"Welcome to The McCain Ranch"
It’s funny how
just one person can turn a whole group against you. It’s funny how
days you try to do a good deed and everyone seems to turn
against you for it. It’s funny how they turn to your own child,
completely innocent of any crimes, and lash out at him. That’s
exactly what happened to Mark and I one day here in North Fork.
It all started one day when Mark and I were traveling in our
buckboard down the road. I saw a covered wagon ahead. It certainly
was an odd place for them to be stopped – right in the middle of the
prairie. Mark suggested that maybe they were lost, but I couldn’t
see how when they were in plain sight of the road. Why would they
just pull off the road like that. I cautiously drove the horses
forward. Then, parking beside the wagon, I told Mark to stay there
while I went to check it out.
Before climbing aboard, I called to see if anyone was there, but no
one answered. So cautiously, I climbed up and looked inside. What
met my eyes was my new problem. A man and woman were in the back.
Both were very sick with fever and in a bad way. As I was beginning
to examine the situation, Mark called to me. He was a little nervous
about not being able to see me, so I stuck my head out the front of
the wagon and told him that there were a couple of sick people in
the wagon. I told him I was going to take them back to the ranch
while he went for the doctor.
Then I went back into the wagon to make them comfortable for travel.
I was really concerned, unsure of what these folk had. But I knew
they were probably traveling by themselves and had no one to take
care of them. The women began crying, “Clay…Clay…Clay”
I figure that was her husband who seemed to be a lot sicker then she
was. I rushed over to her and took her hand. “Yes, yes. I’m here,” I
soothed her. Everything’s gonna be alright!”
I was heading their wagon back to the ranch when I suddenly saw one
of our nosy citizens coming down the road. I was stopped in the
middle of the road, and when I recognized who it was I bowed my
head, knowing he was going to ask me a lot of questions. “Would you
mind getting out of the way, Mr. Cass? I’m in a hurry.”
“I was wondering what you were doing driving a Conestoga.” He sure
didn’t waste any time!
“Well it’s not mine. I found it in the flats. There’s a couple
people in it. Settlers I guess. They’re sick.” I didn’t have any
time to waste. I needed to get them back to the ranch and take care
of them. Every second counted. Meanwhile, Cass was still asking
questions. He wanted to know what was wrong with them. I simply told
him that they were pretty bad. I told him I was taking them back to
“Are you sure you’re doing the right thing, Lucas? You never can
tell about strangers?” To men like me, there were no other options.
“Mr. Cass, they’re sick!” I stated, shocked that he was giving me
such a problem for doing a good deed.
He started to tell me how chancy it was for me to take them to the
ranch. I didn’t have anymore time for this nonsense, so I threatened
to ride the wagon right around him. He certainly didn’t want that!
So he drove around the wagon to avoid getting any deadly disease
I drove them to the ranch and carried them inside, putting them in
our beds and making them as comfortable as I could. I had just
finished putting wet cloths on their forehead when the doc and Mark
pulled up in my buckboard. The doc just asked me a couple simple
questions before going inside. I started to follow him in, but he
ordered Mark and I to stay outside.
I was impatient. I didn’t even know this couple, but I was already
very worried about their safety. The doc finally came out after what
seemed a long time. “Well?” I asked impatiently. From the look on
his face, it wasn’t good. He hesitated since Mark was there. I
figured it would be easier for us to talk if Mark wasn’t there
listening to every word, so I sent him to take care of their horses.
“I haven’t hardly ever seen the disease in these parts. Yellow
fever.” Doc stated bluntly.
“Ye-“ I started, shocked. “Are you sure doc?” It wasn’t that I
doubted his diagnosis. But I knew of yellow fever and how deadly it
could be. I was shocked it was that serious and contagious.
“After the war I worked in a southern hospital and never forgot the
symptoms.” I asked doc what their chances were. “Well, they’re
either gonna live or they’re gonna die.”
Now was no time for smart remarks! “Well, is there anything you can
The doc had left them pills. They needed a lot of sleep and care.
Only time would tell. I told doc I would do my best with them. “It’s
“Yellow fever, I know!” I stated, a bit worried about the couple.
“What about keeping them outside and bedding them down in their own
wagon?” the doc suggested.
