the prime of life
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The Prime of Life Full Episode – Bonanza, Season #05, Episode #13

In pursuing a lucrative lumber contract with the railroad, Ben Cartwright faces off again against his longstanding rival, the ruthless ranch owner Barney Fuller (portrayed by Jay C. Flippen). Determined to demonstrate his competence, Ben exhibits an uncharacteristic recklessness that tragically results in the accidental death of a Ponderosa ranch hand. The cast also features Melora Conway as Martha, Ralph Moody as Gabe, and Raymond Guth as Watts. The Prime of Life, originally aired on December 29, 1963, stands among the numerous Bonanza episodes scripted by former actor Warren Douglas.

Explore the gripping plot and mesmerizing trivia, or enjoy the full episode below.

Table of Contents

Watch the Full Episode of The Prime of Life

Watch the Full Episode of The Prime of Life:

Main Cast

The thirteenth episode of Bonanza’s fifth season, “The Prime of Life,” showcases several familiar faces from the show’s recurring and supporting cast. Below is the complete list of actors featured in this episode:

  • Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright
  • Pernell Roberts as Adam Cartwright
  • Dan Blocker as Eric ‘Hoss’ Cartwright
  • Michael Landon as Joseph ‘Little Joe’ Cartwright
  • Jay C. Flippen as Barney Fuller
  • Melora Conway as Martha Fletcher
  • Raymond Guth as Otis Watts
  • Ralph Moody as Gabe
  • Butch Patrick as Jody Fletcher
  • Dan Riss as Railroad Agent
  • Victor Sen as Hop Sing
  • Roy Engel as Dr.Paul Martin
  • Roy Jenson as Jesse Wade
  • Bill Catching as Logger (uncredited)
  • Bill Clark as Logger Bill (uncredited)
  • Gene Coogan as Fuller Henchman (uncredited)
  • Bill Coontz as Logger (uncredited)
  • Herman Hack as Barfly (uncredited)
  • Troy Melton as Logger Tom (uncredited)
  • Bob Miles as Logger Jake (uncredited)
  • Hans Moebus as Railroad Executive (uncredited)
  • Ernesto Molinari as Logger (uncredited)
  • Jack Tornek as Railroad Executive (uncredited)
  • Chalky Williams as Barfly (uncredited)

Full Story Line for The Prime of Life

As Ben strives to secure a lumber contract with the railroad, he discovers himself locked in fierce competition with his longtime adversary, rancher Barney Fuller. Driven by a genuine desire to assert his capabilities, Ben displays uncharacteristic recklessness, inadvertently leading to the tragic demise of a former ranch hand. Reluctantly passing the responsibility to his sons to fulfill the lumber order, Ben appears to concede defeat. However, Barney Fuller remains resolute in his determination to thwart Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe’s endeavors, aiming to seize control of the lumber supply and reap substantial profits.

Full Script and Dialogue of The Prime of Life

- Ben!
- Ha-ha-ha.

Why, you old son of
a gun. How are you?

You old hind-biter,
how are you? Just fine.

I thought you were
gonna give up by default.

- Oh, you know me better than that.
- Ha, ha. I guess I do.

No, I figured I had plenty of
time when my informant told me

that the bidding was
down to just you and me.

Your informant.
You mean your spy.

Well, sometimes that
works out pretty good.

I remember once taking a
contract for three ships away

- from you through the aid of a spy.
- Ah, yeah.

She was a redhead, wasn't she?

Yeah. Ha, ha.

Well, that was a long time
ago. I was a little younger then.

We've had some pretty good
tussles through the years, Ben.

Yeah, sure have.
Never had a dull one.

No, and there never will be.

And I'll buy a drink to that no
matter who gets this contract.

All right, I'll
take you up on it.

Uh, shall we go in and
find out the bad news?

After you, Ben.

The lost has been
found, gentlemen.

Mr. Fuller, we've all
been waiting for you.

Now we can get down to business.

Gentlemen, Mr. Fuller,
Mr. Cartwright.


Well, this is it, gentlemen.
The way it'll look when it's up.

It'll take a lot of lumber,
and we'll need it fast.

