"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
Mark and I were on our way into town one evening when Nils stopped me on the road – he told me to stop by and see Micah. So, when I got into town, I stopped by Micah’s office to see what he needed. We were going to have dinner with Milly, but this wouldn’t take long. I sent Mark over to fetch Milly while we talked.
As Mark was leaving, he ran into John Hamilton. He handed me a note that came in this morning from Yuma. $50,000.00 in cash was being delivered via the Yuma stage tomorrow night. John was supposed to hold it in his bank for the army – they were using it to buy some Texas beef from Fort Sumner. John felt it was safe enough in the special strong box built into the body of the coach, and John was holding the only key that would open it. Here was the problem: we had to transfer the money by hand from the strongbox into the bank’s safe.
That’s where I came in. Micah was going to stand guard during the transfer, but they’d feel better if I helped them out. I agreed to help them out. Then I headed over to the hotel for supper.
After dinner, the three of us walked outside. "It was a wonderful dinner,” Milly said as she walked between Mark and me. “Thank you, Lucas."
"My pleasure Milly,” I assured her with a smile. “Sorta help to repay taking care of this monkey tomorrow night."
"You don't have to repay me!” Milly declared. She turned and smiled at my boy. “Mark's always welcome!” I took her arm as we stepped off the porch and into the street. “Besides, we have fun playing checkers and reading," said Milly.
"Yup, and you're still three games up on me from last time," said Mark.
"We'll just have to see what we can do about that," laughed Milly.
I wanted a few moments alone with Milly. "Son...you mind getting the horses?”
Mark smiled and looked at Milly and me. "Alright Pa."
Milly smiled at me as we walked slowly alone. "If the stage is too late getting in, Mark could spend the night," said Milly.
"Oh I don't think that will be necessary...the stage is always on time," I assured her.
"But carrying all that money.....would they keep to their regular schedule?" Asked Milly.
Ah, now what a sweet lady she was! I couldn’t help but look into those beautiful eyes of hers as I spoke. "I don't see why not. Like John Hamilton said, it's safe, least until it gets here. Then all we'll have to do is transfer it from the stagecoach to the bank. It'll be well guarded!" I said.
She stared into my eyes. I heard the worry in her voice. "You will be careful, won't you Lucas?"
I grinned. It felt good having someone like Milly worrying about me. “Stop worrying, Milly.”
She looked down at the ground and swallowed. Then she looked back up into my eyes. I was grinning really big. "I guess I can't help being a woman.”
Boy, but that got my heart to racing! I looked her up and down – I’d noticed that myself! "No you can't!" I said as I grinned lovingly at her. [ teehee.....Cowgirl said ;) ]
Suddenly, our spell was broken. "All ready Pa," yelled Mark.
I turned toward him. "Ready son?" I turned and said goodnight to Milly.
I started to leave, but she stopped me with a soft touch and that beautiful smile, and her soft, beautiful eyes and…"Thanks Lucas," spoken in such a…WOW!
We then headed for home as Milly headed inside her store.
Had I known that Milly was in danger when she entered her store I would have done something to help her. Maybe if I would have gone in with her to make sure everything was alright, I could have protected her…and my son. But I didn't and know, because I wasn’t the gentleman I should have been. I didn’t know that two men, Sloan and Andy were hiding out in Milly's store. As she entered the store she went to light the lamp. Sloan, the master mind, surprised her. When Milly struck the match, he put his hand over her mouth. Milly’s eyes filled with terror.
“Be quiet now! Quiet!” The voice from behind her ordered. He blew out the candle. “I don’t want to hurt you, so don’t make a sound!”
Andy closed the blinds and reported no one was outside. Only then did Sloan remove his hand from Milly’s mouth – but he ordered her not to make a sound.
Milly was terrified! She had no idea how they had gotten into her store or what they wanted. “Just be quiet, young lady. You’ll find out in good time,” Sloan assured her.
Again, Milly asked what they wanted. The man reported that they would be keeping her company for awhile. “At least until tomorrow night. Now, the more cooperative we are with each other, the easier it will be,” Sloan stated slowly. Milly was stuck on the tomorrow night part of Sloan’s answer. “Only until the Yuma stage arrives,” Sloan reported.
