Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Friday, September 2, 2011
Allegheny Road as a screenplay
INT. PARLOR OF HOUSE - DAY – ESTABLISHING
SUPERIMPOSE: ALLEGHENY ROAD PLANTATION, NORTH OF LEXINGTON
GEORGE LYNN, in his late twenties, enters the room, stops before ASHLEY LYNN, who is seated in a rocking chair staring into the yard through a large window.
You going to sit here all night?
Don't know. I may. What of it?
Nothing, of course. As always. But be aware, I might be gone as long as a year. How will you be for that long?
How would you expect? You imagine we'll be helpless with you gone? You want to hear me say we'll miss you? Or worry about you? No one is sending you to that God-forsaken war at gun point.
Oh no, I'm not daft enough to expect you to worry. I even wonder if you wouldn't rather I never come back at all. Alive, anyway.
Ashley flies out of the chair, almost knocking it over, backing away from George, clutching at her chest.
George Lynn, how could you? Do you truly think that of me? Do you honestly see me as that heartless? Or is this your parting effort to hurt me one last time. Is it?
No, it's true, I can't escape the fact that your best outcome would be for me to be brought back in a box. Whether you would want it that way or not, you can't deny that it would serve all your purposes. Can you?
But what would serve my purposes best would be a divorce and peace between us. If I worked my land, and you yours, we could cooperate as neighbors, and you could find someone who would love you and I could find someone of my own. But you chose to hang on to everything. Then portray me as a hateful harpy who wishes you dead. But I do not.
But then there's no hope of being forgiven, no hope of your taking me back?
I loved you, George, but you stabbed me to the heart. I can't love you any more because of the way you hurt me when I needed you the most in my life, but you won't face it and let go. Forgiveness isn't part of it, because the love is gone for good, with or without forgiveness.
Then I've really made the right choice. It's left up to some Yankee to provide what we both need, for me, to end the pain and you, to have it all. And the way I feel, the sooner the better.
If you're angling for me to take you back out of pity, I can't. I'd be giving up all I have left; if the only way you offer to set us free is by dying, that is your choice, not ours, George. There's no more I can say.
I see. I don't think I knew how deep it goes until now.
In despair, George wanders away, soon finding himself before a bedroom, upstairs. At his knock, a black woman opens the door a crack, peering out.
Oh, it's you. Well you can go away. If you must do this crazy thing, there's nothing I know to say to you but goodbye.
Knowing you may never see me again? This is how it ends between us?
Millie moves out of his sight back against the inside wall of the room.
It isn't the way I'd choose to end this, George. But every chance you had, to do what you should, you chose not to. And I say you're choosing the wrong way now, but I know you can't see your way to take the right one. It may break my heart, but I must say goodbye, even if it is forever.
Yes, that's what you're doing to me, Millie, breaking my heart. I didn't believe you could do this to me.
Oh, but did you think that I would just cave in and take you back, to save you from yourself? Did she cave in?
No. I'm sure you wouldn't come to me if she had. Well if this was just a gambit to win one of us over, I'm sorry, George, but it failed. You're left to follow this through, or find a saner answer. So, goodbye. I do wish you luck. I do, George.
Millie closes the door in George’s face. George repairs to his room, flopping on the bed face down, sobbing almost to the point of being sick.
INT. SLAVE HUT – DAY
SUPERIMPOSE: SOUTH OF LEXINGTON, VIRGINIA, 1836
Millie Turner and her mother huddle together at the back of their hut, watching the door, their eyes wide in fear but both remain calm. Outside, shouting and gunfire suggests turmoil.
Where's Daddy, when will he come home, Mama?
Don’t know, Sugar, but I expect he'll be back directly. We just have to be calm and quiet until then.
Mama, what’s going to happen?
Don’t know that, either—the Massas are upset because some of our people tried to escape. Daddy meant for us to go, too, but there was never a chance. I hope Daddy isn't in trouble, but I don't know, Sugar.
Mama, I want to see my daddy. Please call him home. Please!
I can’t, Baby, you see how it is, we can't show our faces until it's all over. Please, now, be quiet and don't fret. We just have to wait.
INT. SLAVE HUT – NIGHT
After hours of threats and noise heard from inside the hut, white men break in and take a struggling Millie away from Mrs. Turner, truss her up in a burlap bag, and throw her into the back of a wagon, along with several other slave children.
EXT. BEFORE HUT IN SLAVE QUARTERS, DIFFERENT PLANTATION – DAY
TERRENCE JACKSON approaches a hut, carrying a bundle wrapped in burlap. He knocks at the door then enters.
Molly, I’ve brought you a surprise.
Terrence unwraps the bundle and a little girl squirms free but remains quiet in his arms.
If’n you’ll have her, this little one is yours now, Molly. Seems her family was involved in an uprising t’other side of Lexington and the bastards punished the men by taking their children. Do you want her?
Oh my, how could I not, she’s precious. What's her name?
Nobody said. You know the massas, they don't keer, long as she comes to some name. So I reckon you can name her as you please.
She's sure quiet, isn't she?
Quiet now, maybe, but I hear tell she put up hell's own ruction when they took her.
Good. Nobody ought to be taken away without a fight. I’ll teach her to remember that.
Molly takes Millie from Terrence.
Sweet thing. And pretty. Terrence, you knew, of course—she's just what I need to get over Ethel. Thank you so much.
Yes Ma'am, and if I was a praying man, I'd pray she ends up a damn sight better than her family. Now I have to go.
Terrence kisses her hand, excuses himself.
Now, little one, what do you know of yourself? Know your name?
Yes'm. M-Millie. Millie Turner.
Ah, so it's Millie. For Millicent, I expect. How old are you, do you know that, too?
Millie holds up three fingers.
That is good to know. So Millie, tell me everything you know about your family....
Molly finds a scrap of paper and pencil, begins writing.
INT. PLANTATION HOUSE BEDROOM – DAY
George Lynn is about five years old when the little slave girl is brought before him.
Georgie, the time has come for you to have a personal servant. This is Millie, and she's yours now, so teach her what you want her to do, to clean up for you and make you comfortable, understand?
But Mother, it's a girl. I don't want a girl. I hate girls. Please, bring a boy, Mother. Would you?
I'm sorry, the boys are all needed to work the fields. They say this wench is very smart, for a...darkie. Just put up with her, you'll get used to having a girl.
George's mother leaves him alone with Millie. Soon as she is gone, George pushes Millie, almost knocking her down, but she holds her ground and does not react to being mistreated.
You heard what I said, I hate girls. Go away, out of my sight. Go on!
No Sir, I can't go away, I’ve nowhere to go. You also heard the Mistress. I'm to stay here.
You're talking back to me. Go stand in the corner, that's the punishment for talking back. And that way, I don't have to look at you. You're as ugly as any baboon. Go on, hide that monkey face.
Millie obeys, but no longer stoic, she begins to cry, her body shuddering with the sobs. George goes to her, grabbing her the shoulder, turning her to face him.
You stop that crying, little girl, I'm not putting up with it. Stop it! Right now.
Millie cries all the harder, and George slaps at her. Millie drops to her haunches, covering her head, sobbing as quietly as she can. Inexplicably, George squats next to her, touching her shoulder, then putting his arms around her.
Little girl, do stop crying, will you—
George is still hugging Millie and beginning to cry, too, when unseen, his mother returns.
What the devil are you doing? Get your hands off of that, son, what’s wrong with you?
(Looks up at his mother)
She was crying, Mother.
What if she did? You never touch them, they’re filthy. Here, you come with me, wash your hands.
(Shakes finger at Millie)
As for you—you'd better watch yourself, you hear me, wench?
Ma’am, I peed. When I cried.
Millie raises her short dress, showing her underwear.
Why, you nasty little thing! Come with me.
Mrs. Lynn drags Millie down the hall, turning her over to a house servant.
MRS. LYNN (Cont’d)
The little horror wet on herself, see that she’s cleaned up and changed. If she ever does it again, she’s out in the field.
George does not see Millie again that day, but she is back the next, and George begins to get used to her. Millie does not cry again, and soon, she is made to sleep on a pallet near George's bed so she can do anything he requires in the night.
EXT. AROUND A CREEK – DAY
Series of scenes:
A. Millie and George frolicking together near a creek
B. Millie and George playing tag
C. Millie and George playing with a woolly dog
D. Millie and George fishing in a creek
In most of the scenes, they are laughing and often hugging
In each scene, they are a little older than the last
INT.PARLOR OF THE ALLEGHENY ROAD PLANTATION –
George and Millie are now both about eight years old. George's
father has hired a retired teacher as a tutor. Entering the
parlor, with Millie in tow, George finds a brown haired girl
about a year younger seated primly on a chair.
Hello, who are you?
Ashley Edmiston. From the plantation just over yonder. And who is this?
She's my...my servant.
Really? A girl servant for a boy? How do you like that?
A stern looking man, much older than George's parents enters and is introduced by George's mother as the tutor.
All right, children, please sit down and let us get started.
After the day's lessons, Ashley is expected to stay for dinner.
Scenes of the three playing in the yard and by the creek until daylight wanes.
SUPERIMPOSE: CINCINNATI, OHIO, 1861
SCOTT PATTON, about thirty years old, aboard a horse-drawn cab. He leans over the driver's shoulder, taking in a street scene ahead: a crowd milling about in some agitation.
Driver, you must've made several trips from the station today—how long has this gone on?
Oh, a couple of hours, I'd say, Squire.
Over what? What’s the unrest about?
Not quite sure, Sir. But it's uglier than last trip. Maybe I can drop you somewhere else, eh?
No, it's just where I have to go, I have people inside the courthouse I came to try and bail out. I'll get out here. Keep the change.
Scott jumps down and wades into the edge of the crowd.
SCOTT (cont'd) (Addressing male bystander)
What's all this about, anybody know?
Couple of people got shot, right out from under the cops' noses.
Cops let the killers get clear away, and now they're trying to put a clean face on it by claiming to be investigating it.
Yeah, like now, they're doing their duty.
I get the picture, gentlemen. Thanks. Now if you'll excuse me....
Scott attempts to slip under the restraining rope. POLICEMAN seizes Scott by the collar.
Where in the hell you think you're going?
I have business in the jail, I need to get through. I’m here to see two defendants—do your duty, Sir, make way and let me in there, since you're holding my people.
Impossible, it's locked down, all tied up in the scene of a crime. No one in or out until it's dealt with. You can relax, your criminal pals ain't going anywhere, either.
You have no right to restrict the visits of families because of some other crime. Let me in!
Family. Your kin to prisoners? Which prisoners? That's who's been killed. Which—
No. God no. Don't tell me...what were their names?
You tell me the names you're after.
Susannah and Thadeus Patton, my wife and—
Patton? Oh shit...lord help us....
Scott throws himself forward and the beefy officer bears him to the ground, drawing his gun, holding it butt-first, ready to brain Scott if he doesn't submit.
You be good, boy. Understand? Be calm. Now get up, I’ll take you inside if you behave.
All right, I'll behave. I have to know....
Sure you do.
Out on the street lie two canvas-covered mounds that might be bodies. Seeing them, Scott begins to wobble. Holding him up, the officer addresses a DETECTIVE standing nearby.
He seems to know them. Named Patton.
Detective consults a pad.
Oh lordy, that's not good. Sir, I'm afraid I have the sad duty to inform you—
Scott’s legs fail entirely and he sinks to his knees, the detective bending over him, touching his shoulder.
Be brave, now, Sir. You’d better come along. The detective helps Scott up and leads him through the gate into the court house, on the way bellowing for the CHAPLAIN, who rushes out and takes up a position on Scott’s other side.
Come this way and sit down, Son.
Both of them?
Seems they were targeted in particular.
How? With police all around, how?
Now that's something we can't talk about yet, it's being investigated even as we speak.
You just let somebody walk up and kill them?
Look here, it isn't as fucking simple as that, Patton.
You don't have the killers? They got away, too? What kind of God damned incompetence—
You mind your mouth, bereaved or not! They were a gang, and masked, so how would we know who the hell they were?
Then I'll give you a name: Nathan Sommervell. The message that came to me said he set them up for arrest. And he stood to take over the company when my father died! I want him brought in.
Well, I don’t know anything about this, but we’ll look into it, right enough.
Sommervell, Sommervell...wasn’t there a man by that name earlier, inquiring if they would be released on bail? Perhaps he—
No, Father, you stay out of this, hear me?
Detective seizes the priest by the shoulder and escorts him away, leaving Scott alone on the bench, where he slowly slumps over, sobbing. Shortly, the policeman comes for him.
Listen, Pal, you're needed back here.
The officer propels Scott to a room behind the front desk. His mother has just arrived and is only now absorbing the same news about her husband and daughter-in-law.
So far, she hasn't said a word, nothing. She needs you, son.
Scott clutches his mother to him and together they sob in each other’s arms. Scott’s brother and sister arrive, followed by an aunt and uncle, who gently take charge of Scott and his mother, driving them home.
INT. PARLOR OF HOUSE – NIGHT
Elderly servant named BILLY approaches Scott, in the midst of grieving with his family. Calls Scott off to a side room.
Billy, what is it, now, of all times?
I'm sorry, but this can't wait. It's about Mrs. Susannah's last...shipment, understand? What she and your father were involved in when the polices came, see.
No, can't be—all the runaways were caught. That's the only thing that would matter—
No, Suh, they was two left behind, and they's downstairs and have to be...moved on.
Oh lord, how can I deal with this? Yet I couldn't abandon them. You'd better show me.
