Bonanza/It's a Small World
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It's a Small World is the fourteenth episode of the eleventh season of Bonanza, and the three hundred forty-seventh episode overall.
Circus performer George Marshall becomes widowed when his wife Alice dies shortly after a difficult childbirth, at which Ben, Sheriff Clem and Doc Martin are also present. Left with his mother Mrs. Marshall to raise his baby daughter, George vows to fulfill a promise made to Alice on her deathbed to give their daughter, named Cynthia, a stable life by finding work outside the circus. As George mourns the loss of Alice, Ben offers him work at the Ponderosa, but George, because of his dwarfism, cannot see himself as a ranch hand and decides to look for work in Virginia City instead. At a general store in town, George uses his experience as a bookkeeper for the circus to impress the store owner, but hits a barrier when his size prevents him from doing other jobs around the store like reaching merchandise on high shelves, which becomes a recurring theme for him during his job hunt. Remembering George mention his bookkeeping experience, Ben decides to help out by recommending him to local banker John Flint, who is in need of a new teller and bookkeeper.
Ben brings George to the bank the next day to meet Flint, but the banker declines to hire George because of his size, expressing concerns over appearances and what he thinks his customers would think of having a dwarf bank teller, while a chagrined Ben makes his dismay clear over Flint's prejudice in using George's dwarfism to overlook him for the teller job, despite his past bookkeeping work, leading Ben to decide to cancel his account with the bank and transfer his funds elsewhere. Later on at the Ponderosa, Ben and Candy are discussing cattle drive plans when a distraught Mrs. Marshall arrives at the house and tells them that George had been arrested for robbing Flint's bank, which he had confessed to doing out of desperation for his family's well-being due to his inability to find work. After visiting George in his jail cell at the sheriff's office and hearing his story, Ben goes to the bank to try to convince Flint to drop the charges; Flint refuses to do so and refuses to hear Ben explain about George's family, intent on making an example of him even though most of the money, minus what was spent by George to get food and other items for himself, his mother and his daughter, was returned. Ben reminds Flint that the robbery only happened because of George's circumstances, which Flint dismisses and turns into a soliloquy about how George should live with "his own kind" and that if God had meant for everyone to live together, He would have made everyone the same. Ben, displeased over Flint's prejudice, responds to Flint's speech by pointing out that he does not know how tall God is before leaving the bank office.
Meanwhile, Flint's young daughter Annie and several friends are playing around an abandoned mine ventilation shaft near a warehouse when she suddenly falls through some rotted planks covering the shaft hole into the shaft, which the children look at impassively with blank expressions as they stare at where Annie had been. Soon after, the townsfolk, now joined by Ben, Hoss and Little Joe, get to the shaft and race against time to rescue Annie because the soil in the shaft is loose and could bury the girl alive if it comes down on her. Joe ties a rope around himself and is lowered into the shaft by Hoss and Clem, but even though he can hear Annie's cries, the shaft is too narrow for Joe to go down further without risking a cave-in, Annie is unable to reach the rope due to getting hurt in the fall down the shaft and it has begun flooding with water, bringing further danger for the girl. After Joe is pulled out from the shaft, Ben suggests getting George to make the rescue, as his small size would allow him to get down far enough to reach Annie. Desperate to save his daughter, Flint offers to drop the charges against George, then Clem frees him from the cell and they head back to the shaft, where George is lowered down and reaches Annie to put the rope around her for Hoss and Joe to pull her back to the surface. Water starts rapidly filling the shaft, but the Cartwrights get another rope down in time to get George back up as well, to everyone's relief. Flint thanks George for rescuing Annie, but George tells him that he did it for her, not for him, before walking away.
Back at the Ponderosa, George has begun packing for a planned move for himself and his family to Carson City in search of work, even though Ben tries to convince him to change his mind. Moments later, Flint arrives at the house and reports that Annie is doing well following her ordeal, then to make amends for his earlier behavior, offers the teller job to George, who refuses as he takes some of his belongings to his wagon outside. Ben goes out to the wagon and uses some reverse psychology and a talk about facing and overcoming adversity against the odds to convince George to accept the bank job.