"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
Hostages to Fortune
It was dark. Two men sat under a tree drinking whisky and waiting…waiting for the action to begin. They weren’t disappointed. Before long, three masked riders rode among the cattle, spooking them. The cattle upset and ran off in different directions!
The rancher who owned those cattle came out of his house with his shotgun in hand. But then he chuckled as he stepped off his porch and walked up to the fence where the riders were. “Well now, if you ghosts would like to step down and rest a spell, the misses has got a fresh batch of doughnuts in the house. I know you must get awful hungry on Halloween night!”
The middle rider took off his mask. It was Mark. He was disappointed – those masks didn’t fool anyone! One of the other boys begged Mark not to stop now. “Mr. Merar’s got stock over in the South Pasture! Let’s go over there and have some fun!” Mark thanked Mr. Russell, but told him they had a lot of stops to make. They took off.
But Mark dropped his mask as he was leaving. That’s just the opportunity one of those drinking men were waiting for! “Yep, Sylvester Boy…I’d say prime beef would run about…well…$45 to $50 a head, down by the border!” They were planning on doing some Haloweening of their own – cattle rustling!
The next morning, Micah stopped by to see me before I got Mark off to school. Mark stood there while Micah told me what my son and his friends had been up to the night before. I was not happy! "Alright Mark...were you in on it?" I questioned my boy.
"Guess I was," Mark answered. He didn’t look at me as he answered. "Um...I guess I better be gettin' to school.”
But he wasn’t going to get off that easy! "Twenty minutes early?" That sure didn’t sound like my son! “Now, if you’ll just turn around and face me.” He obeyed. “You took an active part?”
"Yes sir...I guess I did!" Mark answered.
That made me even more angry. "Will you stop guessing and answer me yes or no like a man?"
"Yes sir I was there!" Exclaimed Mark.
"Halloween or not...you should know better! You've been brought up on a ranch. You've probably run a hundred pounds of beef off some people's herds, not to mention the fact that you've cost them a whole work day rounding up strays!" I turned my head sideways. “Hold me responsible, Micah.” Then I turned back and gave Mark a hard stare. “It won’t happen again!”
"Fair enough," Micah answered. "And you know Mark...those ranchers would have been in their rights if they used their guns to protect their cattle." Mark realized how serious this could have been. He looked at me and apologized. Suddenly, the conversation changed. “By the way, Pa, do you mind if I go out tonight after supper?”
Unbelievable! “What’s the occasion this time?” I asked.
“Well, some of us kids are taking up geometry and…we’d just sort of like to work together on it. Of course, I’d like to stay home if you could help me with it.”
I groaned. “Geometry’s one thing I never learned, Mark.”
Mark decided to really press his luck this morning. He actually had the nerve to ask me this: "Another thing Pa...with me having to be out at night so much from now on...maybe I'd be smart to carry my rifle...of course a hand gun would be better."
The nerve! "A hand gun...you!" I exclaimed.
Just then two strangers rode in on a buckboard. It was Mr. Bullock and his son, Percy. Micah had told them to stop by the ranch some time. He introduced us. We shook hands. Micah told me that Mr. Bullock was from England and that he had just bought the Decoven place. I told him that the Decoven spread was a nice spread with plenty of water and that he shouldn't have any problem running cattle there. That made him laugh. “Oh, I’m afraid I’m just a city man! No intention, at all, of competing with established ranchers!” He said while he lived in London besides being a teacher he ran a book store. He said that out here he would have to rely on a green thumb.....planting vegetables and hopefully raising a dairy herd. "It will be rough going. As the Greek Euclid said.....'There is no royal road.'”
When Mr. Bullock mention Euclid; Mark became inquisitive and asked him if Euclid was the one who discovered geometry. He said he was.
We then introduced our sons. When Mr. Bullock said his son’s name was Percy, he stuttered around. “You…You said his name is…Percy?”
“That’s right,” Mr. Bullock answered. “And today is going to be his first experience in an American school.” That went on their way.
"Percy! And those pants! And he'll be lynched by recess," Mark declared as we watched them ride away.
That boy! “Mark, it’s alright about the geometry, but you leave your rifle at home,” I told him as I looked my boy sternly in the eye.
“Alright.” Mark turned to leave. Then he turned back. “What about the hand gun?” I started toward him!
“Alright, Pa! Alright!” Mark thought it best to go to school at that moment.
