Episode Number: 20, according to broadcast order. Airdate: April 30, 1995. Director: Jeff Woolnough. Writer: Sarah Bird.
Guest Stars: Charlene Fernetz (Hester) / Malcolm Stewart (Chalmers) / Brent Strait (Pvt. Johnson) / Ron Cook (Black Eagle) / James Bell (Diderot) / Doug Abrahams (Cook) / Patrick Gorman (English soldier) / Mark Hildreth (Gabriel) / Simon Juan Sololewski (Captain Roberts).
Other Titles: In German: "Voller Einsatz" ("Full Of Use").
Deep in the woods, a band of Huron warriors are stalking their prey: a white woman, alone except for a young deer as her escort. Sensing their presence, the woman takes her walking stick and suddenly stabs it into the ground. Chanting mysterious words, she begins to draw a circle around her, as the Huron stand transfixed. Drawing from her haversack a small squash, she raises her eyes to the heavens, then menacingly points towards the Indians, chanting more furiously, as they begin to draw back. One of them remains, and threateningly raises his warclub. She casts the squash at him, which explodes in smoke to envelope him. When the smoke clears, Hawkeye and Chingachgook are standing protectively behind the white woman. “Club against rifle, friend, we both know who is going to win that one,” Hawkeye says, as the Huron finds himself alone, his followers gone. “I’ve been tracking you for two days, Black Eagle. You shouldn’t have stopped to collect another scalp,” Hawkeye says, and tells Chingachgook to take and bind him. Chingachgook pauses, then carefully steps around the white woman, and goes to Black Eagle, who reluctantly surrenders. Hawkeye tells Chingachgook to take him back to Fort Bennington, but Chingachgook tells Hawkeye to leave the devil woman alone and come with him. Amused at his friend’s fear of a lone white woman, he brushes off the suggestion.
Hawkeye talks to the woman, who wears a widows-peake cap, and tells her that she almost lost her hair to Black Eagle, who has been collecting the French bounty on English scalps, male or female. She replies that she would have managed. When Hawkeye asks if she is lost, she says that she has walked some 300 miles from Massachusetts, and has never been lost. Hawkeye also says that she appears to his friend to be a witch. “Then you had best not trifle with me,” she says, and walks away. Surprised at her self-confidence, Hawkeye follows her back to the fort.
But the plague has struck Fort Bennington and it’s occupants. The victims, mostly soldiers, have been placed in the tavern, to keep it outside the fort and Elizabeth and other women are caring for the coughing, convulsing men. A young soldier, barely 18, asks Elizabeth if he is going to die. “What’s your name, son?” Elizabeth asks. “Gabriel; I was a tow-headed baby, so my momma named me after the angel” he replies. “She needs me now, I should be home, I’m the only one who knows how to do the sheep shearing proper,” he rants in his delirium. Knowing her efforts to be of little use, as no one knows how to cure the men, Elizabeth tearfully comforts the lad.
Hawkeye and Chingachgook brings Black Eagle to the fort, and Captain Taylor Shields, surprised but pleased, promises to show the people that they have little to fear. But Black Eagle cries that he will be free again, and will take ten scalps of Yankee children in revenge. Taylor tells Private Johnson to shackle Black Eagle in the parade ground, to display him to the colonists and soldiers. Before he can do so, Hester surprises everyone by asking where the pestilence is. Not knowing who she is, or how she knows about the illness that has felled most of the soldiers, people begin to wonder what kind of a woman is she. Black Eagle cries that she is demon, that death walks with her. But Hester ignores him, and says to Taylor, as if she reads his mind, “you have put it in the tavern, so to keep the pestilence outside the fort,” as if complimenting him. As she leaves the fort to go to the tavern, the soldiers and colonists pointedly step back in fear of her.
