Theatre Macabre: Season 1 Episode 2 The Man Who Demoralized Hadleyburg
A stranger's bag of gold tempts a town known for its honesty.
The Host introduces Mark Twain's story, The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg.
The Stranger rides his carriage into Hadleyburg. He goes to the house of Evelyn and Edward and after dropping off two large sacks, asks to speak with Edward. Evelyn tells him that Edward is at Brixton and he tells her that the sacks are full of gold worth 40,000 dollars and leaves. Edward comes home and reads the letter The Stranger left. He has the idea to burn the letter and to steal the gold, but they decide against it as they are from Hadleyburg. He goes to speak with Mr. Cox and tells him the letter said that The Stranger came to town in the past and was given twenty dollars. The Stranger then used that money to win in gambling and wants to repay whoever gave him the money. He didn't know the name of the person, but recalled what the person who gave him the money said to him and whoever recalls what he said, is that person and gets the money. Edward and Cox think Barclay Goodson must be the person who gave The Stranger the money, but he recently died. Cox tells Edward that he will publish the letter in the paper.
Evelyn gets upset with Edward for telling Cox about the letter and then asks Edward if he remembers ever giving money to a stranger. There is a knock at the door and Cox and Mary Louise go inside the house. Mary Louise says that Cox just remembered giving The Stranger money, but Evelyn doesn't believe her. Edward asks Cox what he told The Stranger, but Cox says he can't remember. Cox and Mary Louise offer Edward and Evelyn part of the gold if they give them the gold. Edward reminds Cox that he was going to publish the letter and Cox calls his newspaper office and John tells him that he just sent out the newspapers. Cox puts a wooden box outside the Hadleyburg Star for people to put what they said to The Stranger in order to get the gold. Felix hands out letters to various people in town including Edward, Doc John, Mr. Billson, Judge Jones, Mr. Smaller, Mr. Wilson and Cox. Mary Louise reads the letter to Cox which includes what The Stranger was told, "go and sin no more".
The townspeople meet inside the saloon and Cox nominates Judge Jones as chairman, but he declines since he is part of the group claiming the money. It goes on down the line from Mr. Smaller who nominates The Stranger, who just walked in. The Stranger welcomes the press and then reads the first letter from the box. He asks the author to stand and Mr. Wilson and Mr. Billson stand up. They accuse each other of lying and The Stranger reads the name on the letter, Mr. Billson. Mr. Wilson accuses Mr. Billson of stealing his letter. The Stranger reads another letter from Binkerton which has the exact words. Binkerton insists he gave the money and The Stranger reads another letter with the exact words, this time from Sheriff Johnson. The Stranger tells the crowd that the last time he passed through Hadleyburg he asked nineteen households for help, and none of them gave him a glass of water. He then hands out the remaining letters, which all have the same words. Mr. Billson starts trying to shoot The Stranger and The Stranger tells the crowd that Hadleyburg will have to change its name due to its scandal and then jumps out the window.