Episode Number: 19, according to broadcast order. Airdate: March 5, 1995. Director: Michael Caffey. Writer: Vivienne Radkoff.
Guest Stars: Larry Sellers (Tagua) / Andrew Wheeler (Reverend Henry Bothwell) / Margo Kane (Nadua) / Stefany Mathias (Morning Star) / D. Martin Pera (Shaman).
Other Titles: In German: "Tödlicher Virus" ("Deadly Virus").
Elizabeth and Nadua, her Delaware friend, are in the woods near the Delaware camp gathering herbs for medicinal uses. The women talk about the men in their lives, and how they met them when they were young. Elizabeth says that she was young, but even though William was ten years older than she, he seemed so sure of himself, and that every woman wanted a place on his dance card. She explains to Nadua that while this showed how popular he was with all the young women, he chose her instead. Missing him, she sadly says “I thought we might do….good things with our lives.” Seeing her sadness, Nadua says “Hawkeye is handsome…many women want his dance card.” Elizabeth blushes and says “I’m sure that’s true.” “He should marry,” Nadua continues, “and have many children,” to an increasingly uncomfortable Elizabeth, who senses that Nadua knows of her unspoken love for the woodsman. Suddenly some nearby birds startle the tethered horses, and they break free. The women separate to chase them, and Elizabeth, moving through the trees, suddenly finds herself in an Indian burial ground, where she sees bodies that have been placed on sky platforms with their belongings. Nadua, seeing that she has trespassed into a sacred place, frantically calls for her to come back. Elizabeth carefully makes her way out of the site, and returns to her friend. She is very upset, and Nadua pleads “entry is forbidden except to the shaman, tell no one you were there. It will mean your death” to a surprised Elizabeth. They leave, but not before Tagua, a Delaware chief, sees that she has violated a sacred place of the Delaware.
At the Delaware camp, Tagua confronts Chingachgook, Hawkeye and the Delaware medicine man, and tells them that the white trader woman from the fort has committed an unforgivable sin in entering the burial ground, and demands her death, before the spirits take their vengeance and wreak havoc among the Delaware. Hawkeye, alarmed at the threat to her, assures him that Elizabeth is very respectful of the Delaware and their belief, and that she would have never knowingly insulted them, if she had known. He tries to sooth the growing anger of Tagua, but he says that because she still lives, it may already be too late. He threatens that if evil falls on the Delaware, Elizabeth will pay for her error with her life, and he leaves the startled men.
In the woods, Hawkeye comes upon a white man unloading boxes from a wagon with a broken wheel. Hawkeye tells him that there is a blacksmith at the fort who can help him. The man introduces himself as the Reverend Henry Bothwell, and when Hawkeye tells him his name, Reverend Bothwell says he wants to hire Hawkeye to guide him as he spreads the word of God among the savages. Hawkeye says that the Delaware are quite content with their beliefs, and is annoyed by the Reverend’s uncompromising attitude towards his friends, who says that they are on the road to hell. He refuses, and leaves the preacher.
Back at the fort, Hawkeye talks to Elizabeth, who knows she has done something wrong in entering the burial ground, but tries to explain that she meant no harm, and touched nothing before she left, but Hawkeye is troubled. “This is serious, isn’t it”, she says. “Very” says Hawkeye, still hearing the words and threats of Tagua. “Well, I will just go to the chief and explain” says Elizabeth. Hawkeye tells her not to try, that there is nothing she can do, and maybe it will pass without incident. Not understanding the true nature of her offense, Elizabeth tries to dismiss it. Trying to convince her, Hawkeye says “Elizabeth, what you did was like entering a church and smashing everything on the altar.” Now terribly aware of the true nature of what she has done, she asks if he thinks Tagua will listen to Hawkeye. Hawkeye says he hopes so, and leaves.
The preacher has reached Fort Bennington, and visits Captain Taylor Shields. He tells Taylor that he has come to convert the savages, and gives Taylor a gift of a container of tea. He then asks his assistance in obtaining some land for two ships of settlers, who are waiting to hear of his success. When Shields says that the land he wants is tribal land of the Delaware, the Preacher says that he has heard that the Delaware have abandoned the land, because of the plague of smallpox. Taylor knows it is so, but that they will return. Unconvinced, Bothwell asks that Taylor make the necessary arrangements, and Taylor promises to do so, as it is one of his duties as an officer to make the necessary arrangements so that the abandoned land will become the property of Bothwell and his settlers.