Going inside, Hester shocks Elizabeth by flinging the blankets off the feverish men. “What are you doing, you’ll have these men dead of chills” Elizabeth cries. “The poison, they must be released, and the perspiration must be allowed to escape,” Hester says firmly but confidently. She then proceeds to comfort Gabriel, saying “You’re burning up with fever……they need you back at home, do they not? It is the middle of sheep shearing, and you are trapped here, but you will be well, and healthy, and home in time to shear all the sheep you like” she sooths him. Elizabeth is shocked to hear her words, and wonders how she knows about Gabriel and his sheep.
Hester asks Elizabeth to show her what medicine they have. Elizabeth shows Hester the contents of the medicine supplies. Despairing at seeing the usual 18th century nauseous, worthless potions of mercury, sulfur, calomel, and others, she picks up some flowers lying amongst the medicine. “How did you know what you did, about Gabriel?” Elizabeth wonderingly asks. “How would you be thinking, by some dark power?” Hester replies. “Why would I think that,” replies a surprised Elizabeth, not knowing of the growing fear of this woman. “That which is no more than simple observation and commonsense is often misinterpreted. Small-minded men fear what they do not understand. It is easier to brand a woman a witch and, hang her,” Hester replies. “No one here at Fort Bennington would ever harm you,” Elizabeth reassures her. Seeing her naïveté, but wanting to help, Hester tells Elizabeth that the flowers can be brewed into a tea which can help the suffering of the men. To Elizabeth’s question about Gabriel, she says “his hands, the boy’s hands, they are calloused from the shears and yet soft, soft from the sheep’s wool. Plus, the boy positively stinks of mutton,” she says to a surprised yet admiring Elizabeth, and both women laugh.
Turning around, both women see the fort’s army surgeon, Chalmers, start to bleed Gabriel, as Taylor stands by, approvingly.
Hester knocks the lancet out of Chalmers hands, and crushes it with her foot, as she condemns his practice of bleeding. Elizabeth tells Taylor that she can help the men get well, and Hester says she can cure the men from these herbs she saw in a meadow she saw not two miles from the fort. Chalmers tells Taylor not to be put off by the prattling of a madwoman. “How dare you. I am Hester Adams of Danvers, Massachusetts, and I have saved more lives than you have taken with all your black arts,” says a infuriated Hester. “You speak of black arts, was not Danvers once known as Salem, site of a trial to rid that village of an infestation of witches?” counters Chalmers.
Disgusted at his stupidity, Elizabeth says “Hester, you were correct when you said that some small-minded idiots would try to brand you a witch,” as Taylor tries to end their squabbling. “Taylor, what possible harm can her infusions do, she is well versed in folk medicine,” Elizabeth says, but Chalmers scoffs at her ideas. Hester accuses Chalmers of being a butcher, of being the kind of man who took everything she loved from her. Taylor ends the argument by ordering a soldier to escort Hester out of the infirmary and not to allow her in again. As she is taken out, Hester cries to a furious Elizabeth to use the herbs to make a single potion to save Gabriel.
Outside the building, Hawkeye meets Hester, and seeing that she is upset, tries to help her, but Black Eagle, shackled to a post, cries that she should be feared, and the people begin to look at Hester in fear. Hawkeye says that he speaks nonsense, but he sees that Hester should go away from the fort, and shaken by the accusations and prejudice against her, she leaves. In his office, Taylor talks to Hawkeye, and asks him if he is bewitched by Hester, and does he believe she is a witch? Hawkeye says that he believes that some people can see and hear what he cannot, but defends her acts. Taylor says that if she can heal her men, it does not matter what she is. Seeing Black Eagle is still crying warning against Hester, he order him to be placed in the stockade. Elizabeth enters the office and tells him he must not let Chalmers treat the sick by bleeding and dosing them. When he says he can’t countermand the order of a surgeon in His Majesty’s service, Elizabeth, in desperation, says “all right, answer me but one further question, answer it honestly and I will bother you no more. Have you ever seen anyone as sick as your men are recover from a bleeding? Answer me honestly,” she says. “At this moment,’ he says, “ I am serious about one thing and one thing alone. Restoring my men to health before the French catch wind of our weakened state and mount an assault.”