Well Percy did make it past recess, but some of the boys were waiting for him on the way home from school, Melvin and Jake. Percy tried to be friendly, he introduced himself and offered to shake hands, but all they did was make fun of his name. "My name is not funny! The Percy family defended northern England against the Scots for six centuries! Their battle cry was A Percy! A Percy!" Melvin just stood there and made fun while Jake got behind Percy. When Melvin pushed Percy, he fell to the ground. "I shall slap you for that you fat bully!" Yelled Percy.
Mark happened to be riding by when he saw the two boys picking on Percy. He dismounted Blueboy and rushed over to them. Before ya' knew it Mark and Melvin were fighting. Percy wanted to fight his own fight, but every time he tried to interrupt Mark would just push him away. Then Percy yelled to Mark to step on Melvin's toe. He did and then got the best of Melvin. But Mark lost his balance and landed on the ground himself. "That's the ticket McCain...Science!" Percy yelled from the sidelines.
Mark rolled his eyes from the ground. "Will you please stop calling me McCain? My name’s Mark!”
“That is very friendly of you!” Percy declared. “First names! On such short acquaintance, I mean to say.” Mark just rolled his eyes again.
Mark took Percy home, they rode double on Blueboy. Mr. Bullock asked Mark what happened to him. Mark didn’t want to get off on the wrong foot, so he told Mr. Bullock that he got thrown. “At each other, presumably,” Mr. Bullock declared.
“No!” Percy suddenly wanted to stick up for Mark. “Father, Mark is such a game chicken!”
Mark glared at Percy. “Chicken?!”
Mr. Bullock laughed. “Translated, that’s game cock – a real fighting bird!” That made Mark feel better. “You see Mark, it’s not political fears that divide nations, sometimes it’s a matter of grammar!” Suddenly, Mr. Bullock started coughing uncontrollably. He went into the house to get some brandy for his asthma.
When Mark came inside, he went to the mirror to straighten up his hair, which was still all messed up from fighting. Suddenly, Mark noticed the large amount of books on the shelves. He could hardly believe his eyes! He’d never seen so many books! He walked over to them and just stared. “Boy! I…I bet this is the most books in one place, anywhere on the earth!”
Mr. Bullock told Mark there were only six hundred volumes. That was all he could bring with him. But when he had his shop he had never stocked less then two thousand titles. Mark told him that we must seem pretty ignorant to him. He gave a short laugh. “Your father struck me as being very far from ignorant!”
“Well, he doesn’t know geometry, but…he sure knows his Bible!” Mark declared.
“A supreme book! Translated in the greatest period of English literature. In a sense, all the rest of the books are merely…footnotes.”
He told Mark he could borrow some if he'd like. Mark was thrilled. He told Mark to help himself, but Mark had no idea where to start. Percy chose his favorite for Mark - "The Tale of Two Cities." “Father, would you read some to us?” Percy asked.
Mark was excited when Mr. Bullock agreed to read some. They sat down as Mr. Bullock started reading. “’It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness. It was the Epoch of belief, it was the Epoch of incredulity. It was the spring of light, it was the season of darkness. It was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. We had everything before us, we had nothing before us. We were all going direct to heaven and we were all going direct to…the other way.”
Mark smiled as he listened. He was mesmerized!
One night, I was just settling down at the table to read a book when Mark came over and told me good night with his hat in his hand. I asked him if he was going to Mr. Bullock's again. “Yep. Well, I finished all my chores. I didn’t think you would mind if I went over for a little while.”
“This will be three nights in a row!” I declared. “Just what is it you do over there that makes you so anxious to leave your own home?”
“Well, Mr. Bullock asked me to teach Percy how to be a good rider. So part of the evening, we spend a little time on the range.” I asked him what then. “We come back and gab a little. Mr. Bullock has been buying and selling. Then we have something to eat then I come home.”
I didn’t like it. I thought he should be home studying his math! But he had an answer for that! He was going to take it with him. “You know, Mr. Bullock knows more about geometry than anyone I’ve ever met!” That kind of bothered me…Mark looked up and noticed. “Oh. Of course, you should hear some of the fool questions he’s asked me about handling and feeding cattle. There sure is an awful lot that you know that he…he doesn’t.”
“Alright,” I finally gave in. “Be home by 9:30.” I watched him leave. He was so anxious to go. A father couldn’t help but be a little jealous. Why, I remember when he hung on to my every word. Now, Mark was going to someone else’s house to hang on another father’s every word. I looked down at that book and realized I couldn’t concentrate. I had too much on my mind. So I put the book back on the shelf and gave up on that idea entirely.
