merar Ranch. We can make it there on foot.” I slowly and painfully stood to my feet as Mark watched with much concern.
"Pa...if…if somebody asks you to do something wrong, and you don't do it, can you still be blamed for it?"
I sat down on the table and put my hand on his shoulder. Looking at him, I asked, "What are you gettin' at son?"
"Well...the older man was supposed to kill us and didn't. He even helped me fix your head."
My boy was always thinking of others. He had such a gentle heart! "Mark...just because a man does one good deed it doesn't excuse all the bad ones in the past." I told him we needed to get started.
I stumbled my way to the door. Mark suddenly wondered about the dead man and I assured him we’d send someone back to bury him. I didn’t have the strength to do it, and I certainly didn’t expect my twelve year old boy to take on such a task! Mark helped me out the door.
We traveled for quite awhile. It was dark when we came across a campfire. "Hey Pa, there's a campfire down there. Look...maybe we can get some help...borrow some horses." Mark started forward.
I quickly grabbed him. "Wait a minute son,” I stopped him. “We better take it easy - find out who it is first."
We slowly edged up closer. We were able to get a closer look. Mark recognized them. “Pa, those are-“ he started.
I suddenly pressed a finger to my lips. It was the men from the shack. I gestured for Mark to stay there as I proceeded to make my way into their camp. I slowly made my way up to the camp. They were both sound asleep. My rifle was laying between them. I fell to the ground as one of them stirred. Then I slowly began crawling…ever so slowly…into their camp. Carefully, I reached over Jax and grabbed the rifle.
Jax suddenly sat up, but I was too fast for him. I held my rifle on him and began giving the orders. "Toss your gun over there.” He obeyed me. I grabbed it and through it toward the bushes. “Your friend’s gun too.”
Andy woke up when Jax took his gun and tossed it away. "What's going on?"
"We've got company," Jax said, surprised.
"You bet you got company!" I sneered angrily. I moved away from them.
Jax quietly pulled up his pants leg where a knife was hidden. He turned to Andy and started to stab him. "You double cross..."
I grabbed his arm and twisted it until he let go of the knife. "Alright...you try that again and I'll save the marshal the time holding your trial.....that goes for you too," I warned. "Get over here!" I ordered. "Get over here!" I cocked my rifle. That made them move. "From now on I'm gonna keep you two together like Siamese twins till we get to town.....you understand that?" I threw Andy a rope and ordered him to tie Jax’s hands with it.
I had them both tied up. They sat against a log while Mark and I made camp by the bushes. Jax told Andy to cotton up to Mark. “You got us into this mess. Maybe you can help get us out!” Jax declared. “The kid fancies you for saving their hides. Get close to him. Make him feel sorry for you.” Jax picked up his coffee cup and asked Mark for more coffee.
I gave Mark permission, but warned him not to get to close.
"You sure make good coffee," said Andy.
"Pa taught me.”
"I had a boy once," Andy told Mark.
That surprised Mark. “How old is he?"
"Oh about the last time I seen him he was.....about your age, he's a full grown man now," said Andy.
"Where is he now?" Asked Mark.
"He’s in the east."
"Aren't you ever gonna try and look him up or anything?" Mark wondered.
"Hmmmmm.....what would a big city doctor that lives in a fine brown, stone home...Got a fancy carriage...and a couple of high steppin' horses want with a fellow like me son?" It worked. Mark DID feel sorry for him. He told Mark it was hard to drink coffee with his hands tied. Without thinking, Mark started to untie his hands.
Fortunately, I didn’t trust Mark’s judgment and was watching his every move. "Mark!"
Mark suddenly jerked back "Any of that coffee left?” Mark came over to me and filled my cup. "I told you not to get to close son," I scolded him.
It was time to break camp. I told Mark to get the horses ready.
Mark and I rode our horses. My prisoners walked on foot in front of us. We came to a fork in the road. They stopped and studied it. The sign said Cedar Road to the right and the Border Pass to the left. I didn’t let them decide. “Take the right fork,” I ordered harshly.