The mere suggestion shocked me, I must admit. “Would you?” I asked
the doc. But he said that had nothing to do with it. He was worried
I’d get sick. I knew that was a possibility, and it did worry me a
bit. But the type of person I am…well, I never even thought of
anything else but taking care of them. For me, there was no other
option. I couldn’t think of my own hide when two other’s were at
stake. I told doc I had already been with them for over two hours.
Then the doc asked, “What about Mark?”
My head shot up at that. Mark was definitely a bigger concern. I had
already lost my wife to a horrible disease, and wasn’t about to
loose my son as well. So I hurried inside and packed some clothes
for him and gathered up his books. By the time I came back outside,
he was back from watering the horses. I told him he was going into
town with the doc to stay at Hattie’s. Hattie and I had this
standing agreement that Mark could stay with her anytime I needed
it. I was certainly glad to have an option.
But Mark didn’t want to go. He wanted to stay here with me, and I
figured that would happen. I didn’t want him to worry, so I made up
some lousy excuse that there was no place for him to sleep – they
had our beds. But my boy was a pretty smart boy! He said he could
just sleep in his bedroll. I looked at doc, knowing there was no
other way around it. “Look son, these folks are real sick. Doc
thinks they may have Yellow Fever.” Then I waited for the worry to
appear on his face.
I wasn’t disappointed. Mark was worried that I was staying. “Son,
someone has to take care of them,” I explained with a firm voice.
The doc finally nudged him toward the wagon. I felt for my boy,
knowing he would worry and fret about me the entire time he was in
town. I didn’t like being away from him anymore then he enjoyed
being away from me, but I had to think of his welfare and knew he
would be safer in town. I watched as Mark hesitated, but said
nothing more. There was nothing more to say.
I handed Mark the doc’s bag and grabbed my rifle, trying to keep it
as casual as possible so he wouldn’t worry more. But as he said
goodbye to me, I could hear the deep worry in his voice. He told me
he would see me tomorrow. I knew it would be longer then that, but I
also knew that he needed reassurance. “I hope so, son,” I stated. I
didn’t want to give him false hope, yet I didn’t want to worry him
I watched as they rode away, hoping I would indeed see my boy the
Doc dropped Mark off in front of Hattie’s store then drove my wagon
over to the stable. He didn’t get very far before Cass made his way
to question doc. He had seen Mark come into town and knew something
was amiss. But doc wouldn’t tell him anything. Cass knew something
was amiss since I had sent Mark away. It was no secret how much I
loved and cared for that boy. The doc didn’t want to talk to Cass
anymore then I did, so he suddenly stated, “Hey Morey, you better
stop by my office and see if I can fix your nose,” doc stated as he
studied Cass’s nose.
“My nose!” Cass touched it, suddenly concerned. “What’s the matter
“Oh, it’s just a little lopsided. I guess it get that way sticking
it in other people’s business.” With that, the doc drove off,
letting Cass stare after him.
Cass went into Hattie’s store. Sine the doc or I wouldn’t tell him
anything, he was going to try to drag the truth out of my boy. He
was sneaky about getting it out. He asked Mark why he was in town so
late and Mark announced he was staying the night with Hattie. “Yes,
because of the settlers, huh?” he asked casually. “Doc was just
telling me about them. Pretty sick, he said,” Cass lied to Mark.
Mark assured Cass that I was taking really good care of them. But
then he thought on that. “Kinda chancy too. The doc said Yellow
Fever’s real catching!” Mark said it in all innocence.
Cass suddenly got a panicked look on his face. “Yellow Fever?” he
“Uh huh, but Pa…he doesn’t care,” Mark answered.
“He takes them in? He let’s them stay there?” Cass was saying.
His tone was scaring Mark. “Why sure,” Mark answered.
“Why the fool! The stupid fool!” Cass started saying. Mark didn’t
like him calling me those names and his panicked voice really
startled Mark. Miss Denton, did you hear that? McCain’s keeping
people with Yellow Fever at his house!” Cass suddenly announced loud
enough for the whole town to hear. Mark had already told Hattie and
she trusted me completely.
now what will happen. It’ll spread. We’ll all come down with it!”