Nobody knew it, but Mr. Bullock was making a deal with the two man Fogner brothers.
One day, I went in to visit Micah. He was quite upset. He said the kids were out celebrating Halloween three nights in a row now. “The worst part of it is, along with those flour sacks and pumpkins they’ve been using, we found some empty liquor bottles.” Apparently they were drinking. Micah guessed some kids just couldn’t wait to grow up. “Besides, every parent doesn’t keep tabs on his young one the way you do. Of course, Mark was home with you last night.”
The sad part was, Micah’s words mimicked what I felt guilty of thinking about just then. “What’s that supposed to mean?” As if I didn’t already know!
“I’m just crossing off the names I won’t have to check.”
I took offense to that. “You trying to tell me Mark was out Halloweening even after I warned him?” I asked angrily.
“I’m only telling you that some of the boys are. And after all, Mark did do it once. And he is at an age when boys sometimes find it hard to tell the difference between a simple prank and downright mischief,” Micah pointed out.
I’m not sure who I yelled at – myself for what I’d been thinking, or Micah for expressing in out loud. Either way, I lit in to my best friend. “Well, get this straight Micah! I trust my boy!” Then I stood up and walked out.
But when I got home, I found another note. He told me he’d left supper on the stove and that he’d be back at 9:30. This was really getting old! I was getting fed up with it! I threw the tablet on the table. Then my eye caught the cabinet – the curtain had been moved. I went over to the cabinet and made a very startling discovery – my bottle of whisky was gone! Now I was really doubting my boy – and I HATED that feeling!
I immediately sat down with my Bible and read it as I waited for Mark to get home. “Take therefore no thought for the morrow, for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.” These were the words I was reading when Mark came in.
“You still up?” Mark was surprised.
I tried to control my anger. “Shut the door and come in!”
He did as told. Walking toward the table, he asked, “Something wrong?”
“I don’t know, Mark,” I answered harshly. “The whiskey bottle’s gone.” He knew that. “Did you take it?” I asked too quickly.
“Sure I took it! But it’s been there for two years. I didn’t think you’d care!”
“You didn’t think I’d care?” I shot out. “What did you do with it?”
Mark started to answer. But suddenly, he realized what I was thinking. He looked at the angry look on my face and grew angry himself. “Well I didn’t drink it!” He declared. I just glared at him. “You don’t believe me?”
“Right now I don’t know what to believe, Mark,” I answered. “But for the present, you’ll stay home nights. Understand?” Mark could tell now wasn’t a time to argue with me. He agreed with my orders. “Go to bed!”
One night, those doing the Haloweening were over at Mr. Russell’s ranch. Mr. Russell came out, wanting to identify the person. “Joe!” the masked man called out. “Joe!”
Joe shot Mr. Russell. He ran up to his brother. “He won’t be identifying anybody. Now, look here boy, don’t you ever call my name all over creation like that again!” Mr. Russell was dead.
Micah called a meeting of the men of North Fork in his office the next day. “A real nice situation. An old friend dead, a lot of cattle missing, and we have to meet here during school hours so as not to warn the kids. But aside from the kids, I think there’s a man or men mixed up in this business some place. Now, I think that we’re all agreed that wherever they’ve got the cattle hidden, they’ll be wantin’ to pull out pronto. They sure don’t want to show up in the territory driving a herd of mixed brands. He felt they had contacts below the border and would try and move the cattle any night now. We were going to patrol our areas in two's. If there is any shooting the next pair would pass the information along.
I had a question. “About the kids…Don’t you think we should keep them indoors?” But everyone else felt it was like locking the barn after the horse was gone. “But it’s like setting a trap!” I said.
"No hide off the innocent...the guilty got it coming," said one of the towns folk. “Don’t you agree, Lucas?”
Not if my son was involved!
Conversation was strained at supper that night. I knew Mark was upset with me. I can’t say that I wasn’t upset with him…But I tried to make conversation by offering him more milk. “Please,” he answered. I poured him some milk. “You said you gave the liquor to someone, Mark. It was Mr. Bullock, wasn’t it?” I asked. Mark said yes. “I thought so.”
“Pa, he only swallows a little nip once in a while to stop his cough,” Mark explained.
But I had some more questions to ask. “You told me that Mr. Bullock was asking you about stock values.” Mark took a bite of food. But I wanted his undivided attention at the moment. “Mark, how much do you know about the cattle-rustling that’s been going on?”
