The Stranger Full Episode – Bonanza, Season #01, Episode #24
Bonanza had its viewers pinned to its show through its compelling storyline, incorporating themes and social issues that vary weekly. Leonard Heideman and Oliver Crawford wrote its twenty-fourth episode, The Stranger, which aired on February 27, 1960.
Lloyd Nolan appears as a guest star, playing Inspector Charles LeDuque of the New Orleans police, a guy who harbors a long-standing grudge against Ben Cartwright. On the eve of Ben’s campaign for governor, LeDeque arrives in town with a warrant for Ben’s arrest on a murder charge. Even though the court will access these accusations, Joe performs his research to uncover the truth behind Leduque’s vendetta.
Joan Staley, Robert Foulk, and Hal Baylor appear in the episode as Dixie, the sheriff, and Tom Cole, respectively.
Read its plot, including some trivia, or enjoy watching the episode below.
Watch the Full Episode of The Stranger
Watch the Full Episode of The Stranger:
Apart from the main cast, Bonanza’s twenty-fourth episode for its first season, The Stranger, featured some of the program’s recurring and one-time supporting actors.
The episode’s casts are as follows:
- Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright
- Pernell Roberts as Adam Cartwright
- Dan Blocker as Eric ‘Hoss’ Cartwright
- Michael Landon as Joseph ‘Little Joe’ Cartwright
- Lloyd Nolan as Inspector Charles LeDuque
- Hal Baylor as Tom Cole
- Arthur Shields as Dennis
- Victor Sen Yung as Hop Sing
- Robert Foulk as Sheriff Brady
- Donald Foster as Albert Gibbons
- Joan Staley as Dixie
- Elizabeth York as Alice
- Jomarie Pettitt as Louise Gibbons (as Jomarie Pettit)
- Charles Tannen as Jake the Clerk
- Hank Worden as Station Attendant
- Bill Clark as Deputy (uncredited)
- George DeNormand as Party Guest (uncredited)
- Bobby Gilbert as Barfly (uncredited)
- Al Haskell as Barfly (uncredited)
- Ted Mapes as Party Guest (uncredited)
- Bob Miles as Party Guest (uncredited)
- Hans Moebus as Party Guest (uncredited)
- Chalky Williams as Townsman (uncredited)
Full Story Line for The Stranger
Old and limping, a stranger and his colleague arrive in Virginia City. They walk into the Territorial Enterprise, where Little Joe and the editor, Dennis, are proofreading an article. The stranger says he got a couple of the Enterprise’s newspapers in New Orleans where Ben Cartwright’s name appeared. The man asks for Ben Cartwright, to which Joe replies, saying Ben’s out of town. Moreover, the stranger comments on the newspaper headline, stating Ben Cartwright has no future. His remark disturbs Little Joe, so he grabs his sleeve and asks what his words mean. The man answers vaguely, telling Joe to inform Ben that Charles LeDuque is at the hotel. Joe tried to get a more precise answer from the stranger, only to receive a strong punch from the stranger’s partner, Cole.
Little Joe heads to the hotel to visit Charles LeDuque. LeDuque invites him inside his space, so Joe asks him again about his connection with his father. LeDuque replies, stating he should spare Joe the unpleasant specifics of the story. He also comments on how Joe resembles her mother, saying they were good friends. Joe tells LeDuque to leave his mother out of it. However, it would be difficult for LeDuque to do so. LeDuque changes his mind, agreeing that it couldn’t be about Joe’s mother because the story was about Ben, the man she married. Joe accuses him of lying, so LeDuque dares Joe to ask Ben about him. He introduces himself as Inspector Charles LeDuque from New Orleans Police Department, who came 2,000 miles away to arrest Ben after twenty years for murder.
Meanwhile, Adam and Ben were at a dance hosted by Louise’s generous father. There, the topic of picking Nevada’s first governor took place, and the host introduced Ben Cartwright as the charitable and humble man of the Ponderosa. They ask him to say something, but he refuses to make a speech. Instead, he announces trying to do everything he can to be of service to the people of Nevada.
When Ben and Adam return home, Joe informs him that some strangers have arrived in town and make unfavorable remarks about Ben. At first, Ben showed no concern, thinking it was natural since he was running for a political position. However, when Joe points out that the stranger came from the New Orleans police force, one of which was Inspector LeDuque, Ben’s reaction changes. He asks if LeDeque’s at the hotel and immediately turns to leave.
