"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
Well now, this day started off just fine! Mark and I had gone over to Gabe Fenway’s place to time him riding his horse. Mark was amazed at how fast his horse ran. “Twenty-three seconds!” he exclaimed.
Gabe asked me what I thought. “Well, I’d say that if I was a betting man, I’d put all my money on you in that Charity Day race Saturday!” Then Mark and I left. We had a lot of work to do.
As we were leaving, Jake Preston rode into Gabe’s yard. The first thing he said to Gabe was that he had told him to get rid of all those horses. “Mr. Preston, it’s just my brood mare, my stallion and this colt here,” he answered him.
“You’re a sharecropper! I fed you and your wife and your three kids for almost a year now. I didn’t bargain on you wasting all your time training those horses!” Mr. Preston complained. Gabe told him to stop pushing. Mr. Preston had given him an option to buy that land and he was indeed going to buy it! But Mr. Preston warned him. “You better get rid of those horses. Because if you don’t, I’m gonna shoot ‘em and use them for wolf bait!” With that, he left.
Gabe started hollering for his wife as he came inside. “And where would I be, Gabe Fenway except right here getting your dinner like I’ve been doing for the past fifteen years.” They greeted each other with an affectionate hug and kiss.
He was so excited as he told her about Sapphire running 23 seconds. He knew that if he won that race, he’d be able to sell the colt and make Jake Preston eat crow. She had seen Preston talking to him and wondered what he wanted. “Just complaining about me keeping the horses on the place. Says I’m wasting time on ‘em.”
“Why can’t he leave us alone?” she asked suddenly.
“Because it ain’t his way,” he answered.
“But you’ve held up your end of the bargain,” Molly declared. He told her that was just it – Preston had never figured he’d be able to hold up his end of the bargain. She was concerned that she was complaining too much. She promised that she wouldn’t complain if he wanted to move on, but Gabe wanted to stay there. He was determined to make it work!
Later that day, Mark and I were at home working on the corral fence to the barn. Actually, I should say I was working on the fence – Mark was daydreaming as usual. "What are you daydreamin' about Mark?" I asked.
"Twenty-three seconds…that’s pretty fast, isn't it?" Mark answered.
"Oh you mean Gabe's Sapphire colt, huh? Well it's no world’s record for a quarter horse, but I figure it's fast enough to beat any horse that will be in that race." As I spoke, I hung my hammer on the fence and walked up to stand behind my boy.
"How fast do you think Blueboy could run?" I could tell the wheels in his head were turning!
“Blueboy? Hard to say,” I answered. Mark wanted to time him sometime. I smiled. “I thought you wanted to make a cutting horse out of him,” I gently reminded him. Mark shifted gears, stating that Mr. Fenway was going to sell Sapphire. I explained to him that there were a lot of horse buyers watching these quarter horse races, and the winning horse could usually bring a good price.
“I wouldn’t sell Blue Boy, even if he won!” Mark declared.
I smiled. “Well, you aren’t Mr. Fenway trying to make a home for a wife and three children.”
Suddenly, Mark got all excited. He turned around and had excitement in is eyes. “Say Pa, just for fun – just so I’d know – could we time Blue Boy?” I told him we could measure out a quarter of a mile sometime. He was a step ahead of me though. He already had it measured out.
I gave him a mock stern look. “You been running that horse?”
“But Pa, Blue Boy loves to run more then anything!” He explained. I smiled, telling him he wouldn’t be much of a horse if he didn’t like to run. I gave in to him. I couldn’t disappoint my excited boy after all! I took the watch while Mark went to get Blue Boy saddled.
I clocked Blue Boy at 22 seconds. “22? And I didn’t even let him out! He can do better then that.” I sternly told him that was enough – he needed to cool him off now.
We went into town later. The town was all decked out with red, white, and blue flags everywhere and banners announcing the Charity Day race. Mark was sure excited to see it! Mark saw the horse buyers. They were the same one’s that were here last year. “I don’t care how much they offer me, I won’t sell ‘em Blue Boy even if I do win the race!” Mark declared.
