"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
When I built my house, I only intended for two people to be staying there on any given night, but I knew someone may stop by occasionally and need a place to stay, so we had accommodations for a cot in the living room, which, as you know, was used from time to time.
But never did I ever imagine this was coming! You see, it was a pretty cold and stormy evening. Mark and I were in the barn finishing up the chores before the worst of the storm came in. Mark didn’t much care for storms like this, but I wasn’t sure how long a storm like this would keep up. I’d seen storms like this bury anything that moves.
Mark started to walk under a ladder, but then hesitated. I grabbed him by the arm and pulled him under. “Hey, don’t start any bad habits! That ladder don’t mean a thing. Just don’t get kicked.” Joking caused laughter. Anything to keep us warm!
Mark stated that weather like this makes him hungry. I grabbed the lantern and suggested we go get supper started. After securing the barn door, I helped Mark to the house, keeping him right in front of me so I could see him. Mark was going a little to slow. Didn’t he know I couldn’t go in until he did? I planned a firm smack on his back side. That got him to moving! We laughed together as we came inside.
But no sooner had we hurried to the nice, warm fireplace when we suddenly heard a faint yell outside. Mark ran and opened the door. It was Scotty, the stagecoach driver. Yelling loudly through the blizzard, we were able to pick up his faint explanation for being there – the road into North Fork was closed. I had no choice but to let him and all his passengers spend the night here.
Looked like the McCain Ranch was turning into the McCain Inn!
I turned to Mark and hollered for him to get a big fire going so we could warm these passengers up. They were about to freeze to death! “You bet, Pa!” Mark always did like adventure!
The door opened and a man with a bottle in his hand stepped out. He started yelling at the man behind him. Then he turned to the wagon. “Well girly, looks like this is where we spend the night. She stepped out of the stagecoach. I was a little taken aback having a girl here. Boy oh boy, one girl and all these men – I might have my work cut out for me tonight!
After helping Scotty get the Stagecoach, I hurried inside to welcome all my guests. I announced that we’d have beef stew ready in about an hour. I introduced myself and Mark to the guests. One of the men, Christopher Ryan, introduced himself to me. Then he introduced the lady – her name was Teresa Miller (Tess). “I’d like to add my thanks,” she stated. “I hope we won’t be too much trouble, Mr. McCain.” I told her it might be a little crowded, but I was sure we’d make out.
Suddenly, a man sitting in one of my chairs offered his hand. “Medford, McCain. Vince Medford.” I welcomed him as well. He offered me a drink. I couldn’t believe this – I knew he’d be a barrel of laughs! “I sell these things. Samples sure do come in handy on a day like this!” He spoke very loudly. No one wanted to listen to him. Ryan quickly left to see if the driver needed any help.
I told Mark to get to peeling the vegetables.
Then I told Tess I would put her bag in the bedroom. She didn't want to inconvenience us. I told her it was fine. She would be more comfortable there. "Yeah get comfortable girly...storm like this we're in for it," Medford slurred rudely.
"I'll do that Vince," Tess said as she gave him a dirty look. I looked at her, silently wondering what was going on. She explained in a regretful voice. "Mr. Medford and I are old...acquaintances."
I opened the door to the bedroom and allowed her to go in first. She suddenly realized Mark and I shared this room. “Well, he could stay here,” she commented. “I certainly wouldn’t mind.” She turned and saw the question on my face. “We could hang a blanket or something.”
I was certainly happy to hear her wanting to make things easier! I thanked her. “It would make things easier, considering the circumstances!”
Now I had to go break the news to Mark. I had a feeling he wouldn’t be too pleased with the arrangement, but he’d have to remember that I was the father and he was the child!
While Mark was peeling potatoes for supper he was watching Medford put away the whiskey. I came into the kitchen and hung my coat. "He sure must have been cold," Mark commented as he looked at Medford. I laughed. "This is gonna be almost like a huntin' trip, sleepin' in our bed rolls tonight." Mark commented then.
