Come Next Spring (1956) Script

♪ Come next spring

♪ When all the world is new

♪ And fresh and green

♪ And fair

♪ Then I'll come home

♪ And I'll carry in my heart

♪ Just one prayer

♪ That I'll find you

♪ Still waiting for my arms

♪ We'll meet, we'll kiss

♪ We'll cling

♪ And then once more

♪ Love will blossom as before

♪ Come next spring

This story takes place in Arkansas.

It's a proud state, and its inhabitants claim they could fence it off from the rest of the world and live forever on their own resources.

It all began on a hot summer day in 1927.

Dag burn it!


Hi, there. You lose somethin'?

I lost my ant.

Your ant?


Oh, I don't mean an aunt, like, well, like my Aunt Myrtle.

You know... Mm.

I mean, an ant like...

Like who?

Like A-N-T. Ant.

Oh, an ant!

Was he valuable?

Well, you couldn't sell him or anything, if that's what you mean.

But he was a black ant. Black ant, huh?

Some kids told me that black ants are tree ants.

Uh-huh. They live in trees like red ants live in tunnels.

I wonder where green ants live.

I wonder if there are any green ants.

Did you ever see a green ant, mister?

Mm-hm. One time.

One time when I was real hung-over.

Oh, here he is.

Oh, you found him. Hidin' in the dirt.

Good, yeah, there he is.

Well, I guess I have to go now.

Uh, you... you going down that way?


Well, just a minute, I'll get my things.

Walk down the road with you.

All right? Sure.

Well, this is where I live.


This is my place.

Who... who's you father?

I ain't got none.

You know, it's a funny thing, 'cause all the other kids I know got one.

I never had one.

Sometimes I wonder how I was born at all.

Your... your name is Ballot, ain't it?

That's my last name. How'd you know?

I'll... I'll walk you down to your house.

All right.

Mom, you spilled the water!

Go in and wash.

Get ready for milkin'.

Hello, Bess.

Why are you here, Matt?

Bess, I... I've been a lot of places these last few years.

I've been all the way to New York City and been all the way out to California.

I've found out that whiskey tastes about the same no matter where you are.

And, uh, last three years I... I been wonderin'... what my wife and daughter was doin'.

I... I didn't know about him.

You never answered my letters.

So, one day I said to myself, I said, "Matt, why don't you go and find out what your wife and daughter are doin'."

I guess I talked myself into it.


Didn't you ever get my letters?

Matt, nine years agow hen you walked out on me, I said to myself I never wanted to see you again.

As far as I can see, there's no reason to change my mind now.

Like I told ya, I wanted to get a look at ya.

Well, now I have.


I'll look you up again in about eight years or so.

Matt... I reckon I was a little hard on you.

I still think you done wrong in comin' back, but the damage is done now.

Bein' as you're here, I reckon it's only fair for you to see Annie.

So, you can stay to supper if you stay sober.

Bess, I ain't touched a drop in over three years.

And, well, I would like to stay, I ain't had a chance to even find out how Annie is.

Oh, she's all right.

Is she...?

Did she ever get over...?

No. Still mute. Can't utter a sound.

Outside of that, she's healthy enough.

Strong as a horse.

Where is she?

Oh, out in the woods somewheres.

Spends more time there than she does at home.

Shy, huh? Naturally.

Worries me some.

Around the animals so much she’s beginning to act like one.

Bess, does she have a great big old white dog?

Dog? Part horse if you ask me.

I... I... I seen her, Bess.

She's a beauty. Prettiest thing I ever seen.

I'm gonna do the milkin' now, Mama.

All right, son.

Don't let Suzy nurse that new calf more than a couple of minutes, now.

All right, I won't.

How... how 'bout me helpin' with the chores? Uh...

Abraham. Abraham?

After his great grandfather, Abe Fullbright on Mama's side.

Grandpa was named after Lincoln.

Abraham, this is... your father.

You... you mean like a papa?

Like a papa.


Glad to meet ya.

Gee, I didn't even know I had a papa.

You know somethin', Abraham?

I betcha I'm just as surprised about this thing as you are.

Well, let... let's get on with the milkin'.

You know, Mom isn't very happy about the new calf.

She ain't. Why not?

Because it's a he. Oh.

Where's your milk stool? Oh, here it is.

Get over, Suzy! Get over!

Get over, Suzy!

Hey, she's on the cat's tail! Get off, Suzy!

Do you suppose she hurt her?

Well, we better go see.

C'mon, kitty. C'mon, kitty.

C'mon, kitty, c'mon. C'mon kitty.

Annie's home.

Hold still. OK, now...

Is she hurt?

Well, she don't act like she's much hurt.

Let's see that tail.

No, it's all right. Didn't get hurt...

Uh-oh, look, look at this.

Look at the big, old nasty tick, there. See?

You hold still, kitty. I'll get it out.

It ain't gonna hurt.

Hold still.

There, look at that nasty old thing.

Kind of a big one.

Hi, there.

Annie, this here's our papa.

Honest he is, Annie.

I think he's the one that borned us.

Don't mind her. She's just a little bashful on account of she can't talk.

How'd you manage so well, Bess?

A woman alone with two kids?

Well, it wasn't as hard as you might think.

I sold the timber off the new land to the railroad.

That finished paying for the place.

There's a family named Storys livin' in the old house.

They sharecrop with me.

They're lazy like sharecroppers usually are, but we manage.

Ain't fancy livin', but...

Done a good job all the way around, Bess.

