(15) “The Hanging Cross”

Original Airdate: (December 21, 1957)

On Christmas Eve, a rancher who has recovered his abducted son from a Pawnee Indian tribe prepares to kill them when they come looking for the boy.

Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, Written by Gene Roddenberry.

EDWARD BINNS as Nathaniel Beecher
ABRAHAM SOFAER as Chief Cah-la-te
DON BEDDOE as Tater – Foreman
JOHNNY CRAWFORD as Robbie/Chiwa
MARY ADAMS as Maggie
FRANCES OSBORNE as Maudie
NYRA MONSOUR as Tia
BUCK YOUNG as Pete
MITCHELL KOWALL as Jesse
JAMES GAVIN as Cowboy
DEE COOPER as Townsman (uncredited)
FRED MCDOUGALL as Townsman (uncredited)
JOE PHILLIPS as Townsman (uncredited)
BUDDY ROOSEVELT as Townsman (uncredited)
JACK TORNEK as Townsman (uncredited)

DON BEDDOE also appeared in: (Justice in Hell, 1962) as Salem Wagner, (The Uneasy Grave, 1961) as Marshal, (The Ledge, 1960) as Storekeeper Stebbins. FRANCIS OSBORNE also appeared in: (The Gold Bar, 1961) as Captain. MITCHELL KOWALL also appeared in: (Love of a Bad Woman, 1960) as 2nd Cowboy. JAMES GAVIN also appeared in: (Heritage of Anger, 1959) as Charles Avery.

With this gun, I could’ve stopped murder tonight. But I’ve taken it off. That’s my present to you. In all my life, I’ve only seen a dozen real killers, but I’ve seen 10,000 people that would stand by and let it happen. Which is the greater evil?

EXT. BEECHER RANCH, TEXAS – DAY

PALADIN
Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas.

PALADIN
Well, this is Christmas Eve day, isn’t it?
Or have they changed the date in Texas?

M
Mister, this is Nathaniel Beecher’s place.

T
Nathaniel, that’s enough!

COWBOY
It was an accident!

NATHANIEL BEECHER
No accident! Laziness. Letting prize cattle run off and sassing me to my face!

COWBOY
Please, Mr. Beecher…

NATHANIEL BEECHER
Get off the place!

PALADIN
Good morning. I was told I’d find Nathaniel Beecher here. Thank you.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
You found him. I pay $25 a month, if I like your work.
Find out where he’s punched before.

PALADIN
Mr. Beecher, you may recognize this. You answered it by telegram.
It’s about that boy of yours that was stolen from the Sioux six years ago.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
You’re too late. We got him back already.

PALADIN
Wait a minute, that won’t do. I’ve come 1,100 miles. Our agreement included travel expenses and common courtesy would include a tub of water and a bed.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
This isn’t a trail station.

PALADIN
$100 will cover the expenses.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
Put him off the ranch.

T
Nathaniel, common…

NATHANIEL BEECHER
Put him off the ranch.

PALADIN
I’ll cut out three head from your range herd.
I think you’ll find that approximates what you owe me.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
You touch a head of my stock, I’ll hang you.

COWBOY
Nathaniel, ain’t this the fella that talks Indian, like his telegram said?
You been wanting to talk to the boy.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
You talk Pawnee?

PALADIN
I do. Ordinarily, I’d interpret for nothing. For you, the fee is $100 a day.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
Take him to the house.

T
This way.

PALADIN
Thanks.
Take care of Jesse.

PALADIN
Well, looks like I just beat the rain. It’s really clouding up, isn’t it?

M
Maybe I better straighten you out about something, Mr. Paladin, just so there’ll be no trouble in the house. You see, we’re not sure that this is Nathaniel’s child.

PALADIN
But he told me he found his son.

T
Well, he was about three days ride north, Mr. Paladin.
He found a boy riding with a small band of Pawnees.
Just accidental.
The boy was riding with the chief.
Nathaniel says, “This is my boy,” and takes him.
Just like that.