And, of course, we'll expect
the contracting company

to put up the usual guarantees
that they can handle it.

The sooner east and
west are connected by rail,

the better for the
whole country.

It's a big, important contract.

Frankly, we had a very difficult time
deciding between you two gentlemen.

Although there is a contract
for some more material.

Speaking for my boys and myself,

I think we'd consider it a privilege
just to be part of this project.

Any part.

Well, I'm afraid I'm not as
gracious as Mr. Cartwright.

I'm after the trestle,
not the tailing.

Mr. Fuller, I'm sorry, but the contract's
been awarded to Mr. Cartwright.

You'll furnish lumber
for railcars and ties,

but Ben Cartwright
has got the trestle.

I'll have the contracts
and the specifications

drawn up by this evening.

- Congratulations.
- Thank you.

Gentlemen, thank you.
Thank you very much.

Barney, I hope you're
not too disappointed.

Are you sympathizing
with me, Ben?

Gentlemen, I have a healthy stand
of timber just waiting for the saw.

If anything happens
to Mr. Cartwright,

the railroad can depend
on me to finish the trestle.

Hey, Barney.

You're not forgetting
about our drink, are you?

- Oh, no. No, of course not.
- Ha, ha.

You're sure a gracious
loser, Mr. Fuller.

He sure is, but I wouldn't trust
him farther than I could throw him.





Oh, Mr. Cartwright.

A fella brought this up
from the railroad for you.

Oh, can I get you something
to drink, Mr. Cartwright?

No, no, thank you.

Well, isn't this fine?

Railroad's added some
extra crews and now they want

200 of those big
pilings by Monday.

And 50 a day from then on.

Oh, the 50 I can guarantee,
but 200 by Monday?

We ain't got the crew
or the teams to do it with.

Well, I'll see if I can get some
extra men from the mines,

and I'll get some teams in town.

Oh, by the way, Adam,

I noticed some of your trimmers
nipping at the bottle on the job.

I want you to put a stop to that

before some of them find
themselves without hands and feet.

Well, I've done the best I can.

A man wants to drink,
that's his business.

I can't be everyplace at once.

A man in charge of
a crew is responsible

for everything
connected with it.

We've got a rough
schedule. I want results.

Hmm. Now we really got a
rough schedule ahead of us.

I know you boys
are tired already.

We sure are that.

I know you'd like to
have a few days' rest.

Hey, gee, thanks, Pa.

That's all right. You're,
uh... You got it coming to you.

That sounds great.

Yeah, well, like I said.
You got it coming to you.

After the job is done.

What color's the
sky, Mr. Cartwright?

- Hmm?
- I said, what color's the sky?


You didn't look up when
you said it. You just guessed.

How long has it been
since you looked up?

You better get back to
sharpening those blades, Gabe.

We'll need them
all in the morning.

Ah, they'll be ready
when they need them.

You ever hear of the fella who
couldn't see the forest for the trees?

Got himself so lost
he never did get out.

Now, if he had taken
it kind of slow and easy

and kept his head
up instead of down,

he might've got a
glimpse of the sun

or he might have followed
the wild geese into the clear

instead of working himself
to a frazzle like you're doing.

I'm doing all right, Gabe.

I like the way you get
things done, Mr. Cartwright,

but a man's got to
ease up once in a while.

You know, just stop,
take time to give thanks

for the blessing
of just being alive.

If he don't, he's liable to have an
epitaph on his tombstone that reads:

"Here lies a man who
let the joy of living wait.

He waited too long.
Now it's too late."

Well, thanks for
the warning, Gabe.

I've always worked pretty
hard and I guess I always will.

Grandpa! Grandpa!

Hello, son. Martha. Come on.
Let me help you down here. Ah.

This is my grandson,
Mr. Cartwright.

Jody, say howdy
to Mr. Cartwright.

- Howdy, Mr. Cartwright.
- Well, howdy, Jody.

This is my daughter, Martha.

Married name is Fletcher.

Mrs. Fletcher. You got
a fine-looking boy here.

Thank you very much.

I didn't think you'd mind
Martha driving him over here

to visit with his grandpa.

Oh, well, no. Just as long as
he keeps out of harm's way.

