"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
I have a strong belief in justice. No matter what, it’s always best to tell the truth and make sure men are punished for their crimes. We should NEVER allow bribes or other things to get in the way of that. My beliefs were tested this time!
While I was working out on the south fork of my ranch one day, I witnessed a murder. A man was riding his horse when he was suddenly shot right off it. But the shot didn’t kill him. He stood holding his shoulder and ran back for his horse. But he was wounded. Suddenly, he started running down a hill. A horse and rider rode up behind him and shot him in the back – in cold blood. He fell to the ground.
The man looked straight at me. He knew I had seen the whole thing. He began shooting at me and I quickly ran for cover behind a big tree. He fired all his shots then rode off.
I wasted no time. I hurried into town with the body. Men ran up to me, wondering who I was bringing in. Micah hurried up to me and looked at the body. I asked him if he knew who he was.
"Name’s Joey Frances, he works for the Hazlitt clan up on Canyon Ridge," said Micah.
"Hazlitt's son Corey just gunned him,” I informed him with a regretful voice.
"Did you see him do it?" Micah asked.
"Well, they rode up to the ridge of my south fork, Corey blasted him out of his saddle then took off for the hills." "Hazlitt's have been trouble ever since they moved into those hills, but nobody's been able to prove anything on 'em," said Micah.
"This can be proven Micah, I saw it!" Micah had Fred take the body down to the funeral parlor. He told me to come with him to his office. He wanted to notify every law officer in the territory.
The next morning, I found Mark sitting out on the porch desperately studying his history dates instead of riding off to school. He looked like he was really into his studying too! “Mark…son?” Mark looked up at me. “You better get going or you’ll be late for school,” I ordered him. I asked me for a moment. “I thought you did all your homework last night.”
“I did,” Mark assured me. “But, we’re having a history test today, and I want to be sure of all my dates!”
“You better be sure to get there in time to take that test!” I reached down and grabbed him by the arm. “On your way!” I stood on the porch and watched Mark leave.
I turned to go back inside when Micah rode up. "Good morning Lucas," My friend greeted me.
"Micah you're up early."
"Corey Hazlitt was picked up last night in Willow Springs. The Sheriffs bringing him in this afternoon. You'll have to make the identification,” he explained.
"Any time you say!"
"The sooner the better, how about this afternoon?"
"Ill be there." I invited Micah to stay for coffee but he had to get back to town. "See you later Lucas Boy." I watched him leave then went back to my work.
That afternoon, I headed straight to Micah’s to make the positive ID. I guess you can say that Corey wasn’t too pleased to see me. "He's a liar! A lousy stinkin' liar," yelled Corey. Boy, but he was mad about being in jail!
"Well Lucas?" Micah asked over his yelling.
"Like I said Micah, he killed Joey Frances."
"Liar!" Corey yelled even louder at my ID.
"Out on my south forty."
"I wasn't even within fifty miles of his place that day." shouted Corey. "Liar!"
We ignored him. "Are you willing to swear to your statement in court?" Micah asked me then.
"I'll swear to it."
"Rotten Liar, Liar! I'll get you McCain!" Corey threatened me. "Either me or my old man! We'll get you, just remember that!" He kept yelling as we walked out of the jail and Micah closed the door. "Remember that McCain!"
"The circuit judge is due in North Fork next Tuesday, that means the trail will be Wednesday morning," said Micah.
"Wednesday morning. Alright Micah, I'll be there." Then I left.
Mark and I met at the restaurant when he got out of school the next day. We had supper there that night in celebration of Mark’s passing his history test. The waitress informed us they had fresh green apple pie for dessert. I ordered two pieces along with a coffee and milk. “Not for me, Pa,” Mark spoke up. The waitress and I looked at each other. We could hardly believe our ears! “I um…I noticed that Miss Milly has a shipment of fresh rock candy in the store.” Suddenly, his reasoning was coming clear to me. “Is it alright if I just swap the…uh…pie for the candy?” Mark gave me his famous cute smile.
I had a surprise for him. “Well Mark, since you did so well on your history exam yesterday, you can have both.”
But Mark had an even better idea! “Oh, well in that case…can I have a double bag of rock candy instead?”
I reckon I was on my own for desert. I changed my order to one pie and one coffee. Then I turned and smiled at my son. “Mark,” I said as I slapped a coin on the table. “Double bag.” Mark thanked me and started to hurry away. But I quickly grabbed him. “Hey, don’t forget the change,” I warned him. He told me he wouldn’t.
