"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
I reckon' I’m no different from any other man. Of course Mark is the most important thing in my life, but sometimes a beautiful woman can come in and sweep me off my feet. This time it was someone from my past, and I reckon somehow while she was here she suddenly made me feel close to Margaret again. But the truth’s revealed may be sometimes a little hard for me to accept.
It all started with an old man, Jonathan Dodd in Albuquerque, when he was dragged by a horse and laid back in bed. He was pretty ill and the doctor told him it was his heart. A man named Pete Morgan was taking care of him. He gave him some medicine and acted like he was caring for him, but then he reached for a pillow to strangle him. As soon as Jonathan saw him reach for the pillow he became fearful and told him to leave the pillow alone; but Pete, without saying a single word, took the pillow and suffocated Jonathan.
Pete’s wife, Jenny, was watching from the door. Killing the old man bothered him greatly, but his wife was evil and excused the murder by stating that he was old and worn out. “Life is for those who know how to live it, like you and me.” But Pete was worried. His niece was coming there and they would have to kill her too. His evil wife had a plan. They would go to North Fork to kill her, because killing her in Albuquerque would be too suspicious. “Pete, you and I are gonna have ourselves a ranch,” she declared. Then they kissed passionately while the old man lay dead in the bed.
The old man just happened to be the uncle of a family friend, Ann Dodd. She and Margaret were best friends and I was anxious to see her again. I was busy getting all slicked up to go meet the stage, and as usual that boy of mine was taking his time in getting ready for school! I was trying to hurry him, but he was a bit upset with me. Apparently I had told him we’d go fishing after school today. I told him we could do that anytime. “Yeah, but the big one’s aren’t foolish enough to bite just any old time,” he stated. Then he complimented me on how well my hair looked combed.
There was no end to his wit! I handed him the comb and told him to get to work on his hair, which was really mess up! “We want to make a good impression on Mrs. Dodd, don’t we?”
While Mark worked on his hair, I thought about Ann Dodd out loud. She was my wife’s best friend. I remember her taking such good care of my wife while her own husband and son was sick. She was quite a woman! Then as I worked on the back of Mark’s hair, he asked if we were going to meet Mr. Dodd. That made me stop and think back. It was sad thinking back after all this time. I could still remember it like it was yesterday. Ann lost both her husband and son during the epidemic. Her son and Mark were around the same age.
Mark then asked if she was going to stay here with us. I told him that wouldn’t do, besides she was just passing through. “Yeah, but best friends with Ma and all…Why not?” Mark suddenly asked me. How would I explain this one to my inquisitive son? “Well, my best friend’s Tommy, and whenever he comes to North Fork he stays with me.”
I scratched my head as I tried to explain the problem to him. “Mark, it…it’s a little different with grown ups.” Well, I decided to skirt the issue for now.
“Yeah…yeah, most things are different.” He mumbled. I just looked at him. “I mean, here’s a friend from the olden days-“ he started.
“Oh, olden days, huh? Well, wait until you see Ann Dodd. She was the prettiest girl in town!” I commented, remember back.
“Prettier then Ma?” Mark suddenly asked.
I remembered my wife. She was beautiful, but her beauty wasn’t only on the outside. I laid my hand on the back of Mark’s head as I spoke softly and lovingly about my wife. "Mark, your mother had more than looks. There was something special that came from deep inside her."
Mark and I rode into town to meet Ann. I hurried to the stage when it came in and smiled as I saw that beautiful woman looking around from inside the stage. When she saw me, a big smile spread across her face. I hurried up to her smiling face and grabbed her hands as she jumped down from the stage. “Ann, it’s so good to see you!” I declared as I just stood smiling down at her.
She smiled as she looked me up and down. “Lucas McCain! Oh, your taller then I imagined,” she declared as her beautiful smile grew even bigger. I said something to Mark and she turned to look at him. “Oh, he does favor his mother!”
I had warned Mark to be on his best behavior, and he was! He bowed to her. She quickly told him he didn’t have to put on Sunday manners for her. I told Mark to run on to school, but before he left he said, “I hope you’ll come out to our place, ma’am. We cleaned it up special.”
She said she would if she had time. She complimented me on what a fine boy he was. I was a little proud of him myself!
We didn’t know it then, but the Morgan couple were in the hotel. Pete had watched Ann ride in on the stage.
