Gunsmoke (1955–1975): Season 15, Episode 21 - Kiowa - full transcript

As this episode opens, the Vail family is sitting down to a meal. The oldest girl Melissa, who seems somehow different from the rest of the family, goes out to the barn to milk a cow. While there she is kidnapped by a member of the Kiowa tribe. At first we think that this is a simple kidnapping by a savage race of people and a posse is organized to pursue Melissa and her abductors. But as this episode progresses it becomes obvious that there is a very compelling reason for the abduction as Melissa's father seems to be only interested in following the Kiowa party and is reluctant to actually engage them. In what turns out to be a touching episode of Gunsmoke, (and without revealing too much of the conclusion) the plot of, "Kiowa" is an indictment of racial prejudice by depicting a man who has to deny and hide who and what he is to advance in the world.

Gunsmoke, starring
James Arness as Matt Dillon.

OK, boys, breakfast.

Hey, you'll wake
the world, girl.

I just feel like sharing
the morning, Pa.

Listen, wash up, you two.
Ma's set out a new tablecloth.

And you too, Pa.

What's with you today, girl?

Pa, smell that
day out there, Pa.

Fresh and new
as a just-cut melon.

And I saw some geese
heading north last night,

up there slipping across the
cold of the moon, free and going.

Talk like you was just born.

Be a gal I'll never understand.

Good morning, Molly. Fine day.

Listen to them old
horses out there.

Even they feel
the tugging I feel.

Not that the likes
of an orphan girl

should get notionable
about places and things.

But still an' all, they told me I'd
grow up to where I'd feel my tugging,

and, oh, I sure do feel tugging.



I make them cows up on the
Malapai somewhere right about there.

- Yeah, if they ain't been run off, Pa.
- Yeah, could be.

There weren't no cut signs
around the Malapai, though.

Still, could be. We'll ride
out to Malapai and see.

Russ, you ride the
west rim. Albert...

- Are you listening, son?
- I'm listening, Pa.

What's wrong with that girl out there?
She knows I like milk in my coffee.

She's been out there long enough to milk
a cow twice and build a barn around it.

She's to that age,
Albert. Dreams take 'em.

Them dreams and that age.

- I don't remember no such age.
- And you weren't no such young 'un.

Her folks must have been real
people, the... the spirit she got in her.

That boy.

Would do that boy good
to understand us women.

Oh, he understands 'em,
Mother. He understands 'em.

I beg your pardon, Ed?

For what?

Are you suggesting that
Albert plays loose with women?

Oh, no. I ain't never
seen Albert play at nothin'.

Now, Russ, you
ride the west. Albert...

Hey, Pa! Pa, come quick!

- Ed.
- Best wait, Martha. Wait right here.

Pa, I make out one
buck took her right here.

They scuffled some
and the sign goes out.

Four horses, light-loaded,
heading south and east.

It Kiowa, Pa?


It's Quichero.

Lord help us.

I hope so.

- Better sit down, Martha.
- What is it, Ed?

Melissa's been
taken by the Kiowa.

- Oh, the Kiowa?
- Quichero.

- Oh, Ed.
- Best get to tracking, Mother.

- I'll get rations.
- I'll feed them horses.

- Get one horse and one ration.
- One man, Ed?

- I'm going alone, Martha.
- Alone?

The boys'll need to
stay here with you.

Besides, one shadow's
harder to see than three.


I mean, it ain't right, Pa,

a man going out there alone,
him being Quichero an' all.

- You heard me.
- I heard him too, Pa. He's right.

- Quichero ain't no normal redskin.
- Besides, she's our sister.

Go ahead and go on,
Pa. We'll follow you.

We'll take Ma down to the Wilkinsons'
near Dodge. Then we'll trail you.

All right, but don't
you hold me up.

Ed... you aim to
kill those Indians?

I do.

- Hate won't bring that girl back.
- No. No, but these will.

Ed, I want you to take
a man of God with you.

Don't you worry, Martha,
God will be with me.

I want you to take the
Reverend Cox with you.

- Finney Cox?
- The Reverend Finney Cox.

Why? That old sin-stompin'...

The reverend is
your sister's godfather

and the good man that baptized her
and opened up the worth of her beauty.

And this land and this
place need that beauty,

come whatever happens to it, Ed.

- But, Pa, that old...
- A man of God, Ed.

- Ma, he'll just slow us down.
- I mean it, Edward.

All right, I'll take
him. Give me that.

And the Dodge marshal.

The Vails take care
of their own troubles.

