the frenchman
Bonanza Western TV
The Lone Writer  

The Frenchman Full Episode – Bonanza, Season #03, Episode #12

The Frenchman, penned by Norman Lessing, features Andre Phillipe as the titular character, a flamboyant individual who asserts himself to be the reincarnation of François Villon. Initially, Hoss Cartwright tolerates the Frenchman’s extravagant claims, but tensions escalate, leading to a heated verbal confrontation and a duel challenge. Meanwhile, Joe Cartwright becomes enamored with the Frenchman’s sister, Eloise, portrayed by Erika Peters. This episode originally aired on December 10, 1961.

Delve into the captivating storyline and discover exciting trivia, or sit back and enjoy the entire episode provided below.

Watch the Full Episode of The Frenchman

Watch the Full Episode of The Frenchman:

Main Cast

In addition to the main cast, “The Frenchman,” the twelfth episode of Bonanza Season 3 showcases various recurring and guest-supporting actors. The following individuals make notable appearances in the episode:

  • Pernell Roberts as Adam Cartwright
  • Dan Blocker as Eric ‘Hoss’ Cartwright
  • Michael Landon as Joseph ‘Little Joe’ Cartwright
  • Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright
  • Andre Philippe as Francois Villon
  • Erika Peters as Eloise Villon
  • Victor Sen Yung as Hop Sing
  • Ray Teal as Sheriff Roy Coffee
  • Robert Stevenson as Jim (as Robert J. Stevenson)
  • Fred Aldrich as Townsman (uncredited)
  • John Bose as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Bill Clark as Hank (uncredited)
  • Walt Davis as Townsman (uncredited)
  • Betty Endicott as Townswoman (uncredited)
  • Max Wagner as Townsman (uncredited)

Full Story Line for The Frenchman

A haughty Frenchman arrives in Virginia City, boasting that he is the reincarnation of the renowned poet François Villon. However, his true nature is revealed as a deceitful scoundrel. While the Frenchman’s charming sister enchants Joe, the rest of the Cartwright family remains skeptical. The situation escalates when François challenges Hoss to a duel and absconds with two Cartwrights’ horses and portraits of Ben’s wives.

Full Script and Dialogue The Frenchman


Let's go in and wash
some of that trail dust

out of our craws, Joe.

Well, I-I can wash up anytime.

Joe... you got
time for that later.

Come on.

Get out of here!

Unhand me, varlet!

- What's he saying?
- Remove your filthy hands


from my person!

- Oh-oh-oh-oh...
- Imbecile!

You varlet!

Hey, you know,
that wasn't very nice.

He called me a varlet.

I know what a varlet is.

It's one of them English
sissies that goes around

dressing up the counts
and them dukes and such.

That's a valet.

- Huh?
- A "val-ett" to you.

Oh, oh, yeah.

Well... varlet's probably
something even worse.


I demand satisfaction.


Do what?

You have humiliated me in
front of all these witnesses.

I shall not rest until I
obtain full satisfaction.

He means he
wants to fight a duel.

You... you must be joshing.

You ain't even got a gun.

As the insulted party, I
have the choice of weapons.

I choose swords.

Aw... I wouldn't even know

how to handle
one of them things.

I shall teach you, mon ami,

after which it shall give
me the greatest of pleasure

to kill you.

Lady? Uh, lady...

Please, lady, don't go crying.

Look, lady, I don't
like to do this, either.

Eloise! Un moment! Chéri!

I-I've got nothing
against you at all,

not a thing in the
world, mind you,

it's just... well, it's him!

Hey, Jim, what's the matter?

What's the matter?

Now, you boys have
been out of town,

but let me tell you, this
flea-bitten little Frenchman

- is the worst pest...
- If I am bitten by fleas, monsieur,

it is only because the beds
in your pigsty are full of them.

Apologize? Never!

Ah, doesn't she
talk pretty, Hoss?

Yeah, sure does.

Yeah, well, boys, this varmint's

been thrown out of every hotel

and boardinghouse in this town.

Ever since he got here,

he's been writing them poems.

- Poems?
- Well, that's what he calls 'em.

He prints 'em, then he
posts 'em up on walls and...

and hitching racks and...

Here, look here, Hoss.


"Shunned like the plague

"by all you hold dear, this...

pest hole which calls
itself The Palace."