I bent down next to him. I wanted to see the look on his face when I asked this question! "What's the matter with your bed?"
You should have seen the look on my boy’s face! He turned and stared at me. “But Pa, she-“ he started in a nervous voice.
I held up a hand to calm him down. “Don’t get excited! We can hang a blanket between the beds. You’ll have your privacy.”
"Just a blanket?" Mark asked nervously. In fact, he was so nervous that he dropped the potato he had been working on. I was amused by his actions, but sternly told him that now was no time to be wasting food!
I walked away as he stared after me. Boy, but he sure wasn’t too happy about the arrangement – sharing his bedroom with a…woman!
Scotty and Rolf worked together unharnessing the team and tacking everything down for the night. Scotty was sure happy someone had stayed outside to help him. Scotty suddenly gasped. Scotty asked him if anything was wrong. "Just got a stitch in my side...it must be the cold." Scotty told him he was going into the house. He would feed the animals later. Rolf told him to go ahead, he'd be along soon.
But before Scotty left, he noticed Rolf pick up one of his pieces of luggage. Scotty told him to toss it down and he’d take it in. “It’s perfectly safe out here, isn’t it?” Scotty told him it was. “Well?” Rolf asked as he gave Scotty an impatient look.
I was in the kitchen tending the soup while Mark chopped some firewood. Tess came over to see if she could help. I told her she could hand me the salt. After she did her task, she stood and watched me work for a minute. I smiled at her, trying to ignore the fact that she was staring. "Where's Mrs. McCain?" she asked.
"My wife passed away sometime ago." I turned and smiled at her. She was very pretty.
"Don't you find it hard living here like this? Raising a boy all alone?"
I smiled at her again as I continued stirring the soup. "We manage." I smiled at her. It had been a long time since a pretty woman was in my kitchen!
Suddenly, the nice, innocent conversation was interrupted by the drunk. "Careful McCain...she's drawing a bead on ya'!" He turned around and laughed. A new bottle was in his hand. He winked at Tess. "Never did see little Tess girl here when she didn't go for them tall ones." He started to tell me something about her, but I didn’t want to hear it. It was none of my business, and he was a drunk!
I interrupted him. "Mr. Medford, we're liable to be stuck here together for a few days. Why don't you make yourself useful like everybody else?" He turned back around in the chair he was sitting in and took another swig of his whiskey. "That table needs setting." I got no response. "Mr. Medford." He turned back around and looked at me. "Why don't you set the table?" He got up from his chair and obliged me.
Scotty came in from the barn. "Funny thing about Mr. Ryan, not wanting his luggage in the house. Opened it right out there in the barn. After he made sure I left." He came in to get warm. Scotty could feel the tension in the air. "What's the matter, did I interrupt something?"
"Only the sensitivity of a insensitive woman!" Medford answered as he took another swig of his whisky.
Tess walked over to Medford. "Well then someday your gonna choke on that stuff and then no ones gonna have to listen to that nasty mouth of yours anymore," she stated angrily.
Medford kept mouthing. "You see what I mean? I can remember a few years back when Tess girl here...all she had to do was flutter her eyelashes.”
"Vince," Tess warned.
"Of course things have changed. While all the way up here from Yuma, handsome guy like that Ryan wouldn't even give her a tumble.”
I didn’t much appreciate such talk in my house! "Medford!" I yelled.
“No, let him finish!” She turned to Medford. “Or have you finished? If not, I’ll say it for you. Five years ago I came out here to get married, only I never did. My man was killed in a fight and she I was stranded in a place called La Paz, Arizona. Do you know what it’s like for a girl to be stranded penniless in La Paz, Arizona?” She turned to Vince. “You do, don’t you Vince? That's where I met him. He took pity on me. He gave me money. But not enough to go home...just enough to keep me from going. Well, it’s been five years and there’s been other towns and other places. And I’ve saved enough money and I’m going home.” She spoke as she stared at Medford. Then she turned to me. “And wouldn’t you know we’d have to be on the same stage together!”
