Have Gun - Will Travel

Season 6 Episode 22

The Burning Tree

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Aired Saturday 9:30 PM Feb 09, 1963 on CBS

Episode Recap

A hungover Paladin is having tea in his hotel suite when Hey Boy barges in with champagne. He tells Paladin that it's time to get ready and hands him a glass of champagne. Paladin drinks it and says that his train for Fort Smith doesn't leave for three hours. Hey Boy explains that Paladin has to leave right away by horseback, and asks if Fairchild is a bad man. Paladin explains that Fairchild is a black widower with seven dead wives, and one of them was the daughter of Paladin's old friend. He intends to make sure that Fairchild stands trial, and tells Hey Boy that he isn't going by horse. Hey Boy tells him that the stableman made a $2.00 bet with him that Paladin couldn't ride to Missouri and Fairchild in four days or less. Paladin is unmoved and Hey Boy leaves, cursing.

Soon, Paladin captures Fairchild in Missouri and brings him back. They find fresh markings on a tree, and Paladin says that it indicates an Osage funeral ceremony so Fairchild has one day more to live. Fairchild offers Paladin one of his plantation properties if he turns him free, and freely admits that he killed one of his wives to get it.

The two men continue on and come to Osage. They stop at the general store and Paladin asks two local women if there's a boarding house nearby. They turn their noses up at him and walk away. A boy says that there's no boarding house for someone like Paladin, but Sheriff Stinchcomb down the road a bit. He asks if Fairchild is going to take Billy McGuire's place, but his mother drags him in before Paladin can answer. Thunder bombs in the distance, and Paladin rides on.

At his farm, Stinchcomb is burying a man and tells his daughter Letty May that he isn't making any excuses for the dead man. Paladin rides up with Fairchild and Fairchild greets Letty May. The gunfighter says that he wants to honor the Osage desire for privacy during the funeral and wants to use Stinchcomb's jail until the ceremony is finished. Stinchcomb says that they can put Paladin and Fairchild up for the night, and sends his daughter to prepare supper. She puts flowers on the grave and goes to the farmhouse, and Stinchcomb notices that Fairchild is manacled. Paladin explains what Fairchild has done and presents Stinchcomb with his card. Stinchcomb is happy to see Fairchild executed and takes him to the shed as it starts raining.

When Paladin goes into the farmhouse, he finds Letty looking out at the rain. She says that she wishes it hadn't rained so soon, and Paladin confirms that it was Billy. Letty says that he didn't mean to kill anyone, and was a prisoner for three months in the shed so he killed himself. She wishes that she could get away from the farm, and tells Paladin that she's saved $17. Letty offers Paladin all of it if he'll take her with him.

Stinchcomb comes in and finds Letty crying, and asks her what she's sniveling about. Letty runs into the next room, and Paladin asks Stinchcomb what he did. Stinchcomb says that Billy gunned down his uncle 150 miles away, and explains that he got $100 to hold Billy. Paladin wonders what Stinchcomb will do with Fairchild, and points out that the Osage chief can't be buried without a scalp to send him to glory. Stinchcomb admits that he's going to turn Fairchild over to the Osage, and the townspeople have arranged with the tribe to hand over criminals. Paladin is disgusted at the practice, and says that he saved Fairchild from a lynch mob in Fort Smith. He insists that Fairchild stand trial in Wichita and then hang legally. Stinchcomb warns that Paladin won't make it there without horses, and admits that he ran them off into the brush. Paladin tells him that he'll ride out in the morning with Fairchild.

Letty goes to the shed to bring him a Bible that he asked for. He says that he's a schoolteacher and thanks her for her cooking. As Letty goes back to the house, she sees two men approaching and quickly goes inside. The two men--Eph and Abner Jenkins--arrive to collect the prisoner. Letty insists that Fairchild is a Christian man, and Paladin points out that Fairchild is a cold-blooded killer. He says that she should stay somewhere else that night, and Stinchcomb says that there's a woman down the road that will keep her.

Once Letty leaves, Paladin draws his gun on the newcomers and tells them to stack their rifles on the table. Once they do so, they warn that if they don't hand Fairchild over then the Indians will take one of the townspeople. When they point out that Paladin said Fairchild is a killer, he tells them that he could be a liar. When Stinchcomb says that Billy was guilty, Paladin asks him what proof did the deputy provide. When Abner asks what choice do they have, Paladin warns that once they start over people, eventually they'll turn on each other.

Eph notices that the rain has stopped and warns that there isn't much time. Paladin tells them that in the morning, he's going to ride out with Fairchild and doesn't want to kill anyone for the privilege. He advises the men to sit down and make themselves comfortable, because it's going to be a long night.

Letty goes to the shed and asks Fairchild if he killed anyone. She explains that they're going to hand him over to the Indians, and Fairchild says that he can prove the charges against him are false. Letty asks to go with Fairchild if she lets him go, and he readily agrees. She lets him out and goes to get the horses, and Fairchild picks up a baling hook then goes after Letty.

Come morning, Stinchcomb has passed out drunk. Fairchild calls to Paladin to come out. Fairchild is holding the hook to Letty, and tells Paladin to bring in the horses. Paladin sends Abner to get them, and Fairchild demands Paladin's gun and the key to the manacles. The gunfighter sets his revolver and the keys on a stump, but then draws his derringer when he turns around. Paladin orders Letty to get out of the way, then spins and kills Fairchild.

Eph trains a rifle on Paladin, who says that he won't turn Fairchild over to them. Abner comes back and says that they'll find a way to handle the Indians next time, but Paladin refuses to back down and tells Eph to use the rifle or put it down because he's going to bury Fairchild. Eph sets it down, and Paladin tells Letty that he'll take her with him if she wants. She says that she won't be going because there's a need for her there. Letty goes to tend to her drunken father, and Abner offers Paladin Stinchcomb's $100 if Paladin leaves Fairchild. Paladin tells them to stall the Osage until noon, and then have them bury their chief with a totem scalp from a beaver. Once the Osage do that, they won't bother townspeople again. He orders Eph and Abner to bury them, and they go to work. Letty, watching, smiles and waves goodbye before going into the house.