Um... sorry I come back.

What's done's done.

Children, supper's ready.

It's not much, but I wasn't expecting anybody.

It's not much? From where I sit, it looks like a table settin' for a Thanksgiving reunion.

Oh, where's your dog, Annie?

It's not allowed in the house.

Oh, come on, sit down. He ain't gonna bite you.

She always acts that way with strangers.

You know, if you put a saddle on that hound I bet you could ride him right across the meadow.

Uh... what's his name?

Oh, it's a she and the name's Runt.


We named her when she was a puppy.

Supper ready?

Well, look at there...

Where'd you get that there store-bought tie, huh?

Leroy Hightower gave it to me.

Lord, we thank thee for the blessin's we're about to receive.

We thank thee for our health and for the health of our loved ones.

Oh... somebody pull this table away from me.

Trouble is, I just didn't have enough room.

You sure put away a lot.


That I did, Abraham, that I did.

It's them black-eyed peas.

I ain't tasted black-eyed peas in two or three years.

Well, I... I hate to eat and run, but, uh, I got quite a long walk ahead of me.

I'd run ya over to Cushing, but the Ford's got two flat tires.

Yeah, I... I noticed that when I came in.

Aren't you even gonna stay all night?

Well, not this time, Abraham.

I reckon it'd be all right if you did stay tonight.

It's a long walk and you can bunk in Abraham's room.

Sure! I got two beds in my room.

Two? What do you got two for?

Abraham's got a problem.

Oh, I see.

Well... I wouldn't want to put you out, Bess.

I said it'd be all right.

All right with you?

All right, Abraham.

Take my luggage into our compartment.

Annie, time you trotted up to bed.

You had a big day.

Good night, dear.


I declare you could plant a garden in them ears.

I want you to scrub 'emout good, now, do you hear?

All right. Good night.

Good night, Annie.

Does she sleep up there?

She wanted her own bedroom, so, we fixed up the attic for her.


Abraham has what used to be the spare room.

And you're in our...

Good night, Bess.

Good night, Matt.

Good night.

I hope I don't snore.

Hmm? Oh...

Well, if you do, I've got a sure cure for it.

Sleep with your eyes open.



No need for a gun, Leroy.

Who was it? That Ballot girl.

Visiting the colt again, I guess.

She's gonna get herself killed one of these days if she ain't careful.

Running around at night like this.

Maybe I'd better crank up the car and run over and tell Bess.

Oh, she'll find her way home.

She knows these woods better than we do.

We'll tell Bess in the mor...

Just won't give up on Bess, will you, Leroy?

What do you mean? Won't give up?

Maybe I'm being encouraged.

What makes you think Bess wants me to give up?

All right, we'll tell herin the morning.

Boy, wish I had room for some more of them black-eyed peas.

You sure put away a lot.

It's funny, but I never liked 'em before.

Abraham, if you've finished your breakfast, better hang out your beddin'.

Not today, Mom, don't have to.

Well, that's the best kidney tonic we've had around here.

Look, I want you to go over to Storys' before it gets too late.

Tell Jeff I've got a lot of things that need tendin' to around the barn.

Well... I guess I'd better get movin' before all that work starts.

I'll... I'll just say good-bye to Annie and then be on my way.

I'll call her.

Annie! Annie!

She's out here, Mama.


Bye, Annie.

Bye, Bess.

Bye, Matt.

Well, goodbye. Bye.

Papa, can I walk a piece with ya?

Well, I'd be mighty proud to have ya, son.

You know, Abraham, it wouldn't be very gentlemanly of us to leave the ladies without no means of transportation.

Get the jack out of the car, there.

Get this car fixed.

What's the matter? Aren't you going outwith Runt today?

Somethin' botherin' you?

You liked him, didn't ya?

So did I... once.

I'll sure be glad when that thing wears out so I can have the rubber for a slingshot.

You know, I don't think you're gonna have very long to wait.

You know somethin'?

I sure could use a dipper of cold water.

I'll get you some.

Abraham, I want you to go...

I ain't got time.

What do you mean, you haven't got time, young man?

Gotta get some water for my father!

Your father?!

Why don't he stay with us all the time?

Run and get your water, son.

Payin' for your breakfast?

Oh, no, I...

I just figured that maybe if I got the old buggy in running order, you might trot me into Cushing.

Oh, and Bess, uh, I was noticin' yesterday, your pasture fence is kinda run down.

Might hold for now, but... come next spring with young stock and all, it won't hold much.

You ought a get it fixed up before next winter.

Want the job?

Can't pay more than a dollar a day and keep.

You can share Abraham's room.

Why are you doin' this, Bess?

Oh, lots of reasons, mostly the children.

They sort of take to you.

I forget how important a man is to children.

Between us, of course, you're just to be...

A hired hand. Yeah.

All right, Bess. You hired yourself a hand.

Mama, a car just turned in the gate.

Well, Matt Ballot, I declare! Well, Mr. Canary.

When'd you get back. Just last night.

Hello, Matt.

Oh, hello, Leroy.

Gonna be around for a while?

Yeah, I figured I'd stay around a little spell.

Bess, I'm plumb out of chicken wire, and Fordham's store's out, too.

I wonder if you could save me a trip to Long's Camp?

Oh, I think we've got a spare roll, Mr. Canary.

Hello there, pistol!

I swear, you growed another inch.

Let's see if I can find a couple of pennies here.

Now, don't you spoil him, Leroy.

I reckon it's all right this time, son.