They always have
and always will.

Now, I'll take that thrashing
windbag you call a reverend

if that eases your mind.

But I ain't takin' no
law, and that's final.

I could puddle water on you and
let you take root if that's your mind.

We'll get her back, Martha.

Looks mighty good, Sam.

Well, two years a chuck-wagon
cook had to teach me something.

Sam, that is just... Did
you cook that yourself?

- Sure did.
- And look at them flowers.

- Get away from there.
- Well, I wasn't gonna...

Doc, wonder what's
keeping Miss Kitty? She's late.

Well, I think that's a
woman's prerogative.

- Woman's what?
- Prerogative.


You know, when I
start to thinkin' about it,

I never did have me
no birthday party at all.

Well, that's understandable.

You probably are not sure
whether you were born or not.

Well, I am too.

It was the same night that my
Uncle Philgren shot his big toe off

when the towel got tangled
up in the chicken wire.

I can recollect...

Now, tell me, what is a cow
getting tangled up in chicken wire

and your Uncle Philgren's
big...? Never mind.

I will accept the fact
that you were born

simply on the basis that you're
here and there's nothing I can do.

Here she is!

Look out, look out. Get out
of the way. Get out of the way.

- Get back there, Kitty.
- Oh, thank you!

- Happy birthday, Kitty.
- Thanks, Matt, very much.

Miss Kitty, you might as
well start off with this here.

You haven't got much
choice. You might just as well.

Let's see. "To Kitty
from Festus Haggen."

Well, now, ain't
that a surprise?

I sure do hope you
like it, Miss Kitty.

Well, I'm sure I will.


Oh, isn't that pretty?

Thank you, Festus, so much.

That there's to keep your hair
straightened with, Miss Kitty.

That's one way of putting it.

Now, just here. Now, this is
an important one right here.

- Just pay attention.
- Yes, indeed it is.

- It's from Doc Adams.
- You betcha.

What number birthday is
this here for you, Miss Kitty?

Festus, you don't ask a
lady a question like that.

You mean you forgot?

She means it's none of your
business. That's what she means.

Oh, Doc.

Oh, that is just beautiful.

Thank you so much.

Well, no more beautiful
than... than the lady.


Come in, Mrs. Vail.


Mrs. Vail.

- Could I see you a moment?
- Certainly.

Well, Mrs. Vail,
what can I do for you?

Melissa's been taken
by Kiowa. Quichero.

- When?
- This morning.

- This morning?
- Oh, I know. I...

I've thought about
it the whole day.

This is the first time in 23 years
of marriage I've disobeyed Ed.

He said you weren't
to know, Marshal.

He went after 'em alone?

Oh, he took the boys
and the Reverend Cox,

but he refused to
hear you being called.

Quichero? You mean he came
all the way up here just to take...?

Marshal, I've come
to you because...

because I know the hate that Ed
has in him and he'll only think of killing.

Now, if you're with
him, maybe you can...

I'll do more than be with him. I'll
call the cavalry from Fort Dodge.

No, please. Ed would
never forgive me.

Oh, he's... he's... he's arriving
about now at the crossroads,

to pick up the reverend, and
then they're heading south

and they're cutting
across the Great Mesa.

Oh, please, Marshal,
it's... it's our daughter.

If... if you call out the
cavalry or even a posse,

there's no telling
what Ed would do.

But if you're with him,
you've known him a long time,

maybe you could... you could
treat this like a private matter.

Please, Marshal.

All right, Mrs. Vail,
I'll do what I can.

Thank you.

You best go home now.

- What's that for, anyhow?
- Well, I think it's a...

- What is it, Kitty?
- It's a jewel box.

- Kitty, uh...
- I know. You have to leave.

How long?

Well, looks like three
or four days probably.

Festus, you and Newly'll have
to look out after things here.

- You betcha, Matthew.
- Yes, sir. You bet.

Doggone, I'm sorry, Kitty.

Well... are we here to
have a party or aren't we?

♪ Shall we gather at the river

♪ Where bright
angel feet have trod

♪ With its crystal tide forever

♪ Flowing by the throne of God

♪ Yes, we'll gather at the river

♪ The beautiful,
the beautiful river

♪ Gather with the
saints at the river

♪ That flows by
the throne of God

♪ Soon we'll
reach the shiny river

♪ Soon our pilgrimage will cease

♪ Soon our happy
hearts will quiver

♪ With the melody of peace

♪ Yes, we'll gather at the river

♪ The beautiful,
the beautiful river

♪ Gather with the
saints at the river

♪ That flows by
the throne of God ♪

Amen, brethren. Amen.

