Gunsmoke (1955–1975): Season 19, Episode 20 - The Schoolmarm - full transcript

Dodge City school teacher Sarah Merkle is dedicated to improving the lives of her students. Unknown to Sarah, widower Carl Pruitt has fallen in love with the caring, hard working school teacher. On a school lunch one day Carl saves Sarah from an attack by a traveling salesman named Stokes. When Doc Adams examines Sarah after the incident, she learns to her horror that she is pregnant. Wondering why Sarah is so shaken after visiting Doc Adams, Carl recalls certain comments by Stokes after the attack. He figures it all adds up to Stokes getting Sarah pregnant. Late one night Carl confronts Stokes about the matter. During the confrontation an accident occurs resulting in Stokes' death. Marshal Dillon locks up Carl, who refuses to say why the accident occurred for fear of divulging Sarah's secret. The only person who can clear the matter up now is Sarah - and she's mortified of the possibility of her rape and pregnancy becoming public.


And starring James
Arness as Matt Dillon.

Now, who can give me the
answer to the first problem?

Lester Pruitt.

Two hundred and
forty-eight, Miss Merkle.

That's right, Lester.

And does anyone know the
answer to the second problem?


Six thousand and
four, Miss Merkle.

That's correct, Eliza,
you're doing very well.

Now does anyone know the
answer to the third problem?


Three thousand one
hundred and fifty, Miss Merkle.

That is a plus sign, Thomas.

Mary Beth, young
ladies do not giggle.

I'm sorry, Miss Merkle.

Perhaps you can give us the
answer to the third problem?

Yes ma'am, it's 635.

Flora, the plant life
characteristic of a region.

Named after Flora, the
Roman goddess of flowers.

Fauna, the animal
life of a region,

named after Fauna, the sister
of the Italian deity Faunus.

Insects, I'm sure you
all know what those are.

Now, on this field trip,

I want you all to keep your
eyes open, and observe.

There are many people who
go through their whole life,

and never really notice
anything around them.

They never fully appreciate
any of the beautiful things

that God has created.

All around us there are
wondrous and sensitive things,

if we only take the time
to open our eyes, and look.

Lester Pruitt's father is
going to provide the wagon.

Yes ma'am, he said to tell you

he could bring along
a barrel of cider.

It's real fine cider, this year.

Oh, that sounds
very nice, Lester.

Yes ma'am, I'll tell him.

We'll meet at eight
o'clock in the morning

at the closest place for us all,

which is the Brubaker
Farm at Four Crossings,

and we'll go to the
picnic area from there.

Hello, Lester.

I could clean the
erasers for you

before I go home, Miss Merkle.

Oh Lester, you don't have
to do so many things for me.

It's Friday.

No one likes to stay
after school on Friday.

Well, I wouldn't mind.

I'll tell you what,

you come early for
school on Monday,

and I'll bring my
needle and thread,

and I'll mend that
pocket for you.

You don't have to.

My pa sews pretty good.

I'm sure your pa has plenty
of things to worry about

without mending your clothes.

Now, you run along now,

and don't forget, come
early to school on Monday.

All right, see you at the
picnic tomorrow, Miss Merkle.

All right, Lester.

Where do you want
this, Miss Merkle?

Well, I think right there
at the end of the wagon

is fine, Mr. Pruitt.

I caught a grasshopper!

You know, can I help
you do something?

Oh no, that's all
right, thank you.

Let's go climb that tree!

Would you like a cup of cider?

Maybe later,
Mr. Pruitt, thank you.

You're it!

Sounds like they're having fun.

Wait for me!

It's sure good of you to give
up one of your Saturdays.

Well, I have nothing
more important to do.

You sure spend a lot of
time with them, all right.

Pa, Pa!

Come here and see what I found!

- Excuse me, Miss Merkle.
- Mm hm.

Hey, what did you find, boy?

Hey, that's a quail's nest, son.

Should we take 'em home, Pa?

You wouldn't want to
rob a poor mother quail

of her children, would you?

I didn't think of that.

Sure pretty, ain't they?

Yeah, almost anything that
brings life into the world is.

Think Miss Merkle
would like to see 'em?

I don't think she's got
anything on her mind

except scrubbing
tables, and fixing lunch.

Let's you and me go see who
can spot the biggest fish, huh?


Oh, Miss Sarah?

