Episode Number: 13, according to broadcast order. Airdate: January 22, 1995. Director: George Bloomfield. Writer: Jon Boorstin.
Guest Stars: Eric Schweig (Claw) / Marianne Jones (O-ski-tchin) / Garrison Chrisjohn (Sergeant) / Melanie Koskie (Delaware woman) / James Nichols (Sa-pa-tis) / Selim Running Bear Sandoval (Husa) / Nicholas Stocker (Sentry).
Other Titles: In German: "Auf Leben und Tod" ("Of Lives And Deaths").
It is late fall at Fort Bennington, and members of a sub-tribe of the Delaware are coming into the fort to trade at Elizabeth’s store for winter provisions. A Delaware woman, the wife of their leader, the warrior Claw, is trying to trade a pile of skins for iron pots and other goods. Captain Taylor Shields enters and ignoring the woman, asks Elizabeth for some paper. She asks him to wait until she finishes with the Delaware. The woman adds another pot to the pile of goods, but Elizabeth says she must bring her a bearskin to make the trade even. They are interrupted by Claw, who places a double-barreled trade pistol on the pile of goods. Elizabeth tells them that she must take away the pots to even the trade. The woman unhappily agrees, and Elizabeth turns to help Taylor, but the woman tries to sneak the pot out of the trading post. Taylor sees her and clutches her arm, and Claw attacks him. They fight in the post, and Claw knocks Taylor down. Elizabeth runs out for help from Hawkeye and the soldiers. Hawkeye disarms Claw as he is about to stab Taylor with a pitchfork, but Claw crashes through a window to escape, calling to his wife to flee. She does so in one direction as he escapes over the fort’s wall and into the forest.
Hawkeye and Elizabeth confront Taylor in his headquarters, and chastise him for his foolishness. “Please Taylor, don’t star a war over a pot,” Elizabeth says. But Taylor says that his men saw an Indian strike him, and cannot allow the attack to go unpunished. Taylor then asks Hawkeye, as a respected member of the Delaware tribe, to bring in Claw. Hawkeye says that he is not there to avenge Taylor’s wounded pride, and that Taylor, by touching Claw’s wife, guaranteed a fight. When he says he will march out with a detachment to arrest Claw, Hawkeye points out that Colonel Munro is away from the fort with most of the regiment, and not enough soldiers will be left to guard it. Taylor asks again if Hawkeye will try to bring Claw back to stand trial, with Taylor as the presiding judge. Hawkeye and Elizabeth both know that Taylor will not be fair, but Hawkeye says he will go, if Taylor waits to Colonel Munro to return, who must preside over the trial, or Hawkeye will not make the attempt. Taylor reluctantly agrees to let Colonel Munro sit in judgement, and Hawkeye and Elizabeth go find Chingachgook, and all three will go to the camp, with Elizabeth along to persuade Claw of telling the truth as she saw it, bringing the pots as a symbol of good will.
But when they find the camp, it is full of armed and waiting Delaware warriors. Expecting the British but seeing Hawkeye, Claw contemptuously kicks away the pots that Elizabeth places at his feet, and calls Hawkeye and Chingachgook traitors, doing the white man’s bidding. Claw walks close up to Elizabeth, and talks to his warriors while staring her in the face, so she will know the depth of his hatred. He says that the British say they are allies, but are really trying to destroy the Delaware and take their lands, kill their games, and stamp out the tribal fires. He says that the Delaware must fight the all the white devils while they are strong, or soon they will be no more. Elizabeth is frightened, but stands her ground.
Hawkeye tries to persuade the Delaware that the white man is stronger then they, with huge camps filled with many whites, like the one called Boston, and that they have great canoes with many cannon that are pushed by the wind. But Claw counters with his seeing white men who fear the forest, and says that Hawkeye is as white as Elizabeth, and though he calls himself Delaware, Hawkeye would betray them. The horrified Elizabeth sees Claw pulls a knife to attack Hawkeye, who tries to defend himself as Chingachgook force himself between the fighters. He persuades the reluctant Hawkeye to leave without Claw, but as the three back away, Claw cries out, looking at Elizabeth, “Hawkeye, kill me while you can, or I will peel the white skin from you friends and feed their carcasses to the wolves.” But he lets them go, and Hawkeye, Chingachgook and Elizabeth sadly return to the fort, fearing the worst. Taylor is upset that Hawkeye returns without Claw, but Hawkeye tells him to do so would have started a war with the Delaware. But Taylor is not convinced, and feels he must show his power over them in another way.
In the trading post, the kind-hearted Elizabeth is swayed by an old Delaware hunter, Sa-pa-tis, to give him powder on credit. McKinney and Peevey loiter nearby, and McKinney nudges Peevey to try to steal a stick of candy. When she catches him, he chides her for giving the old Indian powder, as rumors are going around that the Delaware are going to start shooting at the English any minute. Elizabeth scoffs at him, and turns to help a Delaware woman, O-ski-tchin, that she has befriended. The woman has Kat-lin, a sick child with her, and asks Elizabeth for help, but as Elizabeth starts to make a comfit poultice, she is stopped by Taylor. He orders his soldiers to escort the Delaware from the fort, and ban them from entering in the future.
Elizabeth is outraged by this foolish act, and she and Hawkeye and Chingachgook confront Taylor. He defends his actions by saying that Claw has declared himself to be their enemy, and that any of the Delaware may be in league with them, even Sa-pa-tis and O-ski-tchin. He then orders Chingachgook from the fort, too, as the incredulous Hawkeye watches. Taylor says he means to teach them a lesson, that if they do not bring him Claw, then they
must survive the winter without English powder and ball, pots and blankets. Hawkeye says that Taylor will drive them into the arms of the French, but Taylor airily dismisses them, and Hawkeye leaves the fort too, with his Delaware brother, to Elizabeth’s dismay. To his retreating back, Elizabeth says “Taylor Shields, you are a damn fool.”
