"Run of the Savage"

(Original air date 03/11/68)


A fourteen-year-old thief holds Nick hostage


Writer: Don Ingalls

Director: Virgil W. Vogel

Following a series of thefts on the ranch, Nick and Heath mount guard in hopes to catch the culprit red-handed. While waiting for the phantom to show up, Nick exposes his theory on how to recognize a crook by the angle of his ears, a tip he learned in a book he borrowed from Jarrod. For that very reason he suspects ranch hand Bill Briles (Sydney Clute)

. The sound of approaching hooves has Nick grinning knowing he’s about to nail the thief. He lunges at him and as he starts beating him to a pulp, Jarrod rides up to inform his brothers that two more robberies have taken place at the ranch. He gladly vouches for Bill’s innocence, thus making a mockery of Nick’s far-fetched theory.


The next morning Nick and Jarrod ride into town and part ways to tend to their respective business. Nick’s job is to report the thefts to the sheriff but instead decides to swing by the saloon where out of the blue, a brash fourteen-year-old named Danny (Michael Burns) waltzes in. When Harry (Harry Swoger) ,the bartender, denies him liquor, Danny flies into a rage, one that Nick fuels by siding with Harry. With eyes ablaze, Danny sears Nick’s face on his memory before storming out of the saloon.


Jarrod is nearly run over by the angry young man whom he recognizes as Danny Wiggins, son of Dr. Ray Wiggins (Willard Sage))

Nick quaffs his drink and heads on down to the sheriff’s office. As he’s about to enter, he turns his attention to the Wiggins’ place down the street. He goes to the house to advise the good doctor of his son’s raucous behaviour. He and his wife (Carolyn Conwell) deny they ever had a son.


Next theft: Coco’s saddle, the last straw that prompts Nick to finally march up to Sheriff Madden’s (Douglas Kennedy) office and report the robberies that occurred at the ranch the past four days. Fred admits his bafflement as to the identity of the sly theft who’s responsible for the rash of thievery. There are no clues and no witnesses.

As he exits the office, Nick witnesses an altercation between Danny and his supposed father. He quickly intervenes when the acrid discussion degenerates into a fistfight. Humiliated in public, Danny mounts his horse and rides away with Nick on his tail.


When Nick loses the boy’s trail, he dismounts and continues to search on foot, unaware that Danny has set a trap.


Nick regains consciousness with his hands bound to a wooden beam inside a condemned mine. As he slowly takes in his surroundings, he spots the stolen goods. He surmises that his young captor must undoubtedly be the author of the robberies.

Nick warns that the mine is extremely unsafe; that sixteen men were once buried alive, hence the reason why the place was boarded up. Danny’s main concern is to make sure no one comes snooping around while he holds his prisoner for a $5000 ransom.

When asked the reason for his bitter resentment towards his father, Danny relates the story of how his mother became pregnant by a Sioux Indian. Following Danny’s birth, she couldn’t bear to look at him. Did her best to push him away but he kept coming back for he needed her. When Ray Wiggins married her he arranged to send him away to school back East. Thereafter rancour set in.


Outside, Danny ties the note to Coco’s saddle and slaps the horse on its romp, knowing the animal would find his way back to the ranch.


Victoria is adamant; she won’t have the law involved for fear the kidnappers will hurt Nick. After Jarrod and Heath explain that Nick is likely to get killed once the money is delivered, she reluctantly agrees to advise Sheriff Madden.

Later in the morning, Nick makes one last attempt at breaking his bonds, hoping to wiggle himself free before the ceiling collapses on him. He fails to convince Danny to drop his tough act by feeding him a tearjerker about a horse he once owned, one he tried to hate but couldn’t bring himself to pulling the trigger. Danny on the other hand wouldn’t have hesitated in killing his stepfather had Nick not intervened.

Before heading out to pick up the ransom money, Danny assures his prisoner that he’ll advise his family of his location one he’s safely out of the country.


Heath, Jarrod and the Sheriff Madden ride ahead of Victoria in order to conceal themselves behind a pile of rocks while they wait for her to make the drop off. Unbeknownst to them, Danny is watching their every move with a devilish grin. He decides to make his presence known to create a diversion, knowing full well the lawman would never suspect a fourteen-year-old of kidnapping. After Fred sends him on his way, he scares their horses away.

Once Victoria drops off the money, Danny creeps up behind the rocks to reach the bag. With their mounts gone, the threesome is unable to pursue the suspect.


An ecstatic Danny returns to the mine with his prize. Nick’s snide remark about using the money to buy back his mother’s love enrages the young man who hurls his canteen at him. The vibration triggers a cave in, trapping Danny underneath heavy beams.


Unable to move, Danny nevertheless succeeds in reaching a cleaver that he throws at Nick to allow him to sever his bonds.


Once free, Nick staggers to his feet to help Danny but the young man aims his gun at him, ordering him to leave before the whole ceiling tumbles down. Nick won’t hear of it. He lifts the heavy beams off the boy and assists him out of the mine before the final collapse.


Days later at the ranch, Danny is nowhere to be found. The three brothers suspect their new helper might have fled during the night. As they head back out to search for him, Danny shows up with the $5000 he went to dig out of the rubbles despite Nick’s strict warning to never wander back there.


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