Matt, there's some wireleanin' up against the chicken coop down there.

Will you show Mr. Canary where it is and let him pick what he wants?

Sure, Bess. Thanks, Bess.

Do you need me, Matt?

No, thank you, Leroy. I... I don't need you.

Bess, why'd you let him come back?

That's my business, Leroy.

You gonna let him stay?

Looks like it.

Do you think you ought to?

Well, Shorty Wilkins will be glad to know he's back.

Shorty says the bootleg business has been bad lately.

I don't have to listen to that kind of talk, Leroy.

I'm afraid you're gonna have to get used to that kind of talk if he stays around here.

From everybody.

Thanks, Bess.

Now, I'll pay you back soon as Fordham restocks.

Well, there's no hurry about it.

C'mon, Leroy.

Oh, by the way, Bess.

Had a visitor again last night. Again?

You know that colt's part thoroughbred and naturally, I want to protect my investment.

Any disturbance the first thing I think of is bobcat.

I'm sorry, Mr. Canary.

I'll swear, I just can't get over the way this little pistol is sproutin' up.

What you gonna be when you grow up?

I don't know.

A cowboy or an engineer, maybe.

Do you think you’re tough enough to be a cowboy?

I don't know.

I sure hope so, though.

If you're anything like your old man, you are.

He used to lick me nearly every night after school.


We've both growed up a little since then.

What kind of a match do you think we'd make now, Matt?

Well, I don't know, Leroy.

I ain't thought much about it lately.

Seems I recollect George Camel used to beat you up regular.

And I beat the tar out of George last year.

George is a big boy, too.

You remember, Bess, that's the night I drove you home... from the box supper at the church.

We better get a move on, Leroy. Thanks, Bess.

Come and visit us some night, you and Mrs. Canary.

We'll do that.

So long, Matt. Goodbye, Mr. Canary.

Take her easy, now.

Did he really bring you home?

He brought me home that night.


Oh, Annie!

You sneaked out again last night, Annie.

Now, don't be too hard on her, Bess.

You know what you get for this.

Now, Bess, all kids like to sneak out once in a while.

We might as well straighten out one thing right now, Matt.

I won't tolerate a spoiled child.

Even the Bible speaks against it and I'm raisin'my children by the rules.

Mom, you ain't gonna clobber her, are ya?

Mind your own business, Abraham.

You sneak out again like that, young lady and I will!

Oh, I almost forgot. It's milk day.

You might as well meet our sharecroppers.

And since you're fixin' the Ford, drive the milk over to Chandler's Siding.

I'll be ready in a minute.

Oh, Bess, uh, I guess you can handle the Ford all right, can't you? When I get it fixed up?

Well, I have up to now, why?

Well, I'd... I'd kinda like to cut through the field on foot and sorta get reacquainted with the place.

All right, go ahead. I'll meet you there.

Mama, can me and Annie go along with him to show him the way?

Sure, son. Go ahead.

C'mon, Abraham, let's finish fixin' that tire.

Can... can I ask somethin'?

Sure, son, go ahead.

Can... can Leroy Hightowerlick you?

Can Leroy Hightower lick me?

No, I don't think old Leroy can whop me.

Then... then why do you let him talk to you the way he does?

Don't get me wrong, son. I ain't no coward.

I'll fight if there's a good reason to fight.

But old Leroyspoutin' off at the mouth ain't no reason for me to do somethin' I don't want to do.


Hey... no!

Now's a good time as any for you to learn some respect for them babies.

You and Annie get up in a tree. Hurry up.

You take coon, or fox, or almost any animal.

They just as soon stay away from people.

Even a bobcat'll run if he's got a chance.

But not razorbacks.

A pack of them babies get together, and you kids would end up as a good-sized dinner.


Go on!

Annie, he chased 'em! He did! He chased 'em!

Shut up! Shut up!

Shut up!

Matt, this is Jeff Storys, our sharecropper.

Matt Ballot.

Howdy. Glad to know ya.

Never thought about Mrs. Ballot having a husband.

Reckon I should've though, her havin' two kids and all.

My wife's dead. She's been gone quite a spell now.

Oh, I'm sorry to hear that.

Well, when a man gets along about my age, he don't have much use for a wife, you know.

Oh, I want you to meet my son Robert here.

Care for a swig of home brew, Ballot?

Uh, not today, thank you.

Bob, this here's Mr. Ballot.

Hello, there.


Jiminy Cricket's.

Them's bear traps, ain't they? Yup.

Yeah, we brought 'em with us from Dakota.

You know, I heard that one of these things could...

Snap a man's leg like a twig.

Well, you heard right.

Takes a lot of trap to hold a bear.

I hate to throw any cold water on your plans, son, but where do you expect you're going to find any bear around here?

Bears like honey, and I seen a lot of wild bees over on that fenced-off hill.

What fenced-off hill do ya mean?

He must be talkin' about Echo Mountain.

Echo Mountain?

You best stay off that hill, son.

They've got it fenced off or a good reason.

Why have they got that land cut off, Ballot?

Well, back when I was a little shaver about like Abraham there, a two-bit minin' outfit come in here.

They found a bunch of ore over in that old hill.

I don't know what it was, copper or gold, I don't know what.

That still don't tell me why they got it fenced off.

Well, when they got through diggin', they didn't fill the holes in.

Didn't cover 'em over or nothin'.

Just left 'em that way.

Now you just stay away from that hill, son.

Dag blame chiggers!

Puttin' me out of my mind!