The next day Elizabeth hears a sentry calling to someone to go away, and she sees O-ski-tchin through a chink in the fort wall, calling out for help for her sick child from the “trading woman.” Elizabeth cautiously signals O-ski-tchin to meet her in the woods near the fort, and gathers medicine for the child. But as she goes out of the fort by the small back sally port, she leaves it unlatched, and does not see O-ski-tchin signal to Claw. As Elizabeth goes into the woods, she is surrounded by Delaware warriors. Seeing it is a trap, she turns to flee, but trips and falls. She desperately cries out “O-ski-tchin, we are friends!” But the Delaware woman looks at her in triumph, as Claw gives a signal to his other braves.
Claw and some of his warriors creep up to the fort and open the rear gate while others dash out with torches to set fire to some soldiers’ tents outside the fort. When Taylor and all the soldiers rush out with buckets of water to douse the flames, the warriors rush inside, capturing McKinney and Peevey who had manned the water pump, and close the front gate. Fort Bennington is Claw’s, and the Delaware celebrate their triumph with war whoops and muskets fired into the air.
Taylor parades his men, and finds that while all are accounted for, they only have three muskets and two horns of powder, as the rest were left in the fort. Meanwhile, Hawkeye has saved Elizabeth, and bring the warrior who was guarding her and O-ski-tchin to Taylor, who orders her to be held in the nearby tavern, where he will make his headquarters. He asks Chingachgook to have members of his band brings weapons and food to help recapture the fort, but Chingachgook replies in Delaware. When Hawkeye translates, it is that the Delaware of his band have none to spare, and coldly stalks away. Taylor realizes what he had done in alienating the other Delaware, but both he and Hawkeye know that if others see Claw’s victory, more will follow him, not Chingachgook.
Elizabeth cannot find McKinney and Peevey, and when she asks Taylor for help in rescuing them from the fort, he callously refuses, even though they were captured in helping him fight the fires, as she points out. Frustrated, she goes to the tavern where she finds O-ski-tchin a prisoner. When Elizabeth asks her if her daughter is well, O-ski-tchin replies that she is nothing to Elizabeth. Upset at her reply, Elizabeth tries to convince her that her betrayal of Elizabeth’s friendship is wrong, but O-ski-tchin tells her that it was necessary, that they are Delaware woman and white woman, and that soon the white will destroy the Indians. Saddened, Elizabeth turns away.
Meanwhile Hawkeye and Chingachgook have scouted around the fort, and find Husa, one of Claw's braves trying to sneak back in. They capture him, and take him to Taylor after convincing him to talk. Taylor learns that Claw has been dealing with the French, and will turn over Fort Bennington to them in return for two cannon. Then the whole Delaware nation will rally to his powerful totem. The French are half a days march away, and Taylor realizes that nothing can be done with only three muskets. But Elizabeth tells them that she has a cache of weapons and powder hidden in her trading post. When Taylor indignantly remands her, she replies “you have developed a nasty habit of requisitioning my weapons” but she offers them to Taylor now.
Hawkeye tells Taylor to post his men in the rear of the fort, out of sight, ready to act. He and Elizabeth and Chingachgook carefully return to the small sally port, and Hawkeye scales the wall and opens the gate. They slip inside, and see Claw’s warriors throwing items into a fire in the middle of the fort, including Elizabeth’s wardrobe. McKinney and Peevey are tied to a wagon, and Claw is threatening them. Hawkeye tells Elizabeth and Chingachgook to get the hidden weapons, while he watches Claw. When Claw taunts the boys, telling his warriors that the English are weak like McKinney & Peevey, Hawkeye shouts to distract him, and Claw turns to see Hawkeye standing in the doorway of the trading post.
While Elizabeth and Chingachgook sneak into the rear of the trading post and start taking the weapons and powder out to the soldiers waiting at the sally port, Hawkeye challenges Claw to kill him, not McKinney and Peevey. While they fight with knives, Taylor and the English soldiers rearm themselves. Hawkeye finally get the upper hand, and stands with his knife to Claw’s throat. But as the Delaware warriors move in to kill Hawkeye, they hear a pistol shot, and Taylor stands behind them as his soldiers run out to surround the warriors, and disarm them. Claw, still with Hawkeye’s knife at his throat, asks Hawkeye to kill him, but Hawkeye says that he must face the English and dies according to the law. He pushes Claw away. Claw pulls out his tomahawk and attacks Hawkeye. He is stopped, but grabs the knife and shoves it into his own stomach, and falls dying to the ground.
With their chief dead, the beaten Delaware are lined up against the inside fort wall to face a firing squad of Taylor’s soldiers. Although Elizabeth has seen the pillaging inside the fort, she pleads with Taylor not to kill them. “They were led astray…Claw was a hard man not to follow, and you pushed them into his arms,” she says. As the firing squad aim their muskets, she asks Hawkeye if the Delaware would kill them like Taylor wants to do. “The Delaware would make them slaves,” says Hawkeye, “but slaves who work hard and prove trustworthy become full members of the tribe.” Chingachgook says he would accept them into his band, and when Hawkeye tells Taylor that he will wish them on his side when the French come, Taylor relents, and contemptuously orders all of the Delaware from the fort at the hands of Chingachgook.
Later, Elizabeth writes in her diary that “Claw was a dangerous man. And yet I fear there was truth in his words. If I were a Delaware, betrayed and exploited by the likes of Taylor Shields, would I not also long for the white men to leave? Why can’t we act in such a way that the Delaware will welcome us as brothers, as they welcome Hawkeye?”
All "Hawkeye" episode synopsis are © 2001 by Mark Meader for Wonderland.
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