"Better far to perish, to
cross the desert alone,

"this barn is not
fit "for man nor...



Better to spend time
killing the roaches

in your plague-ridden bistro
than murdering my rhymes!

The word is pronounced cochon!

What's that?

Oh, that-that's French, Hoss.

Uh, probably means "coach,"
you know, like Charlie Jones

- drives the stage.
- Oh, oh, yeah.

Permit me to correct
you, monsieur.

The word signifies
"pig" or "hog."

But when I say that this barn

is not fit for... even them,

I am insulting the
whole family of pigs!

Hoss, I thought
you were my friend.

Aw, Jim, I am. It just
struck me funny, that's all.


Ah, François, what are we to do?

- Well, we think of something.
- Come on, Joe.

Let's go get a beer.

Do not worry your
little head, sister.

Uh, excuse me, did-did you
say the little lady was your sister?

Mais certainement.

It's plain to see
she's not my brother.

That's a good one on you, Joe.

It would have been a distinct
pleasure to kill you, monsieur.

But since my sister and I

can find no shelter
in this barbaric village,

we are compelled to take the
next coach to San Francisco.

My brother and I just
brought some cattle

up to the high country.

That road's been
closed by a landslide.

Be at least a week before a
stage can get through there.

Oh, François!


Well, look, miss, since, uh,

since you have no
place to stay here in town,

I wonder if you might
not accept my invitation

to put up with us
out at the Ponderosa.

- That's our ranch.
- Hey, Joe, don't you think

we ought to talk
to Pa about it first?

What do you mean, talk to Pa?

I mean, this is exactly
what Pa would want us to do.

After all, he doesn't want
some strangers leaving

our little town with a low
opinion of our hospitality.

Hospitality? Joe,
did you hear that...

- That little fella wants
to kill me!-Oui, monsieur.

I shall be delighted
to accept, monsieur.

You are so very kind, monsieur.

How can I ever repay you?

I must admit, this comes
as somewhat of a surprise,

but of course, you are
most welcome, both of you.

I'm sorry, I didn't
quite catch the name.

For a good reason, monsieur...
No one has mentioned it.

It is Villon. François Villon.

My sister, Eloise.

Did you say François Villon?

The same.

Well, I must say, you
haven't aged very much.

Hey, you two fellers
know each other?

No, François Villon is
one of the greatest poets

in French literature.

I'm delighted to find someone

in this wilderness with even
the slightest particle of learning.

Are you by some chance a
descendant of the great poet?

I shall be happy to
explain, monsieur.

- You see, François...
- Oh, François...

She's tired. Perhaps I
can explain another time.

Oh, well, of course,
please forgive

our thoughtlessness,

Uh, Hoss, would you
take their bags in?

- Uh...
- Merci, monsieur.

Hoss, don't forget to get
all their things, all right?

Monsieur Hoss, do not
forget my sword case.

One of them is reserved
especially for you.

What does that mean?

Oh, I neglected to tell
you... How stupid of me.

It is a painful
necessity, but, uh...

I fear there's no way
it can be avoided.

I must obtain
satisfaction from your son.

Monsieur. Monsieur.


From Hoss?

To make the omelet
light and fluffy,

instead of heavy and
greasy, as these eggs were,

you beat the whites and
the yellows separately,

add a touch of basil,

the very-est soupcon of parsley,

and perfection.


Mr. Cartwright!

Hop Sing, Mr. Villon and
his sister are our guests,

and they'll be staying with us

until the stage can get
through to San Francisco.

Until then, we shall try, in
our poor and humble way,

to make things as comfortable
as possible for them.

Okay. He stay here.

He come in kitchen, voila!

All right, Hop Sing.

Shall we adjourn
to the living room?

- He has a temperament, that one.
- Yes.

Hop Sing's been in
our employ a long time.

His cooking suits us just fine.

Pourquoi non? It's a
country of barbarians!

Sans taste, sans delicacy...

- François, no!
- Aw, don't worry, Eloise.

We don't take what
he says too seriously.

But he takes himself,
how do you say,

tres sérieusement!

That is the big trouble!

Now, come on, come on, now,

let's not have an
argument, all right?

Vous êtes très gentil, monsieur.

Oui, il est tres gentil,
le pauvre garcon.

Qu'est-ce que voulez vous?

Rien, rien.