“Only what I heard,” Mark answered. Then he started studying me. He suddenly realized what I was getting at. “Pa, you don’t think that Mr. Bullock had anything to do with this! Why, he’d have no more to do with it then…then you would!”
I came to a decision. “When you finish the dishes, Mark, you can go out if you want to,” I simply answered.
“You mean I don’t have to stay home?” There was still defense in his voice.
"Not if you don't want to...I have some business to take care of in town," I answered. Mark started eating quickly. “Mark?” I told him that he didn’t have to go.
“I know, but I want to!” Mark declared as he continued stuffing food in his mouth.
This was all part of my plan. I wanted Mark there because I really thought that Mark was involved…Micah didn’t like the idea, and he told me so as we waited a safe distance off for Mark to go inside. This was the moment of truth – and it was a moment I would not enjoy! I watched as Mark rode in. “Look at that – he can hardly wait to get here.” Yes, I was jealous!
"I don't know why I left you talk me into coming our here," said Micah. "Bullock doesn't own any cattle and that stolen bunch would stand out in this bunch like a hog in a hen roost." I told him they could be in the barn. Micah said we would be able to hear them. But I felt if they were fed and watered well, we wouldn't hear them. So we went to the barn to take a look.
I went to the barn door. I hesitated. Part of me wanted to be so wrong! But in my heart…I knew the cattle were there. When I opened the barn, we found that it was full of cattle – all kinds of cattle! I shut the door and hurried straight for the house.
Mr. Bullock was just beginning to read to the boys when I barged in. He jumped up when he heard the door open. “Mr. McCain!”
I wasted no time. I walked right up to Mark and pointed right at him. “You!” I said. “Wait outside for me, Mark." Mark knew I meant business – he didn’t bother talking back but hurried right pass me. Percy followed, knowing that he should be here either.
I told him to start explain. He didn’t know what was going on – he didn’t think he even had anything to explain. Micah told him that cattle rustling was a capital offense. “Cattle rustling?” he asked innocently.
I pointed toward the door. “We’re talking about the cattle in your barn that don’t belong to you!” He told me that when a man rents out his barn at a fair price, he doesn’t pry into his affairs. I thought he was a liar. “Micah, we’re waistin’ time.”
Micah tried to calm me down. He said there’s an outside chance that the man isn’t a liar. But I thought he WAS a liar! “A man who makes thieves out of boys could easily be a liar!”
Mr. Bullock was shocked! “Do you seriously consider that lad to be capable of studied deception?”
“Of course not,” I answered. “But I think you are clever enough with words to confuse him, to make him do things he doesn’t even understand!”
“Mr. McCain, does it occur to you that this is no more than a father’s normal jealousy?” Mr. Bullock asked me then? I repeated that word. “Yes, jealousy. Jealousy of another man offering his son something which is beyond his paternal capacity to give.” I didn’t know what to say or think. I started to turn to Micah. “Oh, hang it, man! Do you think that I haven’t had qualms, seeing Percy in a ruddy great hat and painstakingly mutilating the English language, to try and emulate you?” This time, he pointed a finger at me. I couldn’t believe what he was thinking…why would anyone want to emulate me? “You see, Mr. McCain, we each have our own advantage. I with words, and you with that rifle.”
Suddenly, Percy and Mark walked in. Percy said the men he rented the barn to were taking the cattle out. “Rented the barn to…” I mumbled as I turned and looked at Mr. Bullock. Boy, oh boy…did I ever mess up royally this time! I had made a complete idiot of myself. Not only with my best friend and with Mr. Bullock, but also with my own son.
Micah didn’t let me think on it too long. We had work to do. He told me to come on. I told Mr. Bullock to stay there and reminded him that the rifle was my advantage.
The men were laughing and joking. They really thought they had pulled one over on the English man, but boy did they have a surprise coming! “Alright, hold it!” Micah ordered.
When they saw us, they started shooting. Sylvester hid behind the water trough while Joe ran into the barn. Micah covered me while I made a break for the barn. Just then Sylvester went to shoot at me, but Micah shot him. Then Micah headed for the barn. We didn't know that Joe had come out of the barn on the other side and was getting away when Mr. Bullock came out of the house and tried to stop Joe while he was trying to mount his horse. As they struggled we heard a shot go off and we both ran to the front of the barn. There was Mr. Bullock lying on the ground and Joe getting ready to put a shovel into Bullock. I shot Joe several times.
