50-“A Snare for Murder”

Directed by Buzz Kulik, Written by Russell S. Hughes and Don Ingalls.

HARRY MORGAN as Fred Braus
HARRY BARTELL as Nick Talbot
RON HAGERTHY as Joe Martin
NATALIE NORWICK as Amy Martin
JOEL ASHLEY as Jack Martin

HARRY MORGAN also appeared in: (American Primitive, 1963) as Sheriff Ernie Backwater. HARRY BARTELL also appeared in: (First, Catch a Tiger, 1959) as Jacob Mordain, (Birds of a Feather, 1958) as Sheriff Dave Quinn. NATALIE NORWICK also appeared in: (Bandit, 1962) as Sandy, (Squatter’s Rights, 1961) as Sarah Clemenceau, (Soledad Crossing, 1961) as Jody Strickland, (The Puppeteer, 1960) as Maryanne Croft, (Ambush, 1960) as Sarah, (The Monster of Moon Ridge, 1959) as Emily Bella. JOEL ASHLEY also appeared in: (Unforgiven, 1959) as Caterall.

Gentlemen, this is the last time I will stop you from killing each other.
The next time you try it, I shall be pleased to help both of you.

EXT. ON THE TRAIL – DAY

FRED BRAUS (O.S.)
Help! Help!

PALADIN
All right, I got it. Get him out of there. He’s still alive. Breathing seems to be all right.
How long were you holding up that rock?

FRED BRAUS
I don’t know. 10, maybe 15 minutes.

PALADIN
There’s no doubt about it, you saved his life…Here…That’s funny?

FRED BRAUS
Yeah, that’s real funny. You got it all twisted ’round. You saved my life.

PALADIN
How’s that?

FRED BRAUS
Well, it don’t matter. Him and me got a shack couple of hundred yards down that road. You mind helping me pack him that far?

PALADIN
All right, let’s put him on the horse.

INT. MINER’S SHACK – DAY

PALADIN
Headache?

FRED BRAUS
Every loose rock in that claim of ours Could fall on him, he’d still come up in one piece.

NICK TALBOT
You almost done it, didn’t you, braus?

FRED BRAUS
Ah.

FRED BRAUS
Did you see that? He was trying to kill me.

PALADIN
Well, I think you better take it easy for a while.

NICK TALBOT
Who the dag-nab are you anyway?

PALADIN
My name is Paladin.

NICK TALBOT
He hire you to come in and gun me down?

PALADIN
Braus? He was trying to save your life.

NICK TALBOT
He what?

PALADIN
There was a rock just about to crush you. When I arrived on the scene, he was doing his best to hold it off you. You remember the rock falling?

NICK TALBOT
Yeah, I was digging in that new hole outside the shaft, and…Dang funny it should fall
when I was in there. Would have looked just like an accident, wouldn’t braus?

FRED BRAUS
You heard paladin!

PALADIN
Gentlemen, I don’t know what this is about, But it will really be a pleasure to leave you two to work out your own destinies. Good day.

NICK TALBOT
Hold on a minute. You’re right, I had better take it easy for a while. You stick around until I get my strength back, Just to be sure that nothing happens to me, I’ll pay you a $100 dollars.

PALADIN
I’m afraid not, mr. Talbot.

NICK TALBOT
All right…$300 dollars, in gold.

PALADIN
You have $300 dollars in gold?

NICK TALBOT
We got $300 dollars in gold. Why we’ve got…

FRED BRAUS
Shut up, you loose mouth! You talk too much. Just where you from, paladin?

PALADIN
My home’s in San Francisco.

NICK TALBOT
You’re a long way from home.

PALADIN
Business trip. Good day, gentlemen.

FRED BRAUS
What kind of business trip?

PALADIN
Now I don’t believe that’s any concern of yours.

FRED BRAUS
This says it is. Hold it! Get his gun, Nick.

CARD

FRED BRAUS
You keep him covered. If he moves, blow him apart.

PALADIN
Now where’s he going?

NICK TALBOT
Checking on our paydirt. We collect a hefty load of dust around here.
Before we take it to town.