Chiggers is one thing I can't see why the good Lord ever created.

They ain't big enough so's you can see 'em, so you don't know whether they're pretty or not.

They don't help the crops none.

Now, you give me just one reason why the good Lord ever created chiggers.

You know, there's always a chance that milk train might be on time for once.

This milk day? Yep.

The kids and I are gonna walk back through the new 40.

Thought maybe you'd like to drive to Chandler's Siding with Matt.

That's a good idea. Uh... Bess...

Uh, be kinda careful goin' back.

On the way over here we ran in to a bunch of razorbacks.

Papa chased 'em!

Hey, Bob, you walk Miss Ballot and the kids back home.

I'll get the eggs. They ain't but four-and-a-half dozen.

Them dag-blasted hens is gettin' lazier every day.

This is as good a place as any.

Hey, ain't that Tom Totter?


Hi there, Totter.

Hello, Ballot.

Hi, Mr. Smith, how you been?

Oh, been fair.

Say, Ballot, can I get that other can for you?

What? Oh, no, no, no.

Hey, Storys! Did you hear the one about the two black crowsin Kansas City?

Eh... looks like I ain't the most popular manin Arkansas.

Well, can't say that you are.

Think this is gonna be a permanent thing?

I don't know.

Maybe you can do something about it.

It's up to you and it'll take time.

Look at it like you was one of them, Matt.

Put yourself in their place.

What would you have been thinkin' the night Abraham was born?

Do you feel the same as they do, Mr. Canary?

I've always felt that you was a lot more of a man than they gave you credit for.

If you're still around here come next spring, you'll prove I'm right.

Well, I swear!

If it ain't our old friend Matt Ballot!

Seen Shorty Wilkins yet?

I ain't been looking for him, Leroy.

C'mon, Leroy.

If you've never worked from sunup till sundown on the farm, it may sound like a terrible way to live.

But then you wouldn't know how grand it is to sit down to eat when everything tastes good.

And to go to bed at eight o'clock so tired it seems like midnight.

And to wake up at sunrise feeling so healthy that everything in the world is beautiful to see.

There, now.

When you take it off, put it on a hanger and I'll sew it later.

You youngsters get to bed.

Aw, gee, Mama!

Oh, now, you heard me.

You wanted to go to town tomorrow, so, you have to get a goodnight's sleep tonight.

Go along, now.

What are you lookin' at? You been starin' at me all evenin'.

Oh... Nothin', I was just thinkin'...

I was thinkin' that come next spring if we keep workin' like this, place ought a be in pretty good shape.

How come people are always sayin'

"Come next spring somethin's goin' to happen?"

Oh, it's just a sayin'meanin' in the springtime or not too far away.

Seems to me, it mean sit ain't never gonna get done.

Good night, Abraham.

Are you comin'? Hm?

Oh, oh, yeah, I'll be along in just a minute, Abraham.

How come you sleep with me?

All the other kids' papas sleep with their mamas.

Good night, Abraham!

Good night.

You know, Bess, Abraham might have somethin' there.

Good night, Matt.

Good night.

Did you ever think about it?

Good night, Matthew.

Well, think about it.

Good night, Bess.

It'll take me about an hour to do my shoppin'.

Uh, you pick up the hardware we need.

Oh, and for goodness' sake, undo your collar, you'll smother.

Abraham, you run over to Aunt Bessie's, and tell her we'll come by but we can't stay to supper.

And don't you let her stuff you now.

Oh, hello, Jeff! Hello, Miss Ballot.

You comin' with me?

All right, then you can look around by yourself.

You got your dime?

Well, don't spend it all on candy.

Why don't you and the children pick me up at Aunt Bessie's in about an hour, huh? All right, we will.

Shoot you a stick of pool.

Boy, are you lucky!

That ain't luck, Billy.

That's pure science.

Your science just ran out.

Oh, hello, Mr. Storys.

Who's your friend?

This is Matt Ballot. Matt, this is Nick.

Pleased to meet you. Glad to know you, Nick.

Want to play a game? Yes.

This is the only table I have open.


Please, keep your feet on the floor, don't be breakin' the cushions. OK?


Match you to see who breaks.


Tell me somethin', Leroy.


What're ya plannin' for the future?

You're a big boy now. You should be thinkin' about the future.

You gonna stay a hired hand all your life?


I got it all figured out.

I'm gonna find me a purty little girl who already has a farm of her own, and I'm gonna marry her.

You mean, uh, you're gonna get married and settle down?

Settle down?

Who said anythin' about settlin' down?

No, siree, I'm just gonna marry her and then take off and see the country.

I'm gonna drink all the liquor in 48 states.

And in about nine years I figure by then I will have had my fill of fun...

I'm comin' back to my little girl.

You mean, uh, marryin' first is like takin' out insurance for your old age?

That's right.' Course it's gonna be kind of rough on the rest of you fellas.

How's that?

'Cause just when you get warmed up to foolin' around with my woman, I'm gonna come back home and ruin everythin' for ya.


I made up my mind, I'm gonna stay outta trouble in this town.

And when I make up my mind to somethin', I can...

I can be pretty darn stubborn.

You been... you been tryin' to get my goat ever since I got back.

But I only got one thing to say to you, Leroy.

Hope you have more luck findin' the little girl you're lookin' for.

Pay for the game, will you, Jeff?

On top of everything else I've ever said about Ballot, I never calculated I'd have to call him a coward, too.

Havin' a big day, Annie?

