The Big Valley

Season 4 Episode 19

The Royal Road

Aired Monday 9:00 PM Mar 03, 1969 on ABC

Episode Recap

Laura is Jarrod's 16 year-old ward, in his care since the death of her parents. She has been attending boarding school, but comes to Jarrod, declaring that she will take a trip to Europe. Jarrod knows that she is too young, and forbids it. Threatening to sell her deceased mother's jewels, Laura takes off running, with Jarrod in hot pursuit. As she is running, Laura literally runs into a young man wearing a jeweled turban. Their eyes lock, and both are evidently smitten. Laura keeps running, but Jarrod is intercepted by the local minister, who introduces Jarrod to the young man. He is Prince Ranjit, and the man accompanying him is introduced as Captain Crawford. The Barkley's are entertaining the young prince that evening for dinner, and from a distance, the elusive Laura overhears.

Laura shows up that night for dinner when Ranjit is invited, and for the two of them, it is love at first sight. When he takes her back to her home, he learns that she is an orphan - and a very rich one. She wants to give him ten thousand dollars for his charitable organization that will come in the form of a draw that coming Saturday.

In the meantime, Crawford is recognized by a former saloon girl who knew him in San Francisco. He denies knowing the woman, but she goes to Heath to warn him that Crawford's a scam. However, she's interrupted before she can tell Heath, and asks him to meet her in her room later that evening. When she hears a knock on the door, the woman supposes it is Heath, but it's Crawford. They argue, and he kills her and jumps out the window before Heath rushes to the commotion.

Meanwhile, Laura and the "prince" spend more time together and fall deeper in love. When Ranjit goes to ask Jarrod for permission to marry Laura, Jarrod informs him that if Laura marries before age 21, she'll forfeit her entire inheritance. Ranjit persists, and leaves angrily. Crawford finds out what is going on and threatens him. Ranjit no longer wants to go along with scamming innocents of their money for "the poor." The sheriff has come to question Crawford, and if Ranjit tells the authorities that Crawford murdered a woman, Crawford will rat out Ranjit as well, he says.

Ranjit is trapped, and when he reluctantly goes to move on with Crawford, Crawford tells him that they're taking Laura as a hostage when they're inevitably followed. Jarrod pursues them on horseback, and is ambushed by Crawford. Leaving him for dead, Crawford continues with Laura as his hostage. Ranjit jumps him, and a struggle ensues. When Crawford nearly drowns Ranjit, Laurel grabs the shotgun out of Crawford's saddle and shoots him dead. Jarrod meanwhile has revived, and witnesses the whole thing.

In the final scene, Laura is indignant that Jarrod is defending Ranjit but has told him to plead "guilty." Ranjit walks in then in hireling's clothes. He has been taken on by the Barkley's, which Jarrod is recommending he go on probation. And the next step will be to finish school. Laura questions this, and Ranjit looks at her knowingly and says, "Yes, school."