Set in the Old West in a desolate barren town, an unscrupulous peddler, after selling the executioner some five-strand rope needed for a hanging, sells a bag of "magic" dust to the condemned man's father. The condemned man had been found guilty of accidentally causing the death of a child. The peddler collects ordinary dirt from the ground and insists to his mark that it will spread good will throughout the crowd and will make them feel love and sympathy for the man sentenced to be hanged. As the crowd gathers for the hanging, the father cries out and starts sprinkling the dust everywhere. To his dismay, he hears the floor drop behind him and turns... to see that the fresh and sturdy noose has broken and his son is unharmed. When asked if another hanging attempt should be made, the girl's parents decide that it should not, that the condemned man has suffered enough. As father and son walk home, the peddler discovers that he is also affected by the "magic" after throwing his gold pieces from the sale of the dust to the poor children of the town, laughing about it afterward.
There was a village. Built of crumbling clay and rotting wood. And it squatted ugly under a broiling sun like a sick and mangy animal wanting to die. This village had a virus, shared by its people. It was the germ of squalor, of hopelessness, of a loss of faith. With the faithless, the hopeless, the misery-laden, there is time, ample time, to engage in one of the other pursuits of men. They began to destroy themselves.
It was a very small, misery-laden village. On the day of a hanging. And of little historical consequence. And if there's any moral to it at all, let's say that in any quest for magic, and any search for sorcery, witchery, legerdemain, first check the human heart. For inside this deep place is a wizardry that costs far more than a few pieces of gold. Tonight's case in point - in the Twilight Zone.