desert justice
Bonanza Western TV
The Lone Writer  

Desert Justice Full Episode – Bonanza, Season #01, Episode #23

Bonanza is the first Western series in color and the second longest-running Western in history. The influential Western show centered on the daily adventures of the fictional family, The Cartwrights.

Donald S. Sanford wrote the program’s 23rd episode, Desert Justice, which aired on February 20, 1960. The guest cast includes Fintan Meyler, who played Andrea Strasser, Ron Hayes as Hurd Cutler, John Wengraf as Dr. Anton Strasser, Bud Osborne as Charlie, and Will Wright as Micah Bailey.

Adam and Hoss accompany their employee, Dave Walker, to ensure his safe arrival in Los Angeles after a tough U.S. Marshal from California arrested him for murder. Adam wore black for the first time in one scene in the episode. In another, when Hoss first sees Southern California, he says, “It sure ain’t never going to amount to much.” Meanwhile, Adam makes a comic reference to the chow Joe later, stating how they forced him to eat in “The Last Hunt.”

Read the episode’s plot, including some interesting trivia, or watch it below.

Watch the Full Episode of Desert Justice

Watch the Full Episode of Desert Justice:

Main Cast

Apart from the main cast, Desert Justice, Bonanza’s twenty-third episode, features the series’ recurring and guest actors.

The casts in the episode are as follows:

  • Dan Blocker as Eric ‘Hoss’ Cartwright
  • Michael Landon as Joseph ‘Little Joe’ Cartwright
  • Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright
  • Pernell Roberts as Adam Cartwright
  • Claude Akins as Marshal Emmett Dowd
  • Fintan Meyler as Andrea Strasser
  • Wesley Lau as Dave Walker
  • John Wengraf as Dr. Anton Strasser
  • Will Wright as Micah Bailey
  • Ron Hayes as Hurd Cutler
  • Bud Osborne as Charlie – Stagecoach Driver
  • Tom Greenway as Deputy Dan
  • Clark Ross as Baggage Clerk (uncredited)

Full Story Line for Desert Justice

Adam and Dave Walker, one of the Ponderosa ranchhands, arrive as Hoss and Joe stack hay. The two were about to head to Virginia City for a dance, but Dave offered to help with the task. He gets the pitchfork from Joe to toss hay up to Hoss when a man with a rifle enters the scene and orders Dave to stop moving. The man was U.S. Marshal Emmett Dowd, demanding to take Dave back to California because he’s his prisoner. Dave turns to see the man while holding his pitchfork, but Dowd knocks him to the ground. The Cartwrights tried to stop him, but he threatened to kill the first man who tried to intervene with his business.

Back in their house, the boys explain to Ben what happened to Dave. Dowd remained unbothered, somewhat even confident, and quietly angry. Ben asks Dowd to show his credentials, and he obliges, leaving Ben with nothing to do but comply with the marshal. Dowd takes Dave to Virginia City in cuffs, charging him with murder. Having known Dave for quite some time since he worked for them, the Cartwrights believe they must do something to help Dave.

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Ben proceeds with his plan the following day by wiring his lawyer friend in L.A. a thousand dollars, asking him to protect Dave. On the other hand, Hoss meets Ben and Adam in town after visiting Dave in jail, angered over Dave’s condition. The Cartwrights rush over to discover a bruised and beaten Dave. Ben asks the deputy about it, but he states how he couldn’t refuse to cooperate with the marshal and that he wasn’t on duty at the time. However, the person on night duty mentioned to the deputy that Dowd returned that night to check Dave’s chains. Ben doesn’t understand why it’s happening to Dave, considering Dave’s compliance. Adam informs Dave about the lawyer they’ve contacted in L.A., but Dave doesn’t think Dowd will allow him to reach Los Angeles alive.

As Down checks out of the hotel, he encounters an Austrian duo, father and daughter, planning on taking the same stage as him. Despite their excitement, Dowd firmly told them they couldn’t go on the same stage regardless of their arrangements.

The Cartwrights arrive at the hotel as Dowd is about to leave. Despite their efforts to stop him, Dowd isn’t daunted and leaves the place. The Austrian duo hears their conversation and asks the Cartwrights if there’s any danger in the stage they’re about to take. Adam reveals that a prisoner will travel on that stage to Los Angeles and that it’s safer if they wait instead. Not wanting to delay making their connections, the two sought other ways to continue their plans.

Dowd pushes Dave, whose hands are chained, as they approach the stage. A man comes to help Dave upon seeing him falling to the ground, but Dowd stops him, saying Dave doesn’t need any help. The deputy comments on Dowd’s actions, doubting Dave will get to Los Angeles alive. Ben asks if there’s anyone they send to look out for Dave, but the deputy says they need two more men to proceed. Adam and Hoss volunteered to ensure Dave reached Los Angeles alive to get a fair trial. Dowd does not like having other passengers on the stage. However, he can’t take over a carrier for public use. Seeing there’s nothing he can do, Dowd demands the Cartwrights to surrender their weapons, locking the guns in a strong box by the driver while he has the key. The Austrian duo from earlier, Anton and Andrea Strauss, also insist on going. After settling things, they eventually leave Virginia City.

