Gunsmoke (1955–1975): Season 13, Episode 12 - Death Train - full transcript

Doc Adams has discovered that a private train car passenger has symptoms of the plague. When he quarantines the train car, the citizens of Dodge become fearful of the disease spreading.

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Gunsmoke, starring
James Arness as Matt Dillon.

Dodge City, mighty
vinegary little town.

Pity we ain't gonna stop over.

Play cards.


Harl, Jefferson is worse.
He must have a doctor.

Ace high bets.

This town looks big
enough to have a doctor.

Couldn't we ask the
conductor to go and get him?

The train only stops here ten
minutes, it'll have to wait until tomorrow

when we get into Kansas City.


Five dollars.

Where do you think you're going?

It's a little close in here.
I think I need some air.

Raise ten. I think
you're bluffing.

Give heed, ye fallen angels, for I
am not come to call the righteous,

but sinners to repentance.

Come to me, to the Rock.

Ye, to the pillar of salvation, which
is the world of the God Almighty.

I'm bounded to no church,
shackled by no tenets of orthodoxy.

No single face
calls me to account,

but brethren, I have
heard in the dead of night...

You looking for something, missy?
Maybe we can help you find it.

We're the best finders you'll
find in Dodge City, missy.

Here, here, you two. Now
tend to your own business.

Get on out of here.

Wide is the gate and broad is
the way that leadeth to destruction.

There swing open
the jaws of the fiery pit,

and beyond them lurk
the Devil's temptations:

whiskey, games of chance,

and the company of brazen women.

Resist, I say! Resist these
evil coils of wickedness.

Ma'am, you look kinda like a sunfish
that flopped his way out of the creek.

Now don't worry about them yahoos,
they ain't gonna bother... Ma'am?


I don't mean you a speck of
harm, but I can't help you none

unless you tell me
what's the matter with you.

I need a doctor.

Well, you set right
here and I'll go get him.

He's right over yonder
at the Long Branch.

Well, it's not for me. It's
for Jefferson, my butler.

And he's sick.
He's very, very sick.

Right. Yes.

I have a schedule to
keep, Mr. Townsend.

You understand that.

This train is not moving until
my wife's found and back onboard.

Do you understand that?

I reckon I better go
scout her up, Townsend.

And if any harm's
come to her, I'll...

Is this your idea
of a breath of air?

This is Doctor Adams.

I thought I told you
not to leave this train.

Where is the patient, sir?

If you're gonna look after Jefferson,
you'd better be prepared to travel.

I asked you where
the patient was.

Show him, Loftus.

He's right yonder way, Doc.

He's a real porcupine.

Go shut that whistle off.

I'm sorry, Harl, but someone
had to fetch a doctor for Jefferson.

Kansas City would
have been soon enough.

It was a mistake. This
whole trip was a mistake.

It was your idea to come along.

I know, Harl.

And you also know that I have
to be in Chicago for a meeting

on that company merger.

Yes, dear.

Somebody must be sick in there.

Poor rich folks is sick.

- That's terrible sad.
- Sure is.

All that money for that fancy railroad
car and them too sick to enjoy it.

Why don't you and me take
a drink to their health, Zack?

His condition could last awhile.

Now, I don't want to minimize
the seriousness of this.

He's a very sick man.

Just tell us your fee
and get off the train.

Please, Harl. Doctor,
what is the matter with him?

When did you first notice these
symptoms, Mrs. Townsend?

- A few days ago.
- About a week, ten days.

He started coughing
about a week ago.

Now, he served your food and
taken care of your clothes, hasn't he?

I believe those are the
usual duties of a butler.

Has anyone else been in here,
train crew or passengers or anyone?

Doctor, these are
our private cars.

Now, if you'll just be good
enough to prescribe treatment,

whatever will get him
through to Kansas City,

I'll assure you he'll have
medical attention there.

Well, let me assure
you, Mr. Townsend.

He has medical
attention right here.

Well, we picked up the
palace car in Cheyenne.

This here Townsend
fella must be awful rich.

Is he the same one
of Townsend Buggies?

Same. Got the biggest
factory in Chicago.

Hello, Matt. See
you here a minute?


What is it, Doc?

