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After killing a man in self defense, Cheyenne keeps his identity secret as he helps the man’s widow bring her cattle through hostile territory.

Episode Notes

  • This episode is retold in comic book form in Cheyenne Comic Number 10 with Ty Hardin as Bronco Layne substituted for Cheyenne.

Real World References

  • Cheyenne and Jug refer to the "dead man's hand", the supposed hand of cards "Wild Bill" Hickok had when he was killed. Also, Hickok was murdered in 1876, which means this episode took place after this year.

Continuity Nitpicks and Errors

  • Notice any? Add them here.

Plot

Cheyenne Bodie rides into China Hat looking for work with a local rancher named Burt Wrangel. He finds the man in the bar with his old enemy Del Swain whom Bodie helped put in jail years before. The men nearly come to trading lead until Sheriff Steep intervenes and encourages Cheyenne to leave town. On the trail, Swain ambushes Cheyenne and the tall cowboy fires back. Swain falls dead just as Steep rides up. The sheriff confirms that Cheyenne's actions were in self defense.

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Cheyenne kills Swain after the ex-con ambushes him.

The next day, Cheyenne's on his way out of the area when he comes across a stalled cattle herd belonging to Swain's widow. She tells Cheyenne that her husband was murdered by a gunman named Bodie. She's trying to manage the unruly cattle crew hired by her husband but the men won't take orders from her.

A drunk cow puncher named Pike Wood tries to push the tall cowboy around. Cheyenne has to teach him a lesson in manners, then orders the men back to work and they grudgingly obey. Seeing him in action, Mrs. Swain desperately tries to hire Bodie as trail boss but he turns down every offer for reasons obvious to him. When she tells him she's pregnant, Cheyenne reluctantly agrees and introduces himself as Ace Black.

The drive moves on but is plagued with problems: mountain lion screams rattle the herd and mysterious lights follow them at night. Cheyenne notices the trail markers are sending them in the wrong direction and orders that they turn around. Just then, riders from Wrangel's ranch arrive and invite them to dinner. Bodie suspects Wrangel is the cause of their problems and refuses to leave. When Wrangel's foreman gets rowdy with him, Cheyenne ropes him and drags him down the road.

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Sanga regrets starting a rope fight with Cheyenne.

Their fight is interrupted by hungry Sioux indians who are looking to trade for beef. Cheyenne negotiates a friendly trade while Wrangel's men leave. Meanwhile, Marshal Thad Veck rides up to Mrs. Swain and makes an offer for the herd. The government is willing to pay top price to get beef to the Sioux reservation but the herds on this trail keep disappearing. Ms. Swain happily agrees to the deal.

That night Wrangel visits and tells Mrs. Swain who her trail boss really is. Feeling betrayed, Mrs. Swain has the men tie up Cheyenne after he returns to camp. The other shoe drops at this point since Cheyenne was the only thing keeping the drive moving. All of her trail crew are in the employ of Wrangel, even friendly Jug the cook. When Wrangel starts a stampede the men scatter leaving Jug, the terrified Mrs. Swain and tied-up Cheyenne at the mercy of thousands of stamping hooves. Jug frees Cheyenne but it's too late to do anything but run for cover.

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Cheyenne finds Mrs. Swain with her baby after the stampede.

In the morning, Cheyenne finds Mrs. Swain and her brand new daughter who was born during the night with Jug's help. She is too injured to feed her baby, but she refuses every offer of aid from Cheyenne. Jug finally convinces her to let Cheyenne take the baby to the local Sioux camp where a squaw takes her in. Chief Johnny Cake tells Cheyenne that Veck is gone to round up a posse; a Sioux woman found the dead body of another marshal assigned to investigate Wrangel. Cheyenne convinces the chief to bring a group of men with him to the Wrangel ranch to find answers themselves.

At the ranch, Cheyenne and his Sioux friends find Jug, Mrs. Swain and Wrangel's pet mountain lion. Bodie bursts into the ranch house and confronts Wrangel and his men. A shootout ensues and Wrangel rushes outside to escape. The Sioux men surround and capture him.

The Veck posse arrives which includes Sheriff Steep from China Hat. The sheriff tells Mrs. Swain how her husband really died and she apologizes to Cheyenne for doubting him. Mrs. Swain concludes her deal with Veck and Wrangel's range pirates are stopped for good.

Quotes

"Just what kind of experience you had, long boy? What's your name?"
"I guess I've tried just about everything outside of committin' murder and gettin' married."

- Sheriff Steep questions Cheyenne about his life.

"We got a spooky herd. They stampede if you blow your nose!"
"Then don't anybody catch cold."

- Jug warns Cheyenne about the animals he's working with.

"Are you a gambler?"
"If I was I'd know better than to pick up aces and eights."

- Mrs. Swain's question about his alias leads Cheyenne to make an ominous allusion.

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