"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
Eight Hours to Die
Well, here we go again. It seems like my boy is always growing out of
something. So, it was off to the store for more supplies, including a pair
of boots for Mark. Well, I don’t think Mark was too happy with them because
he asked to take them off after walking in
them. I laughed at him and went to pay for the supplies. I asked Hattie to
add a bag of flour and a bag of beans to the order. That’s when she started
her motherly lecturing I’ve grown to love so much!
“Beans and flour…meat and potatoes…Is that all you and that boy of yours is
gonna eat?” She asked as she started putting my supplies in the sack.
I couldn’t help but grin. “It’s good solid food,” I argued.
“Where’s the greens?” Hattie asked me then.
“Greens?” Now, this didn’t sound like a fun conversation!
“String beans, collards, turnip and beet greens. Now don’t you be telling me
that your ma didn’t feed them to ya' when you was a sprout.”
I rolled my eyes. “She sure did!” It made me sick just thinking about it.
“And I sure hated them!” I declared.
“Of course you hated them! But you ate them. Else you wouldn’t have grown up
the big lump that you are!”
I couldn’t argue with here there! She did have a point, after all. I needed
to get going, so I gave in to her. “Put them in the sack, Hattie. I’ll take
add up what I owe ya'.”
Willard Denton (or whatever his name was) told me there was a letter for me.
Well, Mark rushed right over to get it. It’s not often that we got a letter.
Mark admired the letter and asked me if he could open it. I said yes, and he
wasted no time! When he opened it, Mark realized that it wasn’t a letter. It
was a newspaper article about a hangman being shot. Mark read the saying
that was included with the article. “Judgment is mine. For I am the true
judge of all things.” As soon as I heard those words, cold chills ran
through my body. I had an idea what is was about. Taking the letter from
him, I told Mark to go wait in the wagon. My boy didn’t understand just how
much of an impact that letter had on me.
I wanted to get out of there. I needed to think about this. Willard asked me
about it, and I told him it was a private matter. I’m sorry I said it, but I
couldn’t hardly think straight at this point.
The next day, I was at home unloading the wagon when I saw a rider
approaching the ranch. The letter had me really
nervous and I was expecting trouble, so I kept my rifle handy, just in case.
When I saw the rider approaching, I grabbed my rifle and hid myself out of
view. I was relieved to see that Micah was the rider, but a bit irritated
that his approaching scared me so much. "Expecting friendly company,
Lucasboy?" He asked.
“What are you doing out this way, Micah?” I asked as I uncocked my rifle. He
came to ask me a few questions. First he gave me a letter about a judge
being shot. "Is that the story on the murder of Judge Martin Harlow?" He
asked. He told me that the Judge was killed by an unknown rider. "Nobody's
been prying Lucasboy." Micah told me he had received a notice from the
sheriff at Claypool, just in case the unknown rider was coming this way. I
asked him if he knew what he looked like. Micah didn't know, he thought I
could tell him. He said that Henry Denton had told him that I had gotten the
same kind of letter before.
"Just like this," I said. "First the man who hung Ephraim Burton, then the
man who sentenced Ephraim Burton…Now the man who caught Ephraim Burton" I
was the man who caught his son. I showed the letter to Micah. It read -
"The day of Judgment approaches and I am the judge"
"He is. Judge Zephaniah Burton, Ephraim's father. Ephraim was his
son and was hanging around Claypool while Mark and I were living there.
Wild, loud mouth kid, about twenty or so. Nobody paid much attention to him
except when he was drunk. Then he was wild and excitable. Like the day he
exploded ― it's been over a year ago, but I can see it like it was
yesterday. Sunday morning when Mark and I were leaving church, Ephraim
exploded, drunk, as an ole' hoot owl, leading his horse and cussin' like all
get out. The preacher and one of the deacons went over to shut him up. Next
thing we knew, there was a gun
in Ephraim’s hand and he started shooting. When he stopped, the deacon was
dead and two little girls were wounded. Ephraim got on his horse and rode
out of town. I was on the posse that went after him. It wasn’t hard to trail
a half local drunk kid. We caught him on a ledge in a box canyon. The only
way to get at him without someone getting killed was with this.” I lifted my
“The sheriff said I wasn’t to kill him – just wound him. I did. Shattered
his leg. We brought him back to be tried, convicted and hung.” Micah
reminded me that it was done legally that way.