The treatment Dave receives from Dowd inside the stage bothers Andrea. She believes it’s unnecessary to keep Dave chained. Dowd doesn’t care and insists that a murderer like him should be in chains. As their travel continues, Dave eventually says he’s given up hope and tells Adam not to argue with Dowd about it. His words distress Andrea a lot more.

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The carrier stops at a watering hole where a young rider awaits. The man was Hurd Cutler, who says his horse came up lame. Adam and Hoss check the horse’s condition and discover its stone bruise. Realizing he can’t travel further with his horse, he wishes to ride along on the stage. However, Dowd does not like the idea and believes in seeing Hurd back in Virginia City. Hurd denies Dowd’s claim and states he’s from up north, heading to Los Angeles. Dowd orders him to surrender his gun like everyone else if he desires to join the group.

The stage arrives at the station in Southern California. Micah Bailey, the station master, welcomes them. Dowd continues to take control of the situation, getting the keys from Micah. He orders the Straussers to sleep in the master’s quarters, much to Micah’s disapproval. On the other hand, Dowd tells the remaining men to sleep in the parlor while he and Dave occupy the dining room. Dowd tells Micah to sleep in the kitchen. Like his previous orders, he also took charge of all the firearms at the station until they left.

At supper, Dave and Dowd sat separately from the others. Andrea is worried about seeing Dave not eating. Dave says it’s the first time he has lost his appetite. Andrea encourages him to eat, as it will give him strength for the long and rough journey he’ll face. Moreover, Adam reminds him that the trial has yet to take place. Despite their efforts to liven his spirit, Dave pessimistically points out that a lot can occur from now. Dowd calls it a night and sends everyone to bed as soon as they finish their meals.

As the night goes on, Dowd checks the doors of the place to ensure that Dave won’t sneak out. Dave asks when Dowd’s last sleep was, and he replies that it has been almost a year. He then starts to whistle a song, saying it’s about a girl named Cora. Dave couldn’t finish his sentence as outraged Dowd hits him in the face, telling him to keep his mouth shut.

Dave finds Dowd dozing off in the middle of the night. Meanwhile, Hoss whispers to Adam, asking if he’s still awake. Dowd wakes up from his nap and checks on things. He peeks at the parlor where Hoss states Hurd isn’t there. Dowd walks to the barn and finds Hurd preparing his horse. Hurd releases the horses all at once, and they charge over Dowd as they head out. After the short stampede, Hurd emerges from the barn and throws a pitchfork at Dowd, lying on the ground. Dowd shoots and kills Hurd. When Adam and Hoss hear the noise, Adam accuses Dowd of murdering Hurd, claiming Hurd was Dave’s accomplice.

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Anton Strausser, a doctor, tends to the badly injured Dowd. Adam showed no sympathy for him and claimed suspicion took over Dowd’s mind. Dowd insists that Hurd was trying to help Dave escape. Andrea says they only desired for him to show compassion for the prisoner. Seeing no one believes him, he explained that Dave used the same trick on Cora. Andrea asks who Cora is, to which he declares his wife, whom he killed with a shotgun. Adam couldn’t understand the connection of his wife’s death to Dave, so Dowd explained how Dave used his ways for his wife to release him: pushing Cora into Dowd’s line of fire to save himself.

Adam refuses to believe his words. Dowd hands Adam his marshal badge, asking him to take Dave to Los Angeles. He refuses at first but accepts the badge and leaves the room.

As he leaves the room, Adam asks the cuffed Dave if he has anything to do with Dowd’s condition, even showing Dowd’s badge of office. Dave can’t believe that Dowd made him a deputy but is glad because that means Adam can free him now. However, Adam refuses, stating the marshal would rather have him stay that way. Adam hears someone outdoors and finds Hoss returning with one of the horses Hurd released earlier. He takes his frustration out on Hoss by asking about Micah and Charlie. Although confused, Hoss leaves to find them. Adam stays outside, contemplating what he should do.

Inside, Dave talks to Andrea, imposing his innocence. Soon enough, she tells him she believes him, and he kisses her. Dave appeals to Andrea to free him from the chains. After much persuasion, she agrees to get the keys from the marshal.

Andrea returns to the parlor, asking his father, Anton, about Dowd’s condition. Fortunately, Anton had pills in his case, which helped Dowd fall asleep despite the terrible pain brought by his injury. Seeing Dowd in deep slumber, Anton decides they should go back to sleep. Andrea says she’s not sleepy yet, so she remains in the parlor.

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After his father left to sleep, Andrea checks Dowd once more before taking the keys from his coat. Little did she know, Dowd was awake and aware of what she had done. She returns to Dave and frees him from his chains. Andrea was pleased to see Dave free, but he stated he’s not entirely free with Dowd nearby. He tells Andrea he will give Dowd a taste of his medicine, gathering the chains as he speaks. Dave’s actions surprise Andrea, but he tells her Dowd wouldn’t let him free since he killed his wife.