Glory be to God.

That there, folks, that
concludes the meeting tonight.

So go home and sleep, knowing
that the good Lord is your pillow.

And if you care to, each
and every one of you

may donate there at
the contributing box,

so as to make sure the gate of
sweet heaven is open at your approach.

God surely and
purely blesses you.

God surely and
purely blesses you.

Hallelujah. Glory Hallelujah.

Oh, indeed, hallelujah.

And may the guidance
of the sweet Lord

move forward at your shoulder
through smoke and temptation.

- Vail.
- Preacher.

I don't see you
here for the word.

- Melissa's been taken by the Kiowas.
- Oh, my God.

And sweet and pure as Eve
before the apple she was.

It's Martha's wish
that you'd ride along.

I'd be most honored to do Martha
Vail's bidding, any hour, day or month.

I know why Martha
wanted me to go along, Vail.

Do you?

With me along, won't no harm come
to that girl, if we find her changed.

- There won't, huh?
- As the Lord sees me.

Well, you do the
praying, Preacher.

Come on, the boys
are waitin' outside.

Bad hand. Three of a kind.

Sees evil, speaks
evil and hears evil.

May the good Lord bless them
because they know not what they doeth.

- Hello, Preacher.
- What you say, sin-killer?

Cain and Abel. I'm riding this?

Blacksmith said that old nag
of yours ain't up to hard riding.

It's the best I could
do on short notice.

Now, you got any more complaints,
let's have 'em before we trail out.

What am I doing with that
rump-ripping army saddle?

It's easier on the mule.
Had to make a choice.

See how it stands,
surely and purely do.

The missus done the
inviting. Keep that thought.

I will, surely and purely will.

Vail, I'd say they ain't yet found a
way of putting breakfast into a bottle.

Nobody asked you to say.


What are you doing here, Dillon?

- I heard about your trouble.
- Nobody's inviting the law along.

- Get fed so we can head out.
- But, Pa...

I said get fed!

Look, we got no trouble
needing the law, Dillon.

Ed, you're about the most
independent man I know.

But you're gonna have
to accept the law on this

or I'm gonna have
to call in the army.

- That'd get my girl killed.
- Would it?

What does that mean?

Quichero rides all the way up here
from Kansas territory just to get her?

- Did he attack your ranch?
- No.

Any burning? Any killing?
Did he run off your stock?

Came in after first light
like a wolf, ripped her away.

- Why?
- I don't know why.

Because he's an Indian and Indians
don't need reasons for what they do.

Everybody needs a reason, Ed.

Well, when we find him, I'll ask
him, just before I slit his red throat.

You better get that out
of your mind right now.

Now, look, Dillon, I didn't ask
you here and I don't want you here.

But you found us and I know you
ain't gonna be put off unless I kill you.

But I'm gonna do this my way. I
got a right to go after my daughter.

You got a right as long
as it's within the law.

You step outside the law,
you're gonna have to answer for it.

How far we go back,
you and me, Dillon?

- Quite a ways, Ed.
- Yeah, times change, they say.

It's the way of things.

Not some things,
Dillon. Not some things.

Not the meaning
of that girl they got.

Boys, boys. Stop
it. I said quit it.

Fighting between
you two dear brothers.

The shame is plain.
The shame is plain.

Now, break it up.

Don't try it, son.

Don't nothing. Nobody
cuffs me around.

- Albert.
- What?

- Did you cook these beans?
- I did.

Well, there's two ways to beans.

You soak 'em through
so's you can eat me,

or you don't so's
you can shoot 'em.

Course that don't
go for billy goats.

You could eat too if it wasn't for
you curling your life with that whiskey.

You're an expensive
man to yourself, Vail.

Now, Preacher, them two boys,
they ain't never fought before.

Oh, they've argued a time or
two, but they ain't never fought.

Now, how do you
figure that, Preacher?

Just Cain and Abel.
I can smell the sulfur.

'Twas a matter of time, surely and
purely a matter of the Lord's time.

His time and patience.


We was talkin' on Melissa, Pa, and
Preacherman Cox here makes out

she's one of the sweetest and tenderest
things two eyes ever laid hold on,

her not even being
full growed yet.

Well, Albert sided in with him
and I just didn't like the tone he took.

I didn't mean it that way.

- She's my sister too, ain't she?
- Orphan sister.

First thing you know, him
talking an' all, we just took to it.

Just a matter of
time. Cain and Abel.

