"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
Flowers By the Door
I’ve met some murderous men in my life, but never had I come up against a man so disgusting in all my lives! A man who killed women – a nice looking, young man who would use a boy for his personal pleasure – rape and murder of innocent women.
The man murdered before he got to North Fork. He was a book salesman and had stopped by a house where there was a young, pretty woman. This woman was alone. He gave her a packet of flower seeds and she was happy to get them. Her husband was gone – branding calves for three days. The man began slowly walking across the room. “Oh, it must get lonesome some of the time,” he stated.
She studied the seeds some more. “About the last thing a body’d expect – flower seeds.”
The man was standing right behind her now. “Nothing prettier then flowers at the door I always say. Except maybe the flower that blooms inside.” He put his hands on her shoulders.
She suddenly turned around, frightened. “Don’t!” she begged.
He had her trapped. “Now, if you’re lonesome, ma’am,” he started.
“Now, you stay clear of me!” she cried. Her lips were trembling from fear.
“Now you be honest with me, ma’am. Do you find me entirely unattractive?”
She began screaming for her husband. The man put a hand over her mouth as she screamed at the top of her lungs. Fear was on every inch of her face. She knew this was the end.
I had left Mark at the ranch churning butter. A stranger rode up and commented that he hadn’t seen freshly churned butter in three years. “Well, it’s close to done,” Mark stated kindly. “You’d be welcome, mister.”
“And thankful, my boy,” Jason Gowdy’s stated as he touched the tip of his hat to Mark.
He wanted to know if the master of the house was home. My boy, thinking he was more grown up then was actually the case, stated, “Well now, that depends on which one you want.”
“Which one?” Mr. Gowdy asked.
“Pa and me, we’re kinda partners,” Mark answered.
He asked about his Ma and Mark told him it was only the two of us. “Something we can do for you?”
“No, no…” Mr. Gowdy answered. Then he gave Mark a smile. “But uh…there’s something I can do for you. I can make you rich.”
Mark stopped churning and leaned forward, suddenly excited. “Rich?”
“Richer then your wildest dreams!” He told Mark to keep churning. He walked over to his horse and pulled something from the saddlebag. “Yes, wealth no one can take from ya'. Riches that you’ll never loose. Wealth of the Spirit, my boy.” He pulled out a book. “Riches of the mind.” He opened the book.
But Mark sighed. “Books!” He declared. Mark told him he wasn’t figuring to buy any books.
“Well I wasn’t figuring to sell you any either,” Gowdy stated. “I was just offering you a chance to share in the greatest adventures since the invention of time.” Mark rolled his eyes and started churning again. “To stand on courage and walk on the beauties of the earth,” Gowdy continued. “A great beauty like Helen – Helen of Troy. A face that launched a thousand ships. A beauty that…started a war.”
That did it for Mark. At the word war, he was suddenly interested again. He stopped churning. “War?” he asked excitedly.
“Oh yeah. Keep churning, boy.” He asked Mark if I was coming back soon. Mark told him I had just gone over to Mrs. Sever’s place.
And that’s where I was. I was trying to repair her fence the sow had knocked down. She was low on nails, but I fixed it up well enough to keep the hog in. Her husband had been gone for quite awhile. She said she heard from him yesterday. He told her his mother wouldn’t last another week, then he’d be home as soon as the burying was over. I figured it got lonesome for her. “Well, it wouldn’t be so bad if I had some fresh reading. I’ve read four or five times everything we got.” She suddenly turned to me. "Lucas, what this town needs is a library."
I saw Micah approaching us. "Well, I'll take it up with the marshal, Cora." I told Micah he was a long way from town.
Cora asked if something was wrong. "Not here exactly, up in Ben," Micah explained.
"Willoughby?" Cora asked, confused.
"Now I didn't come out here to upset you Cora. It's just that, well…an ounce of prevention as they say. With Ben being away and all-“
I was curious too. "What about Willoughby Micah?" I asked.