Billy leads Scott to the secret holding area for fugitive slaves to hide. THELMA WARD shields her face and her baby's from the sudden bright light.
Dear lady, come out, you and your child, we can't leave you in here this way. It’s safe,I’m one of the conductors. Is your baby well? And are you all right, Ma'am?
Yes Suh, Massa, we well.
Scott leads Thelma and her baby to a seat in the outer chamber, then kneels before her.
Were the two of you all alone on the escape? Anyone else in your family with you?
No Suh. My man, he stay behind fo’ us, he still theah. We miss him terrible, but he wanted us free. We was with seven other friends, now they...gone on ahead.
No, Ma’am, I’m sorry, they were caught. Only you remain free, so we must send you on. May I know your name, and your child's?
I be's Thelma, this be Lucy.
Where did you come from, where is your man left behind?
Virginny, near Lexington, plantation called Marthaland.
Well let's always hope he's safe. What is his name? I'll keep my ears open about him.
Josiah. Josiah Ward.
I will remember. Billy, will you stay with them for awhile, keep them company while I prepare for the run north?
Yes, 'course, Scott.
Scott slips out of the house and soon, in dead of night, drives the Wards to the next "station" in the Underground Railroad, returning with the wagon to Cincinnati by morning.
INT. LAW OFFICE – DAY
Scott seated before the family attorney, ED SMITHSON.
Somehow, Nathan Sommervell orchestrated the murders, Ed. I have no doubt of it.
And I can add more to the fire: almost immediately, he attempted to buy out your father's share of the company, bankrolled by a cohort who's a railroad president.
So why didn't he have me reeled in and wiped out, too? He may have sealed his doom, missing me. But why?
Did you know he's a major slave owner in Kentucky?
Hell no! He helped us transport runaways over the Ohio. The last thing I'd guess was that he's a slaver. But what's that to do with leaving me be?
He's also an old friend of this Jeff Davis. Seems he received an urgent call to rush down and join Davis's cabinet, no time to wait for you. But I don’t see what threat you're going to present, with the bastard hiding under Davis's skirts way down there.
That's not going to protect him. I have a mission in the South and I'll add him as a second. I'm going down there and get him. I'll swear out as a marshal if I have to. You can prefer federal charges, for fleeing justice across state lines. Do it, Ed!
Impossible. That entire set off assholes are thumbing their noses at federal laws. They sure as hell won't give up one of their on something like this.
I guess I'll just have to be there with the army when it marches into Montgomery, then. If it takes hauling him out as a treasonous rebel, that's perfectly fine with me.
Be serious, man, you aren't even in the God damned army. Tell me you wouldn't join and go into this coming war just on the hope of laying hands on Sommervell.
Ed, I'm an academy graduate, trained in combat engineering. I was in Columbus to advise this General McClellan about the weapons available to the state militia. He tried his damnedest to recruit me—I could have come back as an engineering officer. So by tomorrow, I will be in the militia and on my way when Lincoln calls for us.
Don't do it, man, that's the worst possible reason to join the army when there's a war coming. A lot of good you’ll do anyone dead.
Ah, but that's the beauty part: I don't want to go on any longer, without my Susannah,than it takes to rescue this Josiah Ward in Virginia, and bring Sommervell to justice. After that, I'd be happy if some rebel bullet put me out of my misery. I mean it.
Jesus, that makes me ill. Tell me how I could make you feel better than that. How?
You can't. Just do all you can to keep the company out of his hands, and use whatever I can get on Sommervell.
Well if that's the best I can do, for Christ's sakes, count on me.
They shake hands, Smithson displaying more emotion than Scott.
SUPERIMPOSE: SHENANDOAH VALLEY, VIRGINIA, 1862
EXT. A WIDE ROAD BETWEEN FIELDS – DAY
On foot, Scott observes several field hands at work near the fence. They stop to study him; he doffs his hat.
Afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. May I ask a question of you?
WOMAN FIELD HAND
Reckon you can, Suh. What can we do for you?
I'm looking for a place called Allegheny
Road. By my reckoning, I ought to be close.
WOMAN FIELD HAND
Close, yeah: this be's it. Over this fence,
across that field. So what you want theah?
I want to meet with Miss Ashley.
MALE FIELD HAND
I understand she’s a friend of slaves, and
so am I. Could anyone direct me to her?
MALE FIELD HAND
Maybe you be trouble. Why we trus’ you?
Actually, you don't have to. I figure I can
find her on my own. So if you'll excuse me,
I'll just be on my way.
WOMAN FIELD HAND
No wait—why you want her?
May I tell you something? Will you listen?
WOMAN FIELD HAND
We'll listen, but make it good.
I’m a Yankee.
WOMAN FIELD HAND
The devil, you say. Maybe you a vigilante,
why should we just trust your word?
What would a vigilante want? You're where
you should be, what could be any trouble?
WOMAN FIELD HAND
T'aint us we’re worried about, it’s her. We
don't want to lead no vigilantes to her.
Then let me tell you something. A few months
ago, I helped a woman and her baby on their
way from Cincinnati to Canada, but she left
her man back here, and I’ve come to free
him and take him to her. Believe me, I
would take all of you with me as well, but
that would be beyond me. So I guess you
wouldn’t help me help a brother, would you?
ANOTHER WOMAN FIELD HAND
How you hear about Miss Ashley?
In Richmond, I met with spies, including a
free woman who cleans rooms in the very
capital of the Confederacy. And she's in
touch with the Railroad. From there to
here, along the way, I stopped at Stations,
and the last conductors knew of Ashley and
gave me a code: "Up the lazy river. "
WOMAN FIELD HAND
Ah, that's what we needed to hear. Okay,
Joseph can take you to meet her.
Yeah, yeah. Mister, come with me, this way.
Joseph gestures Scott to climb over the fence, onto the
grounds of Allegheny Road.
EXT. CREEK SIDE – DAY
Millie and Ashley, now in their late teens, stroll along the
banks of the creek without George.
Something has been on my mind for a long
while. I believe it's time you and George
began to think of it, and decide how you
feel and how to act about it.
Am I supposed to know what you're talking
about, or guess?
No, I'm telling you. In my way.
What is this, then?
If it were in our power, George and I would
marry. But it's absolutely impossible, we
have considered all the ways. Only if we ran
away, could we, and the roadblocks to that
are too great.
It's no surprise you want to be married, but
I'm not one who believes there's no hope.
But why are you telling me?
Because if I can't marry him, I know he
would be very happy with you. But I wonder,
when that time came, if I could ever see
him again...privately? Would you be—
Ah, jealous. You're asking that. Would I be
jealous if you and George remained very
close and in love, if it's true that we may
marry. Is that it?
Yes, yes, that's what I fear. That you'd
demand that he should shut me out.
Oh no, ease your mind over that. The answer
is no. The truth is that even if we do
marry, I might feel like the outsider who's
usurping your rightful place, Millie. I
would think you are the one with the right
to be jealous, if anyone is.
That's how you do feel?
You don't think that's the way it is? I have
come to the point when I would wish to
approach George in a way different than we
are now, to approach him as if he were my
beau. But that would be like trying to take
another woman's beau away. I think you and
he are that close already.
I have been worrying over how to ask you
if I could see him sometimes alone, as
you are able much more often to do. And
if I did, whether you would be jealous.
No, not knowing only you can marry him of
the two of us. That's my worry, that I'm in
the opposite fix, that you might see me as
a rival, an enemy...dare I say, even as a
mistress on the side. And hate me for it.
Even losing George for ever would hardly
hurt more than losing you as my best friend.
Oh lord, Millie, I could never do that. I
would rather somehow share him with you
than hurt either of you with some kind of
Share him? You would?
As I said, the proper question, at least
now, is would you?
Yes, yes, that would be the most lovely
solution. But if so, he needs to have it
made known, that if he consents, he is to
have private time with both of us and the
How...do I begin, to be that way with him?
You know, suddenly, I'm both giddy and
scared to death.
Let me begin, let me tell him first that I
feel this way, and that you understand. So
then, when you go to him, he'll know why.
We both know our George can be a little
lunk-headed at such things, but he'll catch
Yes, but I'll still be all trembling.
But in a wonderful way, really, I'll warrant.
EXT. SAME CREEK SETTING – DAY
Ashley and George arrive together, alone. Ashley sits down,
her back against a tree, and George squats by the creek,
trying to skip a rock along the flowing water.
George, I wonder, has Millie talked to you
about something to do with me?
Oh, you mean she told you?
Um hm. She said you and I ought to speak of
courting. How do you feel about this?
She said it would mean that I could see her
just as I do now. But I've been fearful
that she misunderstood and you would not
agree. And I still don't know. If you say
no, I don't know how I could stand to lose
my time with her, Ashley. I need her badly.
No, that's the key to what we agreed. One
day, if I may be so bold, we may marry and
I will still accord you private time with
her and never ask what you do. If that will
be so as your wife, it certainly will be
so if we are courting, beginning now. I
know this is an unconventional arrangement,
but the three of us are so close, such good
friends, that we should be close even as
lovers and...a wife. I'm not the jealous
kind, George, and neither is she.
I don't know what to say. My word, I must
be the most fortunate man on earth, that
two such wonderful ladies, that I hold in
the highest regard...that I love so dearly,
would share me this way.
But it's true. So, George, would you seal
this little pact with a kiss?
Kiss? Yes, my sweet, by all means—I'm just
a little nervous.
Oh, believe me, George Lynn, so am I. But
come to me....
George moves closer, cupping her face, and they kiss, fleeting at first then with passion. After that time, George stands. Ashley joins him and they set back for the house, holding hands. Before they reach the house, she stops and turns to face him.
George, this is so wonderful, I feel so
romantic. And yet....
Our last obstacle is for the families to
accept that you and I intend to marry. I'm
sorry I wrecked your chance to make your
formal proposal, but we can re-enact it
when we have won the consent of our parents.
No worry—you're not jealous, and I'm not
concerned about frivolous formality, as
long as we have the marriage in the end....
EXT: ALONG A WHITE FENCE ON PLANTATION – DAY
George, about seventeen, walks alongside his father, MR. LYNN,
who gestures vaguely out toward workers in the field.
I have a bit news for you. Alex Edmiston has
offered to turn over a crew of his niggers
to you as overseer. You’ll live in a house
on the section you’ll run, and there, learn
how to handle property, and what the duties
of an overseer are, for when you get my land.
What do think?
"Interesting"? I must say, I hoped you’d
show more enthusiasm than that. But maybe I
can spur a little more about it. There's
something else that goes along with this:
you’re to be married.
Yes Sir, I had hoped to hear this. I’ll be
honored and pleased.
Good, good! Regina is a lovely girl, she'll
bring wonderful children.
George stops in place, causing his father to turn and study
MR. LYNN (cont'd)
What is it? What's that look for?
Regina, you say? No, it’s to be Ashley.
What was that?
I won’t be marrying Regina, it’ll be Ashley.
Ashley and I...have agreed to marry.
Have you? And just who the hell do you think
you are? You’ll marry who you’re told to and
like it! And you had best not let anyone
else imagine you feel otherwise. Hear me?
Sir, what if Regina doesn’t take to this?
You are joking, of course. Who gives a shit?
If she refuses to be a wife to you, you tie
her down and take what's yours. You will
make Lynns, pass the name on. But trust
me she'll come around, they always do.
That's the way of things.
Of course. So tomorrow, you'll move into
the overseer's house. Alex will greet you
like a son, and show you your charges. And
listen to me, boy, early on, you show him
you have it in you to use the lash.
EXT. BEFORE A FIELD, ADJACENT TO SLAVE QUARTERS – DAY
George must watch as ALEXANDER EDMISTON shows how to order
workers about. Millie is left to stand silent behind George.
(Nodding toward Millie)
You need to put that fine wench to work.
I don't want a bad influence, a bitch just
lolling about at ease. Put her in there!
For the rest of the day, Millie must move into the rows and
work alongside all the others in George's charge. Mr. Edmiston
remains on the scene all day, which lasts to well after dark.
INT. BEDROOM OF STRANGE HOUSE – NIGHT
In the shack, George perches on a stool, removing his boots.
Millie sits on the high bed, collapsing over onto her back.
Millie? Sugar, are you all right?
I know. Sugar, I'm just sick over this, all
of it, I just never saw it coming. First,
losing Ashley, and now this. But this, I
can fix: from now on, you stay in here
during the day so that asshole doesn't see
you. If he asks, I'll claim you as part of
my rightful household staff. Soon as the
bastard stops coming out here, you can
come and go as you please all day.
No, I would rather work out there and be
near you than not see you all day. That
would make me feel as if my life were
ending. Please, let me be there.
Whatever you'd rather, my darling. God, I
wish I had control here and could get out of
this. What if I’m made to beat someone?
I don't know, George. This is all dreadful.
George moves over and lies next to her on the bed.
I just can’t beat anybody. I can’t. Millie,
what if we ran away now? You and me, just
light out and leave it all behind. Go North,
and start over?
At what? I’m a slave, there are laws, they’d
take me back. Then sell me away forever.
Yeah, I know. Jesus, I wish I were your
owner, I could tell them to go to hell, that
you belonged to me, then the minute we were
safe, I’d free you. And then—
And then what, George?
Millie stops him, with a hand over his mouth.
It’s too lovely to think about. Don’t even
say it. Not until there’s a hope it can be.
All right. But I won’t stop thinking of it,
what it would be like. Just answer me one
thing, Millie, or it’s all for naught.
