"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
You know it happens to me all the time. I decide to take a relaxing
trip to town and I suddenly find myself in all sorts of trouble!
Between my luck in finding trouble and Mark’s growing up, I don’t
I’ve survived this long!
Like I said, it started out innocent enough. Mark and I were taking
a relaxing ride to town in the buckboard. Mark was driving today so
I was just relaxing a bit. But there was this woman named
Marge Crandell who just loved to race her horse wherever she went.
Mark and I turned around to wave at her. Mark’s turning around to
wave it where the first problem arose. The horses started driving
off the road and I grabbed the reins to stop them from going even
further off the road. That annoyed Mark a bit since he saw it as me
not having the confidence in him to do the job himself. “I could
have held them, Pa!”
I handed the reins back to him. “Of course you could son,” I assured
him. “It’s just the way Marge Crandell came racing by! She got
Mark agreed that she was indeed pretty hard on horses. As we sat
there talking, Marge ran into another rider and the horse threw her.
She laid on the ground. Mark and I raced to make sure she was
okay. I jumped from the horse and ran to help her, but as soon as I
touched her, Marge sat up, turned around and slapped me hard across
But immediately, she was sorry as she realized who I was. She
thought I was Doug. I gave her an annoyed look. I don’t care
who she thought I was, I didn’t appreciate a slap in the face!
Suddenly, Doug did run up to us to make sure she was alright. "Her
arms not broken," I answered sarcastically.
Margie apologized to me again then turned on Doug. “Now see what you
made me do? It’s all your fault! You’re always making me do things
I’m sorry for!”
I didn’t want to be part of this lover’s quarrel, so I excused
myself to go get her horse. Doug tried to help her out, but she
waved him off, insisting she was perfectly capable to take care of
herself. She assured him he didn’t have to follow her. He
folded his arms and stated, “I do as long as I work for your
“I see! Keep an eye on Marge, Daddy says, so the faithful bloodhound
does!” She was still raging mad.
I walked up to the couple with Marge’s horse. "Luke, what do you do
with a girl like that," Doug suddenly asked me. I just couldn't
answer that - or should I say, there's no way I would answer that.
By Marge wanted me on her side. "Well, Mr. McCain, you’re a father.
Would you talk about your daughter as though she were a sack of
potatoes; arrange her marriage, her children, tell her where her
house was going to be built, on what section of the ranch? Would
I stared at her for a minute, still not wanting to answer. All I
could say was, "Your bridles broken Miss Crandell. You won’t be able
to use your horse."
She wasn’t happy about that. But Doug welcomed this opportunity!
“Now, will you be sensible and ride back to the ranch?” he asked
with a big grin on his face. “We could ride double!”
She stared hard at Doug. “With you? Ha!” Then she turned to me and
asked me to take her into town.
“To see Fred Tate?” Doug yelled.
“Maybe,” Marge answered.
“Now listen here, your father-“ he started.
But Marge didn’t want to hear it. “My father…I can just hear him!
You gotta keep the bit tight, Doug! She’s a mighty high-strung
filly! I ask you Mr. McCain, do I look like a horse?"
Mark didn't have to think about it. He answered for me. "No, ma'am,
She and Doug continued fighting over Fred Tate. Marge was mad that
Doug was trying to tell her who to flirt with. She was certainly a
spoiled brat and wasn’t shy. “I’m free, female and twenty-one and
I’ll flirt with anyone I want to.” I listened to her with humor.
Man, I felt sorry for her father! But I sure wasn’t laughing when
she grabbed my arm and said, “I’ll even flirt with Mr. McCain.”
She batted her eyelashes at me and smiled really big. I couldn’t
believe this girl! Doug got mad and rode back to tell her father
what was going on. She suddenly realized she was still holding on to
me. She apologized to me again and let go. I just gave her a
disapproving look. This girl sure was something else! She asked me
to take her into North Fork. “I don’t have any choice, do I?” I
asked as I motioned for her to go to the wagon.
When Doug got back to the Crandall ranch, he announced that he quit.