Cass was growing more and more panicked by the second. Hattie
assured him it wasn’t that bad. “Oh you don’t huh? Well then you’re
as stupid as he is!” Cass declared rudely as he walked out the door.
Mrs. Porter was suddenly concerned. Cass had spread his panic around
the store, and she was no longer in the mood to shop. She looked at
Mark as if he was spreading the vicious disease himself, then walked
out of the store.
Back at the ranch, I was busy taking care of the sick couple. As I
was putting another rag on the woman’s head, she opened her eyes and
looked at me. “Well, glad to see you with us,” I said kindly. I
could tell she was afraid. I was a stranger and she probably felt
like she was all alone. I told her who I was. She asked about her
husband, and I assured her I was taking care of him. She was worried
for him, wondering just how sick he was. “Well, he’s holding his
own.” That was the best I could do. I told her that he would
probably get better now that she was.
“If he doesn’t, I don’t want to either!” she declared. I understood.
That’s exactly how I would feel if my wife and I had both been sick.
I couldn’t do anymore for her but try to keep her calm.
Suddenly, I heard someone outside. Since we were in quarantine, I
hurried to the front door to see who was there. I picked out the
door and saw Brett outside. He was trying to look inside the sick
couple’s wagon. “Looking for something, Brett?” I asked as I cam out
onto the porch.
Come to find out, he was looking for a job. Everyone had hired him,
but he didn’t stick around very long. He was lazy. He had worked for
almost everyone from fifty miles around ever since he got out of
jail. He informed me he didn’t come her for a lecture. He asked me
for a job. “Sorry, once was enough for me!” I informed him.
I then found out another reason he was there. “I…uh…had a lot of
experience with Yellow Fever when I was in the army,” he said with a
That got my attention. “How did you know about that?” I demanded to
He wanted to know how bad they were. “Not so bad I can’t handle it
alone,” I hinted.
”And can you…uh…handle the folks in town alone too, McCain? You
know, they’re getting awful skittish about catching the fever. Of
course I can gentle them down or I can or I can spook them real
good.” He was threatening me, and it made me none too happy.
“What’s gonna make you decided?” I wondered.
“Oh, I’m fed up with North Fork. I’m cutting out, but I need a
I told him to work for it. He started to tell me I didn’t understand
him, but I did alright! “Oh, I get you alright! You’re trading in on
sickness trying to cash in on fear!” He suddenly started getting mad
at me. But I was mad at what he was trying to do! “Mount up!” I
demanded. He stood there and tried to continued arguing with me.
“Mount up right now!” I yelled at him. He actually laughed at me,
but he did as I had demanded and left.
I was angry as I watched him leave.
That night, Micah was walking across the street when he suddenly
heard voices carry out of the saloon. Brett was inside riling the
people up as best he could. Cass was in there too and was getting
more concerned as he talked to Brett. The men wanted to know if
Brett could do anything for those who had Yellow Fever in the war.
“Bury them is all,” Brett answered with a laugh. He said they had to
burn their houses in order to get rid of the fever. “Take my word
for it!” Brett stated as he took a drink. “The fever spreads like a
At that, Micah hurried back across the street and into the saloon.
“Once it takes hold, there ain’t nothing that can stop it. Now, you
let McCain keep those people out on his ranch, you and your family’s
gonna come down with it. So you better do something and soon,” Brett
was saying as Mike entered the swing doors.
“Like what, Brett?” Micah walked up to him. “Now what do you figure
they oughta do?”
Cass laid it all at Micah’s feet. Micah said they couldn’t expect
him to turn people our that were sick. “We can expect you to protect
us,” Cass entered.
“And if you don’t, Marshal, we got a right to protect ourselves.”
Brett smiled this knowing smile at Micah. Micah didn’t say a word,
but nodded a knowing smile. He knew exactly what they were saying
and wasn’t happy about it. Then he walked out.
I was up all night with the couple. The wife was getting better, but
Clay was still really sick with the fever. It had been quiet when I
sat down in my chair to read for a bit. I was so tired I fell
asleep. But clay suddenly began yelling in his feverish sleep and I
jumped up and went into him. He was sitting up in bed, out of his
head. I laid him back down in the bed and settled him down. As I
stood up, I turned to see his wife sitting up looking at him. I
could tell she needed to be alone, so I hurried up, allowing her the
privacy she needed so she could cry.
