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The BURIAL GROUND


[EXTERIOR GLADE - PROFILE: HAWKEYE - NIGHT

moves through to where the trees seem sparse and are unnaturally white birch and some thin grass grows. The land rises into a mound. Chingachgook and the others avoid stepping on the grass and cross to the other side of it.

CHINGACHGOOK

mutters something to Uncas. He nods and disappears amongst the white birch, soundlessly.

HAWKEYE

throws Heyward a blanket. Heyward spreads the blanket below the top of the mound and - maintaining silence - he gestures for Cora & Alice to rest there.

ALICE'S HEAD

hits the blanket. She curls into a fetal position and she's out. Heyward is nearby on watch. Hawkeye has taken a position two-thirds of the way around the crescent shaped mound. Cora has sought him out.

HAWKEYE

doesn't react as Cora enters. He's scanning the trees; not looking at her. They whisper ...]

CORA: Why didn't you bury those people?

HAWKEYE: Anyone lookin' to pick up our trail, would see it as a sign of our passing ...

CORA: You knew them.

[Hawkeye looks at her and nods.]

CORA: [stiffly] You were acting for our benefit. And I apologize. I misunderstood you.

HAWKEYE: Well that is to be expected. My father ...

CORA: Your "father"?

HAWKEYE: Chingachgook. He warned me about people like you.

CORA: He did?

HAWKEYE: Yes. He said ... "do not try to make them understand you."

CORA: What?!

HAWKEYE: Yes. And "do not try to understand them. That is because they are a breed apart and they make no sense ..."

[Cora's indignation is cut off because ...

UNCAS

moving fast. He gestures back the way he came and it means they're in jeopardy. Uncas disappears around the mound. Cut to ...

EXTERIOR BIRCH FOREST - TREES - NIGHT

Nothing. Imperceptibly we move closer and start to see shapes blocking out part of the white birch.

RED-PAINTED FACE

white eyes. A ruff of red hair stands straight up at the back of the large man's head. Slit and monstrously elongated earlobes are weighted with silver. He's followed by others. Wary, silently, they hunt.

DEEPER: MORE OTTAWA

Towards the rear are two French Rangers ("Coureurs des Bois") from Le Regiment de la Sarre. They're bearded, dirty, dressed Indian-style in moccasins, leggings and breechcloths with hooded hunting shirts. There's nothing clumsy about them. They're the 18th century version of Special Forces who've gone indigenous. If they and the Ottawa find our people, it's all over.

ALICE

seeing the red-painted Ottawa approach, starts to panic. Her hyperventilating and involuntary small sounds of fear will reveal their position. A hand covers her mouth and silences her struggling. WIDEN. It's Uncas. His other arm is around her, holding her, looking towards the advancing Ottawa.

HAWKEYE

on his back, his tomahawk within reach on the ground.

OTTAWA & FRENCH

are fifty yards away from the crescent mound behind which lie our people. Mist envelops them ...

CHINGACHGOOK

His massive arms spread revealing his war club in his left fist; his fusil in his right hand.

HAWKEYE

waiting for the attack. Cora's eyes are anxious, but there's no terror there. Nathaniel's impressed with her cool. He hands her a pistol. She takes it. He listens for the soft drop of moccasined feet ...

OTTAWA

through the grass. Thirty feet away they stop. They're motionless. Then their leader gestures and they start backing out. The French Rangers continue towards the crescent. The Ottawa chief takes one's arm and stops him. The French Ranger whispers something inaudible. The Ottawa chief shakes his head, "Non. Pas possible ..." And means it. They retreat.

SEPERATE SHOTS: HAWKEYE, UNCAS, CHINGACHGOOK, CORA

tensely monitor the Ottawa retreat.

UNCAS & ALICE

He slowly removes his hand from her mouth. She's a little shy, then she looks up, catches his eyes. Then she averts her face.

CHINGACHGOOK

sees all of it; doesn't like it.

HAWKEYE

The Ottawa are gone.]

CORA: [quietly] Why did they turn back?

[In answer Hawkeye looks behind & above her head.]

[CORA

turns and makes out stilt platforms of skeletons and torn strips of buckskin silhouetted against the night sky in the distance. They have camped on sanctified ground, a burial place.

CORA & HAWKEYE

She thinks it would be a mistake to ever underestimate the skill of these men or the danger & complexity of this place. She hands the pistol back to him. Their hands almost touch:]

CORA: [still pissed off] "We're a breed apart and we make no sense" ...?

HAWKEYE: [smiles] In your particular case, miss, I would make some allowance ...

CORA: [sarcastic] Thank you so much.

[Cora is angry. Hawkeye, staring at the trees, glances at her. She settles, looking at him. Her mood changes. Then ...]

CORA: You called Chingachgook your "father"? Where is your real family?

[Hawkeye's surprised by her question.]

HAWKEYE: They buried my ma & pa and my sisters. And Chingachgook - who found me with two French trappers - raised me up as his own.

CORA: I'm sorry.

HAWKEYE: I do not remember them. I was one or two.

CORA: How did you learn English?

HAWKEYE: My father sent Uncas & I to Reverend Wheelock's school when I was ten. So we would know both worlds ... though we were told only bother learning readin' & arithmetic from yous.

CORA: And what were the consequentialities of European culture you didn't bother with?

HAWKEYE: The Bible. Monarchy. Many wrong ideas about the government of men. My father's people already know each man is his own nation. And only he can have dominion over himself. Not kings. No man is better than any other man.

CORA: In London those radical ideas could land you in Newgate prison. [changing the subject] Why were those people living in this defenseless place ...?

HAWKEYE: 'Cos frontier land's the only land affordable to poor people. So after seven years indentured service in Virginia, they headed out here where they are beholden to none and not livin' by another's leave ... Their name was Cameron. John & Alexandria.

[Cora sees the slate grey clouds and, in between, the fields of stars. She looks at Hawkeye; then again up at the night sky.]

HAWKEYE: [continuing; looking up] My father's people say ... at the birth of the sun and of his brother, the moon, their mother died ... so the sun gave to the earth her body, from which was to spring all life. And he drew forth from her breast the stars. The stars he threw into the night sky to remind him of her soul. [the sky] So there is the Camerons' monument ... my folks', too, I guess.

[CORA'S

pensive. Hawkeye's watching her. Her reaction is enigmatic. After a pause ...]

CORA: [low] You are right, Mr. Poe. We do not understand what is happening here. And it is not as I imagined it would be, thinking of it in Boston and London ...

HAWKEYE: Sorry to disappoint you ...

CORA: [eyes downcast] On the contrary. It is more deeply stirring ... to my blood ... [then up into his eyes] ... than any imagining could possibly have been ...

[She closes her eyes, turns slightly and prepares to sleep. Hawkeye is the one left staring into the birch forest, a little surprised. Some of his assumptions about her were wrong ...

CUT TO ...]

The APPROACH

 


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