It only took a moment for his words to sink in her brain. She knew what they were planning to do and remembered that I would be there. Fear gripped her heart. "No,” Milly said softly at first. Then she shouted, “No you can't!" She ran for the door.
Andy reached out and grabbed her, wrapping his arm around her neck. "Mr. Sloane told you...don't you give us any trouble."
Sloane stopped Andy. “I believe the young lady understands. It wouldn’t do for you to act up again, you know. Andy sometimes uses his gun…on impulse.
Milly turned and stared at Andy. “Please…” Milly walked up to Sloan. “Please, will you go away?”
Sloan assured her they would leave in time. "Surly you don't intend to stay here until tomorrow!" He did. "But tomorrows a work day! People will expect the store to be open," said Milly.
“The store will be open,” Sloan assured her. "As usual, until it’s regular closing time. And all day long...just remember one thing...as I said before...Andy sometimes uses his gun on impulse." "He'll kill you, or anyone else, for that matter, who interrupts our plans. Is that clear?"
She nodded. Just then someone started jiggling the door to the store. It was Micah making his rounds. Sloan put a hand over Milly’s mouth and Andy drew his gun, ready to kill anyone who came in. He walked around the back and tried that door, but it too was locked. Sloan moved Milly to the back of the store and motioned for her to get down. He motioned for Andy to get down by them.
Micah started to leave, but for some reason he decided to give one more look. He looked through the window but saw nothing, so he walked away.
Just then, Milly knocked over a lamp top. Fear gripped her – she feared for Micah’s life. Micah heard the noise and came back. He looked in the window again but saw nothing. Then he left.
The next afternoon, Mark and I were getting ready to head into town. But I wanted to make sure my rifle was in perfect condition just in case I needed it tonight. While examining in, I found something wrong and sat down to work on it while Mark finished up his chores. I fixed the firing pin and it worked perfect after that. Mark ran up to me. “Say Pa, where’d you put my saddle bags?”
I gave him one of my famous looks. "Where did I put your saddle bags?"
“Yeah, I’ve been looking all over for them!” Mark declared as he ran into the house.
“What would I be doing with your saddle bags?” I wondered. "Look under the bed," I suggested.
"Nope.....not there," yelled Mark.
"Well try the closet then," I said, as I worked with my rifle.
"Not there either," Mark called out again.
"How about the kitchen? Look behind the wood box."
Just then I heard a thud. I shook my head as Mark came running out of the house. I don’t even want to know how they got there!
"Wonder how it got there?" asked Mark.
“Yeah, I wonder!” I declared.
I checked to see if all his chores were done – he sure had a long list of chores to do today, and he assured me they were all done. “Everything’s done just the way it should be,” Mark assured me. We started to leave, but Mark stopped me with a question – you know Mark and his questions! “Pa, do we have to come home tonight? After you finish your work with Micah?”
I put a hand on my shoulder and looked down at my son. “Why not?”
“Oh, I don’t know. It’s just that we haven’t spent the night in town for a long time,” Mark stated.
“Ohhhh…” I slapped him on the shoulder. "You know something, son? I worked hard building up this ranch and someday it’s gonna be yours and I'm beginning to wonder....." I leaned down next to him.
"About what," asked Mark.
"The way you like to go to town these days. I'm wondering if you wouldn't rather be a city slicker then a rancher," I said.
"Me?" Mark said it really sarcastically, but he turned away from me.
"Well...you never say no to an opportunity to go to North Fork these days. You know, the time was when you use to like to stay here and work the animals.....fish the pond.....herd the cattle."
"Well I don't see you stickin' around anymore then you have to,” Mark argued. I smiled at that. “Especially since Miss Milly showed up," said Mark. I gave him another look and from the look on my face, he knew he was right.
"You know somethin' Mark?" I asked.
"You left the front door open." We looked at each other and laughed. "And you’re gettin' too big for you're britches," I said. He laughed and went to shut the door.