"I got this circular in the mail. Seems like some woman up there last week...chances are it was local, a killing like that," said Micah.
"Like what?" She asked.
"Well somebody must have known her husband was away. When he came home he found her. Her neck was broken."
"They got any notion who did it?" I asked.
"All they got is a packet of seeds. On the floor where she dropped them.”
That was a bit strange to me. “Kinda late to be putting in vegetables,” I commented. Micah said they were flower seeds. I gave him a strange look, suddenly concerned about what was going on.
He turned his attention back to Cora. “You could stay in town.” She didn’t want to go. She wanted to be home when her husband got back. I continued staring at Micah as I thought on what he had just told me. “Well, I see no reason to scare. Just stay close to the house as much as you can. Keep the door bolted.”
The hog sow was acting up. I commented to Micah that I could have used his help setting up the fence. “Next time get here a little sooner.”
“Next time bring Mark,” Micah shot back at me. I told him he was busy working – at least I hoped he was!
Cora offered us a cold drink but Micah had to get back to town. I watched him ride away then went in to have my cold drink.
Meanwhile, my boy was hanging on Gowdy’s every word! He was telling Mark a story of the Trojan war while they sat together on the porch eating bread and butter. Mark sure was taken in by the wonderful story he told! Gowdy picked up the book and told Mark there were 14 volumes in all. He began his sales pitch. He looked at Mark to see what he would say. Mark sighed. “I guess you’d have to ask Pa,” Mark stated with a shake of his head.
"Now wait a minute.” Gowdy pulled his hat way back on his head as he looked at Mark. “Aren't you a full partner?"
"Well, I'm more or less the working partner. Pa's the spending partner, you might say. I figured he be back from the Severs place by now.”.
Gowdy wondered how far it was. Mark told him how to get there, surprised he hadn’t stopped by her house on the way out to the ranch. “Think they’d like a set of books?” he asked.
"Sure," said Mark. "Pa says Miss Cora's a real smart woman. He says she's got a feelin' for books too.” But then Mark got to thinking. “Except her spending partner is gone."
That got Gowdy’s attention really fast! “Her husband?” That’s when Mark told him everything he wanted to know. He told Gowdy that he had gone to Santa Fe to visit his ailing mother. Gowdy wanted information, so he tricked Mark into giving it to him. “Well, it’s very nice of your Pa, taking care of an old woman like that!” He moved his eyes toward Mark to see how he would react.
But he didn’t have to worry. Mark told him everything he wanted to hear. “Ohhhh, she’s not old! She’s young!” Mark smiled. “And pretty too – everybody says she’s pretty!”
He was suddenly very interested in leaving. Mark was disappointed. He was hoping I would give my consent for him to get the books. Gowdy pulled a pouch out of his pocket and told Mark to pick a packet. “What are they?” Mark asked as he shook the packet.
“Seeds,” Gowdy answered.
“Seeds?” Mark was all excited again.
“Flower seeds!” Mark poured some in his hand and smiled again. "Now you plant those boy. There's nothing as pretty as flowers by the door.”
Sound familiar? He’s the woman killer – and he was heading to his next killing!
I was on my way back when I met him. We stopped to introduce ourselves. “Oh, the spending partner,” he stated when I introduced myself.
“The what?” I was confused!
“Oh, I just had a long talk with your boy who refers to himself as your…uh…working parner.”
That’s my boy! I’m such a slave driver, you know. Gowdy told me he was a fine boy, a boy who had taken quite an interest in a book – a set of books. I suddenly realized that this man was a book salesman. He didn’t need to say anymore. This was easy to turn down. “He’d never read ‘em, Mr. Gowdy.”
“You sure, Mr. McCain? When I told him one of the stories from this book, he was so absorbed, I couldn’t believe it!”
But I knew my son! “Listening’s one thing,” I stated. “Reading’s another. No, we have ten other places we can put that money now. Maybe next year.”