Cole opens the door for Ben as he arrives at LeDuque’s room. LeDuque and Ben had a brief conversation about Ben’s campaign for governor, with LeDuque commenting on Ben’s connection with many people. The conversation shifts to what happened twenty years ago, starting with LeDuque’s unfortunate infirmity. He reminds Ben about an investigation into the murder of Simon LaRouche, which caused his broken knee cap and limited mobility. Ben remembers the case but clarified to LeDuque that he was cleared of those charges when three witnesses came forward, testifying that it was self-defense. However, LeDuque tells Ben that he was a fugitive from justice who only offered to return after learning the dropped charges. Moreover, LeDuque states Ben has no evidence to prove his claim and shows a warrant for Ben’s arrest.
Ben desires to know the reason behind LeDuque’s action after twenty years. LeDuque claims that in the scuffle, Ben ran to escape him, with the bullet aimed at Ben entering his leg instead. Ben doesn’t want to hold himself accountable for his injury, considering how LeDuque was attempting to kill him, who was unarmed. He was defenseless then, so he tried to flee to save his life. However, LeDuque wants him to take responsibility. Ben isn’t overly concerned, given that the warrant doesn’t have any value in Nevada. LeDuque threatens to expose the story of Ben’s wife and Simon LaRouche—an attempt to take Ben back to New Orleans. Ben shoots him a glare before leaving.
Ben heads to the Territorial Enterprise and asks Dennis to add something to the report he was making earlier. He presents his withdrawal from consideration as a possible candidate for Nevada’s governor. Back at LeDuque’s room, the two saw that Ben had withdrawn his candidacy, much to their satisfaction.
The Cartwrights discuss Ben’s decision and the charges he had to clear at New Orleans. Joe is aware that Ben’s not being honest when he explains his reasons. Ben starts to narrate what happened.
Ben begins by describing Marie, Joe’s mother, who treated Adam and Hoss as her own and was like an angel to everyone around her. Suddenly, Simon LaRouche came into their lives and threatened to expose Marie’s secret to destroy her reputation. Joe is adamant, despite Ben’s attempts to avoid the topic. Ben only says that LaRouche wanted to ruin Marie’s reputation and that he gave little to no importance to what Marie had done or not done in the past. He loved her and married her because she was a wonderful person. However, Marie didn’t want to bring scandal to her family, so she complied with LaRouche’s demands until Ben learned the truth. He challenged LaRouche and got into an argument where LaRouche pulled a knife, and Ben killed him upon defending himself. After hearing the story, Joe wants to go to town to deal with this, extremely upset at LeDuque for bringing the case back. Ben stops him, getting him to promise he won’t harm LeDuque, who’s only doing his duty. Joe then leaves to visit his mother’s grave.
LeDuque returns to the hotel from the town bar. There, Joe tells LeDuque that Ben told him the story. He warns LeDuque to keep his mother’s name out of his mouth. Cole interrupts their conversation and states Joe will have to kill him first. Joe thinks it’ll be the highlight of the show, and the two engage in a fight. Cole reaches for his gun, but Joe, who is much faster, shoots him dead. Joe argues that it was self-defense, but LeDuque states that Joe did him a favor, giving him the chance to tell Mary’s story during Joe’s trial because he isn’t testifying to Joe’s use of self-defense. Joe bolts out of the room after hearing people rushing in the hallway. LeDuque takes Cole’s gun and returns it to Cole’s holster. He asks the arriving crowd to call the sheriff because Joe shot Cole in cold blood.
Sheriff Brady comes to the Ponderosa to inform Ben that Joe shot Cole, one of the men from New Orleans. He also mentioned that Inspector LeDuque witnessed the crime, stating that Little Joe did it in cold blood. Hoss believes that Joe wouldn’t act rashly, but Brady insists on bringing Joe in. Ben knows Joe will get home and asks permission to bring Joe themselves, to which the sheriff agrees.
