Little House on the Prairie (1974–1983): Season 2, Episode 18 - The Long Road Home - full transcript

When their grain doesn't sell for enough to see their families through the winter, Charles and Isaiah hire on with the railroad to haul a wagon-load of highly explosive nitroglycerin over a treacherous mountain road and, as their journey progresses, find themselves dealing with situations almost as volatile as the freight they so carefully carry.

Well, what do you say?

Sorry. But 7 cents a bushel
is the best I can do.

You've got to
be joking.

You paid us 34 cents
a bushel last year.

What happened?

Well, it's a bumper crop.
Too much grain.

Bottom fell
clean out of it.

Well, what
do you think?

I think we're going to
have a hard time

paying back the money
we borrowed to buy seed.

Yeah, but I'm giving
you a penny more

than the other buyers
will give you.

All right, Mr. Calder.
If that's it, that's it.

Next year's
bound to be better.

What I need is another way
of making a living.

Yeah. Well,
if you mean that,

you ought to go over
to the hiring hall.

The railroad's got
a man there hiring.

Do no harm to talk.

We'll unload
your wagon.

Thank you.

Try the hiring hall?

What have we got
to lose?

I can do for you?

We're looking for work.
We heard you were hiring.

Well, let's see.
I need 12 drillers,

two powdermen,
25 laborers,

two swampers,
and a cook,

and I got them all.
Only thing open

is a couple
of freighting jobs

you might not want.

What kind of freight?

Well, it's mountain country.
Hard going.

Mountains? We have them
for breakfast.

How much you pay?

Well, it's a short job.
10 days. Two weeks.

We're paying
$100 in beans,

both ways.

$100 for 10 days?
What are we hauling?


Never seems to fail.

Don't worry about it.
I've worked with dynamite.

He's talking about
blasting oil.

It ain't
the same thing.

You hit
a chuckhole

with a wagonload
of that stuff,

they'll be
raking you up

from here
to Springfield.

You want the job,
you get

the train here
at 6 P.M. Friday.

You want to take it?

If we don't,

it's going to be
a long winter.

All right, lookit.
It'll take us 3 days

to get back
to walnut grove.

We want to say good-bye
to our families.

We'll never make it back
here in time for the train.

Well, you can
get the train

in Springfield
Saturday morning.

We'll be on it.

I'll need some

Oh! Oh, Charles!

Oh! Oh, I'm so glad
you're back!

So am I.

Oh, I missed you.

I missed you.

Mmm. I'm glad.

Did everything
go all right?

Pretty good.

Something's wrong.
Now, what is it?

I got 7 cents a bushel.


I wasn't the only farmer
to have a bumper crop.

They got enough grain
in mankato to fill

the pacific ocean.

Oh, after
all that work.

I know.

Hey, I got some good news.
Edwards and I got a job.


Oh, Charles,
not away. Not again.

Now, it's only for two weeks,
and I'm going to make $100.


That's right.
A little freighting job,

and I'm on my way home.

Well, why on earth

would they pay
that kind of money?

Well, it's the railroad. You
know the way the railroad is.

They got a lot of money.

They don't care
how they spend it.

Are you sure it's
only for two weeks?

I'm sure. I got to leave
tomorrow morning.

I'd like one good home-cooked
meal before I go,

so why don't you
get started

while I unhitch
the team, all right?

All right.

Now, go on.

I made you an extra
sandwich just in case.

I'm liable to gain
10 pounds

by the time
I get there.

Now, I've checked

You'll find 2 extra
pairs of socks

in the bedroll.

Two? I ain't gonna be
gone long enough

to need more than one.

Now, you wear 'em...

And the underwear, too.

I don't want those other
men to think

I'm not taking good
care of you.

They'll wonder why
I didn't bring

my Butler along.


I expect you better
be getting going

if you want to get to
Springfield on time.

Um... you boys got
everything straight?

You know how to split
up the chores and all?

We'll do just

Don't worry.

Well, get Alicia
here to doc baker's.

The cold weather coming on,

he'll want to check
her tonsils.

I'll remember.

Well, I best be going.

Yes, you'd better.

And you take good
care of yourself,

you hear me?