Would you go with me?
Millie snuggles against George.
Of course. That's all I dream of....
Very well, now I have a goal in life.
Though I fear it'll be hopeless, I urge you
not to let it go. I know I shan't.
INT. PARLOR OF EDMISTON HOUSE – DAY
Two years after the announcement of George's marriage to
Regina, he accepts a seat in the parlor. Alexander Edmiston
paces back and forth before him.
George, it is Miss Ashley that you'll be marrying.
George's mouth falls open.
Sir, how did this happen? What of Regina?
We will not speak of her. It's all been arranged. The
marriage will take place in two days, and tonight, you
will meet with Ashley.
INT. PARLOR OF EDMISTON HOUSE – NIGHT
That evening, George meets Ashley. Despite his profound
pleasure at having her back in his life, he contents himself
with taking her hand and leading her outside into the garden.
There, still in the sight but not the hearing of the Edmiston
family, he finally speaks.
Lord, I missed you. And this is such a
wonderful surprise, but do you know...why
they decided to change this?
Oh yes, something sordid. Regina ran off with
someone, a long-time sweetheart, like you
and I are. She moved to Danville. The family
is of course disgraced and have disowned
her, but bless her, she's fixed it for us.
Yes, bless her heart. Dear Ashley, this may
be the best day of my life, at least until
the wedding itself, and that night.
Yes. Wouldn't it seem?
Seem? But of course it is. Why wouldn't it
George, where do you think I was, for the
last two years?
Here, in the house, kept from my eyes, of
No. I was made to live near Lexington, with
friends of the family. I attended a...they
called it a "finishing school." So I’m not
just a woman with all my parts filled out,
I’m also...an official "lady." Such manure.
Yes, a lady, I couldn't agree more. So....
George, try to understand, I thought I might
never even ever see you again. I was heart
broken, but slowly got over it, understand?
For the first time in my life, I was around
other men, in town, and...I met someone
there. I can’t say I loved him, but I took
comfort in him.
Well I understand, I did take comfort with
Millie. But of course, I do love her. So,
how are you now, about us, the marriage?
I would be ecstatic. I say again, I wasn’t
in love with him, I’ll always love only you—
Then we needn't say more about it. You are
here, we’ll be married and... happy...and—
George, I am carrying a baby.
George stares at her, paralyzed.
That is why they rushed me back, they are
trying to undo the damage, to make the
wedding as fast as possible—you're to play
the part of the father. No matter the
obvious impossibility, you're to have the
Credit? Fuck! You mean to legitimize a
bastard. No! Jesus. I suffer through hell,
thinking I may never see you again, hating
that we can't marry...to hear that you've
been sleeping with this other man?
George, please, try to understand—
Shut up! Just shut up. This is what I have
to give up Millie for? I was so happy with
her in my life, even knowing it couldn't
last that way, and now, I lose both of you.
George stalks back and forth before Ashley.
For God's sakes, you're making a scene—
A scene? My life is destroyed, do I give a
shit if I make a scene? Oh, I'll give you
and your bastard a name, that's all they
care about. So they can live with a scene!
George wanders away, farther down the path. He slams his fist
against a tree. Ashley approaches him.
You said you'll lose me. Why? What becomes
of us, when we're married and in their
You'll have your room, I'll have mine, and I
don't care to see you again. You can slip
off to keep fornicating with that other
bastard for all I care. Just don't darken
my bedroom door. I'll try to save things
Oh my God, I never dreamt you were so cruel.
George makes no response, but he sets out to the shack to tell
Millie of the disaster and help her pack. When she's made
aware, George falls face down on the bed, sobbing. Before
packing, Millie kneels beside him, bending over to hold him.
INT. BALLROOM OF HOUSE – DAY
The wedding takes place at Allegheny Road.
Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here....
INT. ALLEGHENY ROAD UPPER HALLWAY – DAY
After the wedding, George makes a show of accompanying Ashley
to their private part of the house. He stops at her bedroom
door and points inside, then walks silently down to his own.
INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT
You summoned me, Master George?
Come on in here. And why "Master George?"
I wasn't sure how to act, now that you're
to be a father.
Millie, I'm no father, and you know it. I'm
being shanghaied to give a name to a
bastard. Why would you have to act any
other way with me than ever before?
But is it true, you won't be a husband to
her except in name? Is it really true?
She has some other man's seed in her. I
can't even stand the thought of touching her
where he has been. So no, I won't service
her, ever. And Jesus, Millie, you know how
much I did love her. I dreamt of our wedding
night, and now, I'll never have one. And
it hurts so badly.
Millie, let’s speak again, and think again,
of running away to the North. It can still
be done, and now I am learning something of
a trade, with accounting and business they
have taught me. Millie, please, consider it.
I think you should forgive her. But if you
won't, I'll consider running away with you
if you'll answer me this: what will you do
for her child? I’m not sure I can love the
man who would abandon it, even if it isn't
his. Make me feel better about that, about
leaving her this way, if you want me to
ever even meet with you again.
I don't know how to answer. I never dreamt
in my worst nightmares of a situation like
this. It isn't fair—I did all the right
things, but now, I'm the one made out to be
the villain for not giving in to her, and
whatever I do, I seem to be losing both of
you. Millie, I can't stand it. Please, don't
Millie turns to leave. George takes her arm, tries to lead her
to the bed.
Would you just lie down beside me awhile?
No, not now, not after this. I'm in as much
turmoil as you are, but I can't risk being
sold away if we're caught. I'm sorry.
Millie pulls away and leaves the room.
INT. THE HALLWAY BY MILLIE'S SMALL ROOM – NIGHT
A month later, George returns from Lexington, tipsy from his
first night of drinking. He approaches Millie's door, banging
loudly upon it.
Millie, Millie, come here, I need your
Millie opens door, peering at him.
What the hell kind of service?
Come here and you shall see!
George takes Millie by the hand and tugs her toward his room.
When she enters, he closes the door behind her and tries to
put his arms around her.
By Jesus, you've been drinking, haven't you?
Yes I have. I'm a man now, I can do as I
damn please. A kiss, Sweetheart, for old
Are you insane? No, you need to let me go.
I’m a man now. And want what is due a man.
Come to me, let’s have what we never had,
you and me, Millie. Sleep with me, Darling—
Shit no! I’ll not make a baby that would be
treated worse than the one down the hall
will be. Until you straighten yourself up,
don’t call me in here again, George Lynn.
I’m disgusted with you.
George lets her go and stands straighter.
Millie, Millie, I’m sorry. I’m just so
unhappy. You’ll still run away with me,
No, you've dashed that hope for all time.
Oh God, Millie, I've lost you too....
INT. HALLWAY OF ALLEGHENY ROAD – NIGHT
George and a WOMAN FROM LEXINGTON tiptoe down the hallway to
WOMAN FROM LEXINGTON
Jesus, this is such a fine house you have
here, George. Yes, I'll marry you.
Sorry, I already am. To a whore. But we're
going to have a bang-up pretend-wedding
night, you and me. Come on, here's my room.
WOMAN FROM LEXINGTON
No, let's do it out here. I like adventure.
Take me right here. Let's thumb our noses
at the whore.
The woman begins wiggling out of her clothes and George picks
her up, laughing when she struggles. When he carries her into
his room, she beckons to him.
WOMAN FROM LEXINGTON (continued)
Come finish undressing me, Cavalier.
That, I can do, woman.
George sets to work undoing the rest of the woman's dress.
Afterward, he throws off his own clothing and moves atop her.
Suddenly, she shrieks and tries to push him off her.
What the hell?
WOMAN FROM LEXINGTON
A slave wench, at the door, spying on us!
George rolls off the woman, finding Millie standing in the
Millie! I can explain—
Go to hell.
Millie rushes out of the room and a door slams down the hall.
WOMAN FROM LEXINGTON
You let a nigger bitch talk that way to you?
Shut up. Just you get dressed and get the
hell out of here, God damn you.
WOMAN FROM LEXINGTON
Me? You brought me all the way from town to
shag me. And you let some nigger woman spook
you? Who runs this place, you or them?
You can't even touch Millie, she's more of a
woman and a lady than you'll ever dream of
being. I'll drive you back, but keep your
mouth shut. I don't want to hear a goddamned
word out of you, or you'll walk.
George propels the woman, still tying up her clothing, down
the hall and out of the house, for the ride back to town.
EXT. FRONT YARD OF ALLEGHENY ROAD – DAY
George and Terrence, after riding around the border of the
property, arrive back at the house. A large crowd of slaves
and others are drawn up before the veranda.
What the hell is that, do you suppose?
I don’t know, it’s the dangedest parade I’ve
ever seen. Shall we go look-see at it?
Maybe it's a soiree I wasn't invited to, do
Hard to say, but I haven't heard tell, if it
George leans over to a YOUNG MAN who takes the rein of his
What's all this?
Miss Ashley...she is...the baby...dead, Suh.
Dead? Dead? Who-dead, Ashley?
Doan know. Baby's dead fo' sho', stillborn.
Oh God, no. Ashley, please....
George rushes inside the house.
Where is my wife?
You can't go in yet, the doctor's with her.
Other members of the Edmiston family bar George's way. He is
left to pace for another two hours before the doctor steps off
the stairs, wiping his hands.
You the father, son?
Yes, yes I am. How is she? Tell me! I want
to see her.
She may or may not survive, son, only time
May I see her? Now? May I?
She won’t know you’re there, but yes.
George rushes up the stairs two at a time. When he reaches
the room where Ashley lays, everyone steps aside, according
him first right as the father. George kneels beside Ashley,
who is unconscious and covered in sweat. George smoothes the
hair from her face.
Have a cot brought here, I will stay day and
night until she is awake and safe. Do it!
INT. BEDROOM – DAY
Ashley opens her eyes and moans. George is instantly at her
Ashley, Dear, you're awake. How do you feel?
I want my mama. And Millie. Not you. Go
away, George. You have no place here.
Ashley's mother takes him by the shoulders and pulls him away.
Sobbing uncontrollably, George permits himself to be sent out
of the room, stumbling down the stairs, out into the yard.
There he drops to his knees, comforted by Terrence.
SUPERIMPOSE: ON ALLEGHENY ROAD PLANTATION, 1862
EXT. FIELD OF PLANTATION WITH LARGE HOUSE IN DISTANCE – DAY
Following Joseph, Scott Patton passes through pecan and almond
tree orchards that form borders between fields, finally
reaching the house.
Here we be. You waits here, I go fetch Miss
You do that, Son.
Joseph leads Scott toward a veranda at the front of the house,
then disappears inside. A couple of minutes later, Ashley
steps out, hands on her hips, regarding Scott.
And just who do you think you are?
Scott Patton at your service, Ma'am.
Service, hell. What is it you want, a job?
No. I’m not out for a job. And I have plenty
of money, that’s not what this is about. It's
about the way I’ve come, up the lazy river.
Ashley stares at him for some time before she speaks.
Where are you from?
From the North. More than that, I’m a spy,
for McClellan, and more than that still, I’m
a conductor on the Railroad in Cincinnati,
and I’ve come to finish a shipment.
You work for McClellan, but you’re here? He’s
way the hell on the other side of Richmond.
What puts you out here?
Look, Ma’am, I left McClellan with legal and
official orders to spy on the rebels in
Richmond. And I did. But now I'm finishing
a mission of my own, one that involves the
Rail Road. Is the code valid or not?
Yes...there’s no problem of that. Very well,
come on in. I guess I could even offer you a
cup of water and a bite.
Ashley gestures to a wicker chair, in the only shade on the
You must excuse me a short time. Please wait
I surely will, Ma'am.
When Ashley returns, Scott explains what set him on his two
missions, leading to the search for Josiah Ward.
Oh my...we...did send a group of nine north,
I don’t know where they were being passed
along to, but...they were from here, from
this part of the valley. They must...be the
same. And only two made it?
Yes Ma'am. I'm sorry.
Oh God, no....
Ashley bends over her knees, convulsed in tears. Scott kneels
beside her, daring to touch her shoulder. After a moment, she
raises her head and peers at him.
It's true, you're here to find this man,
this Josiah Ward, and somehow take him up
North with you?
My only purpose in life now, Ma'am. And when
I find him, I'll need somewhere to bring him
first, while I prepare to take him with me.
Do you want it to be this place?
Yes, yes, absolutely. But don't try to break
him out, try to buy him. And that's no
cinch. I ought to send someone along with
you, if you're willing. When do you figure
As soon as may be. I need to find out where
this Marthaland plantation is located, then
go from there.
Do you mind if I bring my people in on this?
That's why I'm here, first of all, for your
expertise and advice. Whatever you suggest,
I'll absolutely respect.
Come inside, then.
Ashley leads him through the parlor to a first floor bedroom.
You can drop off that bag for now, and use
this room as long as you’re here.
Ashley leads Scott back down the other end of the hallway to a
Millie! We have a guest.
Millie steps through a low passage from the pantry to the
kitchen, wiping her hands on a cloth. Seeing Scott, she stops.
Oh! Mercy me.
I know what you're thinking, Millie, but
he's not only a Yankee, he's a Conductor,
who's brought us a very noble mission to
help him fulfill. But for now, let's feed
him. Will you call Terrence to help us?
Yes, of course.
Millie disappears, returning with Terrence. By then, another
woman has brought food to the table. They all sit.
Go ahead, eat up, Sir.
Thanks. And while I do, may we exchange
names? I'll start it off: I'm Scott Patton.
Well you of course already know mine.
