"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
The Jealous Man
Mark and I were on our way into town one day. On our way, we decided we’d stop in and meet our new neighbors: Jake and Fay Owens. Mrs. Owens was out in the corral mounting her horse when the horse suddenly reared. She fell off.
Naturally, I hurried over and didn’t think twice about helping her up. I started to help her inside when her husband, Jake, hurried from the house with a shotgun. "What's your business mister?" he hollered hatefully.
I gave him a friendly smile. "No need for that gun. I'm Lucas McCain...this is my son Mark. We're your neighbors. We just stopped by on our way to town to say hello."
But Jake was in no mood to be neighborly. "Alright you said hello...now clear out!"
Mrs. Owens was obviously upset by her husband’s rudeness. "Please go,” she begged. I felt it best if Mark and I left.
"And stay away from my wife!" Jake yelled after us. Fay got upset with him. She didn't like his actions. How could they live there after the way he treated us, she wondered. She went inside. Jake followed her in. He walked up behind where she was sitting. “Big man, that McCain. Like Andy Travis.”
“No, not like Andy Travis,” she replied. “Like you were once, Jake. A man I could look up to…respect. A strong man.” Jake said nothing. She reminded him that this was the third time they have moved in a year. “It” was already starting.
“I didn’t ask him here, and I don’t want him around,” Jake ordered her.
She stood and walked toward him. “The horse reared and threw me because you beat her. He was helping me to my feet!” Jake looked away. “You don’t believe that.”
“Not when you have to flirt with every man you meet,” Jake answered. She said all she had to do was talk to a man, he called it flirting. She couldn’t live this way.
Jake turned and walked out.
When Mark and I got into town, Mark commented on Mr. Owens. He didn’t understand why he had gotten so upset. “Well, he’s a strange man,” I agreed. I told Mark I needed to talk to Micah. I told him to pick up the mail then I’d meet him at the barber shop.
"Barber shop?” Mark complained. “Well…it was just a month ago, Pa!” I lifted his hat and studied his hair for a moment. Then I plopped his hat back on his head, deciding he could wait another week.
When I walked into the office, I saw Micah with a great big plate of food for breakfast. The doctor had put him on a diet – he needed to loose ten pounds. I told him to just stop eating so he could lose it. “Stop eating?” Micah exclaimed. “Well, I do it for energy to get my work done.”
Oh! “What work?” I asked. I slammed the door closed and sat down next to his desk. “The heaviest thing you’ve picked up in 20 years is a cell key!” Micah shook his head and complained that people thought all his job meant was wearing a star and shaking enough hands to get elected again.
Micah asked me if I met my new neighbors yet. He told me I'd like Jake and his wife, they were nice people. I stood up and walked over to the window. Looking out onto the street, I asked, “How well do you know Jake Owens?”
“Oh, about as well as I know you,” Micah answered. “Of course, ‘till he moved here, I haven’t seen him in oh…maybe four or five years.” Micah told me that Jake was a former marshal from Webbers Falls. He gave it up to become a cattle rancher. He was glad they moved here.
I was quiet. “What’s the matter, Lucas? You said you met Jake. What did you think of him?”
“Well, maybe he’s changed a little, Micah, since you knew him,” I simply answered.
As I was talking to Micah, Jake and his wife rode into town. I left to go over to the Boot Maker's.
There were two strangers in town. Andy Travis and Simms. They were watching from their hotel window as Jake went into the saloon. “Can’t say I blame Jake for building a fence around that filly. She’s pretty temptin’,” Simms stated.
“If you like arrogant women,” Travis replied.
Simms laughed. She had turned Travis down. ”Well, Jake Owens doesn’t think so. I saw to that, and it’s torturing him. He even gave up his badge to get her out of town. Simms was hired to make sure Owens was killed – but not in a handgun fight. Simms argued with him. He wanted a good gunfight. Owens said they’d dispose of Owens his way.
As I was heading back to Micah's to meet Mark I literally ran into Fay. I knocked her packages to the ground. I immediately bent down to pick them up, wondering what was in the open package. She said it was a hat. I couldn’t help smiling at her and admiring her. She was indeed a beautiful woman!
Fay commented on North Fork – it was better than she expected. “It’s a growing town,” I told her. I told her she was a surprise too – she didn’t fit the pattern of a woman living on a ranch. “It’s like findin’ a…thoroughbred pullin’ a plough.” She explained she was born and raised in the East, where life was different for a woman.
Just then Jake walked out of the saloon. He saw us talking. He rushed up to us angry and upset. “I told you to keep away from my wife!”
Fay tried to explain that we were just having a friendly talk. “Shut up!” he ordered. “This is your second warning, McCain. You’re not gonna get a third!”
Fay told him he was making a scene. She asked him to take her home. When she started forward, he shoved her back.