Oh, he'll take care
of himself, all right.

He learned his lesson
when he saw his pa

kill himself trying to
break a spooky horse.

And terrible loss to all of us.

Yeah, well, why don't you,
uh, show Jody the flume, Gabe?

Sure. I'll do that.
Come on, Jody.

Hey, did I ever tell you the time I
went around the horn in a schooner?

Sorry to hear about your
husband, Mrs. Fletcher.

You know, Gabe and I don't
think alike about too many things.

I'm awfully glad that your boy has
such a fine man as his grandfather

to look up to and love.

Thank you very much,
Mr. Cartwright. I...

You bring your boy around any time
you want to. He's perfectly welcome.

Thank you.

I'm telling you, Otis,

you've gotta get me
those extra teams!

And I'm telling you, Ben, I ain't
got any extra teams anymore.

Now, look, you had
plenty last week.

What am I to do?
Feed them hay burners,

waiting for you to
need more horses?

- No, sir. I got an offer, I rented them.
- Well, then get them back.

Oh, come on, Ben.

Well, I'll get them
back! Who's got them?

Barney Fuller.

Barney Fuller.

- Yeah, I might have known.
- His money's as good as anybody's.

Now, why don't you
speak to him, make a deal?

That'll be the day.

See you around, Ben.

In case you didn't hear
me, I said, that'll be the day.

I don't know what you mean, Ben.

Look, Barney, if you've come
here to gloat, I haven't got the time.

Oh, on the contrary.

My spies tell me the
railroad's got the ties laid

to within a couple
of miles of the trestle

but that the men are sitting
around idle, waiting for the pilings.

I just hope you don't have
to pay an expensive penalty

because you had a little
hard luck with your delivery.

You'd love it. BARNEY: Oh, no.

What I'm trying to say
is, if it'll be of any help,

I can let you have a
little of my own timber.

Now, you listen to me,
Barney, and you listen good.

I wouldn't take one softwood
sapling out of your stand.

Now, that trestle's
gonna be built,

but it's gonna be built
with Ponderosa lumber.

Well, I hope you're right. But,
Ben, just remember one thing.

You can always depend on
Barney Fuller to help a friend.

Well, if I ever find a friend
of Barney Fuller's, I'll tell him.


What's holding up those pilings?
They should've been out of here.

There's a cracked block in the
rigging. Hoss is working on it.

Oh, fine.

That's all I need.

You'd better get down to the
trestle and pacify those railroad men.

Tell them that every log they need will
be down to that site tomorrow at dawn

if it takes every available
man and team in the country.

Oh, what's going on here,
a Sunday school picnic?

- Why isn't that block fixed?
- There ain't no way to fix it.

It's gotta be replaced. I
got another on the way.

From where? We got plenty
of those in the storeroom.

- No, we ain't, Pa. There ain't...
- Gabe!

All right, Gabe, Hoss tells me we
have no more double blocks. How's that?

I plumb forgot to stock them.

Oh, did you?

Yeah, but I sent a
man into town for some,

and they should be
here in about an hour.

About an hour.

And how long have you
been fooling around with that?

- About an hour.
- That makes two hours lost.

Hoss, you listen to
me. I want all these logs

on the logging road and
on their way by nightfall.

I don't want any excuses. I just
want them at the trestle by morning.

But, Pa, that block ain't safe.
It might come apart any time.

It might and it might not.

We'll never know until we try
and find out. We're gonna try it.

Now, you listen to me.

I heard Barney Fuller
tell me that I'm in trouble,

and I just heard you
tell me why I'm in trouble.

It appears to me the
only trouble that I'm in

is trying to make you understand
that I made a promise to the railroad

and I intend for
us all to live up to it.

Now, is that clear?

Clear enough, Pa.
Come on, fellas.

Hey, that air sure
smells good, don't it?

Why don't you get the scent
of that pine in your lungs?

You know, it's
just like a tonic.

Gabe, I got a hundred things
on my mind. Leave me be.

Oh. Oh, say, uh, I
got something for you.

I plumb forgot it.

It's a little horse.
Jody whittled it for you.

I helped him some,
but I don't want you

to tell him about that
when you see him.

He wanted you to have it.

