"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
A Time for Singing
If there’s one thing the wild west needed, it was a preacher. That was indeed a vital asset of this rugged west – someone to remind us of the right way to live and keep us going on the straight and narrow. I reckon that’s why when we got a new preacher, Mark and I were more then willing to help. We knew that we needed him here as much as the rest of the townspeople.
We didn’t know it yet, but the preacher and his wife were dead – a pointless murder, it would turn out. There was a gang of outlaws outside of North Fork. They were just waiting to ride on in, unsuspected by the townspeople. When one of the outlaws threw rocks to trick some of the others into thinking someone or something was there, Dan Hewitt started shooting. Spence Hadley said, “You’re mighty quick with the shooting, Reverend.”
“Trust in the Lord. Wear your gun easy. Real good rule for staying alive,” Hewitt answered.
They were on their way to North Fork to “finish the job.”
Mark and I were busy packing down our horses with groceries from Hattie’s store. Micah came by and wondered what we were doing. I told him the Ladies Committee wanted the new reverend and his wife had plenty of food to eat when they got here from Kansas. “Reverend Gathers is going to eat real good,” Mark commented. Then he smiled. “I just hope he’s got the stomach for it!”
I suddenly saw Micah rubbing his chest. He’d been having pains for awhile, and I’d been hounding him to go see the doctor. I was worried about him. “Have you been to see Doc Burrage yet?” I asked him with a worried frown.
“No, not yet,” Micah answered.
“Why not?” I asked him sternly.
“Because I’ve been busy! Besides, the pains let up the past few days. There’s nothing to worry about.”
“I’m sure,” I said shortly. Hattie came out then so I couldn’t say anymore. He certainly hadn’t heard the last on this from me, and wouldn’t until he went to the doctor!
She handed something to Mark, but Mark simply had no more room. I grabbed it from him. It was a bottle. “Cider?” I asked a bit surprised.
“Sweet cider,” Hattie assured me. “I’m not about to sent the hard stuff to a man recommended like him, preaching straight out fire and brimstone!”
Mark and I had to walk our horses over to the parsonage. Hattie said she’d come along, but Micah didn’t want to. She was going to air out the things in the trunk. “We don’t need him,” Hattie answered after giving him a stern look.
I was in a hurry. “Good, let’s get on with it. Mark’s been pressing to get home early anyway,” I said.
“Well, I kinda had it in mind to go fishing tomorrow,” Mark stated.
“And you have to rush today?” Hattie asked.
Mark had it all figured out! “Well you know, you do your morning chores tonight. That gives you half a day for fishing tomorrow,” Mark stated matter-of-factly. I nodded. It made perfect sense to me, especially coming from Mark’s mouth! Mark suddenly decided he could probably find time to help with the trunk. That’s my boy!
Before we left, I reminded Micah to see the doc. He just grinned and nodded. I could tell he wasn’t planning on seeing the doc. Perhaps I’d have to knock him out and drag him over there!
Just after we left, Hewitt and Mrs. Hadley, Spence’s wife, came driving into town. The others were hiding in the back of the covered wagon. Marshal Torrance came up to introduce himself to the two, whom he assumed were Revered and Mrs. Gathers. He climbed up onto the wagon to show them the way to the parsonage.
Hattie pulled the Bible out of the trunk. It pleased her that it was left right on top. Mark pulled a hairpiece out and stared at it. I smiled at the funny look on his face. “Well, you haven’t seen one of those before, have you, Mark?” I asked.
It was obvious from his face that he hadn’t. He wanted to know what it was. "It's what you call a switch. It makes a short crop of hair into a crowning glory,” Hattie answered.
"Seems to me that's pure deceitful", said Mark. "And her a preachers wife!” Mark laughed.
"A preacher's wife can want to look nice,” I told him.
"You don't have to be homely to get into heaven,” Hattie said then.