Hm…”Just when did we decide you were going to enter Blue Boy in the race?” I questioned him sternly. That boy sure does jump to conclusions!
He begged me to let him. I scratched my nose. I wasn’t too sure it was a good idea, but I told him we’d think it over before we decided. Okay, so he had already decided, but I hadn’t!
As we got off our horses, Mr. Preston rode up to us. I immediately complimented Gabe Fenway’s crop he had brought in. “Well, it could have been a slight better if he attended to business. That’s how it goes. You try to help a man and he’ll take advantage of you every time!” Jake commented. Quite frankly, I wasn’t interesting in hearing his sorrowful stories – especially since they weren’t true! “Not, he’s supposed to be raising wheat for me on shares, not fooling around with those broken down nags of his!”
That hit a sore spot with Mark! “Mr. Preston,” Mark argued. “Those are about the best horses this country’s ever seen!” Mr. Preston asked him if he was a horse expert. “I know a fast horse when I see one,” he answered.
“Well, if that’s so, you can make a lot of money,” Preston stated. “Isn’t that right Lucas?”
“Well, Mr. Preston, from what I hear, more folks go broke then get rich picking fast horses!” I answered him matter-of-factly.
Jake suddenly asked Mark about Blue Boy. "He's faster then Mr. Fenway's Sapphire. We timed then both, didn't we Pa?" My boy always did talk to much. I wasn’t too thrilled with his giving Preston that information.
"Oh, are you planning on entering him in the big race," Preston asked.
"I'd like to, if Pa would let me," Mark answered as he looked at me.
“Let you?” Preston asked. “Why I bet he’s just busting with pride cause you’re gonna do it,” he stated. “Ain’t that so, Lucas?”
I gave him a hard stare. His trying to play me against Mark did not make me happy. “I haven’t decided yet, Jake.”
But the sternness in my voice didn’t give him the hint I wanted him to take. “Why not? You got a fast horse!” That encouraged Mark to ask me why not. That did not make me happy!
“What’s the matter? You afraid the boy will get beat? Is that it?” Preston asked.
“The boy knows nobody wins every time, Mr. Preston,” I answered. I was becoming annoyed very fast.
Mark said he knew he could win this one. "Now that's the kind of confidence I like to hear. That's the way you go about it son. You just find out what you want and go out and get it, no matter what gets in your way," said Preston. Preston then rode off. That boy had so much hope on his face. I could tell he really wanted a chance to race Blue Boy.
I came to my decision as I looked at the hope on my son’s face. Mark asked me again as Preston rode away. I crossed my arms to lecture him. "Son, if your gonna race horses there's one thing you oughta learn. Don't give away all your secrets."
"Then I can race him?" Mark asked excitedly.
"Now if I was about your age and had a horse as good as yours, I'd want to," I answered with a grin.
"You mean it?" Mark asked, not quite believing it yet.
"I mean it!” I said as I lifted his hat from his head and plopped it back down. “Now let me buy you a sarsaparilla."
"Yahoo," Mark hollered as he hopped on my back. I turned, a bit surprised and grabbed a hold of his legs as he headed through town.
Mark worked hard on getting Blue Boy ready. He ran him to get him ready. One day, he stopped and gave Blue Boy some encouragement. “Now, all you gotta do is just get in there and run like you been doing! And forget about all those other horses. Just do your best!” Mark patted him. “Your’re gonna win!”
Unbeknownst to me, Mr. Preston was there spying on Mark. “So you figure that colt is fast enough to beat Gabe Fenway’s horse, huh?” Preston asked my son. Mark was confident that Blue Boy could do it. Casually, Preston asked Mark to see what he could do. Mark was hesitant, and for good reason! Had I been there, I would have immediately stopped it, but Mark was easily talked into it, wanting to show off his fast horse, and let Preston time Blue Boy. “If I beat Mr. Fenway, that won’t keep him from selling his horse, will it?” Mark was suddenly concerned. Preston assured him it wouldn’t.