Uh, now, look, uh,
look, I got a great idea.

Why don't I take you outside
and show you some of the ranch.

It's really very beautiful.
As a matter of fact,

- I'd like to show you the lake.
- Le lac?

Oui, le lac.

Yeah, what about it?

Je serais enchantee, monsieur.


- Mm-hmm.
- Oh.

Au revoir, François.

Au revoir.

Forgive my frankness, gentlemen,

but how can you
tolerate these furnishings?

Not a trace, not a
single touch of elegance.

Pa, I got chores to do.

- I'll see you all à trois.
- Yeah.

Ah, but here is something else.


Well, thank you.

I'm glad you like them.

Yes, I do, monsieur, very much.

Thank you again.

Those are, uh,
portraits of my wives.

Your wives, monsieur?

Yes, my, uh, my late wives.

All three of them?

Monsieur is a
veritable Bluebeard.

How ever did you manage it?

The workmanship,
monsieur, is superb!

The frames, they
are of gold, no?

The frames, they
are of gold, yes!

- Now, what has that got to do...
- Easy, easy, Pa.

Monsieur Villon,
that's not the matter

which we wish to discuss.

If you would honor
us by sitting down?

A votre service.

We would like
to hear that, um...

explanation that you
promised us earlier.

About my name?

Oh, yes. With your permission.

We're waiting.


You are perhaps familiar with
the theory of reincarnation?

I've read about it.

Then you will understand
when I tell you that I...

am the living reincarnation
of François Villon.

No, no, no, monsieur.

Do not look down
your nose at me.

I, too, was skeptical at first.

Now, you don't expect
me to believe that...

To give an instance.

One day I reflected on
the beauty of ladies...

how quickly it fades,
and I asked myself...

"Where are the
snows of yesteryear?"


Imagine my surprise to learn

that the same words had been
written four centuries earlier

by a poet named François Villon?

Now, what's so
surprising about that?

You probably heard the
line somewhere before,

and it stuck in your mind!

Impossible, monsieur!

My parents were
ignorant peasants.

I was what you
call self-educated.

But until that time, I
had never read Villon.

Proving what?

Allow me, monsieur.

Villon was born in 1431

at the time of the harvest.

I was born in the year 1831

at the time of the harvest,
exactly 400 years later.

Another coincidence.

It's much more than
a mere coincidence.

Everything that Villon had done,

I found that I had done
or was about to do.

Allow me to, uh, remind
you, Monsieur Villon,

that, uh, the great poet
Villon was also a rogue

and a rascal.

And what does
monsieur mistake me for?

An honest man.

Well, what do you want us
to mistake you for, a thief?

I prefer to say that, uh,

I am above petty
bourgeois moralité.

Villon killed a man

and was condemned to be hanged.

Exactly the same
shall happen to me.

One cannot change one's nature

nor one's destiny.

It is written in the stars.

All right.

All right.

Now let's, for argument's sake,

assume that you are sincere

about being this François Villon

brought back to life.

Now, that does not concern me.

However, what does concern me

is my son, Hoss.

And I am hoping that
when you demand

this so-called
satisfaction of yours

that you're not thinking of some
such ridiculous idea as a duel.

What did Hoss do to him?!

Do? Do, monsieur?

What did he say?

Uh, something about
taking a public bath

in the middle of the street.

Mr. Villon,

you have reached
the end of my patience.

Now, I advise you

to get this silly idea of
a duel out of your head,

or I shall have to ask you
to get out of this house.

And if you do, monsieur,

you will simply be speeding
your son's tragic denouement.

You must understand it is fate.


D-Don't take him seriously, Pa.

He's, uh, just an
actor playing a part.

"Don't take him seriously.

He's just an actor
playing a part."

Did you hear what he said?

He's gonna duel with Hoss!

Just because he
says he's a duelist

doesn't make him a duelist,

no more than
saying that he's Villon

makes him Villon.

When you come right down to it,

he probably can't even
handle a sword at all.

No, no, no, no, not like that.

Now look, try it again, huh?

Hey look, will you
learn to stand sideways?

You're too big
a target this way.

Oh, come on, Joe,

I'm too big a target
any way you look at it.

Now look, this
isn't a fistfight.

You better get that
through your thick skull.

All right, look, let's
start from scratch.

Wish you hadn't have said that.

That makes me nervous.