“That’s how the folks wanted it. Only, the hanging had to wait until he was
all healed. Mark and I left before that. We came here and settled. After it
was all over Judge Harlow and I had both gotten letters about the same, in
that hand writing, signed by Judge Zephaniah Burton. He said how no boy of
his could do no wrong and he would sit in judgment of the men who judged his
son. He would be judge and executioner.
“We tried to check up. The letters came from Kentucky. We found out there
was a circuit judge name Zephaniah Burton, a harsh unyielding man. A regular
hanging judge who just lost an election there. Nobody knew where he had
gone. We questioned Ephraim, but he claimed he had no father, said he never
knew who he was. I guess he was denying the man."
Micah asked if I remembered where in Kentucky the letters came from. I told
him Freemansboro. Micah and I both wanted to get a look at this man.
Especially me. I didn't want to have to pick this rifle up every time a
stranger rode by. "Yes Micah, it would be a real welcome to know what the
man looks like who wants to kill me."
One morning, I was outside heating up the forge. I was trying to get Mark
off to school "If you haven't got those coals hot enough by the time I get
back from school Pa, I'll show you how to do it," said Mark. Mark was
getting too big for his britches. I gave him a dirty look.
“Well, you just show yourself the multiplication tables, huh?” I answered
him with a bit of annoyance in my voice, giving him a hint to ride on to
He wasn’t quite done yet though. He turned to his horse, then decided to go
ahead and speak his mind. "But if you wouldn't pack the coals so tight you'd
get a better draft.”
I gave him another dirty look, “You just better get yourself to school boy!”
I snapped at him. I was already irritated
the letters. His comments just added to that irritation.
Mark knew better than to try anything else. I think my look did it’s trick
because he jumped on his horse and left without another word. I watched him
leave; then I went into the house and got my rifle so I could keep it near
me. I didn’t want Mark to know how worried I was.
As I sat my rifle down by the forge, a heard a calf crying. So, I went into
the fence to help her. As I was walking back, a gun went to my head. Oh no!
The moment I dreaded was here. I knew that these were my last moments on
this earth and I was scared. He told me he was there to repay me for the
hangman’s rope that killed his son. I asked him if I could put the calf I
was carrying down, and he told me to do it gently. “For I’m not here to pass
judgment on a calf, nor on a man. Since it has been revealed to me that you
too have a son.”
This shocked me so much that I turned to stare at him.
“That is right. For I am the judge and this is my judgment. An eye for an
eye, a tooth for a tooth, a son for a son. It is simple, poetic justice.”
I repeated his last words as I tried to come to terms with this
new information. I had another problem all together if he was planning on
killing my son. I looked over to the forge where my rifle sat. I knew I had
to get over to it somehow. I had to save my son. We started walking over
towards the forge. He kept talking.
“My son could have been guilty of no evil. All my life, I’ve been a judge of
evil. I raised him in a stern and righteous mold, punishing him harshly. But
he strayed from the path of righteousness. My son did no evil, those who
have persecuted him did. So you must suffer as I have suffered. Waiting
endless hour upon hour for my son to hang. For this is the judgment I
pronounce upon you. You shall wait for the death of your son. You shall
count the minutes and hours as the sun passes across the heavens knowing the
moment approaches when I the judge – I the jury will act as executioner as
hangman for your son."
I reached for my rifle. Everything went dark.
When I came to I was tied to a wagon wheel. I saw him tying a noose to the
barn door. “Soon the scales of justice will be balanced.” He stated.
I couldn’t believe this was happening! I was helpless. “Why not now? You’ve
got me,” I begged.
“This is not for you. There was no hangman’s noose for me, but for my son.”
It was then that I realized that he was planning on hanging my boy while I
laid there, forced to watch. I couldn’t allow this to happen. “Listen, it’s
me. I’m the one who caught your boy! I’m the one you have to judge and
punish!” My voice was desperate, pleading. All I could do was speak! “If you
touch him…if you harm him, I’ll kill you. You hear me? So help me, I’ll kill
you even if I have to crawl back from my grave to do it!” I promised
desperately. “Judge Burton, you believe in the law! That’s all I did, upheld
the law!” Suddenly, he gagged me, taking away the only tool I had.
Desperately, I continued to loosen the binds. I worked on it all day as I
thought about my little boy approaching the ranch, not knowing that danger
was lurking for him. My eyes grew sadder and full of fear as I continued to
work. The judge sat on the chopping block, reading from his Bible. He was
calm, cool, and patient.
Suddenly, I heard hoof beats. It was time for Mark to come home from school.