“Well, I like my job, but I’m in love with Marge; and as long as I’m
working for you I…well, I keep fighting with her!” Mr. Crandell
started to say something, but Doug stopped him. “Don’t call her a
high strung filly! I got in enough trouble agreeing with you about
that! Now I gotta go see if I can get myself out of it!” He turned
When we rode into town Marge asked
to take her horse to the livery and have her bridle fixed. Mark was
more then happy to help her and asked me if he could. I gave him my
permission and told him to meet me back here. “Looks like I’m gonna
have to round up the smithie.” There was a sign on the door that
read “Back in 10 minutes. Gone for a beer.”
Nels was there listening to some pretty manly talk. Mr. Quenten, a
drummer, was there talking about women with two other boys. He was
talking about a woman who was a “fine figure of a woman” but then
they probably hadn’t seen a woman like that this far west. Quenten
stated he hadn’t seen a good looking woman since he came to this
town. One of the men mentioned Marge Crandell. “Now you’re talking!”
Tate said. “She ain’t just bustles and corsets!”
I walked in then and went to talk to Nels. Tate interrupted me
before I can even get started. "Ain't that right Luke?"
"What?" I asked.
"Marge Crandell. I was just saying, now there's a girl with a figure
that ain't just bustles and corsets.”
I didn’t like what he was saying. "I wouldn't know," I answered
sternly. Then I turned back to talk to Nels. “Nels, I got a plow and
some wheel rims that need fixing.”
But Tate wasn’t done yet. "Oh come on, Luke! Your practically
neighbors to old man Crandell. You mean to tell me when she comes
riding across the prairie bouncing there, that you…uh…you ain't even
looked? Come on now, how about it?"
I don’t care if this was a saloon or not, I wasn’t going to tolerate
that kind of talk! I grabbed him by the shirt. "Now listen to me
boy, when I want your conversation, I'll ask for it."
"Now, gentlemen, gentlemen, a saloon is no place to talk about a
decent girl," Quenton said.
I had Tate right up in my face, but that didn’t keep him from saying
it. “That depends on what you mean by decent!”
I took a firmer hold on him and glared at him eye to eye. “Now I’m
gonna give you something you didn’t ask for – advice! You got a
nasty tongue. Keep it in your head and keep it quiet unless you’re
really looking for trouble. You got that?” I angrily shoved Tate
away, then Nels and I left.
Later, the Tate and Quenton were standing outside the bar when Marge
came walking down the street. Tate walked out in front of her and
stopped her. She asked him to step out of her way. He physically
stopped her this time. “Come on, Marge. The boys just want to know
if what they hear about you is true.”
She stared at him for only a second before she slapped him and
demanded him to let her by. Tate grabbed her hand and started
laughing. He grabbed her and she struggled to get away as he laughed
at her. Doug rode into town and saw Marge trying to get out of
Tate’s grip. He raced his horse toward them, then jumped off and
tackled Tate on the ground.
They began punching each other. Tate had his gun out and the two
boys started struggling. Doug tried to get the gun away from him
before he used it. Micah saw the fight and ran across the street. I
heard something going on and walked out of the Blacksmith’s shop.
Tate fired the gun into the air and I raced across the street to sop
Micah and I got there at the same time. I grabbed Doug and Micah
grabbed Tate. Micah demanded to know what was going on. “He was
insulting Marge Crandall!” Doug answered.
Marge got mad. “I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself! I
don’t need you to start a street brawl over me!” I looked at Doug.
She had a point there. Suddenly, she turned to Mr. Quenton and
smiled at him. She told him she’d like to see his new material
patterns. She took his arm and they went off together. She gave Doug
a sly smile as she left.
Doug didn’t like it and started forward. I put a hand against him
and told him to take it easy. Micah picked up Tate’s gun and
announced he would hold onto it until he simmered down. Tate started
back into the saloon, but Doug stopped him. “If I see you near Marge
Crandell again, I’ll kill you!” After that threat, Micah told Doug
to give him his gun too. Doug handed it over declaring, “Alright,
Marshal. But that won’t stop me. I’ll use my bare hands “
I suddenly turned to him. "What kind of talk is that, boy? Killing a
man never solved anything. You should learn to control your temper,”
I advised him.
