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Series: Gunsmoke
Show: A Christmas Story
Date: Dec 20 1952

Thanks to www.LivingStories.us for this transcription

A Christmas Story

SFX:

MUSIC AND HOOFBEATS

ANCR:

Around Dodge City and the territory on west, there's just one way to handle the killers and the spoilers, and that's with a U.S. Marshall and the smell of GUNSMOKE.

SFX:

THEME MUSIC to A CLIMAX

ANCR:

Gunsmoke; the story of the violence that moved West with young America; the story of a man who moved with it: Matt Dillon, United States Marshall.

SFX:

THEME UP AND FADE INTO A LIGHTER STORY-TELLING MELODY UNDER:

MATT:

Everything was alright until about a mile north of the Cimarron. That's when my horse got a hoof caught in a frozen dog hole and broke his leg. So, I had to shoot him. It made me feel awful bad. I didn't feel any better thinking about the walk ahead of me. Close to 40 miles to Dodge and carrying my saddle all the way. I guess I'd been on the trail about an hour. Near as I can figure it was around 3 in the afternoon when I eased the saddle off my shoulders for a rest and a smoke.

And that's when I saw a stranger riding up from the way I'd come. And he was tall and thin. His horse was taller and even thinner. Yeah, they made quite a pair.

SFX:

HORSE HOOVES APPROACHING; FADE MUSIC OUT; HORSE WHINNIES

AMOS:

Hi.

MATT:

How are ya?

AMOS:

You lost?

MATT:

No. My horse busted his leg a-ways back. I'm on my way to Dodge?

AMOS:

Oh, that's your horse, huh? I saw it ...On your way to Dodge, heh?

MATT:

Yeah, at's right.

AMOS:

Eh...Got any more 'o that tobacca?

MATT:

Yeah, sure.

SFX:

FOOTSTEPS

MATT:

Here y' are.

AMOS:

Thanks. Thanks a lot.

MATT:

That's okay.

AMOS:

Kind of a big walk you got ahead, ain't it?

MATT:

Kinda.

AMOS:

It's gonna be dark soon; you thinkin' a makin' camp?

MATT:

Yeah, that's the idea.

AMOS:

Um hmm...Well, it's too bad...You need any food?

MATT:

Na, no thanks. I've got enough.

AMOS:

Well, I thank you for the tobacca..

MATT:

Sure; any time.

SFX:

HORSE HOOVES CLIP-CLOP AWAY AND RETURN

AMOS:

Hey!

MATT:

Yeah?

AMOS:

Not saying this beast won't drop dead from the shock, but d'ya want to climb on behind? Save ya a piece of boot leather for a while anyway...

MATT:

Well, I'd be much obliged if you think that animal of yours can carry us.

AMOS:

Well, she won't mind. She shoulda been dead a long time ago, 'cept she don't know it. She don't mind.

MATT:

Well okay, thanks.

SFX:

FOOTSTEPS OVER TO HORSE.

MATT:

Say, here; will ya hold my saddle till I get up, huh?

AMOS:

Sure. Give it here.

MATT:

(Straining to get up.)

AMOS:

Can you manage the saddle?

MATT:

Yeah, I got it. Well, let's go!

SFX:

HEAVY HORSE HOOVES CONTINUE UNDER:

MATT:

You headin' for Dodge, too?

AMOS:

Not in particular. Just north.

MATT:

Ah-huh.

AMOS:

This beast will do about 10 knots with the wind behind her, but we ain't gonna get more'n five with this load.

AMOS: You ain't in no hurry, are ya?

MATT:

Well, I huh?I was kinda hopin' to get there tonight. It's Christmas Eve, ya know?

AMOS:

Oh, yeah, that's right, idn't it?

MATT:

Yeah.

AMOS:

That backbone o' her's sticking into ya?

MATT:

Oh, no; it's okay; thanks.

AMOS:

Notice that tin dojigger tied to ya. You the law?

MATT:

Yeah, yeah. I'm a U.S. Marshall. My name's Matt Dillon.

AMOS:

That so? I never seen a Marshall on foot.

MATT:

Well, it happens sometimes.