Fear filled my eyes as I sat there, helpless. The voice I heard was like a
sweet song though. “Mr. McCain around?” It was the voice of my son’s
“Ain’t you his son?” the judge asked. I heard confusion in his voice.
“Heck no,” his friend stated. “And I’m sure glad I ain’t Mark! He won’t be
home till way past dark.” Hope filled my eyes. I was so relieved that my boy
was still at the school, safe.
“Way past dark?” the judge asked. I could hear the impatience in his voice.
“That’s what he told me to tell his pa. Teacher caught him pitching
spitballs, so he’s gotta cut a whole cord of kindling. That’s a big heap of
wood.” The boy started to leave. “You’ll tell Mr. McCain?” The boy rode off.
Relief flooded my face. Joy flooded my heart. My boy was safe! He was safe!
For the first time, I was happy he was a mischievous boy. I was happy he had
gotten himself in trouble. But the judge came over to me.
"Joy on your face? Well judgmental will soon be mine," he said. He told me
he was going after my boy and bringing him back to the ranch. Then he left.
I had to save my boy! I was the only one who could help him. I HAD to get
free. I looked around, desperately trying to find a way. That’s when I
remembered the hot coals from earlier. I worked hard trying to knock over
the forge. I used my foot. I could barely reach it, so it was hard. But I
wouldn’t give up – never! I had to save my boy. I was finally successful,
knocking it over. I worked at pulling the wagon toward the hot coals. Pain
shot through my arms, and I cried in pain. Slowly, the wheels turned and I
pulled the wagon toward the hot coals.
I felt the heat from the coals as they burned my wrists, but they were
burning the ropes too. In fact, it burned right through. I was able to untie
the ropes. I jumped up and ran to my horse. I had to get to Mark before that
evil man killed him!
In the meantime Judge Zephaniah Burton went to Mark's school and told him
that I had been hurt, serious, but not fatal. I had a badly broken ankle. He
told Mark and his teacher that he found me on the road, my wagon had hit a
rut and turned over. He told them that I
tried to jump free but my foot got caught. My sweet boy was worried about
me, but thankful it wasn’t any worse, so he stopped long enough to send up a
prayer of thanks. This surprised the judge a bit, and he asked my boy if he
My son simply answered, “Course, sir.” Then they left. Mark had no idea that
he was riding into danger. He thought they were on their way to save me.
They were racing back. Suddenly, the judge’s horse stumbled over a fallen
branch or something. Both the horse and the judge fell. My boy is such a
caring boy! He ran back to help this evil man that wanted to kill him.
Because he had hit his head, he thought Mark was his son. Mark said he’d
go for help, but the judge stopped him. “Don’t deny your pa!” he insisted.
My son was confused. “Pa?”
“I raised you right, boy. In the powers of righteousness! If I was strict
and hard, it was for your own good, Ephraim!” The judge had his hands on
Mark’s shoulders. Mark could do nothing but listen to him. “You understand
that, boy, don’t you? You understand that?” Mark was confused, so he simply
agreed. “I knew you would boy. They were lying when they said you did evil
to deny me!”
Mark knew he was confused and begged him to stop talking. He was worried for
this old man that wanted to kill him! “Pa,” the judge whispered. “Say it
Ephraim! Call me pa. I want them to hear it – that you never denied me. Say
it, boy. Pa,” the judge practically begged.
Mark did. “Pa,” he said with a question in his voice.
As another pain came over the judge, he passed out. My little boy dragged
him under the tree to get him out of the hot sun. He went to the water by
the rock wall and wet his handkerchief to place on Zephaniah's head. The
judge awoke, and Mark asked him how he was. Mark told him he had been out of
his head for awhile, begging him to call him pa. The judge was happy that
Mark had done what he asked. I think he realized in that instance that this
was an innocent boy, undeserving of punishment.
I was desperately riding my horse, trying to get to my boy. As I rode, I saw
Mark and the judge in the distance. The judge had asked for a drink of
water, and Mark had obeyed. As I stopped to take in the situation, I watched
in horror as the judge pointed his gun at my little boy and shot. I saw Mark
Overwhelming anger and loss overcame me. I raced my horse up to the judge,
jumped off, and threw my hands around his throat, squeezing. I screamed,"
You stinkin' bad devil, I'll kill you with my bare hands! I'll see you in
fire and brimstone for the evil scum you are!" I knew in that moment I would
About that time I heard Mark yell "Pa." A sudden joy replaced my anger. I
turned to see Mark standing there.
