Author: rainiergirl PM
Colin begins to question if he has chosen the right profession, and his search for answers puts him in a life-threatening situation. The story is set after the episode "The Hostage" but before "The Grand Wedding."Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Drama/Family - Colin M. & Matt M. - Words: 10,213 - Reviews: 2 - Favs: 1 - Published: 08-21-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7311413
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's notes: I adored this series when it aired. I wrote several scripts at the time, designed to fit between exisiting episodes. Had a lot of fun creating them. I had them posted on a Snowy River website that has long since been abandoned. After that I never knew what to do with them, as there seemed no audience for the series on the fanfiction site. But I have noticed that, finally, Snowy River: The McGregor Saga now has a few things posted, so I thought I'd add this to it. Not sure it will receive an audience, but if it gets any reviews from folks who are interested, I'll post a few more. Enjoy.
In town. Emily and Colin are walking arm in arm down the street, Emily carrying a basket. They pass the store and hear loud arguing inside.
COLIN: Wait here.
He goes inside. A group of men is arguing with the clerk.
MAN 1: What do you mean this isn't enough? These supplies cost two pounds, and we're giving you two pounds.
CLERK: You're giving me company scrip. I can only accept eighteen shillings on the pound. That's all the mine reimburses me for. You'll have to make up the rest.
MAN 2: Now where are we going to get that? This is what we get paid in until the end of every three months' work.
CLERK: I'm sorry. There's nothing I can do. Perhaps you could look over your purchases and leave some of them until...
A tall man about Colin's age comes to the counter.
MAN: No. Keep everything. We're not going to pay more than anyone else in this town does.
The men leave the store, brushing past Colin. Colin watches them go, then suddenly runs after the man.
COLIN: Brian? Brian, it is you!
Brian looks at him a moment and grins.
BRIAN: Colin! I didn't recognize you with your collar on backwards. A minister, is it?
The two men laugh and hug each other. Emily comes over and watches curiously. Colin takes her hand and leads her to Brian.
COLIN: Emily, this is a very good friend of mine, Brian Donnely. Brian, this is my wife, Emily.
BRIAN: Colin, you are full of surprises. Pleased to meet you, Miss Emily.
COLIN: How long have you been here? Why haven't you been out to Langara?
BRIAN: Slow down. I haven't been out because I haven't had the time. I'm working at one of the mines, but I was only hired on a week ago. How is your family?
COLIN: All fine. Everyone will be so happy to see you. Why don't you come with us? We can have lunch.
BRIAN: You don't have to twist my arm. I can't wait to see Langara again. Lead the way.
Later, at Langara. Colin, Emily, Matt, Danni, Rob, and Brian are seated at the table. Kathleen and Michael are there also. They have just finished their meal.
BRIAN: I can't tell you how good it feels to be back here.
MATT: We're starting the autumn muster on Monday. We could use another good hand.
COLIN: It would be just like old times.
BRIAN: Are you going out? I would have thought you had given up that sort of thing.
MATT: And I'm glad of it. He's one of my top hands. How about it, Brian? A week in the bush, cooking over an open fire. Seeing nothing over your head at night but the stars.
BRIAN: You do make it sound tempting. But I'm afraid I have other commitments.
KATHLEEN: They don't really mean that part about cooking over an open fire, you know.
EMILY: Can I get you anything else?
BRIAN: No, thanks. I've had plenty. It was terrific.
EMILY: Are you sure? I baked an apple pie this morning. Or perhaps some tea.
BRIAN: I think I have room for the tea.
Emily gets up from the table, as does Kathleen.
KATHLEEN: I'll help you.
EMILY: No. You sit. You're company, too.
Kathleen sits back down and Emily goes into the kitchen. Brian watches after her.
BRIAN: She's a lovely girl. You're a lucky man, Colin.
COLIN: I know. How about you? When are you going to settle down?
BRIAN: I can't seem to stay in one spot long enough. I've been wandering ever since I left here.
ROB: And you came back to work in the mines?
BRIAN: It's honest work. I've been working in mines all over these mountains the past five years.
COLIN: That sounded like unpleasant business in the store earlier.
BRIAN: It was. The mine owners pay off the miners in scrip, but they keep ten percent for themselves. We don't have the same buying power as other workers.
DANNI: Can they do that, Dad?
MATT: Unfortunately, they can. It's been a problem all over these mountains.
Emily comes back with a tray of tea and begins to serve.
BRIAN: The workers have made their discontent clear, but nothing has come of it. And the scrip's only a small part of the problem. The housing at the camp is inadequate, the shifts in the mines are too long to be safe, and there is no compensation for workers who are injured in the mines-which happens all too often because the owners cut corners to increase profits and they create unsafe conditions.
MATT: You seem to know a lot about this, for having just arrived.
BRIAN: All the mines are the same. Profit for the shareholders is the only thing that matters. As a matter of fact, a major shareholder in these mines is a neighbor of yours.
ROB: Who's that?
BRIAN: Frank Blackwood.
MATT: That's not surprising. Frank can sniff out profit. I'm sure he's making a nice one by investing in those mines.
BRIAN: No doubt he is. But at what cost to others?
No one answers him, and finally Colin speaks.
COLIN: Frank has always respected you, Dad, even if he won't admit it. Couldn't you speak to him about it?
MATT: I wouldn't be able to tell him anything he doesn't already know.
