"Welcome to the McCain Ranch"
Six Years and a Day
What a night that was! For as long as we live, neither Mark or I will ever forget that day! When a couple show up on my doorstep, I knew it was going to be a long night. But I had no idea just how long – and memorable – it would soon become!
I sent Mark into town to get Dr. Burrage at once! And Mark raced as hard and as fast as he could. Mark was quite excited when he found Dr. Burrage’s office empty. He raced to Dr. Burrage’s house as fast as he could and banged on the door, calling his name. Mr. Hannaberry watched with great interest and wanted to know what was wrong.
Mark tried to explain in an excited voice. “A couple just rode in. They’ve been crossing the plains! Well…the woman, she needs a doctor bad! Pa told me to get Dr. Burrage, and I already tried his office but it’s locked!”
That’s when Mr. Hannaberry delivered the bad news. Dr. Burrage was in Santa Fe and wouldn’t be back until morning. “You tell your Pa I’ll have the doctor out at your house as soon as he gets here!” he promised. He assured Mark he’d meet the doc at the stage and have him at the ranch before breakfast. Mark was relieved to hear that.
But what would we do until then?
Two strange men overheard the conversation. “If you were gonna kill a doctor, would you do it here where he is surrounded by his friends or would you prefer the country – a ranch, for example?” The gunman went to get the horses.
At the ranch, a woman was lying in bed sick. Her husband stood at her side, but quickly moved to a window when he heard Mark riding up. The woman suddenly cried out in pain and he hurried back to her side to comfort her through the pain.
I walked into the room, softly asking Lee Marston if I could see him. He hesitated, not wanting to leave his wife’s side, but he came out to talk to me. I had some bad news. “The doctor’s out of town, Mr. Marston. He won’t be here until morning.”
My news upset him. He needed a doctor right now. He was really scared. “There’s a neighbor woman, Minnie Grant, who might help out if worse comes to worse,” I told him. He asked me to send for her. “Just as soon as Mark’s done cleaning the hogs, he’ll go fetch her,” I answered.
I told him to get some rest, but as I watched him, I knew that thinking and worrying was all he was going to do. “You a farmer, Mr. Marston?” I asked then.
“Of sorts,” he answered.
“Would you do me a favor? Those hogs need feeding, and I need Mark in here to give me a hand. Could you take over for him?” He looked toward the bedroom door. “We’ll be right here if she needs anything.”
He knew he was no good here, so he agreed to go. I knew what he was going through, and I felt at a loss on how to help him.
He went to relieve Mark in the barn. Mark wanted to finish the basket he was on first. But Mark noticed that Mr. Marston was really upset. He assured him he could finish feeding the hogs. But Mr. Marston was just worried about his wife. He wanted Mark’s assurance that the doctor would indeed be there first thing in the morning. Mark promised him he would. Mark went on to tell the worried husband that Dr. Burrage was a good doctor and his wife would be alright.
When Mark came inside, he hurried up to me. “Are you sure he can take care of the hogs, Pa? He didn’t much seem to know what he was doing.”
I told Mark he was tired – he just needed to get his thoughts off himself. “But I want you to go get Minnie Grant. And tell her that this woman is having a baby and that she fell from a wagon a couple days ago. And tell her about the doc-“
Suddenly, our door gushed open and a man came in, dragging Mr. Marston inside with him. “What is this?” I asked angrily as I went for my rifle.
But then the gunman appeared in my doorway. He held a gun to me, demanding for me to hand over my rifle. He handed the rifle to the man named Bruce.
"Hope you weren't planning a quiet evening at home," Jack Cooke said. I demanded to know what he wanted. “Nevermind the questions! No one leaves the house while we’re here!”
Bruce checked the bedroom and reported that there was a woman asleep in there. We told him she was sick. "She needs a doctor,” Cooke stated as he slammed the front door shut. “Now isn't it too bad Doctor Burrage is in Santa Fe? We'll all have to wait here until morning." He then ejected the bullets from my rifle.
Mark then told me that he’d seen them in town standing in front of the doc’s house. "You waiting for Doc Burrage?" I asked.
"You bet I am. Six years I've been waiting for him. Six years, almost to the hour. But I'm a very patient man when I have a score to settle. I can wait one more day." He walked in front of me. “You must have a bottle in the house.” I just stood there, staring at him. “You’re not very hospitable, are ya'?” He began looking through my cupboards. “I’m not proud. I can serve myself.” He found my bottle of liquor. He sat down at the table to drink it.