Ben finds Joe sitting by Marie’s grave. He was waiting for Ben to arrive so he could bid his farewell. Ben states Joe’s not going anywhere, then asks what happened in town, including his reason for running away. Joe explains the story, saying that he ran because he wouldn’t stand a chance with inspector LeDuque as the only witness. Joe was afraid he’d taint his mother’s name, so he ran away to protect it. Ben informs him that Marie once begged him to stand trial in New Orleans no matter the consequences, but Ben refused. Ben doesn’t want Joe to commit the same mistake, so he asks for Joe’s trust to fix the situation.
Joe turns himself in the next day. He tells the sheriff that it was an act of self-defense, but the sheriff said Cole’s gun was in his holster. The sheriffs ask why he runs away, but Ben tells him Joe figured someone who’d frame him. Regardless, the sheriff insists that Joe will get a fair trial.
Ben goes to make a deal with LeDuque. He’ll return to New Orleans with LeDuque if he clear’s Joe’s name. LeDuque is uncertain, but Ben guarantees to return with him unarmed, alone, on a horse, with no means to attempt to escape.
LeDuque goes to Sheriff Brady, saying he recalled what happened. It clarified that what Joe did was self-defense since drunk Cole drew his gun first. He also mentioned that the weapon on Cole’s holster was a reflex Cole did before he died. The sheriff apologizes to Ben, but Ben makes Brady do him a favor by not releasing Joe until Ben is out of town. Ben forces Adam and Hoss to agree to stay behind even though they don’t like the conditions he has to do.
On their first night on the trail, Ben compliments LeDuque’s cooking. He then asks why LeDuque waited for twenty years to come after him. LeDuque blames Ben for that, stating that aside from waiting for his promotion to the inspector position, being a physical handicap held him back. Ben reminds him that he won’t take responsibility for the accident since it happened in the line of duty. He also implied that the injury helped LeDuque, giving him something to blame all his flaws on in his police work, with women, and relations with other people. His words angered LeDuque, who yelled as he drew his rifle. This reaction confirms Ben’s suspicions. He figured LeDuque had no plans to take him to New Orleans. Ben then asks if he plans to kill him while trying to escape. LeDuque believed Ben wanted him to say yes so he could break his word. Ben denies his claim, firmly saying he has no intention of running and that he’ll go to New Orleans no matter what happens.
The following day, LeDuque falls to the ground as he tries to mount his horse. Ben ran to help him, but LeDuque aimed his rifle at him. Suddenly, Indians shoot at them from a distance. LeDuque fires back but refuses to hand Ben a weapon. The shooting stops, only to see the Indians mounting their horses and running away. With their horses gone, LeDuque and Ben have no means of transportation or water. They began walking in the blazing heat.
Ben tries to assist LeDuque as he struggles in the heat, but LeDuque keeps his rifle pointed at him. Ben tells him to shoot, considering how he waited 20 years for this moment to come. Just as he was about to fire, LeDuque collapsed. Ben carries LeDuque to the next rest stop, where the station master gives them water. LeDuque wonders why Ben didn’t leave him out to die. Ben asks the station master for the arrival of the next stage. LeDuque wants to know where they’re going, so Ben answers New Orleans. LeDuque confesses he intended to kill Ben when he arrived at Virginia City. The truth is, Ben was clear of the charges twenty years ago, except for LeDuque. LeDuque again asks Ben why he didn’t leave him out in the desert to die. Ben merely requests the station supervisor for some food before getting up to clean off. LeDuque accepts his hand when he extends it to him.
