As the wagon train nears the town of Coal Train, Hawks discovers a woman nearly dead by a cabin. They take her to town where the Sheriff identifies her as Lita Foladaire the wife of Jess Foladaire who was a Captain under Major Adams in the war. As the doctor examines her, she passes away. With Jess out of town, Adams and Hawks decide it is their duty to determine who murdered his friend's wife. They trace her steps through the day as she visited her father, the church, her doctor, and a lawyer. They learn she was beautiful marrying a man much older than her against her father's wishes and that she lost a baby which shattered her relationship with Jess who put high value on the family line. She was killed at the home of the artist Carlotti who painted her portrait. They discovered she made out a will leaving everything to her husband's younger brother Clay. Carlotti felt the relationship between Lita and Clay was more than it should have been. Upon Clay's return followed shortly by her... Written by
Terry Wilson finds the body of Diane Brewster on the train barely alive and brings her back to the Wagon Train. There they learn that she's the wife of Kent Smith who served with them in the Civil War. Smith is out of town on business and Ward Bond takes it upon himself to conduct his own investigation.
This Wagon Train episode is done in the episodic flashback style of Citizen Kane and The Killers. As Bond visits people associated with Brewster we see a picture of her drawn as surely as one was done for Charles Foster Kane.
We learn about Kent Smith as well. His main obsession is the continuation of the Foladaire dynasty. Smith is an aristocrat and views the women of his line as little more than brood mares, to be honored if they provide sons and treated like garbage if they don't. Just as long as there are more Foladaire boys to come.
When Bond has solved the mystery he says that while he never met Lita Foladaire in life he sure got to know her. I can identify with that because in my former job with New York State Crime Victims I got to know a lot of people after they died. Some fine people too, like Lita Foladaire.
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