Just then the door opened and Mark came charging in. "Pa...Pa...come quick...it's Mr. Ryan." He had collapsed. He was face down in the snow. Scotty, Mark, and I carried him into the house. “What’s the matter with him?” Medford slurred rudely.
I had Tess get the bottle of brandy out of the kitchen cupboard. We were busy trying to get Ryan to come to that I didn't pay much attention to Medford taking Ryan's wallet out of his coat. "Hey...his name ain't Ryan, it’s Christopher Rolf," Medford announced.
"Rolf!" Scotty ran over to look at the wallet.
"McCain...this man's a gunslinger! He's a killer!" Medford announced.
I glared at him. "What do you want me to do? Throw him back in the snow?" I then gave Rolf some brandy and started slapping his face.
When he woke up, He pushed the Brandy away. We wondered what happened. He said he slipped in the snow. He remembered falling. He thanked Mark for finding him.
“He should have left you there,” Medford exclaimed.
Rolf was confused at his rudeness. “The wallet fell out of your jacket,” I stated. I snapped my fingers, demanding Medford to give it up. “Here you are…Mr. Rolf.”
He took the wallet as he realized what he knew. "I'm sorry,” he apologized regretfully. “Sometimes my presence creates an undesirable atmosphere - through no fault of my own."
"Through no fault of your own,” Medford mocked. "Your a killer...eight men...maybe more!"
Rolf jumped up from the chair. "Eight is an exact figure Mr. Medford!" He answered angrily.
I grabbed Rolf. "Mr. Rolf, this is my home, I want you to respect it!" I told Medford the same goes for him.
We all set down to supper. I told Mark to ask the blessing as Mr. Medford greedily and rudely held a fork full of food in the air. Scotty announced that he hoped the storm would let up by tomorrow. So was I! But my boy Mark…you know how he is…he was hoping he wouldn't have school. “You got your books here, Mark. You can study,” I announced.
Mark wasn’t too happy to hear that! "Never neglect you lessons boy for any reason," said Rolf.
"Where did you go to school?" Medford asked. Tess told Rolf to ignore him, he was drunk. Medford was getting out of hand. “Best way to be under the same roof as a murderer!” Medford exclaimed. He was being arrogant. I told him that was enough. But he wouldn't shut up. “Don’t get high and mighty with me McCain! You heard what she said about herself. And you know what he is. So, just take a good look at ‘em!” He was being awfully rude for the hospitality I was giving him! He turned to Tess. "What's a matter Tess girl...couldn't score with McCain, so he's next in line!”
“You-“ she started
I couldn’t believe this! Even a drunk should have more sense then to act that way in another man’s home with a young, impressionable boy present. I had had it with this man! I wanted to make one thing clear. "Alright! Now you listen to me. I didn't ask for you people to stop by here. Where you came from and what you are, is no concern of mine. As long as you’re in our house...eatin' our food and accepting our hospitality, you'll act like decent human beings. Or somebody may find themselves walking to North Fork, and this isn't a very good night for walking. Do I make myself clear?"
“Well, nobody says I have to eat with a killer.” Medford got up from the table and went back over to set in the chair. That was fine with me! I wasn’t enjoying his company very much either.
Mark wondered where Rolf went to school. He made a stunning announcement. “As a matter of fact, at one time I was a school teacher,” Rolf stated. Mark wondered why he quit. “Well, there was a useless gunfighter in my town. His bullet killed my wife. Guns were my hobby. I collected them. I also knew how to use them. I went after that man to bring him back for trial. He tried to gun me, but I was faster. They said he was good, but I had out drawn one of the best. So, word got around. Others came around laughing. They wanted to try the school teacher. They still come, and I’m trapped. He's right...I am a killer...but not by choice!"