It was hard for Milly to pretend like nothing was wrong all day. In fact, she was a bit impatient and irritable with people. Her last customer – a woman – was insisting on getting the material she had ordered. Milly promised her she’d look for it tonight. “But I need it today!” Milly had no choice – she was about to burst out crying and begged her to come back tomorrow. The customer left in a huff.
Milly quickly went over and locked up the store. She looked out the window and saw me and Mark coming into town. She threw a hand to her mouth and quickly began closing the blinds. She was hoping we wouldn’t come by if the store was closed up. Sloan came out of hiding. “May I offer you my congratulations? You did nicely all day long. Not a single slip up.”
Milly had her back turned to him and stayed quiet. She didn’t want him to know what the plan had been for that night. He stopped talking as he sensed a problem. Peeking out the blinds, he saw me and Mark ride up. “Who are they?” he asked. Milly stayed silent. “Who are they?” This time his voice held a warning in it.
It broke Milly’s heart to answer. She was suddenly so afraid for us! “Lucas McCain and…and his son.”
“So?” Andy asked.
Milly cried. “The boy was going to stay with me…While his father helped the Marshal take the money off the stage.”
“He comes here, you get rid of him!” Andy demanded.
But Sloan overrode that order. “Decisions will be made by me If the boy was to stay with you, so he shall. If the boy is turned away, it may seem odd. Suspicion will be cast in this direction. We can’t afford that.” He said Mark would stay.
“No!” Milly said sternly as she turned around. She didn’t want Mark’s life in danger.
“You don’t have a choice,” Sloane stated. “Your life now depends on what you do. Yours. The boys…Yes, even his father’s.” Sloan smiled, knowing he had Milly cornered.
I walked Mark over to Milly’s while Andy gave Milly some last minute orders. He reminded Milly that if there was any trouble, he kill me first. “People would hear,” Milly warned. “You’d never get away with it.”
“Don’t tempt me lady!” Andy sneered. “Don’t you tempt me!”
Sloan slapped his hands together to interrupt the threats. He was sure Milly understood her orders.
When we got over to the store, we were surprised to find it all locked up. “Hey, you closed early!” I stated after she finally opened the door. She quickly explained that she was working on inventory. “Oh, well if Mark can help you with any, you put him to work.”
I started to leave, but Milly stopped me. She wanted me to stay for supper – she was baking an apple pie. “Oh boy!” Mark declared.
“You can see – apple pie is his department.” I slapped Mark on the shoulders. “You behave yourself, boy!”
Mark came in sniffing the air. He didn’t smell anything. He turned and saw Milly lean against the door. He could tell something was wrong. "Somethin' wrong?" He asked.
"Oh Mark!" She grabbed Mark and hugged him as she cried.
"What's the matter?" Mark was bewildered. He’d never seen Milly so frightened.
“Sounds like you were gonna slip a little.” Mark shot around and saw Andy standing in the doorway. “But you did just fine.”
Mark saw the two men standing in the doorway. “Who’s he? What’s he doing here?” Mark asked. Mark had walked toward them. Milly hurried up to him and put a protective hand on him. Andy told him to do just like I had told him to – behave himself.
“As soon as we finish with our…business here…You won’t have to worry about us anymore,” Sloane promised.
“They’re gonna rob the stage when it comes in,” Milly told him in a calm voice.
The news scared Mark. “No!” He cried. He ran to the door, but Andy grabbed him by the neck.
“Leave that boy alone!” Milly pleaded.
“I’m gonna tell you what she already knows,” Andy stated sternly. “If you try that again, somebody’s gonna get hurt! That goes for your daddy or anybody else that gets in your way! You understand?” Mark nodded slightly.
“Listen to him, Mark,” Milly warned. “It’s the only thing we can do.”
Sloane ordered Andy to take Mark and Milly in back.
They took Milly and Mark in the back, tied their hands, and gagged them. Then they watched as Micah and I made our way down the street.
The town was quiet, but Micah wanted to make sure everything was good. The stage would be here in ten minutes.
Sloane went to the back room one more time. “Well young lady, you did just fine. Just fine…” Sloane stated. “In a little while, we’ll be done with our business here and will leave your little town far…behind…So don’t spoil it with any…last minute heroics!” He grabbed Milly’s face and forced her to look at him. “Do you understand?” Milly shot her head back around and nodded. He looked at Mark and grinned. “Son, tomorrow you can tell all your friends about it.”