While Mark was hurrying out of the restaurant, he crashed into a man. The man walked up to my table and sat down. He wanted to talk to me for a few minutes. He introduced himself as C. Henry Whitmore. "Nice son you have. Fine little gentleman, Mark."
His mentioning my son concerned me. “Like you said, Mr. Whitmore, we’ve never met.” He said this was his first time in North Fork. “Then how is it you know so much about my son?” I asked protectively.
“It’s my business to know a great many things, sir, when I’m on a case so to speak,” he answered. I demanded to know what kind of case he was on. “Well sir, I’ve been summoned from Santa Fe to represent a man to who a great injustice had been done. And it appears, sir, that you are the architect of that injustice.”
I knew exactly who he was working for - he was talking about Corey Hazlitt. “Namely,” he answered. "Let's say you were mistaken when you identified him.”
"Let's not!" I stated firmly.
"Joey Frances was a worthless, despicable bushwhacker that would be missed by no one. That's a fact sir!" Whitmore again tried to convince me to go along with the plan.
"I saw Corey Hazlitt kill him, that's a fact too!" I shot back at him.
He then reached in his pocket and pulled out an envelope. He held the envelope in front of me. “There’s a thousand dollars here, which I’ve been commissioned to hand over to you.”
I took the envelope from him and took the money out. I studied it. "One thousand dollars, sir. It could send that fine, young son of yours to a good eastern college when the time comes," said Whitmore. "Now I ask you, Mr. McCain…Isn’t that logical ? Doesn't it seem…reasonable to you?" I had put the money back in the envelope and allowed him to speak.
"I'll tell you what Mr. Whitmore..."
"Yes," he said hopefully.
I threw the envelope at him. "You tell Frank Hazlitt the answer is no!"
He got up from the table. "I'm taking the stage tomorrow. Meanwhile I'll be at this hotel in case you change your mind and want to get in touch with me," said Whitmore.
"Well, I’ll advise you to take the stage today or I'll have you hauled in for trying to bribe a witness!" I didn’t even look at him – he disgusted me! I picked up my coffee. "Now get while the getting's good!"
He left, but the Hazlitt family was determined to make me change my mind. Their next attack was while Mark and I were gathering wood. Mark was questioning me on what it was like sitting in a witness chair. Mark figured he’d be nervous sitting in my place. “Nothing to be nervous about it you tell the truth,” I assured him.
Then Mark got an idea. “Pa…uh…I’d sure like to go there and see ya.”
Aw, that boy! “It’s a school day, son,” I stated. I didn’t figure I had to say anymore then that since he knew how I felt about school. He started saying something about my telling him he should do everything he can to learn more about the law. I just looked at him! I couldn’t believe this boy! “That’s true. But…uh…the three R’s are important to,” I answered sternly. Mark knew that was the end of the conversation. “Right?”
Suddenly, two riders approached us. "How are you? You McCain ain't cha'?" Asked Corey's older brother.
"That's right!" I said.
"I wanna talk to you."
"What do you want to talk about," I asked. As if I didn’t know!
He wasted no time in telling me. “About my little brother, Corey Hazlitt.”
Before he went any further, I turned to Mark. Picking up the canteen, I said, "Mark, we're out of water son." I motioned for him to leave. I wasn't sure what was gonna happen. I just wanted my son away from here until they left. Mark didn’t want to leave, but he had his orders!
"Now about Corey Hazlitt, you say the wrong thing at his trial, my little brother will hang."
"I'll say the right thing and he'll hang." He laughed. "Wow now that's brave talk! Ain't that brave talk cousin Carl." They were both laughing.
I didn't think I said anything so funny. I walked to the other side of the wagon. "All right, get off my property, you had your say."
"One more word, every man got his price, ain't that right cousin? Yeah, his price. Now sometime it be money and sometime a friend…or maybe even a relative…a very close relative." He glanced over Mark's way.
That made me mad! I didn’t like threats against my child! I went for my rifle. But cousin Carl had his gun drawn before I could get my rifle in hand. "Don't you make trouble for yourself McCain or for that fine lookin' boy of your'in. You know what I mean." After delivering their warnings, they rode off.
As they were leaving, Mark came back with the canteen. I took a drink as Mark asked me what they wanted. “Just to talk, son,” I answered hastily. I wanted to get back to our chore. Mark wondered if there would be any trouble and I quickly assure him there wouldn’t be. But as we went back to our chore, I got to thinking on what had been said.
