|Season 1, Episode 17|
|Ep.# in Series:||17|
|Air date||January 9, 1960|
|Written by||Thomas Thompson|
|Directed by||Lewis Allen|
| Previous Episode:|
El Toro Grande
| Next Episode:|
A House Divided
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The Cartwrights come to the aid of Leta Malvet when she is ostracized by the community after her father and brother are hanged by a lynch mob for killing two men while trying to rob the stagecoach that they thought carried the Ponderosa's payroll. But Adam is sure that the gang will try again when they find out that the Malvets came up empty-handed and suspects that it's no coincidence when Leta's beau, bad boy Clay Renton, comes back to town.
Leta Malvet, who is ostracized by the town of Virginia City for the criminal acts of her father and brother, whose boots are shown hanging before a lynch mob for the crimes of their wearers in the opening scene.
The distraught Leta is taken in by Ben Cartwright to rest at Ponderosa for several days on the advice of the doctor. Leta's lover, Clay Renton pays a visit to Ponderosa to check up on Leta, much to the chagrin of Ben and Adam. While Adam voices his concerns to Ben about Clay's visit on account of his criminal past, Hoss reserves judgment.
Ben gives Leta a carriage ride over to her house and assures her that the Cartwrights will help her in any way possible. She will need all the help she can get, because the townsfolk go out of their way to give her the snub job as she goes about her business in town. Leta has to choose between fleeing town to begin a new life elsewhere, free of the opprobrium of the townspeople, or to stay and thought it out.
She decides that she can make a living by continuing to sell the eggs from the chickens that she keeps to Harvey Bufford who runs a general store in town.
Clay waits inside for her as she enters her house and as he talks to Leta he suggests that she has been converted by Ben Cartwright. For her part, Leta never thought of herself as a bad person to start with and is puzzled by Clay's stance on the matter. Nevertheless, she is clearly in love with Clay and wants to marry him, despite his sordid past.
Next, we see Leta carrying a basket of eggs to sell to Bufford's store, drawing disapproving stares and discourtesies from the residents whom she encounters along the way. While negotiating the sale of the eggs with Harvey Bufford, she fancies a pair of ladies' boots but states that she doesn't have enough money to buy them. Harvey insists that she take the boots and even places them into her basket on top of the eggs. But Harvey's price for the boots is Leta's feminine favors, which draws her ire and she smacks him away. Clay enters the store and witnesses the aftermath of their little altercation, warning Harvey to stay away from Leta. As Harvey's wife enters to see what the commotion is about Harvey coldly accuses Leta of trying to steal the boots and picks them up from the basket to show his wife. However, his wife states with clear purpose to Harvey, "I saw EVERYTHING".
Now, the Cartwrights have been finding new and ingenious ways to transport the miners' payroll across their Ponderosa ranch without tipping their hand to bandits who had stolen it in the past. This time, Hoss and Lil Joe ride up to the ranch house with a carriage load of wood, except the payroll is concealed beneath the wood. As they unload the payroll cache they unwittingly reveal their secret to Clay who spies them through a pair of binoculars.
It turns out that Clay is a member of the band of robbers who have been targeting the payroll run, but their leader, Spence, seems unwilling to make the hit until the situation is nearly perfect. This does not sit well with the ambitious Clay, who argues with Spence that he could pull it off, saying that he will rob Bufford's store to get enough money to buy fresh horses for the heist. As the dispute escalates, Clay shoots Spence dead to take over the band of outlaws.
Meanwhile, Hoss delivers a sack of feed to Leta for her chickens. She intrigues him with the request to wait at her kitchen table for a surprise. It turns out to be an innocent one as she shows Hoss the wedding dress that she made. When Hoss learns that she intends to marry Clay Renton, his demeanor turns down, but her optimism about starting a better life with Clay shines through the gloomy outlook that we see in Hoss' eyes.
Now the threads come together as Leta carries her home-made wedding dress to town to enter it into the dress contest at the annual Bazaar, but as Mrs. Bufford is chief arbiter she turns away Leta, telling her that she is too late. Down the street Clay and his band break in to Bufford's store which is closed for the Bazaar, break into the safe, but find only fifty dollars inside. Harvey Bufford enters his store to retrieve a parasol for his wife, but discovers his safe has been cracked open. Clay confronts him and pistol-whips him several times, then flees with his band.
Ben and Hoss came to town to enjoy the Bazaar while Adam and Joe were instructed to carry the miners' payroll today. Ben spots Harvey slumping out the front door of his store and a crowd rushes to his aid as he gasps Clay Renton's name, then gives up the ghost. Ben resolves to find Clay before the town sets another lynch mob after him.
Ben sends Hoss to find his brothers and meet him at Ponderosa. They find that three of the men were seen heading toward the lake, so Ben sends his boys to get them while he heads to Leta's place alone. As expected, Clay is there, but hides in Leta's bedroom while Ben tries to convince her to bring Clay to justice. She fears for Clay's life, but Ben assures her that he will do everything he can to ensure that Clay gets a fair hearing.
Upon leaving, Ben discovers Clay's horse behind Leta's house while Adam shows up to deliver news of the capture of the rest of the band of outlaws. Ben tries to talk Leta out of the house, but Clay plans to take Leta out the back door and make a run for it. The situation worsens when the angry mob from town shows up, not interested in the least in Ben's notion of justice nor fairness; they want blood!
As Clay expounds on his getaway plans, Leta grabs her rifle and orders him to put down his gun. Instead he hides it in his boot and commends Leta on her negotiating skill with Ben, thinking she is on his side in her own getaway plan. She opens the door and follows Clay outside, keeping her rifle trained on him the whole time. Ben tells the crowd he will handle this and if they want Clay so badly he will have his back turned toward them, counting on their honor not to shoot him to get Clay. But, Leta surprises Clay by telling Ben to check his boot for the gun. Seeing that the game is up, Clay reaches down to his boot to draw his weapon, but Ben is faster, dropping Clay to the ground.
As this morbid scene draws to a close, Mrs. Bufford offers her apologies having now seen Leta's true colors for the first time.
Cast and CharactersEdit
- Lorne Green: Ben Cartwright
- Dan Blocker: Hoss Cartwright
- Michael Landon: Little Joe Cartwright
- Pernell Roberts: Adam Cartwright
- Edward Platt: Harvey Bufford
- Irene Tedrow: Mrs. Bufford
- Jack Lord: Clay Renton
- Joel Ashley: Boyd
- Mark Allen: Garth
- Robert P. Lieb: Spence
- Susan Oliver: Leta Malvet
Did You Know?Edit
- It's revealed that Little Joe's middle name is Francis.