(18) “The Reasonable Man”

Original Airdate: (January 11, 1958)

A rancher hires Paladin to stop a duel between him and his son from turning deadly.

Director: Andrew V. McLaglen  Writers: Joel Kane, Ken Kolb

ADAM WILLIAMS as Frank Gault
NORMA MOORE as Sheila Stewart
TOM PITMAN as Grady Stewart
BARRY ATWATER as Gene Morgan
LEONARD P. GEER as Ben
Heinie Conklin as Barber (uncredited)
Franklyn Farnum as Fight Spectator (uncredited)
George Huggins as Fight Spectator (uncredited)
Mathew McCue as Fight Spectator (uncredited)
Fred McDougall as Fight Spectator (uncredited)

ADAM WILLIAMS also appeared in: (Full Circle, 1960) as Simon Quill, (The Chase, 1959) as Beckett. LEONARD P. GEER also appeared in: (The Manhunter, 1958) … Townsman (uncredited), (Deliver the Body, 1958) … Poker Player (uncredited), (High Wire, 1957) … Townsman (uncredited).

Ambition in a man without morality is a dangerous thing. You had to own something important, even if you had to murder to get it.

INT. BARBER SHOP -DAY

PALADIN
In ancient days, the barbers were also surgeons. This is the 19th Century, and if I want any blood let, I’ll get a doctor to do it. Thank you.

GENE MORGAN
The next time you draw on me, Grady, it won’t be your gun arm I go after.

GRADY STEWART
Next time I draw on you, Mr. Morgan, I’ll kill you.

GENE MORGAN
Now go home and wash your face.

PALADIN
Someday that boy may very well try to kill you.

GENE MORGAN
That boy? I can outdraw him, out shoot him, or spank him. It wouldn’t even be close.

PALADIN
Cigar? You may have made a strategic error in anatomy that could cost you. You should have hit him on the chin, not the seat of the pants.

GENE MORGAN
What difference does it make? A good spanking is what he deserved.

PALADIN
You show the degree of your respect for an opponent by where you hit him. On the chin, he’s a man. An opponent worthy of consideration, Across the bottom, he’s a boy, a nuisance. You showed that boy, in front of people he lives with, just how much you respect him. And that’s why he may very well try to kill you.

GENE MORGAN
Just who are you, mister?

PALADIN
My name is Paladin. I just stopped off in town for a shave. You?

GENE MORGAN
I’m Gene Morgan.

PALADIN
Mr. Morgan, may I buy you lunch? I have a business proposition that may interest you. What kind of business? Well, it loses so much in the explanation.

GENE MORGAN
If I’d wanted the kid killed, I could have done it myself.

PALADIN
But you don’t want him killed, do you?

GENE MORGAN
No, I don’t. I think I’ll take that lunch, Mr. Paladin.

PALADIN
Mr. Morgan, I’ll get my things from the barber shop and join you.

GENE MORGAN
I suppose you’re pretty good with that gun.

PALADIN
I’m considered fairly proficient.

GENE MORGAN
I’m considered fairly proficient with a gun myself, Mr. Paladin. What makes you think I can’t handle Grady without your help?

PALADIN
You said just a few moments ago you don’t want him killed. That gives him an advantage you’d never overcome.

GENE MORGAN
Why should I want him killed? I raised him and his sister. I’ve been their only family since their father died.

PALADIN
That’s why. In a gunfight with Grady, you’d draw slow, you’d shoot wide until someday he wouldn’t.

GENE MORGAN
It’s only the last few months he’s been like this.

PALADIN
It’s only the last few months he’s realized what it means to be a man. How’d the trouble start this morning?

GENE MORGAN
Grady’s father left him some property bordering mine along the river. Last year, the river changed course. Nobody knew who owned what. So we agreed to wait and let the court decide it. Today Grady told me he changed his mind. He doesn’t want to wait.

PALADIN
When did he draw on you?

GENE MORGAN
After I told him to be a man and stick to our agreement, instead of carrying on like a sick calf.

PALADIN
Mr. Morgan, you’re not easy on that boy. Talk like that was bound to make him mad.

GENE MORGAN
Mad enough to draw on me?

PALADIN
Are you prepared to pay $500 for Grady’s life and $500 for yours? That’s $1,000 in all if you both come out of this alive.

