The Big Valley (1965) s01e13 Episode Script

The Guilt of Matt Bentell

- Audra.
- Mother, why can't Bill Turner come over? - You may invite him tomorrow.
Now go get dressed.
- Never throw yourself at a man.
Especially one you've only known for 48 hours.
I'm not throwing myself at anyone.
Why all this fuss about an old logging foreman? The day one of your heartthrobs makes as much money for this family as Matt Todman I will personally make a fuss over him.
- Ah-ah.
- I know.
Wait till the guests arrive.
- Mm-hmm.
Where's Heath? - Last time I saw him he was out with Smithy cleanin' rifles.
The least we can offer Mr.
and Mrs.
Todman is the courtesy of our home with the entire family present.
We make over him too much, he's liable to ask for a raise.
Nick, if he can do with that lumber camp what he claims he can do I think he's entitled to a percentage.
Oh, sounds like them now.
- Well, Matt.
Is been a long time.
Welcome to the ranch.
- Jarrod.
- Nice to see you.
- Mrs.
- Matt, did you have a good trip? - Nick.
Fine, yes.
- There we are.
- How nice to have you.
- Is so nice for you to have me here.
- George, stable the horse.
- Ill be a change for you from the high country.
- Yes.
Besides, while the men are talking business, we can do some shopping in Stockton.
- Yes, I'd like that.
- I'm sure you'd like to freshen up.
I would, thank you.
Sit down, Matt.
- Well, Matt, how about a dust cutter after that long trip? - Sounds fine.
- You name it, we got it.
- Whiskey's fine.
- All right.
- All right, Matt.
- Les hear it.
- All right.
Oxen and horses take half a day to haul cut logs down to the river.
A flume from the highest cutting sand will bring the logs down in less than an hour.
- A flume! - Give me enough money, time and men I'll give you a layout thall make you one of the biggest lumber producers in California.
Whall it cost? - 50,000 or so.
- What? Ill return that five times over in two years.
You think pretty big, Matt.
You're the ones that have been asking for ways to increase production.
Tell me.
Have you, uh- Have you ever handled anything like this before? - No.
- You think you can handle this? If I didn't, I wouldn't be here.
Matt Todman, this is my brother Heath.
Heath! Get over there! Whas the matter with you? - Cut it out now! - I'll kill you! - What are you, crazy? Stop it.
! - Heath! - Heath, whas gotten into you? - Thas Matt Bentell! Wirz of Andersonville and Matt Bentell of Carterson Prison- They were two of a kind! What that animal did to us prisoners- I swore if I ever found him again, I'd kill him.
! Seven months in Carterson Prison.
You know that! Seven months in the hell Bentell made! - Heath, the war has been over for years.
- Not long enough to forget! - Maybe you don't want to forget.
- Jarrod- Maybe you can tell me how to forget maggoty food and putrid water and floggings for complaining about it.
Or how to forget friends who died from exposure and other friends who died because medical help was refused.
I'm not saying I could forget, but I wouldn't be out to murder Todman.
- His name is Bentell.
- All right, Bentell! But what will killing him do besides get you hanged? Don't stand there and defend him to me! I'm not defending him! I'm protecting you! Jarrod, there were 740 of us in fighting in New Mexico.
Almost half ended up in Carterson.
Less than 100 walked out when the war was over.
There's not a jury in the state that would hang me! Thas the important thing, whether or not you'd hang for murder.
- That seems to beJarroïs concern.
- Well is not mine.
I pray to God it isn't in any of my sons to commit cold, deliberate murder.
And thas what it would be, Heath: cold, calculated, deliberate murder.
You can put any other word to it you want, but thas what it would be.
For a start, how about the word "justice"? Wirz paid for what he did at Andersonville.
He was hanged.
Yes, he was hanged, but by the government and after a trial.
Bentell was brought up on the same charges and cleared.
You just don't understand, do you? No one could understand that hadn't lived through a place like Carterson.
We can understand, but when does the hate end? When your father was killed, I hated as passionately as you do right now.
Oh, believe me, I did, and for just as vivid and long-lasting a reason as you- Well, I- I stopped hating.
I don't know if I'll ever really forgive, but I stopped hating because of what it was doing to me; because I had too much around me to love to go on hating.
Look around you, Heath.
Matt Bentell is upstairs in the guestroom.
Is it really in you to go up there and kill him? That breeding stock at Santa Ynez- I'll ride down this afternoon and take a look at it.
