"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
I Take This Woman
This story starts out simple enough – Nils rolling a fixed wagon wheel down the street. That’s a common occurrence in North Fork. Even a broken wagon sitting in the middle of the street isn’t THAT big of a news-worthy item. Watching two men trying to lift a loaded wagon so they can get a wagon wheel on isn’t that rare either. Nils and Pete didn’t get far. After several tries, Nils finally decided they better unload it.
Enter an Irish man – a stranger to North Fork. He looked around the town, then noticed the trouble Nils and Pete were having. "Allow me gentleman, would you, please?" The man then pushed Nils out of the way and lifted the wagon all by himself! Nils and Pete were so surprised by this, they just stood there looking in amazement. “Please, don’t just stand there! Please get something under it!” The man groaned. Then he sat it down gently. "I've heard people say that most of my brains are in my arms and my back...and you know something, I'm forever trying to prove they are correct," said the stranger. Nils told the stranger he’d have him lift the roof on his house when he got ready to roof it. The stranger joked that he didn’t want the house more than three stories tall.
After joking around with the two men he went over to get his horse that was where Micah was standing. "You know that was quite a compliment coming from a blacksmith," said Micah.
"Oh...thank you sir, that comes from lifting stones to find enough sod underneath them to plant potatoes," said the stranger.
"Am I right in thinking it's the sod of County Down you're referring to?" Micah asked.
"Yes you are sir, yes indeed! Yes, I'm a County Down man...Dennis O'Flarrety is the name." Micah then introduced himself. Dennis thought it to be a good omen that the first man that he met was an Irishmen and a better omen that he was the law too. He then pointed to the sign above the hotel and asked about the Mallory House. “Would that Mallory be a red haired, green eyed Irish girl of more then passing beauty?”
“You’re a friend of Lou’s?” Micah asked.
“Now, does the description fit the name?” Micah grinned and nodded. “Well…then a friend of hers I am indeed! And one that’s eager to see her too!” Dennis went straight to the hotel.
Dennis walked into the hotel, he threw his bag onto the desk and as he rang the bell he noticed the bar. When he walked up to the bar, the bartender asked him beer or whiskey. Dennis told him that was a poor thing to offer him, being that he had been twenty days on the road. When the bartender mentioned 'Irish Whiskey,' that was more to his liking.
Just then Lou noticed Dennis's bag on the desk, she walked into the bar to ask Larsen about it but stopped dead in her tracks when she saw Dennis. She was shocked! “Of course, my dear heart! Now, who else would it be but myself…” He held up a finger. “Ah…” Then he picked up his drink. “Drinking to the health of the future Mrs. Dennis O'Flarrety!”
Lou was very surprised then. She was actually speechless! Dennis begged her to say something. “Hello, Dennis.” That’s all she could muster out at the moment. She was quite surprised! Dennis told Lou he thought about writing her, but thought it would be better to surprise her. Dennis declared that things had changed for the better.
“A lot of things have changed, Dennis,” Lou declared.
He agreed. “But not the old things…no. Not the loyalties…the friendships…the old promises, Lou. Lou told Dennis it hat been ten years since she left Ireland. Dennis told her it had been ten times ten years. He took a good look at Lou and decided she was the same radiant, lovely creature that she always was. “How about a kiss from your future husband, huh?” He started to kiss her. Lou silently turned her head away. He kissed her cheek instead. He knew it was stupid of him to think about kissing her when he was so dirty.
I was in town and thought I'd stop by and say hello to Lou. I didn't see her in the lobby of the hotel when I walked in. I called out her name. "In here Lucas," Lou called.
I went into where she was and started to ask her a question. But I stopped when I saw Dennis. I apologized for interrupting and started to leave. She said I wasn't interrupting and she introduced me to Dennis. We shook hands. "Lucas is my dearest friend here in North Fork." She told me that Dennis came from the same part of Ireland as she did and that they had joining farms.
Lou started to go get Dennis a room, but Dennis stopped her. He turned to me. “Mr. McCain, um…seeing as herself doesn’t have any relatives here abouts, and that you are her best friend, I was wondering if you would do me a favor.”
“Name it,” I nodded.
“Well…uh…be best man at our wedding, huh?”