Scott looks to Millie.
And you, Ma'am?
Millie stares at him and tears form in her eyes.
Did I say or do something wrong?
Oh my, no, Sir. It's just that no white man
has ever said 'Ma'am' to me. Even George.
Thank you so very much.
For what? For addressing a lady politely?
And for God's sakes Miss Millie, you needn't
call me 'Sir.' Scott will do fine. That goes
for all of you. Okay?
Scott directs his attention to Terrence.
And may I know your name?
Scott dips his head.
Pleased to meet you, Terrence.
(Glances around table)
So here we are. We have a subject before us,
namely me. I’ll tell you my story and you
can deal with me later, although I’ve
already presented my case to Ashley. I judge
that you two are part of her...I’m going to
use the military terminology...her staff.
Again, Scott recounts his story to those present.
I was going to tell Terrence I thought he
ought to accompany you to try and buy Josiah
Ward. What do you think, Terrence?
Dangerous. But done the right way, it's
So why’s it dangerous? He either will sell
Josiah or not.
Ashley covers her face for a moment, as if to compose herself
before she responds.
They are still smarting from the big escape,
when Josiah's family did get away. After a
situation like that, plantation owners get
meaner. If they figure out you're a Yankee...
my Jesus—what they might do to you.
Say no more, I get the idea. But I've been
in battle. Not proud to say so, but compared
to that, this hardly give me trepidations.
Then you will still do it?
Absolutely. And it sounds even more urgent.
I don't want Josiah in this man's hands a
minute longer than I can prevent.
Tears trickle down Millie's cheeks. She leaves her seat and
goes around the table to Scott, who stands to meet her. She
puts her arms around him, hugging Scott avidly.
Thank you for this, for doing this for these
people. Let me help, please?
I’d be honored, but it can’t be my decision,
I’m not the expert here. If Ashley and Terrence think
it’s all right, you may.
And we do need to ponder on it, first.
Yes, I understand. I'm not even sure what I
could do, I just want to be part of it. It
would feel in a way, as if I were reuniting
my own family, to do it for the Wards.
Millie gives Scott one more squeeze then seems embarrassed.
I'm sorry. To become so emotional.
But this is an emotional thing, very much so.
Millie, I appreciate your profound feelings,
your passion about this. How could I not?
Millie smiles and returns to her seat.
So, if you pull this off, we'll support
your taking him North in every way we can.
To pay for my board and bread, besides coin,
can I offer any services around the place?
What are you good at?
Me? I'm an engineer. Which means I'm a bit
of an expert at mechanical things. I can
fix, redesign, or design in the first place,
equipment you may need or want. Maybe I can
make something you already have work better.
Or do no more than repair a balky gate hinge,
who knows? If you have projects, try me.
I believe I have such a thing for you. Let's
have a look after we eat, eh?
Fine. With Ashley's permission, let's do it!
Of course. I may watch and see if I learn
The assemblage turns to their meals then follows Scott and
Terrence to investigate a malfunctioning silo grain door.
EXT. FRONT VERANDA OF HOUSE – NIGHT
Alone, Scott settles into one of two chairs facing the fields.
The sound of a door opening down the veranda catches his ear.
Scott jumps to his feet to greet whoever is present.
Oh dear, I didn't mean to disturb your
solitude out here. Please excuse me.
No, please, this is your home, I'm the one
intruding. Please stay, I'll just go along.
No, wait, please. May we talk?
Well, Ma'am, I would be absolutely charmed.
Scott remains on his feet until she approaches the second
chair, which he arranges beside him. Then he offers his hand
to assist her in squeezing her skirts into place to sit.
Thank you kindly.
Certainly, Miss Millie.
Scott, you can't begin to know how dear it
is for a black woman, here in Virginia, to
be treated like a human being, much less a
No, I can't know that. But I don't see that
it should be unusual for a lady to receive
the kind of respect and treatment she's due.
Oh, but it is. Why're you so different?
Not sure. I just don't care about the tint
of somebody's skin, I guess.
Well down here, you must realize, that
little detail is everything.
I know, but maybe I should tell you more.
I've hated slavery all my life, brought up
that way. And I was once in love with a
fugitive lady coming from Kentucky.
Oh? In love? A slave, a black woman?
Very much in love. Indeed, as much in love
as I could ever be, but Leticia was married,
and like Thelma, had been forced to leave
her husband behind. And she could not stay
in Ohio, at risk of being taken back. When
she moved on, I was a long time getting
(In a whisper)
Oh mercy. Knowing you've lost those you
loved—twice—tears at my heart. I hardly know
how to answer such tragedies.
No, look, I didn't mean to be maudlin. I
just wanted you to understand how I regard
black ladies, which is exactly the same as
I am toward white ones. Do you see now?
Oh, I do see. I see that you are a very
special man. My hope for you, Scott Patton,
is that some day you get over your pain and
be happy. If that means finding someone
new, then that’s what I wish for you.
Scott is moved to tears. Millie gazes at him.
What would make you happy in life, Millie?
Me? Oh dear, I wouldn't know where to begin.
The easy answer would be total freedom for
all of us here. Ashley included. Tell me:
if the North wins, will that mean freedom?
Scott raises his hands in frustration.
Let's say, if it doesn't, this war will be
one of the greatest travesties in history.
Millie reaches across and grips Scott's hand.
Scott, I have to tell you, this is breath-
taking for me.
How? What part?
This...conversation. To sit down with one
who has been in the war, who has lived where
people are free, who is smart, educated, and
will just calmly discuss these great things
with me, is something I can’t put a value on.
Millie, I can tell that you're also educated.
I have no idea how or where, but more than
that, you may be as intelligent as anyone I
know. Beyond being free, you must surely
have greater aspirations for yourself.
Millie is silent for long moments.
The fact is, I would like to be a teacher.
I mean formally. I do teach here, but only
about reading. I would like to know all the
other subjects and teach them, as well. But
that's beyond all my imagining.
Dear, imagine it. You said you wish for me
happiness. I can truly say that for me,
happiness could mean seeing you achieving
your potential. By all means, you could be
a teacher, formally, of many subjects.
How? How in hell could I actually hope for
such a thing?
In a university. I teach in a university,
Millie. You could come along with me, with
or without Josiah. I could get you into the
university, but of course you have to be
freed. So until the war's over and there
would be universal emancipation, you could
join Lettie in Canada, then afterward, you
could live in my house, room and board free.
Why me? Why would you do all this for me?
In just these short hours since we met, I've
come to care for you. You can't sense that?
Y-yes, but I dared not say it. Yes, I do
sense that. And...I feel something of the
same kind for you. In fact, very strongly.
Millie pulls free of her chair, almost knocking it over, and
wanders many paces down the porch, away from Scott, covering
You'd truly take me to Canada, now?
That is certainly in my mind to do.
My heavens, what if I left here? All I know
is this place. But I'd be abandoning Ashley
and Terrence. Jesus, Scott, you give me so
much to think about.
Millie hurries back to Scott, standing before him, laying her
hands on his chest, peering into his eyes.
Millie throws her arms around Scott, sobbing.
That is what I want to do! Yes, now I know,
I do want this. I hadn’t ever imagined it
before, and now it’s my fondest hope. You’ve
given me this, Scott. How do I thank you?
Just make your decision whether to go with
me, before I have to leave, and get yourself
packed, if you decide to accept.
How would your...the people in your home,
and people you know, take to me?
Those I consider friends, and my family, by
all means, would love you like their own.
How could they not?
Millie smiles and relaxes in his arms, then after a moment,
leans back, to gaze into his eyes.
Did you ever...I don't know the proper words
to use speaking to a man of this. The black
woman before, Leticia, did you ever...lay
with her in bed?
She would not, because she was married and
faithful and I fully honored that.
Did you so much as kiss her?
Yes I did, a time or two. As a friend, or
brother would. I desired more, I admit.
Scott, if you could forgive yourself to your
wife's memory, you may kiss me now.
Oh lord, I thought I'd never desire to kiss
anyone again, Millie, but I do.
Scott runs his fingers along her cheeks, traces her lips, and
cups her face for a moment in the palm of his hand before
kissing her, softly, at first, then harder. But Millie gasps
and turns her head away, although she does not pull free.
That was so awful?
No. Far from it.
She lowers her head, trembling.
Millie? What is it? You can tell me.
It frightened me. It gave me chills and
funny feelings. Inside of me. I'd better go.
Do you want to go?
Millie shakes her head, adamantly, and makes no move to leave.
Scott loosens his hold but she only turns in his arms and
settles back against him. When Scott kisses her neck, she
trembles and sighs.
I'd have to know how it would be, between
us, before I could go away with you.
How do you want it to be?
Oh, Jesus, I'm still too frightened right
now to think. But you have a part in this.
How would you want it to be?
I'm out of my mind right now, I can't think
of anything but you. I never imagined
letting another woman close, or even being
able to, but you've overwhelmed me, Millie.
I need to calm down and accommodate myself
to what I'm feeling. Do you know what I
Oh lord. You said it right, I feel out of
my head about you.
Millie throws her head back against his chest and shudders
harder than before.
At the North, and probably here, it's
tradition for a man to court a lady he has
developed feelings over. This has exploded
so rapidly between us and I have too little
time here, to court you as I would crave to
do. But if I were able, I would petition for
your assent to court you. I just want you to
Stop, you are making me swoon.
(Clutches at her chest)
These are unusual circumstances. I would
never demand that you court me so formally
before we could have a romance. Yet you
paint such a pretty picture in my mind. All
I know for certain at this moment is that
I'll be dreadfully sad when you're gone,
unless I can bring myself to go with you.
I don't know what to do. Please let me go,
I need to be alone, to think of all this.
With me, you're always free, in all ways.
Millie wanders away, stopping to look back over her shoulder
when she reaches the door.
May I be the one to wake you in the morning?
Who else in all the world would I rather
see when I open my eyes? Please, do be the
Then I will.
Millie returns to him and offers a fleeting kiss, then hurries
back to the door and disappears inside.
INT. BEDROOM – DARK
The sound of Scott tossing and turning in bed is broken by the
creak of the door. Someone enters the room, carrying a candle
in a glass chimney.
It's time to get up? Time for breakfast?
No, it's long before that. But I couldn't
sleep. If you're in as much turmoil as I am,
maybe we can both not-sleep together. Just
tell me if I’m wrong and I'll go away.
No, please, do stay. The bed is small and
there's nowhere else to sit, but we'll make
it comfortable. Let me light a lantern.
No, this is light enough.
Millie sets the candle on the table. Scott begins to arrange
pillows against the wall so they can sit side by side, but
Millie stops him with a gesture.
No, it's late and I'm tired. May we lie down?
I'd like it if you'd just hold me, the rest
of the night.
Millie stretches out and makes room for Scott.
INT. SCOTT'S ROOM – MORNING
Millie stirs, then sits up, then flies out of the bed.
Mercy me, the sun is all up, and look at us!
I must—we'll be the talk of the year. I must
show my face out there. I'm sorry but—
I know. But it was such a sweet night,
Millie. Thank you for sharing time with me.
Millie tiptoes back and kisses Scott, then hurries out,
carrying her shoes.
EXT. BY THE SILO – DAY
Millie arrives where Scott is working with Terrence, toting a
I wonder if you would join me for lunch,
Well I would be just delighted. Where?
Millie leads Scott down to the creek. First, she sets the
basket on the ground and leaves it unopened, then takes his
hand, standing beside the flowing water a couple of minutes.
I nearly drowned here, a long, long time
ago. He pulled me out, but it was he who
made me fall in, roughhousing with me.
George. George Lynn. Pray, don't ask me more
I have news for you, but you must keep it
under your hat until the right time, okay?
But tonight, Ashley will announce that she's
ready for you to go on your mission. As much
as I’d like to, she’s convinced me it
wouldn’t be a good idea if I do. Promise me
ou disappoint her by stealing her thunder.
Then before we go back, I want you to hear
something: you will have someone here who
worries for you, whether you worry for
yourself or not. So don't do anything to
hurt me by not coming back all right. Will
Oh lord, Millie, that's as sweet as anything
anyone has ever said to me.
Well it's meant from the heart. And it's
meant for not just this risk, but for when
you go on, and back into the war. Even if
we never see each other again somehow, I
won't forget you. And I'll always worry
about you now that I know you.
Millie begins to cry and folds up in Scott's arms. He holds
her, rocking her back and forth, caressing her hair, but
neither can find words and after a time, sit down for lunch.
Afterward, he kisses her then they set out for the house.
INT. DINING ROOM – NIGHT
Scott, I've made a decision. When you go to
rescue Josiah, I will be along. I've thought
about this and the best way to convince them
to believe you...is if we go as Mr. and Mrs.
George Lynn, known plantation owners. What
do you think about this way of doing it?
Wouldn’t your husband be known to them?
No, it's too far from here, and George
doesn't have pictures of himself floating
about. And if they know he's in the army,
you say you're on furlough.
It sounds very workable to me, then. If
you're comfortable with this, and it's
your recommendation, I am all in for it.
So the question is when.
Soon as you're ready.
Then I'd like it to be tomorrow, so he
doesn't have one more day in their hands.
Fine. Tomorrow it is. So let us speak of
EXT. THE BEDROOM DOOR – NIGHT
A tap at the door and Millie slips in. Surprised, Scott
hastens to greet her. This time, she undresses down to her
undergarments and Scott does the same. Remaining silent, they
settle in under the covers and hold each other through the
night. In the morning, Millie is gone, and she does not appear for breakfast. Ashley, appearing tense, nods but does not speak at first.