I was sayin' to Bob last night, I says...

Say, you feel like you're in need of swig, that little sawed-off fellowover there is the man to see.

Oh, Shorty!

Oh, you know him? Sure.

Shorty Wilkins has been the local bootlegger as far back as I can remember.

Hey, Matthew!

How are ya, boy?

How are you, Shorty.

How ya, Shorty? How ya, Jeff.

How you been doin', boy?

Fine, fine. You?

Oh... tolerable.

Say, I sure am glad to see you.

Well, I bet you ain't gonna be glad to see me when I give you the bad news.

I don't drink no more.

Oh, that's a shame.

And you were one of my best customers, too.

What happened?

Well, one mornin' I woke up and I found out I just lost my taste for it.

Yeah, me too. Just hate the stuff.

Never touch it myself.

By darn, I ain't lost my taste for it!

Come on, Matt. Cover up for us.

I'll take a pint of your panther juice.

Don't forget, there's a nickel back on the bottle.

Hey! It's the dummy!

What's your hurry, dummy?

What's the matter, dummy? Cat get your tongue?

Yeah, that's what it is.

The dag burn cat got her tongue when she was little.

Look at me, I'm her old man.

Hey, you guys leave my sister alone!

Who said so?

Aw, don't hit him.

He's a sissy and a tattletale besides.

♪ Tattletale, tattletale hangin' on a... ♪ Try that on me.

You leave me alone!

Here, here, what's goin' on there?

What is this, Abraham?

What're you doin' fightin' in the street?

Those kids weremakin' fun of Annie.

They're always pickin' on us.


Don't you let them get your goat.

Kids like that are, well, they always got to have somebody to pick on.

They just ain't got no better sense.

Come on, honey.

Mama's waitin' for us.

Come on, Abraham.

Abraham, get the bucket out of the back, there.

Mighty thoughtful of old man Haley to have his water trough right up here on top of the hill like this.

Oh, excuse me, Annie.

Annie, you children stay out of your father's way.

It's gettin' so he can't even walk with you under foot all the time.

I don't mind, Bess.

Oh, Annie, I almost forgot.

I got you somethin'.

Gee, it's a French harp.

I noticed that sometimes when your mama calls you, you don't act like you hear her. She can't tell.

So, if you hear her, you blow on that once.

Why, Matt, that's a right good idea.

Will Annie ever be able to talk, Mom?

You ask too many questions, son.

Is it a secret why she can't talk?

I told you, it's an act of God.

Now, I don't want you to ask about it again.

But he will ask again, Bess.

And he'll keep right on asking.

And Annie'd ask too if she... if she could.

So, I think it's only fair that we give them an answer now.

No, Matt. Not yet.

Annie, would you like to know why you can't talk like other folks?

Matt, please.

Then come on, honey, listen to me.

Now, I'm warning you, it ain't a very pretty story.

And I'm gambling quite a bit telling you.

In the first place, it wasn't no act of Godlike you always been told.

God gave you a voice just like everybody else.

When you was a year old, I thought it was the most powerful voice I'd ever heard.

And before you was two years old you... you could talk a little.

Course, I couldn't understand much of what you said, but to your mama, it was greater than the Gettysburg Address.

But... your... your papa wasn't much good.

He got a real good deal when he married your mama.

He got a pretty girl, and a real nice little farm thrown in to boot.

But he wasn't growed up enough to appreciate it, so, he let the farm run down and he made the pretty girl stop loving him.

He didn't care, he didn't have sense enough to care just so long as he had another jar of whiskey around someplace.

Then... then one night he come by the church to pick up you and your mama.

He... he'd been over with them fun-loving boys at Long's Camp.

Your mama thought he was a little too drunk to drive and she wanted to take the wheel, but he insisted.

He always got his way, maybe because he was bigger and stronger than her.

Maybe because she loved him too much.

Anyway... I run the car off the road over at Red Oaks, wrecked it.

Your mama and me walked away from the wreck unhurt, but... you've never uttered a sound since.

So, if you want to starthatin' me, you better do it right now before you... before you get to liking me too much.



Anything wrong?


There's nothin' wrong.

Uh... I just can't sleep.

Do you want me to fix you some coffee?



Oh, Matt.


No, Matt. Bess.

Bess. Matt, please.

What's the matter, honey?

I may as well look you right in the eye when I say this.

What you done to me and the kids was a bad thing, Matt.

A real bad thing.

But I reckon you done some paying for it before you come home.

And I allow, since you've been here, you acted right manly.

But I been lonely a terrible long time, Matt.

And you've only been good a couple of months.

How do I know you won't get restless again?

Yeah, I guess you don't know, Bess.

I know I won't, but I guess there's no way for you to know it.

I hope you won't.

But I can't help being scared at times.

Maybe I'll get over being scared.

I think I have a little.

But, let's wait a spell.

For my sake, let's be sure everything's right.

Goodnight, Bess.

And I tell you!

I know from actual observation, that red liquor and Christianity can't live in the same hide at the same time.

But there's always that man who claims he can control it.

"I can take a drink," he says.

"Or I can let it alone."

Amen. Ha...

Brothers, remember the scripture, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and he that erreth therein is not wise."

And brothers and sisters, I'll tell you somethin' further.

A lion cub is a good pet, just like a kitten, so long as he is a cub.

But when he grows up, he'll destroy you.

And brothers and sisters it's the same with alcohol.

You can control it at first, but someday it'll destroy you.

But, Mama, I don't drink.