You'll be lucky if a
scratch is all you get.

All right, ready?

The salute.

I feel so dad-gum silly.

En garde.

No, no, no, Hoss.

Try to imitate Joe.

Yeah, on Joe it looks good.

I-I ain't got the figure for it.

See here?

Well, don't worry
about your looks.

Just keep your side
turned towards him.

Watch the sword point.

Side turned, point the sword.

Hey, Joe, you're cute.

Ain't he, Adam?

Forget the jokes,
that's your enemy.



Aw, dad-gum it.

Oh, what's the use, Adam?

He's not gonna
take it seriously.

Well, it is kind of hard
to keep a straight face

dancing around out
here on these hills

with silly looking toothpicks.


I want you to think.


Now these toothpicks,
as you call them,

are larger than bullets, right?


Now if a bullet
passes through you,

you're liable to kick
the bucket, aren't you?

Sure, anybody knows that.

All right, now
if this toothpick,

which is larger than a bullet,

were to pass through a
man exactly the same way,

it could do an equal or
greater amount of harm, right?

Yeah, right.

Especially if the man
who's aiming it at you

were standing less
than five feet away,

and knew exactly
where to puncture you

so it would do the most damage.

It's like getting shot at close
range, wouldn't you say?

Yeah, well, what are we
doing standing around here?

Come over here, Joe,
and help me practice.

Now, show me that
thing where you do this.

- Seconde.
- Seconde, all right.

You want me to lunge?

- Right.
- All right.

- You ready?
- Ready.

I don't want to hurt you.

- You ready?
- Yeah.

Hey, that's good, yeah,
come on, now let me try.

- All right.
- Yeah.

Lunge at you, ready?

Yeah, you go lunge, yeah, okay.

That's not bad.

Little, little easier.

No, no, no, no, c'est
abominable, monsieur.

The fault is yours, you see.

You must attack with
more esprit, uh, elan.

You see, he does not
comprehend the seriousness.

He, uh, he is not
on the qui vive.

What would you like me to do?

Stab him a few times
to get his attention?

Quoi, no.

You see, the lunge,
it must be real.

It must be deadly.

Many have been killed
while practicing pour le sport.

Only so can one
learn the essentials.

Hey, wait-wait a minute.

You mean I got to get killed

before I can get to
be a good dueler?

I will demonstrate.

Your weapon, s'il vous plaît?

Now, for the seriousness.

Attack in earnest.

Insult the opponent.


Gros cochon.

Hey, I know what that means.

En garde.


Thus, monsieur, I hope
you have learned something.

I better talk to
his sister tonight,

see if she can get
him to call this thing off.

Yeah, it may be
our only solution.

At least we'll have
a full moon for it.

Yeah, listen, little brother,
you talk real good, you hear?

Don't you let that moon get
your mind off what's important.

Eloise, you look beautiful
in all this moonlight.

You talk so pretty, monsieur.

I could listen to
you talk all night.

Talk, oh.

You know, that reminds me, uh,

there was something I
wanted to talk to you about.

Why don't we go over
there and sit down?

Oui, monsieur.


Say, I, uh,

I wanted to talk to you
about my brother, Hoss.

I was wondering if you
could speak to your brother

and maybe talk him out
of fighting that silly duel.

Oh, I already have.

I tried everything.

But he's impossible
to reason with.

He's a man... how do you say?

A man possessed of the devil.

The devil of François Villon.

Oh, come on, you really
don't believe that, do you?

Of course not.

But he does, and
that is important.

You see, he thinks
he is my protector.

But in truth, I must
be with him always

to protect him from himself.

That isn't very fair to you.

It doesn't give you a
chance to live your own life.


But I dream of it sometimes.

It's only a dream.

It's very beautiful here.

Mm-hmm, it sure is.

La lune.

Yeah, the moon.

And le lac.

And the lake.

I'm sorry I don't speak
your language well.

I'm not as learned
as my brother.

Well, maybe I could
teach you a few words.


In French, we say, baiser.

Like this.

Baiser, huh?

Qui est-ce?

C'est moi, François.


I did not hear you come
in last night, my sister.

Oh, perhaps you
fell asleep early.

No, I was up late.

I was occupied
in writing verses.

Oh, it was a beautiful night.

We walked... Yes, of course.

He's, uh, he's
handsome, this Little Joe,

n'est pas?