Taylor orders that Chalmers not treat his men for 24 hours, but to allow Elizabeth to treat one man with Hester’s potion. Upset at Taylor’s orders, he slyly tells him that his men would find it interesting that their commander is using witchcraft to treat them. Elizabeth finds Hawkeye and asks him where Hester is. Hawkeye says that she has left because of her treatment by the people of the fort. She shows him the herbs, and says she needs more to treat the men. Hawkeye identifies it as ‘feverwort’ which his mother used to treat him when he was ill, and knows where more is. Elizabeth asks him to gather some, and he goes to the fields, where he meets Hester, while Elizabeth treats Gabriel with Hester’s potion. Meanwhile, when Private Johnson takes Black Eagle some food, the Huron knocks the soldier out and escapes.
Hawkeye is intrigued with Hester, who tells him she did not mean to flee the fort, but came also to gather herbs. He asks her how her husband died, and she asks him if he thinks she cast a spell over him. Hawkeye, attracted to her, replies that she is a woman who can cast a spell on any man without witchcraft. Hester, warming to him, tells him that her husband fell ill, and called on the surgeon. When he came, she protested against the surgeon’s efforts to cure her husband by bleeding, but was ordered to stay quiet. Her husband died as a result, and the child she was carrying was born soon after and also died, so she left Massachusetts in sorrow. When Hawkeye moves to comfort her, she kisses him on the cheek, and he clearly wants to respond, but suddenly they are attacked by Black Eagle and his warriors. Hawkeye fights them off, and tells Hester to get back to the fort. She does not want to leave him, but he tells her the men of the fort need her, and he must go after Black Eagle. If the Hurons reach the French and tell of the epidemic, the French will attack, and destroy the weakened fort. Reluctantly, Hester goes back to the fort with a bag of ‘feverwort’ herbs, and Hawkeye and Chingachgook follow the Huron.
At the infirmary, an impatient Taylor order Chalmers to begin to bleed the men. He tells an upset Elizabeth that with Black Eagle’s escape to the French, he cannot wait for the men to recover by Hester’s potions, and must have Chalmers help. But when Chalmers begins to bleed Gabriel, the boy regains consciousness, obviously better, shakes Chalmers off. “Do you see, Hester’s medicine works,” Elizabeth cries to a startled Taylor and Chalmers. “Her witchcraft, you mean,” sneers Chalmers. “No, her healing” replies Elizabeth. “I would think that you would be happy to see this boy restored to his health,” she says. “What does it profit a man to cure his body, when he loses his immortal soul,” counters Chalmers, as Hester enters the infirmary with the herbs. “I have enough ‘feverwort’ to cure every man here,” Hester confidently tells Taylor, and he tells Chalmers “if she be a fiend from hell, all the better that we should send a few French home with her.” He orders Hester to cure his men, and leaves, but Chalmers vows revenge against her.
Hawkeye and Chingachgook find the Huron, who have stopped to attack a settlers’ cabin, and in a brief battle, kill them. Hawkeye realizes that Hester may be in danger, leave to return to the fort. Elizabeth and Hester sit in the trading post before the fire, satisfied with soldiers’ recovery, but Hester is uncomfortable staying there. As they drink tea, Hester tells Elizabeth “Chalmers shall have the final word, of that there can be no doubt.” “But surely the man recognizes that he has been fairly beaten, the men recovered,” Elizabeth reassures her, “Hester, you have nothing to fear, Taylor is many things, but he will not allow you to be harmed.” But Hester tells her “things happen at night, Elizabeth, that most men would not allow in the light of day, and yet they happen.” “Oh, I wish Hawkeye were here,” says Hester in a yearning voice, and Elizabeth is struck with a cold chill, as she realizes that Hester is also very fond of her woodsman, Elizabeth’s secret love. “Elizabeth, tell me something, is Hawkeye promised to someone?” Hester asks, and Elizabeth has a hard time replying, “no, I mean, I…I really wouldn’t know. I don’t believe he is.” “And yet I felt it there within him, a bond of some kind to another woman,” Hester ponders. “I knew if I pursued him he would have moved away….he is a man of honor, once bound to a woman, he would follow her to hell,” she says as Elizabeth uncomfortably agrees “ yes, I believe he would.”