And that's the reason Solomon admonishes.

Look not on the wine when it is red, and it sparkleth in the glass when it goeth down smoothly, for at the last it biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an adder.


Now, we'll sing hymn number 83.

"God Moves in a Mysterious Way," hymn number 83.

♪ God moves in a mysterious way ♪

♪ His wonders to perform

♪ He plants his footstep in the sea ♪

♪ And rides upon the storm

♪ Ye fearful saints

♪ Fresh courage take

♪ The clouds ye so much dread ♪

♪ Are big with mercy I've got to get home.

♪ And shall break in blessings ♪

Is there something wrong here?

Brother Meaner, when the air gets still and sticky like it is now, and the sky looks like it does, that usually means a cyclone.

Well, it seems to me it was just last prayer meetin' night that I asked you men to help dig a storm cellar for the church, but you were all too busy.

"Come next spring," you said.

Brother Meaner, I allow you got a point there, but this ain't no time for bickering.

All right, services dismissed!

But I want all of you back here tonight!

Don't forget services as usual next Sunday.


Is he all right? Yeah, I'm all right.

Now, look folks let's just simmer down a little bit, huh?

Don't get panicky before somebody gets hurt.

You take care of your family, Ballot, we'll take care of ours.

I know how you feel about me, but this ain't no time to voice our personal grievances.

Now, you listen to me before somebody gets killed.

We're gonna get out of here a lot faster if we just... just calm down.

Start actin' like grownups.

Now, Jeff, get somebody to help you and get that wagon out of here.

Help him, Bob. Rest of you get on back to your cars and get the engine started.

Delbert, go on inside and open up them windows if you want to save your church.

Mr. Canary, you follow Smith outright after this car gets clear. Go ahead back it up.

You coming with us, Jeff? I suspect we'd better.

That cellar's so full of water it looks like a cistern in April.

All right, you kids get in that cellar, and don't stick your noses out for any reason.

Bob, get a couple of lanterns and light 'em up.

Jeff, get a couple of buckets of water.

I'm going in the house and open up the windows.

Don't be wastin' time on that food!

Good heavens! They've got every animal in the place down here.

Get that calf out of here.

But, Mama, he can blow away same as us.

Go on, Bob, take it out. Annie, put that dog...

Oh, the pig, Abraham, what's the matter with you?

Matt, can you help him get that calf out?

That calf's all right, Bess.

Just let it sit right hereby the steps.

Get off my foot.

You're all right, there's plenty of room down here.

It ain't the room, it's the smell.

We're liable to be here for an hour, and if we are, the air'll be so thick you can chew it.

Oh, we got everything down here?

Gosh! We forgot the kittens.

Never mind about the kittens.

We got enough livestock down here now.

What's the matter, Bob? Are you scared?

Yeah, to tell you the truth, Mr. Ballot, I am.

I ain't sure gettin' down here in this cellar makes us safe.

Why, I've even heard to tell those twisters could suck all the water out of a well.

This ain't no time to be thinking about things like that, son.

Where's Annie?

Huh? Where's Annie?

Annie... Oh, no.

What is it?

It's out there right now.

It's a mile high and a mile across the top.

Maybe a few feet at the bottom.

It's a regular old snorter, huh?

Looks like it's off the barn door.

Why, I've heard tell of them things blowing a broom straw through solid rock.

I believe it now.

Dag burn fence lifter, blow the hair right off a man's chest.

You all right, honey?

Annie, why do you do things like that?

Come here.

Sounds like it's gone.

Yeah. They don't stay long, but they sure raise Cainwhile they're here.

Let's take a look.

How do you know it ain't out there just waitin' for you to open that door?

Well, looks like we got a little work cut out for us.

Yes, sir.

We sure have.

Suzy! Where's Suzy?


Yep, there's... lots of work to do.

That looks like Mr. Totter.

Wonder what he wants?

I'd better go freshen up a little.

Hello, Ballot.

Hello, Totter.

Mr. Canary, what... what is all this?

Didn't Totter tell you?

No, he didn't say nothin'.

Something we decided at a church meeting last night.

Being's you're the only one in the neighborhood that suffered any serious damage, we figuredwe'd lend you a hand.

Course we can’t bring your cow back, but we can pitch in a little lumber and some sweat and we ought a have that barn back in business, no time at all.

Well, that's real nice of you folks.

I know that Bess and the kid’s will appreciate it.

Oh, dang it.

It's hard for a feller like me to say it, Ballot, but we ain't doing this just for Bess and the kids.

Thank you, Totter.

And all at once it was Halloween.

Halloween was a different kind of holiday in those days.

As I recall, most of the kids went in for more exciting sports than just plain old trick or treat.

And it was a big night for the grownups, too.

The Halloween dance at the school has always been one of the year's biggest events.

Bess and Matt went to the dance for the first time in years.

Well, you look like a high school girl.

You look pretty nice yourself.

Well, that's, uh, that's my J.B.

You'll put every man there in the shade.

Will I, Bess?

Oh, Bess, I love you so much.

Anybody going to the dance?

Come on in, Jeff.

Well, where did you get that Celluloid collar?

Yes, sir, he got hisself a girl.

No, really? A real female type girl?

I reckon. Did you hear that?

Who is it, Bob?

Lovey Crockett.

Lovey... Lovey Crockett!

Bess, did you hear that?

Bob's courtin' Lovey Crockett.

I heard. She's a nice girl, Bob.

Say, talking about gettin'dressed up, looky there, Bob.