All right, you say thank
you to Jody for me.

Yes, I will, Mr. Cartwright.

Hoss, that block
just ain't gonna hold.

Just get it rigged up.

Get that team hooked
up over there, Pete.

Yeah, I'll do that.

Keep out from under that block.

All right, now,
snap to it! Come on!

- What's holding everything up here?
- Get out from under the block.

- Bunch of Sunday school kids.
- We gotta be careful.

- What?
- We gotta be careful.

We'll be careful!
Here, I'll guide it.

Now get those horses
moving, come on!

Get those horses moving!

Hyah! BEN: Let's go!

Gabe! Bring me that cant hook!

Coming right up, Bill.

Come on. Get that
moving. Up we go.

All right, now, swing around.

Here you go, Bill.

Swing it!

It's going, Pa.


- Pa.
- See about Gabe.

Get him out.

Let me see.

How's Gabe?

Hoss, how's Gabe?

He's dead, Pa.

I killed him.


That painful, Ben?

No, just a little stiff.

Well, that'll clear up as
soon as the leg has some use.

And there'll hardly be any scarring
as soon as those lacerations heal.

Now, Ben, you're gonna heal a lot
quicker without the use of that cane.

- Yeah.
- Goodbye.


Hi, boys.

Doc. How's Pa?

Not so good, I'm afraid.

He needs more help
than I can give him.

What's the matter?
Complications with the leg?

No, no. I don't think
he'd even have a scar.

What is it, then, doc?

The scar that
worries me is in here.

Your father's not over the
shock of old Gabe's death.

He feels responsible,
he broods on it.

Yeah, we've noticed
that. Anything we can do?

Get him back to work
as soon as possible.

Get his mind off
of that accident.

We need him back on
the job, that's for sure.

Good. That's what he
needs. I'll see you, boys.

- Adios.
- Good evening, doc.

So long, doc.

Hey, Pa, we just
talked to the doc.

He said you're fit as a fiddle.
What say we get started, huh?

Joseph, will you, uh, bring
me the cashbox, please?

Yes, sir.

Here are the latest
figures on the cutting.

We finished up on the ridge
and we can start on the hogback

if it's all right with you.

Well, do what you
think best, Adam.


I want you to have one of the
hands deliver this to Gabe's daughter,

Mrs. Fletcher.

- I'd like it done today.
- Yes, sir.

Don't you think we ought
to get started back to work?

Got a lot to do on that trestle.

Look, Pa, you can't go on blaming
yourself forever. It was an accident.

Pa, he's right.

You can't go on faulting
yourself just for trying hard.

When a man tries so hard

that he risks the
lives of other people...

From now on, the Ponderosa
belongs to the three of you.

Run it any way you see fit.

I thought I told you two to
stay out on the hogback and...

- All right, what's wrong?
- Plenty. No teams.

All right, where are they?

Watts' wrangler said he got
word from town to pull out.

And you let them go?

Well, how was I supposed to
stop them, Adam? With a gun?

No, I just want you two to
hold up your end of the job

like I'm holding up mine.

If you were the real walking boss
here like you're supposed to be,

you'd have known about
those teams before we did.

- Would you like to take over?
- No, I wouldn't.

Dag burn it, I wish our
pa would come back

and do his job so
we can do our own.

All right, let's ride into town
and find out what this is all about.

Business always comes
first with me, Adam,

and when a man is offered
a sizeable boost in his rates,

he can't let friendship
stand in his way.

Well, now, just forget
about friendship.

You made an agreement with my
father to furnish the teams for this job.

That's correct, a
gentleman's agreement.

With your father,
not with his sons.

You had no right pulling out
without giving proper notice.

Oh, I tried, Adam. I tried.

I would've rode out to see Ben myself
if I didn't have this misery in my back.

But I sent word for
him to come and see me

and talk about a renegotiation
of our little agreement.

Your old man didn't even have the
gumption to answer back, so, what...?


We want them horses.

I'd be happy to
oblige, Hoss, if I could,

but that Belgian hauling
stock is hard to come by

and every one of my horses
is spoke for elsewhere.


Well, they've gone
to Barney Fuller.