That sure took me by surprise! “At your wedding?” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! Lou told me to wait, but I wanted to discuss this with Micah!
“They may even ask you to give the bride away!” I was telling Micah. Micah asked me what I was going to do about it. “Nothing.”
“Nothing?” Micah was surprised.
“Micah, she was standing right there at the time. She didn’t say anything. She’s a grown woman. If she gets it in her heat to get married, well, she’s got the right.
“Well, I won’t argue that with ya', only I…I sorta figured…”
“Well, you better start re-figuring things!” I told him. He guessed he better, though he doubted it would ever make any sense!
I told Micah I needed to get home. He couldn’t believe I was leaving without talking to Lou, but I figure I’d see her next time I was in town.
Just as I was leaving Lou walked into Micah's. "I asked you to wait for me!"
"I know...but you were involved," I answered.
"Don't you want an explanation?"
"You don't have to explain anything to me Lou!"
"Ohhhhh Lucas...will you please stop acting so contrary!"
"Contrary! I thought I was being a gentleman!" I exclaimed.
"Then would you please stop being a gentleman and listen to me?" She was getting irate.
"Alright...I'll listen. What is it?"
Lou explained. "When I was eight my mother died. And there was my father with six children and me the oldest. And…and he was a sick man as well. So Dennis agreed to help on our farm and see that we had food and clothes. He kept us alive during the drought and bad crops and before my father died he offered to give Dennis our farm."
"Sounds to me like he might have earned it," I said.
"He did," Lou agreed. "But he refused it. He wanted something else.....my father agreed. It was a debt of honor.” I couldn’t believe it! I just pointed at her in shock. “That's right...me! They shook hands and with my father’s last breath on earth, he promised me to Dennis."
"Well you were only a child...nobody has the right to give you away," I said. Lou told me I didn't understand the ways of the old world and that a father had the right to pledge his daughter in marriage. “But you’re not in Ireland now – You’re in America!” She said her birth ties go deeper, especially when a pledge is a dying pledge, given in bond for a rightful debt. “You telling me you feel duty bound to marry this man?”
“I am!” I shook my head in disbelief. “Well, aren’t you gonna say anything?”
“Of course.” I stood up and smiled at her. "Good luck Lou.” Then I walked out of Micah's office and headed home.
“Good luck?” she gasped with her hands on her hips.
Later, Dennis walked into the bar at the hotel and was surprised at how quiet he was. He told the bar tender to keep it Irish Whisky. Larsen told him the other was a lot cheaper, but Dennis insisted. “I’m sure Miss Mallory won’t mind the expense.” Dennis was going to need a few things. Larson told him Nils had some used saddles, but Dennis wanted everything new. Dennis then wondered what people did when the sun goes down.
“Sleep,” Larson answered.
“And for those that are interested in a little manly conversation or…sport?” Larsen told him that Sweeny’s place always has Pharaoh games going on over there. That made Dennis happy. He wanted to hurry on over there and meet Sweeny.
As Dennis was leaving, Larsen mentioned something important. “Might as well let you know…uh…Miss Lou doesn’t have an account over there.”
"Well, she will!" Dennis declared.
I decided to tell Mark about Lou’s pledge to be married while we were having supper that night. “Why, Pa?” Mark asked.
As a father, it’s my job to explain to Mark why things are the way they are. I did my best, though I didn’t much understand it myself. “Well son, people seek things differently in different parts of the world. Now in Ireland, they have a lot of old fashioned customs like a father being able to give his daughter away in marriage without consulting her first.”
Boy, Mark sure didn’t like that! “What?”
“I guess it’s a man’s world there,” I explained.
Mark thought on that and decided that he sure didn’t want to marry someone who didn’t want to marry him! “Well, there’s more to Lou’s decision than that, son.” I explained that Dennis did a lot for Lou and her family, so it was like paying off a debt.
“Marrying somebody because you owe them.” I don’t think that sat very well with my boy. “Is that why Ma got married?” He asked then.
“Of course not, son. We were in love. We wanted to be together. And we were for as long as God let us.”
“Well, with Lou and Mr. O'Flarrety, it’s more of a business deal then a marriage isn’t it?” Mark asked then.
