Bonanza Wiki
Bonanza episode
“The Stranger”
Season 1, Episode 24
#24 in Series
Air date February 27, 1960
Production code
Guest starring:
Written by Leonard Heideman
Directed by Christian Nyby
Episode Guide
Previous Episode:
Desert Justice
Next Episode:
Escape to Ponderosa
External links
The Stranger on IMDb


Inspector Leduque comes from New Orleans to Virginia City to take Ben Cartwright back for a 20 year murder. So Ben declares publicly that he is withdrawing from the Governor's race, which upsets the townsfolk.


A stranger, an older with a limp, arrives in Virginia City. He and his associate enter the office of the Territorial Enterprise where the editor, Dennis, and Joe are proof reading. The stranger says he received the paper in New Orleans and it mentioned Ben Cartwright. The man wants to know where Ben can be found. Joe wants to know what he wants with Ben. The man merely tells Joe to tell Ben that Charles LaDuque is at the hotel.


Joe goes to the hotel and up to LaDuque's room. Joe asks why LaDuque is interested in Ben. LaDuque says he'll spare Joe the ugly details of the story. But he comments that Joe looks a lot like his mother, saying he was good friends with her. Joe, is defensive of his mother and tells LaDuque to leave her out of it. His "ugly story" couldn't have been about her. LaDuque says it involves Ben and Joe calls him a liar. LaDuque challenges him to ask Ben about him. He's a police inspector from New Orleans and he's here to arrest Ben after 20 years. The charge is murder.

When Ben and Adam return home, Joe tells him that some strangers said a stranger in town talked about Ben that he didn't like it. Ben's not concerned until Joe mentions LaDuque's name. He immediately goes to town.


Cole lets Ben into LaDuque's room he's clearly blaming Ben for something. He reminds Ben that he's been handicapped by a shattered knee cap from the investigation of the murder of Simon LaRouche. Ben remembers. Ben reminds LaDuque that he was cleared of those charges when three witnesses came forward asserting it was self-defense. Ben did run from the inspector, but he offered to return until he learned the charges were dropped. LaDuque says Ben has no proof of that and produces a warrant for Ben's arrest. Ben wants to know why LaDuque is doing this after 20 years. LaDuque says Ben escaped him and in the scuffle LaDuque shot himself in the knee. Ben won't take responsibility for that since LaDuque was trying to kill him and he was unarmed. Of course he tried to run. But LaDuque does hold him responsible. Ben isn't overly concerned, the warrant isn't valid in Nevada. LaDuque threatens to expose the story of Marie and LaRouche. Ben glares at him and walks out.

Ben goes over to the Enterprise and dictates his withdrawal from consideration for governor.


When Ben tries to explain to the boys why he withdrew, Joe knows he's not telling everything. Ben simply says that he loved Marie and she took Adam and Hoss as her own. But LaRouche came into their lives and threatened to expose Marie. Joe wants to know what he could reveal. Ben tries to sidestep the issue, but Joe is insistant. Ben only says that LaRouche wanted to ruin Marie's reputation. What she did or did not do in her past was of no importance to him. He loved her and she was a wonderful person. But Marie didn't want to bring scandal to her family, so she paid LaRouche's blackmail until Ben found out. He confronted LaRouche. There was a fight, LaRouche pulled a knife and Ben killed him. Joe's angry at LaDuque for bringing this all up now and wants to go to town to deal with it. Ben makes him promise not to harm LaDuque.


Joe angrily tells LaDuque that Ben told him everything and if LaDuque drags his mother's name through the dirt, Joe will kill him. Cole steps in and says Joe will have to kill him first. Joe thinks that might be the best part. They fight. Cole pulls a gun, but Joe is faster and kills Cole. LaDuque says Joe just provided him the opportunity to tell Marie's story at Joe's trial because he's not going to vouche for Joe's self-defense. Joe hears people coming down the hall and runs. LaDuque takes Cole's gun and puts it in the holster. He tells the arriving crowd that Joe shot Cole in cold blood.

Sheriff Brady comes to the Ponderosa and tells Ben that Joe killed Cole and LaDuque says it was in cold blood. Hoss knows Joe wouldn't do that, but Brady says he has to bring Joe in. Ben knows Joe will come home and asks to be allowed to bring Joe in himself.


Ben finds Joe sitting at Marie's grave. He was waiting for Ben so he could say good bye. Ben says Joe's not going anywhere and asks what really happened and why he ran. Joe knows he wouldn't stand a chance with LaDuque as the only witness. Ben tells him that Marie begged Ben to stand trial even though her story would come out, but Ben didn't. He made a mistake and he can't let Joe do the same. He asks Joe to trust him.


Joe turns himself in. Ben goes to make a deal with LaDuque. He'll return to New Orleans if LaDuque clears Joe. LaDuque makes Ben promise to return with him alone, unarmed, and he won't try to escape. Ben agrees. LaDuque tells Brady he's remembering details now and it was self-defense as Joe says. Ben makes Brady promise not to release Joe until Ben's long out of town. Adam and Hoss doen't like the conditions Ben areed to, but Ben makes them promise to stay behind too.

Their first night on the trail, Ben asks why it took LaDuque 20 years to come for him. LaDuque blames Ben for that. He had to be made an inspector before he could name his own assignments and the physical impairment held him back. Ben again won't take responsibility for the leg injury, saying the leg has really been helpful to LaDuque. It gives him something to blame all his shortcomings on. LaDuque pulls his rifle and yells, "Stop it or I'll shoot you now!" This only confirms what Ben suspected. LaDuque has no intention of taking Ben all the way to New Orleans. He asks if it's going to look like Ben was trying to escape. LaDuque only answers, "You'd like me to say yes so it will give you an excuse to break your word." Ben says he has no intention of breaking his word, he intends to arrive in New Orleans and he lies down to go to sleep.

The next morning as they're about to mount up, Indians shoot at them. LaDuque shoots back but refuses to give Ben a gun. The Indians are more interested in the horses and leave LaDuque and Ben without horses or water. They start walking.


LaDuque struggles in the heat and Ben offers to help, but LaDuque holds the rifle on him. Ben tells him to shoot, after all he's waited 20 years for it. LaDuque collapses. Ben hauls LaDuque to the next way station and gives him water. LaDuque wonders why Ben didn't leave him in the desert to die. Ben simply asks the station manager when the next eastbound stage is due. LaDuque wants to know where they're going. "New Orleans" Ben tells him. LaDuque admits Ben isn't wanted in New Orleans, he was cleared of that murder by everyone but him. He admits he wanted to kill Ben. Ben simply asks the station manager for some food and stands up to wash off. He offers his hand to LaDuque and LaDuque accepts it.

Cast and Characters[]

The Cartwrights



  • Al Haskell: Barfly
  • Arthur Shields: Dennis
  • Bill Clark: Deputy
  • Bob Miles: Hotel/Party Guest
  • Charles Tannen: Jake
  • Donald Foster: Albert Gibbons
  • Elizabeth York: Alice
  • George DeNormand: Hotel Guest
  • Hal Baylor: Tom Cole
  • Hank Worden: Station Attendant
  • Joan Staley: Dixie
  • Jomarie Pettitt: Louise Gibbons
  • Lloyd Nolan: Inspector Charles Leduque


Did You Know?[]

  • Marie Cartwight's grave is shown.
  • This episode is similar to Edgar Allen Poe's short story, The Purloined Letter.





See also[]