"Kinda give you a funny feeling,” Mark stated. He saw my questioning look. “Well, uh, I mean meeting folks things before you meet them. It kinda makes you keel like ya' know 'em already."
I was suddenly curious to know what was going through the head of that boy of mine! “How do they strike you, son?” I asked.
He Mark started thinking on that. "Well, ah, I'd say him…he's kind of little and big and old. And his voice has all the barb wire in it from shouting all that fire and brimstone.”
Hattie and I laughed at his description. "And her?” Hattie asked.
"Well, she's kinda small, and peaked, maybe plain?” We smiled at his description.
Suddenly we heard a woman say, "Would it make so much difference?" We all suddenly turned toward the voice and saw whom we assumed was Mrs. Gathers standing in the doorway. I immediately took off my hat and walked over to them. Mark was a bit taken aback. He stared at her. Micah introduced them to us.
Mrs. Gathers shook our hands. When she got to Mark, Mark was a little slow in responding. He had a funny look on his face as he just stared at her. I turned and looked at him. He hadn’t even bothered to take his hat off. I immediately plucked it off of his head and handed it to him with a big grin on my face.
Mark was still holding the switch. Mrs. Gathers told Mark he was a little young to know about things like that. She took it from Mark’s hand. Hattie explained that we were just unpacking the trunk. “As a matter of fact, he should be home by now,” I stated. Mark couldn’t even speak. “As long as you’re here, we’ll move on.”
We started to leave, but Mark was still staring at her. I guess she didn’t look like your typical preacher’s wife, and she was nothing like he expected. I turned, realizing Mark hadn’t moved. I looked at him. “Oh,” he said as he just realized that we were leaving. I grabbed him and pulled him out, sending Mrs. Gather’s an apologetic smile.
Hewitt shut the door. Now, let me try to explain this “gang “a little better. You see, They were planning on robbing the North Fork Bank. Mrs. Gathers was really Laurie Hadley who was married to the leader of the gang, Spence Hadley. The preacher was really Dan Hewitt. He and Mrs. Hadley were in love with each other. Of course, Mr. Hadley didn't know that. The other two members of the gang were Bro, Spence's slow witted brother and Walt Durkins.
Okay, now back to the story. Mrs. Hadley was a little sad to see such happiness in the town, something she desired for herself. “Just once, to live clean and decent like that!” she wished.
She and Hewitt started kissing, but she stopped it. She knew Spence would kill him if he ever found out they were in love with each other. She told him to go put the wagon in the stable so the others could come inside without being seen.
The next day, Mark came racing into town to show me the big mess of fish he had caught down in the bend of the stream. “I could have stood there and pulled them out all day!” Mark exclaimed. He was anxious to get home so we could clean them. I think he was planning on eating them tonight.
But I told Mark the new preacher was holding a meeting tonight. “Oh, didn’t waste much time,” Mark groaned. I told Mark we would eat at the hotel before the meeting.
Then I looked down at his fish I was holding. “Oh, what about your fish?”
“They’re gonna spoil!” Mark was disappointed. “They’re gonna be plain wasted! Say, you think maybe I can give them to somebody?” He suddenly asked.
I thought that would be a great idea. He decided to give them to Mrs. Gathers. They didn’t have much time for fishing. I thought that was fine, but I told him to hurry so we could get him cleaned up before the meeting. I told him to meet me in Micah’s office.
I started to walk away, but Mark stopped me. “What’s the matter with Micah?”
I smiled. “He’s mostly stubborn, I’d say,” I answered.
Meanwhile, Spence was having a discussion with Bro. “I don’t wanta argue, Spence with you being older and all, but it just seems to me that we’re just wasting time,” Bro stated as he poured his brother some coffee. He thought they could have just rode in and robbed the bank without all the business of pretending to be a preacher and all.