AMOS:

How is it you're down this way? Ain't it a mite off your course? Hmm? You Marshall down here as well as Dodge?

MATT:

No, No?I -I just took a prisoner across the Cimarron into Oklahoma territory. Turned him over to the Army there.

AMOS:

Did, eh?

SFX:

DRAMATIC MUSIC SPIKE AND DOWN UNDER:

MATT:

And then he shut up tight. We must've ridden a couple of miles without a word. I got to thinking about Dodge and Chester, Doc, Kitty and the rest of 'em. You know, there's something pretty special about any place at Christmastime. The backbone of the stranger's nag was just about to split me in two when he talked up.

AMOS:

My name is Cowley. Amos Cowley.

SFX:

HORSE SNORTING AND NEIGHING LOUDLY

AMOS:

We'd better heave-to a spell. She's breathin' mighty hot. Alright, hold up!

SFX:

HORSE STOPS... THEY DISMOUNT.

MATT:

Well, it's gettin' a little chilly, isn't it?

AMOS:

Yeah. Uhm, could I trouble you for another smoke?

MATT:

Oh, sure. Sure. Here y' are.

AMOS:

I thank you. ...Say....

MATT:

Hmm?

AMOS:

What's it like... in Dodge?

MATT:

What?

AMOS:

Dodge. What's it like?

MATT:

Aw, it's like any other town, I guess.

AMOS:

Pretty big, huh?

MATT:

Well, yeah, I guess so.. not so big as New York, though.

AMOS:

Oh, No.

MATT:

Not as big as that.

AMOS:

You know, I haven't been in a big town now for more'n 10 years.

MATT:

Oh, is that so?

AMOS:

Nope. Been down the territories. Driftin'. Thought I'd move up north this time. Maybe go back East.

MATT:

Oh, you're from the East, huh?

AMOS:

Sometime back. Say, what's it like?

MATT:

What?

AMOS:

Dodge; any town...at..at Christmas? Same's it used to be?

MATT:

Well, I-I guess so!

AMOS:

What do you do?

MATT:

Well, same as most people, I guess. What most people do at Christmas.

AMOS:

Well, that ain't sayin' a lot. What're the folks like, and what does it look like? I- I'd ?I'd just kinda like to know.

MATT:

Well, I-I don't know.. Well, there's Front Street, uh, that's most of Dodge right now, 'course, it's getting bigger all the time?

AMOS:

You have any kids?

MATT:

No-No, I--I'm not married.

AMOS:

Eh...Kids-- have fun at Christmas.

MATT:

Yeah, yeah, they do. That's certain. In Dodge, they sometimes have a party for the kids a couple 'a days before Christmas. The kids like that, and then everybody gets feelin' good, lookin' forward to Christmas Eve. Like last year.

SFX: CHEERY, WESTERN-Y CHRISTMAS MUSIC UNDER:

There was snow in the ground, but the sky was clear; you--ya could even see the stars. I was goin' down the street to the Texas Trail to meet Chester and Doc. Chester, he's my deputy, and Doc's the doctor in town. We had some work to do later on in the evening. You could see the light shining behind the curtained windows, and almost everybody had a sprig of holly berries hanging up. They got some from the East a couple 'o days earlier. I remember runnin' into John Bumby. He's a kind of general handyman in Dodge. He never says much, but ?heh- he sure had a lot to say that night.

SFX:

MUSIC OUT

JOHN:

Oh, hello, Marshall!

MATT:

Aw, Hi, John.

JOHN:

(clearing his throat) A lovely night for Christmas Eve, isn't it?

MATT:

It certainly is, John.

JOHN:

Yeah.

MATT:

Really fine night.

JOHN:

Peace on earth, and good will to men. Eh, Mr. Dillon?

MATT:

Yeah, that's the way it should be, John.

JOHN:

Ya know, Marshall, this is going to be quite a night for me! Yes sir.

MATT:

Oh, that so, John?

JOHN:

Yes sir. Tonight, I'm asking Ms. McNish to become Mrs. Bumby.

MATT:

What?

JOHN:

Mmm-hmm.

MATT:

Why, John! I didn't know that?