You take care.

I will.



The sandman's still
got 'em.

Didn't you want
to wake them?

Nah. They were sleeping
too sound. There.

I love you.



I didn't think
I was going to make it.

Another 100 feet,
and I wouldn't have.

Ha ha ha! Ohh...

This is kind of
fancy, ain't it?

Yeah. Looks good.


We don't have
any tickets.

We just got this piece
of paper right here.

I thought so.
Railroad hired help.

We're wagon

What I said. Hired help.


You're in the wrong place.
This is the president's car.

You're going to have to
move forward.

Oh. We're sorry.
Come on.

Who's the president?

Not as fancy
as the last car,

but still looks

Well, one seat's
as good as another.

Excuse me.

How about
these here?


Hey, you two! Hey!

Keep going. Next car.

Haven't done
this much walking

since we walked
to Springfield.

You can have
the window seat.

You know,
when it gets dark,

we're gonna
freeze solid.


Got all this wood.
Wish we

could start a fire
and keep warm.


I think you gave me
an idea.

Shut that door!

Yes, sir.
Right away, sir.

Thought you could
use some firewood

for the stove,

keep you and the
passengers warm.

Well, now,
ain't that nice?

That's real nice.

But you're still gonna
have to ride on the flatcar

with the rest of
the hired help.

Aw, come on. You got
plenty of empty seats.



Some wagon drivers
up there?

Right here.
Yes, sir.

Get your gear
and come on.

Come on.

Nam e's frazer.



Name's Murphy.
This here's bodeen.

Hi. How was your trip?

Oh, the railroad
outdid theirselves

to see
we was in comfort.

Yes. Yeah. They usually do.

Well, settle back. We got
about an hour's ride.

It's a pretty
funny place to build

a factory, isn't it?

There's nobody around
there for 100 miles.

Well, we did have
a factory in San Francisco

till a case of nitro

Killed 12 people
and flattened a city block.

Somehow I get the feeling

I'm going to be sorry
I got off that flatcar.

Here we are.

Come on. Take a look
at what you're hauling.

Blasting oil.

Made of nitric
and sulfuric acids

and sweet glycerin.

Discovered in France
in 1846.

First used as fuel
for household lamps.

Burns with a clean
and steady flame.

Burned in a lamp?
Can't be too dangerous.

6 ounces of nitro

in this bottle.

If it blows,

this whole place
is kindling.

6 ounces?

That's right.

You'll be
carrying 5 gallons

in each wagon.

I suggest you
treat it

with the utmost

You should keep
the two wagons

widely separated
at all times.

You'll take
the lead position

in turn.

There'll be two men
with each wagon.

One man will drive.
The other will walk

ahead of the wagon
with a shovel,

filling chuckholes,
removing rocks,

and warning
the driver

of anything

that might seriously
jar the wagon.


Yeah. This jar...

How much
would it take?

To detonate the oil?

I can't answer that

has a great deal

to do with it.

The greater

the change
in temperature,

the more unstable
the oil becomes.

You'll be given

You'll be
shown how to take

the temperature
of the oil

and how to cool it.

And that's
about it.

What do you say?

Count me out.

I need
the money,

but not
that much.

Hold it, bodeen.

We can do it.
We just got to learn how.

No. You all

got families
to provide for.

I just got... Me.

I ain't
going to risk

getting killed
just for me.

I'm sorry.

No. Don't be sorry.

I'd rather know now

than when you were
on the road.

I'll take you

to the train

Good luck.

Well, one man gone.

What about
the rest of you?

Do you transport
my oil or not?

We're in.

Uh, you said two men
to each wagon.

There are only
three of us left.

I expected one of
you to turn timid.

I have
a replacement.

Come on.



This is Henry hill.

The man who teams
with him will be

lucky, indeed.

Henry's made
this trip

a dozen times.

He knows as much
about blasting oil

as any man alive,
except me.

Mister... I don't
team up with anyone

the likes of him.

Suit yourself.

You can leave
with the other one.

There should be
no accidents.

We expect none.

However, in
an uncertain world,

all things
are possible.

I have here
insurance policies

in the amount
of $5,000

to be paid to
the heirs of any

accident victims.

