Dan rides out to the Chinese camp where the mineworkers live in shacks and tents. None of them will even admit that they know the dead man despite the fact, as Dan notes, there's no other place he could have come from. Finally, the dead man's widow speaks up. Over the protests of Wong, the apparent lead of the camp, May Ling says that she can identify the men who took her husband. The two men had been taking half the pay of every man in the camp and her husband refused to pay any longer. Dan takes May Ling back to Laramie as a witness.
Dan takes May Ling to stay with Dru Lemp. While eating, he examines the concho found in the dead man's hand, wondering how to match it up with the killer's saddle. Johnny points out a couple of passing men, Cody and Hart. He says they've been around for about a month. Hart has been running errands for Tom Clements. "What kind?" asks Dan. "The kind you run for lawyers, I guess." Johnny informatively responds.
When Cody and Hart stop in the saloon for a drink, Dan checks their saddles. Cody's is missing a concho and the others on his saddle match the one from the dead man's hand. Dan has a chat with Cody and decides to take both men to let May Ling take a look at them. As they're crossing the street, Cody calls out to Clements that they need a lawyer.
May Ling identifies the men as the ones who took her husband from the camp when he refused to pay them. Clements claims confidently that no jury would convict them on the word of a girl, meaning a Chinese girl. During a private consultation in their jail cell, Cody and Hart tell Clements that if they hang, he's going with them. Clements responds that he never told them to kill the Chinaman. "No, you just wanted the money."
Clements goes over the the Blue Bonnet, buying drinks and stirring up the customers against the Chinese and against Dan for siding with them. He actually says he hopes he can depend some of them for a decent acquittal. Johnny overhears Clements spreading his poison. He remarks, "Any lawyer can win his case in a saloon. Especially if he pays for the whiskey." That night, someone takes a shot at May Ling. As Dan is trying to find out who did it, one of the men says that her kind aren't wanted in Laramie. Uncharacteristically, Dan punches the man. He tells the crowd that anyone who obeys the law is welcome in Laramie.
Dan goes out the mine where the Chinese are employed, trying to find another witness to bolster his case. The uncharacteristically benevolent mine owner is angry when he hears of the extortion. He says the Chinese work hard for their money and deserve to keep all of it. He tells Wong that he'll give him the rest of the day off with pay if he'll go into town and testify. But Wong refuses. Dan leaves; his last words reminding Wong of May Ling's courage.
However, shortly before the trial is to start, Johnny spots a small contingent of Chinese men heading for the Marshal's office. They tell Dan they have decided to stand up for themselves. They also let him know about Clement's part in the extortion. Clement's tries to sneak out the back of his office but is apprehended. Later, when the the Chinese men leave town, Johnny remarks as to how when they came in everyone looked at them like a bunch of freaks. But they didn't look at them that way now. Dan responds that maybe the town is growing up.
NiteOwl Review: Given the limitations and stereotypes of the late 1950s, this wasn't a bad little tolerance tale.
This episode touches somewhat carefully on the issue of prejudice against the Chinese. As the story opens, a Chinese mineworker stumbles into Laramie and drops dead in front of the Marshal's office. He's been beaten to death. In his hand is a concho, probably torn from the saddle of the man who killed him.
Johnny points out two suspects
The missing concho finds its home
"Don't worry, I'll get you out"
Johnny overhears the diatribe
and doesn't hide his disgust
Dan questions the mine owner
The lawyer needs a lawyer
Our Favorite Scene: It's the one in the bar in which the lawyer is trying to poison the minds of potential jurors and earns Johnny's scornful denunciation. Lawyers don't tend to do well in westerns. Even in those westerns with lawyers as main characters (e.g. Sugarfoot, Black Saddle, The Big Valley), those characters have to go up against all the bad lawyers.
Cast Note: Lane Bradford was one of those ubiquitous heavies whose parts were numerous but not meaty. Although he played hundreds of roles on movies and series television, he never achieved name value of villains like William Smith, Jack Elam, Lee Van Cleef, etc. We'd be surprised if he never played a good guy, but none of us could remember a show where he did. He appeared in several other Lawman episodes and joined Peter Brown again in five episodes of Laredo.
Original air date Dec 7, 1958
Directed by Stuart Heisler
Written by David Lang
& Edmund Morris
John Russell as Dan Troop
Peter Brown as Johnny McKay
Bek Nelson as Dru Lemp
Frances Fong as May Ling
Philip Ahn as Wong
John Hoyt as Thomas Clements
Lane Bradford as Cody
Official Peter Brown Fan Site