"Turn of A Card"

(Original air date 03/20/67)

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Heath tries to buy the freedom of a lovely Polynesian
belonging to a cruel captain

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Story: Lou Morheim

Teleplay: Gilbert Ralston

Director: Virgil W. Vogel



At the Barkley Sierra, Nick and super intendant Joe Garrett (Bing Russell) discuss the urgent need for a water pump to avoid the collapse of the mine. Jarrod heard of one being auctioned off in Sali Rosa for five thousand dollars. Instead of a bank draft that would take forever to clear, he suggests wiring Heath in Stockton and ask that he brings the money in time for the sale.

In town, Heath swings by the saloon to pick up a keg of beer from proprietor Piper Morrison (Joe Higgins). A fierce poker game is on between two local residents, Jack Carpenter, (Harlan Warde) ruffian Crowder (Don Chastain) and a wayfarer named Martinson. (Joseph Campanella)

           

When both men are forced to forfeit the game to him, Martinson challenges the best poker player in town. Heath declines the offer but Martinson is unrelenting. In his insistence he accidentally knocks a drinks off his slaveís hand and angrily smacks her in the face for being clumsy. The cowardly act raises Heathís ire who takes a swing at Martinson in defense of the young woman.

While waiting for the doctor to arrive, Heath engages in a friendly conversation with the pretty Polynesian Tiare (Marayat Adriane) who begins describing her homeland of Morea in its entire splendor. On a more serious tone, she informs Heath that she is Martinsonís property and that, consequently, he has the right to do with her as he pleases.

           

While Dr. Merar (Phil Chambers) attends to the unconscious patient Heath walks back to the bar to meet with Victoria. She hands him Nickís wire relating the critical situation at the mine along with a traveling bag packed with clean shirts and personal belongings. She convinces Morrison to fork over the urgent five thousand dollars. He is reticent at first but finally accedes to her request after she reminds him of the favor he owed the Barkleys for helping him start his business.

Unbeknownst to them that Crowder is listening in on their conversation.

     

Martinson gets wind of Heathís destination and decides to board the same night train. On route, Tiare shares with Heath the story of how Martinson came to rescue her when he father passed away. Eager to release the homesick girl from Martinsonís clutches Heath offers him a hundred dollars for her freedom. The man refuses, saying that heíd rather lose her fair and square in a five-thousand-dollar poker game.

The train makes a brief halt for the three to get off and catch the stagecoach to Sali Rosa. Along for the ride is Crowder who spies on their every move.

           

They stop at a relay station to get fresh horses and a meal. While the stage driver, Gallivan, (J. Stanford Jolley) unhitches the team, Martinson sneaks in the back of the coach to loosen the axle on the rear wheel.

           

Forty miles from Sali Rosa, the wobbly wheel comes off, leaving the passengers stranded in the middle of nowhere. Gallivan welcomes Heath and Martinson to his two horses in order to continue on horseback.

Halfway to their destination, Heath suggests setting up camp for the night. Martinson suspects Heath to being smitten with his slave. He encourages the bonding by leaving the two alone to get better acquainted, but Tiare is faithful to her master and wonít allow Heath to go too far.

           

During the night, Crowder and his cohort surround the campsite. At gunpoint he threatens Heath to hand over the money. Martinson grabs a knife from his saddlebag and hurls it at Crowder while Heath guns down his partner. When asked why he took such a gamble with their lives, Martinson replies that he didnít come this far to let a couple of bandits steal the money he intends to win in a poker game.

           

They arrive in Sali Rosa the next morning where Martinson gets an icy reception from Thurmond, (Paul Sorensen) who came on behalf of his boss to escort the man to his ranch in order to settle a gambling debt. Martinson is desperate for the five thousand dollars. In his hotel room he beats on Tiare and sends her out in the streets all bruised up for Heath to see.

           

Incensed Heath meets with Martinson at the saloon where he reluctantly agrees to gamble to money for Tiareís freedom.

The stakes are high. The tension is palpable. Martinson gets the upper hand but the wind quickly shifts and Heath ends up winning the pot. Before walking out of the saloon Martinson tells Tiare to remain with her new master.

           

Martinson scurries off to avoid Matt Beemer (Mickey Simpson) and his men but they manage to intercept him as he makes a mad dash out of town. Beemer starts beating him to pulp after learning that heís unable to settle his gambling debt.

Tiare and Heath spot the beaten man in an alley and hurry to his aid. Tiare offers to stay with him but he waves her off saying that Heath has won her fair and square. She turns to Heath for advice. He tells her that she is free to do whatever she pleases. She chooses to remain with Martinson out of pity for the lonely man.

           

Meanwhile, Jarrod and Nick try their best to convince the auctioneer Mr. Gorman (Jim Hayward) to hold off putting the pump up for sale until the very end, seeing how their brother is late. Much to their relief Heath shows up with the money in time for the auction and just as the stagecoach leaves with Tiare and Martinson.

           


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