“Mr. Rolf, did you ever try backing down?” I asked.
“If I had, I’d be dead,” he answered. “I wanted to leave. I felt I had something worth giving – knowledge to children. It’s too late for that now.”
“Why?” Tess asked sorrowfully. “You can’t just give up. Everybody get’s a second chance.”
“A second chance would be…impossible for me.” I asked him if someone was after him. “You could put it that way, yeah.” He suddenly excused himself, stating he needed some fresh air.
We all agreed that Rolf’s actions were strange, but it was really none of my business. Bedford, on the other hand, walked to the window to look outside, wondering what Rolf was up to.
It was Mark’s bedtime. As promised, I hung a blanket up between the beds. Mark was laying on his bed, fully clothed with his boots still on, sulking about having to sleep in here. He made it clear that he didn’t want to do this. “I still don’t see why I can’t sleep out there with you,” Mark stated with a sigh. “Suppose the fellas at school hear about this?”
I suddenly threw his nightshirt at him and laughed. “The fellows at school aren’t gonna hear about it unless you tell ‘em,” I stated. “Now let’s go to bed!” I started pulling on Mark’s leg to get his boot off. That practically pulled him off the bed. He wasn’t too happy with my joking about it.
Everyone was settling down for the night. Rolf was at the fireplace getting warm. Tess walked over to him and they began talking. They were happy to be here in my home instead of freezing together in the storm. “Home. I wonder if I’ll have another home.” Rolf thought she was headed East. She said she was headed for St. Louis – that was her home. “But after all these years out here…I wonder if I’m fooling…nobody but me!”
“Perhaps you belong out here,” Rolf stated.
“I’d like to think that.” They stared at each other. “If somebody wanted me.” They continued to look at each other as they spoke in whispers. “See, we’re much alike. I too have…little purpose left.” Rolf said goodnight. I came out of the bedroom announcing that Mark was in bed. She could go to bed herself now.
She walked into the bedroom and began getting ready for bed. Mark had his head to the wall, but boyish curiosity got the better of him and he turned over toward the blanket. He saw Petticoats being pulled off from under the blanket. Seeing that really made him uncomfortable! Mark quickly turned away, hoping this night would soon end! He pulled the blankets over his head.
All the men were sleeping in the front room. Rolf and Medford were in chairs while Scotty and I were on cots on the floor. Tess was having trouble sleeping. She came out to get something to drink. Unfortunately, Medford was having trouble sleeping as well. He snuck up behind Tess and touched her on the shoulder. She turned around with sudden surprise. Medford put a hand over her mouth to keep her from crying out. “Listen girlie, you know I always meant to do right by you,” he started.
She wanted to know what he wanted. “Him. He keeps going out to the barn. He left again just a few minutes ago after everyone was asleep.” Medford stated that he thought Rolf was running. “I say he’s running. And I say he’s got money out there in that wagon just to keep him going.” There was a stagecoach outside of Yuma a couple of weeks ago, the stagecoach driver was killed. “Well, there was army payroll money on that stage. Now there’s a reward. $5,000.”
Tess thought he was out of his mind. “It would be safer out there then in here with us. That’s why he goes out there to check on it.” She thought he drank too much. He begged her to watch him while he went out there – to see if he was right. “If I find the money, we turn him in at the next town. If we don’t, what do we loose?”
He wanted her to keep him busy while he went out to the barn and check Rolf's luggage. “Just think what we can do with 5,000. 5,000. Just you…and me…” He smiled at her.
She turned to him. “There’s not enough money in this whole territory to make you respectable!” Then she walked away.
She went back into the bedroom. Medford decided to go check it out anyhow. Rolf was sleeping in the chair with one hand on the gun. Medford grabbed his gun from his suitcase and headed out to the barn. Rolf awoke at the door closing. Tess heard it too. Rolf holstered his gun and went to check on the noise. Tess hurried out after him.