The minute he left, Mark and Milly went to work.
I went to look over the saloon when a rider came up. He stated he came down from the plains – he was a buffalo man – they were dying out. I told him he was in cattle country now. Then he went into the saloon.
I went to pet his horse, but I realized something odd. I thought I should ask Micah about it.
Mark and Milly were working at getting loose. Milly motioned for Mark to get over to an ax that was sitting on a barrel. Mark grabbed it behind his back and waited for Milly to come over to him. Then Milly grabbed it from him and began sawing the ropes on his hands.
I went to Micah and told him about my concern – the buffalo man’s horse was dusty but not sweaty. It didn’t look like the horse had ridden very far. Micah decided we should have a look.
Just then, the stage came. Sloane was excited. It was time for action. Micah and I headed toward the stage. Milly had freed Mark hands and Mark went to work on hers.
We walked up to Oliver, the stagecoach driver. He reported that everything went fine. Sloane stared out the window with a big smile on his face. “When they open the box,” he told Andy. “Not until they open the box!”
Milly and Mark were loose. They crept up to the door and Milly put a finger to her lips, telling Mark to be quiet. She grabbed an empty canteen and waited until they went outside. When the coast was clear, she leapt out the door and threw the canteen toward the window. “Lucas!” She screamed. At the same time, the window shattered.
I turned toward the window and saw two men standing in the shadows. Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!” They both fell over – dead. The so-called buffalo hunter came out of the saloon. “Bang!” Micah killed him.
It was over before I really knew what was going on!
. It was suddenly quiet once again. Milly and Mark ran to the doors. Mark ran straight into my arms. “Pa!” Mark cried. Milly hurried out to me, but stood back.
I held my arm out to her and she wasted no time. She ran straight into my arms. The three of us stood there hugging. I was happy to have my best boy and my best gal in my arms – safe and sound!
While Micah and I wrapped up our job, Milly and Mark went to lock up the store. "I don't know what good locking the door’s gonna do," Milly said as they started down the steps.
"Miss Milly...were you scared?" Mark asked as they walked across the street .
"Well to be perfectly honest with you...I was really scared."
"So was I," Mark said.
She turned and looked at Mark. She put a motherly hand under his chin. “There’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
I came up to the two loves of my life just then and announced the money was all locked up safe in the vault. "Say Pa...why don't we go get Micah and Mr. Hamilton and go get something to eat! I'm hungry!"
"Hungry? What about all that apple pie you ate?"
"Well...how could I eat with my mouth gagged and my hands tied behind my back and..."
I put a hand on my hungry son’s shoulder to stop his explaining. "Alright...we'll go get Micah and Mr. Hamilton and we'll get some apple pie."
That made Mark happy. We took off racing toward the restaurant.
piddlin' stuff.....Charles Macaulay played Sloan. He was the man in charge. Mr. Fancy Pants!
Tommy Cook played Andy Carr. He's the youngest of the bad guys.....really just a kid.
Joan Taylor played Milly Scott. Milly bought The General Store from Hattie Denton. Hattie had to leave to go and help her sister in Denver. Joan Taylor appeared in eighteen episodes as Milly Scott and was introduced to The Rifleman in Miss Milly.
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)
Paul Wexler appeared in four episodes ― The Pitchman as Cleek Watson, he was one of the brothers looking to kill Swifty for selling his Pa bad medicine ― Sheer Terror as Harris the buffalo hunter ― The Queue as Les Foster, Vince's drinkin' buddy ― Outlaw's Shoes as Joe Weiden, he brought a mob to the Sheriff's office.
Bruce Hayward played Oliver, the stagecoach driver.
Betty Lou McVay/Betty Lou Varnum as the lady customer in The General Store.
Harlan Warde appeared in eighteen episodes as John Maysfield Hamilton, President of the North Fork Bank. He was first introduced in The Safe Guard. In this episode North Fork's Bank was first established and John Hamilton was new to North Fork.
Bloopers - Sheer Terror
You've heard Lucas' story, now hear Mark's
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