|Season 1, Episode 31|
Feet of Clay
Death at Dawn
Dark Star on IMDb
Dark Star on TV.com
Little Joe comes upon a gypsy girl. Frightened, she runs and falls becoming unconscious. When she wakes, they discover that she believes she is bewitched and so do her people who banished her. Her birth under a dark star has fostered this belief. Little Joe, smitten, must rescue her from this belief, her people and someone posing as a wolf.
As Joe and Hoss are out tracking a wolf, Joe dismounts and follows the tracks. He spies a young woman lying on the ground. When he approaches, she gets up and runs. She stumbles down a hill and lies unconscious. Hoss joins Joe and they take the young woman, who appears to be a gypsy, home.
The doctor has examined her and tells the Cartwrights to give a her night's rest and some food then send her on her way. They don't know where her people are, so the doc suggests they turn her over to the sheriff. When Joe protests that she hasn't done anything, the doc says she will. Joe goes to check on her, but she only wants him to go away. When Joe won't leave, she bites his hand.
That night Joe hears the front door close and looks out his window to see the gypsy girl outside. He joins her and she won't look at him. She points to the North Star and says she wants to take. She talks about the darkness being the inside of a bell that rings forth the spirits of the dead. Joe asks about her people, but she claims she has no one. She asks why Joe cares. Is it because she's pretty? Joe thinks she's strange. She accuses Joe of being a little boy, while she is old, withered, dead. She tells Joe to go away before she turns him into a toad, which just confirms Joe's opinion.
The next day, Ben finds the girl scraping crumbs off the dining room table. He offers her breakfast, but she merely comments that he's a rich man. He agrees he has much to be grateful for and asks about her people. He wants to return her to them. She says they didn't lose her, she's different from them. She can go anywhere, be anything. Ben asks what she'd like to be. She says she wants to be free. Then she grabs the tablecloth and pulls it from the table and runs screaming out the door. Her wild behavior spooks Hoss and Joe's horses. She runs the other way and Joe follows. She stumbles again and Joe drops down beside her. She grabs his gun. He holds her still and asks why she wants to kill herself. "I'm a witch. It is the dark star."
Later, the gypsies roll in. Hoss thinks they're making camp, but Ben thinks they've just come for the girl. She comes out and says they haven't come for her. Ben doesn't understand, but intends to take her back. She won't go, so Ben and Hoss go to see the gypsies alone.
The gypsy leader, Zorka, wants to camp on the Ponderosa until the sky clears. Ben repeatedly brings up the girl, but Zorka avoids talking about her, but admits she brings misfortune. Ben accuses him of leaving her to die. Zorka says they only left her behind. Ben says they can stay on the Ponderosa if they take the girl with them when they go. Zorka offers to sell Ben some horses. Ben's a good judge of horseflesh and doesn't fall for the gypsies old horses. Although one gypsy is offended that Ben and Hoss have accused them of fixing the horses to look younger, Zorka simply asks them to dinner. They're celebrating All Hallow's Eve. Ben tries to decline, but Zorka insists and tells Ben to bring the pig. Ben still refuses and Zorka accepts it. Ben reminds him to leave when the weather clears and with the girl.
Joe finds the girl by a pool of water and finally learns her name, Tirza. She starts talking crazy again and Joe asks what she meant about the dark star and why she tried to kill herself. After some more talk about wanting to be a fish, she finally says it's because she's a witch. A gypsy man rides up, Spiro. Joe introduces himself, but Spiro tells him to go run his kingdom. He apologizes to Tirza saying he didn't know she was left behind. He might've been able to stop it. She accuses, "And all you'd want for that service is to hold me in your arms for all the nights that are to come." He tries to kiss her. Joe comes to her rescue and there's a brief fight. Spiro pulls a knife, so Joe pulls his gun. Spiro warns Joe that it's his face that will be the last one Joe sees, but leaves.
At dinner, Hoss comes in and reports a missing pig. Ben intends to make Zorka pay for the pig. Hoss and Joe think watching Ben negotiate with Zorka will be great fun, but Adam says he'll stay home in case the gypsies pull a wagon up to the house and walk out with all the furniture.
Zorka offers to pay for the pig with a silver bowl which is much more valuable than the pig. Ben has to refuse that, but Zorka offers him to at least enjoy some pork. While eating, Ben asks why they think Tirza is a witch. Zorka says she was born under a dark star and can turn herself into a wolf. While they're talking Tirza comes in and starts dancing. Joe's enthralled, as is Spiro. But then lightning flashes and everyone is afraid. Tirza runs off and Joe follows. Zorka warns Ben not to let Joe go after her, but Ben knows Joe can take care of himself.
Joe catches up to Tirza by a large rock. Joe asks why she came to dance in camp and she says she likes to see the fear in their faces. He assures her she's not a witch. She says Joe is a tree with his feet firmly planted in the ground. She'd like to be a tree and spread her branches out to protect the children. She asks if Joe thinks she's beautiful. He kisses her. Spiro has also followed them and witnesses this. He raises his rifle and takes aim. But a wolf howls and he leaves.
Tirza wakes up in her bed at the Ponderosas. There are chicken feathers and bloody wolf prints on her bed. She runs to Zorka and begs him to help her. He tells her it will be quite painful, but she wants to be like the others.
Tirza didn't close the front door when she ran and it bangs shut waking Joe. He investigates and finds her gone so he goes to the gypsy camp. Only Spiro is there. Spiro tells him that Tirza turned herself into a wolf and killed the chickens. She's going to go through a ceremony that will pick at her soul until they can remove the evil. Joe starts to leave, but Spiro pulls out a whip and stops him. Everytime Joe tries to go for his gun, Spiro whips him. Finally they fight hand to hand. Spiro pulls his knife and as they fight for control, the knife goes into Spiro.
Joe gets to the ceremonial grounds to find Tirza staked to the ground. Two gypsies hold him back so he can do nothing but watch the ceremony. She tells Joe she wants this and when the ceremony climaxes, Joe breaks free and goes to her. She tells him she's now free. Joe takes her back to the Ponderosa.
At breakfast, Joe tells Ben he wants to marry Tirza. Ben is agreeable, but Zorka arrives and says the weather has cleared so he's come for the girl. Joe tells him that Tirza is going to stay with him. Tirza says she's not. She has waited so long to see love in their eyes, not hate and fear. She's finally a fish swimming with the others. Joe wants her to stay, but she tells him, "You're a tree, not a fish." She leaves. Zorka apologizes for Spiro. They found a wolf paw with blood still on it and they should've recognized the devil in him. Ben and Joe watch the gypsies move off.
- Lorne Green: Ben Cartwright
- Dan Blocker: Hoss Cartwright
- Michael Landon: Little Joe Cartwright
- Pernell Roberts: Adam Cartwright
- Argentina Brunetti: Bruja's Helper
- Arthur Batanides: Spiro
- Hugo Haas: Zirko
- Lili Valenty: Bruja
- Susan Harrison: Tirza
- Tirza bites Joe's right hand, but when he comes out of the room, he is rubbing his left hand and shows that one to Pa to see the wound.