Well, I'll tell you.
We got trouble here.

Remember me telling you about an
epidemic of spotted fever in Wyoming?


These people in here have been
hunting up in the Laramie Basin.

You mean there's
a case of it in there?

Clearest case I've ever seen. Now,
that means one thing: quarantine.

Doc, we can't
quarantine a whole train.

No, I mean just this car. You
can have the conductor pull it off

on that spur east of
town, couldn't you?

Well, I guess so, if
that's the way you want it.

Another thing, this has
got to be done quietly

because a thing like this
just scares people to death.

You sure it's the only way?

Oh, no, we can send the train on

and spread the epidemic all
the way from here to St. Louis.

Or start one here in Dodge.

I wanna know what's going
on and I wanna know now.


Well, I've had this car backed onto
a siding and put under quarantine.

This man has spotted fever.

Is that a fact?

Yes, sir, that is a fact.

And I'm supposed to
take your word for it?

A cowtown pill roller.

I've seen spotted fever
and I know how to treat it.

You might be grateful for that,
because there's a very good chance

that you'll all
come down with it.

And won't your quarantine make
that good chance a certainty?

Not necessarily.

You think you're gonna
keep us cooped up here

'till we catch ourselves
a death of plague?

No, sir, not me you ain't. No.

You don't think I'm going to
let my wife stay here, do you?

Your doctor thinks he's
going to quarantine us.

Well, I don't see what else he
can do under the circumstances.

That's far enough right there.

All right, drop the gun.

Now get back up there.

Now, who the devil
do you think you are?

My name's Matt Dillon,
I'm a United States marshal.

I'm sorry, but you and your party
are going to have to stay in the car.

- And if I refuse?
- You're under official quarantine.

I'll have to keep you in there
with or without your cooperation.

Marshal, I am
Harlan P. Townsend.

I know who you
are, Mr. Townsend.

Well, you'd never
know it by your attitude.

- Conductor, get this train rolling.
- I'm sorry.

- Uncouple this car.
- Don't you touch it.

Well, I'm sorry, Mr. Townsend,
but I can't risk carrying the plague.

The plague. You have
no proof of the plague.

Only his word.

Uncouple the car.

My compliments,
Marshal, and to you, Doctor.

It's as neat a bit of
collusion as I've ever seen.

Now what that's
supposed to mean?

You pick a rich man's private
car to have it sidetracked,

use your tin badge to
enforce a quarantine.

A Spanish pirate couldn't
ask for a better setup.

All right. What'll it cost me?

Mr. Townsend, you can
think anything you want.

But nobody's leaving this car
until Doctor Adams says so.

How long, Doctor,
when we're all dead?

Well, if your
information is correct,

the symptoms ought to
show up in 12 to 24 hours.

You mean that's
all we got to live?

Not necessarily.

It's not always contagious
and not always fatal.

Now I suggest you
get in here, both of you.

I've committed no crime, Dillon.

You ain't gonna shoot
no unarmed man,

especially in the presence of a
witness like Townsend here, are you?

I'll bet you wouldn't do that.

Stay away from him, Matt.

All right, both of you
get back in the car.

I call governors and
judges by their first name.

Be warned, Marshal.

You'll be lucky to have a job
sweeping the jail when this is over.

Mr. Townsend, let me
give you some advice.

Now, this man happens
to be a very fine doctor.

If you're interested in the lives
of your party onboard there,

you'll pay close
attention to what he says.

Doc, can't I help you out?

You keep away. This
car is quarantined.

Well, that don't
mean you too, does it?

That means me, too.

Well, now, you take care
of yourself, you hear me?

Contrary old scudder.

Jefferson is still unconscious.

Is he?

Doctor Adams is still trying
to bring down his temperature.

Well, I hope I can find
somebody to do the same thing

for the company stockholders
when I fail to show up for the meeting.

The doctor wants to examine
us first thing in the morning.

That horse doctor's not
touching either one of us.

Do you realize that your meddling
can cost the company a fortune?

He said that the first
symptoms of the fever are chills,

a dry cough and
loss of appetite.

Well, my loss of appetite came
about when Jefferson took to his bed

and you took over the scullery.

Harl, that isn't necessary.