It's a dag burned movie star!

Oh, you stop. Mama. Mama, Runt's back.

Just calm down now, Abraham. What's that?

Oh, Runt's been missing a couple of days.

Five days.

And she's out in the back and she's awful thin.

Well, let's go have a look at her, huh?

Come on.

She looks like she's starved to death.

I better get her somethin' to eat.

Oh, no, she ain't starved, Abraham.

She just had her puppies, that's all.

She certainly has.

Yeah, old Runt's gone off some fool place and had her puppies. I bet them pups is over in that Echo Mountain country.

Ain't no dog the size of Runt's gonna get all het up over the puny hounds around here.

There's some big wild dogs over in that fenced-off section, too.

Yeah, but she’d better be careful with all them open shafts.

And I got me some bear traps set out there, too.

Oh, I don't think we gotta worry about Runt, she knows how to take care of herself.

Give her some milk, Abraham.

We'd better go.

Howdy, folks.

How 'bout this dance, Bess?

I promised it to Matt, Leroy.

Seems a shame to waste a dance on the husband.

An old habit of ours, Leroy.

We always dance the first and last dance together.

Thought maybe you'd broken the habit.

I had 'em both last year.

Excuse me, Bess.

Matt, there's Myrtle.

I promised her that recipe I cut out of the newspaper.

All right, all right, you go ahead and gossip all you want, I'll go get it for you. It's in my coat.

Here, here. What's going on here?

Well, if it ain't old "pass the bottle" Ballot.

Have a snort, Matt.

No, thanks, Billy.

I'm not doing much drinking now these days.

I never seen him take a drink.

Come on, Matt, it's Halloween.

No thank you, Jeff.

Aw, come on, Matt, one little snort won't hurt you.

Wouldn't do me no good neither.

What he means is, one snort would just send him off on a month's toot.

Matt never was a man who could take just one snort.

Well, I know that used to be true, Billy.

As a matter of fact, I used to be so water-logged with alcohol that one drink would just wake up all that wasin my system.

But not no more.

Oh, come on now, Matt.

Come on, I... I grew up with you.

Tell you what.

Now you always did like this silver buckle, didn't you?

Yeah, it's a nice buckle.

I'll bet you this buckle against that new Stetson you got up there, that you can't take one snort and not tilt the bottle for the rest of the night.

What do you say? You tempt me, Billy.

That's a real nice looking buckle.

Well, then go on and bet me. Nah, nah, no...

I need a new hat. Go on, Matt. I'll bet you can do it.

You had a right to say what you did.

I've been pretty hard on him myself.

I'm real happy for you.

He's changed a lot, Myrtle.

It's been wonderful. Oh...

I swear you get prettier looking every day, Myrtle.

Doesn't she, Bess? She sure does.

I think it's the dress, it's real becoming on you.

Oh, I declare, Matt, you could charm an Eskimo into buying an icebox.

Uh, is this what you wanted, Bess?

Yeah, that's it.

Is that Lovey Crockett?

That's Lovey Crockett.

Well, I swear.

I'll be right back.

Well, well! Looky who's growed up.

Looky who's growed up!

Now, just a minute.

Well... Looks like I better be goin', honey, before your big feller beats the tar out of me.

Don't strike me, son.

Rowdy, someday is going torun into somebody that's gonna put him in his place.

I gotta feeling that that time ain't very far off.

Matt, you behave yourself. Let's dance.

♪ Then I'll come home

♪ And I'll carry in my heart ♪

♪ Just one prayer

♪ That I'll find you

♪ Still waiting for my arms

♪ We'll meet, we'll kiss

♪ We'll cling Matt, you been drinking.

I had one little snort.

Oh, Matt.

Look, Billy Jackson bet me his new silver belt buckle against my Stetson that...

I thought you was off drink.

Well, I am. I just had one drink.

One comes before ten.

Oh, honey, I'm man enough to take one drink...

Oh, stop it.

Have many times have I heard that before?

When I was a punk kid, yeah, but Bess, honey, that one drink is all I'm gonna have.

All right, then prove it, prove it right this minute.

Let's go home.

Oh, Bess, be reasonable.

The party's just gettin' started.

Then you won't go.

I don't see any reason to go.

Then I hope you have a wonderful time.

You can drink and dance until you drop.

I'm going home.


You lose.

Yes siree, yearling. You've got yourself the prettiest girl in the room.

How'd you ever lasso a deal like her.

Now, don't you start nothin', Leroy Hightower!

Start something? Me? I'd be scared to, Lovey.

This yearling looks like he might beat the hide off me if I got him a little madder.

He might at that, Leroy.

I used to do it when I was about his age.

That was a while ago, Matt.

I could whip you the day I was born, Leroy.

I don't think things have changed much since then.

Then I think you better step outside and prove it.

I'd be happy to oblige.

I've been swallowing your insults and bad manners just about long enough.

I can fight my own fights, Mr. Ballot.

Then go find yourself one, son. This is mine.

Hey, Shorty. What is it? It's a fight.

Wait a minute, wait a minute, who is it?

Matt Ballot and Leroy Hightower, and this has been brewing for a long time.

Hey, everybody, there's gonna be a fight!

Matt Ballot and Leroy Hightower, they're squaring off right out there in the parking lot now.

Come on!

I'm gonna beat the tar out of you, Ballot.

Stop bragging, Leroy, put your money where your mouth is.

Where is he? Where'd he go?

Stop racing the engine. You're just digging in deeper.