Hawkeye, still disturbed at Tagua’s threats, visits his camp. He tries to talk to a still angry Tagua, and tells him that Elizabeth did nothing to harm him, that she made a mistake. “Surely the spirits will forgive her for that.” he assures Tagua. “You are wrong” Tagua cries, and pulls up a hide door to his lodge. Hawkeye, peering inside, sees a stricken woman, Tagua’s wife, lying covered by red blankets. “She has smallpox…my wife is dying. The spirits have taken their revenge here,” says the angry chief, and all Hawkeye can do it clasp his shoulder to show his sympathy.
Back at the trading post, Hawkeye tells a horrified Elizabeth that smallpox has broken out in Tagua’s camp. She immediately starts to place bottles of herbs and medicine in her basket. “Elizabeth, you cannot go,” Hawkeye says. “I know I cannot stop
this disease but at least I can offer some relief from the pain,” she says, determined to help the ill; “I did not cause this outbreak, Hawkeye, they must realize that.” “You do not understand, you are not welcome there” Hawkeye tells her, acting more forcefully than she has ever seen him before.
Headstrong and determined to show Hawkeye that she can help the stricken village, Elizabeth starts to leave, but Reverend Bothwell stops to introduce himself, and he asks if he can obtain provisions from her. She says that when she returns later in the day, she will help him, but that now she must go to the Delaware camp to help the plague-stricken villagers. “Would you accompany me?” she asks. “I have medicine here that might relives some of the suffering.” But to her surprise, he says he will not go under any circumstances. “My heart goes out to them, and I will pray for their redemption, but I will not die for them,” he callously tells her. Upset by his refusal, she leaves for the camp.
Chingachgook goes to the trading post to see Elizabeth, and McKinney tells him that she has gone doctoring. “I think she’s crazy, I wouldn’t go near no one with the plague, he says, and Chingachgook asks what is plague. “It’s another word for smallpox,” McKinney says, and tells Chingachgook that it is at a Delaware camp. As Elizabeth follows the path to Tagua’s camp, she feels that she is being followed. She turns to look behind her but sees no one. When she turns around, she is face to face with Tagua and another warrior. When she tells him who she is, and offers to help, showing her basket of medicine, he knocks it out of her hand, and grabs for his tomahawk. “You have brought death to my people,” Tagua says. “I meant no harm,” she says fearfully, backing away, but falls down a small embankment. Swiftly he jumps down, grabs her cloak firmly and raises his tomahawk to strike her dead. “This won’t hurt long, “ Tagua says to Elizabeth, who can do nothing but watch her death approaching, but the upraised hatchet shaft is shattered by a rifle shot. She turns to see Hawkeye and Chingachgook, with rifles raised. “Elizabeth, get up,” Hawkeye says, and she shakily climbs to her feet and staggers over to her rescuers. “Do not touch this woman,” Hawkeye says to Tagua. ”The spirits tell me what to do, not Hawkeye,” shouts Tagua. “Hear my words, Tagua, you kill this woman, I will kill you,” Hawkeye slowly says, as Elizabeth shelters behind him, and they turn to go.
Back at the fort, an upset Elizabeth says she only wanted to help. “I told you not to go there,” says Hawkeye. “But you didn’t tell me why, that Tagua wanted to kill me,” says a still shaken Elizabeth. Hawkeye says he should he told her the truth, if only to stop her headstrong notions of wanting to help, but he didn’t want to frighten her. “I’ve never seen so much hate in someone’s eyes,” she says with fear. “His wife, his family, they’re all dying,” Hawkeye sorrowfully says. “I would give my life for theirs if I could,” Elizabeth says softly. “We’ll weather the storm, Elizabeth,” Hawkeye says, “just don’t go near the camp again.” As he turns to leave, Elizabeth sees Chingachgook standing, gazing accusingly at her. “Do you believe what Tagua believes?” she asks him. “I know you did not intend to violate our lands, but you did,” Chingachgook replies. Defeated in her attempt to make things right, she can only watch with tears in her eyes as he too leaves.
Reverend Bothwell gives the necessary papers to Taylor to transfer the abandoned Delaware lands, who surprises him with the news that it will take a month to become official, as the official magistrate is over a week’s ride away. When he hears this, Bothwell asks if nothing can be done to speed up the process, and tosses a purse of coins on the table. Suspicious, Taylor questions his impatience, but Bothwell indignantly takes the coins and leaves as Hawkeye comes in. Hawkeye tells Taylor of Tagua's threat to Elizabeth because of the outbreak of smallpox, and he blames her. Taylor says he cannot station a guard help her because of his lack of men, and Hawkeye argues that the threat is real. When Taylor callously says he will have Tagua shot and be done with it, Hawkeye argues against it. He tries to convince Taylor that Tagua is mad with grief, but then he sees the papers that Bothwell has left, and realizes that Taylor is selling Delaware land to him. Taylor says that it has been abandoned by the plague victims, and he cannot ignore the law that allows this. Disgusted by what he has heard, Hawkeye leaves.