Adam returns to the cabin just in time, then instructs him not to move. Dave uses Andrea as his shield, telling Adam he’ll have to shoot her first. Adam wonders if the same thing happened to Dowd’s wife. At that moment, Dave recalls that the marshall has ordered them to put all guns in the strongbox, leaving Adam unarmed. He charges Adam, and they fall outside. Adam starts beating Dave even though he is already on the ground.

Adam continues hitting Dave until Dowd orders him to stop, pointing a shotgun in his direction. His action is far from what Adam expects, so he asks why Dowd suddenly cares. Dowd insists Dave needs to get to attend the trial alive. Adam reminds him that he would’ve killed Dave himself if they hadn’t been present. Dowd doesn’t deny the idea, stating he considered that for almost a year, but they made him realize what he’d become.

The group hops on the carriage with Adam in charge. Hoss speaks to Andrea, saying she will be happy to get aboard the ship they’ve waited for days before. Andrea showed uncertainty, especially after seeing how Americans deal with things quickly, compared to how it sometimes takes a generation for people in Europe to set things right.

The scene ends as the stage moves along to its destination.

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Full Script and Dialogue of Desert Justice

Come on, Little Joe. Can't
you load no faster than that?

Can't I load it any faster?

Why don't you try pitching
and let me stack for a while?

You must be forgetting.

I did the loading this
morning, you did the stacking.

Now it's your turn
to load a while.

No, I ain't forgetting.

I'm just complaining.

Now I ask you.

Did you ever see
two guys work so hard

and accomplish so little?


I'll have to admit they're a
bit on the slow side, Adam,

but then, they're pretty puny,

especially the one
on top of the wagon.


So, what are you doing?

Oh, I thought I'd
give them a hand.

If we're going to make
that dance in Virginia City,

we don't have much time.

It won't take but a few minutes.

Well, as long as you're
such a fool for work, Dave,

be my guest.

Oh, hey, ain't that the shirt

you sent all the
way to St. Louis for?



It's in pretty bad shape now.

Huh. Well, I can
send for another.

Come on. We better
get the rest of this

hay loaded before
your pa skins us alive.

And he can sure do it, too.

Dave Walker?

You stand right
where you are, Walker.

Drop your gun belt.

I don't know who
you are, Mister,

but you're gonna
go home in a box.

I'm a United States marshal,
and this is my prisoner.

Well, what did Dave do?

You got the wrong man, Mister.

Now, hold it!

I'll kill the first man
who tries to interfere.

Dave didn't have a chance, Pa.

Marshal clubbed him

before he knew
what was happening.

I'll have a look at your
credentials, Marshal,

if you don't mind.

A tin star and a shotgun won't
get you off the Ponderosa alive.

I said your credentials.

"United States
Marshal Emmett Dowd,

"Los Angeles Office of Southwest


Now, was it necessary to
half kill the boy, Marshal?

He had a pitchfork.

I don't take any chances.

Dave's the one who didn't
have a chance, Marshal.

Marshal, Dave Walker
has been working

for me for almost a year now.

In all that time, I've
never known him

to commit an act of
violence of any sort.

If you have any complaints,

you can lodge them
with my superiors.

Oh, I'll do that.
You can count on it.

In the meantime, you tell
your boys to step aside.

I'm gonna take my
prisoner into Virginia City.

On what charge?


Let's go.

Do you have to
treat him so roughly?

Mr. Cartwright, I'll handle
my prisoner in my own way.

Now, look, he's not an animal.

Treat him with
some consideration.

Mr. Cartwright, it's
a federal offense,

punishable by fine or
imprisonment or both,

to interfere with a
United States marshal

in the execution of his duties.

Now you step aside.

Don't you fellas think
you'd better get dressed

if you're gonna make that dance?

After what happened to Davey,

I don't feel much
like dancing, Pa.

Me, neither, Pa.

Pa, do you really believe
what that fella had to say

about Dave being
guilty of murder?

Well, the question of
Dave's innocence or guilt

still has to be
proved at a trial.

Yeah, that is, if he gets one.

Dowd acted as though
he's already been convicted.


Ain't there some way
we can stop him, Pa?

Hoss... he's a United
States marshal.

His orders are to take Dave back

to Los Angeles to stand trial.

Yeah? Maybe if some of
Dave's friends got together,

we could change all that.

Now, Joe, whatever we
think of Dowd as a man,

he still represents the law.

There must be a
better way to help Dave.

We're listening.

Well, we can ride into town
tomorrow morning, for one thing.

Talk to Dowd.

Stage for Southern California
doesn't leave till noon.

Yeah, but how can we help him?

I don't know.

I do have a lawyer
friend in Los Angeles

I'd like to telegraph
a message to.

Yeah. I'd-I'd like to buy
old Dave a shirt, too.

Replace that one he tore
up helping us load the hay.

Yeah, that'd be a
good idea, Hoss.

Well, the three of us'll
leave in the morning then.

Three of who?

Well, Hoss, Adam and myself.

Yeah, what about me?