Well, and a good day
to you, Miss Sarah.

Wow, it's too nice a day
to be working out here now.

Let's take a little stroll.

Come on, nobody will see us.

Let's you and me take a
little walk into the woods, huh?

My god, what are you doing here?

Now is that any way
to greet an old friend?

One of the children's
father is over there,

and if you don't leave,
I'm going to call him.

No, no, no.

You wouldn't do that,
would ya, teacher?

He might find out about us.

Please, please leave.

After all the trouble I
took to come out here?

That's not being very
friendly, Miss Merkle.

How did you find out my name?

Come on, teacher.

Everybody in town
knows Miss Merkle.

You talked to someone about me?


Sure, I did.

Oh, don't you worry.

Nobody knows our little secret.

You're mad!


I'm also a little drunk.

But that's a nice way to be.

If you know what I mean.

You know, I'd have been
back here a long time ago,

but I had some
business in Kansas City.

In fact, I just got back
in town this morning.

I'll bet you missed
me too, didn't ya?

What's it been, about
three months ago?

How can you dare face me?

How can you dare talk to me?

Are you so drunk
you don't remember?

Well, sure.

Sure, I remember.

I remember we
had a real nice time.

Now it sure would be nice,

if we could have us a little
time like that again, huh?

Now come on, now come on!

You're not gonna be shy.

Mr. Pruitt, look.

Someone's hurting Miss Merkle!


What are you doing?

You defending that lady's honor?

You want her?

Well you can have her.

She's easy.

You shut your lying
mouth, or I'll shut it for ya.

What happened, Pa?

Nothing, the man was just drunk.

You all right, Miss Merkle?

Well, now that you're all here,

I could use some
help cleaning up.

All right, children.

I'm sorry I took so long.

Couldn't seem to
find the right buttons

for the right button holes.


Sit down.

There's something seriously
wrong with me, isn't there?

Sarah, you're pregnant.

Oh, that's not true.

It's true.

Oh my god!



Miss Merkle! Hey look out!

What's wrong, Miss Merkle?

You almost got killed!

What's wrong with her, Doc?

Doc, what's wrong with her?

It's none of your business.

Whoa, boy.

I'm all right
now, I'm all right.

Is there anything I can do?

Anything I can help you with?

No, no I'm fine.

The way you come
running out of Doc's office,

almost getting
run down like that.

I know it's none of my
business, Miss Merkle

but you've been so good
to Lester since his ma died.

I appreciate your
concern, Mr. Pruitt.

Was it something Doc Adams said?


No, I'm in the best of health.

He was very clear about that.

I'm just overworked, that's all.

Miss Merkle, I've been meaning

to talk to you for a long while,

but well time
never seemed right.

Maybe this ain't
the right time either,

but if I don't say it now,

I'll never say it.

I'm not very good with words.

I mean, I'm not well
educated and all.

Well Lester and me, we've
been alone three years now.

That boy loves you, Miss Merkle.

And I, I've admired
you for a long time.

You say you've
admired me, Mr. Pruitt.

You don't even know me!

Oh, yes I do.

Very well.

If that were true, you'd
know I'm not fit to be...

- Did Doc Adams tell you...
- No.

Does it have anything to do

with what that
fella Stokes said?

Because if it does...

Oh please, please
just leave me alone!


What's going on with Carl?

Well he's been in
here since before dark.

You know I've never
known Carl Pruitt

to take more than one or two
drinks in a whole year's time.

Tonight it looks like

he's going to the
bottom of the bottle.

What about trying
to sober him up?

Last time I tried, he said
he could get coffee at home.

Tonight he's drinking whiskey.

Well, guess there's
nothing wrong with a man

drinking himself blind if
that's what he wants to do.

Long as he doesn't
cause any trouble.

He sure has been quiet.

Gives me the shivers.

You mean you think maybe
he'll change and not be so quiet?

No, not really.

He's not the kind of
person who'd get mean

no matter how much he drank.

I wouldn't think so.

Well, I'll look in on him later.


Buy me a drink, Carl?


Thank you.

Where's your boy tonight?

Not home alone, is he?

Lester, Carl.

He's at home.

Big enough to get
himself to bed now.

Where are you?

Sitting here in the Long
Branch Saloon, ain't it?

You could've fooled me.

I would've guessed
you'd be about

a thousand miles away, at least.

What you been
thinking about so hard?