That made me angry! I couldn’t see a man treat his wife like this. I threw the packages I was holding at him. "You call yourself a husband?"
"She's my wife, McCain and the next time I have to tell you that will be with a gun in my hand." Jake warned me. That made me mad. I started to go for him.
Just then Micah saw what was going on and he stepped in. "Jake..Jake..what's the matter with you? What's the trouble?"
"Ask him...he's an old friend of yours!" I said angrily as I walked away.
Jake watched me leave. "Micah...how well do you know McCain?"
"As good of a friend as I have in the world and a man you can trust."
"I don't trust any man where my wife is concerned! Keep him away from me Micah!" His voice was angry and bitter. Fay stepped off of the boardwalk and made her way to the wagon. She was upset.
Micah was shocked by Jake’s actions. "What's wrong with you Jake. What's happened between you and Fay?"
"Nothing that concerns you," said Jake. Jake walked away and Micah went after him.
"Jake...look at me! Jake!" Micah yelled. "I always knew you were jealous of Fay but I never thought I'd live to see the day you'd treat her like you just did!"
"I don't want any trouble with you over McCain!" Jake sputtered.
"Any trouble will be of your own making!" Micah said.
"And hers...the minute my back is turned. McCain's a friend of yours. Keep him away from me and a long way from my wife!"
Travis was happy with what he saw. He had accomplished what he had set out to do. He convinced Jake he had married an incurable flirt. It was driving Jake berserk. He was making both of their lives miserable. Travis had it all figured out. If Jake kept antagonizing me – The Rifleman – he would not be long for this world. Simms got upset. If that was the case Simms made the trip for nothing. “Simms, if Owens dies it doesn’t make any difference who the executioner is…You or McCain!”
The next morning, I was busy loading the buckboard. I was going out to the North line to fix fence posts while Mark was in school. Mark, as usual, was taking his time in getting off to school. I reminded him that Miss Pritchard would be putting him to work chopping firewood if he was late. “Yeah, she doesn’t miss a chance to getting somebody on that woodpile!” Mark complained.
“Now, I’d say that’s a practical way of settin’ aside winter firewood!” I declared.
“Well, you wouldn’t think it was so practical if…if you were the one choppin’ more than half the pile.”
“Well, I guess that would slam my outlook on it,” I declared. I studied Mark. He sure looked distracted! “Mark, ever since you got up this mornin’, you seem to have something on your mind.”
Mark looked at me as he answered. “Well, I…I was thinkin’, Pa. Today we are studyin’ about…well, about English Kings, an’…well, I was just figurin’ it was more important for me to help you finish fixin’ those fence posts on the North line.”
I could see right through him. He was worried about that line being close to the Owens Ranch. Mark said, “Sort of,” which to me meant yes. “Well, no sense me tellin’ you not to worry about it. Worries Don’t shed too easily, that’s certainly the truth.”
“He sure is an unreasonable man, that’s the truth too!” Mark declared.
“There’s an old saying, Mark. The things we worry about most never come to pass, so with that in mind why don't you start riding and try and beat that school bell?"
"You mean if I keep on worrying about being late then it won't come to pass and I'll be early?"
"You can try it, but you can also try hustlin’ just to play it doubly safe.” That put a smile on my boy’s face. “Now get going," I ordered sternly. He laughed and rode off. I watched him ride off, shaking my head. That boy!
I went to the North fence line to get started on the fence. I discovered Mrs. Owens there sitting under a tree. She smiled at me. I apologized for intruding. I explained why I was there. “Well, I rode out here just to get from the house, some place where I could think,” she explained. I told her I’d come back later. But as I turned to leave, she held out her hand. “Stay please.” I took her hand and pulled her up.
She said she didn’t like being alone. “Sometimes it has it’s advantages,” I stated.
“I suppose so. But then it takes a certain kind of strength to face loneliness. I’m afraid I don’t have that strength.” I didn’t know it, but Travis and Sims were there watching us talk. Fay changed her tune and said she had another reason to be there. She wanted to apologize to me for her husband’s actions.
I laughed it off. “It’s just a man doin’ some early day drinking.”
“You’re very kind.” She smiled at me. “You’re a widower, Mr. McCain. You know what loneliness is.”
I nodded. “My wife died a long time ago.” I couldn’t think on her death without feeling sadness still today.
“Did you ever doubt her?” Fay asked me then. “Were you jealous?”
My answer was simple. I looked at her through moist eyes. "I loved her!"
She could see the truth in my eyes. "And you believed her when she told you she loved you?" I nodded. "Lucky man," she said. She rode off. I didn't know that we had an audience. Travis and Simms were watching and planning. They watched our conversation closely, but knew it was innocent. Regardless of that, they headed into town to spread rumors about Fay and me.
"Pa I've been thinkin' " Mark announced that afternoon as he washed up the dishes.