I think you'd better
stay here, Joe.

Somebody has to get
the rest of the hay in.

That'll keep him
busy till spring, Pa.

Well, this country's
growing up, Pa.

Wasn't always you could send
$1,000 flying through the air

from here to Los Angeles.

Well, at least
it'll provide Dave

with the kind of
help he'll need.


I'm getting just about
ready to kill a man, Pa.

Oh, what now?

Well, I just took that
new shirt over to Dave,

and you ought to see what
that marshal's done to him.

What about the sheriff?
Didn't he try to stop him?

No. He's up at Pyramid
Lake or someplace.

Ain't nobody over
there but that deputy,

and Dowd just shoved him aside.

We better get over to that
jail, see what we can do.


Let me see your face, boy.

Dan, how did this happen?

Dowd. Brought
the boy in last night,

and then demanded a cell.

I couldn't refuse to cooperate
with a U.S. marshal, Ben.

And he did this to Dave?

Well, I didn't see it happen.

Curley had the night duty.

He said Dowd came back
to check the boy's chains.

Pa, I'm gonna kill him.

Well, that wouldn't
help matters.

Now, Dave, did you
give him any provocation?

Do you think he needed
any, Mr. Cartwright?

But why?

You didn't offer any resistance.

Why would he want
to do this to you?

Maybe because he's just that
kind of man, Mr. Cartwright.


Yeah, I guess that's so.

Dave, Pa's wired $1,000 to a
lawyer friend in Los Angeles.

Make sure you get a fair trial.

Adam, you think Dowd's gonna
let me reach Los Angeles alive?

David... did you
commit this murder?

Mr. Cartwright,

I don't even know what
Dowd is talking about.

All right, Dave.

We believe you.

Where's the marshal now, Dan?

He's over at the
hotel packing his bags.

The stage leaves in 20 minutes.

Well, that'll give
us enough time.

Come on, boys.

Oh, Hoss?

Thanks for the shirt.

Nicest one I ever had.

It's all right, Dave.

Uh, Mr. Cartwright,

thanks for everything
you've done for me,

but don't bother trying
to talk to Marshal Dowd.

It won't do any good.


Good morning.

Will you please see that
our bags are taken out to

the stage?

You talking about the
stage to Los Angeles?

Yes, sir.

I think that is the
name of the little village.

You see, my daughter
and I are not so familiar

with this part of your country.

But we like it very much.

It's so very beautiful.

Isn't it, Father?

Indeed, my child, it is.

And we are looking forward
to the rest of our journey.

There's nothing between
here and Los Angeles

but 500 miles of
dry, hot desert.

But your desert is
most remarkable.

We have never seen anything
to match its rugged splendor.

You'd better wait
for the next stage.

We're not taking any
passengers on this one.

No, no, we cannot wait.

You see, we have made
arrangements already

at Los Angeles.

There will be a sailing
vessel waiting for us

on which we have reservations.

I said no passengers.

Hello, Marshal.

Hello, Cartwright.

You're blocking the door.

Yes, I know.

We've just seen what
you did to Dave Walker.

He resisted my
efforts to shackle him.

Well, was there any need
to chain him to that bed?

Just the need to make sure

he didn't escape
from that fleabag jail.

What about his face?

What'd you hit him with?

Cartwright, get out of my way.

Mister, if you weren't a
United States marshal...

The point is, I am.

Let him out, Adam.

Excuse me, gentlemen.

May I present myself?

My name is Dr. Anton Strasser.

This is my daughter, Andrea.


Well, I'm, uh, Ben Cartwright.

These are my sons.

Very pleased to
meet you, gentlemen.

Could you kindly tell me,

is there some danger in our
taking this particular stage?


No, there's no danger.

It might prove to
be a bit unpleasant

for you and your daughter.

Unpleasant? How do you mean?

Well, Doctor,
you see, they're...

they're taking a
young man in chains

on that stage to Los Angeles.

In chains?

But why?

Is he a criminal?

No, ma'am, he's not a criminal.

But it might be safer if you
did take the stage next week.

But Father, surely
he cannot prevent us

from taking the stage?

Easy, easy, my child.

Sir, I don't understand.

This gentleman
who carries a gun...

Is he an officer of the law?

Well, he's a...

he's an officer of the
law, all right, but, uh...

you must remember, Doctor,
we're a young and rough country.

Well, we have seen men like this

who carry guns and
abuse their power.

It happens everywhere.

Even in my native Vienna.

But, Father, we've
got to get on that stage

if we're going to
make our connections.

We'll see what can be done.

Thank you so much, gentlemen.

Stand away, Mister.

He doesn't need any help.

On your feet, Walker.

I said get up.

Once before I've seen
that kind of lawman.

How do you mean that, Dan?

That Dowd doesn't intend

for Dave to get to
Los Angeles alive.

Look, Dan, isn't there
someone you can send along

to look out for the boy?

I'd go myself, but we're
two men short as it is.

We couldn't spare anybody

till the sheriff gets
back from Pyramid Lake.

Think I ought to go along, Pa?

Adam, this isn't
really our affair.

