(16) “Helen of Abajinian”

Original Airdate: (December 28, 1957) 

An Armenian winemaker hires Paladin to defend his daughter’s honor, but it soon appears that she may not be the one in need of looking after.

Director: Andrew V. McLaglen, Writers: Gene Roddenberry, Herb Meadow (creator)

Harold J. Stone as Samuel Abajinian
Wright King as Jimmy O’Riley
Lisa Gaye as Helen Abajinian
Vladimir Sokoloff as Gourken
Nick Dennis as Jorgi
Naomi Stevens as Marga

I rode out here to bring you back and that’s what I’m going to do.
Don’t reach for that weapon. Guns are my business.

INT. CARLTON HOTEL, SAN FRANCISCO – DAY

Paladin is sitting in the hotel’s lobby reading a newspaper.

PALADIN V.O.
“Dancing Girl Missing. Sonoma Valley Armenian’s colony today sadly canceled it’s annual wine festival. the festival’s principal dancer is reported to have eloped with a passing cowboy. Although the girl’s father, Samuel Abajinian, has offered $1,000 for her return, local authorities point out that she is of age and they have no jurisdiction in the matter.”

PALADIN
Thank you, Hey Boy.

HEYBOY
Mr. Paladin, you’re going away again already?

PALADIN
Hey Boy, I haven’t had any good Shish Kebab in years. Rice pilaf, Baklava, Armenian cooking, Hey Boy, Armenian people. Among the world’s finest. Now, I’ll be back two weeks from tonight, and on that night, I’d like tickets for the Ballet Russes. My usual box, and you may keep the change.

HEYBOY
Thank you.

PALADIN (O.S.)
“Samuel Abajinian Sonoma Valley, California.”

FADE TO

EXT. ON THE TRAIL TO SONOMA VALLEY, CALIFORNIA -DAY

FADE TO

EXT. VINYARD IN SONOMA VALLEY, CALIFORNIA -DAY

SAMUEL
Good vintage here, Samuel.

WORKER #1
Come on, Samuel, huh? You tasting huh?

WORKER #2
Come on, you make opinion for us. Huh?

SAMUEL
Mmm. Sadness I taste.

MARGA (Samuel’s wife)
Must we mourn forever? We have other daughters.

SAMUEL
Coming to your ear, woman, is a blow from my fist! Do I produce daughters for every passing stranger? Do I beget children to populate foreign villages?! Come! One of the scholars! Prepare me an answer!

WORKER
Samuel. Another one.
Silence. Silence! Is wine not being made by sheep? Is this flock without a leader? Out!

MARGA
Do we disregard hospitality?

SAMUEL
Do you want to lose another daughter, woman? Out!

PALADIN
My name is Paladin.

SAMUEL
A name is of no importance. Like the other one… on an animal carrying weapons. A Turk! A leader of Turks! Hide the young women in the hills. Drive the goats off to the hills! Bury the… Paladin? Well, what is the excitement? Where is our hospitality? I have a certificate!

INT. SAMUEL’S HOUSE -DAY

SAMUEL
This girl of ours, even though she dances to warm men’s hearts, a lamb, a mouse, an innocent mouse.

MARGA
They were seen to kiss the night before.

SAMUEL
Next comes my fist to your ear! If our Helen was seen to kiss him, it was a matter of force.

MARGA
It was not reported so.

SAMUEL
Place no faith in reports. Marriage to a moral man has shielded you from evil. I have traveled. Once in Fresno, I have seen… Away! You would shake in fear at the things I have seen.

MARGA
And how does a moral man see so much?

SAMUEL
Have you ever seen a snake transfix a mouse with its eye? This O’Riley is just such a reptile. You can overtake him?

PALADIN
It’ll be two days hard ride, and I’ll try and persuade her to come back, but I expect to be paid whether I succeed or fail.

SAMUEL
Both of them! There must be a marriage!

MARGA
A marriage?!

SAMUEL
They have been gone four days and nights! There is still such a thing as honor! Jorgi! Gourken! We’re in agreement!

PALADIN
Now the question of price.

SAMUEL
I am a poor man. I have a few acres, a few poor, bad vines. But Abajinian is generous. You cry you only want to do this for friendship. You protest, you-you wish only to serve justice. Never. Although it ruins me for this simple task, I will pay you $200.

PALADIN
Well, the price we originally agreed on was $1,000, but since you assure me that this man is dangerous I must ask you $2,000.