The next morning, Mark tried to go to school, but he soon returned,
kicking a can down the street. He then entered the General Store.
When Hattie saw him, she immediately demanded to know why he wasn’t
at school. He informed her that the teacher sent him home because
she was afraid he would give everyone the sickness. She was just
about to order Mark to turn around and get back to school when I
walked in the door. “Lucas!” Hattie suddenly shouted joyfully.
Mark immediately turned around and ran to me. He jumped into my arms
and I caught him. “Hi son! How’s everything going?” Boy, was I glad
to see my boy!
Hattie was happy to see me too as she hurried over to me. “Lucas!
You look terrible!” she declared.
I plopped Mark down on the counter. “Well, glad to see you too,
Hattie!” I stated sarcastically. She asked me if I was feeling
alright. I was feeling pretty good, considering the fact that I
hadn’t had any sleep. Mark wanted to know how the folks were doing.
“Well, she’s doing real well, and I think his fever’s about to
break. They’re gonna need some nourishment now, Hattie. Like some of
that good soup stock of yours.”
“Flattery will get you know where,” Hattie teased me. “I still think
you’re being foolish!” She was worried about me as usual, and I
“Well, Doc thinks so too,” I stated. “Funny thing. Their are two
people who wouldn’t do any different!” Hattie couldn’t say anything
after that and she grabbed my saddle bag to fill it up.
I was tired. I leaned against the counter beside Mark and let out a
big yawn. “Can I come home now?” Mark asked hopefully.
I told him maybe in a couple days. I wanted to make sure the disease
was all gone before I let him come back. Suddenly, I realized he
wasn’t where he was supposed to do. I asked him if he was playing
hooky. That’s when he told me that he was sent home because his
teacher was afraid he’d make the other kids sick. “That’s down-right
foolishness,” I stated quietly.
“Seems like everyone in town’s foolish and scared half out of their
wits!” Hattie declared as she brought me my saddlebags. “Doc told me
he was up all night, folks fetching him headaches and sniffles and
stomach pain and what all…”
I guess they were just afraid of being exposed. “I hope there’s no
Hattie pointed to her head. “Here’s where the danger is, Lucas. It
can be a lot more serious then fever.”
I grabbed my saddle bag from Hattie. It sure was heavy for just
soup! Hattie told me they would need bread and tea and- She was
almost being the grandma…I thanked her. Then I patted Mark and told
him I’d see him soon. Mark wanted a definite promise of when he
could come home, but I couldn’t give him one. I wasn’t too worried.
I knew he was in good hands.
As I was walking out, Micah walked in. Then I stopped cold as I saw
the crowd standing across the street. They were all talking quietly.
It was obvious what they were talking about. As I put my saddle bags
over my horse, I hear Brett behind me. “Get out of North Fork,
McCain and stay out!”
I didn’t even turn around. Cass started in on me then. “You
shouldn’t have come here, Lucas. You’re exposing all of us to the
I turned around then. I told them to leave the worry up to the doc.
Brett started in on me again, reminding me that he had seen enough
of the Yellow Fever during the war to know what he was talking
about. “During the war! This isn’t the war and we’re not in the
army,” I reminded him, getting really frustrated at how much they
were upsetting everyone.
Micah ordered the crowd to break it up. Then he ordered me to ride
on back home. “You’re like a red shirt to a bull around here,” he
Micah put a comforting arm around Mark who had heard the whole
thing. He watched me ride out of town and worried over the crowd.
Hattie and Micah both were upset…and disgusted at how our friends
and neighbors were treating me at the moment. Micah declared that
they had no trouble going up against guns, but they didn’t want to
fight something they couldn’t even see.
Suddenly, Mrs. Porter rode up in her buggy looking for the doctor.
She was very worried. Her son was sent home from school feverish and
sick to his stomach. Micah tried to assure her that it was something
he ate. But she didn’t think so. She looked at Mark and stated that
he was playing with him before school started. I’m sure this upset
Mark even more.