You're wasting your
maternal bent, my dear.

I'm concerned about you.

Well, you needn't be, I'm fine.

I've never been
sick a day in my life.

- Kitty. Newly.
- Morning, Matt.

- We brought you some breakfast.
- Oh, thank you.

- Talk to Doc this morning?
- No, not yet.

Anybody from town been out here?

Well, not so far.

You think they're likely
to break out of there?

Well, I don't think the
Townsends would be,

but that Loftus fella
might if he had the chance.

Thing that worries me is this isn't
gonna stay a secret too much longer.

Well, you and Festus
and I can handle things.

Well, I don't know
about that, Newly.

You ever hear that story about
why they put bars on a tiger's cage?

To protect the tiger
from the people.

Folks can get out of hand pretty fast
if they think there's gonna be a plague.

Remember that cholera scare
we had a couple of years ago?

Too well.

What time is it?

You must be wanting
something to eat.

Don't bother about me.


Cough again.

See your appetite's
still all right.

What about chills?



Oh, you betcha I got a headache.

I got aches clear
down to my toenails,

thanks to that big-fisted
marshal of yours.


Well, I can't find
any symptoms so far.

I'll tell you one thing, Doc, him
and me's got a score to settle.

Don't think I'd push
that too far if I were you.

Let's have a look at
you, Mr. Townsend.

Nothing wrong with me.

Let's hope not. Just
unbutton your shirt there.

Go to the devil.

Now, you do like the Doc says.

Nobody orders me, Loftus.

You learn that and
keep your place,

or I'll finish what that
lawman started last night.

Maybe you ain't never seen the
plague so as to be scared of it.

Well, I have. Let me
tell you something.

I've seen the toughest kind of
men laying flat on their backs

with their blood boiling out
their... boiling out their skin.

They was choking and crying
like babies, hoping to die.

And I seen this old
rummy of a sawbones

pull some of them
through like he done me.

- And I'll tell...
- Wait a minute.

Are you saying you've
had spotted fever before?

Yeah, in some rat-hole of
a mining camp in Montana.

But the doc, he called
it something else.


Yeah, I think that's
what he called it.

You may just have a guardian
angel watching over you.

Is spotted fever like the pox?

And that if he's had
it, he can't get it again?

Well, let's just say his
chances have gone down some.

Doctor Adams.

Well, I, uh...

seem to feel some better now.

How's things in there, Doc?

About like you'd expect.
We'll just have to wait now.

Will you need anything?

Yes, gonna need water, about five
gallons of it, morning and evening.

Then I want to give
you a list of medicines

- to have sent over from the office.
- All right, fine. What about food?

Oh, they've got lots of food.
Fanciest larder you ever saw,

even tinned oysters and peaches
and smoked ham and champagne.

- Really been roughing it in there, huh?
- Yeah.

Has the word of this
spread around town, Matt?

Not yet.

I'm afraid it will.

This car's about as inconspicuous
as one of Hannibal's elephants.

Morning, Festus.

Howdy, Marple. You
looking for old Doc, are you?

- Yeah.
- Well, he ain't up yonder.

Well, so long as the door's open,
he won't mind me waiting up there.

No, what I'm trying to tell you is
that he ain't in his office just now.

Well, he told me for to be here
this morning to change my bandages.

Well, something came up
and he just couldn't be there.

That's all.

Now, hold on there, Festus.

When these here emergencies comes
up, why it ain't Doc's fault, you know.

Well, this here stove-up
foot is a emergency to me.

- Morning, brothers.
- Morning.

The Lord has seen fit to punish
you for your transgressions.


Now, you look for succor
from your chastisement.

I'm looking for Doc
Adams and he ain't here.

Rejoice, brother, for the Lord has
given you another day to repent your sins.

Did you say Doc
Adams, Mr. Marple?

- Yeah.
- Well, I seen something last night.

I seen Doc and this pretty
missy and they was heading for...

I, too, saw
something last night.

Rampaging sin on the
streets of this evil city.

Wait a minute.

Willy, what's seeing Doc Adams
last night got to do with now?

Like I said, they was heading
toward the depot and seems I heard.

Why, I heard there's
a plague on that train.


That's right. I heard
it just as sure as...