Lee started for the bedroom. He was naturally worried about his wife and wanted to check on her, but as he reached for the hand of the door, a shot was fired right above his hand. "Maybe you didn't hear Mr. Cooke. Nobody leaves the room. I won't miss next time."
Mrs. Marston called for Lee. "My wife, she's calling me," Lee begged. Cooke told him he could go to her.
She was anxious. She wanted to know what the gunshot was. Lee calmed her down by telling her I had accident discharged the gun while cleaning it. She was relieved. She was upset, stating the whole thing was her fault – they should have stayed in Colorado. “I hope the baby will be alright.”
“Of course he will,” Lee promised her.
She gave a short laugh. “Not even born, and he’s got a mind of his own!” Lee commented that he took after her. She asked him if he’d be disappointed if it was a girl. Lee tired to assure her he didn’t care, but she knew better. She knew it was going to be a boy.
I was trying to stay busy in the other room, but Mark couldn’t seem to concentrate on anything. He was really nervous. He walked up to stand in front of me as he spoke softly to me. "Pa, the irrigation water is gonna overflow on the lower pasture."
"Are you scared son?" He slightly shook his head, but I knew better. "Don't be afraid to admit it. It's nothing to be ashamed of."
Just then, Cooke realized we were talking to each other and yelled at us to stop whispering and break it up. Mark looked to me for guidance and I motioned for him to move away from me.
Cooke was getting drunk. He had already drank one how bottle of liquor and was starting on his second. Bruce came over and tried to stop him, but Cooke just yelled at him. He told Bruce that he was paying him to carry his gun and not for advise.
I just sat there watching this pitiful excuse for a man guzzling down my liquor. He saw me staring at him and called me over to the table. “I don’t fancy doing my drinking alone,” he stated as he plopped down in a chair.
I came over to him and propped my foot up on a chair. He actually had the gull to offer me some of my own liquor! "I don't much appreciate being invited to drink my own liquor," I stated. "If you gun down Doc Burrage, you'll have the whole town on your trail within the hour."
“I’ll take my precautions thank you,” he stated as he took another drink.
I continued staring at him. “Suppose you tell me what’s between you and the doc.”
“You want to know? I’ll tell ya'.” He was really getting drunk. He just kept drinking and drinking. "He killed me. Six years ago, he killed me. Look at my hands. They were fine hands once. The best surgical hands in the territory."
I saw his shaking hands. "Right now they're the hands of a drunkard, mister," I said.
His words were slurring now. I could hardly understand what he was saying. He said he was a good doctor, so goo in fact that people asked for him to operate on them. “One night they brought a patient in. I was ready to help her – my hands were ready to help her. My body was tired so I took a few drinks. They said I was unable to stand on my feet while I was operating on her. But it isn’t true! She would have died anyway, I tell ya'! She would’ve died! She didn’t have a chance.”
I wasn’t sure what his story had to do with Doc Burrage. "Six years ago he testified against me. The others were undecided but he convinced them I was drunk. That I was a drunk! Then they barred me from practicing and chased me out of town."
That was a lame excuse if I ever heard one! I told him there were plenty of other places to go. “The prairie is crying for doctors.”
“With hands like these?” His voice was so slurred all his words couldn’t be made out, but I understood enough to know that he still believes that woman had no chance of living. That didn’t sound like doctor’s talk to me!
Boldly, I suggested, “Maybe this wasn’t the first time you were drunk before an operation.”
I sat down at the table defeatingly, stating he was a good doctor. He passed out drunk on the table.
Lee came back out of the room. He was very worried. He said her labor pains were coming on and she was going to need help. I suddenly rushed toward the door, but Bruce asked me where I was going. I grabbed my hat and turned to him. “I’m gonna get a neighbor woman, unless you think you can deliver a baby!” I answered as I started toward the door.
But Bruce ran to stand in front of the door, stating no on was leaving this house. Lee begged him, stating his wife could die if she didn’t have help. Bruce had a job, and he intended on carrying it out. He held the gun on me and said, “If anybody tries to leave this house, I'll kill them."
