Have Gun - Will Travel

Season 3 Episode 10

The Golden Toad

Aired Saturday 9:30 PM Nov 21, 1959 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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  • A light, amusing episode, it does clearly show Paladin as a prudent, foresighted more ways than one.

    The episode opens in the hotel lobby. A woman is sitting stiffly upright, a model of indignation--as well she might be. The normally courteous and attentive Paladin is not only sitting away from her, with a table between them, but he obviously is finding his newspapers much more interesting than the company. Perhaps the lady imposed herself while he was reading, but it still seems rather rude. Paladin is reading about a farmer who seems to have made a valuable find on ancient Indian lands. The lady interrupts with a very telling remark. She says that she had been warned that Paladin always seems to rush off on a job just when a relationship is at its most pleasant. We often see Paladin frustrated in his amorous endeavors by an ill-timed plea for help. However, this statement would seem to indicate that when Paladin is actively searching for a job, it sometimes provides an excuse to distance himself from his current enamorata. Perhaps it's because the woman is beginning to hint at commitment, or he's gotten bored, or perhaps found that the woman's companionship does not live up to her looks. In this instance, Paladin does not seem overly concerned at the woman's upset. He throws a quote at her--and leave it to Paladin to make a Latin passage sound incredibly sexy--and walks away, leaving her bemused. One wonders if she thought to have the line translated, because we will find in a few minutes that it was not quite the compliment Paladin claimed that it was.

    Paladin sends off one of his cards to the farmer named in the article, and leaves Hey Boy to pack up his travelling gear while he makes a stop at the local library for some research. The scene shifts to a very dry and dusty patch of land with a battered-looking homestead, and a man chasing fowl. Paladin approaches, causing a wave of excitement among the man's daughters, who hasten out to display themselves.

    There's an indication that Paladin did indeed create this job to get himself out of San Francisco, for while he sent his card to Bond Webster, Webster did not answer it, and in fact, does not want Paladin there. He claims that the article in the paper was just a made-up story. He's just a farmer trying to eke out a living on some dried-up land he was suckered into buying. Once he realizes that Paladin is unmarried, however, he stops trying to get Paladin to leave and introduces his daughters, including their virtues. A fine cook, an entertainer, and a huntress. Something to appeal to various tastes. Paladin is as courteous as he usually is, but of course has no intention of getting himself stuck. Webster's son, Everette, comes slouching up with a complaint, and Webster hastens to shut him up. They then stage an elaborately faked dialogue that an idiot could have understood. Everette needs some explosive--er, a plow--in order to break through the "rocky" soil. The son returns to his work, the father heads for town to purchase the necessary stuff, and Paladin takes leave of three disappointed girls with an English translation of his Latin quote. The girls are left as bemused as the first lady was.

    Paladin all but springs into the local saloon, and abruptly finds himself under a gun, supervised by a thin, hard-worn woman named Doris. They had heard rumors (from where, I wonder?) that Webster was hiring a gunman to help him guard his treasure, a treasure that they all want a claim of. The brutal drought has left everyone hard up. Paladin informs them that all Webster spoke of was his daughters. This earns him the enmity of Doris' henchman. Webster's three girls are the last available women in the area. Although keeping him under guard, Doris is amiable enough to call for drinks. This leads to one of the best moments of the show. After seeing Doris toss back a slug of her own drink, Paladin takes a good sip just as Doris asks his name. "Paladin" comes out on a wheezy gasp, and Paladin's expression as he stares at his glass is wonderful. Doris' family has owned the valley for a long time, and it was she who persuaded Webster to buy some of the land--but she claims that she retained the mineral rights and therefore is entitled to a share of whatever Webster has found. Webster is forced into the saloon by more of Doris' men. They found him buying explosives, using a certain item as collateral. They unveil a gold statue, which they all identify as a toad, although it is clearly a smooth-skinned frog. Perhaps living in the parched environment has affected their perceptions. Paladin, while interested in the statue, takes advantage of everyone else's interest to get the drop on them all, and Webster is allowed to leave. Paladin hints to Doris that she should allow Webster to get all the hard, heavy work done before moving in to make their claims. Doris is charmed by Paladin's candid self-interest.

    Following Webster, Paladin starts noting signs in the rocks and soil. The Websters show him various carved rocks and paving stones, leading to a cave. It seems reasonable to suppose that Paladin would have a good working knowledge of what was then called antiquarian research. He knows that this area was once the home of the Yavapai Indians, a wealthy tribe that suddenly and mysteriously vanished from the region. The Websters have been a little nervous about breaking through the last bit of wall at the back of the cave, as Everette has been hearing noises back there. He thinks perhaps there's some sort of monster inside, maybe a giant toad, that's guarding the treasure. After all, toads have been found sealed up before. (In books on mysteries of nature, you will find a number of reports of toads allegedly found alive, sealed up in Paladin investigates the cave and listens to the rushing sound behind the wall. They're interupted by Doris and Company, who have decided to force the issue with guns. Paladin manages to get them to wait while he proves that there is no gold in the cave, and heads inside with the box of explosives.

    Paladin, Webster and Doris very nearly get themselves killed, for Webster is inclined to stand and argue while a thirty-second fuse is burning. Everyone dives for cover. Webster is horrified to think that the treasure has been buried, but realizes that he didn't really want treasure, just a chance to live and work and make a decent life for themselves. Paladin, who had figured out what the Yavapai treasure must have been before he left San Francisco, turns and looks at the cave entrance. One by one, they all look, and listen, as water begins to flow in a steady stream. In a matter of moments, it's deep enough that they can scoop it up in handfuls. Water for crops and cattle, water to make the parched valley green and fertile again. A steady water supply is worth more than gold, and the Yavapai had worshipped an animal representing that water--a frog.

    Hostilities almost break out again, this time aimed at Paladin, when he informs them that he filed claim on the land the water is flowing through two days before. However, in order to promote harmony and build up the local population, his newly founded water company will give free shares to any married couples. Doris' three henchmen go tearing off to pay court to Webster's daughters. Even Everette suddenly reveals that he has a girlfriend of his own, and rushes off to discuss matters with her. Webster and Doris are outraged at the unfairness of it, until Paladin points out the obvious solution. Both of them are pragmatic enough not to scorn the idea.

    Some little time later, the newly married couples have already made a good start on cutting irrigation ditches. Webster has concluded that Paladin will only be getting a modest yearly return on his investment, while they will be getting so much more. He gives Paladin the gold frog as a memento. Paladin seems genuinely surprised and touched by the gesture--after all, the statue would have had historical value as well as the value of the gold itself. He goes riding off, no doubt quite full of himself. After all, how many men could not only get a nice annual income, but play Cupid to ten people simultaneously?