The Virginian

Season 3 Episode 10

Return a Stranger

Aired Wednesday 7:30 PM Nov 18, 1964 on NBC

Episode Recap

In their Sunday best, Judge and Betsy Garth arrive at the run down Gloria Mine to deliver a telegram to owner Charlie Ryan (Leif Erickson). The Judge tells Betsy the mine has always only yielded low grade silver ore but Charlie never gives up and is always there on Sundays. The telegram is from Charlie's son Craig (Peter Brown) and reveals that he has made a refining deal to revive the mine by refining on site. We learn that Charlie's son graduated from mining college but with only a "C" in ethics and logic. Craig has put up the mine for a short-term loan – they will lose the mine if they do not produce a certain quota in three months. Judge Garth and Betsy drive Charlie to town to meet the train and Craig arrives with new partner Whit Parsons (Whit Bissell) and Joe Barker (Robert Colbert) who will help them work the mine. Craig is going to get his father to stop his job sweeping out the general store and is going to import mine workers. We also learn Betsy is an old friend of Craig's although she has not seen him in four years.

Almost three months later Craig gives a speech to the miners as they make their first silver shipment but the miners complain they have not received back pay. Judge Garth notices that Craig has erected a diversion dam which is siphoning off water which is needed by downstream outfits for their cattle. Charlie tells the Judge the diversion is temporary and Whit says he will handle it. Craig also takes pipe from the train station which is intended for rancher Barney Wingate (Roy Engel) so he give the agent money and tells him to reorder. Also, an old trapper, Sam Elberry (William Fawcett) is refused access by Joe Barker to trap on land owned by the mine even though the trapper claims he has a treaty with the Indians predating the mine's claim.

Whit, using the pipe from the station, has reintroduced water flow to the ranchers but another problem arises when the conveyor they are using breaks down and they have no money to fix it. Craig hatches a plan to visit Shiloh on a social visit and almost as an afterthought ask the Judge to borrow some mules which he can use to haul material instead of the conveyor. Craig agrees to go the church social with Betsy but after he leaves both her and the Judge suspect he only visited to get the mules so are not fooled. Meanwhile, Randy Benton finds a dead cow and calf by the stream below the mine. The Judge gets the vet to investigate and he learns it is not anthrax and the stream seems clear. The Judge is suspicious and crosses onto mine property where he finds other dead animals. The Judge goes to the mine but Whit says the water is clean and drinks from it. Later, however, he reveals to Craig that he has installed a bypass valve which doe not use the water from the mine and that he only drank clean water. Whit assures him no contaminated water will go beyond the property and argues they do not have the three months time needed to install a filter.

In town, Sam Elberry tells all he is going to trap on Gloria property no matter what and other ranchers begin to complain that their cattle are dying. The Judge suggests they get an injunction to shut down the mine. Emmett Ryker delivers an injunction shutting down the mine for 24 hours but Craig has already applied to overthrow the injunction , a ploy which will give him the three days he needs to fill his quota on time. Barker finds Sam Elberry dying and Craig wants to take him to a doctor but is unsure, a conversation which is overheard by his father. Charlie learns the water is contaminated and that he was misled by his son and Whit and says Craig better take Sam to a doctor or he will disown him. Whit goes with Craig to take Sam to town but on the way at gunpoint he tries to get Craig to throw Sam over a cliff. Craig manages to knock Whit out and get to Shiloh but Sam is dead.

Judge Garth, Craig and the Shiloh men go to the mine to face off against Whit and the workers. Whit claims there is no proof contaminated water killed Sam. The Judge says he will take a sample to test and Whit lets him, knowing full well it will take several days for the test results. The Judge says there is a quicker test and tries to get Whit to drink the water without using the bypass valve but he will not. Craig tries to grab Whit who shoots him – in turn, Randy Benton shoots Whit. After Sam's funeral Emmett Ryker reveals Sam did not die from poisoning. Also, the Judge tells how the other ranchers have decided to invest in the mine so it can keep going. They all take Craig back to Shiloh so he can be nursed back to health by Betsy.