Oh, oui, très beau.

Oh, what are you
all dressed up for?

Where are you going?

Virginia City.

Mr. Cartwright has graciously
provided me with a horse.


Well, soon the
road will be clear,

and we must take the stagecoach.

To do this, we must have
money to pay for the fare.

But we have money.

No, little sister.

You use the wrong tense.

In English, the
expression is, "We had."

Oh, je ne comprendre pas.

In this country of barbarisms,

there is one more
barbaric than all the rest...

A game called poker.

It has not the
delicacy, the finesse

of baccarat or chemin de fer.

You have lost our money?

Only a small sum remains.

And now you go to gamble again.

You're going to lose everything!

No, little sister.

Now I do not gamble.

Now, I have other plans.

Oh, please, François!

Each time you have the
plan, there is more trouble.

I beg you, do not go!

Little sister, I would not cause
you one moment of unhappiness,

but there are some
things I must do.

It is fate which decides.

Au revoir, ma chere.

Oh, François, no!

What am I going to
do here without you?


Little Joe, you
teach me so much.

I, uh...

see, I-I-I wanted to talk to
you about my-my brother, Hoss.

No, I... I really, I really
should talk to you about him.

You don't... you don't want
to talk about my brother.

Don't you think we've
had enough of the talk?

François should've
been back by now.

Well, all he had to
do was buy the tickets

for the stage to San Francisco.

Don't tell me you're
worried about him.

Worried? I...

Well, I... I suppose I am
worried about him, in a way.

Oh, I admit he gets
me riled up at times.

But... well, you can't
take him seriously,

he's like a little child.

Well, you have another
child to worry about, a big one.

Oh, I can't believe he's serious
about wanting to fight Hoss.

Can't you?

Well, let me remind
you that his idol

once boasted of killing
a man with a sword.

Feels he must imitate him,
live his life all over for him.

Well, that's just a lot
of talk... little boy's talk.

Well, it sounds like your
little boy might be returning.

Evenin', Ben.

Oh. Roy. Come on in, come on in!

- Thanks. Howdy, Adam.
- Roy.

Well, what brings you out to
the Ponderosa this time of night?

Now, don't tell me that
you've got me a warrant.

No, it ain't a
warrant, Ben. It's...

It's this Frenchman
you got visiting you here.

Yeah? W-What?

Well, he's wrote
himself another poem.

Oh, is that all?

- Come on, sit down.
- No, that's not all.

Now, he went to Les
Tantin's printin' shop

and paid him to make a
whole lot of copies of it.

Oh? I-I gave him that money...

Hey, Roy, what-what
does the poem say?

I'm coming to that, Adam.

- Ben, it's all about you.
- Oh, yeah?

Yeah, about how you
came out West here

without a nickel in
your jeans... Yeah?

- Marryin' a woman...
- Yeah?

And then killing her so's
you could get her land.


And then you
married a second one,

got rid of her, and a third...

Now, hold on there!

That's what your friend
says the way you come by

all this acreage that's
now called the Ponderosa.

Well, that's preposterous!

I know it, Ben, and you know it,

but there's a lot of people
coming into town every day

that don't know it.

Now, a thing like this could get
us into a whole peck of trouble.

Peck of trouble?

Trouble? You don't
know the half of it!

Ah, bonsoir, monsieur. Bonsoir!

I'll "bonsoir" you!

Faking Frenchman, I'll...

Now, take it easy,
Pa. Take it easy.

Remember what
you said, he's, uh...

just a little boy, he's not
responsible for what he does.

When I want your
advice, I'll ask for it!

Ben, you get ahold
of yourself, now.

If you want this man
locked up for libel,

I'll take him into
town right now,

but I'm not gonna stand for
any violence, you understand?


Sheriff, there's one
thing I will promise you:

- there won't be any killing!
- Now!

I'll admit that he give you
plenty of cause to get mad,

but after all, he didn't
commit any real crime.

Crime?! What do
you call that poem?

Well, it's not the same as
horse stealin', now, is it?

I'm gonna get back into town,

and pull them things down.


I lend you my
horse to go to town,

I feed you, I house
you and your sister,

I put up with your bad manners,

I even put up with your
threats to kill my son,

and this is how you
repay my hospitality.

I perceive you already have
knowledge of my humble offering.

Which is highly regrettable.