Andy turned around and looked at me. “Look fella. Why don’t you let us take the boarder trail? Make you rich!” Jax tried to stop him, but Andy didn’t want to go to jail for Jax’s killings. He told me there was a sack full of gold dust in one of the saddle bags. “Oh, you’ll never make it in your life as a dirt grubbing farmer! Help you send that boy to school. Help you send him to the best schools in the East!” He begged me to let him go.
I just stared at him. “You finished?”
Jax laughed, calling Andy a stupid fool. He knew there was no fooling my kind. But Andy didn’t want to pay for Jax’s killing the old man.
Jax laughed at that. "He's the one whose gonna die, not us!" Jax looked at me. "Look at him...can't you see every mile is bringing him closer to the breaking point? Two more days of ridin'...nights with no sleep. He's gonna make a slip. That's what I'm waitin' for farmer! Just one slip! - Nod...blink and I promise you - you won't live to see another day!"
"The right fork!" I demanded again. Jax laughed.
That night, I sat and watched the prisoners while Mark worked on the camp fire. I took the bandage from my head. Mark saw me and hurried over to me, deeply concerned. “Pa, you shouldn’t do that!” he scolded me.
“That’s alright, son,” I assured him. My head was hurting something awful as I spoke. “Than bandage…the bandage isn’t doing any good anymore.”
The prisoners were ready to turn in. They wanted a blanket. I sent Mark for their bedrolls. “I’ll tuck them in real comfortable!” I started tying them up.
“You’re a farmer, ain’t ya'?” Jax asked.
I looked at him. “I raise cattle.”
“Same thing. You work by the sweat of your brow. That’s for honest suckers! My old man was an honest sucker. Slave from sun up to sun down seven days a week. You know what that reaped him, farmer? It reaped him a fine harvest of drought – poverty – then he died. Cow rasin’ and dirt grubbin’…”
I went to tie him up. “An honest man doesn’t get yanked into the next world by a rope necklace, mister.” Jax assured me there wasn’t a rope big enough for him. “Well, that remains to be seen.”
I weakly sat down under a tree. I was weakening really fast. Mark hurried over and covered me up with a blanket. I could tell he was really worried about me. He studied my face. "Your bruise is lookin' mighty ugly, Pa." He wanted to put another bandage on me but I told him I'd be alright. I told Mark he better get some sleep.
"You're the one who needs it Pa! I already took a nap during the day. Please?"
I was feeling really bad. My head was throbbin'. I wasn’t thinking straight. If I had been, there’s no way in the world I would have done what I did. I found myself suddenly putting Mark’s life in jeopardy. I looked at the men. They were all tied up. I really was tired! "Mark...I'll make a deal with you son. You watch them for ten or fifteen minutes. I’ll shut my eyes. You can sit right up there." I leaned back against the tree and put my hand on Mark’s knee. “Son, if one of them even budges, you wake me.
Mark understood. He stood beside me as I laid my rifle across my lap. I leaned my head against the tree. Mark was hesitant to leave me. I nodded for him to go sit down and watch them.
The men saw what I had done. They knew I was wearing down – I had seen my child to keep an eye on them. They also knew that eventually, Mark would fall asleep and they would have a chance to make their escape.
Mark sat there and watched them, but he soon began dozing off. He suddenly jerked his head up, realizing he had fallen asleep. Mark really wanted to help me and he did his best to stay awake, but a growing boy requires a lot of sleep as you know, and it was just more then his young body could take. The men pretended to be asleep, and Mark was soon fast asleep as well.
When Jax realized Mark was indeed fast asleep, he motioned for Andy to untie his hands. Andy did manage to untie Jax’s hands and Jax quietly and slowly began making his way over toward me…and my rifle!
Mark slept on. He was really tired. I was fast asleep as well. Jax continued coming closer and closer. He reached his hand out to grab my rifle.