In spite of our agreement, are you nervous
Scott laughs almost sneeringly.
I've been so close to death a dozen times
with McClellan, that a low-life plantation
owner doesn't give me a moment's pause. The
only thing I fear is if I fail to rescue
Josiah Ward and bring him home to Thelma
and Lucy. It would break my heart, Ashley.
I must succeed or...God, I couldn't bear it.
Ashley drops her fork and it clatters on her plate then onto
the table. She clutches at her chest and Scott half-rises out
of his seat.
Ma’am, are you all right?
I didn’t...didn’t understand your passion,
not until just this minute. I thought you
were trying to somehow put your wife's
memory at rest, or to finish up what you saw
as some kind of debt. I didn't realize that
the good of the Wards was your first
motivation. I apologize.
Apologize for what? We're both after the
same thing, and everything else is just the
detail of how to do it. Isn't it?
Yes, exactly that. But I can truthfully tell
you, I'll feel so relieved when this is over.
Amen to that.
Scott falls to his meal and neither he nor Ashley speaks again
over breakfast. Afterward, they set out to attempt the rescue.
EXT. BEFORE THE HOUSE AT ALLEGHENY ROAD – DAY
A buckboard pulls to a stop, with JOSIAH WARD driving. He
helps Ashley down and goes to the horses, patting their noses
while stable boys arrive to take charge.
Oh lord, you were magnificent, Scott. I
must admit, you would have done perfectly
well without me, but I'm so proud you let me
play a part. This is so dear to me, having
him out of their clutches.
Well right now, I am tired and hungry, so
let's go indoors. And my bottom is sore
from that wretched wagon seat.
She takes his hand for the walk into the house. On the porch,
in the shadows, Millie leans against a post, until she sees
Scott and Ashley together, then runs and disappears inside.
Uh oh. I fear we embarrassed her.
Yeah, I guess we did.
Ashley does not release Scott's hand until they are inside.
Ladies, would you put on an early dinner for
us, please? And add one more seat, with a
man's portion for our newly rescued guest.
Oh, and we'll have wine, this evening.
Over dinner, attended by an astonished Josiah Ward, after a
toast, Ashley sets her glass down and gazes at Scott, her eyes
Ashley, you seem pensive. May I wonder what
you're thinking about?
Something utterly daft, I'm sure. But I
begin to wish...I wonder if I dare hazard to
ask, or suggest, that you take me along, to
see the reunion. Of our friend Josiah and
Scott is unable to immediately reply, certainly not to tell her he has offered to take Millie on the same journey.
So must I take your silence to mean no?
You? This is something you want to do?
I said it was daft. And it only just came
to me, but every moment, the idea excites
me more. I would ask you to just think of
it, but how do you feel? And what might be
involved? Or do I forget it on the spot?
I'm not ready to answer either way, it's too
new to me. I can say: don't give up on the
idea, but don't commit me to it yet, either.
No, I shan't do anything until you say more.
But you would leave the place alone while
you were gone? And then what?
Everybody here can take care of things. I'm
really little more than a figurehead. And
when the reunion was over, I would make my
way back. Unless...they don’t just arrest
Southerners up there, do they?
No. And especially if you're with me at the
North. Then once across the Ohio again, on
your way back, you'll be either in neutral
or Southern territory again.
I see. That comforts me enough.
EXT. THE SILO THAT SCOTT HAS BEEN HELPING REPAIR – DAY
Since you asked for work to do, Joe, let's
have you join in with these men to finish
the repair of this door. If you like.
Yes Suh, Mr. Scott, I do like to, and mighty
proud to do it...hey what's that ruckus?
Near the house, voices are raised in agitation. In addition to
Ashley's, Scott hears one of a man he does not recognize. He
touches Josiah on the shoulder and directs him into a shed.
You hide in here until I call for you.
Pull the door closed. Don't open until you
hear the words "sugar cane."
Yes Suh, I understand the situation.
With Josiah hidden, Scott steps from around the silo, to see a
man in the uniform of a Confederate private, a musket on his
shoulder, and Ashley running beside him in an agitated state.
Spying Scott, the rebel rapidly loads the weapon and brings it
to bear on him.
SUPERIMPOSE: LEE'S VICTORY OVER POPE AT SECOND MANASSAS, 1862
Battlefield scene, smoke from muskets and artillery, blasts of
cannon, men yelling, Yankees in retreat.
EXT. AMONG TENTS AND CAMP FIRES – NIGHT
As a consequence of your performance today,
my boys, I've received permission to offer
my company furloughs over the next week,
while the Yanks are licking their wounds
and cowering back in Washington.
He waits out the predictable cheers.
In the morning, report in by ranks, if
you're interested. And it appears one or
two of you are interested.
EXT. LANE LEADING TO HOUSE AT ALLEGHENY ROAD – DAY
George Lynn, on furlough, approaches the front of the house,
where he finds Ashley, seated on the veranda, sewing. Spotting
him, she jumps to her feet, dropping her work, scattering
needles and cloth on the veranda floor.
Well good, you still remember my name, that
is something. But have you gained any better
feelings about me...about us?
Ashley wrings her hands and acts nervous.
Let’s go inside, we’d better talk.
Why? Why can't we talk out here?
No, we shouldn’t make a scene.
Make a scene? There was another time when
you told me not to make a scene. Remember?
But this is my own fucking home, who's to
care if I make a scene?
I know, but do come inside, I'll make you
something to eat, or drink—maybe you'd like
to lie down after your journey.
When is the last time you gave a shit about
my comfort? What do you have up your sleeve,
God damn it?
Ashley makes a move to go down the stairs and George hurries
to block her way.
I mean it, what the fuck are you hiding?
Nothing, George, I mean, my lord—
Nothing? Bullshit. What has you so agitated?
Millie appears from around the side of the house, gasps.
George. Oh no.
Millie starts to run back the way she came.
Oh no, what? Get your ass over here, woman!
No, I have to—
You have to what?
Millie sets out, walking back around the house and George
moves quickly, grabbing her by the shoulders and shaking her.
God damn it, what are you two hiding?
Nothing. Stop, George, you've never laid
your hands on me in anger before.
George releases her and backs way. But she turns her head to
look over her shoulder and he follows her eyes.
Nothing, my ass. We'll get to the bottom of
this and there'll be hell to pay, I assure
you all! For the last time, what shenanigans
are you two concealing?
He’s only a boarder. A boarder!
Who's a boarder?
The man staying here a few days.
You mean the bastard you're hiding. And no
doubt, screwing. The man no doubt plotting to
replace me on my own land.
George brings his musket off his shoulder; heading in the
direction Millie looked, he loads the musket on the way. Scott
appears, from the other side of the silo, stopping when he
sees George, spreading his feet, his arms folded. George
points the weapon at him from a short distance.
You, Sir! God damn you! I’ll see you dead!
Millie rushes from George's side, to plant herself in front of
Scott as a shield.
Millie, what in hell are you doing, move!
No, you won’t kill him, George Lynn. Put
down the gun.
George lowers the muzzle so that it does not point at Millie.
You craven son of a bitch. You can't hide
behind her skirts forever.
Scott seizes Millie by the shoulder and shifts her behind him.
So you'll murder an unarmed man without
even a discussion of his crime? Who does
that make out to be the craven coward?
I have a right to satisfaction, Sir. You
have taken my wife—
Ashley rushes forward and seizes the gun by its barrel and
rips it out of George's hands, slinging it aside. It clatters
loudly on the ground.
Stop it, both of you! Nothing has happened
here, nothing, nothing! I already told you
and told you, George Lynn! He is but a
boarder, a traveler down on his luck, we
have taken him in and he has paid us with
work. Leave him be!
And I’m to believe it? I finally come home
for awhile and find this? I've satisfaction
coming. I do! You have the choice, I kill
this man, or you give me my due, wife.
George hastens to retrieve the musket and checks that it is in
working order and still prepared to be fired.
All right, me! Me, I will bed you, if that's
your only offer. Scott, go, go, be on your
way, it's the only answer. Go now, and I
will do what I must.
You do this willingly? You want to do this?
It's what's best.
It doesn't sound that way to me, but very
well, I'll go. But not until I complete a
piece of business.
Millie, I made an offer to you, and this is
the last chance for it. Do you want to go
away from here with me the way I asked? To
leave this place, and come fulfill your
life? Do you?
Millie looks past Scott, at George and Ashley, then pulls out
of his reach, backs a couple of yards away, shakes her head.
S-sorry, Scott. Can’t. Can’t go. I don’t
love you, I'm sorry.
Millie runs back toward the house and disappears.
All right, so I'll go. I'm sorry, I never
meant to be the cause of this. Ashley—
No, it was coming, always coming. Always.
Her lower lip trembling, Ashley approaches George in a
No. Not like this. Not to save the other
man's life, I'll not have you this way.
We’ve been along this road before. I’m not
wanted here, and I’ll not stay among this
sordid clique. But hear me, you son of a
bitch: you'd better not ever cross my path
again, for I'll kill you dead on sight, and
George turns on his heel and marches back toward the road.
So, one troublesome man out of your life for
awhile. It’s time for the other two to do
the, same. I’ll get my own clothes, collect
Joe and we’ll be on our way.
No. Wait, stay the night—I want to talk. I
also have to see to Millie, she’s all upset.
And that’s part of what you and I have to
clear up. There’s something here I don't
understand and I want to know about it.
Yes, I knew that had to be faced before I
left. But what about Lynn? I assume you
weren’t expecting him back, but my causing
him to go away, under these conditions—
It doesn’t matter. Yes, it does, his leaving
saved me from giving in to him, a fate I had
avoided up to now. I’m not sorry to see his
back, Scott. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have
asked you to take me north for awhile.
I understand. I guess. So go see to Millie.
You won't come?
It's clear she doesn't want me there.
Scott, for God’s sakes, she offered her life
for you! Whatever her words, what she did
deserves your recognition! Come, let’s all
talk. I’ll need to understand where this
all fits together, but let’s see to her,
she’s my closest friend.
All right, in that case, let’s do.
INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE MILLIE'S BEDROOM – DAY
Ashley knocks but Millie does not invite her in. Ashley leans
through the door from the hallway.
Millie, Dear, I want to know you're all
right. It was a brave thing you did and it
mustn't go un-remarked. But most of all, I
want to know if we're still friends.
Of course we are. Why wouldn't we be? It
isn't about you at all. It's him.
Millie, wait, before you say more, Scott is
just in the hallway, he can hear you. Is it
Scott you mean?
(barely audible whisper)
May I say something?
Ashley, before you spoke of going with Joe
and me, I had already offered to put Millie
through college in Cincinnati, to be a
teacher. No other offer or promise was
made, except a job in our company.
Millie, it seems you thought I was expecting
more than you meant to accept. But I wasn't.
It's true, I love you, but the offer wasn't
dependent on you loving me in return.
Ah, so that's what it was about. That clears
it up for me. Then what happens now?
I only know I will take Joe on to Canada
very soon. Otherwise, you both now know my
situation and motives. I'll excuse myself
so the two of you can speak in privacy.
Scott leaves, repairing to the room he uses at the house.
INT. SCOTT'S BEDROOM – NIGHT
The door opens and footsteps are heard.
May I come in?
Yes, me. Did I ruin everything between us?
You? Ruin? By no means, not for my part.
Then will you take me into bed as before?
You mean that?
Yes, please, I need to talk, and rest. I've
never been so scared in my life, even nearly
drowning. I'm totally drained, exhausted.
Oh yes, I know that feeling. Come on in.
Scott pulls back the covers and Millie slips in beside him.
For some time she lays her head on his shoulder and can be
heard stifling tears.
Millie? Sweetie? What is it?
Scott, I lied, to you, to everyone.
Did you? When?
When I denied loving you. Don't make me
explain why, just hold me as hard as you've
ever held anyone. Then let me slip away
before morning, and not have to say goodbye
to you. Whether you take her or not.
INT. DINING ROOM – DAY
Ashley is waiting when Scott appears for breakfast with Josiah
Ward before boarding the wagon to set out.
I'm packed, Scott. So if you're still
willing, I want to go with you. But unlike
Millie, I don't have any great goal to
fulfill up there, you understand. So after I
see Josiah in the arms of his loved ones,
I'll make my way back, as we discussed, but
I am going, if—
If you're sure, that's all I need to hear.
But it won't be always comfortable, and it
could be dangerous at times. Even though
the fighting isn't located in the Valley
right now, there can be cavalry patrols
from either side, and we'll have to
convince either one that we're neutral. To
Confederates, we have to claim to be moving
to Kentucky, so bear that in mind.
Well, explain all that further, once we're
on the road. It'll make good conversation
while I try to swallow my sadness at leaving.
Are you sure, even at this late date, that
you're all right with this? Will you miss
them too much?
If I weren't....
If I weren't with you, I couldn't stand it.
But with you, my feelings...for you...will
keep me from mourning too much. And I will
see them all again. But I need this, it'll
be my last chance at any kind of life of my
own, even if fleeting.
She goes to him and Scott is helpless not to hold
her for a few moments, before they eat.
INT. BARN - NIGHT
At a safe house near Winchester, the three, Scott, Ashley, and
Josiah find shelter in a barn. Josiah chooses to sleep near
the front, leaving Scott and Ashley privacy in the rear.
Before we finish our first day on the road,
there's something I never said, that I feel
must be addressed now.
It's too late, I'm with you. You won't get
rid of me this easily.