They had threatened my son! That bothered me more then I wanted to admit. “Mark, I want you to stay close at all times, son,” I suddenly ordered him. “Don’t go anywhere unless I know exactly where you’re going. Is that clear?”
“But I-“ Mark started.
“Is that clear?” I asked more firmly.
Mark stared at me. “What’s the matter, Pa?”
“Nothing’s the matter. I just want you to do as I say. Alright?” Mark nodded and we got back to our task.
The next morning when I got up Mark was gone. “Mark!” I called as I stepped out of the house. I hoped he would answer, but he didn’t. “Mark!” I called again – still no answer. I went out to the barn. He wasn't there and his horse was gone. I was worried. I quickly saddled up my horse and went looking for him.
As I rode over the range, I looked for him, hoping he was okay. Then I saw him. He was working on the fence. I hurried up to him as anger boiled up inside me.. Mark turned and waved at me gaily, then went back to work as if nothing was wrong.
I jumped off my horse and hurried up to him. "What are you doin' here?" I asked angrily. I didn't give him much of a chance to answer me. "I told you to stay home!" I was worried and upset! "Didn't I? Well didn't I?"
"Yeah," Mark answered. He knew he had disobeyed me.
"You were told to stay close! I've been out lookin' for you! I've been lookin' all over! You think I enjoy worryin'? How do you think I felt when I couldn't find you?
“I'm sorry,” Mark apologized.
But I was in no mood to hear his lame excuses. "Never mind being sorry, the damage is done." I walked up to him and got right in his face. "I gave you an order and you did just the opposite! Do you think I gave that order just to hear myself talk? Well, do you?" Boy, I was so angry I couldn’t even control my temper!
No,” Mark answered.
"Well then, why did you deliberately disobey me?"
He apologized. “I didn’t mean it that way, Pa,” he stated without even looking at me. “I guess I was just thinking of the surprise.”
“What surprise?” I still held anger in my tone.
“Well, the fence needed fixin’ for quite some time and…and I wanted to get it done. I thought you’d be pleased.”
Boy, did I suddenly feel like a jerk! Mark saw the look on my face and apologized again. I put a hand on the back of his neck. “It’s alright, son. It’s alright,” I stated. I wanted to get back to the house and pack his things. I was taking him to Glen and Iva Wilson's to stay for a few days. Naturally, he wanted to know why. I simply told him it was better that way. But Mark wasn’t used to me being so secretive.
“It doesn’t matter why, son, it’s just gonna-“ I stopped. I sighed, suddenly realizing what I was doing. "We've always got along fine Mark, because we spoke the truth to each other. No secrets, nothing to be ashamed of, and nothing to hide. Looks like I'm forgetting that. Son, this was my fault, even getting excited the way I did and yelling like that, that was my fault. I just want you to know that it wasn't because I didn't trust you. It was because I was so worried. I guess there's no reason for you not to know what is really wrong.” On the way back to the ranch, I told him everything.
Micah sure wasn’t enjoying keeping Corey locked up. He sure was a mean one! He was always yelling and throwing things. He even told Micah he wasn’t going to eat the “slop” that Micah brought him. Micah told him it was the same food he got – Corey threw the food at him. “Alright, Hazlitt,” Micah nodded. “You won’t have to worry much about the food around here after the trial tomorrow morning.”
Well, tomorrow morning came. I got all dressed up and went to the barn to saddle my horse. That’s when it happened. As I put my rifle down and turned to saddle my horse, Carl jumped me from behind. He grabbed me in a choke hold. Carl, Hazlitt’s Pa, and Hazlitt’s brother were all there to fight me. Pa Hazlitt told me that his boy was on the spot. “I didn’t put him there!” I declared as Carl held me tight against him.
“I didn’t put him there,” I declared.
“Oh, I know,” Hazlitt stated. “But you’re the only one who can…save his life!”
“Well then, killing me’s not gonna do you any good, is it?”
Hazlitt told me he was just trying to talk sense to me. “What makes you so stubborn anyway?” I told him he wouldn’t understand.
Suddenly, Carl threw me to the floor. Hazlitt grabbed him. “Now…who told you to do that? Don’t you touch him until I tell you to, you hear?”
I quickly stood up to defend myself as all three men gathered around me. He apologized for what Carl did. I’m sure he was really sorry! “You know what it means being a father. You got a boy you love.”
It didn’t bother me one bit to answer that question honestly. "I love him enough to bring him up the right way.”