PALADIN
Why are you afraid of Braus?

NICK TALBOT
Like I said, we got a rich claim. We take out a couple of thousand a month. Something happens to one of us…

PALADIN
…the other one becomes sole owner, right?

NICK TALBOT
Right.

PALADIN
Wait a minute, I’m not your enemy. You step out that door like that, they’ll pick you off like a turkey.

PALADIN
That was a pistol shot.

NICK TALBOT
So?

PALADIN
So, the first one came from a rifle, A very powerful rifle. Who ever is doing that shooting out there has a whole arsenal.

PALADIN
Dive for the water trough.

NICK TALBOT
Uh, uh

PALADIN
We’re pinned down in here. I’ll go first, you count three and follow me.

FRED BRAUS
Try bushwackin’ me you sneaking skunks! I’ll blow you both to Kingdom Come.

NICK TALBOT
That first shot must’ve been at him. He thinks we done it.

PALADIN
That’s enough.

NICK TALBOT
He’s trying to kill us.

PALADIN
Braus, listen to me!

FRED BRAUS
Yeah, listen…I’ve got it figured now, Paladin. Talbot sent for you, didn’t he? To kill me! It’s too bad you missed.

PALADIN
Braus, we didn’t fire that shot at you! I haven’t got a rifle, you saw that! I’m coming out! Hands up, and no gun!

PALADIN
Satisfied, Braus?

FRED BRAUS
No! Where’s Talbot?

PALADIN
He won’t fire now. Come on, get up.

PALADIN
All right, Braus?

INT. SHACK

PALADIN
Here’s something I found by the upright. Just outside the mine shaft entrance. .50 caliber slug. From a buffalo rifle. First shot was aimed at you.

FRED BRAUS
Did ya think I was making it up?

NICK TALBOT
What we’ve got is that old shotgun. We ain’t got no rifle at all.

PALADIN
Well, somebody has.

NICK TALBOT
All right…Look…Me and Braus have been partners for 10, 12 years. This is our first real paying claim. Everything was all right at the beginning. Then I caught him salting away dust and not…

FRED BRAUS
That’s a blasted lie!

PALADIN
Stop it! Now just tell me what this is all about.

FRED BRAUS
All right, let me finish telling it. After he lied about me stealing, things got worse and worse. We’d go into copper city, get liquored up, and start fighting. The we’d start shooting.

PALADIN
What?

NICK TALBOT
That’s how we got into trouble.

FRED BRAUS
We accidentally hit a bartender in the leg.

NICK TALBOT
After that, the circuit judge gave the sheriff an order, Making us keep the peace, or else. If one of us is found dead, the other one gets hung. Those townspeople like to see us strung up.

PALADIN
Gentlemen, it’s very funny…Except for one thing. You two have made yourselves a perfect target for murder. Whoever fired that bullet, knows that if one of you is killed, The other one is hung. You said so yourselves. The mine will be here just for the taking.

FRED BRAUS
You always talk too much, Talbot. Like this afternoon in front of paladin here. And like this morning.

NICK TALBOT
Now I plum forgot about them.

PALADIN
Now who are you talking about?

NICK TALBOT
Old man martin, and his son and daughter-in-law. They come by on the trail this morning. Said they was taking over the old parker digging about four miles north of here.

FRED BRAUS
They acted mighty suspicious too. Kept looking around all the time, Asking questions about digging gold.

NICK TALBOT
Yeah.

FRED BRAUS
They even took a look at our sleuce. Had a lot to learn the old man said.

NICK TALBOT
That’s right.

FRED BRAUS
Well, they learned enough from “old loose-mouth” here. Answering sugar-sweet every big-eyed question that little gal put to him. Yes, sir! That’s the only answer.

PALADIN
Would they know about the court’s order?

FRED BRAUS
They’re from Copper City, everybody there knows it.

PALADIN
Now wait a minute! You’re just guessing, you don’t know.