I knew it, I knew it. But really, what?
Along with Millie, you offered to sacrifice
yourself for me. It was in itself a noble,
powerful thing to do, and I never thanked
you or even acknowledged it. I must do so
now, before we go any farther.
No, you misunderstood what was involved in
that. It isn't that sleeping with my
husband would have been a dreaded fate,
Scott. It's that we never did, and if I
were to finally permit the consummation of
the marriage, I would lose my only claim to
demand divorce. I would be...finally locked
up in my fate for all time. Do you see?
Jesus, no, I didn't see, I had no idea. But
when you go back, after the war, if he
returns, what will you do if he demands
again, maybe with force?
I don't fear that. He could have forced me
at any time. He was never violent, that
wasn't one his faults. If he meant to have
me against my wishes, or to kill you, he
would have done one or the other, or even
both, while he had it in his hands to do it.
Well when you say it that way, I find some
comfort in that. But it upsets me to see you
without the love you had at one time, and
without prospects of a happy life with
someone who is right for you and whom you
Then may I tell you what's in my heart on
Yes, I want to hear it, if you will.
Then the truth is that I am rapidly coming
to see you as that someone who is right for
me and who I can love.
She places a hand to his lips before he can answer.
I know very well two things in your mind.
One, I know you still harbor great pain,
from losing your wife. And two, I know you
love someone else that you've left behind,
back at Allegheny Road. And perhaps three,
that you aren't even certain you can let
go of your wife's memory and give yourself
to another woman, at least for awhile.
You're strangely accurate in your
assessment. But one more fact you left out
is that the presence of two women like you
swamps even my most profound loss and
even...I ache to say it...even my memories
of my wife. I never imagined that could
happen, but it happens, when I'm next to
Millie, and now, next to you.
Scott, I would never mean to get in the way
of your reverence for her. I wouldn't even
be a poor substitute, but yet I would want
to be a source of comfort, to help you
overcome the pain. Some would say you must
let her go sooner or later, but I don't
have the right to say that. No one else
really, does, no one but you...and her.
I need you to know, you and Millie, neither
one, are poor substitutes for Susannah.
Both of you embody everything I loved about
her. And I feel certain, even if no mortal
still on earth has the right to say it, that
you're right, she would wish me to go on and
love again, as I would in her place. Yet I
fear I'm rationalizing so I don't have to
deny the feelings I have for you and Millie.
Listen to me: it doesn't matter, if it frees
you of the pain. No one would ever condemn
you for wanting to live again. No one.
Both are silent for minutes. Ashley turns and moves against
Scott, caressing his chest for some time before she speaks
I have confessed how much I love you, and
that you may be the man I want most in my
life, but I may never be free to have you,
perhaps even by your own choice. But while
we are on this journey, in a way, our lives
are suspended. You're away from the one you
love most who's still on earth, and I'm
out of reach of my husband, yet tied to
him by law. When we come to the end of this
journey, we both have to go back to our
other lives. But until then, I want to offer
a proposal, which you may absolutely reject,
or accept, and I must abide by your wishes.
Ask. I'm not sure just this moment that I
can refuse anything you might offer.
Then I ask that until the end of this trek,
we give free rein to our feelings toward
each other. I mean physically, as well as
spiritually and emotionally. For me, the
risk is that it could lead to a baby, and
yet, I seem destined never to have one if
it isn't with you, and I'm willing to risk
George's ire. I cannot say I want a baby,
but I would love it, and make sure it knew
all I know about its father.
Ashley, I'm overwhelmed—
I also realize you may not harbor that kind
love for me, or the desire to sleep with me
as a lover. Just know that if the desire
should come to you—for me—it will be
returned in full measure. From this moment
on, until we finally part.
With you this close, against me, willing to
share yourself with me, I can't think of or
feel anything else in the world but the
desire to respond, to have you, in every
way you offer.
Then have me, Scott. I ache for you....
Scott cups her chin and pulls her close, kissing her softly at
first; slowly they come to the point of making love.
EXT. BEFORE A ROW OF HOUSES – DAY
Scott, Miss Ashley, how on earth do I thank
you for this? It may be the kindest thing
a body has ever done for another. My man
home, and free and...this is the most
joyous day I will know in my life.
You can't know what a pleasure it is for
Ashley and me to see the three of you
together. I have already told Josiah that
when the war ends, if it means universal
freedom for slaves, he has a job waiting
for him in my company. I hope with all my
heart I will see the three of you again,
and not so long from now.
Josiah and Thelma hug Scott and Ashley in turn, and they both
fondly kiss Lucy, then board the wagon, bound for Cincinnati.
INT. ED SMITHSON'S OFFICE - DAY
After a joyful reunion of his own, with his family at home,
Scott excuses himself to meet Ed Smithson in his office. Scott
informs Ed of all the significant events since they last met,
provided to Scott about the murders.
Um hm. Okay. I’ll take it from here. And
then I’ll notify you about the way it
affects the company. It’s going to take
some time, so can you stay in town?
I won't go until it's all sewed up. But for
now, I'll leave you to your work.
EXT. SMITHSON'S OFFICE – DAY
After having spent the rest of the day and evening with his
mother and Ashley, Scott returns to meet with Ed Smithson.
So, the judge has handed it over to city
Then it's out of our hands. Proceed with my
instructions from before, right?
Good enough. So before I go to work, may I
ask you one question?
After all this, you can only conjure up one
question? By all means, blast away, man.
But I warn you, it may be a loaded question,
I say again, blast away.
Well as I understand it, there's this Mrs.
Ashley Lynn, and this Miss Millie you tell
of. And then there is this unpleasant
character who seems to have them both by
the throat. You love these ladies, both of
them, yet claim to be unable to end up
with either. And much because of this...
this bastard George Lynn.
Yes, you've hit upon the thing that makes
my new life just as much of a hell as the
old one. But it's out of my hands.
Is it? Why? Tell me something in plain talk.
Are you afraid of him?
For a few seconds, at the time, when he was
pointing that gun at me, almost point blank,
I admit to being damn scared. Mind you, no
more nor less scared than any time a rebel,
or an artillery squad had a bead on me, but
that's pretty fucking scared. You asked for
Yes, and that's pretty plain.
But let me say more: that was then, when he
had the drop on me. I can tell you, he's
clearly a very experienced soldier. Jesus,
I've never seen anyone, on either side,
load a musket any faster. So I guess that
if he ever got the drop on me again, I'm
dead. But what difference, the chances of
ever, as he put it, crossing paths with him
again are miniscule. Why do you ask?
Because it seems to me that you have a new
mission. You need to find this man, and have
it out with him, to free these two sweet
ladies one way or another, at any hazard.
You can't see this as the most important
goal in your life right now?
Hell yes, I've thought of that, but my God,
he could be literally anywhere in Lee's
army. How do I find him during the war?
Well, you have to report back to your own
army, anyway. Once there, you can look
through the prisoners that come in and maybe
get lucky. Or...go back to the plantation
when the war's over. If he never shows up,
that would seem to sort it all out, wouldn't
it? And if he does, then you treat with him
there. Just a thought.
Scott sits back and closes his eyes a moment.
My lord, man. You're right as rain. I must!
And if I were you, I would escort the lady
home again, make sure she gets back safely,
and let her and this Millie know what you
mean to do—to provide them with some hope of
resolving things with this bully.
Jesus. See Millie again? I never dreamt—
Trust me: dream it.
INT. ASHLEY'S BEDROOM IN SCOTT'S HOUSE - NIGHT
Scott, I begin to tremble at our parting. I
knew it would be dreadful, but facing it,
I'm nearly sick to death—
Then let me tell you something I've been
convinced to do. I'll go back with you, and
then I intend to find George, somewhere,
some time, and air out everything between
us, about you and Millie. I will challenge
him to free you or....
Oh God, no. One of you is bound to die. And
I cannot say I wish it for him, any more
than you. No, please, that terrifies me.
Be calm, Sweet. I'm unlikely to find him in
the war, so it'll probably be when both of
us return to Allegheny Road. And if the
Union wins, at least the issue of freedom
for the slaves will be resolved. In that
case, I'll demand that he divorce you and
give you your land.
He won't entertain that for a moment. He'll
only want to kill you, the way he
I know, but I have an incentive to offer him
if I'm spared a few seconds to present it.
It came to me earlier today: I will offer
him the same thing I offered Josiah, a job
here, if he will let you and your plantation
go. He can have Allegheny Road, yet work
here, and maybe find another woman who will
replace you, so he too might feel free.
Oh my, that would be a miracle. You would
actually offer him a job?
That's my hold-out position. Who knows, he
might prefer a new start than living on the
same land, but so apart from you and Millie.
I can only try, but if he listens before he
shoots me, I see it as a fair deal.
Lord, that makes me feel giddy. You are so
Frantically they undress and make love, then slip off to
EXT. THE FRONT OF THE HOUSE AT ALLEGHENY ROAD – DAY
Many of those living on Allegheny Road arrive to greet Scott
and Ashley. Terrence hastens to help Ashley off the wagon.
Millie nears to within a few feet then stops short, staring at
Scott, wiping her eyes. She hugs Ashley then backs away.
Millie, you aren't glad to see me?
She approaches him shyly, but when she is within reach, flies
the rest of the way into his arms, sobbing convulsively now,
her fingers clutching and un-clutching at his shirt.
I missed you so badly.
Honey, I brought you some books, one or two
you might enjoy reading for the pleasure of
it, and a couple more for your education.
Thank you, that’s so very sweet.
Millie directs Scott out to the creek. There, she sits back
against the oak, beckoning Scott down beside her. She nestles
her head against his shoulder.
Understand, I'm overjoyed at seeing you
again, but I fail to understand why you're
back, with or without her.
I realized I can't leave you and Ashley
unsupported. I'm going to seek out George
and hopefully survive against him, while
making him an offer, an arrangement...a
deal, you might call it, in exchange for
his letting you all go, including her.
Oh God, can you face him and not be killed?
Depends on how I encounter him. It may not
be until we're both back here.
Millie squeezes his fingers but makes no comment.
Millie, Ashley knows you're the one I love
most. But until I decided this, I still
thought I'd never see you again. I want to
tell you that she and I shared a bed as if
we were married. With all that goes along.
I imagined that. I did ask you to make her
happy, and I meant in whatever way she
needed, and that you could offer. And I
also accepted that I'd never see you again,
and although that nearly killed me, I don't
have any jealousy that you...slept with her
that way. But the fact that you may have
given her a baby changes everything between
you and me, until we know whether she is
carrying your child or not.
I have no claim on you, and I understand
how you must feel. You'll expect me to do
right, for my own part, if there's a baby.
And I will. But then, if there isn't—
Millie puts a hand over his mouth, silencing him.
No, I won't speak or even dare dream of
what might be if she isn't...if there's
no child. We absolutely must wait and
prepare for the...that you're a father with
her. Think of nothing with me until then.
Millie flies to her feet and pulls away, running back to the
EXT. BEFORE THE HOUSE - DAWN LIGHT
Ashley clings to Scott, sobbing, and Terrence stands by, not
speaking. Millie is not to be seen. Silent, Scott shoulders
his bag and walks into the lane toward the road.
SUPERIMPOSE: PETERSBURG, VIRGINIA, JULY 30, 1864
EXT. A UNION FORT ALONG THE DEFENSIVE LINES – DAWN
Scott observes the detonation of a massive bomb under the
Confederate defensive works. Due to multiple failures in Union
leadership, the anticipated invasion behind Confederate lines
utterly fails. Many are killed and wounded on both sides,
and prisoners are also taken on both sides.
Scott eventually finds George in a Union hospital, having
been captured, wounded during the "Crater" bomb incident.
EXT. HOSPITAL WING – DAY
Scott arranges for George to be wheeled out into the sun, his
chair set before a table, and lunch brought for both of them.
Wearing a medical mask, so he can first approach George
without revealing himself, Scott appears before him.
At your service, Colonel. But I must say,
you have me at a disadvantage. How would a
Union colonel know my name?
If you were to look under your cot, you'd
find that your gray uniform has been
replaced by blue. If you're wise, you will
say nothing of it and let yourself be
mistaken for a Union soldier from here on.
Unless, that is, you prefer to convalesce
the rest of the way in a prison camp.
No, I certainly don't, but neither can I
pretend to understand.
Let's say, I have more use for you out of a
prison than in.
Listen to me...Colonel...I have no interest
in living further. I should have died when
that bomb went off. Prison or free, it
doesn't matter, I don't care to continue
All right, but we'll address that later on.
Scott places the meal before George but he ignores it.
Fine, eat or not, it's your choice. But I'm
hungry, so if you don't mind....
What am I supposed to think of this? You
know I'm the enemy yet you free me, and feed
me. For what point? Your amusement?
Why is it you don't care and would just as
None of your fucking business—Colonel.
You aren't armed, are you?
That's a stupid question. Would they leave a
rebel armed here? And I lost my musket in
the same place my foot was wrecked. But you
know, a funny thing happened there.
I saw it go off. I can't imagine anything
funny happening there. But tell me—what?
I'm only here and alive because a Union man
hauled me out. But not just any Union man.
A black soldier. Told me his name was
Richard Brown. And my side was killing all
the black soldiers who came in there. Yet
he carried me out alive. Why?
Maybe he was out of his mind, how do I know?
Nor I. But he was the most decent man I've
So why do you trifle with the likes of me?
What does it matter? Do you have pressing
George Lynn laughs, almost a giggle.