Full Script and Dialogue of The Stranger
Can I help you? Yes... couple of your newspapers came into my hands in New Orleans. They mention a man called Ben Cartwright. Aye. Well, is he a rather large man physically, about my age? He has two sons. Three of them. MAN: Three? Well, what do you want him for? I'm Joe Cartwright. Your father and I have urgent business together. Where is he? Well, he's out of town right now. What kind of business? Out of town, where? Uh, Silver City. At a reception they're giving in his honor. Look at this. A whole newspaper story about him. We're grooming him for politics. Fine man that he is, he'll make a fine governor, so he will. Little Joe here is checking me on the facts of his life. Be in tomorrow's paper. "Nevada and Ben Cartwright. A great future together." Well... I don't know about Nevada, but... Ben Cartwright has no future. What did you mean by that? When he gets back into town, tell him I'm at the hotel. Charles LeDuque. I asked you a question. All right, let go. Now, look here... All right, now, hold it, Cole. Hey, no, no... We'll smash Ben Cartwright just like we've smashed the story of his life. Hi, Jack. Joe Cartwright, how are you? What can I do for you? Listen, you got a fellow named Charles LeDuque registered here? Yeah. Well, what room is he in? He got anything to do with that? Yeah, maybe. 218. All right, thanks. Hey, Joe. That's, uh, good news, isn't it? I mean, about your father running for governor. Yeah, it's just fine, Jack. Yeah? All right, where is that man of yours, the one that hit me? I'm sorry about that, son. Why don't you come on in? Mr. Cole will be back shortly. Meanwhile, is there anything I can do for you? Yeah. Yeah, you can tell me who you are and what you want with my father. Oh, I'd rather spare you that ugly story. Oh, what ugly story? You know, it's really remarkable, the resemblance you bear to your mother. Oh, just leave my mother out of this. Ah, that's a little difficult, considering the fact that she and I were... good friends. You said you had an ugly story. Couldn't have been about my mother. You're right. That story was about the man she married. You're lying, mister. All right, take it easy, boy. You got something to say, say it! All right. You take a message to your father. Tell him to stay out of politics, because the plans I have for him are liable to interfere. What kind of plans? Inspector Charles LeDuque, New Orleans Police Department. Oh, and you came all the way from New Orleans for my father, huh? 2,000 miles and 20 years. Oh, well, I don't believe you, mister. Go tell your father. See if he believes me. I'm going to tell him. I'm going to tell him, then I'll be back for your friend. And in case you're curious... the charge is murder. Now I know you're lying. Oh, Ben. Whew! I must tell you... it's unusual in these parts for a man to be so graceful on the dance floor. Well, I must tell you, I-I haven't danced in such a long time, but... so lovely a partner would make any man graceful. Your compliments are as smooth as your dancing. I'm sure you learned both arts during your stay in New Orleans. Perhaps. Hello, Pa, Alice. Hello, Adam. Louise, your father is a most generous host. Well, it's not every day we can entertain the future governor. Adam's been telling me about his two brothers. It's a shame they can't be here tonight. Well, the Ponderosa demands a great deal of work. I know. And you're lucky to have three sons to do it. Too bad we have to leave tonight. Pa's got to get around the territory so that people can get better acquainted with him. I think everyone in Nevada knows Ben Cartwright. Folks, your attention, please. You all know about the fuss everyone's been kicking up about making Nevada a state. So, it's time we started thinking about our first governor, someone who'll fight with all his heart for the future of Nevada. My friends... I give you an able man... a charitable man... a humble man. I give you Ben Cartwright of the Ponderosa. Ben! Come on, Ben. Say something. I'm, uh... I'm deeply grateful. Well, I, uh... I won't make a speech. Oh, no. Uh, in this country, we, uh... we don't talk much about things. We... We get out and do them. The things I want, I believe you want also: A free country where we can raise our families in safety, under God. Now, Nevada is not yet a state, but when that great day comes, if you still want me, I'll try to do everything I can to be of service. We'll want you. Your father's a wonderful man. He's going to make a splendid governor. Well, meet the next governor. Hey, hooray! There ain't nothing to celebrate yet. Not until Nevada becomes a state. Technicalities, Pa... just technicalities. Put it over there, please, will you? Yes, sir. What's the matter with Joe? Pa, you've had a long ride. Why don't you go on up and get into some fresh clothes. And we'll have somethin' to eat, and then we'll talk about it later. Sounds good. Pa? What? I don't think this can