I told him it was still two people getting married. “Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying rather it’s right or wrong. I’m just saying it’s the custom of her country. Does that satisfy you?”
“Sure, if it satisfies you,” Mark answered. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that answer!
The next day, I went into town to see Micah. When he asked me what brought me into town, I told him “Dennis O'Flarrety. What do you make of him?”
I took Micah’s coffee cup right out of his hand and took a drink as he thought of how to answer. “Well, something tells me that when St. Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland he may have overlooked one or two. I agreed with him.”
Meanwhile, over at the hotel Lou was upset with Dennis when she saw the stack of bills that Dennis had ran up and had charged to her. She went to confront him with it. He told her not to worry about that at all. “In my family, it’s the man that does all the worrying about the money.”
But that wasn’t good enough for her. “A lot of hard work, sweat, and paint went into everything that I have! I’m not gonna stand by and see you waste it away.”
He took her hand and, in a nice way, told her not to talk to him like that. She explained to Dennis that one of the reasons she left Ireland was because she couldn’t see herself like the other women – becoming a drudge for a husband. “No, you don’t seem to understand! It’s the man that heads the house and makes the rules. Now, if I want to make you a queen, then it is a queen you are going to be, but if I want you to be a drudge…” He allowed the remainder of that sentence to die.
Lou tried to explain that she wasn't the little girl she used to be and he couldn't scare her with his threats and his bulling. “I can still you are still a child of your father’s. Beautiful and radiant, but willful and forgetful of her promises.” He assured Lou that she would come around to his way of thinking and with that he started squeezing her wrist. Lou flinched from the pain. At the same moment, he assured her he wanted to be kind and gentle to her. He reminded her of the promise and her not appreciating what he had done for her family and reminded her what was hers was his and what was good for him was good for her. He kept twisting her wrist as he spoke.
“Let go of me, Dennis!” she screamed. He was really hurting her.
But he refused to stop twisting her wrist until she gave him her answer. Suddenly, Larson came from behind the bar. “Leave her alone,” he demanded.
Dennis slowly turned and looked at Larson. He walked up to Larson and punched him right in the stomach. He then grabbed Larson around the neck and started squeezing.
Lou jumped up. “Dennis, don’t! ! I won't fight you!" He let go of Larson and pushed him across the room. He wanted her to repeat it. “I won’t…fight ya',” Lou answered quietly. He told her that was a wise decision. He knew she’d see it his way in the end. He then wrapped his arms around her and hugged her. Lou was miserable!
Lou came back into the bar later and apologized to Larson for what happened earlier. Then she sent him to the General Store for more coal oil. I passed him on my way out. Lou walked around the bar. She was about to check the stock. “Well, we can still talk, hm?” She didn’t want to talk today. “Yeah I know, but I’ve got some time on my hands while Nils is shooing my horse. Anyway, it’s too hot to wait outside.”
Lou was really edgy. She snapped at me, telling me I didn’t just walk over here to discuss the weather. “Just an innocent statement. Don’t get riled.”
“I’m not riled!” Lou practically yelled at me.
“Oh, of course you’re not.”
“I’m busy, Lucas.” Lou turned away from me.
“Can’t you call him Dennis?” she snapped.
“Mm…It’s a quaint old Irish name. Must admit though, I was surprised when you said you were getting married.”
“Well, it didn’t seem to bother ya' any,” Lou reminded me.
“Yeath, that’s right. But it did bother Mark. I was talking to him about it last night.”
“What were you talking to him about?”
“Well, I was telling him all the things you told me about this O'Flarrety.”
“What is so difficult about the name of Dennis?”
I held a finger at her and shook it at her. “You’re getting riled again,” I warned her.
“I am not getting riled!”
I apologized. She even got mad at me about that! “Well, like I was telling Mark…uh…this Dennis?” Lou gave me an awful look. “O'Flarrety …That’s a real man, I said, Hard working, industrious, man of honor, loyal…the kind of man any woman would be proud and thankful to marry.” I just looked at her.
“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t tell me how to run my life. I’d also appreciate it if you didn’t discuss my affairs with Mark!”
Well now, Mark figures he’s a friend of yours. Since he has your best interest at heart…”
I told her I could see she was very happy. “Men!” she declared. “There’s nothing aggravates me like the superior male who thinks he knows everything about everybody’s character!”