Isn't it?

Then why'd you wire
a thousand dollars

to the lawyer in Los Angeles?

To make sure the
boy gets a fair trial.

Well, maybe that's
why I want to go along...

See that he lasts long
enough to get a fair trial.

Pa, maybe you ought
to send me along, too.

Charlie, have you
any empty seats?

Far as I know, we're
not carrying anything

but the marshal
and his prisoner.

Say, driver.

Please take our luggage aboard.

My daughter and I
will travel with you.

I told you at the hotel...

There'll be no other
passengers on this trip.

Sir, you have no
right to do this...

This is a public vehicle.

Tell your father to step
out of the way, Miss.

I don't want to hurt him.

But my father isn't well.

And we must make
that boat connection.

I'm sorry, Miss.

But we haven't any weapons.

Surely we can't endanger
you and your prisoner.


are you commandeering
this stage?

I said there'd be no passengers

on this trip.

Well, you know you can't
take over a public carrier,

Marshal Dowd.

It's for their own safety.

I can't be responsible

for what might
happen on this trip.

Well, you can just
not bother yourself

about that anymore, Mister.

Me and my brother here
are gonna go along with you

to make sure nothin'
peculiar does happen.

That's right, Marshal.

If you've any objections

you can telegraph your
superiors for instructions.

All right.

Hand your guns to the driver.

Hand up your guns, boys.

You won't need 'em
for what you have to do.

Lock 'em up!

Yours, too.

I'll take the key.

Good luck, Adam.

It's all right,
Marshal, you, uh...

You just keep your seat.

I'd just as soon ride up
there with Charlie, anyhow.

Okay, Charlie.

Yah! Get up there, Lucy!

Shake them hips, Maybelle! Get!

Yah! Yah!

I'm forgetting my
manners, Miss Strasser.

You and your father met the
gentleman with the shotgun.

United States Deputy
Marshal Emmett Dowd.

But as for the prisoner...

Well, I'm not certain whether

or not the law permits
us to recognize him.

Perhaps you could
advise us, Marshal?

We have a long
journey, Mr. Cartwright.

Let's not make it more
difficult than is necessary.

Well, looking at your prisoner,
I would say you're making it

a lot more difficult
than is necessary.

Since you are so
well-armed, Marshal,

why is it necessary that
your prisoner remain chained?

Does it disturb you to
see a murderer in chains?

I don't care to see
any man in chains.

Particularly an innocent one.

Walker's guilt
will be established

when we reach Los Angeles.

Yah, get up there, Lucy!

Shake them hips, Maybelle!

Burn it, Charlie, why
don't you try missing

some of them jug holes
every once in a while?

It's a long ride
ahead of us, Adam.

There's no sense in your
gettin' red-necked 'cause of me.

I'm finished.

You can't say that.

If you're innocent,
you can't even think it.

Andrea, please.

You mustn't submit
to what he stands for.

These chains don't encourage
a man to fight back, Miss.

Charlie, I sure am
going to be happy

to get my britches off
of this... this torture rack.

Well, we'll be stoppin' to water
the horses another mile or so.

Yah! Yah! Get up there, Lucy!





Ten minutes, folks. You
can get out and stretch,

if you don't mind the snakes.

I sure am glad
you folks came by.

What's wrong, Mister?

Oh, my horse lost
his shoe a ways back.

That's bad luck.
Where are you headed?


Which shoe is it?

Oh, it's that left front foot.

Yeah. It ain't no shoe, Mister.

You ain't going very
far on that old pony.

He-He's got a bad stone bruise.

Well, maybe you got room
for an extra passenger.

I got the fare. Hold it!

What's your name, Mister?


Hurd Cutler.

Where you from?

Well, up north.

I asked you a question,
Mister. Answer it.

Well, it's a good enough answer.

Up north.

Ranch near the Truckee River.

I'm headed for Los Angeles.

All the way across the
desert with that one canteen?

Well, I figured I'd
get me another one

at the next stage
station... Marshal.

Well, how about it, driver?

You got room for me topside?

Yeah, I guess so.

We can't just leave
him stranded out here.

It's better than a week till
another stage comes by.

Didn't I see you
in Virginia City?

Oh, I don't reckon so, Marshal.

Nearest I ever got to a
silver mine was Laredo.

A land jobber sold me and
my partner a salted claim.

Did you get back at him?

Naw. Hangin'
party got to him first.

Well, well, how
about it, Marshal?

Uh, I'd be grateful to you

if you let me ride to
the next stage station.

I can have my horse
shod and be on my way.

I'll let the driver
keep your gun.

Well, the marshal
is taking all our guns.

He's afraid one of us
might lose his head.

Yah! Get up there, Lucy!

Thank you, Miss.

Yah, yah!

Yah, Maybelle, come on!

Well, thar she is.

Thar what is?

The beautiful
state of California.

That God-forsaken
desert's Californy?

You ain't never been
to California before?

Yeah. I been to California.

I been to San Francisco,
lots of times, Charlie,

but it sure didn't
look nothin' like that.