wait. What? There were a couple of strangers in town today. They came into the Territorial Enterprise. Made a few remarks about you I didn't like. Well, I imagine there are quite a few people... Well, what kind of remarks? Well, first, I better tell you who they are. They say they're on the New Orleans police force. One of them is an inspector named LeDuque. LeDuque? Charles LeDuque? Then you know him. Is he at the hotel? Yeah. Saddle my horse. I'm Ben Cartwright. Wow. Come in, Cartwright. Come in. Huh. Been 20 years. You haven't changed much. You remember me? Yes. I remember you. I understand you're a big man in these parts. They're even thinking of putting you up for political office. Governor, isn't it? I have a lot of good friends. A lot of friends and three fine sons. Well... I haven't been as fortunate as you have. Of course, a policeman doesn't have much chance to accumulate family, friends or admiration. But most people admire an honest man of the law. Hmm... Seems like you have everything and I have nothing. Of course... I have always been handicapped by this unfortunate infirmity. I'm sorry. Well, it's... a bullet was responsible. Hurts, every step. Yeah, see, the... the kneecap is shattered. Happened 20 years ago. I was on a murder case, the murder case of Simon LaRoche. You remember? I remember. You should, because you're going to hang for it. Mr. LeDuque... that charge against me was dropped 20 years ago. Was it? Yes, it was. I offered to return to New Orleans a month after I left. My lawyer wrote, said it was unnecessary since three witnesses had testified that I had shot LaRoche in self-defense. Hmm. Well, do you have any, uh... any proof, any, uh, documentary evidence? Well... no, I... I was to have received a letter from the New Orleans chief of police. But you don't have that letter. You know, Cartwright, your lawyer gave you some very bad advice. You are a fugitive from justice. You are still wanted for the murder of Simon LaRoche. Mr. LeDuque, that can't be. No? Here's a warrant for your arrest. Go ahead, look at it. It's a true warrant. It's on the right paper, the right signatures, the right language. What more do you want? The right motive. What's yours? You remember a scuffle in the alley the night I came to arrest you? We, uh, we had a fight. I knocked you down. Do you remember hearing a shot? LeDuque, you were after me. You wanted to kill me. I wasn't armed; I ran. Yes, you ran. I followed you. In the dark, I fell and the bullet entered my leg. I'm sorry, I didn't know that. I... I didn't look back. You should have. Because it gave me a very special interest in your case. I started following you that night, crawling on my belly. And I'm gonna continue to follow you until you hang. I can't hold myself responsible for what happened to you that night. You're going back to New Orleans with me and stand trial. This warrant of yours is of no value out here, you know. You know, if you're innocent, I think you'd be anxious to go back and clear your name. My name is clear. What do you think your name would be worth if people found out about your wife and Simon LaRoche, Governor Cartwright? Cartwright... before I'm through, you're gonna beg me to take you back to New Orleans. You don't believe that, do you? I swear it. See you, Mr. Cartwright. That's Ben Cartwright. Gonna be first Governor of Nevada when she becomes a state. Hi, hello there, Ben. Dennis. How are you now? Well, to be perfectly frank, Dennis, uh, not too well. Aye and I'll wager it's on account of them two, the two strangers. Ah, you've seen them, have you? Wasn't it right in front of me that Little Joe was hit? It was you they were looking for. And by the look of you, it was bad news they brought. Dennis, I suppose you'll be reporting what happened in Silver City. Aye, it's right here. I'd like to, I'd like to put something in next to it. Aye, just one moment. Ready now. To all of my friends in Nevada... my deepest appreciation for the way you've honored me. But, for personal reasons, I hereby withdraw my name from consideration as a possible candidate for Governor of the State of Nevada. Here, take a look at that. So, he's withdrawn his name. Uh-huh. Seems like you've already begun to reach him. Yes, sir, things are beginning to fall right into line. "But, for personal reasons, I hereby withdraw my name "from consideration as a possible candidate for Governor of the State of Nevada." But, Pa, there was no reason to withdraw, not yet. I didn't want to, Adam. Believe me, I didn't want to. Why then, Pa? You can't just leave your friends out on a limb waiting to be sawed off. Your friends would've stuck by you. You mean they'd have been dragged down with me. In a political campaign, if there's just one weak spot, one breath of scandal, your opponents find it and use it to destroy you. But Pa, if you were cleared of them charges... If. It would take weeks to get word back from New Orleans. If I remained a