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Gold fever infects prospectors who are forced to face dangers from without and within.

Episode Notes

  • This episode was originally written as an episode of Bronco, the companion spin-off series that aired on alternating nights as part of The Cheyenne Show from 1958 to 1962.[1]

Real World References

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Continuity Nitpicks and Errors

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Plot

Cheyenne Bodie finds a dead white man and his Apache wife staked out and left to die by Mescalero Apaches as punishment for their unauthorized marriage. Riding up to join him is Corporal Howie Birch, a handsome but shifty man who isn't above stealing the wedding ring off the unconscious woman's finger.

The nearest Army fort is in upheaval as the soldiers there are preparing to abandon the area and return to Texas. Cheyenne is concerned that the nearby gold prospectors will be in danger of attack from the Mescalero chief Yellow Knife. The fort commander asks Cheyenne to warn them. Meanwhile, the Apache woman Aleeah has recovered but the Mescaleros still want her dead and make another attempt on her life.

Bodie rides with Aleeah and Birch to the prospectors' camp in Mission Springs to find the place rowdy with celebration. The men have struck it big! Gold fever is raging through their makeshift tent city They have no intention of leaving the area now.

Twotrailstosantafe-bodieandaleeah-cheyenne

Cheyenne and Aleeah discuss her future.

Among them are Jed Brandon with his wife Amy and sister-in-law Mary, the latter of whom Birch is supposedly courting. Cheyenne gives Jed the dire prediction that the Mescaleros will likely attack within the next 48 hours. The prospector doesn't want to miss out on a bonanza but he does want to get the women to safety.

Away from the others, a quiet conversation between Amy and Birch reveals his attachment to Mary is just an act. He claims Amy is his reason for visiting. They discuss the possibility of escaping together with stolen gold. Amy is reluctant to betray her husband, but doesn't say no. When Cheyenne notices that Birch and Amy are a bit too familiar he gives the corporal an ultimatum: when they reach the fork in the trail Birch is to head to Texas while Cheyenne, Aleeah and the Brandon women go to Santa Fe. Always ready with excuses and plans, Birch tells Bodie to mind his own business. That night, Birch sneaks away to tell Yellow Knife that the Army has left.

The next day Birch takes the reigns of the wagon carrying the women and tries to outrun the imminent danger. Too late! In the opening Mescalero attack, Mary is shot. They race back to join the prospectors in the ruins of an old mission. Yellow Knife and his men have them surrounded. They fill the air with flying arrows. Facing dwindling ammunition and supplies, the prospectors decide to send a rider out for help. Birch and Bodie play high card to see who goes. Using a planted card, Birch pulls an ace and rides off.

Later, the arrows stop and a white flag appears on the Mescalero line. Yellow Knife gives his terms; if they hand over Aleeah he will leave in peace. The prospectors agree, but Bodie won't sacrifice Aleeah's life for their safety. Amy warns them against leaving their salvation up to Birch. She knows his evil nature because Howie is her ex-husband. She confesses to Brandon their plan to steal his gold and leave him for dead.

As the standoff continues, a flurry of bullets forces the Mescaleros to retreat. Birch has returned, not with the Army but with a band of cutthroats intent on killing the prospectors and stealing the gold from their dead bodies. The Mission Springs men put up a good fight and Birch's ruffians get shot to pieces. While they're fighting, Birch sneaks into the mission and takes Aleeah hostage. He demands Amy leave with him. Her response is a bullet to his chest. Birch sinks to the ground, breathing his last.

The gold fever has broken. On the road out of Apache country, the Brandons say goodbye to Cheyenne and Aleeah as the pair take the trail to Santa Fe.

Quotes

"You're buttin' your nose in where it ain't wanted. Now you be careful it ain't sliced off."
"Now any time you'd like to try I'd be glad to oblige ya."

- Howie Birch trades barbs with Cheyenne.
  1. According to the book "Television Series and Specials Scripts, 1946-1992: A Catalog of the American Radio Archives Collection”.