“And leave a couple of us dead in the street?” Spence asked suddenly. “You think Micah Torrance has forgotten what I look like? And maybe a couple dozen others in this town? We couldn’t have gotten close to that safe without the lead flying!” Spence thought that doing it his way would make it easier for them since Micah doesn’t even know they’re there.
Then they started about having killed the preacher and his wife. They had left them a mile up the trail with lots of rocks on top so there wouldn’t be any buzzards. Hewitt was concentrating out the window. “Is something else bothering you?” Spence suddenly asked. Hewitt released the curtain and walked away, suddenly afraid Spence would figure out what he had been looking at. Spence walked over to the window. He saw his wife sitting outside with her outer shirt off. She was brushing her long hair. Spence suddenly turned and slapped Hewitt. “Don’t nobody look at my wife that way! Nobody!”
Suddenly, they heard a knock at the door. Spence suddenly put a finger to his lips as Mark called out “Mrs. Gathers, are you home? Anybody home?” They ignored his knock, hoping he would go away quietly.
Mark walked around the back to see if anyone was in the backyard. Suddenly, he saw her. She was brushing her long hair. He slowly walked up behind her. He couldn’t say anything, all he could do was stare. She turned her head and suddenly caught a glimpse of him. "Well, you don't make much noise. You come for something?"
Mark suddenly cleared his throat and held up the bag of trout. “Yep. Trout,” he answered. “I caught ‘em.”
She grabbed them from him. She was impressed at Mark’s generosity. “That’s real neighborly! You tell your Pa-“ But when she turned around, he wasn’t there anymore. He had run off. She smiled and went inside.
When she came back inside, Spence immediately wanted to know what the boy wanted. "Looks like I got me a boa. He brought me some trout.” Spence wanted to know if he said anything. "He kept starring at me, like I got two heads." With that she touched her long hair. Suddenly, she stopped. “The switch!” she gasped. She turned to Hewitt. “Dan, the switch!” she exclaimed as she pulled on her hair.
Dan realized what she was talking about and suddenly groaned. He told Spence about Mark finding the switch in the trunk the day before. Spence was sure they had burned all the Gathers’ belongings, but this trunk must have been shipped out ahead of them. “Him seeing your long hair, it’s a dead give away!” Spence shouted. He suddenly ordered Dan to get Mark back there immediately. Laurie pleaded with Spence not to hurt Mark, but he told her to shut up and ordered Dan to go get Mark and bring him back there.
Meanwhile, I was in Micah’s office fighting my own battle. I was very worried about Micah. “Well maybe you’re right. Maybe that pain doesn’t mean a thing. But I’d just like to hear Dr. Burrage say it!” I said with a very concerned voice.
“I figure to see him one of these days,” Micah stated.
I sat down on the desk. “Well when, Micah? You’ve been telling me that for weeks,” I argued back. My voice was still laced with concern for my best friend. “Why don’t you walk over there right now?” I asked. Micah hesitated. “Look, I’ll go over there with ya'. What do you say?”
Suddenly, Mark came bursting in. “Pa, Pa-“ Mark started yelling.
“Hold it, son. Hold it.” I was on the verge of a major breakthrough here!
“How about it, Micah?” I started, but Mark really wanted to tell me something.
"But Pa, it will only take a minute-“ He started.
I looked sternly at him. "Not now,” I said again, only more sternly this time.
“But it’s something import-“ He tried again.
“Mark!” I suddenly yelled. There was a heavy warning in my voice. Mark stopped talking as I gave him a hard look. “Yes sir,” he answered.
“Maybe you better wait for me outside.” From the tone of my voice, he knew that wasn’t a suggestion – it was an order.
“Yes sir,” he said. I turned back to talk to Micah. “Is it alright if I go over to Hattie’s?”
“Alright, but you wait for me there!” I demanded, letting him know that I wasn’t happy with him.
As soon as he walked Micah’s door, the preacher was there and called him over. Mark went to him.
"A little short with the boy, weren't you Lucas?" Micah lightly accused me.