Nice day, wasn't it? Is ironic.
The war's been over for years, and now is Matt Bentell who's a prisoner of Carterson.
And his poor wife.
You only have to look at her to know what she's been through all these years.
Matt Bentell working for us.
Well, soon as we pay him off, he won't be.
Do you really think that firing him will solve anything? - Do we have any other choice? - Perhaps we have.
What are you thinking about, Jarrod? That is hard to hate a man when you really get to know him.
Barkley, you can contact me at the hotel in Stockton if you'd like to look over the accounts.
I want to apologize to you for my son.
I understand why he did it.
I won't say I don't sympathize with him, but- I appreciate your frankness.
Matt, we'd like you to stay on if you want to.
I'm sure you'd like to talk it over.
They asked me to stay.
Oh, you're not going to.
For the first time, is our choice.
Is our choice, but she wants you to stay because she needs you to run her- For whatever reason, is our choice.
And then another- another Heath Barkley will try to kill you.
- It means a place to settle in.
It means a home.
- Oh- - I don't want a home if it means any harm to you.
- I want it for you.
Oh, Matthew, please! We're staying.
Is an ambitious undertaking.
No one can deny that.
- And an expensive one.
- Seems to me an awful lot of money to tie up on a gamble that we might finish by winter, among other reasons.
I can finish it and have logs started down by the first snow.
Nick, is the only way we can get these upper-timber stands to pay off.
All right.
Now, considering everything, can we get enough men thall work for Matt Bentell? Thall be your problem.
You hire them.
I'll handle them and work them.
All right.
But you're going to need help, Matt.
Heath'll go with you.
- You have to go.
- The devil I will! Just how quickly do you think word of his being here will get around? - I hope is mighty quick.
- Do you know what that would mean? - Yes, that somebody will try to balance the scales.
- Exactly.
And if they do, ill be because of you.
So you want me to go with him and hold his hand.
Why doesn't Nick go? Because you were at Carterson and you're the one that might recognize a man if he tried to kill him! You go with him.
You go with him.
You eat with him.
You work with him.
You live with him.
And you pray to God to rid yourself of the hate thas inside you.
Unless you do, that hate will eventually destroy you.
Heath, do you want to hate so? Do you want the memory of Carterson Prison to gnaw at you forever? What we're asking you to do isn't supposed to be easy.
Show us what you inherited from your father.
Show us some ofTom Barkley's guts.
- How much further? - Whoa! Oh, we should be at camp in time for supper.
I've been in this saddle since sunup.
Can't you move any faster? If you'd like to ride in the buggy, I'll trade with you.
- Just move out.
- Barkley.
! There's something you'd best keep in mind.
When I agreed to stay on here it was with the understanding that nothing was to change.
I still boss this operation.
That was made clear enough by my family before we left.
Just so you don't forget.
Thas my trouble, Bentell.
I can't forget.
I'll be back directly.
All right, you men.
Over here.
I want to talk to you.
- Hi, Matt.
- Hi, Matt.
Now, for those of you who were wondering, we got the go-ahead to build the flume.
Hey! Thas gonna mean a little more money for you- and a lot more work.
We're gonna have some more men coming up as soon as they're hired.
In case you're wondering, this is Heath Barkley over here, one of the owners.
Came up to look things over, and, uh, look after me.
There are some who think that might be necessary after I tell you the rest of what I have to say.
For the past year, you've known me as Todman.
Name is Bentell, Matt Bentell.
Anyone who finds that name unfamiliar I was commander of Carterson Prison during the war.
Anyone who'd like to get paid off can do so when they're finished eating.
The rest of you can look forward to things being the same as they always were.
That means long hours, plenty of hard work.
I need this job but not so much as to work with the likes of Matt Bentell.
You know where the pay office is, Donlon.
I should.
I worked here a long time before you came.
Anybody else? We'll start clearing for the flume tomorrow.
Now, you listen to me close, boy 'cause I'm gonna tell you one time only.
When we're in camp, the name is Mr.
Bentell, or Matt, either one.
I don't take that attitude from the others.
I surely won't take it from you.
Thas quite a chance you took, tellin' 'em who you are.
I'm through with hiding.
They'll find out soon enough when the new men show up.
You'd better start growing eyes in the back of your head.
Thas why you're here, isn't it? - To protect my back? - You're not making it any easier.
I didn't intend to make things easier.