I turned to Nels after Doug walked off. “Come on, Nels. Let’s see if
we can get to my plow and wheel rims before something else happens!”
Nels looked at the plow and asked me how soon I wanted it. I told
him I wanted to take it home with me today. I asked him if he could
have them ready. “If you can lend me a hand, it would save me some
time and you some cash!” he answered me.
I agreed to do that. Mark came up then and told me that he had all
the wheels in. “Gonna need me anymore? Howey’s waiting for me.” I
told Mark to go on because I’d be here the next few hours.
I had no idea that my boy was going to do something to get himself
into trouble! I don’t supposed my boy knew it at the moment either.
But when he went out back to see Howey, he suddenly became
secretive. Mark was a bit leery at first, but followed Howey away
from the door a ways. Howey pulled out a cigar and showed it to
Mark. It had fallen out of Mr. Quenton’s pocket. “Gonna smoke it?”
“You game?” Howey asked. Mark hesitated. “Or are you scared?” Howey
Naturally, my boy said, “Of course not!”
“Alright!” Howey tried to hand Mark the cigar. “You can bite off the
Mark looked at the cigar and tried to talk his way out of it. “Well,
it’s yours. You can bite it.” Howey did bite the end off and spit it
out. Then he took out a match and lit the cigar, taking a puff off
of it. Mark smelled the smoke. “How is it?” he asked.
“Swell,” Howey answered as he handed Mark the cigar. “You try.” Mark
gave in and took a puff off of it. They took turns smoking the
They both were feeling pretty sick after a while, but neither of
them wanted to admit it to the other. Suddenly, they heard laughing.
“Someone’s coming,” Mark said. Howey handed Mark the cigar and took
off. Mark stared at the cigar still in his hand. He let it drop in
the dirt then left himself.
A little while later, Nels and I were working in his shop when Nels
remembered he left his shaping anvil outside. I told him I’d get it
so he wouldn’t loose the heat. But when I bent down to pick it up, I
saw a pair of feet sticking out of some tall grass. I stared at them
and slowly stood up. I walked over and looked. Then I hurried back
inside. “Nels,” I said as I rolled down my sleeves and picked up my
rifle. “Keep your eye on the street. Don’t let anyone go around the
back of this building.”
Nels suddenly turned and looked at me. "Is something a matter?" he
I nodded worriedly. "It's Marge Crandell. She's been murdered."
I ran and got Micah and we went back to examine her body. Micah
concluded that she had been strangled. I knew this would hit her
father hard. Micah noticed her fingers where rings used to be. I
hadn’t noticed her rings, but I had seen a bracelet. She wasn’t
wearing one now though.
We took a look around. Micah found her purse, but there was no
money. I found the remainder of a cigar – it was an expensive brand
and the only person around here that smoked that brand was Mr.
Quenton, the drummer.
We went over to the hotel to question him. He was very nervous.
“This is impossible, Marshal” he stated. “You can’t be serious, why
I hardly knew that girl!”
“Didn’t seem that way while back, mister,” I commented.
“You were right friendly with her,” Micah stated.
He nervously explained that she was embarrassed over the bar room
brawl from earlier. He was simply trying to help her out. “She was a
customer for my goods.” Micah asked him about the cigar. He
hesitated, but Micah insisted on an answer. He said he didn’t know.
I decided to help him out. “Did you give one to anybody?” I asked.
“Yes,” he answered. “That’s it! I must have!” I could tell he wasn’t
telling the truth. He was grasping for an explanation. Micah asked
him who he gave the cigar to and he couldn’t answer.
hotel door opened and Doug came in. "Is he the one?" He demanded to
“We’re just asking questions, Doug,” Micah answered.
Doug started to go for him, but I immediately restrained him and
pushed him back. “Micah will handle this, go on outside!” I ordered
as I pushed him out the door. “Go on!”