"Maybe so,” I answered absentmindedly. “But he's got to learn he can’t interrupt. Anyway, you’re the one I’m worried about right now.” I looked sternly at Micah.
He knew I wasn’t going to quit until he finally gave in. That’s why he finally agreed to see the doc as soon as he came back from Willow Springs.
The preacher took Mark back to the parsonage, explaining that it wasn’t polite for him to run away without saying hello and giving them a chance to thank him. “It’s not Christian or even neighborly to run like that,” he stated. Then he led Mark into the kitchen. Mark was suddenly surprised when he went in to see men with guns sitting at the table. He immediately knew something was wrong.
Spence stood and patted Mark on the shoulder. “Now, nobody’s gonna hurt you, boy. You just have a seat right here,” he invited Mark.
Mark did as told, but he was suddenly concerned and fearful. Spence demanded to know what he told me when he ran to me while ago. Mark insisted that he hadn’t told me anything, which was the truth. He said I was busy talking to Micah. He then insisted that he didn’t know what we were talking about. “I don’t know.” He looked around. Everyone was staring at him. “Honest, I don’t know,” he stated nervously. The longer the stared silently, the more nervous he got. “Well, Pa’s gonna meet me at Hattie’s. I better go now. He tried to stand.
Spence put a firm hand on his shoulder. “You better go now!” Spence laughed. “That’s very funny!” He shoved Mark back down into the chair. He laughed hysterically.
Micah and I headed over to Hattie’s to pick up Mark. I noticed that Hattie was closing up early. She stated she was closing early so she could get an early supper and get to the meeting at a reasonable time. “You can take my advice and do the same,” she told us.
“Advice. That’s the only cheap thing she’s got in stock!” I teased her. “No the fact is, I’m treating Mark to a hotel supper then bringing him over,” I explained.
“Where is he?”
“Mark?” Hattie asked.
“Isn’t he here?” I asked.
“No, and he hasn’t been. I haven’t seen him since yesterday.”
I suddenly got upset. “I told him to stay here!”
Hattie started to tell me to go easy on him, that he was just being a boy. But I wasn’t in the mood to hear any of it. I wanted to find that boy and give him a piece of my mine! Hattie was naturally concerned at how upset I was. “He and the boy had a difference today,” Micah explained as he came after me.
We looked everywhere! It was dark and time for the service to start, but I still hadn’t found Mark. I checked at Clay Bolden, his best friend’s house, the blacksmith and Avery’s place, but he was in none of those places! Micah suggested that mark was hiding. Oh no, no. He learned his lesson. Those surveyors, remember?”
“You tromped on his feelings pretty hard today,” Micah reminded me.
“I know, I know!” I stated defensively. “But he wouldn’t hide!” I was getting worried.
"Well, there’s no use worrying about is,” said Micah. “He'll be back." But something was wrong here…very wrong. I could feel it. I had to keep looking for Mark until I found him. I left Micah at his office door and started off again, I was determined to find my boy. Suddenly Micah called to me, "Lucas, mind if I come along?" We kept looking for Mark.
Spence said they’d get moving as soon as Dan got them to singing. Spence ordered Bro to take Mark to the stable and tie him up. “Sometimes folks like to drop over at the parsonage after a meeting.”
Dan started the service. He stated it was going to be a singing meeting, and he wanted to hear them sing. “I don’t mean not way back there in the throat singing,” he said. Then he got louder and more excited. “Oh no, I mean give out singing…loud and clear! I mean a whole river of song that’s gonna sweep right up to the golden throne and tumble the sinners off the cliffs of wickedness and send them screaming down to everlasting fire!” Everyone started singing Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory.
(*Please note..... when clicking on the link to a sound wav - it may download to your computer.)
I was still looking for my boy. I headed over to the church and poked my head inside after taking my hat off. I quickly scanned the crowd, but didn’t see any sign of Mark.
The bank robbers headed out to rob the bank while the singing was going on. They were planning on doing it with blasting powder.