But when she came out onto the porch, she found Rolf in pain. He was clutching his side. She asked him what was wrong, but he refused to answer. “Please, leave me alone,” he merely begged.
She hurried back inside and got me, telling me something was wrong with Rolf. I hurried outside. “What’s the matter?”
“Nothing,” Rolf assured me. Tess argued, stating he was ill. “I just stepped outside to get some fresh air,” he stated.
“You alright now?” Suddenly, I wondered where Medford was.
“In the barn,” Tess answered. She turned to Rolf. “Looking through your things.”
“He’s a fool!” Rolf declared, taking off toward the barn.
I couldn’t believe this! I grabbed my rifle and headed out after the two men. Rolf hurried into the barn. He found Medford on top of the stage going through the luggage. “Get away from there,” Rolf ordered.
“Bang!” Medford shot at him, but missed. I ran into the barn, rifle ready, and took my place. "Stay away McCain or I'll kill you!” He was drunk! “I've been waiting all my life for a chance like this! There’s money in here! Money that Rolf stole! There’s a reward! A big reward!" The man was crazy – mad! He was a raging lunatic! “It’s mine, all mine! You’re not gonna get any of it! Nobody is!”
Rolf climbed up the hayloft ladder with his gun pointed at Medford. “Stay away from me Rolf!” he shouted. Rolf continued up the ladder. “Stay away from me Rolf!” But Rolf continued up the ladder. He stood up on top of the stage, grabbed the gun from Medford, and fired two shots in the air. He never took his eyes off of Medford. "You haven't got enough liquor in that whole suitcase to give you the guts to kill me!" Rolf stated angrily.
Rolf gave Medford back his gun, grabbed his suitcase, and climbed back down the ladder. He walked over to me holding the suitcase. Tess had come into the barn by that time and he spoke calmly to both of us. "There is nothing in this case but medicine. Six months ago I was shot. A doctor removed the bullet. Something happened inside...it didn't heal. Since then the pain has been getting worse. I was told I had three months to live."
“Oh,” Tess cried suddenly.
He turned to her. "There's a surgeon in St. Louis who said there may be some hope...maybe just a little hope."
We all walked out of the barn, leaving Medford there to deal with his own demons.
The next morning, our guests were ready to leave. It was a nice day. Medford realized he had been a jerk the night before and figured no one would want to ride with him. He was going to ride up in the booth. “Get in the coach, Vince!” Tess ordered selflessly.
He turned and looked at Rolf. “Why not?”
“Come on. They mean it,” I stated as I opened the door to the coach and helped them all in. We said our goodbyes. “I hope everything turns out for you,” I told Rolf.
“Oh it will,” Tess declared. “He said there was hope. I think that’s all any of us need.”
Rolf agreed. “Until last night, I felt safe behind my reputation. I didn’t want anyone to see me in pain and medicine. But I guess it really doesn’t matter now.” He sure did act happier. Maybe there was hope for him yet!
Mark was all excited as we watched them leave. As we walked back onto the porch, Mark said, "Boy, wait 'till the kids at school hear that Chris Rolf spent the night at our house!"
"Oh...are you gonna tell them?" I asked.
"Sure I am!”
"About everything?" I looked out in the direction the stagecoach had left.
We suddenly looked at each other. "Well....maybe I better not tell them about...everything!" Mark said as he thought about it.
I started laughing as I gave him a playful smack on the pants and headed inside. Mark laughed – but he didn’t find in nearly as funny as I did!
piddlin' stuff.....Adam West played Christopher Rolf/Ryan.
Bethel Leslie played Teresa Miller (Tess).
Gordon Jones appeared twice in The Rifleman ― The Wrong Man as the Carnival Barker ― Stopover, as Vince Medford, the loud mouth - greedy - whiskey salesman.
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.
Bloopers - Stopover
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
around The McCain Ranch