GENE MORGAN
That’s quite a chunk of money.

PALADIN
Are your lives worth any less?

GENE MORGAN
Do you think you could find out why he’s become so almighty contentious lately?

PALADIN
I think that’s where my job begins.

MORGAN
Mr. Paladin, you started working for me a half hour ago.

PALADIN
Thank you, sir.

INT. BARN

GRADY STEWART
Hello, Frank.

FRANK GAULT
Still giving yourself away, Grady. Don’t you see you’re turning your shoulder when you start your draw? Waste of time, tips off your move. Make your right arm do all the moving. Right arm. That’s better. But you’re firing too soon. You’ll hit him in the leg.

GRADY STEWART
Frank, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to outdraw him.

FRANK GAULT
Sure you will. There’s no hurry. We don’t want a repeat of what happened today. Here, Sheila gave you this for your arm. She’s fixing some lunch.

GRADY STEWART
She mad?

FRANK GAULT
Nah, I kidded her out of it. I told her I’d talk you into calming down, so you better make out like I did. You know how women are.

GRADY STEWART
Yeah, I know. You know, Frank, you’re the only one that treats me like I got any sense.

FRANK GAULT
That’s ’cause I know you got sense. I’m just so sorry about the way Morgan made you the laughingstock of the town today.

GRADY STEWART
I’ll get even with him for that.

FRANK GAULT
That won’t be easy to do-unless you could get the last laugh on him. Maybe…

GRADY STEWART
Maybe what, Frank?

FRANK GAULT
I was just thinking…

EXT. TOWN STREET -DAY

PALADIN
You want a shave, you’ll have to wait your turn.

GRADY STEWART
You’re not Mr. Morgan.

PALADIN
That’s exactly right.

GRADY STEWART
But I saw his horse outside.

PALADIN
Well, he loaned it to me because I work for him. And part of my job is to keep you from annoying him.

GRADY STEWART
Annoying?

PALADIN
That’s right. Annoying. The rest of my job is to keep him from killing you. And that’s the part of the job I like least well right now.

GRADY STEWART
Well, if you’re Morgan’s man, there’s something you can give him for me.

PALADIN
Want your turn? All right. Want your turn? Quit it. Want your turn? All right. Yes, sir. Now then, Mr. Stewart, How would you like your sideburns, huh? Long, short? Huh? How would you like them?

GRADY STEWART
I don’t shave much yet.

PALADIN
Well, now, perhaps that’s a fact that you ought to bear in mind. Now, who’s idea was it for you to come here? Whose?!

GRADY STEWART
Frank’s.

PALADIN
Well, tell him it was a bad idea. Bye.

FADE OUT

EXT. CATTLE RANGE – DAY

GENE MORGAN
Must be getting through somewhere. Fred, go check on the road section. Ben, ride west and see if any of that old wire by the rocks gave way.

PALADIN
How many head you figure you lost?

GENE MORGAN
Oh, so far, it looks about 20. They broke through the fence during the night, got out in the bottom land.

PALADIN
Is that the land Grady Stewart
is so excited about?

GENE MORGAN
Yeah.

PALADIN
Mr. Morgan, has it occurred to you that you might hold onto a couple of people you are very fond of if you didn’t make such a big issue out of a few handfuls of dirt?

GENE MORGAN
Often. I suppose I could let Grady have those few acres, but there’s 25 years of my life in this land. I don’t want to be stubborn and difficult, but I can’t change that easy. I can’t give up something that I’ve worked for so long and so hard.

PALADIN
Does Grady know that?
He must know it.

PALADIN
Well, maybe he’s not
the only one that knows it.

COWBOY
I found where they’ve been breaking through, but the wire didn’t just give way. Somebody cut it. A hole big enough to run the whole herd through.

Hyah, hyah!

PALADIN
Company’s coming.

GRADY AND FRANK
Hyah! Hyah! Hyah! Hyah! Hyah! Hyah!

GRADY STEWART
Your cattle can graze the bottom land, but mine can’t? Is that right, Mr. Morgan? You say to wait for the law to decide who it belongs to. But when Gene Morgan decides his stock needs feeding, that’s a different story?

GENE MORGAN
Just a minute, Grady.

GRADY STEWART
No, just give me my milk and send me off to bed and you’ll have everything your own way.