Mark wasn’t too happy. Bro was tying Mark securely to the wagon wheel. “I’ll come for you as soon as things quiet down,” he promised. Mark was gasping, he was so upset. Then when Bro brought out the kerchief to gag him, Mark became even more upset. Micah and I started toward the barn where Mark was, though I didn’t know it at the time.
“Mark!” I hollered his name. Mark tried to yell to me through his gag, but Bro hushed him. Bro put out the lantern as Micah and I came closer. Mark continued to try to yell out.
“You make one sound, and he’s dead!” Bro warned him, showing Mark his gun.
I went inside the barn and called Mark’s name, but there was no answer. The preacher’s wagon was in there. I closed the door, but as I walked away, I got to thinking. “Micah, with a wagon like that, why would he ship his trunk?” I guess the question didn’t make much sense to Micah, but it did to a father who’s gut told him to take another look at something.
I hurried back, but this time I didn’t announce my presence. I slowly opened the door and peaked inside. Bro heard me and turned to shoot me, but I was ready. I killed him with one shot! There was my boy! I ran over to take the gag off of Mark.
Micah recognized the dead man as Earl Hadley. “He was holding a gun on you, Pa!” Mark tried to explain to me. I asked him if he was alright. “Well I’m fine,” Mark answered quickly before he told me what he knew. I listened as I quickly untied his hands. “The preacher’s in it too, he’s a fake!” Mark turned to Micah. “And there’s two men names Spence and Walt!”
“Spence Hadley!” Micah exclaimed. “Where are they, Mark?”
“I don’t know. Well, I heard them talk about blasting powder and drills!”
I had a pretty good idea where they were headed. I grabbed Mark by the shoulder and looked into his eyes, making sure he heard exactly what I told him. “Look Mark, I want you to go over to Micah’s office. And this time wait for me, ya' hear?” I ordered
Micah and I turned the corner as we headed for the bank. We ran into Spence and Walt. They immediately started shooting at us. I shot Walt, but Spence ran away.
There was suddenly commotion inside the church as they heard the shooting outside. Dan tried to tell them to keep singing, but no one was interested in that anymore.
Micah and I were engaged in a shootout with the injured Walt. We fired several shots at each other with no luck, but then I quickly fired two fast shots and killed him.
Suddenly, Spence ran inside the church. Everyone stood up. “Alright, so the meeting’s over! Sit down! Sit down!” he ordered as he ran up to Dan and his wife and told them to get out of there.
He opened the side door of the church so they could escape. Dan demanded to know what was happening. “Somebody must have told them we was here!” Spence stated. Dan asked who. Spence simply looked from his wife to Dan. “Who was the only two out of the house?”
"Oh no, Spence your wrong. Why would we do a thing like that"? Laurie asked desperately.
"Bro’s dead…now Walt. Maybe you figured that I’d be too. And there'd be just you and him. Except it don't work like that.” He started to shoot Dan, but Laurie jumped in his way and took the bullet instead. She fell over, dead. Dan immediately drew his gun and killed Spence. Then he took Laurie in his arms and wept as Micah and I arrived.
Unsurprisingly, Mark didn’t obey my orders and ran up to the church to see what had happened. He stared at the scene sadly. “She had real nice hair,” he stated.
Later that night, Mark and I were waiting in Micah’s office. Mark, as usual, was starving and wanted to know when we were going to go have supper. I told him we’d go as soon as Micah got back from the doctor.
Mark came running to see what had happened. He stood there looking and sadly said, "She had real nice hair".
Suddenly Mark asked, "Pa, do you think a real preacher would ever come here now"?
"I think so Mark,” I smiled. “We're just bad enough to need one and good enough to want one".
Just then Micah came in. I anxiously stood up. "What did he say?” I demanded to know. Concern was still etched in my voice.
Micah had a funny look on his face. "Well…I don't know if I should feel relieved or insulted,” Micah answered.
