110-“Ambush”

Original Airdate: (April 23, 1960)

Several travelers are held by gunpoint at a ferry crossing, including Paladin and his prisoner. What fate awaits them soon appears in the form of a blind father seeking vengeance for his son’s killer which he believes to be one of them.

Director: Richard Boone, Writers: Robert E. Thompson, Herb Meadow.

GEORGE MACREADY as Gunder – Blind Man
DAN BARTON as Daniel – Gunder’s Son
ALAN DEXTER as Devereaux – Frenchman
NATALIE NORWICK as Sarah – Escaping Wife
HAL NEEDHAM as Morgan – Trooper
MICHAEL FERRIS as Blandings – Paladin’s Prisoner
ED NELSON as Carl – Gambler

Trivia: Writer Robert E. Thompson later adapted this story into an episode of Crossing at Destino Bay

PALADIN
Blandings. Blandings. Coffee.

BLANDINGS
I was dreaming.

PALADIN
Come on. It’s getting cold.

BLANDINGS
It’s still dark. Are you really in such a rush for Mr. Hanley’s reward?

PALADIN
It’ll be dawn pretty quick and I wanna get across the Strada before noon.

BLANDINGS
Strada?

PALADIN
The river.

BLANDINGS
Do you know, in San Louis, before you caught up with me,
I used to sleep every day till noon.
And then two servant girls would come in with silver breakfast trays.
The plaza. A fresh shirt. Music. Shade. Cool drink. And then the nights.
But you want your money, And Hanley and company wants its pound of flesh.
But for a little while, I lived where an emperor once slept.

PALADIN
I’m sure you did, Blandings. Roll up this gear.

PALADIN
Hello! Passengers for the ferry! Looks like we’re gonna have a wait.
Ow.

BLANDINGS
What do you want? I haven’t got any money left. Ask him.

PALADIN
If it was money he was after, he’d have killed us before this, Quietly and efficiently like the boatman.

DEVEREAUX
The little gun, please.

BLANDINGS
Look, it’s all gone. Ow! Don’t! Don’t.

DEVEREAUX
I’m a very nervous man. You better tell him not to make any sudden moves like that, Or he won’t be alive when the man who hired me gets here.

BLANDINGS
You’ve got to get me back to San Francisco! I’m your prisoner! You’ve got to! It’s your duty!

DEVEREAUX
Shut up! What he say is true? You are a lawman, huh? A gunman, huh? That’s better. Paladin, huh? My name is Devereaux.

SARAH
You see, it’s not Tinsly.

DEVEREAUX
Over there.

CARL
Is he…Is he outside?

PALADIN
Who?

SARAH
My husband.

CARL
He’s about my height. He’s more like this.
He’s got a scar on his cheek and dark eyebrows.
And he’s got a sea captain’s cap. He’s out there, all right.
He’s trying to make us sweat.
And he’s gonna watch While you do his dirty work.

DEVEREAUX
Just keep back over there.

CARL
We got a right to know what you’re doing.

DEVEREAUX
Remember the boatman?

SARAH
Carl, come back, he’s gonna pull the trigger.
He’ll pull the trigger. He means business.

DEVEREAUX
Sure. You remember the boatman.

CARL
We should have taken passage on that boat. He’d have never caught us.

SARAH
It’s too late for that now, Carl.

PALADIN
How long you been here?

SARAH
Since morning. He killed that man at the ferry.
He put us here without telling us anything
Except we was to wait until somebody was to come.
Then he come. And then you.

PALADIN
Ambush you here at the ferry, too?
That means they’ve trapped everybody that came up the trail
trying to cross the Strada. What’d he tell you?

MORGAN
Devereaux? Just that he’s being paid to hold us here for somebody.

PALADIN
Your husband was a sea captain?

SARAH
A sea captain? He hauled garbage from Galveston to the breakwater and he’d come home smellin’.

PALADIN
Where were you going?

SARAH
We was going to St. Louis. Have you ever been there? Carl told me all about it. He said there was a theater with gold pillars And seats all covered in velvet. And the women came to the theater at night.
And they wore lace shawls and long taffeta dresses.
And suede boots with little pearl buttons on them.
That’s the first thing I was gonna get was a lace shawl with tagging on it and lillies maybe…Or roses.

DEVEREAUX
Ah.