GENE MORGAN
Grady, I don’t know how my cattle got out there. I’ll send a couple of men to bring them back. Will that satisfy you?

GRADY STEWART
You think I should let him do it, Frank? Let him take his cattle back?

FRANK GAULT
Sure, you have to.

GRADY STEWART
You think he’s telling the truth? Why would he run his cattle out there and then back down when I call him on it?

FRANK GAULT
Because he’s smart.

GRADY STEWART
I don’t understand.

FRANK GAULT
Just wait. Couple days, the same thing will happen again. He’ll be polite as pie, beg your pardon, take his cattle home.

GRADY STEWART
Pretty funny way to fatten cattle.

FRANK GAULT

It’s an easy way to establish claim to the bottom land. The court’ll think it’s his ’cause his cattle are all over it. Precedent, prior right. Lot of legal talk. He’s in, you’re out.

GRADY STEWART
He wouldn’t do that.

FRANK GAULT
All right. He wouldn’t do that.

GRADY STEWART
Don’t get mad, Frank.

FRANK GAULT
I’m not mad. It’s your business. Jump when he pulls the strings.

GENE MORGAN
Come on, Grady. Get a move on. My men have work to do.

FRANK GAULT
Jump, kid.

GENE MORGAN
Don’t take his advice, Grady. We can work this out ourselves.

GRADY STEWART
And I don’t need your advice, Mr. Morgan. If I find any of these cattle on this property after tomorrow morning, I’ll kill them all myself.

GENE MORGAN
Now you see what I’m up against?

PALADIN
Grady and I met briefly this morning.

GENE MORGAN
Apparently you didn’t talk much sense into him.

PALADIN
Our discussion was brief but to the point. I think I’ll follow up on it.

FADE OUT

INT. RESTAURANT – EVENING

FRANK GAULT
To us. May we live happily ever after. We will. If we can just keep Grady out of trouble till he grows up.

FRANK GAULT
You would have been proud of him today. Morgan was really in the wrong and Grady kept his head. I bet you had something to do with that.

PALADIN
Miss Stewart, my name is Paladin. I’d like to talk to you if I may.

FRANK GAULT
This is a sort of a private party.

PALADIN
My question was addressed to you, Miss Stewart. It concerns your brother.

FRANK GAULT
You might as well sit down. I think I should tell you, Sheila, that he’s a hired gunfighter for Morgan.

SHEILA STEWART
Is that true?

PALADIN
Partly. But I’m still concerned about your brother.

FRANK GAULT
The way a hunter is concerned about a deer.

PALADIN
I’m concerned about you too, Mr. Gault.

SHEILA STEWART
What about my brother, Mr. Paladin?

PALADIN
Well, to put it briefly, your brother is in much more danger from Mr. Gault here, than he is from me. My job is to keep Grady alive. Gault’s is to get him killed.

SHEILA STEWART
That’s a lie. I don’t even want to listen to another word.

FRANK GAULT
It’s all right, honey. Let him speak his peace.

PALADIN
I’m sure you love this man, but you’re marrying him partly because you need somebody to help you take care of the ranch and take care of Grady. Now, just consider, if Gault marries you and gets Grady killed, he owns the ranch.

FRANK GAULT
How would I get him killed?
Hire you?

PALADIN
No. You’d force him into a feud with a man that could outgun him. You almost succeeded this morning. If Gene Morgan wasn’t fond of Grady and you, this would have happened before. Morgan won’t stand for much more, believe me, he won’t. Now, I know this is hard for you to accept, but Gault is trying to force Grady into a pair of boots that are much too large for him. And Grady is so anxious to become a man, that he may not live to see the day.

SHEILA STEWART
Why would Frank do a thing like this?

PALADIN
Ambition. His ambition to own something important. Even if he has to commit murder for it. I think you’ve said enough, Mr. Paladin. You better leave.

PALADIN
All right. I’m sorry to have spoiled your supper. But I had to say this. Good-bye. Mr. Gault.

SHEILA STEWART
I’m confused. I don’t know what to say.

FRANK GAULT
Well, I say we postpone the wedding for as long as you like; until all the trouble with Morgan is over and until you realize that I want you, not your ranch.