Yes, I was in fact hoping to attend the
cotillion ball, this evening.
(Studies Scott, frowning)
Something about you is familiar. Why do you
hide your face, my wound isn’t putrid any
more. Truly, who the hell are you, Sir? And
what do you want with me? Say it!
George, before I unveil, I ask your to be
Scott removes the mask and for more than a minute, George
stares at him, full recognition only coming to him slowly.
You. It's you! You son of a bitch. Yes, you
are indeed lucky I am unarmed, Sir. I made a
vow. I would surely carry it out this
instant, if I could lay my hands on your
neck. So what now? You have come to gloat?
Or will you stand me up against a wall?
Let me know your intentions.
I want to talk. First. Then I will ask you
what you would want to do with the rest of
Hah! After I killed you, I'd do the same to
myself. At this moment, those are my sole
ambitions. Beyond that, naught else matters.
Go to hell. Just say what you've come to say
What makes you think I'm going to leave?
Don't be absurd. Of course you'll leave. You
can't move in here, and I’m going nowhere....
All right, I’ll leave, but only after I have
my say and you give me an answer.
To what? You win the game, I am unarmed and
cannot kill you as I vowed. Worse, when I
am the one who's dead, you can have my
woman, and even my land, I suppose. So what
in the hell "answer" could you possibly
need from me?
Just this: what do you propose to do about
Ashley and the people you own?
I? Do? Other than die, you mean? She and
all of that is beyond my reach.
They don't see it that way. And it would
be true, the easy way for all of them would
be for you to die. I presume that would
leave her the power to free the slaves, and
I do have it in my hands to make you dead,
if I chose to. But whatever you or I do,
know this: I won't be the beneficiary. In
any case, I would go to my home and make my
own ending. But if you would listen, I bring
an alternative offer. Will you hear me out?
For my dying amusement, speak this offer.
I have the power to hire and fire in a
company in Cincinnati. You could put all
your old life behind, come work for me, and
perchance find a woman you could care to
spend the rest of your life with. And if
you accepted, I would send money to support
Allegheny Road in perpetuity. What of that?
You'd offer this to the man who vows to kill
you? You think you can buy me off? And not
have all I own for yourself? Come on, man.
To me, it's a bargain, a far better solution
for all of us. Your alternative, if you stay
alive, is to live in that cold home, with
the women all around you but aloof. A fate
as hard as the one you fled. In Ohio, I say
again, you might yet find a loving match.
No, I will have no other woman if it can't
be...I could never love another.
Oh, so you claim to still love them? Do you
love them the way I do, to give them what
they want and need, or do you only want to
control them because you can?
Well let me tell you one certain thing: you
will go back there and face them. Whether
it's to free them, or only to renew their
scorn is in your hands.
You are a hard man. I dread...God, I do
dread their scorn, it drove me away to the
war. I would sooner die than see the hate in
their eyes again. I would rather die and
with my last breath, remember—
Remember when you were carefree and all
three were friends together? I know all that
history, they told me. If you want to die,
if that's truly your best hope, then help me
free them as your dying wish. Don't make
them wait for the war to end, don't make
Ashley wait any longer in thrall. Live long
enough to divorce her and free them by
decree, and I may do the honor.
Seriously. You'd snuff out my hateful life?
Or let you do so, if you must. Yes. That's
the other offer I will make. After you've
fulfilled all I demand. Where do we go, to
do the legal deeds? Lexington?
Yes, it would be there. If you insist, take
me there, and by the time we reach it, I
will have faced what I must and will decide
how to make an end. Or...accept your insane
offer in Cincinnati.
Reeling from the success of his attempt, Scott recovers, to
arrange for George to be released to his custody. He has
prepared a buckboard with bags of seed for the plantation, and
has George placed as comfortably as possible among them for
the coming journey back to Allegheny Road.
SUPERIMPOSE: NEARING CREST OF THE BLUE RIDGE RANGE
THREE DAYS BEYOND THE HOSPITAL
EXT. AT A CAMP ALONG ROAD – NIGHT
Scott cooks over a roaring fire. George lies in blankets, his
back turned to Scott. Then he shifts, to face the fire.
His name was Richard Brown.
What? The living dead man speaks? So who
the hell is Richard Brown?
I already told you, God damn it. He's the
man who carried me out of the crater, alive.
Oh yes, so you did, but what of him now?
Millie's last words to me were about how I
claimed to love her, but never freed her. Or
any of them. I grew up owning people, Scott.
"Scott"? So now it's Scott, not "Colonel,"
or "asshole"? Do I take that as progress?
Take it however the fuck you like.
Well, to speak to your point, it seems to
me that owning people is a key part of the
entire Southern society, isn't it?
Yes. But a lot of people here believe that
slavery is good for the slaves. That they're
better off having white folks care for them,
than leaving them to fend for themselves.
Because they're too...inferior to carry on
normal lives on their own—you know—free.
And that's what you believed?
Can you tell me to my face that you could
have grown up believing for a second that
Terrence and Millie were inferior to you or
any other white person in any way? Hell no.
Oh yes, my father and that bastard, Ashley's
father, did claim to believe it, but my
father couldn't have survived without
Terrence's advice and knew it. And hated
him for it. I'm certain they only claimed
that blacks were inferior in order to
justify owning human beings.
It was that way of thinking that said black
men could not make soldiers, they would not
follow orders, or learn to march, load guns,
any of that. Well I would put Richard Brown
up against any other man in the army. Any!
But you still own people.
Yes. Including one of the two women I
worship. And yes, I do hold the other in
thrall. Yet even so, you offer me an honest
job. Jesus, what do I say to that?
I came for you, whether to be killed or not,
for one purpose. To make you do the right
thing. What would be the right thing now, if
you were to name it?
George sobs, slowly regaining his composure.
I've always known they were running slaves
to freedom from the Edmiston side. I was all
for it, but never let them know I was onto
them. That way, I could claim innocence if
they were ever caught, then fight to save
them. Wasn't that...a right thing? Would
that maybe serve you as a down payment?
I must confess to being stunned. And yes,
that counts for something. But is that all
you offer? Something you’ve already done?
So the rest, of course, would be to divorce
her, whether so you could have her or she
could find someone else she could love. And
free Millie. And Terrence, and all of them.
So I will. But I won't take your job. I love
my land, and I pined for it all the time I
was in the field with the army. So promise
me, you'll see me buried there. If you will,
I'll do the rest of what's right.
Scott struggles desperately not to break down in tears before
I promise, man.
Then maybe I can finally sleep....
EXT. BELOW A GAP IN THE BLUE RIDGE RANGE – DAY
Nearing the summit, hearing the sound of horses coming east,
Scott pulls the wagon over to the side. Two men, one beyond
fighting age, ride up.
Whoa up, whoa up.
You be comin’ back from the war, gents?
Yes, Sir. We were paroled out of City Point
and there's no way to get back without going
What's with your partner back there?
Amputee. Waiting until his stump heals to
let him start wearing his leg, then we could
Well I hope you think better of that. The
war’s not going to go well for the South,
and meantime, we got ourselves a peck o’
trouble in the Valley. We need every man who
can shoot straight and especially with
experience in the war. We’uns own a place
out here and managed to stay out of the
trouble, but we’re no hands to deal with
them. We’re even willing to ask Yankees to
help. We didn’t cotton to the war anyways.
If you’re comin’ this way, be you
interested in helping?
You haven't indicated what form of trouble.
Irregulars, rebels. Say they'll hold out,
prolong the war for years, and if Lee slips
away from Petersburg and joins 'em, they'll
fight from out here, and West ‘Ginny, and
Eastern Tennessee. Sooner or later, the
Union'll have to give it up—they say.
They’re punishing us Unionists, threaten to
confiscate everything we own, for the Cause,
slaughter all the slaves, sooner than see
them put in uniform and made to fight, for
or ag'in 'em.
George pulls himself up to lean over the driver's seat.
Slaughter? They're slaughtering the blacks?
Not yet, there’s only a hundred of the
irregulars and they’re kind of doing a
survey of the plantations to figure out how
and where to proceed. Whether they’ll go for
the bigger places, to kill as many niggers
in a bunch as they can, or the smaller
farms, nobody knows.
A hundred, eh? So why in the hell don’t you
arm your boys, turn them into an army to
defend themselves and your family?
Are you daft, man? You can't trust slaves
to fight, and they wouldn't make soldiers
if you did. They're not able enough.
Well you're just fucking wrong! I'm living
proof, blacks can make damn good soldiers!
I’m an owner, and I know they can do
anything they set their minds to. You kind
of have a choice, then, don’t you? Let your
property be destroyed, or put your men to
work in their own defense, and yours. If I
had the guns, I would train my boys up to
fight for their lives. And if I live so
long, and I can find some guns, damned if I
Then you won’t live long. Even if your
niggers could fight and any of ‘em survived,
they’d turn their guns on you. And then
what’ve you got?
Listen, Mister, unless you’ve abused your
slaves, they won’t kill you, and if you
offer to free them first, they’ll fight for
their home, and then they'll work for you
when the Union wins the war and forces you
to free them. If you pay them fairly.
Have you got access to guns?
Aye, there’s a hidden stockpile in
Cameronville. About twenty and ammunition.
Can you put it into our hands? If nobody
else is using it, let us have it. Will you?
That's your wisest choice. Help us move all
the arms you can to one location. Allegheny
Road would be the place. I'm a combat
engineer, I can advise on setting up a
strong defensive position. It's possible we
can lure these bastards into a trap they
have no reason to expect and at least
whittle down their numbers.
Sure, we can arrange that. Why not?
You do that. Go ahead, move out, we'll
follow fast as we can. Maybe one of you can
ride way ahead and start gathering all the
guns you can get your hands on.
The two men make a salute of sorts and turn their horses
around. The younger man rides off at top speed. George grabs
at Scott's shirt.
Help me up there, I can sit. We’re going to
need the bed of this rig to carry the guns
This doesn't sound like a man who only wants
to end it all, even if on good terms.
Well there, you're wrong. It may be my last
chance to go out on my terms. If you won't
put me out of my misery, I'll be proud to
go down protecting my home. And all I love.
It just might be that you and the ladies
will have your wishes all in one go. But we
can argue this out later. For now, help me
up there, then drive, damn your eyes.
At your service. Over you go, then hang on.
EXT. BEFORE THE HOUSE, ALLEGHENY ROAD – DAY
The wagon loaded with guns acquired at the nearby town, Scott
and George pull up in front of the house. Only Terrence shows
up to greet them, but he whoops and throws his hat into the
air, until he sees that George has lost his foot.
Oh hell, Sir, I’m mighty sorry to see that.
But what a wonder, to see the two of you
And both alive. Right?
I didn't dare say it, but yes, glory
Scott lends help to George in moving his legs over the side so
Terrence can lift him down. Scott reaches back and hands the
crutches to Terrence, who helps George place them under his
arms. Scott wanders to the front of the wagon, patting the
horses on their noses.
I’m plenty tired, Terrence. Is there
a place I can rest? Is my old room free?
The ladies are over at the other house, so
this one’s all yours. You tell me where you
want to bed down and we’ll do it.
Like I said, my same old room. Give Scott
any other one that’s free.
Are you in pain much from that damn thing?
George's reply is too low for Scott to hear. Scott follows the
other two up onto the porch, holding the door so they can make
their way in. After seeing that the horses are stabled and the
wagon hidden, Scott finds the servant he remembers, Noreen.
Ma'am? I must know something. Millie and
Ashley...are they both well?
Them? Oh yes, very well. Both. Much the same
as when you left. What did you expect?
You’re saying nothing that could be called
evil has happened? Or even unusual?
No. But they have been powerful....
She shakes her head and flutters her hands among her skirts.
No, it ain’t for me to say. Just...be
assured, they’s fine.
Thanks, Noreen. That's a relief to me.
Only then can Scott lie down for some rest before dinner.
INT. DINING ROOM – DAY
In the morning, approaching the dining room for breakfast,
Scott turns at the sound of a thumping sound down the hallway
behind him. He finds George making his way on the crutches.
Had time to think about a defensive plan?
We can only defend one of the two pieces of
land, but it isn't the land they're after,
it's to kill people. So let's defend here,
which means bringing them all from the
Edmiston place. How's that?
Fine with me. Can I count on you to arrange
for all the men over there who'll fight to
come to me here for training?
Consider it done. I'll also need to go
The ladies. They'll be mighty surprised.
Now, I am suddenly shaking in my boots.
That is, my boot.
Believe me, I know the feeling. But eager
to see them. May tell them of your foot?
No, let them discover it. I won't use it for
sympathy. Assuming they'd even give a shit.
Scott nods soberly.
I thought you would not. I won't tell them.
EXT. THE EDMISTON PLANTATION HOUSE – DAY
Scott approaches the house where Millie and Ashley live. A
servant woman he remembers from before is first to see him.
Oh. You. Oh my. You must come in, please.
I’ll go tell them.
She leads him to the foyer at the foot of the grand stairs,
hurrying to summon Millie and Ashley. Millie arrives first.
Scott! Oh my lord, you have no idea how we
worried. You're alive, so does that mean—
No, he's alive, too, and he's over there, in
his house. There's a reckoning to come, but
before then, we all face something that
even trumps that.
Millie reaches Scott and clings to him, trembling. Now, Ashley
reaches the foot of the stairs. Her eyes are wide but she
otherwise shows no expression until Scott reaches for her
hand, while still holding Millie. Ashley responds only with a
short squeeze of his hand.
