"Welcome to The McCain Ranch"
It’s funny how just one person can turn a whole group against you. It’s funny how some 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 my place.
“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 himself.
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 do, doc?”
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 catching, Lucas.”
“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 more.
I watched as they rode away, hoping I would indeed see my boy the next day!
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 with it?”
“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 suddenly asked.
“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 mischievous grin.
That got my attention. “How did you know about that?” I demanded to know.
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 stake.”
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 prairie fire!”
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 loved it.
“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 danger, Hattie.”
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 fever!”
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 stated.
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 recovery.
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 awhile.”
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 get clear.”
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 together ― Panic and 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 episode.
She did not have one speaking line in Waste or in Quiet Fear.
Perils of a Producer's wife.....
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.
Bert Stevens was in four episodes ― The Marshal as the doctor ― 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 Bedford's daughter.
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.
Fay Roope 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.
Russell 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 Townsman.
Cosmo Sardo as a Barfly in Panic.
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.
Whitey Hughes 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
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
around The McCain Ranch