She might as well be
a thousand miles away.


Miss Merkle.

Miss Merkle?

She the reason you've been
acting so strange tonight?

I'm just sitting here drinking.

What's so strange about that?

Because it's you, Carl.

You've never done this before
as long as I've known you.

Now, seems to me
like you're gonna need

all of this you can get.

You mad, Kitty?

All I can say Carl, is if I felt

the way you do about something,

I'd do something about it.

I mean, other than
what you're doing.

All right, all right, all right.

Just hold your horses, will ya?

You wanna wake
up the whole place?

A drummer fella Stokes.

Stays here when
he comes through.

Dresses kinda fancy.


Up the stairs, second
door on the right.

Oh, it's you.

So you wanted in, you're in.

What else you want?

I want to talk to you
about Miss Merkle.

Yeah, what about her?

About what you
said the other day.

I didn't say nothing
wasn't plain old fact.

Did you, and Miss Merkle?

I asked you something!


If she's your lady
friend, then I apologize.

She ain't quite my type, anyway.

Look, I was drunk, all right?

Drunk as you are now.

I think she's in trouble.

She's gonna have a baby.


You're gonna have to marry her.

Marry her?

Ain't no other way.

What, she say I was papa?

She didn't have to.

Ain't nothing funny
about it that I can see.

It ain't.

You come bullying
your way in here

in the middle of the night

and inviting me to
my own wedding?

And you don't
think that's funny?

Where's your shotgun, friend?

Ain't gonna be like that.

She's too fine a woman.

Now you're gonna
go there tonight,

and you're gonna ask
her like you meant it.

Oh sure, I'm gonna ask her
to be my blushing bride, huh?

Sure I will, when
hell freezes over.

She's a fine woman.

Any man would be
lucky to have her.

Just how many
lucky souls you figure

there are around here,
outside of me and maybe you?

What are you talking about?

How many of you hometown boys

has Miss Sarah carried on with?

About half the men
in Dodge, I figure.

All right, let go!


You're gonna go there tonight,

and you're gonna ask her.

You can get dressed
or go the way you are,

it don't matter to me.

Now look it, you can't
take a man out of the room

in the middle of the night!

All right, all right, I'll go,
I'll go peaceably, let go.

What happened?

I never saw him before.

Well, you can't say
being boneheaded

ain't a blessing sometimes,

or you'd have got your brains

knocked clean out
of your noggin tonight.

You feeling any better, Carl?

Yeah, some I guess.

I'll get you a cup of coffee.

Carl, do you want to tell me

what that was all about tonight?

Matt, my boy's home alone.

He's gonna be scared if he
wakes up and I ain't there yet.

I can't let you go, Carl.

There's a man lying
over in Doc's office

with a busted spine.

The people at the hotel tell me

you're responsible for
it, now what happened?

They don't know.

Me and Matthew
don't know neither,

and we ain't likely
to unless you quit

being so blame stubborn, Carl.

Carl, everybody says
that you had trouble

with this man at the
picnic the other day.

Now you go over to his hotel

in the middle of the
night and this happens.

Now what's it all about?

You know, I don't want
to have to lock you up,

but unless you tell
me, I'm going to.

I can't.

Carl, you're the hard-headedest,

you're stubborner than my mule.

You'd ruther get put
in jail than to open up

them jaws of yourn, wouldn't ya?

Yeah Festus, I guess I would.

All right Festus, you
better go on out to his place

and see to Lester.

Oh Festus, tell
him I'm all right.

Tell him I'll be
home in a day or two.

Howdy, Doc.

How is he, Doc?

He's dead, Matt.

Whoa, whoa, whoa now.


Hi, Doc Adams.

Here son, will you tie up
old Popcorn for me there?

Thank you.

- Hello Dr. Adams.
- Hello Doc!

I'd bet you'd all rather
be fishing, wouldn't ya?

I haven't seen
you for a long time.

Well you, now wait a
minute, you're Sally.

Now I knew that.

You look just like your mother.

Now you're Tim
Gleason's oldest boy.

And your name, I know.

Your name is Dave.

Hm, not Dave?

Well, Fred.

Hm, now let me see, Johnny.

I knew that, sure you're Johnny.

Johnny, you got any money?

No, I didn't think so.

All right.

You have now.

Now don't spend that.

Oh Sarah?

Can I talk to you for a minute?