I walked with Ann to the hotel and helped her get checked in. When she told Eddie she was only staying overnight I immediately began working on her to stay longer. She had been so close to my wife that I wanted her to stay for a few days. I used Mark as a way of getting her to stay. She finally agreed that maybe she could stay another night. I invited her to the ranch for dinner – it would be potluck. Eddie immediately jumped to her defense. “Well now Lucas, I don’t think your cooking is…uh…all it’s supposed to be…”
Ann jumped in and announced that she could make a very special goose. I still remembered, and could just taste it now! I wanted to get to the General Store and get the things we would need for that special dinner that would be prepared in my house by this very special lady. But suddenly I remembered my manners. “You have to freshen up of course,” I said. But she assured me she was fine.
When we finished at the General Store, Ann and I got into the buggy to go home, but Micah walked up before we could get going. I introduced him to Ann, and she suddenly felt very self-conscience. But leave it to my best friend to pay her a fine compliment! “Ann, your appearance calls for nothing but the finest of compliments!” He stated boldly.
Ann was impressed and told me I should take a lesson from him on paying her compliments. “Well, it’s just his way of drumming up votes! It goes right along with baby kissing!” I stated as I looked at him.
“You planning on staying with us?” Micah suddenly asked.
I quickly answered that question. “Not long enough to vote, Micah!”
But then my best friend offered me some free advice. “Lucas boy, perhaps if you explain all the virtues of our fare city, Miss Dodd might reconsider and stay on indefinitely!”
Never in all my days had I seen Micah so polite! He even touched his hat for Miss Dodd! As I rode away, he laughed. He sure did make my manners look relaxed compared to his!
"Well Ann, this is home,” I announced as I led her inside with our packages.
She looked around and smiled. "Well, I believe Mark was right. You know, for two bachelors it really looks fine." She walked around and looked at our place. She was very pleased with what she saw. I suppose she was a little surprised that a wild man like me could make such a fine home for my son! When I came out of the bedroom from putting her things up, I saw her admiring my home. “Lucas, this is wonderful! You know you really made a home? You made a real home for you and Mark!” She was very pleased.
She seemed totally taken by the beautiful country I lived in. I asked her why she had moved to the city since she loved the country so much. “Oh, I don’t know Lucas – running away, I guess…from things as they were. Hal loved the outdoors, remember? But I don’t know. Without him and the boy, everything just seemed so empty.”
She wanted to know about me. “Well, not much to tell. Farming doesn’t change – full days work when the weather’s right, and of course…uh…trying to keep one jump ahead of Mark.” She commented that he was a bright boy. “Mm, like a new penny, kinda scary at times. He’s got a way of looking right down into ya' when he asks a question!”
She laughed. “And sometimes you don’t have the answer.”
I smiled. “Have you ever tried to keep up with a growing boy?” Suddenly her expression changed. I felt stupid for saying something like that – she had lost her son and I’m sure that was still hard to take at times. I suddenly found myself apologizing. “I shouldn’t have said that, Ann. I’m sorry.”
“Life is for the living, right?” She simply stated.
She asked for an apron. I went over to the dresser that was in the living room and opened the door. Everything was stuffed in there. She found the draw quite amusing. I commented that I had finally located the hammer I’d been trying to find for two weeks. She laughed as I tied her apron around her. I asked her what was so funny. “This drawer, what keeps these things in here?” she asked.
I gave the drawer a hard shove. “Well, you just slam it shut, I guess. I never thought of it as being untidy until now.” I suddenly found myself looking into her eyes. “Having a woman kinda puts a different light on things somehow.”
We continued looking into each other’s eyes. "I hope it's a good light Lucas. I mean, it would be a sad day if men folks thought they could get along without us. Wouldn't it?" I didn’t know what to say. Suddenly I heard the horse and decided to go unhitch the team. I walked to the door and opened it. Then I turned back to her. “Ann, it’s nice having you here.”
Meanwhile, the Morgan’s were at the hotel fighting. Pete was getting nervous. He didn’t want to kill Ann because she was a woman, but his wife assured him that she would be asleep and never know what hit her.
I sat in my chair drinking my coffee as Mark and Ann worked together on the dishes. I couldn’t help but smile as I savored this time. So, this is how it could have been if Margaret had lived. I turned and saw how comfortable they were with each other. She was asking Mark how we handled the dishes. When she asked him which he preferred – washing or drying, my boy answered honestly. “Well neither!”