When I was in town one day, I saw Gabe. He said he hoped I had plenty of money bet on his Sapphire colt. “I couldn’t do that, Gabe. If I was a bettin’ man, I’d have to keep it in the family!” I stated.
He was glad to hear Mark was racing Blueboy. "The more the merrier," he said. "I'll tell you something, though. I'm glad that Blueboy ain't been trained for racing. Boy's got quite a colt there. With the difference between my weight and his-"
I didn’t want to turn this into a competition, so I stopped him. "It'll be a fine race Gabe." I wished him luck as I went to see Micah.
There was trouble brewing! Gabe went to see Hattie about a list of supplies he needed. Hattie was visibly upset. She didn’t want to tell Gabe the news, but she had no choice. “Gabe, there isn’t any other way to tell you this except to come right out and say it. Jake Preston told me not to give you anymore credit.” The news upset Gabe. He had a deal with Preston to charge against his account until he brought in the wheat crop. “Jake Preston’s a pretty important man around this town. Now, that doesn’t mean I have to like him, but it does mean I have to run his account the way he wants it.”
Gabe was upset. This news was really going to be hard on his family and Hattie knew that. He started to walk away but Hattie stopped him. She told him that if he needed food or things for the children, she’d help him; but Gabe was a proud man and wasn’t about to accept charity.
Gabe went looking for Preston.
He found him over by the saloon. He was placing bets. Suddenly, Gabe came over and started in on him. They started arguing. Preston wasn’t happy about Gabe wasting all his time on those “grass burners.” Gabe felt that Preston was just afraid he would be able to come up with the money to pay him. Suddenly, Preston announced that he didn’t want a sharecropper and his outlaw kids for neighbors. That made Gabe made. He grabbed Preston and they began pushing and shoving each other around.
Micah and I heard the commotion from his office and rushed over to stop the fight. Micah demanded to know what it was all about. Gabe stated it was personal. Preston told Micah he called “those nags of his grass burners because that’s what they are.”
“You never had horses like those in your life and you never will!” Gabe exclaimed.
Preston suddenly stated that he didn’t see any reason for him and Gabe to fight about it. “Now, if that colt’s as good as you say he is, why don’t you put your money where your mouth is.” Preston said. “Or are you all talk?” Gabe reminded him he had no money to bet. "Alright, my share of the crop against yours, if your horse don't win," Preston declared. Gabe hesitated but Preston told him he was all mouth.
"Alright, you got a bet!" Gabe agreed.
I didn’t like what was going on! I suggested to Gabe that he should cool off first, but the damage was already done. “Now wait a minute! I don’t want any backing down on this. If your horse doesn’t win, you forfeit. You all hear that!” Preston walked away.
I looked at Gabe and asked him if he knew what he was doing. “Well, it’s too late now,” Gabe answered as he walked away.
I was deeply concerned. I wasn’t just concerned about Gabe – he was a grown man and made his own decision. “Micah, I don’t like this kind of bettin’ going on,” I said worriedly. I didn’t like the idea of Mark being in the middle of this whole thing! This was more then a bet. "I wish I hadn't told Mark he could race."
“I wouldn’t worry about it, Lucas. This fight is between two grown men. Mark wouldn’t get mixed up in it in any way.” Micah tried to assure me, but my gut told me something different. I wanted my boy to stay safe and participate in just a fun, charitable race. This race wasn’t going to be that.
“Well, I’m not too sure,” I said as I started to walk away.
Suddenly, somebody stopped me. "Lucas, what do you think? Is Mark's colt as fast as Jake Preston says he is? I ain't bet yet, but I'm sure gonna if that colt’s so fast."
I had no idea what he was talking about. I looked at Micah and gave him a “what now” look.
"Ain't you heard? Jake Preston just bet a thousand dollars that your son's colt’s gonna win the race." Boy, you should have seen the look on my face! I was suddenly steaming mad! My son was right in the middle of this ugly bet!
I had gone back to the ranch to wait for Mark to come home. It wasn't going to be easy to tell my son he couldn't race Blueboy. He rode in all excited about the race. "Pa! He's even faster then I thought he was! I couldn't get to sleep last night just thinkin' about him. Do you think I've really got a good chance of winning?"
