The High Chaparral

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Second Season
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 Maria, and Don Sebastian
in "Once on a Day in Spring"

Victoria on her way to Rancho Montoya 
after arguing with John

John and Victoria 
in "Once on a Day in Spring"

2.50 Once on a Day in Spring           All, but Blue
Victoria, feeling ignored, leaves her husband John but finds little peace of mind at her father's ranch.
Written by Don Carpenter        Directed by James Pevney

Story Line: Manolito joins Victoria at the Montoya Ranch and vies with his father, Don Sebastian Montoya, for the attention of Countess Maria. Victoria objects to the countess until she learns the countess has been through similar quarrels with her own several husbands. Buck persuades John he has taken his wife too much for granted. John finds it difficult to forget ranch work and turn romantic to win Victoria's return.

Guest Stars: Kathleen Crowley as Countess Maria, Martin Garralaga as Francisco.

Character Highlights: An excellent character driven episode with no shooting or chase scenes, mostly centered around the Montoya family. This episode falls in the category of "Victoria behaving badly".  Very realistic argument between John and Victoria that leaves other family members uncomfortable. After Victoria leaves, Buck speaks firmly but compassionately with John about reaching out to her. Good scenes with Don Sebastian as an attractive suitor whose life is suddenly upset by his returning adult children. Don Sebastian and Mano end up competing for the attention of the Countess. Includes the closest we come to an argument between John and Sam. Excellent interactions between Mano and John when Mano subtly offers his assistance with Victoria. Passionate make-up scene with John and Victoria. Reno plays and sings in this episode.

Complete Episode Synopsis:  John and Victoria are at it again – arguing at the top of their voices. Victoria is obviously dressed for travel. John tells her to go ahead and leave; that she never did like it on the High Chaparral. How did he ever get talked into an alliance with the Montoyas? Victoria shouts that he was happy enough to make the alliance when it meant saving his miserable ranch. Miserable! shouts John. He tells her again to just go. Blue and Mano try to help and soon sister is yelling at brother and father at son. Blue wants to know where Victoria is going. Back to her father, yells John. He tells Blue to keep out of it and Victoria pushes Mano away. Soon the buckboard, driven by Vaquero, is out the gate, followed by Reno and several of the ranch hands.

Meanwhile at Rancho Montoya, Don Sebastian wanders listlessly through his grand hacienda. He is obviously bored and unhappy. He sits alone at the long dining table, not eating. Hearing the sounds of a horse and wagon, he goes out to the courtyard, to be greeted by the beautiful, well-dressed Countess Maria Ketenden Von München. Don Sebastian can only stare. The Countess explains that she has been getting her late husband’s affairs in order and thought it would be a good time for a visit. She hopes that he hasn’t forgotten the invitation he offered at the ball given by the Ambassador of Spain. Don Sebastian remembers the evening, and the compliment he gave on her lovely…eyes. She reminds him that it was not her eyes that he was complimenting. Further more, she suggestively hopes to make some new discoveries about him on this visit.

It is night time, and Victoria’s traveling party has made camp for the night. Reno sits by the fire and plays the guitar. Vaquero comes over to fill a china cup and saucer with coffee. He takes this to the tent where Victoria is staying, complete with her own bed. He pours "un poquito" amount of cognac in the coffee, and after a glance at Victoria’s frosty expression, pours in un poquito more. Something howls, sounding close by. Wolves? asks Victoria. Or maybe Apaches, says Vaquero nonchalantly. Victoria’s eyes get very big. She asks Vaquero if he is trying to frighten her. Vaquero is the picture of innocence. She tells him he must disapprove of what she is doing. He says it’s not for him to say – his place is with her. Mustering up all her dignity, she tells him to go. The howling starts up again. Victoria says a hasty prayer before diving under the blankets.

The next morning, Don Sebastian invites the Countess to tour his rancho. They continue their flirtation, even beginning a waltz to their own music, when Victoria bursts in. Don Sebastian is not happy to see his daughter and Victoria is not happy to see the Countess. Announcing that she has left her husband forever, she storms from the room. Aye Carumba, moans Don Sebastian.

At the High Chaparral, Big John is growling about fool nonsense with Sam on his heels. Sam thought it was time to show Blue how to make some of his own gear and Blue has badly cut his hand. Blue tries to apologize but John isn’t going to let him. Sam says it’s his fault – it was his idea. Even Blue is stunned to silence when John asks his foreman if he doesn’t have anything better to do. Blue heads to the house, getting a reassuring pat on the shoulder from Sam. John tells Sam to finish what Blue had started and gives him curt instructions. I’ve been cutting harness all my life, Sam informs him. John hesitates, but is not about to apologize. And when Sam tells him that Victoria will come back. Big John tells him flatly to mind his own business.

It is supper time at the High Chaparral and Pedro is doing the cooking. It’s tamales again and Mano and Blue push the platter away. At the sound of riders in the yard, Big John jumps up. Buck tells him kindly that it’s only the boys coming back from night herd. Manolito adds that Victoria will not come back. When John sadly leaves the table, Pedro is more than happy to take his place, tucking a napkin in his collar. He doesn’t want the good Mexican food going to waste. Mano tells him it’s not so good the way he prepares it.