Vail! Let him go.

Vail, I told you to let him go.
I'm not gonna tell you again.

Spawn of the devil's
touch and thought.

Just a matter of time.

Next time you're dealing in blessings,
you'd be wise to count your own.

Now, you boys better get
one thing straight right now.

Either you learn to control your
tempers, you and your father,

or all three of you are gonna
wind up in the Dodge City jail.

It ain't right.

Look, it ain't their
family been touched.

It ain't them that had no
stinking, thieving demon

put his hands on
something sweet and full.

Pa, we never took
to no one afore.

We took care of our own
ructions the way we should.

Now all of a sudden
we got them two,

old Mr. Law Bullets
and the wind to push 'em.

- All right, let it out, boy, all of it.
- All right. All right.

I never seen you back down on
nothing wore skin or fur before. Not ever.

It ain't right.

It ain't right.

Please, where are you taking me?

Well, won't you say
where you're taking me?

Riding you hoarse?

Yeah, Pa, it's the way we're
tracking. We're just dragging our feet.

When was the last time
you trailed redskins?

None. You know that.

Then if I were you,
I'd tuck in my tail

and let them that know
what they're doing do it.

- Yes, sir.
- Come on, boy.

Better go easy on that, Mr. Cox.

Getting too much
for you, Brimstone?

The good Lord's riding with me.

Too bad he ain't made
that saddle softer for you.

The Lord keeps a count,
son. The Lord keeps a count.

Why won't you tell me
where you're taking me?

Where are we going?

Get off and walk around,
Preacher. Even a fool'd know that.

- Would that fool help me back on?
- Being a fool he would.

Look at this. Hard sign laid
out so a child could read it.

Then it disappears
altogether. Now, why?

You boys mount up,
circle to the cut side.

Right, Pa.

You know as well as I do, they're
letting us follow but not too close.

Yeah, I know what they're
doing. I'd like to know why.

- There ain't no figuring Indians.
- Well, I'll give you a hint, Ed.

They want us to follow
but not catch up with them

till they get to wherever
it is they're going.

Now, there's gotta
be a reason for that.

Could be a lot of
reasons for that.

Ambush for one, soon
as they join the main tribe.

Well, an ambush we can handle
maybe, if that's all they got in mind.

We're getting
close to the nations.

There's 6,000 or more braves
in there and only five of us.

Be bones in a hurry if they
decide they don't want us.

What's the matter, Preacher? Belly
churning up butter all of a sudden?

I ain't afraid, Vail. I'm
stating possibilities.

Possibilities? Well, I ain't
interested in possibilities.

- Melissa's in there.
- I know she's in there.

But I'm saying hell and lead
won't get her out of there.

- You got something that will?
- I surely and purely have.

Let me and the marshal go in.

I go with God and
he goes with the law,

leaving hate and fury behind.

There's death in the three
of you, Vail. Facts is facts.

Yeah, and one of them facts is I
might just kill you any time now.

You three go riding in there with
all that hate, there'll be blood spilt!

Buckets of blood!

Madmen, all three of 'em.

But I go with God
and stay with his will.

Get up in here, you devil's
notion. Get up! Get up in here!

Here they come.

I give you a guess, Ed.
They haven't found anything.

- Whew!
- Hard to hear with that bellows.

Here, take a chew of
this to wet the mouth.

It ain't godly.

It ain't godly,

but it might just keep you from fainting
off that plow-puller you're stuck to.

Still ain't godly.

Don't care what it
ain't. What it is is mine.

Ain't nothing to the south, Pa,
except some mustangs running.

They wasn't spooked or
nothing, just feeling free.

Nothing north. Six, maybe seven
miles, not a bird to wing or a sand beetle.

It don't seem
right, does it, Pa,

Quichero taking off in a
line straight as 12 o'clock,

riding with about as
much care as kittens?

I mean, it's sort of like he wanted
to be caught, like he don't mind that.

Russ is right, Pa.

Ain't Kiowa not to send scouts
around to check the backtrack.

Probably feels safe.

Preacher's right
for once, folks.

Trouble with an Indian is he never
figures a white man'll keep coming on.

Let's go, Ed.

Get up. Come on.

Go to her.

But why?

Go. Go to her.

What's the matter with her?

She's dying.



They took what's mine.
They took part of me.

It's time for explaining, Ed.

Now, I know we're after your daughter,
but there's more at stake than that.

Now, what is it we're not after?

Vail, they aren't
too far ahead of us.

Now, we going together,
or do I ride out alone?

