A vigilante gang of Southern sympathizers holds a cotton town captive and complicates Cheyenne's efforts to reunite a boy with his ailing father.
The Regulators whip Art Francis to death.
Gerald Claiborn expresses his hatred of his Yankee father.
Cheyenne gives Gerald a shooting lesson in an effort to make friends.
Claiborn confronts Ashley and the Regulators.
- This is the first episode of season four.
- Adam West guest stars in this episode, best known for playing the title character in the 1960s Batman TV series.
- Writer Fred Freiberger recycled elements of the plot of this Cheyenne episode three years later for an episode of Rawhide titled "Incident at Sugar Creek".
Real World References
- In the story, Ashley Claiborn's medals were in honor of his service for the Confederacy during the American Civil War, but in reality the Confederacy never issued medals.
Continuity Nitpicks and Errors
- Notice any? Add them here.
Sheriff Henshaw of Biggs, Texas is awakened late by insistent knocking on his office door. Outside stands a tall, dark-haired cowboy named Cheyenne Bodie who claims that there's been a murder by a group of masked men. Henshaw recognizes the body lying in the street as local Art Francis and declares the death an accident. When Cheyenne disputes his conclusion, Henshaw threatens to pin the murder on the cowboy if he doesn't leave town. Bodie won't be threatened. He's on a mission.Cheyenne makes his way to the Claiborn mansion and experiences a very unpleasant visit. Patriarch Vincent Claiborn welcomes him warmly, but when he learns that Cheyenne wants to take his grandson Gerald back to his father Paul, Claiborn and his other son Ashley are furious. They both consider Paul a traitor because he served in the northern army in the Civil War. Southern honor means everything to the elder Claiborn. Gerald enters and he refuses to go with Cheyenne, expressing hatred for his father. Cheyenne leaves without arguing further. There's no point.
But not everyone who knows Gerald has taught him to hate. As he's packing to leave, Cheyenne answers a knock on his hotel door and Ruth Francis enters. She is Gerald's teacher and the widow of the late Art Francis. Ruth begs Cheyenne to take Gerald away to his father. Cheyenne apologizes to her but he doesn't think the boy can be reached.
On his way out of town, Cheyenne stops by the cemetery, sees Gerald visiting his mother's grave and offers him gifts from his father, including a letter from his late mother. Gerald runs away confused and crying. Suddenly Cheyenne is surrounded by masked men who whip and beat him into unconsciousness. After he recovers, he stops by Ruth's school to learn more about his attackers. Ruth tells him they are the Regulators, a vigilante group who claim to uphold the honor of the South. Cheyenne questions why the Regulators would attack him and kill her husband over Gerald. Ruth says her husband was killed because he was investigating land transactions. Ruth doesn't see a connection, but Cheyenne suspects there is one.
Cheyenne finds the Claiborns in the cotton exchange and warns them that he'll kill the next man who whips him. Claiborn dismisses Cheyenne as a brute. The cotton exchange numbers come over the telegraph and the news isn't good. Prices in Europe are down. The other farmers want to sell their crops to the north for better profit but Claiborn shames them into silence. He refuses to sell cotton to the former enemy or let anyone else do it. Cheyenne learns that farmers around Biggs are losing their land to taxes because of Claiborn's tactics. He stops by the land office to find out who is buying up the foreclosed land, but the clerk won't let him see the files.That night, Cheyenne breaks into the land office but the files he wants are missing. Ashley discovers the break-in (he's the one who removed the files in the first place) and in the darkness Cheyenne leaps through the back window to escape. The men of the town assemble to give chase. They come to Ruth's front porch just as she and Cheyenne step out to meet them. Ruth tells the assembled men that the couple spent the evening together, giving Cheyenne an alibi.
Claiborn uses this occasion to charge Ruth with immorality and starts a campaign to get her dismissed as school teacher. While this cauldron is brewing, Gerald has discovered, with coaxing from Cheyenne, that Ashley is the leader of the Regulators. He angrily confronts his grandfather who is shocked at the news. Claiborn decides to find out for himself.Meanwhile, Ashley and the Regulators act out a plan to punish Ruth. They set fire to the school and then pull Ruth from her home, intending to tar and feather her before expelling her from town. When Cheyenne comes to her rescue they pistol whip him, rip off his shirt and tie him up.
Just then, Claiborn rides up with Gerald and unmasks Ashley, demanding to know why he would act so dishonorably. Cheyenne explains that Ashley has been using his father's cause to squeeze out other cotton farmers and purchase their land at auction. Caught red-handed, Ashley scoffs at his father's sense of honor and blames the war for his tactics.
When Claiborn moves to free Cheyenne and Ruth, Ashley pulls a gun and shoots his father. Cheyenne fires back and kills the ungrateful son. Claiborn's last words are his blessing that Gerald be reunited with his father.
"Are you staying for Gerald's sake or to get back at the ones who attacked you?"
"I'm stayin'. Isn't that what you wanted?"
- - Ruth Francis questions Cheyenne's abrupt change of plan to stay in Biggs.