Mark suddenly woke up. “Pa!” he yelled.
I was on guard and immediately kicked Jax backwards. He landed flat on his back and I aimed my rifle at him. “Alright, you go on back there!” I ordered. “Go on!”
"I'm sorry Pa...I didn't men to go to sleep," Mark said. His voice was filled with disappointment and regret.
I suddenly realized that my decision was wrong. If only I hadn’t been so affected by this gunshot wound on my head, I would have never made such a bad decision. I knew Mark felt bad for me, but I was the father and I was supposed to protect him. My bad judgment almost cost my boy’s life! “It’s alright.” I patted his shoulder. “It’s alright son. I kept my eyes on Jax while I spoke to my son, trying to console him. “You go on and get some sleep now, huh?” I threw the blanket on the ground as I spoke to Jax. “Alright, mister. You lie down flat on your stomach! Go on!” I ordered harshly.
I was fading pretty fast. After last night, I knew my judgment wasn’t good enough for me to keep Mark with me. I knew I needed to get Mark out of there. My health was pretty bad, but my son came first. I knew what I had to do. I bent down beside Mark, using my rifle to prop myself up. Then I kneeled down beside him and watched him sleep…only for a moment. I hated waking him up and sending him away – but I had no choice.
I could no longer travel. Mark had to go for help.
I used all the strength I had to put on a strong, confident face. I knew it would be easier for Mark to obey my orders if he knew I was okay. “Mark,” I shook him awake.
Mark jerked – suddenly startled. I gave a short laugh. “Morning, son.” I told Mark I was fine as I smiled lovingly at him. “Listen, I’ve been thinking it might be a good idea for you to ride on by yourself,” I stated.
“And leave you alone with those two?” I knew my boy was terribly worried about me.
“You think I can’t handle them?” I teased.
“Sure, Pa. If you weren’t hurt and tired and-“
I told him to stop worrying about me – I was alright. I knew it was a lie, but I had to convince him to go get help. I needed it badly. I told Mark he’d be able to ride on by himself a lot faster. I grabbed his hat and gave it to him, telling him he could reach the Merar Ranch by night fall and bring back help by dawn. Mark hesitated, but finally said, “Alright.”
Mark went over to his horse I had all saddled for him. He turned around and looked at me. “Do I have to, Pa?”
“That’s the way I want it, son,” I answered sternly. I watched him ride off, wondering if I’d ever see my boy again.
Jax and Andy watched him ride off. “That boy, he’s gone to get help,” Andy commented. “We better make our move to get out of here.”
But Jax knew the truth. “Yeah? And get ourselves killed? He didn’t just send that kid off for help.” Andy didn’t understand. “That sod buster…He knows he can’t last. That’s why he sent the kid off.” Jax was pretty happy about that. “He’s saving his life.” Jax laughed. “Andy, he’s gonna crack! I know he is! By the time that kid comes back, we’ll be on our way to the boarder.”
I was just about at the end by that evening. I had to make final preparations, because I knew I was just about to pass out. Jax screamed for some food – but I could care less about that. “You aren’t too steady, are you farmer?” Jax screamed at me as I went over by the horses. I took the handguns out of the saddle bag and slowly made my way over to the water. Jax watched me and wondered what I was going to do.
Slowly, I bent down by the water and tossed the guns in. That made Jax angry. “What’d you do that for? That’s just a good waste of guns, farmer! But don’t make no difference. We’ll have that fancy rifle of yours soon!”
With my back to them, I began stuffing dirt down into the barrel of my rifle. I jammed it down further with a stick. I stuffed as much into it as I could without them seeing it. Then I slowly stood and made my way back to them. I knew I would pass out any time now. But I wasn’t going to go down without a fight!
I stumbled, barely on my feet. I suddenly felt my mind fogging up and my legs turn to jelly. I was just about to go down! I dropped my rifle then passed out.
It was over.