Well, there's not too
many of 'em down there.

Look, Ed. On that first teepee.

That war bonnet means talk.

You get back to the
preacher and my boys.

- I'll go down and talk to 'em.
- No, it's no good, Ed.

We're all going
down there together.

It'll be dark before
we get the others.

What difference does that make?

- Seen 'em?
- Seen 'em.

We'll ride down
on 'em and kill 'em.

Indians ain't nothing but dirt.

Get my daughter the
only way, surprise 'em.

Surprise 'em, huh? Let
me tell you something.

Quichero, when he wants to,

leaves a trail that a blind man
could follow through his boots.

Indians... Indians
ain't nothing but dirt.

Nothing but dirt.

Well, that
nothing-but-dirt Indian's

gonna take every farm and ranch
in this territory down to charred wood

if you push him too far,

and a raid on his
camp'd do just that.

Nothing but dirt. Nothing
but dirt. Nothing but dirt.

Most of all, the war bonnet on that
ridge pole means he wants to talk,

and whether you like it or not, that's
exactly what we're gonna do, talk.

If you ain't getting tired of
him breathing on us, Pa, I am.

Go for your gun, Law Bullets.

I'm gonna need you,
boy. Get saddled.

Intend to, right after
I nail him in the sand.

And he can beat me.

Now, saddle up!

We're going down... to talk.

She just keeps looking at me.

It is enough.

Hold up.

All right, boys,
unbuckle your belts.

- Dillon.
- Drop 'em to the ground. Rifles too.

- We'll pick 'em up on the way back.
- It's my daughter in there, Dillon.

And we're gonna get her
without anybody getting killed.

Except us.

That's a risk we took when
we came in here. Drop the belts.


Drop 'em.

Hands of the devil drawn.
Glory be to God. Hallelujah.

We got something to settle
when this is over, Dillon.

I got a share of that.

Well, right now let's think
about your sister. Let's go.

- She here?
- She's here.

Where's my daughter?

He's come!

You may enter,
but do so in truth.

You wanna talk.

You forgot one thing.
You forgot one thing.

This lance, it comes
before that talk bonnet there.

Marshal, you gotta stop this.

Shut up, Preacher.
Quichero's the law here.

Get him, Pa.

- That's it, Pa, now.
- Open him up, Pa, come on.

Come on, Pa.

Take him, Pa.
Open that red belly.

This is sinful shame.

- Cut his guts out, Pa.
- Finish him, Pa.

Now, get him!

You can't kill him, Vail.
You know it and I know it.

So why don't you
quit lying to yourself?

Take your daughter.


What's going on, Pa?
Why didn't you kill him?

Why couldn't you butcher
that piece of coyote bait?

Why don't you two boys
give your mouths a rest?



Yes, Pa.

And, well, we've been talking.

She's been happy.

She... She has told me.

Through all these
years, looking at her...

I have seen you.

I've always seen you.

Why have you denied
your blood, Kay-e-mani?

Tell 'em.

You have earned
your right to silence.

Tell 'em.

He is Kiowa.


Glory be.

You're... You're an Indian?

Part Indian. I was born to
this tribe. My father was white.

And Melissa, she's yours
too, Pa, I mean really?

She's ours.

That year, gone taking
the herd to Abilene you said.

That year.

Yeah, but, Pa, I
mean, that makes us...

That makes you my sons,

never less than you
were and never more.

Glory be.

You brought her
back safely, Reverend.

Yes, Martha, we brung her back.

Go inside, child.
There's food on the table.

Yes, Mother.

She's not even frightened.

No, Martha, she ain't changed.

But the rest of us
is more than a little.

Martha, hold to
your faith. Hold tight.

If you two be in the
mood to go to church,

I might be thinking
better of you.

Get up. Get out of here.

There be chores,
boys. Best get to 'em.

Thank you, Marshal.

I worried afterward about asking you
to go along. I had no right to do that.

But I... I was afraid.

Well, you did the right thing, ma'am.
I... I'm just glad we got her back safe.

Marshal, was there any killing?

No, no killing.

Thank God.

A man does things.
They're just done.

Well, that about says it, Ed.

There, um...

There are a lot of
things to say, Martha.

Sometimes they
don't need to be, Ed.

You mean you knew all these...

I knew that someday
you'd tell me, yeah.

That knowing was enough.

I'm prouder of who
I am than what I am.

That need explaining?

No, Pa. Kind of
gets through to us.

Stay tuned for scenes
from next week's Gunsmoke.