We said goodbye and I headed for the ranch. I called several times for Mark before he appeared. I put my hand on his shoulder. “Well, I figured you’d be watching for your spending partner.” Mark sure was disappointed when I told him he couldn’t have the books. “Right now the spending partner’s not spending.” Then I folded my arms and gave him a stern look. “And it looks to me like the uh working partner isn’t working.”
He was quick to inform me, though, that he had gotten the butter made and had been in the process of putting the churn away. Then I walked to his saddle, asking him if he’d fixed the cinch on it yet. “I’m going to.” Gee, seems like kids say that a lot!
I examined the cinch and warned him. "You better get to it, Mark. Someday your gonna find yourself flying." He told me he would fix it as soon as he planted some seeds he had in his pocket. "Did you say seeds?" I hurried over and took them from his hand.
“Mr. Gowdy gave them to me. Said they’d look nice by the door.” I asked him if he knew where he was headed from here. “No, except to Miss Cora’s. I suddenly grew very concerned and asked him why. “Well, to sell her some books, I guess. You know how she’s always talking about books! Of course I told him it wouldn’t be much use. I told him been Sever was-“
That was enough! I was suddenly very concerned and interrupted him. “You told him-“ I started. I had to get over there right away. Her life was in mortal danger because of my son’s knack of talking too much! I put my hand on his shoulder and looked straight into his eyes. Then I spoke in a calm but firm voice. I even pointed my finger straight at him so he’d no I meant business. "Mark, now you listen to me, it's important. You ride into town and give this to Micah. You tell him what you just told me and say I'll meet him at the Sever’s place. You got that?” I told him to hurry.
But like always, he wanted to ask questions. I didn’t have time for questions and pointed my finger at him again. “I’m not sure. You hurry!”
Gowdy had indeed mad his way to the Sever’s place, and Cora wasn’t taking any chances! As she stood in the doorway, she held a shotgun on him. He lied to her, telling her that Mark and I sent him over there because we had a great respect for her love of learning. This man was a clever one! He even told her she could look at the book from inside, he’d wait outside.
His ploy worked. She sat down the shotgun. “Well, if Lucas sent you over…” She opened the door and took the book from him. “You better put your horse out of the sun, mister.” He touched his hat and went to do just that.
She loved books and was enjoying leafing through the book in her hand. “Maybe you’d like to talk it over with your husband,” Gowdy suggested, trying to confirm that they would remain uninterrupted.
She wasted no time. “Oh, he isn’t here.” She didn’t even look up from the book. Then he mentioned that we had told him her husband was in Santa Fe. He slowly walked up to stand right behind her. “Well, it must get lonesome here all by yourself. Of course, not too lonesome with a neighbor like…Mr. McCain.”
He seductively put a hand on her shoulder. His intention was obvious.
She suddenly turned around. "Get out of here!"
She started backing up as he walked closer to her. "No offense meant ma'am. All I was trying to tell you was how beautiful I think you are." She continued backing up and he continued coming towards her. "Now, don't you think that one flattery deserves another?" She started for the door, but Gowdy grabbed her.
Whatever he was about to do to her was interrupted by my riding up. When they saw me out the window, Gowdy put a hand over her mouth to keep her from crying out.
"Cora! Cora, it's Lucas McCain!" I yelled from outside.
"You just tell him to come in," Gowdy warned. He led her to the front door. He stood in front of the door. When she remained silent, he pulled his gun on her. “Tell him,” he ordered.
She had no choice. "Come in, Lucas!" I opened the door and walked in. But I fell to the ground when he hit me over the head with his gun.
Oh, and remember how I said that Mark needed to fix his cinch or he’d find himself flying? Well, he didn’t…and he did!
Cora helped me to a chair and applied cool compresses to my head. I sure did have a headache! She finished telling me about Gowdy. “Then he just grabbed he book and ran, the devil was at his heals.”
“Well, he might be,” I said.
"Is there something you know about this book fellow Lucas?"
I looked up at her, trying to assure her she was safe. "Just that he lied his way in and tried to man handle you Cora."
She started for the kitchen with her pan of water, but suddenly stopped. "Lucas, what made you come back here?"