“Did uh…did I give that impression?”
Boy, was I ever getting a tongue lashing! “You know absolutely nothing about Mr. O'Flarrety!”
I shook my finger at her. “Dennis,” I reminded her.
“I know his name!” she screamed at me. “And I know a lot more about him than you do. It just so happens that Dennis O'Flarrety is-“ She stopped. I asked her to tell me what. “Just stay away from him!” The anger left her voice. She suddenly sounded worried. "Please Lucas...you don't know anything about him, he'll do anything to anyone who gets in his way."
"Then send him packing!" I said.
"You can if you want too!" I said. She said it was enough with one man telling her what to do she didn't need another one giving her orders. I told her I was trying to help. She told me she didn't want my help or any man's help anymore. I asked her if she was in trouble.
“Trouble?” She started to walk around the bar. “Trouble’s what got me beholden to one man. I’d just as soon…” She paused when she saw Dennis. “…soon it didn’t get me beholden to another.”
I turned around and glared at Dennis. "Well if you’re so interested, why don't you just come in,"
"I'm standing here just quietly protecting my property," said Dennis. "Is that what she is to you?" I asked. He told me it was none of my business and it was an arrogant question and called for an apology. "That my friend is a matter of opinion!" I said as I started towards him. Lou stopped me, she told me Dennis was right, what was between them was their business. “None of my business.” I didn’t like leaving her. I knew there was more going on then she mentioned, but I had no choice. I had to respect her wishes. I said goodbye, then turned around and walked out.
They watched me leave. Dennis told Lou that if she did the right thing by asking me to leave.
That night, Mark and I were both reading our Bibles. Mark had been bugging me all evening about what he’d heard. I kept telling him to tend to his lessons and keep quiet about it, but he couldn’t seem to do that. “Well, it wasn’t old women talking. It was Nils and Mr. Sweeny.” I told him again to forget about it and tend to his lessons. “Pa, Lou is our friend. How come we’re not doing anything? And I mean doing – not talking!”
“Well, because I was told it was none of my business, Mark,” I answered as I again turned back to my Bible.
Mark declared that he was bleeding her dry – buying things with her money. I wondered if all the kids did was listen to old women’s gossip. Mark got defensive. “Well, if it was me and I was a doing friend instead of a talking friend, I’d saddle up and go do something about it!”
Mark’s words really got to me. I sat my Bible down and stood up. Grabbing my hat, I went to the door. I opened the door, then turned to Mark. "Thanks for some good fatherly advice.”
While I was on my way into town to be a doing friend, Dennis was on his way to the saloon for a game of cards. He told Lou to go to bed like he had told her and she'd wake up feeling like a queen.
Lou was happy to see him leave. This was the chance she was waiting for, she was getting out of this situation no matter what! Even if it meant she had to leave behind everything she had worked so hard for. She hurried up to her bedroom and got her already packed bags out of the closet, and hurried down the steps. She then headed for the back door, but to her surprise when she opened the door, there stood Dennis.
"Well, there you are my love. What is it we've got here? Traveling bags, are you going some place? An over night trip perhaps.....huh?" Asked Dennis as he picked up her luggage and tossed it aside. He startled her; she had not expected him to be outside the door. She was afraid of what he might do knowing she was going to leave. “Why are you looking so frightened, darling?” Lou started backing away from Dennis. She was terrified!
Lou then told him she wasn't going to marry him. She told him that if her father were alive today and would know Dennis as he is today, he would not hold her to that promise. He grabbed her and told her to promise him she would never try and run away again. He told her she would never be lonely with him there. Just as he started to embrace her I walked in.
Lou finally found her voice. “I’m not going to marry you, Dennis.” Dennis told her she didn’t know what she was saying. “If my father were alive to know what you are, he wouldn’t hold me to that promise! I believe that with all my heart.” She backed up, but he kept coming towards her.
Finally, he grabbed her. “You run away once before. Now you’re doing the same thing again.” He pulled her against him. He told her to promise him she’d never try that again. He kept talking to her in that threatening voice as he held onto her really tight.