How can you be sure I won't be looking the other way when- I guess thas something you'll just have to fight out with your own conscience all by yourself.
Isn't it? Timber! I thought the Barkleys usually did their hiring out of Stockton.
They've had lots trouble.
Ain't you read? Read what? "Matt Bentell.
" So thas what happened to him.
Thas the reason the Barkleys are down here in Modesto tryin' to hire.
Ain't many people want to truck with Matt Bentell.
Makes no difference to me.
Ajob is a job, as far as I'm concerned.
Well, you won't have any trouble gettin' hired on.
You ain't got much competition.
For what I care who is boss? It seems to make a difference to quite a few others.
Pollick need work.
Is need save money for to bring his Nitchka to America.
All right.
Twenty dollars a month and keep.
That is fine for Pollick.
Sign here or make your mark.
Thas right.
I hear you're hiring men.
- You want to sign on? - We quit three days ago.
I see.
And now you want everybody to know why.
Is that it? I'm gonna make sure they do know.
You're a little late, friend.
There's something known as a newspaper.
- Is got the whole story.
- Well, I want you to know what I think of you and your family for hirin' the likes of Matt Bentell.
I don't give a hoot what you think.
The war's over.
Many thanks, boys.
You just made yourself kind of unpopular in these parts.
Is no matter.
We was figurin' on leavin' town pretty soon anyway.
Yeah, we're gonna do some loggin' up in timber country, Mr.
- You don't say.
- That is, unless you filled that tally sheet already.
Well, now I'm grateful to you on two counts.
Well, the truth of the matter is - I gotta get Romeo out of circulation here for a while.
- Oh! Game leg and all, little brother Gil here is too much of a hand with the ladies.
Well, his leg didn't seem to bother his fighting any.
I don't see why it should bother his logging.
Sign on, boys.
- The new men are here.
- How many? - A dozen or so.
- Your brother's gonna have to do better than that if he expects to get that flume finished by fall.
Under the existing circumstances, I think he's doing all right.
- Where are they? - In the mess tent.
First man.
- Name? - Anton Pollick.
- Pollick, did you ever work in a lumber camp? - No, sir.
- You, uh, handle an ax? - Sure.
In Romania I use ax all the time.
Got plenty callus from work hard.
- Put him in.
- I'll put him in Jim McKearn's crew.
Next man.
Name? - Morley.
- Howdy, Ab.
Been a long time since Carson City.
- We can't use you, Ab.
- What do you mean, you can't use me? You had a brother in Carterson.
- So? - So he died there.
- You told me all about it.
- Thas right.
You told me a few things about that place yourself.
- We can't use you, Ab.
- Uh, next.
- Now, look.
I came a long way- - I said, next.
All right.
Move along.
Hello, Heath.
This sure is the day for being a small world, ain't it? Same goes for you as Morley, Condon.
- Well- - Hold on, Heath.
We need the work.
And we need the men, but you two won't do.
Put them in that construction camp.
They were at Carterson.
We were in New Mexico together.
Sign them on.
Yes, sir.
Small world.
And don't you fret none about trouble from us.
We don't mean no harm to Mr.
Bentell here.
It was Mr.
Bentell's doin' I still got my leg.
Is a stiff one, but is flesh and bone and blood 'stead of wood thanks to Mr.
Bentell and the Reb surgeon that saved it.
Well, things are beginning to take shape.
This section should have been finished last week.
- With the new men we'll pick up some lost time.
- Time lost is lost for good.
Well, why don't you try pushing 'em a little harder? I might have to unless I can get 20 or 30 more.
I can't take any more men off that cutting line.
- How do you suggest we get 'em? - Thas not my concern.
You know, Jarroïs offering top wages.
Then he should start offering bonuses.
You're pretty free with Barkley money.
My interest is in getting this flume built.
Barkley? Just a minute.
Go on.
Say it.
Go get my horse.
There were a lot of us at Carterson.
I wouldn't have missed.
Get my horse.
Well, it looks like three ladies.
Looks like easy game for to play.
Well, is a sociable way to get to know a man, Pollick.
There's always room for a pigeon.
Rules of the game? - Pigeon? - Come on.
Sit down.
Is no feathers on Pollick.
Is friendly bunch.
Strange to think somebody here maybe is person who try to kill Mr.
Bentell, huh? Everybody is talking about it.
Is not so strange.
You cannot stop it from happening, Mr.
Talk like that could cost you your job, you know.