"I got worried about the sow," I lied. But the truth would only upset her. As she walked to the sink, she saw something lying on the floor. I watched her pick it up. “What’s that?” I asked curiously. She said the fellow must have dropped it. I watched her take a packet of seeds out of the pouch. “Lucas!” She said several times as the realization hit her. I knew I could no longer hide the truth from her. “Why, you knew about this all the time!”
I grabbed her by the arm to calm her down. “I didn’t see any use to scare you, Cora.
She suddenly walked away, still panicked over the fact that he could have killed her. I grabbed her by the arm and turned her towards me. “There’ll be no more killing. When Micah gets here we’ll run him down.” I told her Mark went in to get him.
She was still very upset, so I asked her to get us some coffee. I had to ask her twice before it finally sunk in. I was frustrated too – that she had to have this worry. I hated the fear this was causing her.
Mark had been knocked out after falling off his horse. Mr. Gowdy found him. "You take a fall boy?"
"Didn't have time to fix the cinch. Pa said that-" He suddenly stopped talking as he realized Gowdy was standing over him.
"Pa said what?" Gowdy lowered himself to the ground. “What’d he say, boy? Or is this just between partners?” Mark just stared at him, too afraid to talk. “You can tell me, boy. Where you going?” Mark still didn’t answer. Mr. Gowdy smiled at him. “Now Mark, I asked you a question. Where are you going?”
He knew he had to answer. “Into town.” Gowdy continued smiling at him and asked him why. "No reason, I'm just going to town, that’s all."
“Well, it’s awful late and there’s an awful lot of chores to do around the farm. You said you didn’t even have time to fix that saddle. Now Mark, I want you to tell me the truth. Why are you going into town? Because your father asked you to? Because he went somewhere else?” Mark knew this man was evil and he was suddenly frightened. "Mark, why did your Pa ride back to the Sever Ranch?" A deeper fear entered Mark’s eyes. “You must have some idea.
“No!” Mark suddenly cried out. Then without thinking, he drew his hand to his jacket pocket. He stopped, realizing what he had done.
Gowdy pulled the see packet out of Mark’s jacket, realizing I was onto him. He said it would still be Mark’s word against his. “You’d have to prove I gave you this. But if they couldn’t find it – I mean, if it was gone, the whole pouch-“ he reached into his pocket to take out the pouch, but suddenly realized he had left it at the Sever’s place.
Mark took that distraction to try to escape, but Gowdy was faster then him and grabbed him by his leg. Mark suddenly yelled out. "It won't do any good to hold me back Mr. Gowdy. Pa can track an ant through a cornfield. He'll come looking Mr. Gowdy!"
But Mark’s threats gave him a good idea. He smiled, pretty proud that he had come up with such a great idea. “I imagine he will.” Then he grabbed Mark by the arm and stood him up. He stopped to pick up Mark’s saddle. He didn’t want to leave any evidence behind – but he was. He forgot Mark’s hat.
The sow started making a lot of noise. I grabbed my rifle and hurried outside. I wanted to feed the sow to calm her down, but Cora wanted to wait until night time so she could sleep. She was worried that Micah wasn’t here yet. So was I, but I couldn’t leave Cora alone and unprotected. But she spoke what I was thinking. “Lucas, maybe something’s happened to the boy.”
The fact that she was thinking it too frustrated me. “Nothing’s happened to the boy!” I declared as I brushed past her and walked back inside.
Gowdy tied Mark’s hands to his saddle. He assured Mark he wouldn’t be harmed if he did what he told him. “I know you’re disappointed in me, boy, but life’s full of disappointments. You…uh…think you can manage up there with your hands tied?”
“I can manage,” Mark answered. He kicked the horse’s sides and tried to take off, but Mr. Gowdy had a hold on the reins. He warned Mark not to try that again.
He took Mark up on a hill above the Sever’s house. He could watch the activity from there and was waiting for me to leave. He knew that eventually I’d go looking for Mark. Then he’d be free to take his revenge out on Cora.