SHEILA STEWART
No. That would be the same as saying I believed all those lies. No, we’ll have our wedding as we planned.

FADE OUT

EXT. CATTLE RANGE – NIGHT

EXT. CATTLE RANGE – DAY

Hyah! Hyah! Hyah! Hyah!

GENE MORGAN
I heard in town that Sheila got married this morning.

PALADIN
Yeah, I was afraid she would. Common sense is never any match for Cupid.

GENE MORGAN
Grady said he’d do this.
I guess he meant it.
Now I’m going to show him.

PALADIN
Well, Mr. Morgan, you better stop and consider. I told you once Grady would beat you in a showdown gun battle. Now think about it. Is your hand going to be fast, accurate, when you go to kill a boy?

GENE MORGAN
Come on.

GRADY STEWART
What are you doing here, Mr. Morgan?

GENE MORGAN
You wanted to be the big man. Now let’s see if you can live up to it.

SHEILA STEWART
Stop it. Please, Mr. Morgan, stop it.

GENE MORGAN
I’m sorry, Sheila, but I warned Grady. He’s determined to force this fight so it might just as well be now.

SHEILA STEWART
Frank, you’ve got to do something. You’ve got to make them stop it.

FRANK GAULT
Nothing I can do, honey. It’s Grady’s fight. He’ll have to fight it.

SHEILA STEWART
Mr. Morgan, he’s just a boy. You can see that for yourself.

GENE MORGAN
Was it just a boy who killed my steer? A boy would have more sense.

GRADY STEWART
I didn’t do that.

GENE MORGAN
Don’t lie to me, Grady.

GRADY STEWART
I told you, that if I found any more steers on that property I was going to kill them all.

FADE TO

INT. RANCH HOUSE -DAY

FRANK GAULT
Thanks for stopping it, Paladin. Sheila and I are real grateful.

PALADIN
No favor to you, Mr. Gault. It was purely a matter of economics. Is that a pair of wire cutters in your back pocket?

FRANK GAULT
I don’t own any wire cutters.

PALADIN
Oh. Well, that’s my mistake, I’m sorry. Mr. Gault, Miss Stewart. Come on. Come on.

SHEILA STEWART
What did he mean about the wire cutters?

FRANK GAULT
Nothing, it’s just his idea of a joke, I guess.

GRADY STEWART
Then why’d you reach for them, Frank? You said you didn’t own a pair, but you do, I seen ’em.

FRANK GAULT
I lost them months ago. What are you trying to do, kid? Make me out a liar?

SHEILA STEWART
What is this? What’s going on?

GRADY STEWART
Just wondering who cut that fence, that’s all. Just wondering.

FRANK GAULT
You really are just a kid, aren’t you? I heard your horse last night. I got dressed and followed you, down to the bottom land. Just wanted to go along to keep you out of trouble. Deny that.

GRADY STEWART
Frank, how can you say that?

FRANK GAULT
That’s it, deny it. You cut the fence and you killed Morgan’s steer. I wasn’t going to tell Sheila, because it was such a stupid kid’s trick. But you’re not going to put the blame on me, not on me, kid.

GRADY STEWART
I was in the house all night last night.

SHEILA STEWART
No, that’s true, Frank. He wasn’t out of the house last night. Frank, he wasn’t…

GRADY STEWART
You’re a dirty, filthy liar, Frank. A dirty, filthy liar.

FRANK GAULT
You going to go for that gun, kid? You been anxious to use it. Now’s your chance.

PALADIN
Frank. This had to be done. Sooner or later, somebody would have had to do it.

GENE MORGAN
Come along, Sheila. Grady, go get her things. Come along home with me. I’ll send somebody to take care of Frank.

GRADY STEWART
Yes, Mr. Morgan.

EXT. BANK BUILDING -DAY

PALADIN
Well, I thank you very much, Mr. Morgan.

GENE MORGAN
You should thank Mr. Stewart, too. He insisted on paying part of your fee.

PALADIN
Well, I certainly do thank you very much indeed, sir. Since I originally stopped in this town for a shave, I think I might find time for another one before I left. You have an excellent barber. Would you care to join me?

GENE MORGAN
I feel a little stubbly myself. I think I will.

GENE MORGAN
How about you, Mr. Stewart?

GRADY STEWART
Yeah, I think I will.