"By Fires Unseen"
(Original air date 01/05/66)
Nick's fiancée joins the family on an annual camping trip in the mountains
but jealousy ends in tragedy
Story: Ken Trevey
Teleplay: Mel Goldberg
Director: Paul Henreid
The family gathers for a very early breakfast in order to pick up Nick at the train station. Sleepy head Jarrod wishes his brother could have chosen a more convenient hour for his homecoming, while Eugene (Charles Briles) grumbles about having to get up early on his vacation. Nick surprises everyone at the house and introduces his bride-to-be, Hester Converse (Diane Baker).
Champagne fizzles out of the bottle in celebration of the happy announcement as Heath enters. After Nick introduces his brother to Hester, he congratulates her with an innocent peck on the cheek. However, a smitten Hester reaches for Heath's mouth and kisses him long and hard on the lips, arousing everyone's suspicions.
While Hester teaches a few dance steps to Jarrod and Eugene, a troubled Victoria wanders out to the balcony with Nick in tow. With glinting eyes, Nick recounts his chance encounter with Hester in Sacramento. His euphoric smile is evidence of how deep her son's love is for the pretty brunette. However she senses that Hester might not be ready to tie the knot.
Victoria suggests to Nick to ask Hester to join them on their annual camping trip in the mountains of Indian Springs. After a slight hesitation, she accepts.
The next morning, Hester saunters out to the stables where Heath is grooming Charger's mane. She starts cajoling him into admitting his true feelings about his brother's impeding wedding, whether or not he approves. Heath hems and haws.
Jarrod interrupts the awkward moment by informing them that breakfast is ready. After Heath leaves for the house, Jarrod remains with Hester. He racks his brain trying to figure out where he's seen her before. He recalls a grand occasion in Sacramento where men were swarming around her like bees to honey. He fears that a camping trip may not be her idea of fun, being accustomed to lavish events and all.
Days later, the family gears up to ride to the campsite. The long arduous road soon has Hester huffing and puffing. But in order to prove to Nick that she's not made of porcelain, she kicks Jingo straight into the river where she runs into a bit of trouble. Heath doubles back and comes to her rescue. The heroic deed doesn't go unnoticed and deepens her love for the knight in shining armour.
The next morning, following a haunting night of constant howling and chirpings, Hester rouses to find Heath chopping wood. She taunts him about how she intends to be the perfect wife for Nick and runs down to the river where her fiancée is busy catching breakfast. She asks to be taught how to fish, but her first lesson lands her in cold water.
While cleaning fish with Audra, Hester muses about her many suitors back in Sacramento. Victoria walks over to them and she invites Hester to take a stroll down by the river with her. Hester suspects Victoria of testing her, wondering if she's right for this kind of life. Hester is conscious of the fact that she may appear to be a fish out of water but with the family's help, she intends to make Nick happy.
As they walk back up to the campsite, Hester spots Heath getting water. Victoria notices that Hester is visibly disturbed by his presence and suspects that there might be more than meets the eye.
At night, they attend a hoedown. A whiff of jealousy invades Nick at the sight of all the handsome suitors asking Hester to dance. She on the other hand is searching for Heath. When she spots him, she walks over to him and asks him for a dance.Heath plays it safe, holding her at arm's length but Hester encourages him to tighten the embrace, which he does.
The closeness ignites a certain passion that Heath is quick to douse. Feeling somewhat uneasy by the impure thoughts, he escuses himself and walks away.
When Nick asks her for a dance, Hester admits to being tired and wishes to retire for the night.
Nick takes Hester back to the camp where she passionately professes her love for him and asks to be married at once. Nick suggests they wait until the trip is over to have a proper wedding ceremony.
When Heath returns, he finds Hester crying. When he asks what's bothering her, she weeps in his arms. As their eyes meet, the emotion grows intense and she runs away, ripping her sleeve on a tree branch. She falls into Nick's arms in complete tears. Nick notices her torn dress and pounces on Heath in a jealous rage.
Heath begs Nick to give him a chance to explain as he begins to choke him. Eugene attempts to break the two brothers apart but to no avail. Finally Heath manages to kick Nick off him, accidentally sending him tumbling down a ravine. His back breaks his fall against a large rock.
They haul Nick on a makeshift stretcher up the hill. Under Heath's instructions, they strap Nick down tightly to prevent further injury to his back. Then Hester asks to be alone with Nick.
Victoria and Audra go to Heath, hoping for an explanation. As Heath starts relating the events prior to the fight, Hester cries for help. Nick is feverish and delirious and demands to be released from his restraint.
The next day, they all ride out to take Nick to the nearest doctor. They come to a river too deep to cross so Heath asks young brother Eugene to fetch the doctor while they set up camp near the riverbank.
At night, Nick awakes and asks Hester to loosen his bonds. As soon as he's free, he staggers to his wobbly legs and goes saddle Coco in order to elope with his fiancée. Hester pleads with Nick to remain in bed, fearing he might aggravate his back injury.
As Nick painfully tries to lift the saddle onto Coco's back, his back gives out and he collapses to the ground, awaking Heath.
Once Nick is fastened back on his cot, Victoria upbraids Hester for risking her son's life in order to fulfill her wish of becoming Mrs. Barkley. Victoria is shocked to learn that Hester wanted to marry Nick before she changed her mind and urges her to have a serious talk with Nick.
Hester confesses to Nick her qualms about becoming a rancher's wife. Nick loves her but wants Hester to assess her true feelings before they become man and wife.
The next morning, the doctor (Frank Scannell) checks on Nick's condition and reassures Victoria that thanks to Heath's contraption, her son should be up and around in a few days.
Hester goes to Nick's tent to say goodbye. In all good conscience, she cannot marry him. She explains the reason why she was crying that night and how she competed for Heath's attention, that she needed him to want her, like she has in the past with men who have courted her.
She bids farewell to the family and rides away with the doctor.
Back at the ranch, following convalescence, Nick takes his first steps. As he stands from his wheelchair, he loses balance and falls into Heath's arms. The brothers exchange a meaningful smile, evidence that the hatchet has been buried.
Return to Episode Guide
Return to Homepage