No, no, no, Jeff, let it sit right here, I want to talk some sense into this woman.

You haven't changed a bit, have you?

For a while there, I had hopes for you, but the first chance you get, you're drinking and fighting.

You... you ain't being fair, Miss Ballot.

Sure, he had a drink, so did every man at the dance.

I'm higher than a Dakota kite myself.

It's a man's privilege to drink on Halloween.

Halloween ain't a Lord's day.

It's a man-made holiday and so is liquor.

And if I was Ballot's age, I...

If I was Ballot's age, I'd have tackled that no-good Leroy Hightower a long time ago.

Fact is, Ballot's been taking so much from him, I was wondering if Ballot was all man.

And then tonight, pushing and pushing.

He's the one to blame, Miss Ballot, not your husband.

All right, Jeff, you're just wasting your breath.

She ain't gonna listen to neither one of us.

Might as well get this car outta here.

You forgot to say "uncle", Matt.

Hey, wait for me.

If you've lost your spirits I've got plenty more.

Bess! Bess!


How about a little spirits, Mr. Totter?

No, drink it yourself.

I never touch it, but I'll make you a good deal.

Help, I can't swim!

I can't swim!

Get up. Get up.

I've had enough. Get up there.


All right, Ballot, don't kill the man.

Shut up!

Cheer up, Ballot.

If I had a dollar for every ruckus I had with my old lady, I wouldn't be working for you.

You'd be working for me.

You don't understand, Jeff.

This ain't no ordinary man and wife squabble.

Me and Bess ain't been living together as man and wife.

What's that?

That's right.

As far as her and meis concerned, I'm just a...

I'm just a hired hand.


You better come in and dry off your pants.


Might as well.

No, sir, it ain't easy living with a woman.


Need a light here.

I lived with my old lady for 30 odd years.

'Fore she died.

I was 55 when it happened.

Wait a minute...

I'm 74 now.

That's right, I was 55 the day she left.

How old is Bob?


Well, according to your figure, Jeff, he was born two years after she died.

That's right. No!

You told me that, uh, you was 72 one time.

I lie so much about my age, I ain't got no notion how old I am.

Well, uh, you was in the army.

You could look at your army record.

I lied to them, too.

Well, Jeff, why don't you just lay...

That's right, sleep it off.

Your lip's cut.

That's the least of my trouble, Jeff.

Did you win?

You was there.

Oh, yeah.

Tell you the truth, I don't ever remember much about Halloween.

Where's Bob?

Hmm? Oh, he come in about 2:00, and I sent him over to the place to water the stock.

Must've been a big night.

Did I talk much, Ballot?


Sometimes I say fool things when I... after I've had a snort or two.

Well, you, uh... you had a little trouble remembering how old you are.

I did?

Funny things a man says after a snort or two, ain't it?

I'm 74 and I got my army papers to prove it.

Say, I'll get you a bite of breakfast if you'll wait 'til I change my pants.

Uh, thank you just the same, Jeff, but I gotta get on over there, probably for the last time.

Huh, it's the Ford.

Matt, Matt, Annie's missing! Wha... What?

She took off with Runt last night after we left.

Abraham went to the party alone.

Well, why didn't you come get me sooner?

I didn't know 'til this morning.

Abraham was asleep when I got home, so, I just went to bed.

Well, come on, let's go see if we can find her.

Bob's gathering some of the neighbors to help us.

They'll meet us at the house.

Matt, may have some bad news for you.

Is this off of Annie?

It's off her jacket.

Where'd you get it?

Well, I took a run over to Echo Mountain while Miss Ballot went to get you, and I found it stuck on a barbed-wire fence.

I figured she might be over on that mountain.

She must've gone up the retrying to find Runt's pups.

Oh, that kid, that idiot kid. That's a rough country.

Some of them holes are over 100 feet deep.

You got any rope with you? About 50 feet.

Come on, let's go.

There are dog tracks, all right, but don't look like Runt's.

Bob, find anything?

Nope, not a darned thing.

Here you just don't know where to look.

She might be any place.

It's my fault, Matt. It's all my fault.

Stop whipping yourself, Bess.

No, Matt. I drove her to it.

I've always been so careful not to let anybody know I loved them.

Even my own children.

I... I did that to you, too, Matt.

Making such a fuss over a man taking a little drink on a holiday.

Bess, Bess, Bess, drink is never gonna be a problem to me again.

I had no business being so stubborn.

Now, Bess... pull yourself together.

Listen to me, Bess, listen to me.

Now, honey, I been thinking if we find Annie...

When we find her...

If we could just afford to take her to one of them specialists, I... I got a feeling that she... she could talk again.

And, well, I've been saving my money for the last couple of years, Bess.

If I... if I go on back out to the coast and get a real good job and save all I can...

No, Matt, don't leave us.

We need you. We love you.

I love you.

Oh, Bess.

Annie! Annie!

Annie, Annie!

We found her, she's over here!

We've found her, she's over here!

Hang on, Annie! Hang on!

Get that rope over here, Leroy.

Hold on, Annie, hold tight.

Here. You go down, Matt, and I'll hold.

Go ahead, I'm stronger than you.

Hey, give me a hand here.

Hang on. Hang on, Annie.

Get on my back. Hang on.

Get on.

Get on.

Keep a steady pull.

Steady, Matt.

Don't let it turn. Don't let it twist.



That took a lot of nerve, Matt.

Thanks, Leroy.


Bess, honey.


Who screamed? Wh... What?

Who screamed?