PALADIN
Well, is this an Indian boy?

T
Looks Indian to me.
Of course, Robby was just under three when he was took.

PALADIN
I see.

T
Do you mind if I explain something to you about Nathaniel? You see, when they took the boy, they killed his wife, too.

W
Pete’s supposed to ride fence till midnight, and the kids’d sure love some doin’s tonight- something Christmasy.

M
Well, I’ll talk to Nathaniel.
Maybe having the boy will change things.
I hope so.

W
Trying to get some decent clothes on that boy is like…Robbie! No, Rob.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
Robbie…
Robbie, listen to me.
Listen to your daddy.
You’re home.
You understand?
You’re in your own…
I know you wouldn’t
shoot your daddy.
Even a kid ought to feel it,
like I do.
The same flesh and blood.

W
Mr. Beecher!

NATHANIEL BEECHER
Oh, Robbie…
Robbie, what do you want?
Please…
Listen, Robbie, I…
I built this place for you.
Every time I strung a fence
I said, “This is for Robbie.”
Six years I’ve been building
this place now for you.
Six years you’ve been gone,
Robbie.
I-I been trying to understand,
to take it slow.
Why can’t the boy feel something
this strong? What’s wrong?

103
00:06:28,704 –> 00:06:30,505
Take it easy, Nat.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
This is my son.
I said I’d have the boy home for Christmas, I knew it.
And I know it’s him.
He’s a piece of my flesh.
My blood
is running in his veins.
I can feel it.

M
Nathaniel, he
don’t understand.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
All right, Paladin,
see if you can talk to him.

Paladin speaks to the boy in Pawnee. They exchance conversation.

PALADIN
His name is Chewa.
His father is Cah-la-te,
Chief of the Pawnees.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
Tell the boy I am his father.

PALADIN
He says his father will come to take him back.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
We should’ve hung that Indian
when I took the boy back.
Been a Sioux, I would have.
He sets foot on this place
again, we’ll do it, you hear?
Lost this boy once;
I’d sell my soul
before I lose him again.
You don’t understand that,
do you, boy?
But you will.
You’ve got to hold on to
what you’ve got in this world.
I said, tell the boy
I’m his father.

PALADIN
You’re a curious
mixture, Beecher.
Tears in your eyes,
bruises on your knuckles,
a rope for Indians, misery for your employees, and a full heart for a boy who…Which one is really Nathaniel Beecher?

NATHANIEL BEECHER
The one that’s paying
you to talk Pawnee.

m
Mr. Beecher-
on the east range,
Pawnees are putting up camp.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
Take the boy to his room.
Stand guard.

m
Yes, sir.

w
In here.

t
But, Nathaniel…

NATHANIEL BEECHER
Tater, pull out some of that
heavy timber.
We’re going to do
some building.
Where you going, mister?
I may need your lingo.

PALADIN
I have a couple of questions in mind, I think the Pawnees may have the answer.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
All right, cowboy. You can tell their chief one thing for me: We’re building him something with a noose on the end of it.

PALADIN
Not many seasons ago, when the Pawnees’ lodges were filled and the drying racks bent low with meat, the one called Ulu Chate
was known on the Plains.

INDIAN

CHIEF CAH-LA-TE

Ulu Chate- “He who ride with many tribe.” Cah-la-te hear name.

PALADIN
I have heard the name Cah-la-te. He who keeps the treaty. The name is well taken. May you be repaid in good hunting.

CHIEF CAH-LA-TE
Ulu Chate hear how white man
pay tribe who keep treaty?

PALADIN
I’m sorry.

CHIEF CAH-LA-TE
Now they take children.

PALADIN
And the Pawnee love their children above all else, even above greatness. Is the boy Chewa Cah-la-te’s own seed?

CHIEF CAH-LA-TE
We mix blood.
He traded from Sioux.
He is my seed now.

PALADIN
The Sioux stole a boy, just about this age, from the white man Beecher, nearly six years ago.

CHIEF CAH-LA-TE
Chewa my son.