Ladies, we all face a crisis. To survive,
everybody must move over to Allegheny Road.
While Scott explains the situation, Millie and Ashley listen
What happens when we get there? Must we see
You've managed to avoid him, I gather, for
a long time, even when he was around, and I
can tell you, he's tremendously nervous at
how you'll treat him.
So it's certainly possible to avoid him now.
But I'm going to tell you that he has things
to say that you really need to hear.
How do I take this? Instead of killing each
other, you seem to be advocating for him.
Has he somehow turned you to his side?
Quite the contrary, I forced him to be here,
and with some luck, I may have put some
sense into him. Still, I don't know what
he'll actually say or do when it comes down
to it with all of you in the same room.
Very intriguing. Then I guess if we ever
want our lives resolved, it seems Millie and
I must face him. Is that how you see it?
If you do want to resolve it, this is the
best chance. And better, if it comes before
these irregulars hit us. Whatever else he
intends, George is eager to train his men
to fight for all of us, and it's better if
we have this out tonight and then leave him
free to that, with all our minds clear.
Then I shall be there. I'll leave it to
Millie to decide for herself. Meantime, it
sounds as if we need to move everyone over
to where you'll be defending.
Scott, I'll go down and tell them, but I'd
like to have you join me, if you would.
Yes, I need to ask for volunteers.
Scott and Millie set out for the quarters of the workers.
I can't imagine how you met with him and
survived, but I'm as happy as I could be it
turned out better than our fears.
You'll understand better how it happened
tonight, if he'll meet with you. But for now
I have to know about something. I saw no
indication, but did Ashley...was there—
A baby? No, and I guess "thankfully no."
But please, don't make me say what that
could mean for us until after we face
George, and then this battle. Please?
I'll wait, but yes, it's a relief. And even
better, that she didn't have a child and
nearly die again. That's all I'll say now.
Except...are you sorry you have no child?
She wouldn't have been the mother I chose—
Stop! I'm asking you, don't say the rest of
what you're thinking. That's part of what we
can't speak of until all this is over.
I agree. But I begin to ache to know what
Millie and Scott carry on to the shack she had once shared
with George, only holding hands for now. There, Millie calls
on the caretakers to summon all the workers for a meeting,
during which Scott asks for volunteers to fight for their
families, and Millie tells them of the need to evacuate to
Allegheny Road for at least a week.
With that done, Scott and Millie return to the Edmiston house,
still holding hands, then part for the time being.
EXT. BY A TREE OF THE ALMOND GROVE – DAY
Scott finds George holding one of the muskets, with several
black men seated before him as if receiving a lecture. George
suddenly levels the gun at Scott's head. Scott does not move
and George maintains the stance.
Balls of steel, you must have. Oh yes, I do
recall, you pulled Millie behind you and
would've let me take my shot.
George lowers the gun and laughs, almost a cackle.
No worry, it ain't loaded. I'm sorry, I
couldn't resist having my fun, maybe my
last fun ever. We're about to start the
first lesson. So how did it go, you know,
The move is underway, and a few volunteers
Yes, but the ladies. What of them?
They were predictably astounded that we're
Yes, alive. That's an understatement. But
brace yourself: they've agreed to bring out
everything that's simmered so long, into
the open, and hear what you intend to do.
During dinner tonight. If you'll attend.
That's why I was brought back. If I don't,
this long ride of pain was for nothing,
wasn't it? But that means I need to get on
with this, to cover as much ground in the
training as I can as fast as I can. So if I
Scott nods assent and George hands the musket to one of the
men, who stands to receive it.
Okay, boys, atten-shun! Grab the items I've
passed out, and we'll start with loading....
Scott sets out for the front of the house and a quarter hour
later, hears the first ripple of gunfire from the initial
practice volley. By then, he has collected volunteers among
the unarmed men, to build the defensive bulwark.
By nightfall, a trench and some log breastworks are in place
between the fence around the front yard and the road a quarter
mile distant. Activity is seen at the road and in a few
moments, horsemen and a couple of wagons arrive, led by the
two men who met Scott and George at the gap in the Blue Ridge.
Look here, we've brought our men. Our boys.
And we've got more guns, and also an old
cannon of some sort.
Excellent. They may have to sleep outdoors,
there aren't enough quarters, but for the
duration, it should do. News on the enemy?
They’re gathering. Still no more than a
hundred. They ought to make their way here
day after tomorrow, we understand.
Scott declares an end of work for the day, but now, he stands
about at loose ends, walking up and down the line, checking
its progress, then stopping to inspect the old cannon.
Scott turns at the sound of Millie's voice behind him.
There you are! Is there any kind of problem?
No, just that it's time...dinner, you know,
and what comes with that...as we discussed.
Okay, I'll go bring him. We'll be there.
Scott tracks George down on the back porch, leaning against a
column, the crutches next to him, staring into the dark. Scott
lays a hand on his shoulder and George does not brush it away.
Well they're preparing dinner, and the time
has come to face the music.
Yes, but how do I...I don't know how to
begin. Will they assail me, finally have
their revenge, will they send me slinking
away, my tail between my legs? I don't know
if I can survive seeing their anger and
hatred, their scorn, all over again. It's
what sent me off to die. I'm...I feel ill.
I loved them so...I love them so.
I can tell you, they're as nervous as you
are, and they aren't spoiling for a fight,
only for a resolution. If they knew you feel
the way you do for them, it might improve
matters. And if you like, I'll say the
first words, and you can chime in as you
Yes, please, you make a start. So if you're
ready, carry on...Sir.
George draws his crutches into place and Scott hangs back,
allowing him to enter the house first. At the door to the
dining room, George hesitates a moment, leaning against the
edge of the entryway. Ashley and Millie stand at their chairs
but do not yet sit, waiting. Terrence hovers by his own seat.
Scott remains in the next room, leaving George clear passage.
Upon recognizing George's disability, Ashley's and Millie's
eyes go wide and they exchange glances, but do not comment.
Noreen serves the others, as before, then also takes a seat.
George moves to his place and Terrence helps him sit.
Thank you kindly, Sir.
Beaming, Terrence now exchanges a glance with Scott, who
unnecessarily helps Millie into her seat, then Ashley the same, before taking his own place.
George and I agreed I'd make the opening
statement. But I didn't tell him what I had
in mind. What I'm going to tell you may lead
to some enlightened discussion, at the
least. Whether it pisses George off to have
it revealed—well he isn't armed at the
moment, so I'll take the risk.
Very well. On our way here, George let me
know that he was aware all along you were
conducting for the Underground Railroad
Scott allows the two women and Terrence to absorb that
bombshell before continuing.
He saw no reason to either interfere or to
cooperate. He considered his role to be that
of covering for you if you were caught.
A ripple of sighs, or more nearly gasps passes around the
room, and the two women slyly glance George's way, as if after
having the revelation exposed, he might react in anger.
George surprises Scott by smirking, in a benign way.
You heard my mouthpiece. If you believe him,
assume it's true.
Why...why did you hide that from us?
In my bitterness at our relationships, I
was unable to bring myself to admit that I
approved of what you were doing. But you
didn't need my direct cooperation, only the
lack of any interference. And as he said, I
held myself apart so I could possibly
protect you from the state, from the law, if
you were caught.
George stares at his hands, avoiding the others' eyes.
I should now reveal what else was said
between this man and me. He tried to buy
me off, by offering me a job, if I would
free you all and divorce Ashley.
But I turned him down, flat.
Of course. So there's no resolution of any
of this to be had, is there?
May I say a little more in my own defense?
Who can stop you?
Very well. It's no secret, that at one time,
Millie and I spoke of running away together,
when we were most unhappy with our lives
here—that was, when I learned I wouldn't be
marrying you, but Regina, who had no loving
relationship with Millie and thus would not
let her be a part of our...lives. But we
had nowhere to run. At that time, I didn't
own Millie, my father did. So we had to
abandon running away because she would have
been sent away from me, if we were caught.
George lowers his head even further and wipes at his eyes.
Marrying you, Ashley, was the only thing
that would have made losing Millie bearable.
So when I learned of the baby, I was
devastated. Turning my back on you was the
hardest thing I've ever done, but that's
how hurt I was. And so, the other things
followed. You rightly rejected me, and I
went into a long slump, then on into the
army, and...here we are.
Sighing heavily, he's unable to go on for a few moments.
If I had possessed control over my life, in
all things, I would have married you before
they sent you away, so the baby would have
been mine, if it had lived, and the four of
us, including Millie, would be as happy as
could have been.
Then why didn't you free me? Out of spite?
My punishment for resenting you after I saw
you and that...trollop?
Hear this, please. One of the things I was
taught, as part of my training as a slave
owner, was about slave laws, or codes, as
they are called. One of them is a hateful
law whereby once freed, a slave must leave
the state. If I had freed you, you could not
live here with Ashley, or Terrence, and I
would have never seen you again, and it
would have killed me.
George meets the eyes of everyone in the room.
The same for everyone else, from Terrence,
on. You were my family and I flattered
myself that I was the most kind, loving
owner there ever was. But where I was wrong
was to not let any of you make the choice.
I left you to slip out on the Railroad if
you wished to go to another state. Instead,
I could have freed you, paid your way to a
free state, and set you up with funds to
survive for awhile. I'm sure you'll all
agree, that wherever a choice had to be
made, I made the selfish one.
What of me? This law had nothing to do with
me. Why would you never let me go?
With you, it was the crazy dream that I
could not rid myself of, that somehow, some
distant day, you would forgive me and love
me again if I waited long enough. When I
came home, daring to hope that the day had
come, instead, I found what seemed clear
evidence that the dream was dead. Little
I knew that the man I accused of taking
you, the man I vowed to kill, would bring
me back in time to help keep those who
are so dear to me safe from marauding
enemies. For that, I owe him more than I'll
George lowers his head and cries, wiping at his eyes with his
It is Terrence who leaves his seat and steps behind George,
planting his hands on the younger man's shoulders.
George Lynn, I never had a son. If I had, I
would have prayed he could be like you.
George clasps Terrence's hand with his own but does not reply.
No one else immediately finds their voice. After a moment,
Scott clears his throat.
Well, I think the defense rests.
EXT. BY THE DEFENSIVE WALL – DAY
Scott again studies the old artillery piece. George hobbles up
behind him. Scott leans back against the wall and regards
George, leaving him free to make whatever comment about the
previous evening he may see fit.
I don’t suppose they brought any metal to
fire in the piece, did they?
I wouldn’t use it if they did. We aren't out
to reduce a fort, we just want to stop as
many men in front of us as we can. Any old
shrapnel will do the job, like grapeshot.
Yeah, I do see. Very good. Hell, you do it
the right way, you can take out a good
twenty or so per shot.
Yep. If they only have a hundred or so as we
hear, that would make a difference. But the
way I see it, if they charge in a mass,
we’ll only get one shot off before we have
to do the rest with the muskets. By the way,
I have something for you.
Scott pulls back a canvas cover he intends to use to conceal
the cannon, revealing his officer's sword.
You may use it to command the volleys. You
can practice with the men if you like so
they'll be used to it as a silent signal.
You’ve had this all along? You could have
dispatched me silently all along the way.
George is grinning, but then turns serious.
This is a...I’ll consider it only a loan.
But it’s an honor.
We'll speak of its final disposition when
the battle's over.
By all means.
SUPERIMPOSE: ALLEGHENY ROAD, FOUR IN THE MORNING
Armed men finish breakfast, in place along the trenches in
front of the barricades from which they'll fire.
Volunteer scouts from among the non-combatants, a couple of
men and a woman, slip back inside the defenses and hiss in low
voices, reporting to Scott.
TEENAGED MALE SCOUT
People are a’marching up the road. They be
keeping quiet but not quiet enough.
Scott leads the scouts down the line to report to George. Now
aware the enemy is approaching, George sets himself before
his first rank of shooters, wielding the sword. Scott returns
to the cannon and lights the match necessary to fire it.
Another scout arrives, approaching Scott.
They’s definitely here, I heard they’s talk.
Thought they caught us off guard, but they’s
moving off the road through the gate and
working their way stealthy-like right out
there in front. I heard ‘em say wait until
dawn so they can see, with the sun ahind of
‘em to blind us.
Okay. Now that we know, the sun won't matter
Scott moves down the trench to within hearing of George.
I won’t tell you when to fire, but when you
do, I’ll light off Betsy here and take out
as many of them in the first ranks as I can.
Pass the word, total silence until you give
the signal, then they’ve got to fire the
first volley immediately.
Scott returns to the cannon. Moment by moment the incoming
enemy appears more distinctly against the dawning sun.
Jesus Christ, they've got a god danged fort.
Halt! It's a ambush. Fire! Fire!
Scott does not wait for the first shots from George's men, he
touches off the cannon. The gun erupts in a loud boom and
jumps back in recoil. The first volley of George's men is
heard, followed by a ragged response from the enemy.
Before the next volley by his men, George clambers up atop
the breastworks, waving the sword, fully exposing himself to
the enemy's guns.
Fire, my boys, and fire again!
The zing of balls flying through the air coming from the enemy
is unmistakable. Knowing he will be too late, Scott launches
himself down the line, trying to reach George, but from his
left, out of nowhere, a body hurtles by, over the trench, a
body in skirts and a loose blouse. She raises herself over the
parapet and grabs George around the hips, dragging him down
below the level of the wall, both of them tumbling into the
Scott staggers back to the cannon, loads it again, and
touches it off. Even above the great noise, the scream of a