“Mark! Oh Mark!” I cried as I ran over and picked him up, hugging him as
hard as I could. He held up a rattler that the judge had killed. Mark was
confused. "He said your ankle was broke. You said my Pa's ankle was broke,"
said Mark. My son searched my face for answers, but that would have to come
later. I too needed answers.
"I don't know if I should kill you or thank you?” I said with thankfulness
in my voice. “Why did you save him?" I really felt like I had to know.
"I saved him for the merciful Lord God Jehovah, who has permitted me some
atonement for the evil I have wronged. For He is the true judge of all
things and I am but His....." He then took a deep breath and fell to the
He was dead. I closed his eyes and looked at my son, knowing there was a lot
to talk about.
piddlin' stuff.....In this episode Mark was saved
by Judge Zephaniah Burton from getting bit by a rattler. In The Hawk
he was again saved from being bitten by a rattler by Walt Hake.
appeared in two episode ―
Hours to Die as Judge Zephaniah Burton who was out for
revenge ― Lariat as Colonel Craig who was the owner of the crooked gambling
Bobby Crawford Jr.
appeared in three episodes ―
Eight Hours To Die
as the boy who stopped by the McCain ranch to tell Lucas Mark was
being kept after school — The Gaucho as Freddy Toomey, one of Mark's friend who made fun of the Gaucho ―
The Second Witness as the boy that told Mark his Pa
wouldn't make it to testify against Slade Burrows.
played Charlie Willard the father of Dan Willard in The Apprentice
Sheriff. Russell Collins also appeared in Eight Hours to Die
as ?? He is referred as Willard/Henry Denton/Mr. Denton. While in the
General Store, Lucas called him Willard. When Micah goes out to the McCain
Ranch to give Lucas his mail - he said that Henry Denton from the post
office gave him the letter for Lucas. But yet, the credits at the end of the
episode say Mr. Denton?
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.
appeared as Judge Harlow in this episode.
appeared in two episodes
— Eight Hours to Die
as the hangman in Taos — The Shattered Idol as
Mr. Loomis, the stagecoach driver.
as Miss Adams, the school teacher. She was married to actor
Jack N. Young — Jack did several stunts in
The Rifleman. He was in
Eight Hours to Die
Jack was hired as a Utility Stuntman and he also doubled for
Chuck Connors in some of his long distance riding,
etc. When you see Lucas
being dragged in the filed, that is Jack and when you see Lucas get a hit to
the tummy, that also was Jack. In Eight Hours to Die Jack was again
hired as a Utility Stuntman and he also doubled for Chuck Connors in some of
his long distance riding, etc. Jack was the man who was hung. That would
make him Ephraim, the son of Judge Zephaniah Burton. He also is riding for
the Judge when he stumbles. Both the horse and the judge fell.
Jack has done many a stunts in his day. He worked with some of the best!
Sadly Jack went unaccredited in most of his movies/shows. His list of
credits is way to far to list. Although Jack is known for his stunts, Jack
did a lot of different thing such as Miscellaneous Crew - Casting Department
- Production Manager - Actor -Second Unit Director or Assistant Director -
Bobby Somers —
has done many of stunts in his day. He worked with some of the best! Sadly
Bobby went unaccredited in most of his movies/shows. His list of credits is
way to far to list. Please checkout
for a list of his credits.
Although Bobby is known for his stunts, Bobby did a lot of different thing
such as Miscellaneous Crew and Acting.
Fred Aldrich appeared in four episodes
Eight Hours to Die as a spectator at
the hanging ― A Matter of Faith as a cowboy in the crowd —
Challenge as a Barfly
The Wrong Man as one of the townsmen
at the carnival.
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.
Marshal Micah Torrance was in this episode, no credit given!
*North Fork had three different school
teachers.....Marilee Phelps - played the school teacher, in Eight Hours
to Die (1958). Depending on where you check this info you will find her
credited as Miss Adams or teacher.
Later Patricia Barry played Adele Adams, the towns school teacher in
Three Legged Terror and The Woman (1959).
The Schoolmaster Arnold Moss played Stephen Griswald, the new
school teacher in town (1960).
Although we never saw Miss Pritchard, she is mentioned in
So I guess you could say 4 different teachers, but we only met 3
There are a lot of questions left unanswered at the end of this episode.
8 Hours to
Die (an alternate ending) by Michelle Palmer
Eight Hours to Die
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
Character Actors Index
Have you ever been watching TV or a movie and wondered who is
Bloopers for this episode & other episodes
Duel of Honor