Then I walked in. Dennis acted like he was thrilled to see me. He wanted to give me a drink of Irish whisky. But I just stood there and stared at Lou. I saw it in her eyes. Silently, my eyes asked her if she was really happy, and the answer I got back was that she wasn’t – she desperately needed my help. This man was hurting her. The whole time we looked at each other, Dennis kept talking. I refused his offer of a drink, so he drank his alone instead.
When Dennis finished his drink he sucker punched me and I fell to the floor. I got up and took a swing at him. We just kept hitting each other harder and harder. We fought though the hotel lobby and then I knocked him through the window of the lobby and out into the street. We fought in the street. He tried to throw a wagon on top of me. As we kept fighting, Dennis knocked me through the window into the gunsmith's shop. We fought out into the street again then I hit Dennis and he fell into the water trough. He got back up and we kept fighting and ended up across the street into Sweeney's. That's where Dennis finally had enough, he collapsed.
I was exhausted! That was one humdinger of a fight; and I sure had taken a beating. I slowly walked back to the hotel; Lou was standing in the doorway. It took me awhile to get the energy up to speak. When I did, I said, "You said it was none of my business, so I guess you'll want me to pay for some of the damages,.”
Lou burst out laughing. It was nice to hear her laugh again. I knew that I should have done that a long time ago! I joined her and laughed.
Lou came to have supper with me and Mark at the ranch that next evening. Mark served us. “Mill Lou, I can’t help wondering. If you had gotten to run away, would that mean that we would have never seen her again?”
“You don’t have to answer that, Lou,” I stated. She was honest with us though.
She didn’t know what the answer was. “I know running away doesn’t solve any problems, but at the time it was all I could think of. Getting rid of some of the old world customs I grew up with is more easily said than done.
Just then I knocked on the table. "Well...it's all over now.
That’s just what she meant. She knocked on the table. “It’s an old Irish custom to knock on wood so the Leprechauns will hear and know you are thanking them for a piece of good luck.” When Mark heard that, he knocked on the table. We all started knocking on the table, then. We were laughing and enjoying each other’s company once again!
“What is the origin and true meaning of knock on wood or touch wood?”
To touch wood or knock on wood is a superstition action to ward off any evil consequences or bad luck, perhaps because of some recent action you’ve taken or untimely boasting about your good fortune; it can also be a charm to bring good luck.
piddlin' stuff.....Patricia Blair as Lou Mallory. Patricia was first introduced to The Rifleman in Lou Mallory. She played a hot-tempered Irish lass who was a razor-sharp businesswoman. She joined the cast in the fifth and final season and appeared in seventeen episodes. Patricia replaced Joan Taylor who played Milly Scott owner of The General Store.
Sean McClory appeared in two episodes ― Knight Errant as Colonel Black, an old friend of Lucas', the union officer ― I Take This Woman as Dennis O'Flarrety, the Irish man came to claim what he was promised, Lou Mallory.
Charles Cooper played Will's older brother Hank Fulton in this episode of End of a Young Gun. He also appeared as Rudy Crofts in The Stand-In, he was the prisoner who escaped ― Matt Yordy in Honest Abe, he was the man who kept picking on Abe ― Larsen the bartender in I Take This Woman.
Joe Higgins played Nils Swenson. Is it Nils or is it Nels/Niles? What is his last name.....Swenson/Svenson aka The Blacksmith? Joe Higgins holds the record for playing Nils or was it Niles or Nels? There were four episodes that Joe did not play Nils or was it Niles or Nels?
He played the bartender in Strange Town — Rafe the blacksmith in The Wyoming Story part 2 — Short Rope for a Tall Man as Henry Schneider the horse thief — Stopover as Scotty the Stagecoach Driver.
Stopover was the only episode to run one day over schedule.
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.
Fritz Ford appeared in twenty episodes and still counting. Besides acting in The Rifleman he was also a stunt double for Chuck Connors.
What a great fight this was between Lucas & O'Flarrety. But we must give credit to the following two stuntmen.....
Fritz Ford was Chuck's double in this episode.
George Robotham — Stuntman. Doubled for Sean McClory in this episode.
Bloopers - I Take this Woman
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
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Bloopers for this episode & other episodes
Death Never Rides Alone
around The McCain Ranch