SAMUEL
Have no faith in my description. I am a poor farmer.

PALADIN
No, my friend. You’re a traveled man.

SAMUEL
On my knees, each night, I will send you my prayers…for the rest of your days, my gratitude…and $500. My latest offer.

PALADIN
You have a thousand acres, vines with rich grapes, sheep, goats… but for friendship, $1,500.

SAMUEL
Have no faith in stories of wealth. I live above my station, but what can I do? My own foolishness traps me. You have the prayers of an entire colony. The thanks of a ruined man, and $800. Absolutely, I must sell my whole farm for one dollar more.

PALADIN
What can I do? Such generosity. $1,200.

SAMUEL
$900 and I die at the grape leaves for my children.

PALADIN
$1,000.

SAMUEL
Done. My friend, you’ve bargained like an Armenian.

PALADIN

Paladin speaks some Armenian to impress them.

WORKER
This one is no Kurdish farmer.

PALADIN
I spent some time in Van.

WORKER
The old country?

SAMUEL
I was fortunate to have an acre left, eh? Seal the bargain. Okay, my friend. A drink of fire. Most men one swallow, perhaps two. But Abajinian? Watch! Enough.

PALADIN
Please. All right, enough. Ah!

SAMUEL
Go, my friend, bring me back my daughter!

WORKER
There’s a man, huh? Oh, Mr. Paladin. Your hat!

EXT. ON THE TRAIL -DAY

HELEN
Jimmy! Wait for me.

JIMMY
Why don’t you leave me alone?

HELEN
You do not love me.

JIMMY
You’re doggone right I don’t. I been telling you that every step of the last 200 miles. Look, ma’am, people just ain’t going to believe you followed me. I don’t like to be chased. It makes me nervous.

HELEN
I’m sorry. I am so tired. You help me down, huh?

JIMMY
No tricks. All right.

HELEN
Oh!

JIMMY
Whoa! Now, look. Look. See? You see? You ought to be ashamed of yourself. Doggone it.

HELEN
Ashamed?

JIMMY
Yes. Is it so bad that I love you? You are so tall, so…You will not believe this.

HELEN
When I was a little girl, I would dream of a man who would ride to my father’s house. It was you. I am a second generation- an American. I have rights. Is it so bad to feel love? To be honest? To say to the whole world, I love you?

JIMMY
Well…look, ma’am. I-I didn’t say you wasn’t a good girl. It’s just that…Well, I ain’t ready to get married yet.

HELEN
You let me dance for you? I change your mind, huh?

JIMMY
You so much as move an elbow, and I’ll pull this hat down right over my head.

HELEN
You are afraid of me?

JIMMY
I got feelings. Inside me I…Look, ma’am. I’m a man. And there’s a tornado inside me. If it ever gets loose, it might tear both of us apart.

HELEN
A tornado? Ha!

PALADIN
Miss Abajinian, my name is Paladin. Your father employed me to bring you back.

JIMMY
Ha! Boy, am I glad to hear that.

PALADIN
Both of you, Mr. O’Riley.

PALADIN
Don’t reach for that weapon, son. Guns are my business.

JIMMY
Well, where I go and who I go with ain’t. I didn’t even see you move your hand.

PALADIN
I’ve been riding hard for two days. If we’re going to talk, I’d much rather it would be over food than guns.

CLOSEUP OF HELEN

FADE TO

EXT. CAMPFIRE – NIGHT

JIMMY
Now, you see what I’m trying to explain? See, a man likes to feel comfortable with his woman. Well, now take this gal…

PALADIN
How old are you Jimmy?

JIMMY
Mister, you can talk until you’re red in the face, but I ain’t going to go back with you two.

PALADIN
Well, it’s probably just as well. A really good girl wouldn’t have ridden trail alone with you.

JIMMY
Now you take that back. She’s just as good as she can be.

PALADIN
Well, that’s quite a reaction. A poet might suspect love.

JIMMY
You take that back, too.

PALADIN
Wait a minute, Jimmy. I’m not using force.

JIMMY
Well, I am! If I can’t lick you, Mister, okay, then I’ll go back free and willing.

HELEN
I’ll help you Jimmy.

PALADIN
Jimmy, you’re pushing me.

JIMMY
Ooh, if you’d just stand still a minute…

Paladin slugs Jimmy

PALADIN
Now, Miss, this may make you feel a little better to know that Jimmy’s coming back with us.