It was dark now and there was still no sign of Micah or Mark. I walked out onto the porch again to see if anyone was coming, but all was quiet. I was getting very worried about my boy. I paced the floor. Cora could tell I was worried sick. “Lucas, you gotta go. You got no choice,” she insisted. She assured me she would be alright.
I tried to explain to her that I had to protect her – it bothered me to leave her alone. She gave me my rifle and hurried me out the door. I begged her to ride with me. At least I’d be able to keep an eye on her, but she practically pushed me out the door telling me she’d only slow me down. I left because I knew I had no choice. That was my son out there after all. I turned on the porch and gave her one final order. “Don’t you open that door – for anybody.”
She watched me ride away as she stood in the doorway. But when she was finally alone, she got an eerie feeling and quickly closed and locked the door.
I rode the path Mark should have taken into town, looking for clue along the way. I did find a clue – a big, bad clue. I found Mark’s hat laying in the middle of the road. That’s when I knew that something was very, very wrong!
As Cora began washing dishes in her house, she heard a noise. She was spooked and slowly made her way through the house, humming to herself. She saw the open window and decided it was her imagination. But then she heard another noise and went into the bedroom. She looked around but saw nothing. Again, she shook her head, deciding she was simply spooked from earlier.
But as she walked out of her bedroom, a hand went around her throat and Gowdy was there with an evil look in his eyes. He pinned her up against the door, putting a hand on each side to block her.
His face was only inches from her as he spoke in a firm, quiet voice. "Now, I don't want anything from you Cora. I just want that leather pouch. Now, is it in the house or did McCain take it with him?"
While Cora was being attacked by that madman, I was out desperately looking for my son. I was following some tracks, hoping it would lead me to my boy. I heard mumbling and looked up. Mark was right there, tied to a tree. He tried to talk as I removed the gag from his mouth. As I untied his hands, he told me. “He’s down at the cabin, Pa!” he gasped desperately. I told him to get himself loose and wait for me right there.
He told her that she shouldn't be frightened of him. "Why should any woman fear a man? It's so ridiculously easy to make him a slave. A lovely girl like you." He started kissing her neck. She let out a piercing scream.
I was in the yard when I heard her scream and slammed into her house. I fell to the floor and shot Gowdy as soon as I saw him. He fell to the ground dead. Cora hurried to me, frightened and relieved. She clung to me and cried tears of relief that it was finally over.
The next day, I came out onto the porch to check on Mark. "What are you doing son?"
"I'm planting these flower seeds,"
“Oh.” I sat down on the step next to him. "Are they the ones that Mr. Gowdy gave you?" I asked.
"Yeah, I won't plant them if you don't want me to.”
"No Mark, you go ahead and plant them. If I was to tell you no, it would be like blaming the seeds for what Mr. Gowdy did. As long as their taken care of they'll grow tall and beautiful, just like they were intended."
Mark smiled at me. “Yes Pa.”
I just looked at my boy for a minute, then I closed my eyes in content, happy everything had turned out okay and things were back to normal…until the next dilemma!
piddlin' stuff.....Richard Anderson appeared in six episodes ― One Went to Denver as Tom Birch an old friend of Lucas' ― Lariat as Lariat Jones, an old friend of Lucas', he too was in love with Margaret ― Miss Bertie as Duke Jennings, the cowboy that Miss Bertie had a wanted poster on ― Flowers by the Door as Jason Gowdy, the lady killer ― Millie's Brother as Harry Chase, the man who claimed he was with Millie's Brother when he died ― The Bullet as Griff, the owner of The Lucky Chance Casino in Los Cruces.
*Did you see how eerie Richard Anderson is in this episode. Watch his eyes.
Patricia Breslin played Cora Severs, the second lady attached by Gowdy.
Jean Allison played the lady killed in the opening scene by Jason Gowdy.
Bloopers - Flowers by the Door
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
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Bloopers for this episode & other episodes
The Long Trek
Six Years and a Day
around The McCain Ranch