I wished very much
to surprise you.

What purpose did you
have in writing this?


Well, even your
idol, François Villon,

did not write without a reason.

Whether it be to
please some lord,

or to obtain a pardon,
or even to make money.

Mais naturellement,
I, too, write for money.

But, Monsieur Adam,
to be frank with you,

it was my intention,
when I wrote this poem,

to sell all the
copies to your father.

Blackmail, eh?

Call it what you choose,
Monsieur, let's not quibble.

- I am an artist.
- An artist!

You're a scoundrel without
an ounce of gratitude or talent.

No talent.

You can say this to me,
after you read my poem?

I didn't have to read your poem,

the sheriff told
me all about it.

Alors! You take the word
of an illiterate, a peasant?

You are afraid to hear
what I have written!

Monsieur Adam, would
you do me the honor?

It's your funeral.

"Ballade in Honor
of My Gracious Host,

the Lord of the Ponderosa."

"France had her Gilles de Retz,

"Italy her Cagliostro,

"Cleopatra trained
vipers as her pets,

"And the Borgia's
banquets saw hundreds fall,

"But the Lord of the
Ponderosa is master of them all.

"Bluebeard had
a surplus of wives,

"Henry VIII had far too many

"Lovely ladies, all who
laid down their lives,

"And others there were
who heeded the butcher's call,

"But the Lord of the
Ponderosa is master of them all.

Infamous Pharaoh..."

All right! That's enough,
I've heard enough!

Well, you know, Pa, when you

consider it simply as
poetry, it really isn't too bad.

There, I told you all that
reading would affect your mind.

All right, Mr. Villon, it's
time for some plain speaking.

I've let you stay here this long
only on account of your sister.

But sister or no sister,
you get out of here tonight!

Both of you!

Now, Pa, you can't do that.

I'm sorry, mademoiselle.

Pa, you promised both of
them that they could stay.

I don't know what François's
done to make you so mad,

but whatever it is, you
shouldn't let him rile you.

After all, Pa, he-he's
just like a little child.

Now you stay out of this!

Yes, sir.

Excuse me, mademoiselle.

I do not wish to expose
you to this unpleasant scene.

We will pack at once, Monsieur.

My brother and I
thank you very much

for all your kindness.

Now wait a minute, wait...

Wait a minute, I...

Little Joe is right, I...

I did make that promise.

You and your
brother can stay here

until that trail is cleared.

No, it would be
imposing too much.

Well, my dear, as far
as you're concerned,

it's no imposition at all.

We accept.

To leave now would
be most inconvenient.

I have some unfinished business.

Now, look, if you're
still thinking about

that stupid duel of yours...

Monsieur Cartwright,
you have proven that

you are a man of your word.

I am a man of my word.

Your son's insult
can only be wiped out

with blood.

What's everybody so
down in the mouth about?

Au contraire, monsieur.

I am, as you say, very
much up in the mouth.

Bonsoir, monsieur.


You all look like you've been
to a funeral or something.

Adam! Hoss! Little Joe!

- Hey, Pa, what's up?
- What's wrong?

Your mothers'
pictures... They're gone!

- What?
- Yeah.

Hey, Pa. You here?

I... I thought you
took the team in.


Yeah, you two...
Who took 'em in?

I'll give you one guess.

Got up early, came down,
thought I'd get a little practice...

- Eloise is gone!
- Should've known.

Well, we won't have
any trouble trailing them.

- Look, trailin' who?
- All right, boys.

Let's get started.

Ça va.

Do not be sad, little sister.

In the great metropolis
of San Francisco,

you will meet gentlemen
of culture and refinement.

And you will soon forget
this... this Little Joe.

I will never forget Little Joe.

That is what you say now.

"But where are the
snows of yesteryear?"

I have only left for
the sake of his brother.

And for you, too, to
keep you from trouble.

Trouble? What have I
got to do with trouble?

It is for peasants!

Vite! Vite, my beauties!

Ah, San Francisco... that way.

Ça va.

They took the road to
San Francisco, all right.

That fool... didn't he
think we'd cut him off?

You ever stop to think

that maybe they
wanted us to catch 'em?

I told you all that reading
would affect your mind.

Hey, I-I've just
been figuring, Pa,

what, what are we
chasing him for anyhow?

Well, some family I raised.