Pen and ink are
over in the house.

Are you going to pay $100
for 10 days' work?

That's right.

For that kind of money,

I reckon I can
put up with it...

For 10 days.

What do you say,

Well, like he said...

For that kind
of money,

I reckon I can
put up with it...

For 10 days.

Frazer: Come on.

We've got
some paperwork.

Hmm. Sure do
make that look easy.

What, the writing?
Yeah. It's not hard.

I could teach you
if you want to try.

Oh, I tried.

Kept busting
all the pencils.

Don't know
what I'd say anyway.

Writing's harder
than talking.

I get tongue-tied
doing that.

You want me to write
something for you?

You're going to
have to send

that insurance policy
to grace.

You'll have to
tell her something.

I told Caroline
to just save it

and not worry about it.

Well, then I guess

you better write
something for me.

Uh, let's see now.

I feel funny
saying it to you.

Come on. "Dear grace."

That's an easy way
to start, huh?

All right.
"Dear grace." Uh...

Tell her
everything's fine,

and, uh...
Give the young'uns

a kiss, and, uh...


And I love her.

Don't sit there

grinning like a cat
in a birdhouse.

Write it down.

How you doing?

Yep. I'm gathering

Mr. Frazer
will see to it

that it gets
to the railroad mail car.

I'll have this one
done in a minute.

Hey, you want
some coffee?

Yeah. I'll get my cup.

Oh, no, no. I got
one right here.

And it's real hot.
Maybe the taste

won't bother you
too much.

There you go.

Set yourself down.

There you go.

Thank you.

Say, you, uh, you
mind answering me

a question?

If I can.

This here nitro...
I mean,

if it's as dangerous
as they say it is,

uh, how come you
keep coming back

for more? I mean,

how much money
can a man use?

All I need. I got
a lot of family.

Oh, yeah?

Yeah. I got
two boys and a girl.

How about you?

I got no children
of my own.

My family's my aunts,
my uncles, brothers.

I got a whole passel
of them.

Why do you take
a job like this?

Oh, same as always.

Nobody else
would take it.

Only difference is,
this one pays good.

Good lord willing,
this'll be my last trip.

There you go. The letters
are all finished.

Thanks for the coffee.

Oh, you're welcome.

See you in the morning.

Oh, I'll, uh, be taking
the lead wagon tomorrow.

Gives you a chance
to get used to things.

Thank you.

See you in the morning.

See you.

See you
in the morning.

I'm going to
finish this coffee

and get myself some sleep.

Yeah. Same here.
Better be

and bushy-tailed.

I got a feeling
the next 10 days

are going to feel
like an eternity.

Just might be.

God go with you.

We got us
a real problem here.

We sure do.

To get it out of here,
we're going to need

what we ain't got...
A crosscut saw.

Yeah. The horses

are never going to
budge this.


The road's too narrow
to turn around in.

Hill ought to be
here in a minute.

We'll check
with him.


We got us
a problem, huh?

Yeah. A big one.

What do you think?

Well, we got
plenty of rope.

The road doubles
back up there.

We could take
the teams up

there and pull
the wagons up.

That's too rough
a hill.

We're never
going to get up.

We won't know unless we try.

We'll unhitch
the teams.

Henry: Come on, pat!
Come on, Jerry! Hyah!

Ho, there!

Go, pat!
Go, Jerry!

Hyah! Come on!
Pull it!

Pull it, Jerry!

Hyah! Giddyap!
Come on!

Come on! Pull! Pull!

Come on, Jerry!
Hyah! Pull!

Come on, babe!

Pull, Jerry! Hyah!

Ho! Get up there! Hyah!

Ho, there!
Get up there!

Ho! Pull!

That-a girl! Hyah!

Get up there! Yeah!

Come on!
Come on, babe!

Ho, Jerry! Ho, pat!

Ho! Come on!
Come on!

Get up there!
Hyah! Hyah!

Come on! Pull it!

Get on up there!

Ho! Yes!

Charles: Hold it!


You take the wagon
down the road

a safe distance

and bring back
the team.

Be happy to!

Well, one down.
One to go.