My heart ached at what I had to say, but I had to do it. I felt like I was punishing him for something others had done. It was a rotten deal all around. Carefully, I started the hard talk. "Mark, did you know that Jake Preston bet a thousand dollars on you?"
"No foolin'!” Mark gasped excitedly. He didn’t understand the problem. “That must mean he really thinks I'm gonna win!"
I tried again to drop a hint at what I was leading up to. “Son, I don’t like this betting business,” I stated sternly.
“I didn’t know anything about it,” Mark stated. “It’s alright, isn’t it?”
“I don’t think so,” I answered honestly. “It’s gotten to be sort of a grudge fight between Jake Preston and Gabe Fenway,” I explained carefully. Mark knew they never liked each other very much. “Well, that’s not the point. I don’t want you getting tangled up in this sort of thing.” I tried to explain it the best way I could.
I think he was beginning to understand what I was leading up to because he suddenly got defensive. “But Pa I didn’t do it!”
“No, I know you didn’t but you can become a part of it, Mark,” I tried to explain. He said he couldn’t help it if someone wanted to bet on him. I knew this was going to be hard on him. Finally, I decided to just come right out and say it. “Mark, maybe you better wait until next year to race.” I looked him straight in the eye when I said it, letting him know the decision wouldn’t be his to make.
He was immediately disappointed. "Pa, you promised me. I've been counting on it almost more then anything I've counted on in my life.” I knew that, and I knew this wouldn’t be easy on him. “It's not just me, but I promised Blueboy.” Mark patted Blueboy. “I guess that sounds sort of silly doesn't it?"
“No, it’s not silly, son. I understand.” I did understand that he was having a hard time with this. But as an adult, I knew that we had to face disappointment. They were a part of life.
“Then I can race him? Alright? Can I?” Mark asked. I was already to tell him he couldn’t race Blueboy – that was my intention this whole time. But when I saw the incredible disappointment in his eyes, I knew I owed it to him to try once more to see if I could get the race back to where it should be.
I sighed as I came to the decision to go back into town before telling him no. I sighed. “Mark,” I said sternly. “Don’t get your heart set on it, huh?” I told him I was going into town and to do his chores.
As I rode off Mark told Blueboy, "Don't worry Blueboy. Pa will let me race ya'. He knows how much it means to us."
Sure enough while I was in town I ran into Preston, or rather Preston saw me and gladly came to talk to me. “Sure hope your boys taking good care of that horse of his,” he said.
“Why’d you bet a thousand dollars on him, Jake?” I asked him. He said that he figured Mark was going to win. “It doesn’t make sense, you betting that much money, unless you know something that doesn’t meet the eye,” I stated.
He suddenly became defensive. I told him I didn’t like what he was doing to Gabe Fenway. “Doing to him? Why, I take him in, give him a chance, feed him and his family. What thanks do I get? He spends all of his time training those nags of his!” What an excuse! I told him that it wasn’t the first time he had trouble with tenants. “You know you’re right? They’re all the same! You try to help them and they take advantage of ya. Now, look at that outfit last year – walked out on me just at harvest time.”
“Leaving you with both shares of crop,” I stated. “You didn’t loose any money, Jake.”
Suddenly, he boasted, “Lucas, I ain’t in business to loose money either on my farming or my horse racing.”
Well, I guess that was that. “That’s what I thought, so I thought I better tell you. You can recall your bets on Mark. He’s not racing.” I left him staring at me.
Needless to say, we didn’t have too pleasant of an evening at our house! Mark was fuming mad and not taking this news very well. I was trying to stay calm with it, knowing it was hard for a young boy to accept disappointment. Mark was pacing the floor while I sat outside smoking my cigar. “Well I don't care what you say it isn't fair!" Mark complained.
“I know how you feel Mark,” I softly stated.
“No you don’t! Well if you did, you wouldn’t tell me I couldn’t race!” Mark accused me.