Chalmers arouses the soldiers and settlers in the fort with lies, telling them that Hester Adams must be a witch, in league with the devil, because the sick men recovered after she treated them with her unknown witches brew. They grab ropes, and go off after her, crying that she must destroyed. Elizabeth and Hester see the mob approaching the trading post. “They are coming for me,” Hester says. A determined Elizabeth replies “ no one will have you, hurry,” and shows her to a secure storage closet with just one entrance, which Hester doubtfully enters. “You will be safe here, I promise,” Elizabeth reassures her, but Hester tells her “Elizabeth, I will never be safe in your civilized world, I see that now….you bid Hawkeye adieu for me.” “Hester, you will see him tomorrow,” Elizabeth says, locking the door behinds her as she hears the men pounding on her trading post door.
Throwing a shawl about her, Elizabeth goes outside to confront the crown of yelling men. “Good evening. What is it that you want at this hour?” she calmly asks them. Seeing men she knows in the crowd, she says “Mr. Alcott, Mr. Diterot, I’m surprised to see you here.” “Please, Mrs. Shields, life here is just too hard without letting in troublemakers,” Diterot replies. “But tell me this, aren’t you’re parents Huguenots…in your homeland, the French think that you are the troublemakers. And you, Mr. Allcott, I believe your family to be Quakers, considered by the English to be…troublemakers. And you, Herr Burger, your family in Pennsylvania, they’re Amish, the Prussians think that they are terrible... troublemakers, don’t they, Herr Burger” Elizabeth tells the suddenly ashamed men. But Chalmers tells them that the demon inside has cast a spell upon Elizabeth, and they should not listen to her. As Pvt. Johnson holds up a rope noose, crying “hang the witch” a shot knocks it from his hand. To Elizabeth’s great relief, she sees Hawkeye standing behind the mob. “Now I don’t believe that there is anything left for you gentlemen to do here this evening. As for you, doctor, Johnson here may need your services,” Hawkeye tells the surgeon, “no one else will.”
The crown begins to disperse. Going to Elizabeth, she thanks him for another rescue. “Well, I didn’t mean to interrupt your sermon, I just didn’t think that all of them were listening. How is Hester?” Hawkeye asks. He and Elizabeth go to the storage room, and Elizabeth hastily unlocks and throws open the door. To their amazement, it is empty. Hester is gone, yet there is no way she could have gotten through the locked door. “Where did she go? I don’t understand,” says a shaken Elizabeth. As Hawkeye and she stand in wonder, she says “you admired her, didn’t you,” to Hawkeye. “ I did, she’s a woman to test the metal of any man, a woman to walk the long road with, “ he replies. “She said….the same of you,” Elizabeth tells him. “I wonder how she managed to escape the storage room, let alone leave the fort,” she says, as she still looks uneasily about her. “Well, I can’t rightly say, but would you mind telling me who that fellow is” Hawkeye says, looking over her shoulder out the window, “with the pointed ears and pitchfork.” Elizabeth, startled, looks quickly over her shoulder, and seeing nothing, confusedly looks back at a grinning Hawkeye, who takes her hand in affection.
That night, Elizabeth writes in her diary “a most remarkable woman came into our lives at Fort Bennington. The nearest I can come to describing Hester is that she carried with her the spirit of healing, but I can openly attest that my own spirits were greatly lifted, when Hawkeye chose not to follow Hester into the dark wilderness which surrounds our small sheltering circle of light.”
All "Hawkeye" episode synopsis are © 2001 by Mark Meader for Wonderland.
All pictures are © 1994 by Stephen J. Cannell Productions and are used here with informative purposes and do no intend to infringe any copyrights. All rights reserved. Any graphics, pictures, articles or any other material contained within this site may be copied for personal use only and may not be used or distributed within any other web page without expressly written permission.