A pacifist schoolteacher commits a mistake that makes him the target of a criminal gang.
Schoolteacher Jim Ellis wipes away a child's drawing of what he did from the blackboard.
The Curran brothers hold up the Cattlemen's Bank.
The children hide as the outlaws open fire on the school.
Cheyenne shoots at a gang of criminals trying to gun down a schoolteacher.
- This is the first episode of season three.
- Writer George Slavin recycled the plot of this Cheyenne episode six years later for an episode of the TV western Laramie titled "Badge of Glory" with a preacher instead of a schoolteacher in the main role.
Real World References
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Errors and Continuity Nitpicks
- The Curran brothers' last name is spelled "Curren" on the wanted poster on screen, but "Curran" in the episode credits.
- The Curran brothers wanted poster appears again in the fourth season episode Blind Spot.
Sheriff Cheyenne Bodie wanders across the main street of Indian Springs to the bank and runs into the local schoolteacher, Jim Ellis. He is taking Kenny Powell and another student on an extracurricular fishing trip.While he's waiting in the bank, the Curran brothers take positions outside and inside and declare a holdup. Cheyenne and the bank president Hub Powell open fire and force the brothers out. Men from the town join Cheyenne in a posse and they search, but the brothers disappear.
In the morning, Ellis stops by Cheyenne's office with a surprising demand: to collect the $1,000 reward for outlaw Roy Curran. His body is out in Ellis' wagon. The teacher says he found the injured bandit in his barn and had to shoot him. The townspeople are overjoyed at this. They want to throw Ellis a party, but the schoolteacher is distraught and refuses any accolades.
When Ellis arrives at the school the children cheer him, especially Kenny. Some kids can't reconcile his earlier teachings about pacifism with his recent violent actions. Meanwhile, the Curran brothers regroup and head toward the schoolhouse to get revenge. Outside at recess, Ellis sees them ride up, rings the school bell in alarm and brings the children inside. They all cower under desks as the outlaws demand that Ellis give himself up. When he doesn't, they start shooting up the school. A group of riders led by Cheyenne arrive and the outlaws escape. Kenny stands in their path and is run down and injured.Back at the school where Kenny is bandaged up, Ellis refuses to go with Powell and Cheyenne to chase after the outlaws. He declares that killing is wrong and that he lied about shooting Roy Curran. Ellis also reveals that the Currans' interest in him is due to blood; he is their half brother. When the men from town hear the truth, they are angry and refuse to join Cheyenne's posse.
Cheyenne spends the night at the Ellis home to protect the teacher and his wife, Lynn. She visits Cheyenne secretly and tells him that she forced her husband into telling the lie for the reward money. She wants to leave Indian Springs, go east and start a family. But Ellis' job as a schoolteacher is his penance for his brothers' evil deeds and he cares for other people's children than have any of his own. Cheyenne promises to keep her secret and directs her to convince Ellis to ride to town the next day if Cheyenne doesn't return.In the morning, Cheyenne goes to town to drum up support, but no one is willing to stick up for Ellis. When Ellis walks into the saloon, the bartender tries to throw him out. Bodie intervenes physically and Powell -- who is also the mayor -- fires him. A fight between Bodie, Ellis and some of the men breaks out into the street. Powell demands they both leave town. A tearful Kenny witnesses the ruckus and wonders why no one cares about his friend.
Cheyenne and Ellis head back to the teacher's home, which they find vandalized by the outlaws. In anticipation of a fight, they board up the windows and door. Kenny appears on the porch and they let him inside. He brought his father's gun to help defend his friend. Cheyenne tells him to go home, but it's too late. The Curran brothers have arrived. They demand that Ellis give himself up and Cheyenne replies with gunfire. A firefight ensues, but Ellis finds he can't fire a shot in anger. It is against his beliefs.Mayor Powell is searching for Kenny and finds the town doctor at the school. Kenny has written a message on the blackboard, saying he's gone to help his friend. The doc tells Powell that Kenny has done what they all should have done. Inspired by and concerned for his son, Powell goes off to find help.
The outlaws rush the house and Cheyenne does his best, but he's just one gun against five. Ellis sees one of the outlaws aiming through the window at Cheyenne and shoots him. Multiple gunshots ring out as a group of men from town ride up and take the Currans captive. When Kenny tells the others that Ellis killed one of the outlaws, Ellis tells Kenny he had to do it, and that he was wrong to lie and compromise his beliefs before. Powell offers Cheyenne the sheriff badge back and the $1,000 reward for Roy Curran. Cheyenne takes back the badge and donates the money to help build a new school.
"A man isn't like an animal. You can't just throw him a bone, pat him on the back and expect his loyalty."
- - Cheyenne explains human nature.
"When you take a man for granted, deprive him of his self-respect, his dignity, it does something to him. It does something to those that love him, too."
- - Cheyenne argues with Murdock over Ellis' actions.
"I'm sure you all think you've got good reasons, but they're not good enough, not while a gang of outlaws are out trying to kill an innocent man. One law gets broken, the next law can get broken until you got no law at all."
- - Cheyenne tries to shame the men of the town into helping him defend Ellis.
Kenny: "Doesn't anybody care?"
Cheyenne: "Some day you're gonna have to give him an answer."
Hub: "I know how the boy feels. He's young, impressionable. When he grows up he'll understand it was for the good of the town."
Cheyenne: "I hope you can live with that answer."
- - Kenny wonders why the adults won't help his friend, and Cheyenne tells the mayor he's accountable to his son.