Well, this is
Southern California.

The station's right
beyond those hills there.

Southern California, huh?


I can tell you
one thing, Charlie.

It sure ain't gonna
ever amount to much.

Yah! Yah!

Yah! Get up there, Lucy!


Whoa! You frisky females.

Hi, Charlie.


You're about a half-hour late.

You run into trouble
along the way?

Nope. Not on the way,
Micah, you old highbinder.

I brung it with me.

Just so's you
wouldn't be losing out

on your share of the misery.

Only six for supper, Charlie?

Only six, and one in chains.

But I don't reckon he'll be
having much of an appetite.

He's on his way to be hanged.

Do tell.

Well. A young one, huh?

I bet you some gal's gonna
be crying her eyes out.

Maybe more than
one gal, eh, sonny?

I'd like to think so, old-timer.

What are they
gonna hang you for?

Horse thievin' or card sharpin'?

For twistin' the arm
off a nosy old desert rat.

Oh, say. I like
this boy, Marshal.

Yes, siree.

Say, are you plumb
set on hanging him?

I suppose you're
the station master.

Yeah. That's me. That's me.

Micah Bailey.

Now, eh, the gents will
bed down in the dining room.

And the lady in the parlor.

Don't you have any
private accommodations?

What's he talking about?

Well, I reckon what
he means, Micah,

is that he wants a private room.

Well, I tell you, Mister, the
only thing private out here

is the hole that a
man gets buried in.

And even that's liable to
be stolen out from under him

by thievin' Apaches.

Breakfast at daybreak.

Supper at sundown.

If you're late, you don't eat.

Everybody, hold
it just a minute.

Old man, do these doors lock?


I'll give these back to you
before we leave in the morning.

Dr. Strasser,

you and your daughter
will occupy this room tonight.

Thank you, Marshal.

Hey, Bub, you
just wait a minute.

That's the station
master's quarters.

Cartwright, you and your
brother, Cutler and the driver

will occupy the parlor.

My prisoner and I will
take the dining room.

Ain't you forgetting about me?

Sleep in the kitchen.

He's being thoughtful
again as usual, Micah.

Ain't you leaning kind of
heavy on that tin star, Marshal?

Now you listen to me.

I'm station master
here... Me, Micah Bailey.

I'll say who goes where.

Mr. Bailey, it is a federal
offense punishable

by fine or imprisonment

or both to interfere with
a United States marshal

in the execution of his duties.

It means he's
taking charge, Micah,

whether we like it or not.

Oh, put that strongbox, uh...

over by the stove.

Mr. Bailey, how many firearms
do you have at this station?

Half a dozen rifles locked
up in the liquor stores

and this.

Are the keys on here?


Well, until I leave,

I will take charge
of all firearms.

Mister, this is Apache country.

I wouldn't let loose of my
shootin' iron for any man.

Especially a blowed-up tin star.


That's an order, old man.

Can he do this to me?

Aw, dad-gum it, Micah,

I reckon he thinks he can.

You better go ahead
and do like he tells you.

For the time being, anyhow.

Well, that ought to...

That ought to get you
across the desert, Cutler,

but I'd sure be careful of
that stone bruise if I was you.

Well, thanks a lot, Hoss.

You fellas want supper,

you better rustle your shanks.

I'm just dishing up
beans and side meat.

That sounds mighty
laverin' to me, Micah.

Come on, Adam, let's go.

Uh, what kind of beans?

Wild beans.

I picked 'em myself.

Mesquite beans.

Yeah, Little Joe warned
me if I went on a trip with you,

I'd be eating cow fodder.

You talk like I rode
ahead and ordered them.

Well, if you didn't, how come

they're on the
menu first night out?

You know, come to think of it,

it does sound a
little strange, don't it?

Oh, I don't think so.

It's sort of like
bees and honey.

You and cow food just
seem to go together.


Here's some more coffee, folks.


You haven't touched your food.

First time I ever remember
my appetite deserting me, Miss.

I can hardly blame you.

I wouldn't feel much
like eating either.

Andrea, please.

But you must eat.

We still have a long
journey, haven't we?

Yes, Miss, a very
long and rough one.

You must eat.

It will give you strength.

I'll get by, Miss.

When we get to Los Angeles,
perhaps my father and I

can notify your family.

Well, that's
thoughtful of you, Miss,

but there's no one to notify.

My ma died when I was
no bigger than a polliwog.

Never knew my pa.

Ma said he was a
man with restless feet.

I think she loved him
more than he was worth.

And you took after your father?

No, Miss.

I always tried to stay put

for as long as I was allowed.

Looks now like I'll get my wish.

I'll be settling
someplace for good.

Look, Dave, you're
not convicted yet.

You're going to be back
on the Ponderosa in no time,

don't you worry.

A lot can happen between
now and the time I get tried.

If the lady will forgive me,

I think I'll finish my
cigar in the other room.

If the rest of you are
through with your meals,

I'd be obliged if you'd
all go to your rooms.

Is that a request, Marshal?

No, Miss Strasser,
that is not a request.

Good night.