Jax had managed to untie his hands and quickly hurried over to me. He grabbed my rifle then bent down beside me with an evil laugh. “I told you, sod buster!” Jax picked up a hand full of dirt and threw it on me. “Here, here’s some dirt!” He cocked my rifle and pointed it straight at my head. “See if you can stop this."
"Jax!” Andy suddenly called. Jax looked up at him, still tied under the tree. “He can't do us any harm! Come on over here and untie me and let's get out of here."
He laughed at Andy. "You know what? You oughta wear your collar turned around.” Jax stood up and made his way over to Andy. "Goin' around saving lives.....twice in two days too." He untied Andy's feet. Andy argued that he could get his feet if Jax just untied his hands. Jax stood up after untying his feet. He pointed the rifle at Andy. "I don't need a gun shy partner to help me spend the loot packed in that saddle bag."
Jax helped him stand up. “There’s enough there for both of us, Jax,” Andy reminded him.
“It ain’t only the dust, Andy.” Andy begged him not to kill him. Jax laughed. “I tell you what. Let’s have some fun, Andy. Now, I don’t want to shoot a standing duck. I’ll let you make a run for it.” Andy told him he could have everything – he begged Jax not to shoot him. “Run, Andy run. I’ll give you a chance to run. If you make it, you’re free!”
“I can’t run! I can’t run with my hands tied!”
Jax laughed evilly again. “Go on! Run!” Andy took off. “Run! Andy! Run!”
Mark was hurrying toward the camp with the other men when he heard the shot. “Pa!” he cried as he raced forward.
Mark jumped off his horse and ran over to where I was lying. “Pa!” Mark cried as he sat down beside me. He lifted my head. “No Pa!” He cried as he hugged it against his own head. I suddenly began waking up and began breathing heavily. He stared at me and lifted my head up onto his lap.
I painfully opened my eyes and looked around, not removing my head from his lap. “Glad you got here in time, son.”
Merar picked up my rifle and studied it. He walked over to me and looked at my head. “Soon as we get that head fixed up, we’ll make a travoy and take you home in style.”
Just touching my head made it hurt! He looked at my rifle. "Ya' know...I bet your friend...if he had a second chance he'd check to see if that barrel was clear." I looked at Mark. "Looks like it’s stopped up. It's your rifle...how did that happen?”
I wonder how…"Well...uh...let's say I just got careless, Merar." I laughed. I started to take a drink of water for the second time when the man riding with Merar came back with Andy.
"What will they do to him Pa?"
I lowered the canteen again as I spoke. "I don't know son. That's still gonna be up to a judge and jury."
Finally, I took my drink of water!
piddlin' stuff.....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.
Kelly Thordsen appeared in two episodes ― Closer than a Brother as Arthur M. Truelove, he was the big dude causing the trouble in the saloon that lead to Micah giving up his badge― The Score is Even as Andy, he's the cowboy who was supposed to kill Lucas and Mark, but didn't.
Joe E. Benson appeared in The Rifleman many times, probably more times than listed. Sometimes credited & sometimes not.
*Please note: In Dark Day at North Fork he appeared as two different characters - as one of the townsmen & the bartender.
Joe was a good friend & a neighbor of Chuck's. He helped Chuck build a tree house for the boys and also help build the addition onto the house which was later called the den. (One of the several tree house pictures)
*This episode should have been called The Spiked Rifle! But then they already had an episode by this name - episode #49.
The Merar Ranch — The name Merar was Arthur Gardner's (producer) grandparents on his mother's side, they lived in Marinette, Wisconsin. Arthur would insert the names of his relatives into the scripts. His cousins would go to see Arthur's movies because they knew that their names would pop up. If you watch McQ, you will find that John Wayne makes a reference to Dr. Merar. (Arthur's grandfather was an optometrist, Dr. Merar.) This is take from Arthur Gardner's book, The Badger Kid. Cowgirl!
Bloopers - The Score is Even
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
The Mescalero Curse
The Clarence Bibs Story
around The McCain Ranch