I wished it could last forever. They continued working on the dishes and talking while I went for the firewood. Mark was a bit uncomfortable as he commented to her that he noticed the cupboards were clean. She assured him she hadn’t thrown anything out – she just cleaned them.
Mark figured she was generally pretty neat. “Well, you know, it’s a woman’s way…like…hunting and fishing is a man’s way.”
Mark didn’t figure she went for that man’s way stuff though because most women don’t. “Oh, they don’t? Well, I’ll have you know I used to make my daddy’s trout flies,” she announced softly. Mark’s eyes suddenly grew big. “They were just as light as a feather too.”
He was all excited! I guess she earned some points with him right there! "Well now that's something. Ya' know, we got real good fishing around here."
"Brook or lake," asked Ann.
"Brook, and they're really big this time of y....." Suddenly, he stopped. He had been so excited over her latest announcement that he stuck his elbow right in her pie. “Oh, I’m sorry!” He wiped the mess off his sleeve and stuck it in his mouth. With one taste, he suddenly got excited again. His eyes grew wide as he spoke in excitement. “Mrs. Dodd, I got me an idea. Well, tomorrow’s our founder’s Day Fair and all the ladies are gonna put up their baking in a contest. Well, I think this apple pie of yours sure could win!” He stated excitedly. She loved his compliment, but she told him gently that she couldn’t enter a contest since she didn’t live here in North Fork.
I walked in to hear Mark’s next words." I sure wish you did!
"Did what," I asked. With his answer, I was sorry I even asked.
"Live with us, there's lots of room." Oh, the things that comes out of that boy’s mouth! I was a bit taken aback, but Ann seemed to be enjoying it.
I didn’t know what else to say. I told Mark to go to bed. He tried to argue, stating there wasn’t any school tomorrow, but I told him it was still a big day. “For both of us,” Ann suddenly stated.
“Then you’ll stay?” Mark asked excitedly.
“Well, I wouldn’t miss it for the world!” She and Mark were both smiling.
Mark wasn’t quite done yet. He was about to go to bed as told, but then he turned back. “How come you didn’t do it?” We were both curious and looked at him. “Well, look behind my ears. Well, all the ladies in town do. They come in and hardly say their how-dos before they’re at my ears.” Ann looked at me and smiled. I cracked up laughing. That annoyed Mark. “Well you wouldn’t be laughing so hard if it were your ears they’re poking at!”
I suddenly reminded Mark that the ladies go poking into my housekeeping, and it came second-best to his ears! “Now, uh…how about going to bed.” I didn’t say it in the form of a question this time.
I looked at Ann after Mark went to bed and suddenly felt like having some adult conversation. I invited her to come sit out on the porch with me. She seemed so contented. “I love this time of evening. You know, when it’s not quite night, yet sort of a deep blanket touching everything…making it soft.” I was enjoying listening to her.
I knew what she meant. “In daylight, things are kind of edgier…sharper.”
She couldn’t stop commenting on how well we were doing. “It’s solid. Solid like you are.” She sat down and looked up at me. "Do you know what I said to myself the day you took Mark under your arm and left town?"
"No.” I sat down to look at her. “What?”
"I said to myself, ‘there goes wild, wild Lucas. His hurt is very deep.’ Wild Lucas. Do you know you left town without even saying good bye?”
I frowned. Thinking back on that time…even now…was hard for me. “I know. At the time it…seemed the whole world was knocked out from under me.” She understood. I had built myself a whole new world.
Suddenly Ann asked, “Is there…um…any special lady?”
“No,” I hesitated.
“I just wondered,” she quickly explained.
We were quiet for a moment. I thought about that question some more. Then we both turned and looked at each other. Our faces were only inches apart by this time. “Of course when I get to thinking about it…” I smiled at her. We stared into each other’s eyes our faces slowly grew closer to each other. “And you?” She smiled as we continued looking deeply into each other’s eyes.
This was nice. This was really nice. “Pa?”
The spell was suddenly broken. I looked at Ann with regret. Then I sighed and stood up to see what my interrupting son needed. It better be important!
I walked into the bedroom. “What is it Mark?”
Mark was sitting up to bed, all excited. “She makes her own flies, Pa.”
I stared at him, hardly believing what I was hearing. I sat down on the bed, a bit frustrated. “Is that what you called me in here for?” I asked with irritation in my voice. I couldn’t believe we were interrupted for this!