That made me very concerned! "Stop playing game, what did he say Micah?” I asked.
Micah frowned. "He said it was from eatin' my own cookin'. Told me to try out the hotel cafe for a couple of weeks". Mark and I looked at each other and laughed.
"Well, what are we waiting for, lets eat,” Micah said.
"Can I have the 50¢ steak?” Mark asked.
“You sure can, boy!” I answered as I gave him a pat.
"Mark, tonight you can have the 75¢ steak,” Micah stated. “I'm buying!”
Piddlin' stuff.....Chris Alcaide appeared in ten episodes ― The Trade as Hamp Ferris, he was the cowboy who wanted to turn Morley in for the reward ― Obituary as Panama Billings, he was the gunfighter who rode into North Fork trying to make a name for himself and another notch on his gun ― A Case of Identity as Lon Perry, he was the cowboy along with his partner Captain James Gordon who scheme to make Wingate think Mark was his son ― A Time for Singing as Spence, the leader of a gang of bank robbers who were going to rob the North Fork Bank ― Meeting at Midnight as Schroeder, he was working with Benton & Morgan to break Carl Miller out of jail ― Dead Cold Cash as Ben Casper, the attorney for Sara Caruthers ― The Wyoming Story part 1 & 2 as Ross, the Henchman for Forbes McKee the Indian Agent ― The Journey Back as Will Carney, he was looking for revenge for his brother's death ― Squeeze Play as Dave Rankin, the heavy for Willard Prescott.
Gee how many times did John Anderson star in The Rifleman? Who appeared in the most episodes Chris Alcaide or John Anderson? How about John Milford?
Robert Knapp played Dan Hewitt in A Time for Singing, he's the one who pretended to be the Reverend Gethers.
Patricia Barry appeared in three episodes ― A Time for Singing as Laurie Hadley, she was the wife of Spence, the leader of a gang who were going to rob the North Fork Bank, she 'supposedly' was the preacher's wife. In The Woman ― The Three Legged Terror as Adele Adams, North Fork's school teacher.
John Milford appeared in eleven episodes ― (Hmmmmm.....does this set any record or maybe there's a tie or maybe someone did more then John? Who could the other Cowboy be?) ― The Blowout as Ross Porter, one of the Porter brothers who was after Al Walker ― The Coward as Dub, he was the one who was reading from George's Journal and making fun ― The Horse Traders as Jonah Winters, he was the dude with the knife ― A Time for Singing as Bro Hadley, the dude who was a bit slow ― Meeting at Midnight as Morgan ― The Pitchman as Marsh Watson, he was the one who tied Mark up ― Baranca as Hadley, he was the one who killed Sanchez ― Dark Day at North Fork as Jack Solby, he tried to kill Lucas when he was blind ― The Clarence Bibs Story as Reade, he was one of the cowboys edging Clarence on to kill Tanner ― The Journey Back as Jess Grady, as one of the squatters, he was the one who held the rifle on Will Temple ― The Assailants as Lt. Price, the soldier in charge.
Bob Osterloh played Walt Durkins in A Time for Singing, he played a bad dude, he was the member of the gang.
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.
Jack Stoney appeared in eight episodes as a townsmen ― Obituary ― The Legacy ― The Horse Traders ― The Spoiler ― The Deserter ― The Hangman ― A Time for Singing ― Strange Town as a townsfolk at Droshek Town.
Richard LaMarr appeared in three episodes ― A Time for Singing as a Townsman ― The Deserter as a Townsman and Closer Than a Brother as a Townsman.
George Tracy appeared in three episodes of The Rifleman ― Assault ― The Martinet ― A Time for Singing as a Townsman.
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.
*Chris Alcaide and John Milford appeared together in three episodes of The Rifleman. A Time for Singing ― Meeting at Midnight ― The Journey Back.
Bloopers - A Time for Singing
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
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