Manolito joins Big John outside. He makes small talk about the pleasant evening, then asks casually if he can be spared for a few days to pay a visit to his father. He says "de nada" (you’re welcome) before John has to humble himself with thanks.

Victoria is in her room alone on the Rancho Montoya, looking miserable when Don Sebastian comes in to ask what she wants him to do. She shouts that he isn’t really interested. She knows he wants her to leave so he can be alone with the "Countess of the unpronounceable name." Don Sebastian roars back that she can stay as long as she wants, to teach John Cannon a good lesson.

In the garden that evening, Don Sebastian is enjoying the company of the Countess. When she wonders aloud why he has never remarried, he tells her his first marriage was arranged, that they loved each other very much and he will not marry again. He is kissing her hand when Manolito appears. Mano takes it all in immediately and with a grin, says he hopes that he is not interrupting anything. Aye Carrumba, says Don Sebastian.

Back at the High Chaparral Buck watches his brother slowly riding in, late at night. John’s head is hanging low. Even the horse looks sad. Buck starts babbling about everything being back to normal and says he’s glad about losing the women-folk; a ranch is no place for them. The only way to have a woman in a place like this is treat ‘em just like you did, he adds. John growls for him to stop pussy-footing around and say what he wants to say. Suddenly Buck is serious. He tells him he knows him better than anyone and that he takes – that’s how he is. He has to learn to give or he’ll lose Victoria. With the notion that maybe John ought to pick her a flower, Buck leaves him to ponder the advice.

At the Rancho Montoya, Manolito is dressed in his best and is using the same courtly language on the Countess that his father had. He tells her that time will take its toll on his father and then the entire burden of the two great ranchos will fall upon his head. Don Sebastian has overhead the suggestion that he is practically in his grave. With a devilish grin, Mano asks his "dear father" if his old bones ache. Don Sebastian returns the favor by telling the Countess that his son has a great fondness for cheap cantinas because of the availability of women of a certain class. The Countess surprises them by telling them that they obviously have a great love for each other. Otherwise they would have killed each other.

The Countess asks Don Sebastian if she can speak to Manolito alone. Don Sebastian merely closes the door for effect, then hides around the corner to listen. The Countess tells Mano that she is not seeking her fortune from Don Sebastian. But she couldn’t live with herself if she flirted with a man and then left him before the flirtation had run its course. Mano says he honors her for this but she should know that there is something wrong with his hearing. He has never been able to hear a woman say no to him. The Countess excuses herself with a smile, replacing the hand he is kissing with her brandy glass. Mano sighs. Knowing his father is hiding around the corner, he holds the glass out to him without a sideways glance. The Montoya men silently clink glasses.

Victoria paces fretfully in her room. Attempting to remove her necklace, it breaks and pearls scatter on the floor. The Countess knocks and enters. She knows just how Victoria feels. Men! She gets down on the floor to retrieve the pearls while Victoria watches, alternately glaring and appreciative. The Countess wonders how creatures so delightful and necessary can be such dolts. Victoria begins to warm up when the Countess describes the Montoya men as two tom cats. She says that though she hasn’t met John Cannon, she is given to understand that he behaves like a stick of wood – just like the Countess’s first husband. The Countess left her husband once, too. Victoria doesn’t need to tell her what the fight had been about – it was a beautiful day and you wanted to go for a walk and he bit your head off. Victoria is so happy to have someone who understands. Her parting advice is to never tell a man anything – make them suffer. Victoria thanks her and they part as friends.

Big John rides up to the Rancho Montoya. Victoria sees him and is about to rush to him when she remembers the Countess’ advice. She runs back into the house.

The Countess asks to speak to Big John alone. She tells him that she can give him advice because they are strangers and suggests that he try a walk in the garden with his wife. When John seems to be planted where he stands, she suggests that after his long ride, a trip up the stairs is not that much farther to go.

When John comes into Victoria’s room, she smiles to herself, but tells him that he wasted his time in coming. He reminds her that he is her husband; she says he treats her more like a servant. She can’t compete with the important High Chaparral. As she continues her tirade, Big John can’t get a word in until he starts hollering back. When he roars that he came up to ask her to take a walk in the garden, Victoria says she can’t refuse. They step into each other’s arms, telling each other how much they were missed. They kiss lovingly.

In the Montoya courtyard, everyone is ready to leave. Victoria and Mano tell their father that he should come to visit; that he needs company. He agrees with no sincerity. He declines the invitation to visit from the Countess. Manolito urges Mackadoo after the Countess’s carriage, asserting that he should see her safely to her destination. With his arm around his wife, Big John starts off in the buckboard. Don Sebastian waves goodbye, then waves them away.

That evening, Don Sebastian sits again at his dining table, eating with pleasure and gusto, thrilled to be alone at last.  (Synopsis by Ginny Shook)

Much of this material, including the Story Line descriptions, comes from The High Chaparral Press Kit released in 1971. The Character Highlights were written by Charlotte Lehan.  The Episode Synopses were written by members of the HC Discussion Group and are attributed at the end of each one.
Especially good portrayals of these characters

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