Andrea, please.

Nothing to be gained
by arguing with authority.

But, Father...
Come along, child.

We have a long journey tomorrow.

Good night. Good night.

Good night. Good night.

Good night, Dave.

I'll be all right, Adam.

Don't lose no sleep over me.

Good night, Dave.

You afraid I'll sneak out
in this harness, Marshal?

Or that one of them will
jump you while you're asleep?

Adam Cartwright, for
instance, or the station master?

How long has it been
since you slept, Marshal?

Almost a year.

Has it really been that long?

I can't imagine what
keeps you going.

I'm not much at
carrying a tune, Marshal.

But I can tell you
what that song's about.

It's about a girl named Cora

and the way she died...

You shut your filthy
mouth, you hear me?

You shut your filthy mouth.

Adam... you awake?

How can anybody sleep
with you rolling and tossing?

Well, dad-burn
it, I can't help it.

This confounded
couch is plumb alive.

Every time I get
in another position,

it sprouts another hair.

Look at that.

♪ ♪

Hey, Cutler's gone.

I didn't hear him get up.

Neither did I.

Cutler, come on out.

Yah! Yah!

You murdered him.

He tried to kill me.

He was Walker's accomplice.

We knew he was hiding
out near Virginia City.

Well, I wouldn't count on

catching that
boat, Dr. Strasser.


We lost the horses.

My brother and the others
are trying to find them.

How is he?

His collarbone is shattered,

several ribs broken

and he may have
serious internal injuries.

You just had to kill
somebody, didn't you?

He was trying to
help Walker escape.

I had my eye on him ever since
I spotted him in Virginia City.

I never knew suspicion
could rot a man's mind.

You really believe that, huh?

All right, have it your way.

I killed Cutler in cold blood.

Are you satisfied?

You want to kill yourself?

Lay back.

All we ever asked
of you was to have

a little compassion
for the prisoner.


You mean, feel sorry for him?

Well, now is there
anything wrong with that?

He's used this trick
before... on Cora.


My wife.

I killed her with that shotgun.

Well, now what's that
got to do with Walker?

Because he worked
his ways on her, too.

Before I could get him
back to Los Angeles

for the murder of a paymaster,

she tried to release him.

And he deliberately
pushed her in my line of fire

to save his own rotten skin.

Now we know the reason for
the chains and the beatings.

If you believe it, Doctor.

It's not going to work, Dowd.

You go from
brutality to sentiment

and I don't buy it.


Take that.

What's that for?

I'm deputizing you.

You take Walker
back to Los Angeles.

You mean you want
me to take your place?

That's what I mean.

But you-you can't
deputize somebody like this.

Can't I?

A United States
marshal has the authority

to deputize any citizen.

And if I refuse?

You can't refuse.

It's your duty to
take that badge.

And you are bound by law
to accept and carry out any...

reasonable commission.

Well, how's Mr. Dowd?

I hear he almost got
run over by some horses.

He was trampled, almost killed.

Oh, now, ain't that too bad?

And to such a nice fella, too.

Dave, you have
anything to do with it?

You hear that, Miss?

Adam, you don't
mean that, do you?

Look, I'm asking you

if you had anything to do
with the attempt to kill Dowd.

Why, Adam?

Why are you asking me that?

Because he gave me
this, his badge of office.

Well, give it back to him.

It's his, not yours.

I can't do it.

It's mine now.

He deputized me
to act in his place.

He did what?

Dave, I'm a deputy
United States marshal now.

Sure. And I'm Billy the
Kid or Jackass Sam.

Look, Adam...

I'm the same man
I was an hour ago.

I'm Dave Walker.
I'm your friend.

I know that, Dave.

Well, for a minute there,
you had me worried.

You started to sound almost
like the marshal himself.

"This badge is mine."

"I can't give it back."

That was pretty funny.

Yeah, I guess it was.

Well, now that's settled, Adam,
well, what about these shackles?

Well, what about them?

Well, I want them off.

Like you said, Adam,
I'm not an animal.

Why should I be
chained like one?

You did say that,
didn't you, Adam?

Yes, I said it.

Well, then, take them off.

I don't like the idea
any better than you do.

I think the marshal would
rather they stayed on.

The marshal?

Who cares about the marshal?

You've seen for yourself
what kind of man he is.

Well, I... I found one of them.

Where are the others?

Which others you talking
about? Horses or men?

I mean Micah and Charlie.

Hey, what's the matter
with you, anyhow?

Nothing's the matter with me.

Now, where's Micah and Charlie?

Well, if I know Micah,

he's probably fallen in
a chuck-hole someplace.

Don't worry, Adam,
I'll-I'll find him.

You heard him, Miss?

Yes, I heard him.

I thought he was my friend.

Oh, I think he is your friend.

Then why doesn't he do
something about these shackles?

It's up to him now, nobody else.

Perhaps he'll do
it in the morning.

Perhaps all he wants
is wait until morning.


Why would he want
to wait until morning?

Oh, I don't know, David.

I don't know.

You know something?

You called me David.