Bothwell goes into the trading post, and meets a still upset Elizabeth, who is cool to his apologies of not accompanying her to Tagua’s camp to help the Delaware. He tells her that he has made arrangements to have medicine delivered to the camp, and somewhat mollified, she softens her stance towards him. He also says he plans to visit the camp of Chingachgook to deliver blankets and other goods, and asks her to show him the way and help him. She says that she cannot, as it is not safe for her outside the fort. He persuades her that she cannot let her fear dictate her decisions, and she agrees to go with him. They leave the fort, with a packhorse loaded with gifts, including new, red blankets.
At his stricken camp, Tagua place the dead body of his wife alongside many other bodies of his tribe, all wrapped in red blankets, like the ones Bothwell has. “I hold you in my heart, and I will look for you in the morning sky,” he says as he covers her face. He stands up, and dips his fingers into war paint, which he streaks across his tear-streaked face. Meanwhile, Hawkeye and Chingachgook walk through the woods towards his camp. Chingachgook had heard of the sale of the Delaware lands, and he is furious, not understanding that the law in on Bothwells’ side. He says he will kill this man before he lets him take their land. Reaching Tagua’s camp they see him singing the mourning song over the dead bodies of his tribe. They try to comfort him, but he says that he was not brave enough to do what he had to do. Hawkeye notices the red blankets, remembering seeing other like them when Bothwell’s wagon had broken down, and asks about them. Tagua says they were a gift from a missionary, who tried to preach to them. But when they did not wish to accept his religion, he handed them the gifts, and left. Hawkeye, having heard of other white men who gave blankets infected with smallpox to Indian tribes to the north, which killed many, tells Tagua and Chingachgook that he believes that Elizabeth did not bring the disease, but the blankets did. They set off to find Bothwell.
Elizabeth and Reverend Bothwell travel with his packhorse towards the camp of Chingachgook. They speak of the terrible plague of smallpox that ravaged the tribes in the north, where Bothwell came from, and Elizabeth is surprised at Bothwell’s callous attitude towards the dead Indians. He tells her that he believes that it is God’s will that they are being killed off, to make room for the white men. “How can you call yourself a man of God, when your ideas are so filled with hate?” Elizabeth says, appalled at his attitude. “Not hate, Mrs. Shields, intolerance” he replies. “I loathe any culture that worships animals, trees, even the sun as gods.” As they continue onto the Delaware camp, Elizabeth wonders if she is doing the right thing in bringing him. They come to the camp, and Elizabeth uneasily introduces Nadua to Bothwell. She says that she has heard of him, that he goes from camp to camp, trying to buy their lands. The Delaware lands are not for sale, she tells him. He offers the gifts, including the boxes of blankets, to her as a gesture of good will anyway, and starts to talk about converting them to his God, but Nadua refuses his efforts. Elizabeth stands by watching as the Delaware children try to open the boxes, when Hawkeye, Chingachgook and Tagua rush into the camp, having learned from McKinney that Elizabeth and Bothwell were going there.
Hawkeye accuses Bothwell of giving the Delaware infected blankets, as the Delaware and Elizabeth watch in uncomprehending amazement. Bothwell angrily denies the accusation, and Hawkeye tells him to open a crate and take out a blanket to show his innocence. Bothwell indignantly refuses. When Chingachgook finally realizes what Bothwell has done, he advances towards him, but Bothwell grabs Nadua and holds her as a shield, holding a pistol to her head. He backs out of the lodge, pulling her with him by a thong about her neck, but as he goes to mount his horse, Hawkeye shoots the thong and Nadua is free. Bothwell climbs on his horse, but Tagua, who has slipped out earlier, kills Bothwell with an arrow. His revenge has been taken on the man who had decimated his tribe with the white man’s sickness, and he walks away from Chingachgooks’ camp.
Back in her bedroom that evening, Elizabeth writes in her diary about the numbing events of the past few days. “The plague of smallpox has finally left our valley, but not before exacting a heavy toll. A toll not just measured in the number of lives lost, which was great to be sure, but measured also in the innocence lost to a people who could have not believed that a man could hate them so much, as to plan for their annihilation. Chingachgook tried to talk Tagua into joining his camp, but he refused. Hawkeye explained that Tauga is a chief, and a warrior, and to live under another’s roof would be shameful to his pride, and in the end, I feel pride is all he will have left.”
All "Hawkeye" episode synopsis are © 2001 by Mark Meader for Wonderland.
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