As sin, as a matter of speaking.

Plague, you say?


Brethren, come to me.

I tell you pestilence is
descending upon this town

which trods the pathway of sin.

What are you doing? You fool.

Here, stop that. Stop it!

- Hold it right there.
- No, stay back, Matt. It's all right.

You have no right!

Matt, they're filthy,
they're full of ticks.

Those trophies are
my personal property.

I don't care whose property
they are, they're gonna burn.

You have no right to burn them.

If he says they're gonna burn, they're
gonna burn. Back away from there.

Matthew, over here.

Townsend, get back in the car.


Matthew, I run into
Marple over at Doc's office.

He started following me...

That's far enough, right there.

Is it true? They got
plague on that train?

Quiet down right now.

We got a right to know if
there's a plague here in our midst.

That cowboy heard you, Marshal.

He heard you all
talking last night.

Now listen to me all of you.

There's no reason for anybody to be
afraid as long as you keep your distance

and keep your head. Now, that
car there is under quarantine.

Nobody's going near it and
nobody that's in there is getting out.

Now move out, all of you.

Woe unto him that sin, sayeth the
Lord, for I shall send forth a pestilence.

Oh, hush your mouth.

You had no right to stop that
car here in Dodge. No right at all.

You ought to hook it up and send
it right on out with the next train.

I see. So we can send it
on down the line to Wichita

and they can send it to Kansas
City, and then to St. Louis,

- so everybody gets the fever, huh?
- Your first duty is with us, here,

not with some strangers
off yonder someplace.

I'm going to tell you something.

I want you folks to move along and
leave this up to Doc Adams and me.

Now break it up. Go on.

I shall send forth a pestilence,

calamity, affliction and death.

Two pair, kings and trays.

Three jacks, Mr. Townsend.

I guess things sure
have changed a mite.

Close to 1,100 dollars
I've won from you.

Shut up.

Well, that's a cough,
Mr. Townsend.

Chills will be next.

I'm not sick.


You'd be better off lying down.

I'm perfectly all right.
It was just a faint.

Mrs. Townsend.

Did you see your doctor
before you come out here?


I suppose he told you it
was just the thing to do,

come out here in the
West and rough it...

a prospective mother.

No, he didn't say that.

Well, then your husband must
have insisted you come along.

My husband doesn't know
anything about the baby.

You mustn't tell him.

Not a very easy thing
to hide for very long.

I don't know why you'd want to.

Doctor, Harl and I have
been married for seven years.

We've had our disappointments.

They've been hard
for him to accept.

You see, he gets angry when he
realizes that he has no authority

over a child who
refuses to be born.

I was losing him.

My husband has his factories,

he has his horses, he
has his hunting friends,

has his gambling friends.

They were becoming
much more important to him

and edging me
right out of his life.

And I asked him
to bring me along,

because I thought that
maybe alone, together...

Mrs. Townsend, don't you think
you could have accomplished

the same thing by just...

just telling him the good news?

Because then his love and
affection would be for the baby,

not for me.

You boys hold them
up when they get here.

Turn that rig around, Newly.
You've got no business around here.

All right, now you people
move out of my way.

That car's been quarantined.

I know that. A man died.
He's got to be buried.

Your marshal said nobody
enters or leaves that plagued car.

Let the dead bury their dead.

Drag him down from there, boys.

Here, here, you knuckleheaded...

Get your hands off of him!

Festus, you ain't dragging
no dead bodies off that car

- and spreading no plague around me.
- Hush yore mouth

and do like I tell you, or you're
gonna have two stove-up feet.

I'll tell you that,
now get out of here.

I want you men to move back right
now, all of you. Go on, move back.

Go on, get! Go on.

Festus, get that
body out of the car.

- I'll do it, Matthew.
- I'll help you.

Newly, you just stay here now.

I'll see that he gets a
decent burial, Matthew,

then I'll just stay out yonder
on the prairie for a week or so,

so that I won't spread nothing.

All right, that's a good idea.

Now, look out. Get out of
the way. Get out of the way!

Get away from the horses.

All right, now get outta there or I'm
gonna mash about half of you flat.


Give ye ear and hear
my voice, brethren.

Harken, sinners, for
destruction cometh.