SARAH
Do you know how old I am? I’m 28.
Twelve years like a stone he could kick If his meal wasn’t hot enough.
Or his bed wasn’t made Or there was a ten-cent piece missing
I couldn’t account for. But he could come home drunk.
He could gamble our food away.
He could fall down on the porch and get sick All over his fancy gold braid.

CARL
Sarah…

SARAH
I’m never going back to him. I don’t care if he kills me.

CARL
Don’t say that, honey. you can explain.
You can tell him that…

SARAH
Tell him what?

CARL
Tell him it was a mistake.

SARAH
Carl. Oh, carl.

CARL
Why doesn’t he come and get it over with?

SARAH
He will.

PALADIN
But you don’t really know who it is that’s coming.

MORGAN
They don’t, but I do. Blackfoot.

PALADIN
An indian?

MORGAN
No. He’s a white man. But he lived with the blackfeet. He thinks like they do and he kills like ’em, too.

PALADIN
What’s he want with you?

MORGAN
Just a crazy savage, that’s all. Look at him. Watch him how he grins.
Look at the way his finger keeps tapping on that gun.
He ain’t killed us yet ’cause Blackfoot told him not to.
That’s how I know who’s coming.

DEVEREAUX
Then you know more than I do, soldier.

PALADIN
You don’t know?

DEVEREAUX
I don’t care! I get paid. I do a job.

MORGAN
If you think I’m gonna wait here, you’re not very bright.

DEVEREAUX
Remember the finger And don’t push your luck, trooper.

MORGAN
Oh, if I’d got across the Strada, I’d been halfway to Denver by now.
First hitch, I had me an old colonel I used to dog rob for.
Used to get himself a suite down at the brown palace
and just live like pure royalty. That’s what I was figuring on.
Whoo-ee! I’d have had me a snortin’ time. You think Blackfoot’s gonna pay you? That’s what he told you, sure, but he ain’t.
’cause he ain’t got nothing to pay you with. I’m tellin’ you the truth.
$140 trapping money is all he had. You let me go and I’ll take you to it.
What’s the difference whether I pay you or he does? It don’t matter none to you. The money’s in Santa Fe. I mailed it ahead of me there.
Blackfoot told you I messed with his squaw, didn’t he? Well, it ain’t true.
I never laid a hand on her. She came in on me while I was getting the money.
I had to kill her. There wasn’t nothing else I could do. It was her fault.
You see that. You never seen the way the Blackfeet kill a man.

DEVEREAUX
A man’s dead, he’s dead.

MORGAN
See him itchin’? He’s gonna kill every one of us.
Well, there’s one of him and five of us.
You said you were a gambler.
Those are good enough odds, aren’t they?

PALADIN
Now, hold it! You ever see the pattern a gun like that makes?
He’s got two shots in there.
He’d cut you all three down Before any of you took another step.

MORGAN
What are we gonna do, nothing?

PALADIN
That’s right. Nothing.

DEVEREAUX
I know your sort, Paladin. And I guess maybe you know mine.
They’ve all got something to be scared of.
They’re all running. But not you. You’re going to take your time.
You’re going to pick the soft spot in me and then make your move, huh?
Let’s settle it now.

CARL
Yeah. Yeah, go ahead. Go ahead.

DEVEREAUX
No stomach for it, huh?

PALADIN
Well, now, Devereaux, I have found your soft spot, haven’t I?
It has to play off your way, doesn’t it?
But you won’t turn the wheel unless it’s fixed.
How many alleys you waited in, Devereaux?
How many men you shot in the back?
This time you may be miscalculating.

DEVEREAUX
I never miss. That’s why I’m alive.

PALADIN
Oh, you won’t miss this time. You’ll hit me. But I’m fast, Devereaux.
I’m very fast. And there’s just a chance my finger might close over that trigger while I’m falling.
Maybe, just maybe…A shot will hit home.
Odds are all on your side, but it isn’t foolproof.
Not like clubbing a man to death.
Not like putting your gun to the back of his head.

SARAH
He’s here!

CARL
You… You get behind me.

SARAH
No!

CARL
He’ll kill me, but you can tell him I made you come along.

SARAH
Oh, carl, you wanted me. Oh, I thought it was just…At least I’m a woman.

CARL
You’re my woman. What life do you think I’d have by myself?
Together maybe we got a chance. Get behind me.