JOHN:

I know, it's been a mighty fast secret, but I'm-I'm popping the question tonight.

MATT:

Well, I wish you a lot 'o luck, John. Hey; I'll tell you what. Come by to the Texas Trail later and we'll have a drink on it.

JOHN:

I will. I really will, Marshall. You're good and kind, Marshall?good and kind. Merry Christmas, Marshall. Merry Christmas!

MATT:

Well, the same to you, John.

SFX:

CHEERFUL MUSIC SPIKE AND CONTINUE UNDER:

MATT:

That may sound kind of funny to you, but John Bumby's a good man. A little peculiar sometimes, but good as they come. And, they don't make enough like him. Of course, 'most everybody in Dodge expected Doc and Ms. McNish were sweet on each other, but it just goes to show you... I'll tell you about John and Ms. McNish a little later.

MATT:

So, I went on down the street. You know, it's a funny thing about those words, "Merry Christmas." Men say it to each other, and well, it makes 'em feel kinda good.

AMOS:

Yeah, I know what ya mean. Used to be a seafarin' man myself, and when you're on the sea and it comes to Christmas, things like that can, well they can count a lot. Well, we might as well get underway again, eh?

MATT:

Sure.

SFX:

HORSE HOOVES APPROACH AND STOP

MATT:

You wanna take my saddle?

AMOS:

Yeah. Give it here..

BOTH:

Struggle to get on and situated.

MATT:

There we are. Give it to me, eh?

AMOS:

Giddup...

SFX:

HORSE HOOVES START AND CONTINUE UNDER:

AMOS:

I guess.. I guess you'll miss it.. In Dodge--tonight. I mean, won't ya?

MATT:

Well, huh, if you could get a little more out 'o this nag o' yours, we might make it...

AMOS:

Oh, there's not a chance. She'll be on her beam ends pretty quick. She's been on a long reach since sunup.

MATT:

Oh.

AMOS:

Mighty bare country up this way.

MATT:

Oh, it depends on what you're used to, I suppose.

AMOS:

Oh, it's mighty bare where I been, too; it's not like the sea. That's always different.

MATT:

How come you left it? I always heard a sailor doesn't ever get it out of his blood.

AMOS:

The sea? Guess you can get it out of your blood all right; if you got the right reason you can.

MATT:

Yeah, I guess so.

AMOS:

Hey. You tryin' to get somethin' outta me?

MATT:

Why, why no! Get what? I was just remarking?

AMOS:

If you wanna ride with me, I don't want any talk about the sea!

MATT:

Well, you brought it up.

AMOS:

Eh, Giddap!

SFX:

DRAMTIC SPIKE AND TIME PASSING MUSIC UNDER:

MATT: Amos Cowley sulked along the trail for the next while. And then, it was almost like he couldn't stand the quiet. Or maybe he had things on his mind. He turned his head...

AMOS:

Go on.

MATT:

What?

AMOS:

Go on. Tell me some more.

MATT:

Oh, about Dodge?

AMOS:

Yeah.

MATT:

Wha... I don't know...

AMOS:

Well, you try some more, huh?

MATT:

Well, uh, they got a little pine tree in the Texas Trail.

AMOS:

A tree?

MATT:

Yeah, it come down a long way from the north. Kitty Russell, she's the hostess in the Texas Trail. Well, she got a lotta ribbon and gee gaws and made it look real nice. That was last Christmas.

AMOS:

Was a star at the top?

MATT:

A star? Yeah, I think so; it looked like a star, I guess. It sure looked pretty. Well, there was a difference in the place that day. Ever'body was celebratin' and feelin' real good.

SFX:

HORSE HOOVES OUT & SOFT CHRISTMAS MUSIC AND WALLA UNDER:

The doors would swing open and somebody'd come in, and maybe it was just somebody you knew to nod at, but because it was Christmas Eve, you'd come right up and say "Hello." Well maybe that's a good reason, and maybe not. I don't know. Anyhow, it was still kinda early, and Kitty and Chester were standin' off, lookin' at the tree.

KITTY:

Hi, Matt.

CHESTER:

Evenin', Mr. Dillon!