Well, the Cartwright boys.

I'd like to buy you all a drink.

You know my ramrod, Jesse Wade.

Couple of my hands,
Tom, Jake, Chris.

We want those
teams back, Fuller.

You know, I've been meaning
to come out to see your father.

Most unfortunate thing, men getting
hurt, delivery schedules all fouled up.

Well, accidents will happen, I
guess. Pull up a chair. Sit down.

Now, uh, what was
this about some teams?

Fuller, I want the teams back at
the Ponderosa by tomorrow morning.

Or you'll do what, young fella?

Send the sheriff and his
posse out after them? Heh.

I've got a legal
right to them teams.

I'm not interested in your rights.
I'm more interested in your reason.

Tomorrow I start to
log from my own stand

for the Humboldt Canyon Trestle.

Whose decision was that? The
railroad's or your own, Mr. Fuller?

I told your pa that if
the railroad got in trouble

and the Cartwrights
started to drag their feet,

they could call on me.

And it looks like the Cartwrights
are starting to drag their feet.

My father made an agreement

to deliver Ponderosa
lumber to that trestle.

Now, you're not
using those teams,

so, um, what are your
terms for releasing them?

There are no terms.

And I only talk to the head man.

Well, now you're talking to us.

He's through talking to you.

You boys go bawl to
your big powerful daddy.

Maybe he's got better
ways than you have

of begging Mr. Fuller
to get him off the hook.

Hold it!

Well, that's quite
a show you put on.

And that's all it
was, just a show.

You'll find that it takes more than a
fistfight to get along in the business

your father and I are in.

And when you get
home, tell your father

the next time he wants
to talk to Mr. Fuller,

not to send a boy
to do a man's job.


The doc tells me your
dad's leg is all healed up.

Why did he send you
instead of coming himself?

It's none of your business.

Barney's up to
his old tricks, huh?

You're gonna have
to watch out for him.

He's always in there trying.

Well, what do you want
us to do about Fuller?

Do whatever you want.

You don't care, is that it?

Joe, I think I've cared too much
all my life about the wrong things.

Couldn't see the
forest for the trees.

Well, maybe it's not
too late to change.

Pa, it's such a waste.

You're right in the prime of
life. And just to throw it away?

I'm not throwing it away.

Just want to change
my life before it's too late.

This ranch was always
planned for you three anyways.

Good time for you to take over.

Pa, that ain't what I meant.

What did you mean?

Pa, what Hoss meant is that...

Is that we need you with us, Pa.


I think you'll have to start
seeing things my way.

Well, we can't see it your
way, because this isn't your way.

It's puttering around and a lot
of small talk, that's Gabe's way.

Leave him out of this.

For Ben Cartwright.

This come for
you, Mr. Cartwright.

- She sent it back.
- She say why?


She didn't have to.

Hey, little buddy,
what you got here?

This is Fort Fletcher.

A new cavalry outpost for
the protection of the settlers.

Yeah? Well, I reckon we can
use another fort around here, Jody.

Hey, mister, you know
my name. What's yours?

Hoss. Hoss Cartwright.
Is your mom home?

She's inside. Mom! Mom!

What is it, Jody? Oh.

Ma'am, I'd like to talk
to you a minute if I could.

- Oh. Run along, Jody.
- Sure, Mom.

Well, what did you
wanna say, Mr. Cartwright?

Well, ma'am, it's about our pa.

Well, he's been blaming himself
for Gabe... For your father's death.

Oh. Well, he mustn't do
that. It was an accident.

Our pa don't believe it.

We were sort of hoping maybe
if you'd come out and talk to him,

you being Gabe's daughter
and all, that maybe he'd...

Well, maybe it'd be more important
that way and be of more help.

Well, I'll think about
it, Mr. Cartwright.

Thank you, ma'am.

Anything you could
do, we'll appreciate it.

Thank you, little buddy.

Did your pa get the
horse I carved for him?

He sure did.

You tell your pa if he likes
it, I'll make him another one

so he'll have a matched pair.


I'll tell him. Thank
you, little buddy.

Find this in woodshed,
Mr. Cartwright.

For you. For
making pretty things.

Not good you sit
here all the time.