GUNDER
Where?

DEVEREAUX
Over there. Five of them. That’s all that came through.

GUNDER
Turn me. Bring me the one.

DANIEL
Pa, I’m not sure.

GUNDER
You say you see him. You say he takes trail to Strada. Which one?

DANIEL
Maybe they missed him, pa. Maybe he got past him.

DEVEREAUX
Nobody got past me.

DANIEL
We can’t just kill a man, pa. How do you know that Willie never started it himself? Maybe there was a woman, pa. You know what…

GUNDER
You don’t talk woman to me. Son who marry from the town. From a dung heap.

DANIEL
Don’t say things against Sophie.

GUNDER
Slop from the gutter is not a wife. Willie kept my ways.

DANIEL
How do you know what he was doin’? You couldn’t see him.

GUNDER
I see…What I need. Which one?

DANIEL
That one. He looked a little like him.

BLANDINGS
No!

PALADIN
Whoever the man is you’re looking for, It isn’t Blandings. But you know that, don’t you?

GUNDER
Bring me the one.

BLANDINGS
You’re wrong about me, whatever it is you think.

GUNDER
What are you?

BLANDINGS
Blandings. My name is Blandings.

GUNDER
Gunder. You hear that name? Gunder!

DANIEL
Pa…

GUNDER
Shut up! What are you? I ask, What are you?

PALADIN
He’s a thief.

BLANDINGS
He’s telling you the truth. I’m a thief. That’s all.
I haven’t done anything else. I have papers. Here.

GUNDER
Daniel, Put the gun in my hands.

BLANDINGS
I know what it is. I know now. Some of the stories I make up.
But they’re all lies. No! Please!

DANIEL
But I’m sure now, Pa. He ain’t the one.

PALADIN
Get the rifle.

BLANDINGS
It was all lies! Lies!

DANIEL
It’s all done, Pa. He’s the one killed Willie. I can see that now.

PALADIN
Why? ’cause his face is smeared with blood? Because he’s dead?

DANIEL
You wanna get yourself killed, too, Mister? That what you’re trying to do?

GUNDER
You lie to me, I tear the truth out of you.

DANIEL
Ain’t there enough death yet, Pa? You gotta…You gotta soak yourself in blood. You think that’s gonna bring willie back? I’ll tell you something straight out. He ain’t worth taking any man’s life for. Willie, he keeps our ways.
But you don’t know what else he was doin’.

GUNDER
You no talk lies no more. You point gun at which one now.

DANIEL
I don’t know which one. None of them!

DEVEREAUX
There’s a way of making sure.

MORGAN
Kill all of us. That’s what he means.

DEVEREAUX
Why don’t you draw lots, huh?

CARL
I’ll draw for it.

PALADIN
You think that’d satisfy either one of them?
No, but it’d satisfy you, wouldn’t it?
You could just crawl away and wipe it all right out of your mind.
Blandings. Me. Any one of us. Just a body.
Just enough blood to wipe away all the traces.
Why don’t you tell him I killed Willie? That’d satisfy you, wouldn’t it?
Well, Blandings didn’t do it. Now, what about me?

DANIEL
No, please.

GUNDER
This is the one. Ya! Ya!

PALADIN
Tell him!

GUNDER
Point the gun.

DANIEL
Pa.

PALADIN
You’re gonna pull that trigger, not him.
And you’re gonna look me right in the eye when you do it.

GUNDER
Point the gun!

DANIEL
No, pa. I killed him. You understand it? I killed Willie. Willie. Always Willie. No matter if he… If he takes the crop money and throws it away in saloons.
No matter if he wants my wife, it’s always Willie.
Because you’re a…A blind, selfish, old man.
And the only thing you care about is people lying to you
and telling you how right you are. I’m done with lying. I killed him!

GUNDER
You. Bill!

GUNDER
Daniel. Daniel. My… Son.

PALADIN
Your son’s all right, old man.

EXT.

DANIEL
Come on.

PALADIN
There’s a ford on west near Danville.

SARAH
No. I’m afraid to try it now.

CARL
Afraid?

SARAH
I’m afraid there really isn’t any other side. Don’t you understand, Carl? If it hadn’t been the Strada, if it hadn’t been this river, It might have been another one.

CARL
Well…

SARAH
Do you understand?

PALADIN
No river is shallow to a man who can’t swim.