1958 - 1959
#18 - "The Runaway"
The story opens with Dan asking Johnny's opinion of Ben about whom Johnny has a lukewarm positive opinion. Asked about Dora, Johnny is more enthusiastic. She's a girl he'd like to get to know better, except that she has eyes for no one but Ben.
When Dan talks to Colonel Steed at the fort, Steed is adamant that his son will be a good cavalry officer once he gets Dora the dancehall girl off his mind. He implies he'd like Dan to run her out of Laramie. Dan explains that she's a nice girl. He also suggests that writing is an honorable profession and maybe Ben just wasn't cut out to be a soldier. Steed says he can give his son only 24 hours to return on his own before sending soldiers after him as a deserter.
On his way out of the Colonel's office, former Sgt. Blaney warns Dan to stay out of army business. Blaney has previously told others he's going to get revenge against Steed for taking his sergeant's stripes.
Back in Laramie, Dan talks to Dora for whom he obviously has respect. He knows that she's not singing in a saloon for any reason other than to be close to Ben. But she's not ready to tell Dan where Ben is.
Blaney, who has seen Dan talking to Dora, follows her toward her room. Dan seeing him accost her, sends him back to the saloon and again prevails unsuccessfully on Dora to tell him where Ben is so he can talk to him. Dora returns to her room where Ben is waiting, only to be interrupted a short time later by Blaney who we now learn is helping Ben in his plans to get away. Dora leaves, clearly finding Blaney distasteful. Blaney seems concerned that Ben might be wavering about leaving. Ben is concerned that once Blaney brings him civilian clothes, he'll be fair game for anyone who wants to shoot a deserter. It's clear to the viewer that this was Blaney's intent all along.
Dora returns to the Blue Bonnet where Dan persuades her to let him talk to Ben after she lets him know she and Ben got married in Cheyenne.
Dan's words clearly have an effect on Ben who is still vacillating after Dan leaves and Blaney returns. However, Dora lets him know if he goes, he goes alone. She'd rather see him serve out the remaining year on his enlistment after turning himself in.
Back at the Blue Bonnet, sure that Ben has run off, Blaney starts to stir up the soldiers in the bar against the deserter son of the Colonel. However, Ben steals his thunder by walking through the batwing  doors in full uniform. Blaney figures to get his revenge more directly with a broken bottle. He's stopped by Dan, using not his gun but his fists. He appears to be enjoying himself.
For the final scene, after Dan has issued his "lock him up Johnny" order, he bids the newlyweds a fatherly goodbye. He notes that they can blame him for the fact that Ben has to spend his honeymoon in the guardhouse.
NiteOwl Review: A decent mixed lesson in letting children follow their own path with the complementary lesson that a child needs to stand up to a parent rather than caving in or running away. There are also a few notes on not taking the coward's way out and the power of the love of a good woman. Of course, no episode with so little interaction between the two main characters is going to make our A list, but it does give us a look at the kinder, gentler, very understanding Dan Troop.
The Runaway Soldier
Our Favorite Scene: We probably didn't take note of it as kids. Standing next to Dan, Johnny draws his gun when Blaney breaks the bottle and threatens Ben. Dan ever so subtly pushes Johnny's gun hand with his elbow until he holsters the gun.
The runaway in this episode is Ben Steed, the reluctant soldier son of Dan's friend Colonel Steed of Fort Laramie. He wants to be a writer not a soldier, something his father won't tolerate and for which he blames Dora Mahan who sings at the Blue Bonnet.
Original air date Feb 1, 1959
Directed by Stuart Heisler
Written by William F. Leicester

Regular Cast
John Russell as Dan Troop
Peter Brown as Johnny McKay

Guest Cast
arl Lukas as Sgt. Blaney
oyce Taylor as Dora Mahan
ames Kirkwood, Jr. as Ben Steed
ugh Sanders as Col. Steed
aul Lukather as Cpl. Breen
Official Peter Brown Fan Site