"The Devil's Masquerade"

(Original air date 03/04/68)


Heath suspects a woman who has come to wed his long time
pal, a homely, middle-aged farmer


Writer: Sasha Gilien & Mel Goldberg

Director: Paul Henreid

At the town saloon, Heath and his friend Jim North (John Doucette) discuss his upcoming wedding to Nancy, his mail-order bride. Jim has obviously had too much to drink but he insists that he's fit enough to go pick up his bride-to-be at the station. On the way to the carriage, he stumbles in some barrels and throws his back out. Incapacitated, Jim asks Heath to take his place.

On the way to the station, Heath comes across an unhitched team grazing on the side of the road. Puzzled, he flicks his horse further up the road where he discovers that a robbery took place, leaving a man and woman dead.


When Heath lays a blanket over the corpses, a couple emerges from behind a rock. Reed Clayton (Ray Danton) and Jim's fiancée Nancy Briggs (Anne Helm). They explain how they narrowly escaped with their lives by hiding from the gunmen. Heath presents Nancy with the flowers Jim had asked him to give her with his apologies of not being able to pick her up himself.


In Stockton, Heath drops Reed at the town hotel and continues on to Jim's place with Nancy.

On the way, Nancy admits to Heath of having serious qualms about meeting Jim for the first time. Heath begins to question her about her past, convinced he's met her before but can't recall where. He begins to entertainment serious doubts about her true identity when she mistakes Jim's maid for his late wife.

They arrive at Jim's farm. The tension between the two as they meet for the very first time is almost palpable. Heath excuses himself and leaves the couple alone to get acquainted.


At the ranch, Nick assails Heath with questions about Nancy, whether or not she's right for Jim. Heath assures his big brother that the girl seems nice but can't help feeling he's seen her before.

The next night, Victoria, Nick and Heath are invited to dinner at Jim's place. Victoria offers to help Nancy with her wedding dress and at the same time, wants to take the opportunity to show her the new school where she hopes Nancy will accept a teaching position. Nancy declines, stating that she wants to dedicate her time to being a wife.

Heath is still bugged about not being able to recall Nancy's face.


The next day, Heath drops Victoria and Nancy at the dress shop and walks across the street to the saloon where he meets with Reed. He questions him about the stage robbery and the two other passengers but Reed remains evasive. As the man lights up a cigar, Heath notices the name "Jack's saloon, Copper Creek" on the matchbox. That name rings a bell.

Next stop, the stage depot. Heath asks the station agent (Renny McElroy) to show him the content of the dead woman's suitcase. Judging from the clothes, she must have been a showgirl, something that Jim never told him.


At the end of the day, Heath drives Nancy back to Jim's place. On the way, she admits to being pleased by everyone's kindness but has an annoying feeling that Heath doesn't like her.

Jim tries to appease Nancy's qualms about Heath's attitude, saying that he must be infatuated with her and that he's afraid to admit it.

At the dinner table, Heath is lost in his thoughts while Jarrod and Victoria discuss the perfect wedding gift for Jim and Nancy. Nick hollers in, prompting Heath to get a move on the cattle branding. Heath informs him that he's going out of town for a few days and that he'll have to do without him. Nick won't hear of it.


At Jim's place, Reed shows up at the front door. He introduces himself as a hotshot entrepreneur who's interested in acquiring the small acreage up for sale. Jim is surprised. Nothing is for sale, but he's willing to hear the man's offer. As soon as Jim exits the house, Reed and Nancy kiss. Both have orchestrated this little scheme to steal Jim's money. However Nancy feels a little uneasy, mostly on account of Heath's suspicions.


The next day, Nancy rides up to the Barkley ranch. In Victoria's absence, she asks Heath if he would be willing to substitute for his mother as tour guide around the property.

They stop their horses near a river. Nancy begins to ramble about her love for Jim . She asks Heath for a chance to prove her sincerity and assures him she'll be good for Jim. She threatens Heath that if he hurts her, he'll wind up hurting his friend as well.

Later, Nancy goes to the hotel and tries to convince Reed to drop the entire stratagem. Heath is distrustful and that despite everything, she believes she loves Jim. Reed calls attention to the fact that he rescued her from that filthy saloon in Copper Creek and that he wants what's best for them both. A quick divorce and a nice settlement will provide them with wealth for the rest of their lives.


Reed's poker partner, Keefer, (Rex Holman) enters the room with his dog just as Nancy leaves. Reed asks him to eliminate of the snag in his otherwise brilliant plan, Heath Barkley.

Because Nancy can't go through with the scheme, she decides to pack up and leave. Jim believes she's jilting him on account of Heath. He storms out of the house in a jealous fit.


At the ranch, Nick softens up on his troubled brother. He tells Heath to go on his trip, that the branding will wait until he gets back.

Jim catches up with Heath on his way to the train station. He vehemently accuses him of wanting to leave town with Nancy. Heath denies the allegation and both end up engaging in a fistfight. Jim pleads with Heath to leave Nancy alone, that he needs her more than he does.


The stationmaster (Army Archerd) informs Heath that he missed the last train to Copper Creek. He decides to take the next one.

A cute little dog barks up at his leg. Heath calmly warns its owner, Keefer, to call his pet back. When Heath pushes the dog aside, Keefer gets angry and provokes him into a draw. Heath shoots the man down before he has time to realize it. Not far away, Reed witnessed the entire scene and decides to board the same train as Heath.


In Copper Creek, Heath has a chance encounter with Nancy at the town saloon. That's where he remembers her from. She's a saloon girl who switched identity with the dead girl on the stage in order to get to the wealthy farmer. A perfectly engineered plan with one small glitch; she never planned to fall in love with Jim.

They both leave the saloon together. Nancy discerns the shady silhouette of Reed standing in a hayloft across the street with a rifle. She warns Heath of what is about to happen. Heath dodges the bullet by rolling on the ground and fires back at Reed who drops dead.


Days later, back at the ranch, Nick and Heath get ready for the cattle branding when Jim and Nancy show up at the house announcing their engagement. They ask Heath if he would accept to be the best man.


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