The High Chaparral

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Third Season
Plot and Character Highlights

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3.64  Trail to Nevermore        Victoria, Mano
Stranded in the desert following an attack by bandits, John, Victoria and Manolito add to their troubles when they seek shelter in what they assume to be a deserted ghost town.
Written by Walter Black         Directed by Virgil W. Vogel

Story Line:  While on their way to town in a buckboard, John, Victoria and Manolito are accosted by renegades Bennett, Lippert and Moore who make off with valuables and horses, leaving John seriously hurt. Manolito locates a makeshift shelter in what appears to be a deserted community only to learn the hard way that the town has other residents, among them Marcum, an aging former lawman who resents intruders.

Guest Stars: 

Milton Selzer 
as Marcum

Fabian Dean 
as Moore

Rayford Barnes 
as Lippert

Bo Svenson 
as Bennett

Character Highlights:  One of the episodes with references to Buck and Mano's new ranch, the C-Bar-M, this one was first broadcast on Halloween, thus the ghostly theme.  It takes place mostly in a ghost town with whistling wind, banging shutters, tumbling tumbleweeds, squeaky old buildings, and ominous music.  Still, it has its moments, mostly between Mano and Victoria after John is injured and unconscious.  When she and Mano are pulling John across the desert on a two wheeled cart and Victoria refuses to rest because she is not tired, Mano replies sarcastically, "And the sun is not hot and the three of us are having fun." Much time is spent creeping around cob-webbed rooms in the dark.  

Complete Episode Synopsis:  At the High Chaparral, a wagon is being loaded. John and Victoria are on their way to Kansas City, where John is going to meet buyers and negotiate prices for his cattle. Suddenly Mano throws a piece of luggage in the wagon and tries to jump on. John asks him where he thinks he's going, and Buck explains that Mano is going along to make sure that John gets a good price for his and Mano's C-Bar-M stock, which will be sold together with the Chaparral's. The three converse happily on their way, until Mano points out three men on horseback watching them. The men give chase, and John gives the horses their heads. The wagon hits a log, and John is thrown out of the wagon on his head. Mano and Victoria both jump out, too. The three men ride after the runaway horses and wagon, while Victoria and Mano go back to John, who is unconscious, but alive. They drag John under a tree and bandage his head. Victoria tells Mano that they must find a doctor. Mano gives Victoria John's gun, and goes off to look for some kind of help. He follows the wheel tracks until he finds the broken wagon. Part of the wagon bed is still attached to the back wheels, so he rigs a harness, pulls the makeshift wagon litter back to where he left Victoria and John. Victoria is still trying to rouse John. They get him into the wagon, Mano places John's hat on Victoria's head, and they begin to pull the wagon together. Mano tells Victoria that they are equidistant from both Tucson and Tubac, but that both towns are five or six days away. His sister is worried that they will not survive that long, but Mano thinks he remembers a small town a short distance away in another direction. It is not a sure thing, but it is the best chance they've got.

Travel is difficult but finally, they arrive at the ghost town. Once John is placed on a table in the old saloon, he starts to come to, and recognizes them. Mano fills him in, but John loses consciousness again. Victoria reminds him that they still need food and water for John and Mano adds clean sheets, a bed, and a wagon to her prayer list. Victoria admits to Mano that she is afraid. He tells her he doesn't blame her, and giving her John's gun again, tells her to shoot at any ghost first, and apologize later. He assures her that it won't take long for him to explore this small town of Nevermore, but kisses her to reassure her before leaving. The town truly does seem haunted. Mano enters an old general store, and as he is examining items on a shelf, he hears a noise and sees a back door slowly opening. He draws his gun and quickly creeps up on the side of the door, only to be surprised by a stray cat. In the saloon, Victoria hears the thumping of the old broken sign against the front of the building, and goes to the swinging saloon doors with her gun to investigate, and begins calling, then yelling, then pleading for Mano. Frightened, she runs back into the saloon. As night falls, and Mano has not returned Victoria goes to the street, again calling for Mano. John awakes upon hearing her, and she sinks into his arms, telling him of her fears. In the morning, they search for Mano, John unsteady and leaning on a stick. They see horse tracks in the dirt outside the bank, but John tells Victoria that he can't tell how old they are. Suddenly, Victoria hears Mano moaning, and find him fallen through some rotten floorboards in a nearby. The three of them joke about Mano's copying John, and Victoria is grateful that Mano only fell on his head, and not on something more important. Mano jokes that his headache is no worse than those he has after a Saturday night in Tucson.