He, of course, didn’t like that answer. "Well now, I ain't asking for no lectures. I'm asking for my boys life. Don’t you understand that?" I told him there was nothing I could do about it. "Well, they ain't gonna hang my Corey…cause your gonna see to it that they don’t," Hazlitt declared softly. "Now, since I…I can't talk no sense into ya'..." Pa Hazlitt suddenly slapped me in the face really hard. Then Carl slapped me and took over from there. He was bigger then me and had no trouble beating me pretty good.
After they left, I used every ounce of strength I had to saddle my horse and ride into town. I must have looked a sight as I traveled down main street with cuts and bruises showing on my face. It was obvious I had been attacked, though nobody really knew what had happened. But I held my head up high – weakly. The anger inside me was boiling up, and it was giving me strength to do what I now had to do.
I weakly got off my horse and walked into the jail. “Lucas, where you been? What happened to you?” Micah asked. But I didn’t even look at him. I had my eye on the back room where Corey was, and I walked back there without saying a word. I opened the door and walked up to the cell. Looking straight at Corey, I said, “Let him out!”
“Ha?” Micah said.
“Let him out,” I repeated calmly.
“Why?” Micah asked. I’m sure he was confused!
I turned to him then. “Let him out Micah!” I ordered in a loud, angry voice. Micah knew he had no choice. Even he knew better then to mess with me when I was this angry! Micah grabbed the keys and unlocked the cell.
Corey was smug! He had a big ol’ grin on his face as he grabbed his hat and started walking out the cell – as if he thought he’d get very far! He actually thought he and his family had won the battle and he was grinning at me.
But when he started out of the cell, I suddenly grabbed him and shoved him up against the cell door. I had a really ugly, mean look on my face, and my voice held threat in it. "Your father didn't wait around to hear my final say, so I'm tellin' it to you. Nothing he can say or do is gonna change my mind. That goes for bribes, threats against my son, and beatin' up on me. Nothin! When I get on that witness stand I'm tellin' the truth, the whole truth so help me God. And I'm tellin' you now, Hazlitt, so you'll know just what to expect. You understand that?" I threw him back in the cell clear across – he landed on his backside hard.
Then I slammed the cell door shut and Micah locked it. We had to get over to the trial. Hazlitt was mad – he knew he was a dead man!
Angie, the waitress, served us coffee after the trial. She complimented me for what I did in the trial. “I bet you’re glad it’s over now,” she stated. I was!
But Micah knew better. “You know it’s not over, Lucas,” he stated as Angie walked away. “Frank Hazlitt has nothing to loose by killing ya now, an that’s just what he and his boys are gonna do just as soon as they can and you know it.”
“I know,” I stated. I already knew what I had to do.
Micah quickly sat his coffee cup down and put his hand on mine. “Now listen, Lucas…” he started.
“I’m going back to my place now. They’ll figure on that.” I smiled at him, determined to take care of things my way.
I started to stand up. “I’m going with ya,” Micah stated.
I looked him straight in the eye. “No, you’re staying here!” I said firmly. This was my fight and I didn’t want my best friend hurt!
Micah stood up with me and put a hand on me to stop me. “Now just a minute! There are times when it pays to be stubborn, but this is not one of the times!” Micah declared. “And uh…besides, I uh…always did enjoy your cooking.” I couldn’t help but grin as my best friend turned from me and grabbed my hat.
“Hm.” I mumbled. He was such a liar!
Hazlitt sure didn’t waste any time coming after me, but I was ready for him! It was dark and he and his boys rode out to my ranch. Everything was very quiet. A shadow stood just inside my door as the boy snuck into the ranch. They saw that shadow. Carl started to shoot, but Pa Hazlitt grabbed his gun. “He’s mine,” Pa Hazlitt declared.
He fired a shot – the shadow didn’t move. He fired another shot. He didn’t know it, but he was shooting at bags of grain that I had propped up in a chair in front of the door to make it look like me sitting in a chair.
When they fired the second shot and the shadow was still standing, they made their way closer to the door to figure out what the problem was. As soon as their backs were to the door, Micah and I made our presence known. “Hold it!” Micah shouted from inside the barn.
“Drop your guns!” I ordered from behind the barn.
They stood frozen, their guns still drawn toward the house. “You heard what he said! Drop your guns or we’ll fire!” Micah warned.
They turned and fired. I easily took out both Carl and Micah killed Hazlitt’s brother. Pa Hazlitt got behind a barrel and fired a couple more shots.