You ready to eat,
Mr. Cartwright?

No. No, thank you.

When you hungry,
you just holler.


Didn't mean to get you out
of bed, Ben. Mind if I come in?

How do you feel, Ben?

Oh, I feel pretty good, Barney.

Sit down.

You know, Ben,

I've been worried about you.

- Oh?
- I mean it.

We've had a few battles
throughout the years,

but there's never
been anything personal.

- You know that.
- Yeah, I know.

Your boys were in town
to see me yesterday.

- I suppose you know.
- Yeah.

Did they tell you
what I told them?

Yeah, they told me.

What I especially told them was to tell
you not to send boys to do a man's job.

Now, Barney, don't go
underestimating those boys.

- They're better than I ever was.
- Is that so?


I'm sorry I can't say
the same about you.

I didn't think you'd
pull that kind of trick.

I cut my cloth to fit the size
of the people I'm up against.

- You're making a mistake, Barney.
- Is that so?

That is, unless you've been giving
them the benefit of your advice.

No. They're handling
things their own way.

Why? Big Ben Cartwright
getting tired? Abdicating?

I find that hard to believe,
even on your say-so.

Barney, I don't care
what you believe.

I ain't jumping when you throw that
hickory club of yours into my wheel.

So I'm beginning to see.

That sort of clears
things up for me.

You know, Ben, I've
always admired this house.

Maybe someday I'll see
my way clear to buy it.

You know, I have no respect
for a man that don't measure up.

I can't afford to
waste my time on him.

If he just stands there,
I walk right over him.

The Ben Cartwright I know
wouldn't hold still for that.

But you don't act like him.

Takes all the fun
out of this business

when you got nobody
to stand up to you.

Go back to bed, Ben.

What are you doing
with those horses?

- Taking them up to the camp.
- What for?

Hauling logs.

Well, Joseph, they're saddle
horses. You know better than...

Yeah, Pa, I know better. But
when you haven't got anything else,

you make do with
what you've got.

Watts should never have been
allowed to get away with taking our teams.

Watts got away
with that because...


You made it quite clear
you're not interested

whether that trestle
gets finished or not.

You're not interested in
that or in anything else.

It took us a little while
to get used to that,

but now we are and we're gonna
take care of everything by ourselves.

Give you plenty of time to do
whatever it is you wanna do.

Now, we don't ask any
questions of you, Pa.

I think it'd be just fair if you
didn't ask any questions of us.


Mrs. Fletcher.

How do you do, Mr. Cartwright?
I was just passing and...

Well, I'm so glad. Please come in.
I'll have Hop Sing make us some tea.

Oh, no, thank you. I can't stay
long. I left Jody with a neighbor.

Oh. Please sit down.

I wasn't just passing, Mr. Cartwright.
I came to see you deliberately.

Do you know why?

Well, I hope it's because you've
changed your mind about the money.

Oh. No, I haven't changed
my mind about that.

I didn't mean to offend you by it.
If I did, I'm sorrier than I can say.

Oh, I wasn't offended.

Well, why did you send it back?

We don't need that kind of help.

Well, then how will you
and your boy get along?

Our livelihood did not
depend on my father.

I have a small business as
a dressmaker in Virginia City.

- You knew that.
- Well, yes, yes, I did know that.

You sent me that money to
ease your conscience, didn't you?

I take full blame for what
happened, Mrs. Fletcher.

No, you mustn't do
that. It was an accident.

No, no. It wouldn't have happened
if I hadn't been pushing so hard.

Your father tried to tell me.

I wouldn't listen.

You're a builder,
Mr. Cartwright, a doer.

Well, my father,
he was a dreamer.

You built the Ponderosa,
he built castles in sand.

Mrs. Fletcher, it isn't
making it any easier

for you to try to
find excuses for me.

Men die at their work every day,
even on their own land, like my husband.

No one's to blame.

The fact still remains,

I'm responsible for
your father's death.

Not any more than I am. I was
the one that made him work there.

Does that make me responsible?

My husband died breaking a
horse to support me and my child.

Are we guilty of his death?

We can't weep forever for our dead,
Mr. Cartwright, or for our mistakes.

We have to continue to live.