HELEN
Oh, Jimmy!

JIMMY
I’m going back all right. But don’t get any ideas. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

EXT. SAMUEL’S VINYARD COLONY – DAY

SAMUEL
First we get the marriage out of the way, then the festival, eh? Food, drink, dancing-and such dancing will delight your heart, my friend. Drink! Hey, you could drink, too, but I’d waste good wine on you.

JIMMY
Oh, you’re so all-fired smart, huh? Well, maybe you know wine, mister, but you sure don’t know ranching. If you’re so all-fired smart, how come you ain’t got a herd of cattle bringing you in money off of land and feed? You just throw it away.

SAMUEL
You tell me, Abajinian, how to manage land? A child now advises Abajinian?

JIMMY
This here child was running a thousand-acre spread when he was 19, and making money out of feeding cattle.

SAMUEL
Cattle, cattle. Abajinian is no-no-no cowboy.

JIMMY
You don’t have to be a cowboy to know that good beef out here draws- how much?

PALADIN
Eight to ten cents a pound.

SAMUEL
Is of no importance.

WORKER
Hey, Samuel. $80 in one little animal.

SAMUEL
Pay no attention to it.

PALADIN
Where would you graze the cattle?

JIMMY
All this canyon pasture is just going to waste.

SAMUEL
Pay no attention to it!

WORKER
How would you fatten the animals?

JIMMY
Use that grass you’re burning off and the grape mashings you’re throwing away.

SAMUEL
Pay no attention to it!

JIMMY
That’s good advice. What does a nester know about raising cattle?

SAMUEL
What is a nester?

PALADIN
Well, a nester is…

SAMUEL
Never mind! It is an insult. You would insult a man who could tear your bleeding heart from your body with his bare hands?! Were it not I need you alive for the wedding…

JIMMY
Ha! That’s a kid’s game.

SAMUEL
Not the way we play it. Gourken, attend us.

FADE TO

EXT. TABLE WITH HOT COALS

SAMUEL
Explain to the foreigner.

PALADIN
Jimmy, these coals are kept red-hot. There’s no need for anyone to be burned. If one player says enough, the other releases him at that point. You ready? Go!

SAMUEL
This one will scream like a child.

JIMMY
Yeah, we’ll see about that.

SAMUEL
I do not wish to burn you, boy. Say enough.

JIMMY
Go to blazes.

PALADIN
Just release his hand, Jimmy. Game’s over.

JIMMY
Not by a darn sight.

SAMUEL
So… you asked for it.

PALADIN
Game draw!

WORKER
Oh, he’s strong boy, eh, Samuel? He accepts pain like a man.

SAMUEL
Yeah. Even a talker has some good points. Come, it’s time to dress for the wedding.

JIMMY
Mr. Paladin, these people haven’t got any right to tear off all my clothes and-and then throw me in here.

SAMUEL
Even a barbarian pays for his own marriage!

JIMMY
And I told you I was just marrying her to protect her reputation. That don’t mean I touched her before or that I’m gonna touch her after. Just remember, you can take a horse to water…

JIMMY
This is the first time I ever took a bath in the middle of the week.

PALADIN
“There’s a woman at the start of all great things,” or so says the French poet Lamartine.

JIMMY
Women!

PALADIN
“Heaven’s best gift.” “The most delightful of God’s creatures.” Shelley.

JIMMY
But…

PALADIN
We are indebted to women first for life itself, and then for making it worth living.

WORKER
There you are.

JIMMY
What’s that?

WORKER
Oil, boy, for fragrance. You rub it into your skin. Very, very pleasant.

JIMMY
I’ll do no such thing. That stuff smells sweet enough to catch flies.

PALADIN
Well, that’s a custom.

JIMMY
Well, ain’t I got a right to a few customs of my own?

PALADIN
“All men who avoid female society have gross tastes.” Thackeray.

COMMERCIAL BREAK

SAMUEL
Paladin, we have good time, hah?

PALADIN
Jorgi, thank you. O’Riley, look at this. Dolma, baklava, esmir kebab, rice pilaf, keskec, shish kebab. Now, it isn’t often you even see food like that. You better try some.

JIMMY
No, I… I got to be moving along.

PALADIN
Well, now, an intelligent man doesn’t ride off into the night hungry.

JIMMY
I tell you, I ain’t staying here.

PALADIN
Well, nobody’s keeping you. Bye, O’Riley.