But then he saw the two boys lying dead. His other son was now dead. He didn’t fire anymore shots. Micah and I looked at each other. “How ‘bout it, Hazlitt?” Micah asked.
Hazlitt held up his gun and threw it in the dirt. Then holding his hands in the air, he walked out to where we could see him. “My boys,” he said in a grieved voice. Then he looked up at me. "I sure don't understand you McCain."
"No you don’t, Hazlitt,” I stated in a mean voice. “I don’t think you ever will!"
With most of the Hazlitt’s dead and Pa Hazlitt in jail, it was safe for Mark to come home. And I didn’t waste a single second in going to fetch him either! Mark grabbed his bag and started up the porch steps. He turned and looked out over the land. “I sure am happy to be back home, Pa!” Mark declared.
“Well, I sure am happy to have you son,” I stated sincerely.
“Of course, the thing that I’m happiest about is that you’re…you’re alright,” Mark stated breathlessly as he looked lovingly at me. “You know, I can worry too.”
“Sure, I know you can worry.”
“You went through a lot of trouble, huh?” I told him I had to. “Why?” he asked then.
“Well son, the truth has to be told…no matter how much it-“ I touched my cheek where I still had a welt. “-hurts sometimes.” I smiled at my boy. “You hungry?”
That was a dumb question! When wasn’t my teenage son hungry? Suddenly, he got all excited. “Say, anymore of that rock candy?”
“No there isn’t, son. I…uh…I ate it all!” I teased him as I walked inside.
Yep, I sure was glad that decision was over and I had my boy back to love on!
piddlin' stuff.....Denver Pyle appeared in five episodes ― Bloodlines as Henry Trumble, he was the one that the Malakie clan mistakenly killed, they thought he was Lucas ― The Legacy as Seth Mitchell, he was the Pa of the two young men that was accused of killing Pa Simons ― The Clarence Bibs Story as George Tanner the gunfighter who came to North Fork to find out what happened to his partner Pretty Man Longden ― The Decision as Frank Hazlitt, he was the dude who threaten Lucas because he was going to testify against his son ― The Hangman as Harold Tanner as the hangman and the killer of Eban Muchen.
Hampton Fancher as Corey Hazlitt. He was the son who was in jail.
Kevin Hagen appeared in two episodes ― The Prodigal as Billy St. John/William Havecourt, he was the one who took Lucas and Mark hostage and forced them to pretend he owned the McCain Ranch and that Mark was his son ― The Decision as Harry Devers, he was one of the riders who warned Lucas about testifying against Corey Hazlitt.
Richard Kiel played Cousin Carl Hazlitt, the really big dude who beat on Lucas in the barn.
Henry Norell played C. Henry Whitmore was the attorney who tried to bribe Lucas.
Arlyne Varden (Lampshire) played Angie, the waitress.
Joe E. Benson appeared in The Rifleman many times, probably more times than listed. Sometimes credited & sometimes not.
*Please note: In Dark Day at North Fork he appeared as two different characters - as one of the townsmen & the bartender.
Joe was a good friend & a neighbor of Chuck's. He helped Chuck build a tree house for the boys and also help build the addition onto the house which was later called the den. (One of the several tree house pictures)
Tom Kennedy ― Death Never Rides Alone as one of the townsmen at the saloon - The Assailants as one of the townsmen - Gun Shy as a the townsman/man getting off of the stage - The Decision as one of the townsmen - The Executioner as the man reading the newspaper - Day of Reckoning as a churchgoer - Guilty Conscience as one of the townsmen - Which Way'd They Go? as a barfly - Outlaw's Shoes as one of the townsmen - The Challenge as one of the townsmen - None So Blind as one of the townsmen - A Young Man's Fancy as one of the townsmen - End of the Hunt as one of the townsmen.
You can see Tom in The Rifleman many times, probably more times then listed. He always went unaccredited, but not here at the ranch.
Bill Borzage appeared in three episodes as one of the townsmen ― The Decision ― Outlaw's Shoes ― Honest Abe.
Cap Somers/Frederick "Cap / Fimp" Somers appeared in eight episodes of The Rifleman ― Day of the Hunter as one of the townsmen ― The Deserter as a card player ― The Vision as a cowhand ― Woman from Hog Ridge as a townsmen ― The Martinet as one of the townsmen ― The Decision as one of the townsmen ― Which Way'd They Go as the bartender ― The Anvil Chorus as one of the townsmen.
Jim Stewart as Brett Martin, North Fork's harness maker.
Bloopers - The Decision
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
The Journey Back
around The McCain Ranch