Is no concern for Pollick.
Bentell is hated man.
Many hate him.
He will die.
Night, Barkley.
Good night.
Matthew? - Yes, dear? - Is getting late.
Pull, Gil! Pull! - Hey, Pollick! - Yeah? - Make a hitch around that spike, will ya? - Oh, sure.
Pull! - Thas good.
- Okay.
How soon will you tie in with that next section? I figure we should join up tomorrow sometime.
All right, all right.
Les get back to work! You know, I sure could use some extra men around here.
I could use a lot more work out of the ones you've got.
I'm drivin' 'em as hard as they can go.
Every man's got a notch or two more in him.
- If you can't get the work out maybe somebody else can.
- Yes, sir.
Bentell! - You told me he saved your leg.
- You think that makes up for everything? Well, Heath.
What now? - He ain't gonna turn us in.
- What makes you so sure? 'Cause you remember, same as we do.
From what we heard you tried to kill him yourself.
What he done the night of the escape attempt sticks in your craw same as it does ours.
Eighteen men, Heath.
Eighteen men shot down in cold blood and you was almost one of'em.
I could have been one of'em too, if it hadn't been for my leg! So could Aaron if he hadn't stayed with me.
But we weren't one of'em.
We lived.
- And we swore some day he'd pay for what he did.
- You swore he'd pay too.
You swore on the blood of the men you fought beside he'd pay.
Well, Heath? What about it? How long? How long is this gonna keep up? As long as men have memories.
Why won't they leave us alone? 'Cause I was chosen to serve as commander of Carterson Prison instead of a soldier in the field.
Oh, Matt.
Soldier! For eight years I've heard stories about the Union soldiers and Confederate soldiers and their devotion to the cause, and their sacrifices and their courage.
Doesn't anybody know the sacrifices and courage it took for you to do - the things you had to do? - Cinda, Cinda- And people crying over the memories of the war- People only cry over the sorrows they know.
But look at what the war did to you.
- Now, don't- don't- - Oh, Matt.
If only they could know the man I'm married to- a man who's so kind and gentle and gay and laughs so warmly.
You are brave man, Mr.
Barkley, for to save Mr.
Bentell's life today.
But these men of Carterson Prison will not forget their hate.
- Mr.
- What is it? - I came to- - You came to what, Mrs.
Bentell? I came to thank you for saving my husbanïs life.
It was the sorriest thing I've ever done.
To make sure it doesn't happen again, I'm pullin' out.
Why did I think it all could change? Mrs.
Bentell, your husband started it all the day he took over that prison camp.
Ill never change.
My husband was more of a prisoner at Carterson than you or any of the others.
Held there by armed guards with orders to shoot if he stepped over the deadline? - Held there by his duty.
- And his duty was to put us in chains and starve us and beat us and treat us like animals.
The war was almost over.
The South was losing.
Now what did you expect him to do? Give what little food there was to you instead of to his own men? He had to keep you prisoner any way he could.
! But how did you treat one another, you prisoners? You fought like animals over what food there was, over scraps of clothing, over a place to sleep.
You even fought over- over a place to die.
You've got all the answers, haven't you? All I have is the other side of the story.
Well, tell me the other side of the ambush where 18 men were shot down in cold blood.
Oh, I remember that night.
I remember what that did to my husband.
To your husband? Part of him died with those men.
He didn't want that to happen.
He let 18 men crawl out of that tunnel.
He waited until they got into the open before he gave the orders to open fire.
He called out for them to go back.
He waited until the last moment, and then he opened fire! I was there.
I was in that tunnel.
I didn't hear anybody calling out.
You didn't hear anybody calling out, because you were in the tunnel! But if you had heard him yelling out, would you have surrendered? - No.
- Neither did the others, and thas why they died.
Like I said, you got answers for it all, haven't ya? Yes.
Enough- Enough to advise you to save some of your anger for the man who informed on the men who were trying to escape.
One of your fellow prisoners informed.
I don't know who it was.
I never found out.
- Thas convenient, isn't it? - Oh! Oh, I don't care whether you believe me or not.
This is the first time I've ever spoken of this to anybody and it doesn't make any difference whether you believe me or not.
Just speaking of it has made it easier for me.
- Matthew.
- Where are the Condons? - I ran 'em off Barkley land.
- You think they've gone? I do.
But there'll be somebody else.
Who was the informer that night at Carterson Prison? Well? It was Aaron Condon.