Brett picked that as another opportunity. “I warned ya about letting
that kid be in town!” He shouted as he pointed at my boy. How many
more’s gonna get the fever from him before it’s over?” Micah tried
to stop him. But Brett was enjoying his moment. “Now you hold on,
Marshal. You wouldn’t do anything when we asked you before. So now
we’re gonna handle it in our own way!”
Hattie led Mark into the General Store.
When I got back to the ranch, I immediately fixed some good for the
couple and brought it into the bedroom for them to eat. They were
both doing so much better, and I was happy they were on the road to
Clay Barker told me about their experience. They found out they had
Yellow Fever while traveling West on a wagon train. The train
immediately made them leave. He was surprised that I took him in.
“Folks out here are kinda different,” I stated. “It’s not an easy
way of living yet. You kinda learn to depend on each other after
Just then, a horse rode up. I went to see who it was and Micah
hurried through my front door. “They’re coming, Lucas! I couldn’t
stop them. They all went crazy when they heard the Porter boy was
sick.” He wasn’t sure if it was the fever or not.
I heard them coming. I had had enough of this! I grabbed my rifle
and started to open the door. “They’re your neighbors, Lucas! You’ve
known them for a long time,” Micah stated.
“No, Micah. I don’t know them at all,” I declared as I hurried out
the door. I stood on the porch and watched the crowd approach.
Brett was the ring-leader. He did all the talking, and I’m sure he
upset everyone and was behind their being here. He tried to tell me
the Porter boy had Yellow Fever. But he didn’t know that. He said it
all stated here, so they “were going to clean this place up.”
“What do you mean?” I asked suddenly.
“There’s only one way to get rid of the fever. You burn it out.” I
looked at Micah. Unbelievable! “Now, I’ll give you two minutes to
I flipped my rifle to let them know I meant business. They had all
gone mad! “And I’ll give you just one minute to get off my
property!” I declared.
“But it’s the only way!” Cass declared. “We’ll make it up to you,
Lucas. We’ll help you build another house. A better one.” I assure
them I liked my house just the way it was. “But we’ve got to protect
our wives-our families. Don’t you understand?”
“I understand only one thing. These people are sick and need help!”
I shouted angrily.
Micah stepped in then. He had to put an end to this madness. He
reminded Maury of a time when me and some others pulled him out of
his store after a tornado hit North Fork. We knew the roof would
cave in every second, but we knew a life was in danger and didn’t
stop. Then Micah reminded Carl of the time he was bitten by a
rattlesnake – Frank didn’t think about the fact that he might die as
he sucked the poison from his leg. He reminded us all of the time a
little girl got stuck in a blizzard. Jake Thomas died as he looked
for that little girl.
“Now, may you all better think back a ways to the time you all first
came out here and depended on each other for help without reckoning
because you all knew you’d always get back double. That’s why Lucas
is helping these young folks now. They’ve come out here fresh and
new. You’re giving them a fine taste of what to expect.”
There was silence through Micah’s whole speech as everyone stopped
and listened…and thought. But Brett wasn’t ready to give up yet. He
was still trying to convince everyone that burning my house down was
the only thing that would get rid of the fever. “That’s everything
you got left, isn’t it Brett?” Micah stated. What the war taught
you. Fire, violence, trouble…You’re nothing without it, so you just
do it up to make yourself look big again.”
Brett turned in anger and ordered the men to set the house on fire.
But they refused. Brett was loosing what little he had left. The men
walked away, knowing they had been very wrong in their thinking. I
watched in wonderment as they all walked away and left Brett
there…all alone. I was moved, not only because my neighbors believed
in me, but because my best friend believe in me. I turned to Micah,
emotions lying heavily on my face. “I was wrong, Micah,” I told my
best friend. “These are the folks I knew.” Then I thanked him.
We were both emotional. I’m not sure who had it harder: me for
humbling myself enough to thank him, or Micah humbling himself
enough to welcome my words of thanks. We just stood there in silence
as we watched our neighbors slowly ride away.
Within a few days, the Barkers were ready to travel. As they settled
onto the seat of their wagon, Mark and I stood together, once again
united, watching them. I reminded them sternly to take it slow and
easy for awhile. Mrs. Barker wanted to know what happened to the
Porter boy. I smiled and looked at Mark. I figure since he was his
friend, he should tell them what he had.