I stayed calm as I tried explaining it one more time. “I already told you, son. If you take part in it, you’re gonna get involved in a fixed race.”
“Oh I don’t believe it!” Mark shot back at me. I suddenly looked up at him angrily. “Well as long as I race Blueboy fair and square and do my best to win-“
That was enough! I had allowed him to fume and it was time he understood exactly where I stood. "I already told you Mark. The answer is no.” My voice told him that the subject matter was closed. He stomped into the house and went to his room.
I didn't feel good about telling Mark he couldn't race, but I had no other choice.
Mark rode into town the next morning without my permission. He saw Mr. Preston who said he was going to win the race. “I’m not gonna enter him,” Mark announced. “I changed my mind.” But Mark was angry. “Why’d you have to go and spoil everything? You didn’t have to bet all that money on me. That’s why my Pa won’t let me race.”
Mr. Preston suddenly told Mark he called the betting off. There shouldn’t have been any betting and there’s not going to be any – he called the whole thing off. Mark was happy to hear that. Maybe he could race after all. “Well, if there’s not gonna be any bettin’…” Mark started.
“Then there ain’t no reason for you not to race,” Preston stated. But Mark was worried. He had snuck off without telling me, and he knew I’d be upset about that. He didn’t think he had much of chance racing either way. Preston tried to get Mark to go ahead and sign up for his entry, but Mark knew better. He knew me well enough to know that would not have been a smart thing to do. He would wait for me.
Preston was worried. He turned to his hired hand and told him to go take care of Gabe Fenway now just in case I wouldn’t let Mark race. Gabe was down in the stable talking to his horse. He was getting ready for the race, but suddenly he was hit from behind and went down.
I made breakfast the next morning. I assumed Mark was still in bed fast asleep. “Come and get it, Mark!” I called as I put scrambled eggs on his plate. I didn’t hear anything. “You gonna sleep all day son?” I called then. “No reason why we can’t go watch the race. You might learn something. You’ll be ready next year.” I still got not response from the bedroom. I tried one more thing. “Micah tells me they got an Apache Indian with a trained bear.” I looked toward the bedroom. Suddenly, I decided to go check on him. It was too quiet.
When I opened the door, I found his bed empty. I knew exactly where that boy had gone. I was angry! I grabbed my rifle and raced off for town.
Mark went into the stable to talk to Mr. Fenway and tell him the race was about to start. He found Gabe slumped over a bale of hay. He tried to give him a drink of water but he was too weak.
When I got into town, I asked Micah if he’d seen Mark. He started to tell me he went up to the stable when Mark suddenly came racing toward us. “Pa, Pa! It’s Mr. Fenway!” he shouted. I raced up to the stable on my horse to see what the problem was. Micah ran after me.
He could hardly talk. I examined his head. “Somebody wanted to make sure you weren’t in that race. It doesn’t take much guessing who,” I stated.
“If Sapphire isn’t in that race, Gabe will forfeit his crop!” Micah declared. Gabe was in no condition to ride.
Suddenly, I got an idea. “Now wait a minute! Mark you wanted to be in that race. The bet was on the horse not the rider. You think your up to it son?"
Mark was all excited again. "You mean me ride Sapphire?"
I nodded. "That's what I mean."
"Sure," he said excitedly.
He untied Sapphire. “I’m sorry about what happened this morning,” he said hurriedly.
I guess he thought he was getting off easy. But sternly, I said, “We’ll talk about that later.”
"Don't worry Mr. Fenway, I'll ride Sapphire and we'll win, no matter what. Thanks Pa." Mark jumped on Sapphire and raced off.
Preston was gloating, thinking he had this bet won, but when he saw Mark on Sapphire his gloating turned to worry.
Micah sent me out to watch the race. I certainly wanted to see this! I hoped Mark could save the day.
I watched the race. They took off as soon as the gun went off. Mark raced good and hard! And Mark came in first place. Boy, I was mighty proud of my boy! My heart just swelled up with pride. I felt so proud when my boy crossed the finish line! “Good boy!” I yelled pridefully. Hattie yelled really loud for him as well.