"I guess that a good sign your schoolings paying off." I smiled. I couldn’t help teasing my boy a bit!
"No...I've been thinkin' about a way dishes could wash themselves.” My ears perked up at that. This could be interesting. Only Mark would come up with a plan like this! “Suppose you had a box...I mean a box that didn't leak water and you put the dirty dishes in it."
"Well, I guess that could be arranged.” I gave a short laugh.
"Well, the rest would be simple...you'd just tie the soapy water box on the back of a horse and jog him around the house a few times." He stood there looking at me and I sat there looking at him. "Oh...no, I guess it wouldn't be too practical."
I thought it best he put that thought right out of his head! "No I don't think so son." I told Mark that after I got the wire cutters sharpened I was going out to the north line and replace some fence post. Mark said he'd have his chores all done by the time I got back. Just then we heard someone ride up. It was Micah. He asked to talk to me alone. Mark said he would go and hitch up the wagon for me.
"What's going on between you and Fay Owens?"
I had been working on sharpening my wire cutters, but I turned and looked at him, surprised at the accusing sound in his voice. "What are you talkin' about?" I asked.
"Is it true that you two had a meeting at your north fence this morning?"
"What do you wanna hear, that I've been seeing Jake's wife?"
"Well...have you?" Micah questioned me.
I suddenly got angry at him. "Not the way you mean!"
"Is there another way?" Micah shot at me.
"You know there is!" I yelled. "Fay Owens is an unhappy woman. No man has the right to treat her the way Jake does!"
"I agree but after all they are man and wife! What's between them should be settled between them!"
I ask him who told him about our meeting. He said he didn't know who started the talk but it was all over town. He thought it had started at the saloon.
“Well, talk is the one thing I never listen to!” I yelled. I couldn’t believe someone was spreading rumors about me that way! Micah should know better than to pay attention to it. I calmed myself down. “Oh…I’m sorry for her, Micah. That’s all. Being married to a man that doesn’t trust her…”
He said he didn't know what has happened to Jake. "I'd stay away from him Lucas and from Fay too!" I watched as my friend turned and walked out.
That afternoon, Jake returned home from town after hearing the talk. He strapped his gun belt on then went to get a drink. Fay came in while he was drinking. “Aren’t you drinking a lot lately?” she asked. He figured he had a good reason to get drunk today.
He turned and walked toward Fay. He bent down to get eye-level with her. “I heard about you and McCain.”
“You heard what? There’s nothing to hear!” Fay insisted. She didn’t deny meeting him at the North line. “I went there to apologize to him for your behavior.”
“Oh. I heard a different story in town.” She didn’t care what he heard. “How about today? Feel he needs another apology today? The bettin’ in town is McCain will be fixin’ fences again today with you right there helping him.” He wasn’t making any sense. Fay tried to tell him he was being ridiculous, but he wouldn’t listen. “Maybe I’m upsetting that by cuttin’ short my business in town.” She begged him not to start with his unreasonable jealousy again. “Unreasonable?” he yelled. “What about Andy and all those times I saw him riding away from our house?”
His accusations were wearing her down. She was upset. “I will tell you again, there was nothing between us. He was never in my house, I never saw him anywhere near the house.” She insisted that it was all talk. Thomas was a braggart. “You shot him for his bragging. Nothing else!” Jake didn’t say anything. Fay walked over to him. “Jake, your jealousy is destroying us. It’s already robbed you of the most important thing in your life – your job as a lawman.”
“The most important thing in my life is you. And I intend to fight for you!”
Faye laid her hands on him and looked into his eyes. "You don't have to fight for me. I'm your wife, I love you."
Jake grabbed her. "Mr. McCain is expecting a visitor at the north line...we don't want to disappoint him!" He then shoved her down into a chair and rode off.
I went back to my North Line to work. I didn’t know it, but Travis and Simms were out there waiting for the confrontation I didn’t even know was coming. Simms wanted to cut down Jake the minute he showed up, but Travis didn’t want it that way. “No, we’ll let McCain take care of the job. And if Owens comes out of it alive, we’ll take care of him then!” Since I would be a witness to the murder, they’d kill me too.
As I went to my wagon to get something, Jake rode up. I watched in silence as he chased his horse up and turned to me. He pointed a finger at me. “I warned you, McCain. The third time I talked to you would be with a gun.”
“If you came out here because of that talk in town…” I turned toward him as I grabbed my rifle from the wagon. “You’re making a mistake.”
“No mistake!’ Jake yelled. “That kind of talk don’t start by itself. You got your gun. Use it!” I tried again to tell him that he was making a mistake, but he insisted I use my gun. Then he started to draw his gun.
Bang! I shot him before his gun cleared the holster. He sat up and looked at me. I went over and kneeled down beside him and grabbed his arm. “How am I gonna convince you-“ I started.