Lee went back to sit with his wife. I came in later to check on them. He looked exhausted and very concerned. It was 3:00 in the morning and I wanted him to get some rest, assuring him I’d keep an eye on things in here. I was worried to as I listened to his own worries. He was afraid delivering a baby without a woman’s help could be dangerous for her.
I tried to console him, telling him she may be okay. She’d been quiet for the last hour. But as I looked closely at her, I noticed her flushed face. I put my hand to her forehead to confirm my suspicions. She was running a fever – this would be no ordinary delivery and we both knew it.
I walked out of the bedroom, determined to get her some help one way or another. I’d start with Bruce, the so called hired gun! "What's he paying you to kill Doc Burrage?" I asked walking toward him.
He began backing away from me around the table. "Look, .if you’re trying to make a deal, you better forget it," he declared.
But I kept walking towards him until he was backed up against the door. "Don't you see he's a coward, he doesn't have the nerve to pull that trigger. He's using you because you don't know any better."
"He's paying me well for it," said Bruce.
"Whatever he's paying you, do you think it's worth it?" I asked. He was back up against the door now and had no where else to go.
He held the gun on me and pushed me back. "You don’t understand, do you mister? A man's got to be somebody. If he can't be somebody good, he might have to be somebody people just talk about. It's a chance to prove you've got something the other's haven't got."
“Maybe you’re the one who doesn’t understand.” I glared at him to show him I was a lot tougher then him. "Your only a wet nose kid, this may mean nothing to you. But I'm telling you because I think you have a chance to go on living. But once you've killed that chance is gone. You've got to keep on killing and when you've had enough and you wanta settle down, they'll find you. Sooner or later they'll hunt you down like an animal. I don't know what he's paying you, but I can tell you this, no pay is worth it."
Just then Lee came out of the bedroom. "Mr. McCain, we've gotta have help. The pain is coming on again. I don't think she'll-"
Suddenly Mrs. Marston screamed. The scream was so loud and terrifying that Mark woke from where he was sleeping in a chair and jumped up. A terrified Lee ran in the bedroom. Bruce and I followed right behind him. I stared at the agony this woman was being forced to suffer. Bruce tapped my arm and motioned for me to go into the other room. He wanted to talk to me. "Alright, you can go get the woman. The kid stays here to make sure that's all you get."
I had my back turned to him. I slammed my hand on the table and turned. “It’s too late to get help!” I informed him angrily. “I’ll tell you something, I don’t think anybody but a doctor can save that woman now, and he won’t be here till morning!” I looked at the passed out doctor still lying at the table. "So that leaves us your doctor," I said.
I started over towards Jack Cooke. I told Mark to put the black coffee on the stove. I shoved the empty liquor bottle off the table, grabbed Cooke by the hair, and pulled his head up off the table. I was angry, and Mark knew when I was like this to stay out of my way. "You may not be a much of a doctor, but you’re the best we can do now. Now listen to me." I slapped his face, trying to wake him up. “That woman’s hurt and need help bad.” Mark handed me the coffee.
I started forcing the coffee into his mouth trying to wake him up. “That woman’s running a fever and her baby’s coming! Drink it – all of it!” I screamed angrily at him.
I slammed the empty coffee cup onto the table and started slapping him again. I grabbed him by his coat and stood him up. "Listen to me, your gonna get on your feet and save that woman and the baby! I don't care if I have to carry you and support you while you helping her. Get on you feet!!!!!"
I stood him up and slammed him into the cabinet. Again, I grabbed him by the coat and said, “This woman needs a doctor’s help bad. You said you were a doctor, now prove it!”
But he was still out of it, grumbling about it being six years. “Spineless…worst excuse for a doctor I ever saw!” I sneered at him. I threw him across the room and he landed at the sink. I yelled at him some more. I began priming the pump as I held his head under the faucet. “I’m gonna tell you something,” I yelled. “You may not know this, but the man you’re aiming to kill is ten times the man you are!” I continued holding his head under the water. “You get yourself so drunk, you can’t even think about what you’re doing!” I threw him across the room. Mark moved away just before Cooke landed on the table.
I grabbed him again and stood him up to face me. “Six years you’ve been feeling sorry for yourself. And it’s about time you started feeling sorry for somebody else. Now listen to me, doctor. I don’t know if that woman can be saved, but you’re gonna do your best to pull her through. I promise you that! No wake up! Wake up! Wake up!” I slapped him hard across the face. He cried out in pain as my slap sent him against the cabinet again. I grabbed him by the coat again and started to yell at him again.