Somebody ought to
duck him in a horse trough

before he really
causes some trouble.

And surely he shall deliver
thee from the snare of the fowler.

Whoa, back.

Back up.

Get over that gate.
Straighten up there.

Whoa, back. Back up.

Back up easy now.




Right here, Festus.

Back up.

Easy now.

Whoa, back.

Whoa, that's fine.


Come on, now.

I don't like it.

I don't like what's
building up out there.

You're not scared, are you?

The brave hunter I saw who stood his
ground in front of a wounded buffalo?

Them ain't buffalo. Them
are people, scared people,

and it ain't gonna be long before
they get the idea they won't be safe

until we're dead and buried.
I've seen it happen before.

Well then, you stay here
where it's safe, Loftus.

I'll go give the
doctor a hand with it.

Look it here, one of
them's trying to git off.

Hey, you get back
in there, mister!

You hold it.

You hold it right
there. Put it away.

Get back.

Now, you keep them people
away from me, Dillon, you hear?

And you, get that
wagon out of here. Go on.

All right, do as he says.

That'll keep 'em busy.

All right, mister. What now?

Nothing happens to this lady as
long as nothing happens to me.

It's as simple as that.

Don't look to me like you're
going far with that shoulder.

A couple of your
watchdogs shot at me, Dillon.

I hit one of them,
maybe killed him.

I want to tell you
something, mister.

Anything happens to this lady
or any of the people in that car,

you're going to pay hard for it.

It ain't gonna be 'cause of me.

It's gonna be 'cause you
don't keep them people away.

Now, I want a horse, Dillon. I
want a sound one and I want it now.

Doc, you gonna fix my shoulder.

Now, you and Townsend,
come on up here, hurry.

And you, the lady's
gonna be all right

as long as you keep
the lid on things out here.

Now, get me my horse.

We gotta do something. We
can't let that plague get loose.

It's too late, sinner.

The pestilence is
already upon you.

Its evil vapors are
everywhere, malignant, unseen.

Look out. Get out of the way.

Pray, sinners, pray to
the rock for salvation.

I'm not gonna touch you while you got
that gun in your hand, now put it down.

Not hardly, Doc.

You made your
point with Matt Dillon.

You won't get an
argument from any of us.

He's afraid, can't you see?

- It's all right, Doctor.
- No, it's not all right.

I'm gonna probe that wound, and
he'll flinch and that gun might go off.

Guess this gun's gonna
make you right gentle, ain't it?

Let me make
something clear to you.

I'm gonna cauterize that
wound or you'll bleed to death.

And I'm not gonna touch you
while you got that gun in your hand.

Now, you make up your mind.

All right, move.

Go on, move!

Now, I'm warning you, Townsend, you
make a move for that gunrack and I'll...

I'll kill both of you.

All right, go ahead, Doc.

This is gonna hurt some.

That wagon now. Bring
it on over here, boys.

Come on. Move it in.

Lay them barrels right
down on the sides, men.

- Marshal.
- What's happening down there?

Jack Marple and a bunch are throwing
a barricade across the railroad tracks.

- They are?
- They're gonna stop the evening train

and make it haul that
plague car out of town.

- All right, get back there quick.
- Yes, sir.

Hold on there. What do
you think you're doing?

What does it took
like we're doing?

- Tear it down.
- Leave it be.

Two of my kids
died of that plague.

They died harder than
a man could believe.

We're going to get
rid of that plague car.

The only thing you're getting rid
of is this stuff. Now, tear it down.

All right, boys, come on.

Let's get back to work now.

Come on, move out.

Hurry it up.

Come on, move out.

Where's your marshal
with that horse?

You ride a horse and open that
wound and you'll be in trouble.

I'll take my chances, Doc.

It's better than what this
town'll do if they get the chance.

Jefferson coughed like that.

Shut up.

Harl. Harl...

Please leave me alone.

You're a sick man, Mr. Townsend.

It's nothing. The dust.
Being cooped up in here.

Maybe he's right, Doc.
Maybe it ain't the fever at all.

Maybe it's just his
liver turning butter color.

You calling me a coward?

- You telling' me you ain't?
- I'm telling you.

- Only a fool would say that.
- Then call me a fool.