JIMMY
Doggone it, I can’t leave without saying good-bye to that girl. I mean, after all, I just married her, didn’t I?

PALADIN
It’s only a formality- as you yourself said, you can lead a horse to water, but…

JIMMY
How come you’re so anxious to get rid of me all of a sudden? All day you been telling me what nice folks these people are.

PALADIN
Well, you obviously have no affection for that girl, and under the circumstances, I think perhaps it’s better if you don’t see her dance. I mean, a young boy like you, inexperienced.

JIMMY
Well… doggone…you think a little thing like that…Well, she can dance her fool head off. I’ll be so… so busy at this food over here, I won’t even… I won’t even notice. Well, they got some pretty good cooks here, I got to admit that.

PALADIN
Among the world’s finest.

JIMMY
Well, I ain’t never said they wasn’t. I mean, just because they don’t do things like my people, that don’t mean they ain’t real down-to- earth folks, too. I mean, just ’cause this Abajinian girl gets me, well…well… Doggone it! Women don’t chase men. Now, what I’m trying to say is, is that a man don’t want a wife that chases him. This Helen, man…well, if I have to live with her…I wouldn’t know what she’d try next. Look, Mr. Paladin… just watching her makes me nervous. I mean, my stomach starts to do flip-flops, and-and-and my knees start banging together. Well, doggone it, I just feel downright miserable. Well, a man wants to feel calm and comfortable with a woman, don’t he?

PALADIN
Well, there’s a time for that, too.

JIMMY
Well, it’s time I was going.

PALADIN
Ancient Armenia was at the crossroads of the world. The origin of their dances is lost in antiquity- a flavor of Greece, Persia, perhaps even of Minoa- but those dances, O’Riley, are a language- the most compelling, understandable, universal language of mankind.

JIMMY
Well, maybe so, but…nah, I ain’t interested in dances and…

Helen dances at the festival

SAMUEL
Three times since the wedding you moved to your horse. Three times he moves to leave- now I find him still here.

PALADIN
Perhaps he likes the food.

SAMUEL
Perhaps. For a foreigner, perhaps he makes a good boy. I’m a liberal man. If he wants to live with my daughter…Is there some difficulty?

PALADIN
Well, it’s customary at this time to speak of the dowry.

SAMUEL
Dowry?! You are mad if you think…

PALADIN
No dowry, no son-in-law- your own custom, Abajinian.

SAMUEL
I spit on custom. You think I would pay so much as a goat to mix blood with him?

PALADIN
And I reply, you speak of the Kurdish farmers. Besides Abajinian, the Kurds are scholars wearing silk coats and speaking seven languages. You would let your daughter bring to her marriage her bedding and her clothing. Such generosity should be written on the side of Mount Ararat for all to see.

SAMUEL
Perhaps I could spare a goat for milk.

PALADIN
And I reply that besides Abajinian, the poorest Arab in a mud hut is a caliph, dispensing gifts of amber and silver. Beside Abajinian, the serpent becomes an animal of stature and dignity. The toad…

SAMUEL

And perhaps I could afford an acre of vines, but no more – I am a poor man.

PALADIN
…the toad assumes a beauty. An acre of vines? Come, Jorgi, Gourken! Let us spread the news of such generosity, hah? An acre of vines. A messenger to the old country, a runner to the next town.

GOURKEN
This man is a poet. Ah, I wish you had bargained for my wife.

PALADIN
And the children will scatter flowers in Lake Gotchka in your honor.

SAMUEL
Five acres of vines and two of trees.

PALADIN
Ten and five, with a house. 50 sheep, ten goats, six carrying milk…

SAMUEL
Agreed, agreed. Stop. You are ruining a poor old man. You- you want to see your own father-in-law destroyed?

PALADIN
Jimmy.

JIMMY
Oh… she’s beautiful.

SAMUEL
15 acres, a house, 50 sheep and ten goats, six carrying milk, for a son who sees a dancer after she’s gone. Attend him- take him to his bride.

GOUKIN AND JERI
Come on, Texas boy.

SAMUEL
At least he knows cattle. $80 an animal- that’s good business. But I have other problems. I have four daughters. I hope boys run in his blood.

PALADIN
His parents had five sons.

SAMUEL
Mmm. A busy day, Mr. Paladin, but a good one. Perhaps a mogi for luck… and for a grandson.

PALADIN
Mr. Abajinian, that would be a pleasure.