But suddenly, there was a piercing scream from the bedroom. We all turned to look at Lee as he came out of the bedroom. Lee stared silently at Cooke. A defeated look crossed Cooke’s face. The scream had knocked him back to his senses, and his healing instinct took over. I knew he would help her now.
"Get some hot water," Cooke ordered as he started for the bedroom and took off his coat.
It was almost four o’clock now. Mark was pacing the floor nervously as I sat at the table drinking my coffee and remembering twelve years ago when I was exactly where Lee was now.
Mark broke the eerie silence. "They’ve sure been in there a long time.”
"Those things take time son. Same as when you were born. I waited…waited."
“She'll be alright, won't she Pa?" It was an innocent question.
But my thoughts were on my wife and the agony she went through while giving birth to my son. I remembered that long day and how she struggled. It had been a hard, difficult delivery for her. "I don't know, son. I don’t know!" I slammed my fist on the table. My reaction scared Mark and he backed away. But realizing what I had done, I quickly turned and grabbed his arm. "I'm sorry Mark. You see son, when you were born your mother almost - well, she was sick for a long time." It was hard for me to think about, hard for me to remember.
Mark saw the pain etched on my face and stopped me from having to explain any more. "You don't have to talk about it Pa. I understand."
I looked up at him. I was proud of his mature attitude toward this situation. I laid a hand on his cheek as I thought about how big he was getting. "You’re growing up awful fast, Mark." It’s scary how fast he’s growing!
More time passed. We waited and waited. Lee paced the floor like any nervous father. The house had complete silence in it. It was twenty minutes after five when the bedroom door opened and Cooke came out. The look on his face told us nothing, but about the inner struggle he was giving with himself. We stood there, anxiously staring at each other…hoping…silently praying that-
Suddenly, a cry erupted from the bedroom.
Lee hurried into the bedroom. I closed my eyes, sighing in relief. Mark rushed into the bedroom right after Lee.
I walked over to Cooke, staring at him. “Whatever you’re thinking, you can save yourself the effort. Nothing’s changed. I did what I did because I’m the man I am. Things turned out alright, things are as they should be. But it doesn’t change a thing.”
The man was in denial, but I knew better. I saw the defeat in his eyes. I gave him a weak smile. "You came here to take a life, instead you brought a new one into the world. I think that makes a difference," I gently said to him.
"Mister you couldn't be more mistaken. You get lonely when people turn their backs on you. In this dream of mine..someday catching up with Doctor Burrage…well, I've grown very fond of it."
But Bruce was having second thoughts about his part in this. He started to tell Cooke that he’d been thinking, but Cooke turned on him. “What’d I tell you about thinking?” he screamed at him. “Next time you start thinking, I’ll send you right out of here! I can handle Burrage alone.”
“Then that’s what you’re gonna have to do, Mr. Cooke. I wanted to prove something to myself, and everybody else. I wanted to be somebody. But doing what you wanted me to do – that’s being nobody.”
Cooke yelled for him to get out. He knew the fight was over, and he was yelling at himself as much as he was at Bruce. When Bruce had entered my house, he was a boy; but he was leaving a man.
When Cooke turned back around, he looked up at me. I just looked at him. He had hit rock bottom and could now start the slow, painful climb back up.
Mark smiled at the baby who was peacefully sleeping in a ready made cradle – our laundry basket. They heard a horse galloping away. Mark peered out the window and turned back to the new parents. “It’s the gunman…the young one. He’s leaving,” Mark rejoiced.
Lee was relieved as he turned back and smiled down at his wife. Mark suddenly grew uncomfortable, knowing there would be some private moments they wanted to share together as new parents who had just brought their first child into the world. So he nervously excused himself, stating he needed to help me in the barn.
But as he came out of the room, he saw Dr. Cooke setting defeatingly at the table. Mark had a big heart and always did what he could to help those who were hurting around him. It was obvious that this man’s hurt was very deep.
So Mark spoke to him. "Ah, we're all real thankful to you doctor.” The doctor’s head slowly began to rise toward Mark. “Ah, I don't know what's troubling you, and Pa always did say to leave people alone when they're grieving but…Well, your friend’s left, and it's almost dawn outside…I thought perhaps you'd want someone to talk to.” The doctor only stared at him and Mark knew that the doctor wanted to fight his battle alone. “Ah, I think maybe you better get some sleep. I better go out and help Pa milk the cow. We want you to stay for breakfast."