Micah and I went to help Bullock up. He wasn't hurt bad, just a cut on the head. Micah told Bullock that was a brave thing he did. "Muy hombre," I said.
“Muy hombre?” Percy repeated. “What does that mean?”
“It’s Spanish,” Mark answered. “It says your Pa is a lot of man.” Percy said that his name was Percy too.
Later that evening, we sat down at Mr. Bullock’s table for coffee. I was sure glad I had him figured wrong. I reckon that was my way of apologizing. “Perfect understandable,” Mr. Bullock said. “Any parent would be frightened.”
Mark stepped forward to defend me. “You can say anything you want about my Pa, Mr. Bullock, but he doesn’t frighten.”
“He sure don’t!” Percy declared as he crossed his arms and kept a big smile on his face.
“Doesn’t!” Mr. Bullock corrected his son. "Well should we say in this case that your father was frightened about you?” He said to Mark.
"He's right! Mr. Bullock and I know from personal experience some of the snares and pitfalls that lie and wait for our sons. Maybe we've fallen into a few of them ourselves and remember what it cost to crawl out again," I said.
"And the deeper the affections...the deeper the fears for you boys," said Micah.
Mr. Bullock said....."As a writer once put it, ‘Some of the best lessons we ever learn we learn from our mistakes and failures. And…and…” He couldn’t remember what came next.
I finished it for him. “And, ‘The error of the past is the wisdom and success of the future'."
Mark was surprised. "Lucasboy, you never cease to amaze me," said Micah. We all started to laugh.
piddlin' stuff.....Maurice Dallimore played Percy Bullock Sr. He was the father of Percy and the book reader.
Tony Haig played Percy Bullock Jr. He was the boy who called Mark a game chicken.
Paul Mazursky appeared in Hostages to Fortune as Sylvester Bulgutch, he was the one who had put the mask on after Mark had dropped it. He & Joe were bothers??
Paul Mazursky was one of the writers for Shotgun Man.
I. Stanford Jolley played Joe Fogner/Bulgutch-according to the credits at the end of this episode his name is Joe Fogner—according to IMDB/TV Tome his name is Joe Bulgutch—In the beginning of this episode Sylvester/Paul Mazursky calls him brother Joe. Sylvester's last name is Bulgutch. I would say they are brothers. But in this episode Mr. Bullock calls him Mr. Fogner?????
Rusty Stevens played Melvin. He was the boy who picked on Percy - the boy Mark fought.
I happened to come across this posting..... Whatever happened to Rusty.....
It's funny to see all the different types of sightings there has been of Rusty. The Barbara Billingly comments are believable. In these postings someone also mentions Karen Sue Trent/Lorrie.
Daniel White appeared in two episodes ― Hostages to fortune as Mr. Russell/old rancher, he's the one who invited the boys in for donuts ― The Brother in-law as one of the cowboys on the trail.
Andy Marten played the man in Micah's office who said - "No hide off the innocent.....the guilty got it coming."
Robert H. Robinson has appeared in thirteen episodes ― The Safe Guard ― Duel of Honor ― New Orleans Menace ― The Gaucho ― The Pet ― The Photographer ― The Mind Reader ― The Patsy ― Legacy ― Shotgun Man ― Day of Reckoning ― Suspicion ― Hostage to Fortune. He played a townsmen in all these episodes except one and that is Duel of Honor as as John Bradley, a passenger on the stage.
*I have no idea who the other boy was with Melvin (Rusty Stevens) - There was no credit given. So I just made up the name Jake to fill in the blanks.
I got to meet Tony Haig in 2004 when we went out to Tehachapi for Chuck Connors Day.
He also went also with us to tour what was once Chuck's ranch - Medicine Hat Oaks.
Euclid was a Greek Mathematician (c.300BC)—Euclid's Geometry—The oldest textbook on geometry still in use today, the Greek mathematician Euclid originally compiled this work in c.300 BC. A brilliant refinement of earlier mathematical knowledge, the Elements has retained its importance since antiquity. Its success can be attributed to its simple structure where each theorem follows logically from its predecessor.
Hostage to Fortune - "He that hath wife (or husband) and children or other people depending on you, you can't go off on a reckless, great adventure, hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief."
Bloopers - Hostages to a Fortune
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
And the Devil Makes Five
The Sixteenth Cousin
around The McCain Ranch