PALADIN
Is he white?

CHIEF CAH-LA-TE
Chewa my son. Is our law.

PALADIN
The white man has laws, too.

CHIEF CAH-LA-TE
White man laws sickness to my people. I take my son back.

PALADIN
Cha-la-te, you have kept the treaty thus far. If you take the boy back, there’ll be killing…and the white man Beecher has many rifles.

CHIEF CAH-LA-TE
Rifle no can kill men now dead. Gray Wolf driven from land, no game. Winter come, no warm.
He walk.
He call to moon.
But he is now dead.

EXT. BACK AT THE RANCH

NATHANIEL BEECHER
Well, here’s the Indian lover. Give him my message?

PALADIN
I did.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
You, cinch that rope good.
I’m having this wagon
dragged out to their camp
tomorrow morning.
Going to let it sit there
in plain sight.

EXT. CHURCH BUILDING – EVENING

TATER – FORMAN
Come on in, folks. Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas. Come on in, folks. Find seats anyplace. Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas to you all. Just find your seats anyplace. Merry Christmas, folks!

PALADIN
Tater, Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas.

TATER – FORMAN
That looks fine, Maudie. Need any help?

MAUDIE
No, thanks.

Nathaniel Beecher walks in. He removes his hat.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
Have Pete bring the boy. Let’s get on with it.

TATER – FORMAN
Tell Pete to bring the boy. Right.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
I said rations, not all this fancy stuff. When a man can’t even trust his own foreman…

TATER – FORMAN
Maggie and me always done right by you, ever since you was a kid yourself.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
You’re not doing this for me. All right…if there’s one strand of fence down, if one calf wanders off tonight, we work double tomorrow. All right, let’s get on with it.

PALADIN
Tater, it’s Christmas Eve. “Joy to the World.” Let’s hear those carols.

TATER – FORMAN
Right! All right, come on now, boys. Let’s us men show the women and girls a thing or two. Ready? …Two… three.

GUESTS
¶ The first Noel ¶
¶ The angels did say ¶
¶ Was to certain
poor shepherds ¶
¶ In fields
where they lay ¶
¶ In fields where they… ¶

BH
Mr. Beecher!
They knocked off Buck
and took your boy.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
Shut up, everybody! Were they Pawnees?
Yes.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
You knew about this.

PALADIN
I thought they’d try, but not so soon.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
You see how heathens work, using Christmas Eve? Get your rifles!

P
There’s no hurry. The Pawnees plan on waiting for you. They’re tired of running. Mr. Beecher, to my considerable surprise, reminds us that this is a very special night.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
Preaching, from a gunslinger. You just been aching to speak your piece, haven’t you? I’m going to show you something. Go ahead. Go ahead! Say anything you want. But when Nathaniel Beecher yells, “Go,” these people are going to jump. All right. All right, you folks. You listen good now, you’re going to have a choice. Like the poet fellow says: A full heart or a full belly.

PALADIN
Excuse me, Tater. My card says, “Have Gun, Will Travel.” I have no intention of trying to justify my profession to you people, or my personal code. I am a long way from being a preacher, but I do know something about killing, and that’s what you people are going to have to do tonight. Now, rightly or wrongly, the Pawnees believe that boy belongs to them. It might interest Mr. Beecher to know that the boy was adopted- purchased from the Sioux. He might be Robbie Beecher. Few people love children as much as the Pawnees do. Their chief might have given up the boy, and properly treated, he might still give up the boy. On the other hand, those Pawnees can run no further. They would rather die out there in that camp tonight, than give up that boy to force. Now, I suppose this isn’t much of a Christmas message. I haven’t reminded you that this day has a very special meaning. I haven’t tried to tell you that, to a starving man, food might have more weight than all your rifles.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
Well, I ain’t got so much to say. Now we’re going to go out and kill some Indians. Hang one special Indian. Anybody who wants can stay here and draw his time. Them that are going with me… stand.

M
I’m staying.

M
That’s my job.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
Who’s next?