Come on, let's cut across the
arroyo and catch up with 'em.


There they are, Pa.

- Let's go - Come on.

Gentlemen, what
a happy surprise.

Not in my wildest dreams did I
hope to see you again so soon.

I'll bet you didn't, not
in your wildest dreams.

Little Joe, I can
explain everything.

Now, hold on, ma'am, you
just wait one minute here.

Now, where are they?

- They?
- Yes, they.


Our stay at the
Ponderosa was so pleasant,

I felt sure you would not
object if we took back with us

some small memento, a souvenir.

How could you do this thing?

It was not very difficult.

Well, you're just lucky there
are no scratches on 'em.

Otherwise I might have to
take the law into my own hands.

The law, monsieur?

Yes, the law.

It might come as a shock to you

to find out, sir,
that horse stealing

is punishable by hanging
in this part of the country.

The horses?

But, François, you told me...

Pa, you couldn't hang a man

just for borrowing
a couple of horses.

Yeah, Hoss is right, Pa, I mean,

that's, that's carrying
it a little bit too far.

I'm afraid that
decision is not up to us.

You see, Pa made a solemn
promise to Sheriff Coffee

that he wouldn't turn him in

unless he committed
a real crime,

and, um, it looks
like this is it.

Yeah, well, now,
wait a minute, Adam.

No, Adam is right, boys.

I, uh, I guess I did
make that promise.

You can't take a
man in to be hanged.

That's up to Sheriff Coffee.

No Cartwright has ever
set himself above the law.

But, Adam... Uh, no buts, boys.

I, I gave my word.

No, no.

The great François Villon

was also condemned to be hanged.

Do you still continue
to doubt, monsieur?

Perhaps now you will agree
that it is possible for a man

to be inhabited
by a spirit of one

that has lived
many years before?


No, no, it's not true.

Don't weep, little sister.

One cannot escape one's destiny.

It is fate... Kismet.

It's always hardest on women.

Well, you know, it isn't
exactly easy on you.

On me, monsieur?

What is life?

A straw in the wind.

We all must die sometime...

but it is not given to all

to live on forever in
men's minds and hearts.

That's right, sure ain't.

I have spent all of last
night composing a poem.

It is a masterpiece.

It is my last testament
to my brothers,

just as François
Villon wrote his

400 years before.

Is this great masterpiece
important enough

to compensate for your death?

Oh, bien sûr, a
thousand times over.

It teaches love,
mercy, understanding.

Monsieur has not lied to me.

I will be permitted to
read my poem in public?

Oh, yeah... right
before you hang.

It is all I ask.

The scaffold they are building...
It is in the public square?

Right in the heart of town.

Th-The carpenter spent
all night working on it.

It's almost finished.

I measured the
cadence of my poem

to the beat of his hammer.

If you like, I will
read it to you.

Perhaps you'll make
some suggestions.

Oh, no, no, no, I, I
wouldn't dare presume.

I'll read it anyway.

"The last will and
testament of François Villon,

"written on the occasion of
his execution in Virginia City

"on Friday the 17th of October

"in the year of our Lord 1860.

"Brothers, who draw the
breath of life when I am dead,

"Harden not your hearts
against my dying call.

"Let no man mock
me, nor my sad estate,

"But pray to the Lord
that he spare us all...

"Brothers, though my feet
dance lightly on the wind,

"Though they kick to
the sound of a silent song,

"Remember this, ere
you condemn my sin...

"It is not given to everyone
to know right from wrong.

"Thank the stars that
you do not share my fall.

"Let no man mock
me, nor my sad estate,

But pray to the Lord
that he spare us all."

Dad-burn if that wasn't the...

wasn't the prettiest
thing I ever heard,

and just to think, I, I
dang near killed you.

I forgive you, monsieur,
with all my heart.

But one correction... it is I

who would have killed you.

François, you must forgive
me for saying you had no talent.


Well, it's too bad you've
got to die to prove it.

That's the whole
point, monsieur.

I part with life in order
that my words may live.

One thing worries me, though.

What's that, monsieur?

I-I made a mistake?

My English is no good?

No, no, I-I was thinking
about your sister.

You frightened me for a
moment, Monsieur Adam.

My sister... you think I
have given her no thought?


You think I have not
noticed how things stand

between her and Little Joe?

Little Joe?

After I am removed
from the scene,

she and Little Joe
can be married.


