Episode Number: 4, according to broadcast order. Airdate: October 9, 1994. Director: James Contner. Writer: Kim LeMasters.
Guest Stars: Gordon Tootoosis (Raven Oak) / Jill Teed (Sarah Pritchard) / Eli Gabay (Gile Enlieve) / Kate Twa (Katy Travis) / Lorne Cardinal (Huron) / Annie Charles (North Wind) / David Mckay (Pvt. Holland) / David McNiven (British Sentry).
Other Titles: In German: "Die Entscheidung" ("The Decision").
Deep in the woods, Hawkeye and Chingachgook are having a friendly horserace against each other. The two friends try to shoot at targets at the dead gallop with pistol and hatchet, and Chingachgook wins by taking a short cut. Hawkeye is exasperated with Chingachgook for what he considers cheating, but Chingachgook points out that his way was better and faster. Hawkeye gives up the argument when they see vultures flying overhead, a sign of danger. Going to the stream, they see the body of a Delaware warrior, their friend Eagle Child, who was hunting fox. He has been killed by a white man, perhaps a courer du bois, a French woodsman.
Outside fort Bennington, Hawkeye meets and thanks a recently widowed settler, Sarah Pritchard, for mending his shirt. Since Elizabeth Shields has gone to Boston to restock the supplies of her trading post that were totally bought up in the recent panic, he has been watching over Sarah, concerned for her safety. She goes to the river, where the women of the fort wash their clothes. There she meets Katy Travis, a young serving girl of the Black Horse Tavern. She has recently been raped by a soldier from the fort, and is distraught at not being able to get justice for the outrage. She and Sarah commiserate each other for their recent misfortunes, but unknown to Sarah she is secretly watched by a white trapper hiding in the woods.
The trapper comes into the fort with his Indian wife. He goes to meet with Captain Shields, and tells him the man who was killing British messengers was in turn captured and given to a Huron war party by the trapper, and is dead. Shields pays the trapper, who is French, a sum of money. He leaves the fort after telling his wife North Wind, who is a Huron, to go back to her village. But as the woman leaves, Hawkeye sees a fox fur on her packhorse, and knows that her husband killed Eagle Child, though he can’t prove it. Sarah Pritchard then asks Captain Shields for help in finding the man who assaulted Katy Travis, but he says that is the fortunes of war, and dismisses her.
Later that day, Hawkeye sees Sarah and Katy leaving with a packhorse. They tell him that they are taking supplies to a nearby settler family, and Hawkeye warns them, saying there is danger in the woods. The two women scoff at him for a foolish man, but he persuades Sarah to take his pistol for protection. Contemptously, she shoves it into the saddlepack.
In the forest, they are stopped by the Frenchman, who draws a pistol and makes Sarah climb on his horse, abducting her. She tells Kathy to go back to the fort for help, and as she does so, she sees Hawkeye riding up, and he gallops past her, chasing the pair. Riding close to the Frenchman, he pulls him off the horse, and dismounts. The Frenchman jumps up and attacks Hawkeye with his knife, and Hawkeye knocks him down. When he does not rise, Hawkeye turn him over, and sees that the Frenchman is dead, having fallen on his knife.
Back at Fort Bennington, Hawkeye and Taylor argue over the death of the Frenchman. Taylor knows that although the man was a scoundrel, he has lost a valuable source of information. Interrupting the argument, North Wind runs up and throws herself on the body, keening her loss. That evening, Northwind goes to plead with Captain Shields for help, but he callously refuses to aid her and her children. Distraught, she leaves, planning revenge.
Hawkeye and Chingachgook come together to bury Eagle Child, and both talk about how he will rest well in the next world. Hawkeye is about to leave to escort Sarah while she again tries to delivers her goods to the settler family, but they see grey smoke that was made obviously by a person burning wet wood. Hawkeye leaves to help the foolish people, but Chingachgook warns that it could also be a trick. When Hawkeye comes on a lone trapper, clumsily building a fire, the man whirls about to reveal that he is a Huron, and the woodsman is surrounded by warriors.
Taken to the Huron village, Hawkeye is told by the chief, Raven Oak, that the woman North Wind is of his village, and he must take her as a wife and provide for her, or die by their hands. Hawkeye refuses, and the Huron howl for his torture and death. Hawkeye asks Raven Oak for a furlough to make his farewells with Chingachgook. The chief, knowing that Hawkeye is an honorable man, grants his request, telling Hawkeye must return the next day when the sun sets on the mountain.
Back at the fort, Hawkeye tells Sarah to let the Scottish missionaries know of his fate, and she pleads for him not to return to his death. He tells her that he gave his word, which is more important than his life. She says that his is not a civilized act, but he counters that two of the most civilized countries are here in America fighting for a land that belongs to neither of them, and he leaves. Hawkeye then meets with Chingachgook, and tries to persuade him not to take revenge if he is killed by the Huron. He says that honor is worthy, revenge is not. His blood brother says that there is honor in escaping. Hawkeye says he understands, and that he told the Huron he would return, but he didn’t tell them he would return to die, and Chingachgook tries to think of a plan.
Hawkeye returns to the Huron camp, and they tie him to a post, and hurl hatchets and shoot arrows that just miss him to test his courage. They taunt him, but Hawkeye bravely endures the missiles, returning insult for insult to the screaming warriors. Meanwhile, Sarah pleads with Captain Shields to rescue Hawkeye, but he says he can spare no men. Leaving the post in disgust, she sees Chingachgook, and taking some valuable goods from the trading post, they go off to help Hawkeye.
At the Huron camp, Sarah bravely walks into the camp and the torture is stopped, while Chingachgook watches from the woods, an arrow nocked to his bow to kill any Huron who tries to stop her. Raven Oak asks what she is doing there, and she tells him that she was attacked by the French trapper who lived with them. Sarah then asks that Hawkeye, who defended her, be released. The brother of North Wind says that his sister now has a home as cold as her name, and roughly pulls a pink scarf off Sarah to place on North Wind. Sarah then tells how her husband, Thomas, was killed by the Huron, and that she and North Wind share in the suffering of the death of their men.
Raven Oak says that he understands her feeling for her dead husband, but asks why does she feel for Hawkeye. Sarah says that he is a good and honorable man, and Raven Oak, mentioning that Hawkeye did keep his word to return knowing he would die, agrees that he should be released. But the vengeful brother of North Wind attacks Hawkeye, hurling a hatchet at him. Hawkeye deftly catches the hatchet, and challenges the Huron to a duel. He easily defeats him, then spares his life, and Raven Oak releases him and Sarah. As they turn to go, North Wind stops them, and places the pink scarf back on Sarah’s shoulders in respect for her grief at the loss of her husband.
Back at Fort Bennington, Hawkeye thoughts are with the suffering of both sides in this insane war for land; “It was violent sequence of events which caused the path of the Huron woman NorthWind to cross that of Sarah Pritchards. They were as different as eagles and doves, yet both were touched by the same war in similar fashion. Sarah left the Hudson Valley with Katy Travis. They went in search of a new life, and I hope they find it. They learned a few things from the experience, and to tell the scripture truth, I learned something as well.”
All "Hawkeye" episode synopsis are © 2001 by Mark Meader for Wonderland.
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