political candidate all that time, our names would be dragged through every pig sty in the state. Pa, you're not telling us everything. It's not like you to run out of New Orleans, not without the trial. The only thing I've ever kept from you, isn't it? It's one thing you can still keep if you want to. No, it's been too long already. The truth is something that always comes back at you, doesn't it? Joe, I've told you a great deal about your mother. You never really knew her, she was a wonderful woman. Beautiful, slender, delicate, gentle. Treated Adam and Hoss like they were her own, hm? She was like an angel to everyone that ever came into contact with her. And then this... this man, this LaRoche, Simon LaRoche came into our lives. The man I killed. Why'd you have to kill him? Your mother came from a... from a certain notorious section of New Orleans. A section the sailors called "The Flats." Pa, what difference does it make where she came from? No difference, no difference, not to me. But to a man like LaRoche, it presented an opportunity to cash in on her past by threatening to destroy her reputation. Threatening her with what? He blackmailed her to keep her past a secret. To keep what secret? Joe, I... What secret?! Joseph, I doubt... To keep what secret?! What your mother did or did not do before I met her is of no importance. I loved her and I married her. 'Cause she was a wonderful person. But your mother was afraid of scandal. Not for her sake but for mine. For Hoss' and Adam's. So, she... she paid LaRoche. She paid him. Until I found out about it. I went to see him, we talked, got into an argument, a fight, he pulled a knife and... I killed him. In self-defense, but I killed him. I felt I couldn't stand trial because then everything that your mother wanted to forget would have come out. So it comes out now, 20 years later. Yes. That's why I feel that maybe if I go to New Orleans, I can put a stop to it. There's another way. Joseph! Pa, let me go. Not in the mood you're in. Now remember, LeDuque is doing his duty. I want you to promise me that you will do no harm to him of any nature. I want to go out for a while. I'll go with you, Little Joe. I'd rather go by myself. Joe? I Prom... I promise. ♪ ♪ Your friend looks kind of lonely. Well, hello there, cutie. Hey, what's your name? Dixie. That's a pretty name. Say, how'd you like to come over to the hotel tonight and have supper with me? Ooh, that would be nice. Is that all right with you, Inspector? Go right ahead. You look like you could be fun, Mister... Mister, um... His name is Charles. Charlie, huh? Charlie, betcha I could get you out of that lonesome mood. I like being alone; I have a lot to think of. Think?! You're wasting time. Mister, it's against the law to be alone in Virginia City. I think I could like you. Child, if you got to know me, you'd hate me. Hey, why's he so hard to get to? He's got his reasons. With that leg and all, I feel kinda sorry for him. Here, have a drink. What about your friend? Friend? He's not my friend, he's my boss. It's my job to look after him. LeDuque! LeDuque, I wanna talk to you. I don't have anything to say to you. I said I wanna talk to you, LeDuque. And I told you I don't have anything to say to you. Pa told us the whole story. When you say the whole story, I figure you mean the part about your mother, too. I'm warning you, keep my mother's name out of your filthy mouth. You know, you and I ought to be on the same side. You just get your father to take that little trip with me and your mother stays an angel. You know, I gave Pa my word I wouldn't kill you. But if you drag my mother's name through the dirt, so help me, I will. You'll have to kill me first. Well, maybe that'll be the best part. He's dead. It was self-defense. Not the way I saw it. You saw what happened! You just got through doing me the greatest favor of my life, because now I can tell my story under oath, in a courtroom, where everybody can hear. The whole story about your mother. You just give me the chance, that trial will be about her, not about you! Well, you're not gonna get that chance. Hey, what happened? Go on, get the sheriff. Young Cartwright just shot this man down in cold blood. Oh, Sheriff. Evenin'. Anything wrong? I'm afraid so, Ben. We're lookin' for Little Joe. Little Joe? You ain't gonna like this. He shot a fella in Virginia City, killed him. Oh no, Sheriff. No question about it, Ben. Where is he? Who was it he was supposed to have shot? One of them fellas from New Orleans. Name of Cole. Oh. This Inspector LeDuque... He witnessed it. He said Little Joe just upped and did it in cold blood. Oh, Sheriff Brady, you know Little Joe better'n that! All I know is he shot a man and run away. And we gotta find him. Sheriff... now I know Joe'll be coming home. Let us bring him into town to ya. All right, Ben. Your word's good enough for me. Come on. I was hoping I'd find you here. I thought you'd come. I... I wanted to