But you saved his brother's leg.
Why would he- He came to me with a deal.
He'd tell me about the prison break on the condition that I'd help his brother.
You squeezed every opportunity, didn't ya? My job was to run Carterson as best I could.
And nothing was too low? Even using medical help to get what you wanted? I had one post doctor only.
Medical supplies were practically nonexistent.
What I had I used as fairly as I could.
And you used it like a gun on the Condons.
I saw nothing wrong with using whatever means I had to get information that might keep the enemy from escaping- from possibly killing once they did escape.
- Thas why the Condons wanted me dead.
- Why? Somehow the Condons have the idea that I might expose them.
If you were going to do that, you would have long ago.
Try again.
How does one carry the deaths of 18 comrades on their conscience? If you want to stay, stay.
I'm clearin' out.
I consider myself lucky Heath let us go.
He let us go so we could finish our job.
He wants Bentell dead as much as we do.
By now Bentell's told him about- Well, come on.
Les hear you put it into words.
You woulïve died otherwise, and you know it.
So I'm alive to carry the stink of your cowardice.
I didn't hear no argument from you at Carterson.
- Well, you're gettin' one now! We ain't leavin'.
- Gil, forget it! I won't forget it.
I can't- not till Matt Bentell is dead.
Our guns are back at camp.
We couldn't get within shootin' distance of him now anyway! We could if there was enough confusion.
I'd kill him with my own bare hands.
Fire? No! Can you think of a better way to start confusion in timber country? Don't know whether he believed me or not.
Oh, does it make that much difference? - Yes.
- Well, I'm sorry, Matt, but I can't feel a thing for him.
Thas because you have only one memory of the war.
So does he, and that memory's been shaken.
Feel sorry for him.
I love you, Matthew Bentell.
Fire! Fire! - Fire on the east slope! Fire! - Fire on the east slope! Fire! Fire! - George, get the wagon! - Fire on the east slope! Fire! Les go! - How bad is it? - Building fast.
- All right.
Get some more men.
- Right.
- Matt, no! Let it burn.
It doesn't mean anything to us.
- Stay in the house! - They don't mean anything to us! - Stay in the house! - All right! Move it! - No! Let it burn! Let it burn! Take some men down to the lower slope! Is still spreading! Hitch it! Les go! Bronson.
! Bronson! Help me get him out of this smoke! Les get out outta here.
I told you you was crazy for startin' this fire! I want Bentell! Gil! Gil.
Bentell! - How are your boys doin'? - We got it under control further up the slope! Still out of control on the east ridge! The only way we're gonna stop it is with nitro.
We'll blow a firebreak.
Dozen bottles set along that fire line.
The heat of the fire will set it off.
- We still got a little time before it reaches that north step.
- Les go! The bottles are held firm in this.
Is cool enough.
Should be all right.
But if is dropped, I'll see you in kingdom come.
Just drive, Bentell.
Hyah! This goes off at 500 degrees.
Set it and clear out fast.
! Put it back, Gil.
He's gonna die, Barkley.
You won't stop me this time.
You throw that and we'll all die.
Now, I said, put it back.
Eh! I'm gonna kill you, Bentell.
Why didn't you let me die instead of killing all those others? Gil.
! - Get your brother out of there! - Gil! Come on! Come on! Hyah! Gil.
! Keep away from me, Aaron.
Keep away.
I'm gonna kill him.
No, Gil.
Put that down or we'll all die.
I don't care.
I'm gonna kill him! No, Gil.
Now, be reasonable.
- We gotta get outta here, or we're gonna burn! - I don't care.
! - I wanna kill him! - Gil, watch out.
! With all the lumber we own, you think we could get a decent fire going.
- Oh, thas beautiful! - That looks almost good enough to eat.
- What is that called? - Baba au rhum flambé.
I hope that means is plenty hot, 'cause, boy howdy, is cold out there.
Why, Heath, is balmy out compared to what it is up at that timber camp right now.
How 'bout it, Heath? You wanna go back? - Maybe in the spring.
Now that that flume's finished, I'd kind of like to see it in operation.
Come spring we'll have enough timber to build a new sawmill.
How 'bout some more brandy? Thas the most beautiful sound in the world to me- my husbanïs laughter.
- I'm very grateful to you.
- I'm grateful too.
I almost lost a son, but he found himself and he's back home, and he's safe.
Now, then, everyone.
This is just for you, Matt and Cinda.