MATT:

Hi, Kitty...Chester.

KITTY:

How do you like it, Matt...the Christmas tree?

MATT:

Aww, that's real pretty.

CHESTER:

It's the only tree but one, in the whole town.

KITTY:

No, Kate's got one over at the Alafroganza..

MATT:

Oh, I'll have to see it later...Where's Sam?

KITTY:

I don't know. Maybe he started celebratin' too soon... Doc's taken over the bar.

ALL:

Laugh

DOC:

Yeah, that's right.

MATT:

You want a drink, Kitty?

KITTY:

Sure...

DOC:

I'll getcha a drink!...I'll get the drinks...

SFX:

BAR GLASSES ON WOOD

CHESTER:

Eh, you haven't forgotten anything, have ya, Mr. Dillon?

MATT:

Forgotten?What, Chester?

CHESTER:

There; what did I tell you, Miss Kitty! I knew just as sure as my nose that he'd---

MATT:

Oh, that! No, no I haven't forgotten.

CHESTER:

Oh. Well, I thought as soon as we got Sam sober enough to take care of the customers that we could go on over to Doc's like we planned.

MATT:

Sure, we'll do that, Chester.

DOC:

Hee?yar, Matt!

SFX:

SLIDE GLASSES ON BAR

MATT:

Aw, thanks, Doc. Ah...

DOC:

Well, still snowin' out?

SFX:

KITTY'S FOOTSTEPS

MATT:

No, it stopped...Where're you goin', Kitty?

KITTY:

Oh, I just want to look?outside.

SFX:

DOOR OPENING, MORE STEPS

KITTY:

Ahhh... Real pretty!

SFX:

MUSIC UP AND UNDER:

MATT:

A man thinks of a lot of things that don't mean much. Kitty standin' at the door, sniffin' the cold air; and the warmth inside and the whiskey in me, and it was a good feelin'. And then, Chester and me decided to take a bottle over to Mr. Hightower. He's the telegraph operator at the depot. He runs a printin' shop on the side.

SFX:

STEPS IN THE SHALLOW SNOW.

CHESTER:

Hey, Mr. Dillon?

MATT:

Yeah, Chester?

CHESTER:

Do you mind if I stop by the church for a minute?

MATT:

Why, naw, I don't mind.

CHESTER:

I just feel kinda right tonight, Mr. Dillon. Figure I ought to thank somebody before I...

MATT:

Sure.

SFX: SOLEMN MUSIC UNDER:

MATT:

So, we stopped by the church. I've never been much of a man for church, I guess, but I went along with Chester. Wasn't anybody else there; just the two of us. Guess we sat for 10 minutes in that place; Chester a little way off with his head bowed. You know, there's a lot of peace in a church. Maybe it's the quiet, or maybe it's the good that people find in there. Well, whatever it was, it made a man feel glad about pretty much everything.

SFX:

MUSIC OUT/HOOVES UP AGAIN

AMOS:

I haven't been in a church since I don't know when.

MATT:

Oh, is that so?

AMOS:

I?heave too! Well, she's becalmed again, mister.

MATT:

Okay...

SFX:

HOOVES STOP/THEY DISMOUNT.

AMOS:

Well, she sure wasn't built for it, I'll tell ya. Ever see anything like that?

MATT:

Well, she is kinda old, ain't she?

AMOS:

I've had her goin' on eight years and she hasn't changed a mite. Eats like a pig and looks like a four-legged mizzen mast.

MATT:

(Chuckles) Smoke?

AMOS:

Don't mind...Hey, what about that uh, that fella Hightower? Did ya get that bottle to him?

MATT:

Oh, sure, sure. Yeah, I guess it was lonely over in the depot. He was glad for the company. There was a wood fire burnin' in the stove, but it didn't keep off the cold much.. .

SFX:

MUSIC SPIKE FOR TRANSITION...DOOR OPENS AND CLOSES

HIGHTOWER:

Well, how're you gents? Merry Christmas.

MATT:

Well, how's it going, Mr. Hightower?

HIGHTOWER:

Ohhh, slow, Marshall; slow. A bit of excitement about an hour back, though.