While they are all enjoying these moments of gallows humour, an old man enters the room, pistol drawn and cocked. He says he's the law, Sheriff Sody Marcum. He claims he's never heard of the the Cannons or of the High Chaparral, but since he's only left town once in the past twelve years, that isn't so surprising. John explains their situation, and Victoria asks Sody for food and horses. Sody says there won't be any horses in town until the next time the new mine owners, Mr. Bennett and Mr. Lippert, come back to town. He takes them to the jail, where he has beds and food, and makes Victoria promise to pay him back for his kindness in soda crackers – his one vice, and how he got his name. Victoria agrees to buy him a whole wagon full of crackers. Sody shows John to a jail cell and tells him to rest there on the bunk. Sody asks Mano to help him make his rounds, and says he'll show him the copper mine, which closed nine years before. Sody says there's still plenty of ore, but when one of the mine's old owners, Mr. Moore, died nine years ago, his partner, old Mr. Nevers, had pulled out of the town, unable to run the mine alone. Sody said he had come up with the name of "Nevermore" for the town, by combining the older owners' names. He tells them that Bennett and Lippert are raising the money to re-open the mine.

Later that night, the three men who had ambushed them three days before ride into town. The men are Bennett, Lippert and their partner, Moore. Mano, sleeping on the jail porch, is awakened by their laughter, sees who they are, and runs into the jail to wake and warn Victoria. He hides her in the sheriff's office and is trying to wake John when the three men enter the jail. They quickly disarm John and Mano, and both parties recognize each other. Bennett admits to ambushing them earlier. Bennett tells Sody that he and his men came across John and Mano ambushing some settlers a few days before. John tells Sody that the opposite is true, that Bennett and his men ambushed them, and that these men aren't mine owners at all. Moore suddenly remembers Victoria, and asks John and Mano where the woman is. Mano says she is long gone, that she was just some girl he had picked up in Juárez, who is of no importance to him, all the while Victoria is in the sheriff's office, listening to everything. Bennett sends Moore into the sheriff's office to look for her, but she is gone. Moore sees her hiding in the alley and he climbs out the window after her, yelling to the others that he's found her. He and Lippert chase her into the bank, but can't locate her in the dark. Victoria runs out the front door, right into the arms of Moore, who is waiting for her there. But she struggles and strikes him, and he loses her. At the jail, Mano tells Bennett that Victoria has probably found a horse and is already on her way to a US marshal. Bennett tells John and Mano that they don't have much longer to live.

The building where Victoria is hiding is the same one where she and John found Mano injured earlier that day. She stands up when Moore speaks to her, careful to hold his eyes as he walks around the bar to her, so that he won't see the hole in the floorboards until he falls in. Lippert is attracted by the noise, and comes back into the room, but Victoria is ahead of him and out the door. Lippert leaves Moore wounded in the basement and goes after Victoria. As Victoria backs into the darkness of her new hiding place, a man grabs her from behind, covering her mouth. It is Sody, telling her he's sorry, but that he didn't want to take a chance on her screaming and letting Bennett's men know where she was. He says he can help, as he knows the ghost town better than anyone. Attracting Lippert into a deserted building , Sody knocks him out from behind with his gun butt. Back in the jail, Bennett is becoming uneasy because his men haven't returned. John starts to threaten Bennett with what will happen to anyone who touches Victoria, but Bennett stops him by saying it doesn't matter to him whether John dies now or later. John takes a different tack, explaining that he's a well-known but not wealthy man, that surely Bennett has heard of him, and knows that his family can raise a lot of money. He reaches for his wallet, saying he wants to prove his identity, but then throws the wallet in Bennett's face and jumps him. Though Bennett throws him off, he has dropped his gun, and Mano knocks him out with a single punch. Both Mano and John now have their guns back, and they hear the door to the sheriff's office opening. They take positions on either side of the door, as it slowly opens to reveal…Sody! He tells Victoria it's safe, and she rushes into John's arms. Sody thanks them for revealing the truth to him about Bennett and his men, and even about himself. He thinks himself a fool for believing the lies told him by a pack of thieves, just because they told him what he wanted to hear.

The next morning, John, Victoria and Mano are all mounted on Bennett's men's horses. Bennett, Lippert, and Moore are locked up in the jail, and John promises Sody to have the marshal in Nevermore within two days. Victoria promises to send Sody all the soda crackers she can find in Tucson. As they ride off, Sody asks them to please be on the lookout for anyone interested in buying and re-opening the mine. John promises that they will.  (Synopsis by Carol Anne Gordon)

Much of this material, including the Story Line descriptions, comes from The High Chaparral Press Kit released in 1971. The Character Highlights were written by Charlotte Lehan.  The Episode Synopses were written by members of the HC Discussion Group and are attributed at the end of each one.
Especially good portrayals of these characters

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