M
I’ll go.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
That’s the story from the beginning, Mr. Paladin. The belly always wins out.
I can’t hit you, Tater, but I can fire you.

W
You had me half believing, Mr. Paladin, till you put that gun on.
Christmas is just talk, ain’t it? Like Mr. Beecher says.

PALADIN
All my life, I’ve only seen a dozen real killers, but I’ve seen 10,000 people that would stand by and let it happen. Now, which is the greater offense?

W
I don’t know that answer, but if killing is wrong, especially tonight, then it’s wrong for everybody, isn’t it? It’s wrong for you, too, even to protect a few poor Indians.

PALADIN
I might have stopped the killing with that gun tonight, but you’re right. Two things this night stands for: love and courage. You people have the courage to walk past level rifles…if you know the meaning of the word “love”…then I can give you something tonight.

EXT. INDIAN CAMP – NIGHT

CHIEF CAH-LA-TE
Cah-la-te forget how to kill. Know how to die.

PALADIN
What good does that do the boy?

CHIEF CAH-LA-TE
Will Chewa take other father after this?

PALADIN
No, I suppose you do win this way. I wonder if Beecher knows that.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
Squaws must be in the wigwams with the kids.
I don’t want a shot fired until we know where the boy is.

PALADIN
Well, this is the night when some people pretend there’s no evil in the world.
This is the one night of the year when the white man honors the children of his tribe.

CHIEF CAH-LA-TE
Ah.

PALADIN
Tater, bring them on in. There’ll be no rifle fire here tonight.

m
Come on in, folks.

326
00:21:13,387 –> 00:21:14,688
Maudie, do you need any help?

mau
No, thanks.

b
Chr…
Chri… Christmas.
Christmas.
Kay-wonee.
Christmas.

PALADIN
That’s right. That’s what they call it. Christmas, Robbie.

CHIEF CAH-LA-TE
The boy grow much. Ring too small.

PALADIN
“Robert Beecher.” You must return the seed to the plant that bore it, Cah-la-te. The soul of that plant is not dead. The boy will make it green again. The white rancher is not an evil man.

CHIEF CAH-LA-TE
If boy must go, place dust in my mouth. Stop breath. Bury dead wolf.

PALADIN
I see other Pawnee children. Will Cah-la-te let them starve? One hand full of land can kill a man, but 500 acres of land can keep a whole tribe alive.
¶ Deck the halls
with boughs of holly ¶
¶ Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la ¶

PALADIN
Tater.
¶ ‘Tis the season to be jolly ¶
¶ Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la ¶
¶ Don we now
our gay apparel ¶
¶ Fa-la-la, la-la-la,
la-la-la ¶
¶ Toll the ancient
Yuletide carol ¶
¶ Fa-la-la-la-la,
la-la-la-la… ¶

361
00:23:15,176 –> 00:23:17,144
Robbie.
Yep.

362
00:23:17,178 –> 00:23:19,146
You were right about
He’s yours.
Mr. Paladin wants to see you about it.
He figures that about 500 acres of land and 50 head of cattle ought to make it right with the chief.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
And Paladin?

F
Mr. Paladin’s price is $1,000 cash, paid to the chief. Like he says, he always gets his fee. And I get my price, too. I’m staying on, watch how you treat the kid.

NATHANIEL BEECHER
I’d like that, Tater.

T
Trouble with you is, I never whupped you often enough when you was a kid.
So, get on over there.

T
And, Nathaniel-Merry Christmas.
¶ Jingle bells, jingle bells,
jingle all the way ¶
¶ Oh, what fun it is to ride
in a one horse… ¶

NATHANIEL BEECHER
All right, tie up your horses and get rid of your guns.
¶ Silent night ¶
¶ Holy night ¶
¶ All is calm ¶
¶ All is bright ¶
¶ Round yon virgin ¶
¶ Mother and child ¶
¶ Holy infant ¶
¶ So tender and mild ¶
¶ Sleep in
heavenly peace… ¶
¶ Sleep in ¶
¶ Heavenly peace. ¶

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