As for Jake, well, he wasn’t too happy! “Now that ain’t fair!” he declared.
Mark came racing up to me knowing I was proud. He leapt into my arms. "I won Pa, I won. Did you see me?"
I sure did!
I took Gabe's horse back home with us. I was working him until Gabe got better. "Pa, do you think that it's true that I won that race because I'm so much lighter then Mr. Fenway?" Mark suddenly asked.
"Weights a big factor in the race, no doubt about that.” I answered. “What's the matter, you think your horse still could have beaten Sapphire?"
"I guess I'll always wonder who would have won,” Mark commented
"Well, why don't we find out. You see that boulder down at the end of the road, that's the finish line." We got in position. “Ready?”
“Ready!” Mark called excitedly as he got in the position.
"Go!" I yelled. We raced hard, but I got to the boulder first and won. Then I asked Mark if he was satisfied.
"Yeah but, just wait until next year. Blue Boy will be a little older and I'll be a little bigger."
I smiled at that boy of mine. "Well son, as far as I'm concerned your pretty big right now,” I said proudly.
*The Fourflusher was filmed on a soundstage. They only had about 20 feet for the race at the end where Lucas & Mark raced Sapphire and Blueboy. It was a little challenging to make it look like a race in that space. The actual race was stock footage that they edited in. Thanks wildwest!
piddlin' stuff.....James Westerfield appeared in two episodes ― The Woman as Pa Healy,he was the boss/Pa of this 'very different' clan ― The Fourflusher as Jake Preston, he was the man who wanted Gabe Fenway to lose the horse race so he could get control of his ranch..
Whit Bissell appeared in four episodes ― The Patsy as Sam Barrows the Barber, the man who Sully Hobbs and his gang were terrorizing ― The Fourflusher as Gabe Fenway, the sharecropper for local landlord Preston, who plans to run his quarter horse Sapphire in a local horse race ― The Hangman as Volney Adams who is accused of killing Eban Muchen ― Long Gun from Tucson as Henry Waller, the Gunsmith who was scared to face Holliver and his men.
K.T. Stevens was in five episodes ― Heller as Muriel Bechtol, she was married to that evil Andrew Bechtol ― The Fourflusher as Molly Fenway, she was married to a sharecropper who entered his colt in the horse race ― Face of Yesterday as Nancy Clay was the wife of the man he killed in the Civil War ― Honest Abe as Emma Lincoln, the sister to Able Lincoln who claims that he's the Great Emancipator Molly Fenway in End of the Hunt as Granny Mede, Reef Jackson was her nephew, Lucas knew them from when he lived in the Nations.
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.
Ian Murray played Harley Hannabury in seven episodes ― The Challenge ― Blood Brother ― Obituary ― Meeting at Midnight ― The Hangman ― The Illustrator ― The Fourflushers as one of the townsmen.
Ralph Moratz as one of the Townsman. Ralph has appeared in several episodes of The Rifleman, sadly he doesn't remember the names of all of them. To read more about Ralph you can go to his Blog - In Another Time.
George Sowards appeared in six episodes ― The Sharpshooter as a barfly ― The Fourflusher as one of the townsmen ― The Promoter as a boxing spectator ― The Clarence Bibs Story as one of the townsmen ― The Queue as one of the townsmen ― End of the Hunt as one of the townsmen ― Which Way'd They Go? as one of the townsmen.
Kermit Maynard appeared in two episodes as one of the townsmen ― The Fourflushers and Two Ounces of Tin.
John Rice appeared in a total of eight episodes, seven episodes as a Townsman and one as a barfly. ― Day of the Hunter ― A Case of Identity ― The Fourflusher ― The Promoter ― Miss Bertie as a barfly ― The Wyoming Story ― Face of Yesterday - Anvil Chorus.
John Bose appeared twice in The Rifleman ― The Fourflusher as a townsman ― Which Way'd They Go as a Barfly.
Tipp McClure as one of the Townsman watching the fight between Fenway and Preston.
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.
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)
Bloopers - The Fourflushers
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
around The McCain Ranch