Suddenly, gunshots sounded from the bushes. I pushed Jake down to the ground and fired my rifle over and over and over. I must have fired every bullet in the chamber. By the time I stopped firing, both men were dead!
Fay rode up just then. She stopped to look at the men I’d just killed, then rode over to us. I held onto the horse while she got down. She rushed over to Jake, hoping he was okay. He wanted to know who I shot. She announced that it was Andy Travis. “Travis!” Jake jumped up. “And you saying it was just talk! He even followed you here!”
“Jake, he must have started the rumors in North Fork just as he…” Her voice died as Jake stared doubtfully at her. “Oh, Jake…No!” she cried.
“He wanted me out of the way. Then you’d go to him.” She turned and walked away. She was too tired to fight anymore.
Seeing this made me mad. Even I could see the truth for what it was. I walked up to Jake. "You're a fool Owens," I said. "This fellow Travis...do you think he just wanted you dead? That could have been easily arranged. Ambush...no witnesses. Are you so blind that you can't see that he just wanted your jealousy? Your sickness to cause your death?” I paused, giving him time to think. “You are a fool."
It finally sunk in. When I left, Jake was talking to Fay. Hopefully this will end all their troubles.
Now to solve the other matter: Mark and I were doing the supper dishes. He handed me a plate back. "This one isn't too clean Pa."
"Well I guess the best dish washer is still a woman...huh?"
"I guess so," said Mark. "Ma was as pretty as Mrs. Owens wasn't she?"
"Yes she was!"
"Were you ever jealous over Ma like Mr. Owens was?"
"Oh maybe a little while when we were courtin'. But not after we were married." I looked at my boy "You know son...being jealous...means a…a man doesn't really trust himself. And he doesn't trust his wife to know her own mind when she says she loves him. Your Ma always knew her own mind!"
"Yeah," said Mark with a big smile. "Say Pa. About that dish washing box idea. I've been thinkin' about it. Suppose we had a little windmill. We could attach a shaft to a rockin' chair and every time the windmill turned the rocker would go back and forth and rock all the dishes clean."
“That's a good idea but how about the days the wind doesn't blow?" I asked.
"Oh I never thought about that. Hey Pa. Tommy Hamilton once let his dog lick his plate clean and his Ma never knew the difference. So what if we had one of those old farm dogs with one of the big old lapin' tongues who's always hungry...why he..." Mark turned and looked at me. I was giving him one of those looks. “I guess that would be a…a unsanitary dishwasher.”
“Yeah,” I said with a disgusted look. That's my boy! Always trying to get out of the dishes! I handed him another plate to clean as he kept thinking.
piddlin' stuff.....Mort Mills appeared in two episodes ― The Sister as Joshua Snipe, one of Rebecca's brother ― The Jealous Man as Jake Owens, he was the jealous husband.
Diane Brewster as Fay Owens. She was Jakes wife.
Richard Garland as Andy Travis, he was the one who Jake had crippled and the one who wanted Jake dead.
Rex Holman was in three episodes ― The Jealous Man as Simms, Travis' hired gun ― Death Never Rides Alone as Billy Graves, he is the one who took Mark's horse, Blueboy and Old Man Running (aka The Wanted Man) as Bob Sherman, the brother of Jeb and Little Boy Sherman, the Sherman gang who was looking for Mark's Grandpa.
*Lawrence Dobkin directed The Tinhorn ― Jealous Man ― Day of Reckoning ― The Executioner & Man from Salinas. He wrote the episode The Actress. He also directed some episodes of Branded. Besides doing this, he appeared in many other shows and films.
He appeared in four episodes of The Rifleman ― The Sheridan Story as General Phil Sheridan. Knight Errant as Don Chimera del Laredo, he was the guy with the sword. The Gaucho as Juan Argentez, the Gaucho's father. The Day a Town Slept as Ben Judson. He was the man who beat Micah in the election for Marshal of North Fork.
Did you know that Lawrence Dobkin played General Phil Sheridan in both The Rifleman and Cheyenne?
In Cheyenne he played General Phil Sheridan in Gold, Glory, and Custer. This time he is presiding officer at a court martial hearing involving Custer's Last Stand. Thanks PJH!
*North Fork had three different school teachers.....Marilee Phelps - played the school teacher, in Eight Hours to Die (1958). Depending on where you check this info you will find her credited as Miss Adams or teacher.
Later Patricia Barry played Adele Adams, the towns school teacher in Three Legged Terror and The Woman (1959).
In The Schoolmaster ― Arnold Moss played Stephen Griswald, the new school teacher in town. (1960)
Although we never saw Miss Pritchard, she is mentioned in The Jealous Man. So I guess you could say 4 different teachers, but we only met 3 of them.
Bloopers for this episode & other episodes