But Dr. Cooke suddenly spoke. "What did you call me?"
Mark was a bit taken aback by his question. "I don't recall you name," Mark answered honestly.
"I mean before...when you just spoke to me."
"I called you doctor," Mark answered. Dr. Cooke mouthed the word silently.
Mark walked out to the barn to talk to me. " That baby sure is beautiful,” Mark commented.
I smiled at him as I milked the cow. "There's nothing more beautiful then a newborn baby Mark. It seems to make everything alright with the world."
"Ya' know Pa, that doctor, I don't think he wants to hurt Doc Burrage anymore."
"No he doesn't son.”
"I think it was his helping with the baby that changed his mind,” Mark stated.
Boy my son was getting smart! But I think maybe there were a few teaching moments left.
"Ya' know Mark, sometimes a man can go his whole life hating people, making one mistake after another and all it takes is one experience, like helping that baby be born, to…well, to change his entire outlook." I had been up all night and was tired. I started to yawn. “You know, I think that doctor’s gonna be alright!”
Mark saw an opportunity when he saw one, and he was never one to miss out on a perfect opportunity when it was there. So he folded his arms and mischievously stated, "You look tired Pa. I think I'm gonna stay home today and help you with the chores."
I thanked him, not even catching onto his con job. Boy, I must have been tired! “Thanks son,” I said. I told him he could start with milking the cow. I had something more important to do. Mark watched me walk out of the barn, wondering what was more important then my chores.
I went into the house to see the new parents. They had a fine looking boy! She wanted to see the baby, but Lee told her he was sleeping. Then she asked to see the doctor. I told her the doctor had to leave – he had some other calls to make. Lee and I looked at each other as I informed her another doctor would be arriving soon. Boy was I surprised to hear her next words.
“I did so want to thank him. He was such a wonderful man. So kind and gentle. Lee and I just looked at each other.
Mark and I were working out in the yard when the doc showed up. He told me he had gotten here as soon as he could. “You’re too late,” Mark announced.
Doc turned and looked at us. He asked if we were sure there wasn’t something he could do. “Not a thing, Doc!” I answered proudly. “Mother and baby both doing fine!”
“I hope you sent for Minnie Grant,” Doc stated But I told him there wasn’t time.
“Yeah, you see…this doctor just happened to come by,” Mark declared. “And then he delivered the baby and left again.” Doc was confused…and a little suspicious at what we were saying. I decided to invite him inside for a nice, big breakfast!
piddlin' stuff.....John Larch played Jack Cooke. He's the drunk who was looking for Doc Burrage for Six years and a Day.
Ron Hayes played Bruce, Jack Cooke's hired gun. He was the one Cooke was going to get to kill Doc Burrage.
James Gavin played Lee Marston, the husband of the pregnant woman.
Regina Gleason played Sarah Marston. She is the woman who fell from the wagon and is having a baby.
Ralph Moody appeared in a total of twelve episodes of The Rifleman beating John Anderson and John Milford out at eleven episodes. He appeared in nine episodes as Doc Burrage and in three other episodes. The Visitors as Jonathan Dodd — The Spoiler as Roy Merrick and The Hangman as Eban Muchen.
Doc Burrage: Six Years and a Day ― The Actress ― Dark Day at North Fork ― The Mescalero Curse ― Man from Salinas ― Quiet Night, Deadly Night ― Mark's Rifle ― Conflict ― Requiem at Mission Springs.
Doc Burrage was a regular character ~ how many different actors played Doc Burrage? Can you name them?
In this episode we get to see Doc Burrage's house. You can see his sign hanging outside of his place. Gee whiz, does the ole doc have a new office in his home? This is the only episode we get to see Doc's house. I thought he lived behind his office or within his office.
Hal K. Dawson played Hannaberry/Hannabury. This gentleman can be see in the beginning of this episode, the part where Mark is looking for the Doc. Is this a new Mr. Hannabury? The only thing is, the credits spell it Hannaberry. Different from our other Mr. Hannabury.
Bloopers - Six Years and a Day
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
Flowers By the Door
around The McCain Ranch