Suddenly, Quenton was even more nervous. “I’ve got to get out of
this town! You’ve got to help me, Marshal! You’ve got to get me on
“You’re not getting on the stage, Mr. Quenton,” Micah assured him.
I had been watching out the door. Doug got on his horse and headed
out of town. I told Micah we best get Quenton out of there before
Mr. Crandell got into town.
Micah decided to take Quenton to the jail for his protection. “Folks
round here tend to take matters into their own hands right quick!
Now come on.” We led Quenton across the street to the jail.
Dave was standing outside the Marshal’s office. “Dave, have you seen
Mark?” I asked him. He told me he had seen him at Hattie’s store
while ago. I asked him to find Mark and tell him to wait for me over
at the Blacksmith’s. With a murderer close by, I’d feel better
knowing my boy was somewhere safe.
Before long, Dave came pounding on Micah door. “Tell Luke I found
Mark behind Hattie’s and he’s a sick boy!”
I suddenly came to the door. “Sick?” I asked worriedly.
“Well, I tried to get him to go to the docs with me, but all he did
was moan go away!”
What else could happen today! I was suddenly worried about my boy
and hurried off to see what was wrong with him. When I saw him, he
looked white as a sheet! “Mark!” I hurried up to him and put my hand
on his shoulder. “What’s the matter, boy?”
"I don't feel good Pa. It's my stomach,” Mark groaned.
I grabbed him by the arm. “Come on. We better get you right over to
the docs,” I said worriedly.
“No,” Mark answered.
“Well, we gotta figure out what’s wrong,” I explained to him.
“Well, I know what’s the matter,” Mark answered hesitatingly. “Well,
it-it…I was smoking.” I suddenly sat down. He knew better then that!
“Not corn silk. A cigar.”
“Well, Howey had it. It fell out of that salesman’s pocket.” That
sure got my attention fast! “I feel awful!”
I got to thinking about this. “Where were you smoking, son?” I
asked, suddenly very anxious to know.
“Behind the blacksmith’s. We heard someone coming so we threw it
away.” So, it was the boys smoking that cigar! That meant Quenton
was telling the truth! “But we should have thrown it away sooner.”
I had to get back to Micah’s. “Well, you stay here and breathe
deep,” I advised him. “Fresh air’s the only thing that’ll do you any
I started to leave, but Mark stopped me. "Pa, ya' think I'll live?"
I couldn’t feel too sorry for him. He should have know better. I
just grinned. "I think so." I knew he was learning a hard lesson! I
don’t know if Mark was so sure or not.
As I headed back to Micah’s office, I suddenly stopped. There was a
large crowd outside of Micah’s office. I ran forward and pushed
people out of my way to get inside. Doug had a gun on Micah and Mr.
Crandell had Quenton pinned to the desk, choking the life out of
him. I hurried inside. “Crandell!” I rushed over to him and grabbed
him. “Stay out of this! He
didn’t do it!” I pulled him off. “I just found out. It was my boy,
Mark, who smoked that cigar.”
Micah reminded them he had tried to tell them that. She was robbed.
“I told you I didn’t do it!” Quenton stated as he gasped for breath.
“Why should I steal? You think I wanted her jewelry or a couple of
ten dollar gold eagles?" Micah told Quenton he could go.
Crandell was so heart broken and wanted to know who did it. Doug
“You jump to conclusions too fast, boy!” I warned him.
Just then Nels came rushing in. "Micah, look what I found out in my
slag heap outside." It was Marge's things.
Micah looked at the things. “Two rings, bracelet, and two ten dollar
“She always carried them,” Mr. Crandell said sadly. “I didn’t want
her to be without money.”
Suddenly, it hit me. "Micah, those gold eagles. You didn't know she
had them. I didn't. Quenton just said, two ten dollar gold eagles."
We all rushed over to the hotel.
When we got there Quenton was checking out. When he saw us he knew
that we knew. "Mr. Quenton, how did you know Miss Crandell had two
gold eagles in her purse?" Micah asked.