François, I don't know
how to tell you this...

things being the way they are.

I'd like to see you die happy,

but you might as
well know the truth.

Little Joe is not
the marrying kind.


Even if he were, he's too young.

Pa would never permit it.

Now, Hoss, you
got anything to add?


Oh, yeah, uh...

well, seeing as how
her only brother was,

well, was hung
for horse stealing,

we couldn't have
that in the family.

No, people would talk.

You mean he's
been leading her on?

He is a scoundrel...

I challenge him to a duel!

Hey, wait a minute.

Ain't you forgetting something?

You have a date
with the hangman first.

But my sister Eloise can
hardly speak the language.

She is helpless without me.

She's all alone.

Well... she wouldn't
be alone for long.

What do you mean?

Well, there are
lots of dance halls

that need hostesses.

Men get tired of looking
at the same old... faces.

My sister, a dance hall girl?!

Doesn't matter that she
doesn't speak English too well.

Why, some of the men
might like her even better for it.

First thing you know, they'd
all be calling her Frenchy.


- Chien, cochon!
- Hey, hey, hey, wait a minute.

You don't want to hang
for murder, too, do you?

I cannot hang.

I must provide for my sister.

Well, under the circumstances
I'd say that's a bit difficult.

Yeah, dang near impossible.

But you must do something.

You must help me.

- Eloise.
- Well, even if we could help you,

what difference would it make?

You can't escape your destiny.

Sooner or later your sister
would end up in the same boat.

No, no, no, I would
take care of her.

I would never
leave her this way.

Do you really mean that?

Of course I mean it.

What do you think
I am... un cochon?

Hank, Hank!

Hank, you can stop
that hammering now.

The scaffold... She
is finished, yes?

It was never started.

Okay, Sheriff.

Sheriff, I think maybe
you'd better tell him he's free.

I don't think he'll believe me.


Well, you see, François,
we, we promised the sheriff

that we'd, uh, we'd bring you
in if you committed a crime,

but we didn't promise him
that we'd press charges.

And if we don't press 'em,

there isn't anything
anybody can do to you.


This is true?


And you, you kept me here?

Cochon, why did you not tell
me they didn't press the charges?!

'Cause you did not ask me.

- Should we get back to the game?
- Yeah.

Ah, François, don't feel too
badly about not getting hanged.

At least you got a chance
to write your epic poem.

It was you.

- You were the one re...
- Now, don't jump...

Now, don't jump
to any conclusions.

Only a man who loves poetry

could have the
imagination for such a plan.

I shall be in your
debt for always.

Well, maybe it was
kind of a dirty trick,

but, uh, I hope you learned
something of a lesson.

A lesson.

What greater lesson
can a man have

than to be saved
from the hangman?

And just think, mes amis,

how few are fortunate enough
to profit by the experience.

C'est bon.

Don't you forget now, I'm gonna
write to you every single day.

Et moi, cher.

It will help me...
like you do...

Talk English.

Talk... oh, is that all you
ever want to do is talk?

Au revoir.

Merci mille fois
for your hospitality,

for the cash you have been
generous enough to lend me,

and above all, for the lesson.

I hope it sticks.

Mais certainement.

François, touché.

En garde.

You Cartwrights... You've
taught me what I must do.

First I must find a rich husband
for my sister in San Francisco.

Then I shall be free...
Free to be hanged.

- Au revoir, mes amis.
- Au revoir.

Au revoir.


Hey, did you hear
what he said, Pa?


You know, I have an idea
that one day he'll succeed.

It is fate, Kismet.

Behind the Scenes of The Frenchman

When the Frenchman recites his poem/will, he mistakenly states the date as Friday, October 17, 1860. However, historical records indicate that this date fell on a Wednesday.

Looking for More Bonanza Episodes?

Bonanza offers fantastic, family-friendly entertainment suitable for individual viewing or enjoying with loved ones. Produced by NBC, “The Frenchman” is the 78th episode out of 430 of Bonanza aired on their network from September 1959 to January 1973, spanning 14 seasons.

You can find more about any of the 430 Bonanza episodes here>>

Leave A Comment

book cover mockup for Western Writing

Looking for an Epic Western Adventure? Look No Further!

How would you like to ride hell-bent for leather into a world full of adventure and heroism?

Get Your Free Copy Today>>