Or you could stay up
and drive the team.

I can handle the wagon
turn by myself.

You're sure?

Well, didn't you know
we was created

for this kind of work?

Ho, pat! Ho, Jerry! Pull!
Come on, pat! Jerry!

Pull now! Hyah!

Ho, Jerry! Ho, pat!

Hyah! Hyah!

Pull, babe! Come on!

Pull, Jerry!

Hyah! Hyah! Pull, babe!

Come on!

Come on, pat!
Come on, Jerry!

Pull, Jerry!
Pull now! Hyah!

Come on! Pull up there!

Pull, pat! Pull, Jerry!

Hyah, now!
Come on! Pull!

Come on, Jerry!
Pull! Hyah!

All right!

Ready to move out
in 5 minutes.

I'll hitch up
the team.

Like a drink?

I've got
my own canteen.

The road's
getting rougher.

It's your turn
to drive.

I'll be way
out in front.

Make sure you don't hit
no rough spots.


Here. You look
through these.

Well, what
in the world.

Here's one
from Isaiah.

He must have put
Charles up to it.

He can't even write.

Is there one there
from Charles?

Oh. Oh, just...
Just a minute.


Here. Here you are.

Oh, good. Thank you.

You didn't know,

Well, he said
it was just

a simple
freighting job.

Well, they'll
be all right.

Of course they will.
I know that.

I'll stop by tomorrow.

There we go.


Will you read us
the letter now, ma?

All right.

"Dearest family,

"I hope everyone
is well at home.

"Mr. Edwards and I
are fine.

I have..."

Mary: Go on, ma.

It's hard to read
in this light.

"We start the trip

"and it should be
an easy one.

that's about it.

"Be home soon.

"I love you all.


There. Well,

everything's fine
with your pa.

Now, off to sleep.

Mary: Yes'm.

Laura: Yes'm.

I'm sure glad

all right.

So am I, dear.

Good night, ma.

Sweet dreams.

Good night, ma.

Charles: Henry!

Hey. We saw you stop.
Anything wrong?

Got us a little trouble.

Gone up 20 degrees
since this morning.


Up there
in the nervous area.

A little water
works wonders.

that's the trouble.

All we got
is a little water.

Ah, go ahead. Tell him
it was my fault.

There was a bad spigot
on the water barrel.

Lost most of the water

before we knew
what was happening.

That's because
I left it open.

Fault's mine. I should
have replaced that spigot

before we started
on this trip.

I left it open!
Now, you say it!

Look, I don't need no black
man to make excuses for me.

take it easy!

We got some water.
We can spare it.

A bucket full of water
would be a blessing,

at least enough to last us
till the next water.

How far is that?

About 5 miles.

We got about two more miles
on this road here.

Then there's a turnoff
to the right

leading to an old farm
with a good well.

At least, it was good
last time I was there.

That sounds
easy enough.

I'd still like that
bucketful of water

for insurance, though.
I'll walk back with you.


Hold it!
I'll get the water.

Nobody's going to
have to do my job for me.

That turnoff's
a little hard to spot.

We'll be
way up ahead.

I'll mark
the turnoff for you.

Thanks. Try not
to let him bother you.

Him? Folks like him

stopped bothering me
when I was born.

What was he doing
back there?

Gmng orders?

More like instructions.

so high-and-mighty,

like he's not
scared of nothing.

The fact
of the matter is,

he don't have enough
brains to be scared.

You know, the trouble
with this country is

that Lincoln died about
4 years too late.

Good men killing each
other off for what?

So we could free
the likes of him?

Why, I killed better men
than him during the war.

Murphy, I'm sure you killed
a lot of men during the war,

but none
better than him.

And as for the trouble
with this country,

I'm looking at it
right now.

There. Hill left a note.
I can see the word "road."

Yeah. "Well dry.

"Rough road
to water hole.

Take it slow."

Well, we'd best
get started.

My turn to drive.

No. I've only
been driving

for about an hour.

Flip you for it.

Where you going
to get a penny to flip?

Yeah. Well, like the man
said, take it slow.

I will.

Hey, Charles!
Look'ee here!

Henry: Come on down!
The water's fine!