MATT:

That so?

HIGHTOWER:

Yeah. The 9:15 got stopped between here and Hutchinson. Lots of snow back 'ere...

MATT:

They gettin' 'er out?

HIGHTOWER:

Oh, sure, they're tryin', but I'm glad I'm not on it. It's gonna be a cold night on that train.

MATT:

Well, it's kinda chilly in here, isn't it, Mr. Hightower?

HIGHTOWER:

Any warmer and I'm goin' to sleep!

CHESTER:

Say, we brought you over a bottle of Irish for company.

HIGHTOWER:

Jameson's, well, I declare I was just thinking about a tod before you boys come in... Now, that's real friendly! Will you have a drink with me?

MATT:

We sure will!

HIGHTOWER:

Let's open 'er up, heh? There're a couple o' glasses up there on the shelf, Chester. Get 'em down, will ya?

MUSIC FOR A TRANSITION AND CONTINUE UNDER:

MATT:

I don't know if ya get an idea about the folks in Dodge or not. They're not different from any other people, nor their town, either. I?I guess maybe it's a pretty small place at that. The depot, the hall, a few stores, the church, Doc's office, the Texas Trail, Alafroganza., my office, uh, they're not much, but... it's where ya live, ya know?

MUSIC OUT

AMOS:

Sounds all right. I lived in a town once back east. Small. I know what you mean.

MATT:

Maybe you'll be going back.

AMOS:

Mebbe...Say, kids. They still believe in St. Nick?

MATT:

Sure!

AMOS:

Mighty few kids down where I been...Injun kids; they don't believe in St. Nick.

MATT:

No reason they should, I guess.

AMOS:

I used to believe in it, you know that?

MATT:

I guess most people did one time or another. Hey, you figure we've come maybe 10 miles?

AMOS:

Mebbe.

MATT:

Well, it's gettin' dark.

AMOS:

Yeah. Well, come on. You wanna ride in the saddle for a bit?

MATT:

Oh, no, no?that's okay.

AMOS: Well, then okay...

SFX:

TRANSITION MUSIC

MATT:

We rode on and I thought about last year; about Kitty, Doc and Chester and me goin' over to Doc's place after he got tired of tendin' bar at the Texas Trail. It was about a quarter to midnight, and we stood around and sang Christmas carols.

ALL:

PRE-RECORDED "The First Noel" UNDER MATT AND CONTINUE TO END ONE VERSE BEFORE LAUGH:

MATT:

I remember how it sounded that night and how it looked. The glow in the stove in the middle of the room and the frosty windows....Yeah, it was Christmas Eve, all right.

ALL:

Laugh.

CHESTER:

Say, that was fine! That was just fine!

DOC:

Yes, it was. What do you say if we...

SFX:

12 CHIMES RING UNDER:

KITTY: Shhh...Listen!

DOC:

Aww.. Merry Christmas.

KITTY:

Merry Christmas

CHESTER:

Merry Christmas

MATT:

Merry Christmas

DOC:

(Chuckling) I feel sentimental! That's exactly what I feel; I feel sentimental.

CHESTER:

(serious) I know what you mean, Doc. I surely know.

KITTY:

Okay, Doc. Bring 'em out...

SFX:

TRANSITION MUSIC AND WALLA UNDER:

MATT:

And I remember how Doc scuttled over to the bureau and brought out some packages. The presents weren't much, but it didn't matter what they were. And when we'd finished opening them, it was Chester who said what we were all thinking.

CHESTER:

I just; I?I?just want to say Miss Kitty, Doc, you, Mr. Dillon?I just want to say that this is the best doggone Christmas I ever had. And, and that's what I wanna say.

SFX:

TRANSITION CHRISTMAS MUSIC

AMOS:

Say, you was gonna tell me about that fella John, who was courtin' that woman; what was her name?

MATT:

Oh, yeah. Ms. McNish. Well, she said, "Yes." And you've never seen two happier people in your whole life. Yeah, she's Ms. McNish Bumpy now.

AMOS:

Well, that's good.

MATT:

Ahh... you know, you might settle for a bit in Dodge. You could get work there.