Well, yes, I'm dreadfully
sorry. I-I didn't mean to...

Oh, why not?

That's my name, isn't it?

Yes, it's your name.

Sure, it is.


I like the way you say it.

Say it again.


My name. Go on. Say it again.




Only you say it better.

You say it better than I've
ever heard it before in my life.

You're not going anyplace.

Sit down.

That's better.


That's your name, isn't it?


Andrea Strasser.

It isn't true what the
marshal said, is it?

Of course not.

You don't believe that, do you?

No, I don't believe that.

I'm innocent, Andrea.

I swear I'm innocent.

I know. I know that.


Yes, David?

These chains...

I can't stand to be
in them any longer.

I know, but you'll have
to wait until morning.


No, we don't have
to wait until morning.

But what can we do?

The marshal, he's got the keys.

You can get them,

and he won't be
able to stop you.

But what about Mr. Cartwright?

Well, you heard him.

He's pinned on that star.

He's just like the marshal now.

Oh, I don't believe that.

All right, I should
have known better.

I guess a back
fence stray like me

doesn't have the right
to ask people for help.

I'll help you, David.

I'll do anything you ask.

You know, I was right.

The way you say "David,"

I've never heard a
sound as beautiful as that

in all my life.

How is he, Father?

He's asleep now.

Fortunately, I had
some pills in my case.

The poor man... he
must be in terrible pain.

Strange, isn't it,

how one can feel sorry
even for a man like him?

We are in a strange
land, my child.

Yet it isn't so strange.

A man is a man,
and unfortunately,

a doctor is also a doctor.

And so he helps,

whether he wants to or not.

Yes, Father, and so he helps.

Let's go back to bed.

How about the marshal?


He won't move an
eyelid until morning.

Then you go to bed, Father.

How about you?

I'm not very sleepy.

I'll be in soon.

Good night, my child.

Good night, Father.

♪ ♪

You got them.

Yes. Here.

That's it.

Now here.

That's right.

Give 'em to me.


I'll never be able to
thank you enough.

David, you're free.


Yeah, I'm free until the next
time I run into Marshal Dowd.

David, what are you going to do?

I'm gonna give
the marshal a taste

of his own medicine.

Oh, no, David.

No, you mustn't!

Mustn't I?

I killed his wife, didn't I?

You think he'll ever
be able to forget that?


Hold it right there, Dave.

You shoot me, Cartwright,

you'll have to kill her first.

Is that the way it happened
with the marshal's wife?

Now I'm not gonna
shoot you, Dave.

That's right, I forgot.

The marshal put all the
guns in the strongbox.

You don't have
anything, Cartwright.

You're wrong, Davey.

You still don't have nothin'.

Out of the way, Cartwright!

Cartwright, that's enough!

Hit him once more
and I'll kill you.

What, you're worried about him?


He's got a trial to go to.

If we hadn't been along,
you'd have killed him

long before he ever got there.


For almost a year now
I've lived for nothing else.

But you just made me
realize what I was turning into.

Get in.

I reckon you're
gonna be mighty happy

to get aboard that
ship, aren't you, ma'am?

I'm not certain I will, Hoss.

After what you've been through?

You Americans have a way of
making things happen so quickly.

In Europe it sometimes takes
a generation to put things right.

Well, ma'am, I-I reckon you could
sorta chalk it up to our weather.


Yes'm. You see,

we got so dang
much weather out here

and so dat-burn much
land we gotta whip,

that, well, we
just ain't got time

to be puttin' things
straight with each other.

You're a born philosopher, Hoss.


What-what'd she mean by that?

She means, if you
was any smarter

you'd still be the second
dumbest man in creation.

And you're lookin' at the first.

It's a toss-up.

Let's get goin'.


get 'em outta my station,
before anything else happens!


Behind the Scenes of Desert Justice

Adam makes a comic reference to the chow Joe, claiming they forced him to eat in The Last Hunt.

Claude Akins made four appearances in Bonanza, with “Desert Justice” as his first one. The other three episodes were “The Mill,” “Sam Hill,” and “The Deserter.”

This episode marks Ron Hayes’ first out of six series appearances. In 1964, he married Betty Endicott, who had made 81 appearances between 1960 and 1969. Despite their many appearances throughout the series, Ron and Betty never acted together in an episode.

Wesley Lau, born in 1921 and was 39 years old during the episode’s filming time, is frequently referred to as “the boy.” Considering this information, many called him a 39-year-old “boy.”

Charlie, the stagecoach driver, has his leg over the rail of the seat in the scene where the stagecoach stops and meets up with Cutler—shortly after, Cutler talks about his partner. After that, Charlie is seen with his leg off the rail in every Claude Akins photograph. For the remaining scenes, Charlie’s leg keeps swapping backward and forward. As they leave at the scene’s end, Charlie takes his leg off the rail again.

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An excellent television program to enjoy alone or with family is Bonanza. From September 1959 to January 1973, the NBC network broadcast the Bonanza television series on their channel. Desert Justice is the 23rd episode Out of its 14 seasons and over 400 episodes. 

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