He stood there silently and looked at each one of us. Total defeat
suddenly came over him. Whimpering, he said, "I didn't mean to hurt
her.” He started to cry. “Heaven forgive me, I didn't mean to hurt
her. We, we were just taking a walk. I.....I was telling her how
lonely a man gets on the road. How lonely.....I put my arm around
her. I thought she was teasing with me, flirting, and she started to
scream. I begged her not to. I was afraid.....I put my hand over her
mouth. I begged her not to scream. She wouldn't stop. I told
her.....I started to squeeze, then I squeezed and I squeezed. Oh
heaven forgive me, I didn't mean to hurt her." He got on his hands
and knees. "I didn't mean it." He started sobbing. "I didn't mean
Crandell drew his gun. He was going to kill Quenton. As soon as I
heard the cock of his gun I got in front of him. “Get out of my way,
“What good is that gonna do?” I demanded to know.
“He murdered my daughter!” he answered bitterly.
“So you kill him. Then Micah arrests you and you hang! That’s great
But he wasn’t listening to me. All he could think about was that his
daughter was dead. “Lucas!”
I saw the look of pure rage on his face. I knew no words could bring
back his daughter. I stepped out of his way. "Alright Pete, kill
him. But before you do, take a look at him. Take a good look Pete.
He's already destroyed himself.” Quenton was kneeling on the floor
with his head in his hands, sobbing. “Every minute he's alive he's
gonna have to live with what he did. Don't make it easy for him."
Pete then put his gun back in his holster. I walked up to him and
put my hand on his shoulder. "Go on home Pete." I looked into his
eyes, showing him that I was deeply sorry for his loss – father to
Later that afternoon, I was saying goodbye to Nels. I sure was happy
to be going home after the day I had! Mark had been laying in the
back of the wagon. But as I
got ready to leave, he sat up and came up to the front of the wagon.
“Pa, I feel better now.”
I had a cigar in my mouth and took it out, looking at it. I had to
find out if he had indeed learned his lesson or if I needed to do
some lecturing when we got home. “Come on up front,” I said
Mark did as told. When he was all settled in, I took a cigar out of
my pocket and put it under his nose. “Would you care for one of
Mark reared away from it as if it was a poisonous snake. “No, Pa,”
he stated. “I’ve made a resolution. I’m never gonna smoke again as
long as I live!” Mark promised.
I nodded my approval. Lesson learned – with no help from me! “Let’s
go home, huh?”
Lea played Marge Crandell. She is the girl who is killed in this
appeared in four episodes ― Shivaree
as Derek Hanaway, the groom ― The Woman
as Garth Healey, he was the one who was in love with Miss
Adams ― Letter of the Law
as Fred Harris, he
gave his life to save Micah ― Smoke Screen as Doug Carter, he was in love
with Marge Crandell, the cowgirl who got killed.
George Neise played Roger Quenton
the traveling salesman. He's the one who almost got away with
killing Marge Crandell.
Douglas Kennedy played Peter
Crandell, the father of Marge Crandell.
Warren Jones played Fred Tate. He
is the one who was forcing himself on Marge. (3rd picture — the
Cowboy talking with Marge)
Richard "Dick" Alexander played
Nels the Blacksmith in four episodes ― Smoke Screen —
Martinet — The Deserter and Meeting at Midnight.
How many actors played Nils or was it Niles or Nels? Was it Swenson
or was it Svenson?
William "Billy" Benedict as Dave
Prentice. He was the man who Lucas asked to look for Mark. He
played some of his larger parts in serials and in the East Side
Kids/Bowery Boys features in which he was a regular.
Johnny Collier as Howey. He was
Mark's friend with the cigar.
Chet Brandenburg appeared
in three episodes ― The Blowout as a barfly
― The Boarding House as one of the cowboys who ran Fallon
and his gang out of town as a barfly ― Smoke Screen as one of the townsmen.
appeared twice in The Rifleman ―
Smoke Screen (1960) as a Townsman
and The Vision (1960) as a Cowhand.
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
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
We have a bartender here.....but no Sweeney!
Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
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