AMOS:

Sure would be fine if you could get back tonight, wouldn't it?

MATT:

Well, it can't be helped. I'd be a lot further away and a sight more tired if you hadn't come along.

AMOS:

Yeah. Well listen, how far you figure it'll be before there's a place you might pick up a horse?

MATT:

Oh, I don't know. Fifteen miles or so, maybe.

AMOS:

Well, we're not gonna make any 15 miles on this nag tonight. That's for sure.

MATT: Well, that's all right.

AMOS:

I'll tell you what. You go on alone, y'see...

MATT:

Oh, no?forget it...

AMOS:

No, you go on alone. She can hold out with one man on her. And then you get a fresh horse and you ride into Dodge tonight.

MATT:

Well, thanks, that's very kind, but...

AMOS:

I'm telling ya, I want you to go. I'll be fine. I've walked before--probably make it almost as quick as you.

MATT:

Well, now, look, it's real nice of you, Mr. Cowley, but no thanks.

AMOS:

Christmas don't mean nothin' to me. You got friends waitin' for ya.

MATT:

I'll see 'em tomorrow.

AMOS:

Ah, you're a fool.

MATT:

Well, that may be.

AMOS:

All o' them nice folks; you'll make 'em feel pretty bad.

MATT:

Look, I'll stay if you want to go on along. But thanks for the ride.

AMOS:

Well, we might as well make camp, then.

MATT:

(chuckling) I guess so.

SFX:

SOUNDS OF DISMOUNTING AND MAKING CAMP.

AMOS:

And listen. You want to tell me some more about what you was telling me before we turn in?

MATT:

Well, sure.

AMOS:

I'd take it kindly, mister. Well, get yourself settled; I've got some stuff in my pack we can eat and maybe use to get a fire going. Then after we eat, you can tell me some more.

SFX:

BIG SKY TRANSITION MUSIC AND CONTINUING UNDER:

MATT: We made a fire, then shared what we had for supper. He seemed to soften up after that, and we talked for a couple or three hours. It was like he was starved for news of people; ever-day things, and just plain company. And that's how we spent Christmas Eve together out on the plain. Then, when the fire was dying down and I was about ready for sleep, he said,

AMOS:

Marshall?

MATT:

Yeah?

AMOS:

I want to tell ya somethin'. I've been needin' to tell it for a long time?do ya mind?

MATT:

Of course I don't mind.

AMOS:

Well then, I'll tell ya. A few years ago, I was skipper of a little schooner that used to sail up and down the East coast. You know, Boston, New York..

MATT:

Yeah.

AMOS:

Well, one night, we hit dirty weather off New Jersey; real dirty. Blew us off course and we piled up on the rocks and knocked the bottom out.

MATT:

That's too bad.

AMOS:

There was 18 passengers aboard, Marshall. Four of 'em was kids. We never saw 'em again. And my own, my own wife and my kid went down, too.

MATT:

I-I- I'm sorry.

AMOS:

Well, now, somethin' must've happened to me after that. I didn't want nothin' to do with, with ships or the sea. And I started to drift out this way. I couldn't forget, though, d'ya know? And I didn't want to be near folks; especially kids...to remind me, ya know?

MATT:

Yeah.

AMOS:

Well that's how come I've been slewing around ever since.

MATT:

Sure; I understand.

AMOS:

I just kind of wanted to get if off my chest.

MATT:

Sure.

AMOS:

Marshall, I'd like to ride into Dodge with you tomorrow. You think I might meet some 'o them folks you was tellin' about?

MATT:

Aww, I don't see why not.

AMOS:

That'd be all right. Mebbe I wouldn't need to drift no more. Mebbe I could uh, drop anchor, do you know?

MATT:

Yeah, you might at that.

AMOS:

Yes, well, good night.

MATT:

Good night.

AMOS:

Merry Christmas, Marshall.

MATT:

Merry Christmas, Mr. Cowley.

SFX:

MUSIC TO A FINISH

ANNCR:

TONIGHT'S STORY WAS SPECIALLY WRITTEN FOR GUNSMOKE BY ANTHONY ELLIS.