say good-bye. Son, you're not going anywhere. I got no choice. Well, there's always a choice. Here it's the choice between running away or facing up to what's happened. What did happen in town? Well, I went to see LeDuque. In spite of what you promised? I promised I wouldn't harm him. I didn't say I wouldn't see him. While I was talking to him, Cole came in. We got into a fight, he drew his gun and I killed him. Trouble is the... the sheriff's wondering why you ran away. Yeah, a lot of choice with Inspector LeDuque the only witness? Well, it's your word against his. People of Virginia City know you and I-I know they trust you. Pa, that's not the point. What is the point? LeDuque told me what he'd do at the trial. He said he'd get up in front of that whole town, and tell all those dirty lies... about my mother. You're running away to... protect your mother's name? Is that it? Yes, that's it. Your mother begged me to stand trial in New Orleans, no matter what the consequences to her. But, Pa, I can't do that. I made a mistake, Joe. I can't let you make the same mistake. Now you come home with me now, and tomorrow morning we'll ride into town together. Son... You've always trusted me. And running away will ruin your life. And it won't help her. Come home. I'm asking you. Sheriff... I brought you your prisoner. Thanks, Ben. What have you got to say? Shot him in self-defense. Cole's gun was in his holster. That's impossible. He drew first. It was there. Why'd you run away? Maybe he figured he'd be framed, like what's happening now. Now you know better than that, Adam. He'll get a fair trial. Gotta lock you up, son. You boys wait here. I'll be back in a few minutes. I saw you riding into town with your son. If you've come to plead for him, you're wasting your time. LeDuque... you didn't come to Virginia City for my son. You came for me. I rather admire you for bringing him in. Shows a certain respect for the law. Respect? My son tells me you saw the shooting. Mm-hmm. He also tells me you can clear him. Every criminal claims he's innocent. Don't call my son a criminal. And let's stop beating around the bush. You came to Virginia City to close the LaRoche murder case. Well, I'm gonna give you a chance to do just that. Are you offering me a deal? I'm offering you a deal. Now, you clear my boy, and I'll go back to New Orleans with you. Well... Well, I don't know, though, you're... you're asking me to perjure myself. I'm an officer of the law; the truth isn't open to whim. But... uh... Now, suppose I do make this... compromise. Would you return with me unarmed? Yes. And alone. Just you and me. On horse. Yes, I would. And would you give me your promise, your word, that you'd make no attempt to escape? I give you my word. How long would it take you to get horses and provisions ready? An hour. Make it an hour and a half. I'll have time to get outfitted. I'll meet you at the jail and clear your son. We'll leave directly from there. And Cartwright... you should feel relieved. Every criminal always is who finally surrenders himself to justice. Pa, he's comin'. Pa, who's comin'? Inspector LeDuque. He's agreed to tell the truth about the shooting. Tell the truth. Why? I'm going back to New Orleans with him. Now, I'll be back. I'll be back soon. Sheriff. Inspector. Ben says you've got something you want to tell me. Yes. About the-the death of my associate, Mr. Tom Cole. Step over the desk, please. You see, I was rather dazed by what happened. And so, I-I rather confused the facts. Unconfuse 'em. Well, as I recall now, Cole was drunk, he drew first. Joe Cartwright fired in self-defense. What about the gun in Cole's holster? He put it there himself before he died. Sort of a reflex. Mister, you really was confused, wasn't ya? May be the strange climate. I rarely bungle the facts like this in New Orleans. Mister, from now on, stay in New Orleans. We need you around here like we need the plague. You belong in that cell instead of Little Joe. Now, Sheriff, everybody makes mistakes. Ask Ben Cartwright. All I want to ask Ben is will he accept my apologies. Thank you, Sheriff. Uh... don't let Little Joe out of his cell until I'm well away. Why not? Where you goin'? Just do me the favor. See ya when I get back. Well, Little Joe will be out pretty soon now. Pa, I know you told us not to, but how come me and Adam can't ride out about ten miles and intercept you. A couple outlaws rode up on you, it wouldn't be your fault, would it? Forget it, Hoss. Well, at least we can ride along with you. He can't object to that. Oh, he does object. I said I'd go alone. Well, now why's that so important? What's his motive? I don't know. Anyway, I gave my word. I'm waiting. Adam. I'll get your packhorse, Pa. You're not a bad cook. You know, reminds me of something happened recently. There was a case where a condemned man wanted to cook his own last meal. Then he didn't have time to eat it. So I did. You know, it was very good. I'm sure