Mark smiled. “Well, it turned out that what Ted Porter had wasn’t
exactly Yellow Fever,” Mark started.
“What was it, Mark?” Clay asked.
I couldn’t help myself! I laughed as Mark told this next part.
“Well, you might call it green fever from eating green apples. He
was afraid to tell his Pa.”
They had a good laugh at that. Then Mark and I continued to stand on
the porch together – side by side – as they rode away.
piddlin' stuff.....Enid Jaynes
appeared in six episodes of The Rifleman ―Panic as
Amy Barker, she was the lady who had the fever ― The Wyoming Story -
part 1 & 2 as Aggie, the woman who wanted Lucas to
take her with him when he returned to North Fork. She and Dabbs
Greer played in two of The Rifleman episodes
The Wyoming Story.
Quiet Fear as Abbey Striker, the woman who was
deaf — Waste - part 1 & 2, she was the pregnant
woman, the one who slapped Lucas's face at the end of the
She did not have one speaking line in Waste or in
Perils of a
Dabbs Greer is one of your most well known character actors. He has been in the business for over five decades. He has appeared in
The Rifleman eight times ― Outlaw's Inheritance
as Marcus Trimble, the lawyer from Santa Fe ― Boomerang as
Sam Elder, the elderly gentleman who was about to loose his ranch ―
Panic as Brett, the towns trouble maker ― The Jailbird
as Farley Weaver, the man just released from prison ― The Promoter as Jack
Scully, the man who was taking bets on Reuben
Miles ― The Wyoming Story (1 &
2) as Finny and The Stand-In as Taylor,
one of the prison guards.
Bill Joyce played Clay Barker. He
was Amy's husband and the man who was sick in this episode.
Charles Watts appeared in three
episodes ― Panic as Maury Cass, he was the man who tricked
Mark into telling him about the yellow fever ― The Brother-in-law as Alvah
Kemper, he was the one who offered Johnny $100 in prize money if he
could stay on Lucifer― The Mescalero Curse as Joe Beaseley, he was the man
who was witnessed the drunk get run down by Juan Mogollan while
coming out of the saloon.
Buddy Roosevelt appeared in four
episodes ― Panic ―
Two Ounces of Tin —
Quiet Night, Deadly Night
as one of the townsmen ―
Death Never Rides Alone as a barfly.
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.
was in four episodes ― The
Marshal as the
― The Babysitter as a Barfly ― None So Blind
as one of the townsmen ― Panic as one of the townsmen that goes to
Lucas' to help burn down the ranch.
Lynn Cartier appeared in two episodes ―
Panic as Mrs. Porter, she was
the lady in the General Store who overheard Cass and Mark's
conversation ― The Hero as
Alice Bedford, Colly Van's girlfriend and Sam
Paul Kruger appeared in two episodes ―
Eight Hours to Die as the
sheriff from Claypool ― Panic as one of the gang from town who came out to Lucas' ranch to
help burn it down.
appeared in four episodes ― Two episodes as Doc Burrage, The Legacy and
Panic. He also appeared as Barton in
The Spiked Rifle as the man
on the stagecoach that was more worried about his money then Mark and as Jeff Stacey in
The Brother-in-law, he was the one willing to pay
Johnny Gibbs to throw the contest.
Custer appeared seven times ― None So Blind as a
Townsman ― Woman from
Hog Ridge as a Townsman ― The
Lariat as a Gambler ― The Vision
as a Cowhand ― Panic as a
Townsman ― The Jailbird as a
Townsman ― A Case of
Identity as a
Rudy Bowman as one
of the townsmen ―
Panic ― Honest Abe.
Bill Quinn appeared in thirty-eight episodes as Sweeney the owner/bartender of The North Fork Saloon.
Sweeney was first introduced to The Rifleman in The Marshal.
was a well known and respected stuntman, he appeared in twenty-seven
episodes of The Rifleman and still counting. Whitey
had over a 50-year career as a stuntman and stunt coordinator, he
has been praised as one of the top stuntman in Hollywood.
Whitey was the best of the best!
Bloopers - Panic
Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
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