Come in, Dr. Adams.

Sarah, I don't like
to intrude on ya

in schooltime like this, but...

It's all right, the
children are at recess.

Would you like to sit down?

Well, no thank you Sarah.

Dr. Adams... Sarah?

I guess you know
Carl Pruitt's in jail,

on account of what
happened to Jack Stokes?

Yes, I...

I heard about that.

Well I thought you
might be able to help him.

Now how on earth
could I help him?

I thought you might be
able to think of some way,

he's in pretty serious trouble.

Needs all the help
he can get, Sarah.

Did Mr. Pruitt send you here?

Oh no, certainly not.

I'm sorry, I'm just
a little bit confused.

I would like to help Mr. Pruitt,

but I don't see how I can.

I really don't.

Sarah, you're not
being honest with me.

Dr. Adams, I think you've
intruded on my privacy enough.

Now if you have nothing
better to do with your time, I do!


I wouldn't be here at
all if it wasn't important.

Now you're pregnant,
and that's your problem.

Maybe you can live with it,

but Carl Pruitt may not
be able to live with his.

I can't help him!


Carl won't tell Matt about this

because he's
obviously protecting you,

and I can't because
I'm your doctor.

Now that leaves Jack
Stokes, and he's dead.

So, it's up to you.

Dr. Adams, I have tried
to live my life in a way

that would never bring
disgrace on my name.

I do not spend my time idly,

and I try not to gossip.

I read and I study and I try to

improve myself for my students.

Now that has been my whole life,

to become a better
teacher for my students.

I want to try to teach them

something more than
can be learned on a farm.

I want to try to show them
something of the world

that's beyond the
confines of Ford County!

Now, if I expose myself
to the whole of Dodge City

as an unwed mother,

just how many students
do you think I would have?

Not even one!

You can't hide it much longer.

Yes, I can.

Very soon now,
my aunt in St. Louis

is going to become very ill.

And I am going to have to
go nurse her back to health,

and it will take several months.

And after that time I
will come back here,

and I will resume my life.

What about the baby?

I don't care about the baby.

Sarah, I don't
think you mean that.

You don't know what happened!

I was working
late here one night,

correcting papers.

And Jack Stokes must
have seen the lights on.

He was very drunk.

And he came in here...

Well I certainly
didn't invite him in!

Well Sarah, I guess

that's about all I have to say.

I'll leave the rest up to
you and your conscience.

Oh there's one other thing.

Festus went by and
stayed all night with Lester

and brought him into town
so he could see his father.

That's the reason Lester
wasn't in school today.

Matt would like for
me to ask you to,

well maybe you'd
go by and kind of

stay with Lester tonight, or?

Oh no, I can't.

No, it's impossible.

I see, well.

He's a pretty grown up boy.

I guess another two or three
nights alone won't hurt him.


I got a man here
that you're gonna be

mighty tickled to
have a visit with.

Come on in, Lester.

You and your pa
have a good visit.

I'll be right out
here if you want me.

Hi, boy.

Hello, Pa.

You didn't comb your
hair this morning, did ya?

No, sir.

I can't have you
going around town

with your hair
mussed up like that.

Give us Pruitts a bad name.

Yes, sir.

I guess I gave us a bad
enough name as it is, didn't I?

What happened, Pa?

Oh, I don't know.

I got drunk, got into a fight.

It was an accident, son.

Hey, boy...

You're too big to cry.

I'm trying not to, Pa.

I know. I know.

You always told me never
to fight and never to drink.

- And you shouldn't.
- You did.

I was wrong.

See where it got me, don't you?

What's gonna happen now, Pa?

Oh in a little while the
marshal's gonna walk in here,

and he's gonna say,

"Mr. Pruitt sir, we
kind of made a mistake.

"You're free to go."

Is he?

Of course he is.

You know no jail is big
enough to hold a Pruitt.

You believe that, don't you son?

Yes, sir.

I love you, Pa.

Miss Merkle?


I'm sorry I didn't
come to school today.

I was, well I was
downtown seeing my Pa.

I know.

They got him in
jail, Miss Merkle.

I heard, Lester,
and I'm truly sorry.

I'm supposed to go to Tommy
Gilbert's house for dinner,

and stay there for the night.

- You are?
- Yes, ma'am.

Lester, how would
you like to come

and spend the
evening at my house?

Could I?