it was. LeDuque, why did you wait 20 years to come after me? I'm an officer of the law. I'm subject to the orders of my superiors. I just can't believe that your superiors suddenly decided after 20 years that I should be brought back. Oh, I made that decision myself. Of course, I had to become an Inspector before I could do so. The fact that it took 20 years is your fault, not mine. My fault? Yes, I've already told you. A man with a physical handicap doesn't rise fast in police work. I told you before, I don't hold myself responsible for that accident. It was an accident that happened in the line of duty. Now, when you became a police officer, you must have figured that you'd have to take certain risks. Well, strangely enough, I used to use those same arguments with myself. I knew that my hatred of you might become an obsession. I wanted to control it. I wish you'd been successful. Oh, I was for a while. But then as I watched inferior men being promoted over my head, I began to wonder whether I wasn't being too charitable in my thoughts about you. Is that when you started to think about vengeance instead of justice? Well, didn't I have it coming to me, after all the misery you've caused me? I don't believe that any man is justified in using a badge to satisfy his personal hatreds. You're so cold-blooded in your thinking, Cartwright. No, I've hated men in my time but I've been able to control myself and not allow that hatred to influence my life. Well, why not? You're a rich man, you have sons, you've loved women and been loved by them. Oh, that smashed knee of yours, huh? It's really been of help to you, hasn't it? What do you mean? The way you use it to lean on like a crutch to explain away your personal little failures in your police work, with women and your relations with other people. Stop it. Well, face it. It's not your knee, it's you! You stop it or I'll shoot you now! Now. Now it's true, isn't it? You never intended to take me all the way back to New Orleans, did you? Got it all figured out, haven't you? How was it to happen? I was to be killed while trying to escape. Is that it? You'd like me to say yes, wouldn't you? So you'd be free to break your word. No... I don't intend to break my word. I don't intend to try to escape. Because I'm going to get all the way to New Orleans. Just in case you have any idea of killing me first... No, no, no. I don't want to kill you. Good night. I'm not gonna sleep tonight, Ben Cartwright. I'm not gonna sleep any night while you're alive. It looks like a warm one today. What are you waiting for? Mount up! Get away from me! You heard me! Get away from me, Cartwright! I think I'll put a bullet through your leg, so you'll know how it feels. All right, get over. You have another gun? This'll do it. Ah, they've had enough. They weren't after scalps. They were after horses. How far is the nearest settlement? About... uh, there's a weigh station up ahead. How far? About 20 miles. 20 miles. Over those hills. Without horses. And without water. Come on. Stay ahead of me. Wait, wait, wait. Let's rest a while. Gotta keep moving. This sun will kill you. I can't walk anymore. Gotta get to water. Let me help you. You stay away. I don't need your help. Well, now, let me help you... I said stay away! Go ahead. Pull the trigger. Been waiting 20 years for this. Let me get him some water. Easy, easy. That's enough. You brought me in. Mm-hmm. Why didn't you leave me out there to die? Couldn't let you die out there. Why not? We'd have both been better off. When's the next stage leave for the East? Uh, it's due in sometime tonight. Where are we going? New Orleans. There's nothing in New Orleans for you. You have a warrant for my arrest, don't you? You were right. I intended to kill you before we ever got there. But you can't kill without hate, and now the hate is gone. Sort of a relief. This warrant was never any good, was it? You were cleared 20 years ago by everybody except me. That letter the judge sent you, I intercepted it. Why didn't you leave me out there to die? Can you rustle up some food for a couple of hungry men? Him, too?! Well, we come in here together, didn't we? You betcha, mister. Just give me a couple minutes. Come on, let's wash up. Gimme a hand.
Behind the Scenes of The Stranger
The episode showed Marie Cartwright’s grave.
This episode revealed Little Joe’s mother’s checkered past. Although the episode didn’t entirely give the details, Marie Cartwright’s name was visible on the tombstone Little Joe visited in one scene.
The Stranger, Bonanza’s twenty-fourth episode, was similar to Edgar Allen Poe’s short story, The Purloined Letter.
Looking for More Bonanza Episodes?
Bonanza is a fantastic Western program to watch alone or with the family. NBC produced and aired Bonanza from September 1959 to January 1973. The series lasted 14 seasons, with The Stranger as its 24th episode out of 430.
You can find more about any of the 430 Bonanza episodes here>>