FRED BRAUS
I know this…They had a lot of junk in the back of that wagon, Including a rifle. A buffalo gun. Now you explain this to me, Mr. Paladin. You ain’t got a rifle, and we ain’t got a rifle, But they got a rifle. Who done the shooting? Hey, what’s the idea?

PALADIN
I’m trying to prevent a possible mistake. I’ll accept your offer of employment, Provided you make the fee $500 dollars in gold.

(Braus nods)
All right, I think you two old partners will be safe here together While I ride up and try and talk to these people. So far, nobody’s been killed. Let’s try and keep it that way, eh?

EXT. ON THE TRAIL – DAY

AMY MARTIN
Are you looking for anything in particular, Mister?

PALADIN
Possibly.

AMY MARTIN
Joe, Dad! He’s been nosing around.

JOE MARTIN
What are you doing here, Mister?

PALADIN
That gun isn’t really necessary, could you point that in another direction while we talk?
Please? Thank you. Now, why am I here? Because someone tried to gun down your neighbor, Braus. Fortunately for him, they missed.

JACK MARTIN
Braus? What’s he got to do with us anyway?

PALADIN
He thinks one of you did the shooting.

JOE MARTIN
If I had done any shooting, I wouldn’t have missed.

AMY MARTIN
What are you pestering us for?

PALADIN
Braus was on his way here himself, with a shotgun. I prevailed upon him to let me come instead.

JOE MARTIN
Well, you just prevail yourself right back to Mr. Braus. Tell him anytime he wants to come looking for trouble, He’s welcome.

JACK MARTIN
That’s enough, Joe. Look…We don’t want no trouble.

AMY MARTIN
What do you mean coming here and questioning us anyway? Get out, leave us alone.

PALADIN
I’m trying to prevent trouble, not cause it.

JACK MARTIN
I got nothing more to say.

PALADIN
Nobody’s been hurt yet, and I’d like to keep it that way. But if you won’t cooperate, I’ll turn this over to the authorities. Attempted murder is a serious crime, even out here.

JACK MARTIN
Joe’s my boy…Hotheaded like most youngsters. Got in a scrape in copper city, wounded a man. Got some money to pay back. Me and Amy got him to come out here. Pretty poor diggings, but we was hoping to take out enough to square Joe, And…

PALADIN
Don’t you have a rifle?

JACK MARTIN
We ain’t got nothing to hide. Amy! Bring me Joe’s rifle.

AMY MARTIN
It ain’t here.

JACK MARTIN
I ain’t much for foolin’ right now, Amy. Fetch it!

AMY MARTIN
I tell you it ain’t here.

JACK MARTIN
Where is it?

AMY MARTIN
I hid it. Yes, I hid it. Guns have brought Joe and me nothing but trouble ever since we’ve been married. So I took it, and threw it down an old mine shaft, Where nobody will ever find it.

JACK MARTIN
Amy! What mine shaft?

AMY MARTIN
I don’t remember. Do you hear, I don’t remember!

JACK MARTIN
Mister…No matter how it looks to you, I know Joe. Dry-gulching a man just ain’t his style.

PALADIN
Styles change, even in murder.

JOE MARTIN
You’ve been out almost an hour.

PALADIN
You hit very hard.

JOE MARTIN
Just take it easy now. As a matter of fact, I didn’t hit you. I was stashed up in those rocks behind your friends’ cabin. I heard a shot from over this way. The bullet took the glass out of one of the cabin windows. So I came over to see why your friends were shooting up their own place, And I found you.

PALADIN
You expect me to believe that?

JOE MARTIN
I must say, you ain’t very grateful. But then you’re not too particular who you work for either, are you?

PALADIN
No, I guess I’m not.

PALADIN
Now let’s see which side of your mouth you talk out of.

JOE MARTIN
Wait, I’m telling you the truth.

PALADIN
You haven’t got your wife to cover for you now. Where’s that rifle?

JOE MARTIN
I came up looking for the rifle. Amy thought I was trying to kill Braus and Talbot to get their gold. But I wasn’t! I was… I couldn’t find the rifle with our diggings. I thought Pa hid it from me. I don’t think so, I think Braus or Talbot stole it. Look, I’m shooting straight with you, Mister. Why would I be hangin’ around here if I wasn’t?