Me for Jody. And
you for your sons.

You have to hook them up in
threes before they can do any hauling.

I'm not sure if they
can do it even then.

Do we have a choice?

All right, take them
up the logging road.

They're quitting.
They want their pay.

You can't quit, not after we
brought the extra teams up here.

I guess this is another one
of Barney Fuller's little tricks.

Well, I tried talking with them,
Adam. You have a go at it.

You know, there's a kind of an
unwritten law in the logging business.

Nobody quits in the middle of
cutting season without good cause.

- Now, what's the reason, Mike?
- It's a matter of conditions.

What conditions?

Your pa was bull of the woods in
this camp when we first came in.

Now it looks like he's
not gonna come back

and likely won't need us again
after the cutting's finished, if it is.

Maybe there's something I didn't
think was necessary to tell you.

I'm bull of the woods here.

And it really doesn't matter
whether my father comes back or not.

Whatever you think his
job was, it's mine now.

Are any of you man
enough to prove me wrong?

Any one of you.

No, no.

This is going to be interesting,
Joe. Let's sit down and watch it.

No, no, no. Not me. Him. He's the
bull of the woods. Get him, get him.

He ain't bad.

Does that answer
your question, men?

All of you working here,
you can go right on working.

If you wanna quit, you can quit.

But whether you quit or
whether you continue to work,

I just want you to know that the
Ponderosa will continue to operate,

no matter who tries to stop it.

Okay, fellas, let's
go back to work.

Good to see you, Pa.

Now, what's the next move, Adam?

- Ahh. Get the teams back.
- Oh, uh, would you do me a favor?

Would you mind if
I, uh, did that alone?

I would have sent
word. I sent word to you.

I would've come up, but I
had this ache in my back.

I couldn't make it.

Oh, come on, Ben Cartwright.
You got no call to push me around.

Because I told you I sent word for
you to come and see me about this.

Well, I'm here. So we can
get them teams right now.

Well, I can't get them together.

We'll get as many as we
can. We'll get the rest later.

- But, Ben... BEN:
Now, listen to me, you.

What you did was no
better than horse stealing.

- Horse stealing?
- Horse stealing.

- But they're my own animals.
- Well, I'm renting them!

Get them!

Well, Ben, what are you doing
out of bed? And without a cane?

Well, why don't you come down
from under that geranium pot

and I'll tell you.

No, I don't want to see
you standing out here.

Come on inside. Sit down.

You come down here.

Now, here's what I
want to tell you, Barney.

We've still got
that trestle contract.

We're gonna pay whatever penalty
we have to for the delay I caused,

but just remember this, it's
gonna be a Ponderosa trestle.

And if these timber wolves
of yours get in the way...

Well, we'll just have to cut them
down the way we cut down our trees.

Put that away, Jesse.

You know, I guess
I figured wrong.

I was plumb sure
you had lost your guts.

What happened?

- Somebody taught me an angle.
- What angle?

That a man can't really
go against his true nature.

- That's a pretty good angle.
- Yeah.

I learned it from a friend.


Whoa. Whoa.

Here you are, Ben. All I
could dig up for the present.

Step aside, boy.

I said, step aside, boy.

Thank you, Watts.

Come on! Hyah!


Welcome home, Ben.

Well, there it is.

Most beautiful
trestle in the world.

And there was a day when
I thought we'd never see it.

There was a time when I
didn't care if I ever did or not.

We knew better than that, Pa.

Hey, Pa, what about that
little rest you promised us?

- Oh, yeah. Well, uh, that depends.
- On what?

On the bull of the woods.


The bull said yeah, Pa.

Behind the Scenes of The Prime of Life

Scenes depicting logging activities, the operation of the log flume, and tree cutting from Season 4 Episode 2, titled “The Quest,” were incorporated into the footage.

Looking for More Bonanza Episodes?

Bonanza is an exceptional, family-friendly series suitable for solo viewing or shared enjoyment with loved ones. The Prime of Life marks the 147th episode out of 430 episodes. NBC produced and aired Bonanza from September 1959 to January 1973, covering a span of 14 seasons.

You can find more about any of the 430 Bonanza episodes here>>

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