“Well, Mrs. Dodd,” Mark said. I stared at him, still not believing this. “Have you ever heard of a woman making her own flies?”
“You talk too much! Will you go to sleep?” I demanded in a voice that told him he better.
But he was too excited. “Well, have you?”
“Mark,” I warned as I looked straight into his eyes. “Good-night.” That was spoken with firmness and finality.
Mark looked at me. He wanted to say more, but the look on my face sent a clear message to him. With hesitation he said good-night. “Thank you!”
I shook my head as I walked out and closed the door. That boy!
It was dark by the time we drove back into town. The streets were quiet and there was a nice, calm feeling in the air. I helped her down from the wagon. I walked her to the door of the hotel and leaned against the open door. “You must be tired,” I commented.
She told me she had a wonderful time. She reached for my hand and I grabbed hers and patted them. I looked into her eyes again. “I’m glad you’re staying.” I smiled at her. “Pick you up early tomorrow?”
"Lucas, does it mean a great deal to you, my staying over?" I couldn’t answer that out loud. I simply continued looking into her eyes as our faces were once again very close, and nodded. "Course you never were a talking man, and I like that about you." Suddenly, she came toward me as she said goodnight. She kissed me. I embraced it and returned her kiss, wrapping my arms around her.
She finally pulled away, breaking the kiss. I allowed her to with hesitation. I continued looking into her eyes, my hand on her back. She parted slowly, regretfully. Neither one of us wanted this to end. I stood there in the doorway of the hotel watching her walk up the steps. She soon disappeared, but I continued looking up those stairs…thinking…remembering with pleasure.
Micah had sat across the street and watched the whole thing, grinning like a possum. He stood and came over to me. He asked me if I wanted to have a beer with him. I left with hesitation. There was no reason for me to stay there.
As we began talking, Micah asked me about fencing my pasture. I answered his question, but I was no dummy. I suddenly said, “Look Micah, you didn’t invite me over here to talk about fencing my pasture.” I smiled.
“No Lucas, I didn’t. How’d you hit it off with the lady?” Nothing like Micah being subtle about his questions.
I told him it was fine. She was the best cook and Mark did take to her. “She makes her own trout flies.” I smiled at the memory.
Then Micah asked about me. “The way you two were acting, I figure there was something in the wind."
"You could have figured wrong,” I stated.
“Maybe so, but I don’t think she did,” he stated. “You know, women have a peculiar way of jumping to conclusions. Now, you didn’t say anything to…lead her on?”
I got to thinking about that. It had all happened so fast. It was nice to have her here, but what was I really feeling? What was she feeling? I stood up and left. I had to go talk to her – to make sure we knew where we stood. I couldn’t give her any false hope, not when I didn’t even know what I wanted.
Remember the guy, Pete Morgan? Well he waited until he thought she was asleep, then he snuck into her bedroom with a pillow. While he was doing that, I was walking into the hotel to talk to Ann. I walked up the stairs and stopped at the door to her room, hesitating as I tried to decide rather to go in or not.
But suddenly I heard screaming – Ann’s screaming. I rushed into her room to find a man standing over her as he held a pillow over her face, trying to strangle her. I hurried over to the bed and lifted him off of her. She sat up in bed, still screaming.
I punched him. over and over, then I flung him toward the door.
But suddenly, a gunshot sounded and Pete fell to the floor. His wife stood in the doorway with a gun in her hand. She stared down at her husband’s body as she realized what she had done, a look of pure shock and regret was on her face.
I took Ann to the stage when it was time for her to go. She started to get on, but I grabbed her arm to stop her. I wanted to talk to her. "Ann, when you finish settling you uncles estate, I want you to come back,” I said. She smiled. I hesitated before adding, “Permanently Ann." Our faces were once again very close. We were looking in each other’s eyes.
Her smile disappeared. She laid her gloved hand on my cheek as our faces came closer together. "Then you had been thinking about it.”
My lips parted as I moved toward her. "Oh, I've been thing about it," I stated passionately. Our lips met and we kissed. I didn’t close my eyes this time. I couldn’t – I had to look at her.
She broke the embrace suddenly, but we were so close to each other that our noses continued touching. As she talked, she touched my cheek then began playing with the collar of my shirt.. "Oh Lucas, I want to very much, but, there's just one thing I'm afraid of."
I suddenly searched her face as I questioned her. "Afraid? Why Ann? Why are you afraid?"
