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"Run of the Cat"

(Original air date 10/21/68)


Badly injured, Nick insists on helping track the cougar that attacked him


Writer: Edward J. Lakso

Director: Bernard McEveety

Riding along on a routine inspection of the ranch, Nick and Heath notice buzzards wheeling about in the sky. They urge their mounts onwards to where lay a dead steer. As Nick goes down the hill to investigate, a cougar pounces on him.


Heath fires a few shots into the air to scare the cougar away before he hurtles down to his grievously injured brother who's suffering from shock.


Back at the ranch, Dr. Merar (Jon Lormer) tends to his patient's broken ribs and binds the wounds, leaving the deeper gashes uncovered. All the while, Nick remains catatonic, staring blankly in front of him with a terrorized expression, barely acknowledging anyone's presence in his room.

The doctor assures the family not to worry, that Nick is in a temporary state of shock. A few days rest and he should be as good as new.

During the night, Nick tosses and turns in his fitful sleep, bawling his eyes out while fighting an invisible demon as he relives the attack. Heath rushes to Nick's bedroom and rouses his hysterical brother out of his nightmare.


Days later at breakfast, Jarrod informs Nick that he's hired a professional hunter to track down the cougar. Nick won't hear of it: the cat is his to kill but the family backs Jarrod's decision.

Jarrod rides into town to meet with Tanner (Pernell Roberts) whom he later brings to ranch to meet the family. Again, Nick insists on joining the hunt and tries to convince Victoria that he's fit enough to ride, but she won't buy his act. Despite her argument, Nick remains unwavering.


At early dawn, Nick catches up with Tanner. The hunter insists he goes back, that he won't have a cripple tag along, but again Nick won't be dissuaded. Tanner finally yields.

In the hush of night, Nick is jolted out of sleep by a growl. Slowly he picks up his gun and empties the barrel at what he believes is the cougar poised ready to lunge at him. Tanner dismisses the incident as a hallucination. It seriously dawns on Nick that he might be losing his mind.


The next morning, they pick up the trail. Nick's horse takes a bad tumble, throwing its rider hard on the ground. The fall aggravates Nick's injuries.

Tanner brings Nick to a small cabin where they meet with the Chiles, Tom (John Milford) and Beth (Janis Hensen). While Chiles and Tanner engage in a fierce game of poker, Beth tends to Nick.


During a break in the game, Tanner looks in on Nick. Both men learn that Beth is not legally Tom's wife. She explains that since winning her in a poker game, Tom's had her pandering to his every whims.

When the stakes are high, Tanner proposes to Chiles to gamble his 'wife'. When the violent drunk loses, he accuses Tanner of cheating and lunges at him. A brawl ensues, ending with Tanner getting the upper hand and ordering Chides to ride out of town.


Tanner senses that Beth is smitten with Nick. He therefore hands her a gun with her promise to prevent Nick from following him.

She tries to stop stubborn Nick from leaving, but can't bring herself to pull the trigger. She starts chiding herself for being weak and gullible, but Nick begs to differ. He promises to visit with her once he gets the job done. Then he goes out in the paddock to rope a half-broken horse.


Chiles catches up with Tanner and threatens to kill him if he doesn't fork out the money. Tanner recalls his face from a wanted poster in Stockton: a gambler wanted for murder. Nick springs forth just in time to pump a bullet into Chiles before does it to him.


Nick and Tanner press on. When Nick is having trouble handling his skittish horse, Tanner suggests having him cool off before they continue.

As Nick dismounts, the cougar emerges from behind the bushes, scaring the horse away. Nick swirls around, his eyes swivelling back and forth nervously. Another growl freaks him out. He stumbles and accidentally drops his gun in the fall. He then darts off in a panic.


He stops and recovers his composure. He spots the cougar up on a rock hill. Slowly he inches forward toward his gun, keeping an eye on that tawny brown cat poised ready to spring on him. In one swing, he dives for his gun and shoots the feline just as he leaps on him.

Tanner had the cougar in his shot when he suddenly realized that his rifle was jammed. Guess it was meant to be since it was Nick's cat to begin with.


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