(Original air date 03/13/67)
Deputized Heath stands between looters in a town evacuated
because of a weakening dam
Writer: William Blinn
Director: Richard Long
A thunderstorm is raging when the town's sheriff (James Gavin) drops by the Barkley ranch to warn the family of a weakening dam in Vineyard Lake. He was able to evacuate the small town of Salt Springs at the base of the dam and deputized two citizens to stand guard against possible looters who might take advantage of the situation. Heath offers to ride over there to lend a hand while Nick joins the sheriff to go work at strengthening the structure.
Heath arrives in the deserted town of Salt Springs where he is soon taken at gunpoint by deputized brothers Cody (Lonny Chapman) and Leon Grell (Dennis Hopper). After the proper introductions, they explain to Heath how they've been guarding the town against looters by making regular rounds and keeping an eye out for dubious characters. Younger brother Leon admits he's not thrilled about having to remain in a condemned town, but Cody argues that it is the neighbourly thing to do.
Heath exits the saloon to comb the streets for anyone remaining. In a sidelong glance, he observes a blind being pulled down in a hotel window. Quickly, he goes up to investigate. He breaks down the door to find saloon girl Fay Kelly (Cloris Leachman) laying in bed in an ungainly sprawl. In a flash, he is jumped by a young mute Indian girl (Patti Chandler). Heath manages to get a firm grip on her and throws her on the bed, waking Fay in the process. Heath is curious as to why they didn't evacuate with the rest, but Fay is quick to point out that she was probably too drunk and the girl too scared to answer to the call. The young Indian has been her travelling companion ever since the tribe rejected her for fear her muteness was a curse.
Gold-digger, Buster, (Frank McGrath) calls Heath out from the streets below and excitedly informs him that they caught a looter. After questioning the suspected looter Dave Cannon (Rhodes Reason), Heath returns to the hotel to convince Fay to pack up her things but she won't leave. Instead, Heath suggests to put them both up at the hotel.
Cannon tries to beguile the Grell brothers into rebelling against bossy Heath Barkley and skip town with a few expensive items. He explains that once the dam breaks, the town will be flooded and all the evidence will be buried with it. If the dam should hold, they can return to town and pretend to having chased after the real looters to retrieve their treasured possessions and thus look like heroes. Leon agrees but Cody hesitates.
When Heath shows up with the women, drunken Leon needles him into a fight but the young Barkley won't have any part of it. The distraction however allows Cannon to snatch a gun. He points it at Heath and orders him to drop his gun. As he does, Heath thrusts Leon aside and makes his escape through a window.
Cannon takes charge and impels Cody to side with them.
Heath and the two women dash to the livery stables where the angry mob corners them. They resort to violence to force Heath and the women out. When they realize that Heath is armed, they decide to wait him out until it gets dark. In the meantime they begin their shopping spree while Buster guards the barn door.
As Heath listens to Fay's pathetic life story, he makes out a loose plank in the wall. When he breaks it off he discovers that it connects to the adjacent building. He hopes to open a hole big enough to sneak through and get more ammunitions.
Buster suggests to Cannon to smoke Heath out by throwing a lighted newspaper inside the barn to start a fire. When Heath starts stifling the flames, Buster aims his rifle and shoots Heath in the side. The young Barkley retaliates with two shots, killing Buster, before he collapses.
The Indian girl pulls a knife out of Heath's saddlebag and once he has psyched himself up for the pain, she cleaves through the flesh in order to remove the bullet.
At nightfall, Heath's condition remains stable, though not he’s not nearly strong enough to stand. Instead, Fay shows a bullet to her protégée and asks her to get the ammunitions at the hardware store.
She goes through the opening Heath gouged in the wall and reaches the hardware store safely. When she looks around for the boxes of ammunitions, the edge of her skirt accidentally send a few pails tumbling down. The noise alerts the looters and Leon is sent to investigate. When she gets caught, Heath is faced with no other alternative but to show himself.
With the Indian girl in their grasp, the gang is confident Heath will lay down the arms and surrender. They position themselves in different corners of town and wait for him to show. Heath hides in a wagon and grabs Leon by the neck as he walks past. Both engage in a struggle, ending with Leon getting shot.
When Heath teeters to his feet, Cannon bounces before him, holding the Indian girl by the neck. A rocket is fired in the air, momentarily distracting Cannon who loses his grip on the girl. Heath lunges at him but his injury prevents him from getting the upper hand. Fay lends a hand by shooting Cannon dead.
Cody trains a gun of the huddled threesome, ready to kill them when he sees his brother's corpse sprawled in the mud and overcome with emotions, drops his weapon.
A second rocket is fired in the air, a signal that the dam is holding and the town is safe.
Back at the ranch, Fay gives the family a sample of her singing before she leaves for the Music Hall. She thanks Heath with a stroke on his cheek. As for the young Indian, she gives him a cheerful peck on the cheek, leaving the family to wonder about what really happened in Salt Springs.
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