PALADIN
When would Braus or Talbot have had time to steal that rifle?

JOE MARTIN
When, when? Wait! When we went to their diggings this morning, Pa wanted to see their sleuce. Either one of them had plenty of chance to sneak it out of the wagon.

PALADIN
All right…All right. It could’ve happened that way. If you’re telling me the truth, I’ll do anything I can to keep you out of trouble, But if you’re lying to me…Now you go on back to your place, and you stay there. Get your hat, and go on.

INT. TALBOT AND BRAUS MINE SHAFT

Paladin finds the buffalo rife.

FRED BRAUS
What took you so long?

PALADIN
I ran into a little trouble.

NICK TALBOT
What happened?

PALADIN
Well, unknowingly, I almost trapped the killer at the entrance of the mine. He did his best to knock the back of my head off.

FRED BRAUS
You mean, he’s still loose out there?

PALADIN
I mean he’s still loose out there with a very dangerous weapon.

FRED BRAUS
Then it wasn’t you.

NICK TALBOT
I said it wasn’t, but you’re too boneheaded To pay any attention to anybody.

PALADIN
It wasn’t you what?

NICK TALBOT
I was out of the cabin for a while, And that bushwhacker took that particular time To take another shot at Braus. Being ignorant, he swore I did it.

PALADIN
Well Braus, it looks like the killer is intent on making you The deceased half of this partnership.

FRED BRAUS
That stupid kid. Take a lot better man than him to get me.

PALADIN
Kid?

FRED BRAUS
Who else could it be but that Joe martin. He can’t think of but one way to get rich. Off’n someone else’s hide. Especially after his little wife passed on to him everything Talbot spilled to her.

NICK TALBOT
Just can’t get that pretty little gal out of my mind. Don’t seem right, her tied to a no-good like that. I always thought if I had a daughter…

FRED BRAUS
Daughter… You’ve been out in the sun too much.

NICK TALBOT
Let’s go in.

PALADIN
No…We’d be just like sitting ducks in there. I’ll take my chances out here, outside.

FRED BRAUS
That wild kid might set fire to the cabin, kill both of us.

NICK TALBOT
Yeah, might at that.

PALADIN
Well, if we’re gonna spend the night outside, We’ll have to take turns standing watch. Who wants the first hitch?

FRED BRAUS
Well, I sure ain’t sleepy. I’ll take it.

NICK TALBOT
I’ll take the second.

PALADIN
All right, it’s agreed then. I’d suggest you find a place high up in those rocks, So you can keep an eye on everything.

NICK TALBOT
Paladin? Braus?

NICK TALBOT
It’s Braus.

PALADIN
Murderer sprung a trap. At first he had to save your life. Then when Joe came along with a rifle, he had a perfect suspect, If you were killed. When I arrived, he had the other ingredient that his murder plan needed. A witness to prove his innocence. He faked a couple of attempts on his own life, just to make it look good. This attempt on your life was no fake.

NICK TALBOT
But how…?

PALADIN
I found the rifle.

NICK TALBOT
You put it back?

PALADIN
After I packed the barrel with mud from the stream bed. Two people knew about that gun, A murderer and me. With the barrel jammed, that gun would explode like a bomb if it were fired. Braus was his own executioner. Trapped in his own snare for murder. I’ll ride through copper city and leave a deposition with the sheriff About Braus’s death.

NICK TALBOT
Now it’s going to seem funny, after all these years, working by myself.

PALADIN
Not good for a man to work alone.

NICK TALBOT
You thinking of buying in?

PALADIN
No, but I know a pretty little gal not too far from here, Who’s family could use some help. Like regular wages working a good paying mine like yours.

NICK TALBOT
Nah, I couldn’t. Say, I could…But I wouldn’t know nothing about how to ask them.

PALADIN
Why don’t you ride up there and try?

NICK TALBOT
I might just do that.

PALADIN
Oh, mr. Talbot? The $500 dollars.

NICK TALBOT
Oh…

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