"I just know there could be no replacement for Marks mother. I just couldn't accept that and I don't think you could either.” I suddenly looked away from her. I didn’t want to think about that. She laid her hand on my cheek again, forcing me to look into her eyes. “Am I wrong Lucas?"
I knew the answer. My wife was my world, and it would take a long time for me to ever accept another woman to take her place. But I couldn’t voice that. Not now. I pressed my cheek into her hand as I sadly answered. "I don't know.”
Suddenly, the driver’s “All a board” interrupted our intimate conversation. I had to say goodbye – to allow her to get onto that stagecoach and ride out of my life, not knowing if I’d ever see her again.
She stepped up to get onto the stage, but I held firmly onto her arm. She stepped back down as she said good-bye. She kissed me again, but this time a short kiss. It wasn’t passionate like before – but it was good-bye. She quickly pulled away and I helped her to her seat. Then I closed the door. That last kiss told me everything. It was the last kiss. This was good-bye – not just for awhile, but for ever. I stared at her knowing she was stronger then I could ever be. She looked at me. Her eyes were filled with regret as she realized she was right. I couldn’t marry her – not now, and maybe not ever.
I stood there in the street watching the stagecoach ride away. I had so many feelings inside me. Some of them were mixed up, yet some of them were clear. I hadn’t realized before just how married I still was – just how scarred my heart was.
Suddenly, Mark was tugging on my arm. "Pa, Pa, and I got the teacher to let me out early too. Did she say anything? Is she coming back? Well is she?" He continued tugging on my arm. I was still deep in thought, but my son’s voice suddenly shook me out of the fog I had been in.
"Yes Mark, she's coming back,” I said as I continued staring in the direction the stage had left in. Then I turned and looked down at my son. “Of course she's coming back. That's what old friends are for." I suddenly pushed her down into my heart, knowing things were no worse off then they were before. Then I smiled. I had my son – my wife’s flesh and blood. That was all I wanted for now.
Mark grabbed my arm. "Lets go fishin'. Boy those big ones are really bitin'.”
Fishing with my son. Boy, that sounded really good right now!
Writers: William F. Leicester, Chuck Connors & Wally Bennett ~ Director: Joseph H. Lewis
Piddlin' stuff.....Christine White played Ann Dodd. She was Margaret's best friend and the niece of Jonathan Dodd.
Michael Pate appeared in five episodes ― New Orleans Menace as Xavier, the man who thought Lucas to be a 'muy mucho, much man' ― The Second Witness as Brad Davis, he was the man dead set on killing Lucas for testify against his brother ― The Visitor as Pete Morgan, he tried to kill Ann Dodd in this episode. In The Mescalero Curse as Mogollan, an Apache Indian who put The Mescalero Curse on Lucas ― The Executioner, Sanchez, the Indian and one of the heavies that came to collect his share of stolen money from a friend of Lucas's that just got out of jail.
June Vincent the evil villainess, Jenny Morgan, the lady plotting to help kill Ann.
John Harmon appeared in twelve episodes as Eddie Halstead owner/hotel clerk of the Hotel Madera. He was first introduced to The Rifleman in Duel of Honor.
Ralph Moody appeared in a total of twelve episodes of The Rifleman beating John Anderson and John Milford out at eleven episodes. He appeared in nine episodes as Doc Burrage and in three other episodes. The Visitors as Jonathan Dodd — The Spoiler as Roy Merrick and The Hangman as Eban Muchen.
Doc Burrage: Six Years and a Day ― The Actress ― Dark Day at North Fork ― The Mescalero Curse ― Man from Salinas ― Quiet Night, Deadly Night ― Mark's Rifle ― Conflict ― Requiem at Mission Springs.
Doc Burrage was a regular character ~ how many different actors played Doc Burrage? Can you name them?
Archie Butler — Stuntman — Stunt coordinator — Actor - Archie has been in more episodes then anybody with the exception of the regular cast and he probably was in more episode then some of them. ~Arnold Laven
Remember him in The Sharpshooter? Remember when Lucas shot the whiskey bottle and it shattered into pieces? Archie was the cowboy who slid the whiskey bottle to Lucas. Sometimes Archie was a stand-in for Paul Fix.
Bloopers - The Visitor
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
Character Actors Index Page
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Bloopers for this episode & other episodes
A Case of Identity
around The McCain Ranch