Edwards: You got that
wagon waterlogged by now.

Come on.

I'm coming.

Edwards, I'm glad

to see you're
using that soap.

The only thing

that makes hauling
nitro bearable is

we don't
have to ride

on the wagon

You don't exactly smell like
a mountain bouquet yourself.

I know it.
Throw me the soap.

Here. You give him
the soap. I'm too clean.

How much longer,
you think?

Two more days.

All easy country now.

You're as good as home.

Oh, that
sounds good to me.

Nice day for bathing.

You got good horses,
good wagons.

I'm certain sure they

don't want to hang on
to their riches

while poor folks like us
is doing without.

Homer, check that wagon.

Look, mister, we-.

Don't argue.
'Tain't healthy.

It's just jugs, pa.

All nestled in straw

like a bunch
of speckled hens.

Jugs and plank
and rope.

It's new rope.

We can sell that rope
to the railroad.

Henry: If you get
to the railroad,

and you won't.

There's blasting oil
in them jugs.

What'd you say?

Blasting oil.

You been
to the railroad.

You seen
what they're doing.

Yeah, and they're
blowing down

the mountains, blowing
tunnels in them.

Henry: Well, what's in
them jugs is what they use

to blow down
the mountains.

Pa: You're lying.

Well, maybe not, pa.

I heard them talk
about blasting oil.

That stuff's worth a lot
of money, I'll bet you.

A lot of money.

Let them have it,


Take it. Take it.
Take a load off my back.

Maybe I can start eating
and sleeping again.

You know,

I can't stand being
around this stuff.

I mean,

it's just getting
to me like, uh...

Just a few drops
of this, and, uh...

There's enough

in these two wagons
here to blow

this whole state
c-clean off the map.

Hey. Hey, don't...
Don't... don't do that.

I got the shakes.

That's what it does
to you.

Why don't you
take it?

Uh, you can have it.
I don't want it.

Lord, he's... he's
crazy, pa.

I ain't never dropped... i
ain't never dropped

one of these, but, uh, I
wouldn't be here if I had.

Wouldn't be here
at all if I had.

Stay here and get blowed up if you want.
I'm getting out of here.


I'd be all over
the place

if it blew up!


Come on back! I want
you to have this!

Ha ha ha!

I think
I scared them.

Do you know
what I think did it?

I think it was that
"blooey." Ha ha!

Hold it!

Be careful! Be careful
with that stuff!

What's the matter?

Pull yourself
together, murph.

You must be crazy!
You're really crazy!

Ease up, murph, now.
This ain't nitro.

This here's
corn whiskey

I distilled myself.
Ha ha!

Come on! Let's
hitch up the teams!

Two more days,
and we got her made!

Here, murph.

You need this
more than I do.


Mary, Laura, Carrie,
where are you?

Look at this mess!

What have you
been doing?

Laura: We were going
to clean it up, ma,

but you came home
too soon.

I can't leave
you girls alone

for 5 minutes.

I don't know
what possesses you.

Since your father's
been away,

you seem determined to
make things difficult.

Happy birthday, ma.

Laura and Carrie:
Happy birthday, ma.

But it's not my...

Oh, my goodness.

I completely forgot.


You've got
to make a wish.

Oh, all right.

What you going to
wish for?

You can't tell,
or it won't come true.

But I bet I can guess.

Happy birthday, ma.

Thank you.

There it is.
Right on time.

Say, you know,
I ain't one

for spending money

but I'm for riding home in comfort.
What do you say?

Can't cost more than
a dollar or two.

Hey, let's do it.
You only live once.

Sounds good to me.

How about you, hill?

Henry: We'll see.

You know, they got a
president's car on this train.

It's the prettiest

you ever did see.

Pretty fancy, huh?

Yeah. Nice.


Don't worry. We got
money this time.

4 tickets to

Not him.

What are you
talking about?

You heard me. Not him.

This is a passenger car.
He can't ride in here.

You look'ee here, now!

It's all right.

A little fresh air
never hurt.

No. You wait a minute.

I said,
it's all right.

That'll be $2.00 apiece.

He booted me
out, too.

He found out
I was Irish.