Bill and the Major find a man lying hurt, a meal for the buzzards. When he meets an innocent woman on the wagon train who has an inheritance waiting for her, he shows other skills besides being just a schoolteacher and her mother is wary.
Adams and Hawks spot buzzards overhead finding Joshua Gilliam who has been severely whipped with a bull whip. They return to the train where Greta Halstadt tends to his wounds. Joshua tells them he is a school teacher who was whipped for giving a student a lashing. He is very friendly with Greta to the dismay of her mother Freda. Greta has been teaching the kids on the train but she suggests having a trained teacher would be beneficial to the kids. Joshua is a great teacher and his cultured manners wins Greta's heart. Joshua attempts to secretly hypnotize Greta but Freda interrupts. Freda tells Joshua that Greta will not receive her inheritance unless Freda blesses her marriage. As part of a history lesson Joshua teaches the children about the Salem witch trials while at the same time convincing them witches exist indirectly describing Freda. The children become frighten by Freda causing her to have a nervous breakdown aided by Joshua's tricks. He uses hypnosis to tell Freda to ride ... Written by
Dan Duryea gives a fine performance in this episode as a conman pretending to be a teacher on the wagon train. His slick charms get the best of a spinster and her mother who suddenly find themselves at his mercy. There's a great scene where he tells the kids about the Salem witch trials and suggestively plants a seed of doubt in them about the spinster's old mother. The scenes that follow where she is using a broom to clean and snaps at the children in her customary fashion scares them so much they are convinced she really is a witch. This leads some of the parents to demand that Adams throw the two women off the train. It's a good use of drama and comedy at the same time. The final sequence where the mother wanders off into a ghost town and Duryea's character tries to kill her is truly chilling. Excellent episode that holds up well over fifty years later.
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