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The play's the thing; Cheyenne takes a cue from Shakespeare's Hamlet after a corrupt business man tries to get away with murder.

Trial By Conscience
Season 4, Episode 4
Air date Oct. 26, 1959
Episode guide
Previous
The Rebellion
Next
The Imposter

Episode Notes

  • The scene of Cheyenne riding into town is the opening scene of the 1958 film Fort Dobbs starring Clint Walker and Virginia Mayo.

Real World References

  • Hamlet, Prince of Denmark is, of course, a real play written by William Shakespeare. The players perform parts of Act One, Scene Five and Act Two, Scene Two.
  • Avalon mentions his admiration of Napoleon, and Cheyenne encourages him to learn about the battle of Waterloo, where in 1815 the French general was defeated by British and Prussian forces.

Continuity Nitpicks and Errors

  • Notice any? Add them here.

Plot

Mojave City is in the grip of a nasty windstorm and an even nastier man, Nick Avalon. The saloon owner has made his fortune from whiskey and crooked gambling, and now he owns most of the town. After the mysterious death of the town's sheriff, Nick's word is law in Mojave City enforced by his hired goons. But he wants to be a benevolent tyrant and as proof he's invited an acting troop to perform Shakespeare's Hamlet in town.

Trialbyconscience-playrehearsal-cheyenne

The actors rehearse Shakespeare at Nick's saloon.

One night, the windstorm blows federal Marshal Cheyenne Bodie into town; his mission is to find out who killed the sheriff. Cheyenne gets a dubious start by making friends with the town drunk, Quinn Lacy, and asking timid Judge Pruett to review his books for a law that could put Avalon out of business.

The Sioux City Traveling Players arrive in town with the young Jenny Gerard for the Hamlet play. Avalon is smitten by the beautiful actress. Jenny has no romantic interest in him whatsoever because she's on the lookout for her missing fiancé, a man named Lee Quillan. During rehearsal in Nick's saloon, Jenny recognizes the drunken piano player is Lee, her long-lost beau. The couple reconcile and make a deal: Lee must stay sober and work an honest job for 30 days and then they will be married. Lee asks Cheyenne for a job as his deputy. The marshal isn't impressed with Lee's slow draw and poor marksmanship, but he has no other applicants. Cheyenne swears him in and gives him a badge.

Trialbyconscience-crowdscene-cheyenne

Angry townspeople gather to grumble after Avalon shuts down the town's water supply.

The town crowds into Nick's saloon for the Hamlet performance. Afterward, Cheyenne takes the stage and declares the saloon closed due to a legal loophole that Judge Pruett found. Avalon angrily swears that Cheyenne himself will reopen the saloon shortly. He makes good on that prediction by shutting own the town's water supply. The townspeople are soon gathering in the streets demanding the marshal open the saloon. To avoid this, Cheyenne and Lee drive wagons to get water at a nearby town. On their way back through a dark rocky pass, an assailant attacks Lee.

The next day Lee is still missing after search parties led by Cheyenne and Avalon turn up nothing. Jenny and Cheyenne fear the worst and are certain that Avalon is the culprit. Jenny's demand that Avalon be arrested is shot down because they don't have evidence, nor even the body, to convict Nick of murder. Jenny furiously vows to become Avalon's wife just to make his life a living hell. Cheyenne doesn't like her plan, but Hamlet has given him an idea.

Nick's and Jenny's wedding is a happy affair -- for Nick at least -- since Cheyenne has allowed his saloon to reopen. But the wedding night turns into a bust after a patron shows Cheyenne a newspaper article from a nearby town about a man who fits Lee's description. From this, Jenny declares that Lee might be alive. She refuses to consummate the marriage until she knows for sure that he's dead.
Trialbyconscience-waterrun-cheyenne

Cheyenne and Lee make a fateful trip for water to foil Avalon's plan.

Nick sends one of his goons out to investigate the newspaper story. In the meantime he meets with a customer who pays his bar tab with a pipe that looks exactly like the one Lee used. The goon returns to report the newspaper story is true. After all these mysterious sightings, Avalon is nervous. Could Lee have somehow survived? That night, Avalon enters the darkened saloon where he sees a man seated at the piano wearing Lee's clothes and playing his favorite song. The man jumps out the window and disappears before Nick sees his face.

More confused than ever, Avalon rides out to the rocky pass and starts digging. He's interrupted by Cheyenne who assures him that Lee is buried right where Nick put him. Bodie explains that he coordinated the newspaper, the pipe, the piano player and even Jenny to make Nick lead him to the body.

In jail waiting to be hung, Avalon confesses to Cheyenne that he killed Mojave City's sheriff. When he first came to town, Nick was on the run from the law for a murder in Philadelphia. The sheriff started asking around town for a man named Arnold Warren which is Avalon's real name. Nick killed him to avoid being arrested for murder. Surprised at this confession, Cheyenne explains the sheriff was looking for Arnold Warren only to tell him he had inherited a fortune! Knowing that his sudden wealth will be passed on to Jenny when she becomes a widow that afternoon, Nick laughs maniacally at this twist of fate.

Quotes

"A man who's short on fear is short on sense."

- Cheyenne Bodie tries to encourage Judge Pruett


"You came to the right man with a headache. The marshal has plenty of his own."
"Nothing a proper hanging can't cure."

Nick Avalon trades barbs with Marshal Cheyenne.

Cheyenne Gallery

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