Harl, you don't have
to prove anything.

Stop it!

Stop being womanly,
hiding in your tears.

It doesn't seem to me that she's the
one who's been hiding, Mr. Townsend.

What do you mean by that?

I mean you don't recognize
courage when you see it.

Please, Doctor, don't
try to be profound.

She was the one who got off of
this train in the middle of the night,

a strange town and
went in search of a doctor.

She nursed a man dying
of a contagious fever.

Now, that was courage.

The kind of courage you don't
seem to be able to recognize.

Well, don't just look at her.

Try to see her.


What is it?

There's... there's
people out there.

Doc, your marshal better
be able to handle them.

Now who's got the
butter-colored belly.

I got good reason. That
plague up in the gold camp.

Men just like them out there.

They got a notion it
was some hide skinners

that was spreading the
sickness. A mob killed them.

Burned them alive in their tent
because they heard fire was purifying.

I tell you one thing,

there ain't no animal worse than
a human man with fear in him.

Where are you going?

We're all in this
together, aren't we?

Sardines in the same can.

Why do they shake?

Feels cold.

Now you hold it right there.

My husband needs me.

You're... You're
a cool one, Doc.

Not cool, just old.

Willy Groom is dead,

and the man that killed him is
holed up inside that plague wagon.

It can't be
happening, not to me.

I'm cold.

How can it be the
fever when I'm so cold?


I'm not afraid.

For heaven's sake, be afraid.

Be weak. Be human.

For the first time in
your life, need somebody.

How can you fight sickness?

You can't see it.
You can't touch it.

How do you know love?

You can't see it or
touch it, but it's there.

I'm afraid, Isabel.

I'm afraid.

Oh, Harl.

- Stop that!
- Get away from me!


Behold, sinners, and a fire
came down from heaven...

- Where's the hunter?
- He's dead.

All right, that's far enough.
Just hold it. Now, it's all over.

The preacher's dead,
Willy Grooms' dead,

and that Loftus
fella's inside the car,

and none of 'em
died from the plague.

So break it up and go on home.

All of you.

Newly, could you get a tent and put
it up for me over there someplace?

- Yes, sir.
- A tent?

Mr. Townsend's gotta
be kept under quarantine.

And, Kitty, I'm gonna need
some clean bedding and all of that.

- Right away, Doc.
- Come here, come here.

I did my best to try and persuade him
to stay a few days longer to rest, but...

It looks like he's gonna be
able to stand the trip all right.

I'm as good as new.

Or perhaps I should say better than
new thanks to this cowtown pill roller.

If you all had done went before I
got here, I'd have been plumb peeved.

Well, we were just
about to pull out, Festus.

I gotta say this
here, Mr. Townsend.

You did yourself up plumb
proudsome in Dodge City.

Plumb proudsome?

What he means is that this
salubrious Kansas sunshine

has been very instrumental in the
restoration of your husband's health.

- That ain't what I'm saying at all.
- Oh, hush.

Marshal, again, my sincere
apologies for the things I said.

- Townsend, good luck.
- Thank you. Goodbye.

- Goodbye, Mrs. Townsend.
- Goodbye.


Well, dear, I guess
we'd better get aboard.

Dr. Adams, thank you.

Don't mention it.

Before you all go, this
here's a little something

I fixed up for you whilst
you're traveling on the train.

Thank you, Festus. What is it?

Well, it's just a little batch
of victuals I fixed up for you

from the free lunch
over at the Long Branch.

- The free lunch at the Long...
- Oh, hush.

Mrs. Townsend here,
she's a-eating for two now,

what with the young
'un coming along and all.

It'll be a whole heap easier
toting this here box on that train

than it'll be a-waiting for them
butchers to come traipsing through there

selling that old dried-up
something or other.

Thank you, Festus.
Goodbye, Doctor.

Privilege knowing
you, Mrs. Townsend.

- Thank you, Festus.
- Oh, it ain't much.

Just some cold venison, a little dab of
head cheese and some pickled pigs feet.


Goodbye, now. Have a nice trip.


When I want you to
prescribe for a patient of mine,

I'll let you know about it.

Stay tuned for scenes
from next week's Gunsmoke.

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