Only if you want to.

Yes, ma'am.

I'll make you a
real nice dinner,

and I've got a great big
room where you can stay.

Come on, let's go.

People say my pa killed a man.

I heard.

I asked him, and he
said it was an accident,

but I just can't believe
he'd kill somebody.

I don't know, Lester.

Just couldn't, not my pa.

I'm sure you're right, Lester.

Now eat your food.

Why won't the marshal
let him come home?

I don't know why,
stop asking why.

Be still and eat your food!

Lester, please.

It's going to be all right
Lester, I promise you.

It's going to be all right.

Lester, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry.

Can you forgive me
for what I did to you?

I was just so upset.

Don't matter.

It does matter.

It matters a great deal.

I guess it showed
me how selfish,

and how cruel I've been.

Oh Lester, you were
right about your daddy.

He could never do anything
like that to someone on purpose.

There's been a mistake,

and I'm going to
go to the marshal

and I'm going to
make him understand.

Mr. Pruitt assumed, correctly,

that the baby's father
was Jack Stokes.

What he didn't
understand it was,

Mr. Stokes was not a paramour.

He was drunk.

He broke into the
schoolhouse one evening,

and he attacked me.

And he would've done
it again at the picnic

if Carl hadn't stopped him.

At any rate, I
suspect Mr. Pruitt

went to Stokes that
evening on my behalf.


I just wanted him to marry her.

He said some
pretty rough things.

Got me hot.

I started dragging
him out of his room,

he stopped fighting,

said he'd go along
peaceful to Miss Merkle's.

I turned him loose.

We got to the top of the stairs,

he tried to throw me.

We both went down the stairs.

Carl, you should've
said something.

If you would've just told me
that much when you came in,

could've saved a lot of trouble.

I was afraid if
I told any of it,

I'd have to tell all of it.

There was a part of it
I couldn't tell nobody.

It's over then,
there'll be no trial?

No, we might have to have
a hearing with Judge Booker,

but that would be in private.

There'd be no other
townspeople there.

Thank you, Marshal.

Miss Merkle, I...

Mr. Pruitt, my secret
isn't the kind that keeps.

I only hope that it's
over now for you.

You've been through much
too much on my account.

I wanna thank you

for coming here to help me out.

That's a fine woman, Marshal.

Took a lot of sand for
her to come here like that.


Tie him off, Lester.

Hello, Carl.

I want to talk to
you, Miss Sarah.

It's important.

Lester, don't you
want to come in too?

No, I reckon I'll stay
out here with the horses.

Thanks just the same
though, Miss Merkle.

Come in.

Thank you.

Sit down, please.

Oh, thank you.


I want to talk to you.

I want you to marry me.


Carl, I know you're
concerned about me.

And I know you think I need
a man to take care of me.

Well don't you?

I don't really know.

I mean, I haven't
given it much thought.

Oh I know it doesn't
make much sense,

but well I'm not at all sure
that I need anyone else.

Well I...

I think you oughta give
it some more thought.

You can't, you
can't be alone now

with a baby coming.

Carl really, I'm
going to be fine.

I'll be going east
in a month or so,

and well I'll be
just fine there.


I need you, Sarah.

Carl, are you sure
you want to marry me

and raise another man's child?

A man like Jack Stokes?

Sarah, I'm a farmer.

Any man can plant seed.

It's how you care for the
plant that grows that counts.

Carl, the child is
my responsibility

and I intend to face it alone.


No, we're gonna talk about it.

You got this all
figured out for yourself.

What about Lester and me?

That boy loves you, Sarah.

He loves you like you
were his own mother.

I love you, Sarah.

I'm not in the habit
of saying please,

but I'm saying it now.

But we'd be right here in
Dodge where it happened.

I'm not asking you
to marry the town.

I'm asking you to marry me.

Sarah, marry me.

Don't you think you
should go tell Lester?

Oh I...

I think he'd like it a lot
better hearing it from you.


Please come in now.

Yes, Miss Merkle.

Sit down, Lester.


Would it be all right with you,

if I married your father?

Are you going to?

Not without your permission.

Sure Miss Merkle,
I'd like it real fine.

I'm afraid that won't do.


Well if I'm gonna
marry your father,

you can't go on
calling me Miss Merkle.

How does Ma sound?

Stay tuned for exciting scenes

from our next Gunsmoke.

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