COLIN: Then I will. Some of those miners are members of my congregation. Someone has to speak for them.
MATT: I wish you wouldn't get involved in this, Colin.
Matt eyes Brian carefully.
MATT: Someone will speak for them.
Brian meets Matt's gaze evenly, then abruptly rises from the table.
BRIAN: Well, Colin, are you going to show me around this place or not? Let's see what else has changed, Reverend.
Colin and Brian go outside. Emily rises from the table and goes to the window, watching them. The two are laughing, then begin to tussle with each other, wrestling to the ground.
Emily turns to Matt.
EMILY: I forget what a boy he can be. I think I like it; he's so serious sometimes.
MATT: Brian was a boyhood friend. I guess they're just picking up where they left off.
EMILY: Where did they leave off?
MATT: Brian's father was my right-hand man on Langara. He helped me run the place before the boys were old enough to help. Brian was Colin's best friend. They were inseparable.
Rob laughs, remembering.
ROB: I used to be jealous of him. I was always tagging along behind the two of them.
EMILY: Why did he leave?
MATT: His father died about five or six years ago. Brian knew he could stay on here, but he didn't want to. He said he wanted to make his own way.
KATHLEEN: What about his mother?
MATT: She had died years ago, when Brian was a boy. One of the things he had in common with Colin, I guess.
Matt is silent for a moment and Kathleen puts her hand on his arm.
ROB: It doesn't seem like they would have much in common any more.
MATT: Well, they might find that out.
DANNI: Dad, why did you tell Colin not to get involved in the miners' troubles?
MATT: Brian didn't just show up in Paterson's Ridge looking for a job, Danni. He was sent for.
EMILY: Why? Who sent for him?
MATT: The miners. The name of Brian Donnely means something in these mountains. He's a labor organizer.
MICHAEL: You mean he's here to form a miners' union?
MATT: You can bet he's using another name at the mines. No mine supervisor would let Brian Donnely near a mine, much less hire him on.
KATHLEEN: And you don't want Colin mixed up in all of that?
MATT: It can be a messy business. Labor disputes can be dangerous, even violent.
They are all silent and continue to watch the play of Brian and Colin through the window.
The next day, at Balmoral. Colin rides up to the house and a worker takes his horse. Victoria is cutting flowers in the garden and goes to greet him, a basket of flowers on her arm.
VICTORIA: Colin, how pleasant. It's always refreshing to see the well-mannered McGregor brother.
COLIN: I'm not feeling especially well-mannered today, Victoria. Is Frank here?
VICTORIA: He's inside doing some paperwork. I'll take you.
Victoria leads Colin inside to the study, where Frank is seated at the desk.
FRANK: Reverend McGregor. This is a surprise. Come to bring the word of God to Balmoral, have you?
COLIN: Do I need to?
Frank glares at him and Colin smiles.
COLIN: No, something else today, Frank. I've just been out to the mining camp.
Frank turns to Victoria.
FRANK: It looks as though this isn't a social call. You may leave, Victoria.
COLIN: No. I'm sure she'd be interested in hearing about this. Part of that money you invested in those mines is hers, I believe.
VICTORIA: Have you made another investment without consulting me, Frank? You know we agreed to...
FRANK: It's nothing, Victoria. A small investment in the mines near Paterson's Ridge. And they're turning a tidy profit too, I might add. Nothing to worry about, dear sister. One of the better investments we have.
COLIN: Frank is being too modest. His "small investment" makes him the major shareholder in those mines. And I have no doubt that you are gaining a neat profit. But it's blood money, Frank. You must know that.
VICTORIA: What is he talking about? "Blood money"?
COLIN: Blood money. Profit made at the expense of others. Have you seen those mines you've invested in, Frank?
FRANK: Of course I have. I'm not a fool. It's a very efficient operation. They turn out a ton of...
COLIN: No. I mean have you seen the camps, the way those workers and their families live?
FRANK: Well, I...
COLIN: Let me describe it for you. They live in tents, or rickety shacks that in no way are going to provide adequate winter shelter. The children are sick, and hungry, because they have no access to medical care and no money to buy nutritious food. The company-your company, Frank-takes ten percent of the wages, which are low to begin with, right off the top by paying in scrip instead of coin. The men are tired and overworked, with only one half-day off each week. And when they get injured, the company lays them off, without providing medical care or wages until they are able to work again. And...
FRANK: Colin, we all know you have a passion for seeking out and defending the oppressed. But you're looking too hard in this case. I assure you that you have not seen the full picture.
COLIN: And I assure you that I have. Frank, you must go out to those camps. Meet with the miners, listen to their grievances.
FRANK: I'll do no such thing.
VICTORIA: But, Frank, if what Colin is saying is true...
FRANK: It's not true. He wants it to be because it fits his noble cause. Believe me, Victoria, it's not that bad.
Frank taps his finger on the ledger on his desk.
FRANK: It's all right here. Right here. They have the means to make a good life for themselves. If they are lazy, or squander their funds, then I'll not feel sorry for them.
Colin slams his fists on the desk.
COLIN: Blast you, Frank! Open your eyes and...
Frank grabs Colin's wrists and looks at him evenly.
FRANK: Such behavior from a man of the cloth. Well, we won't have it in this house. You may see yourself out.
Colin angrily yanks himself free of Frank's grasp and leaves the room.
The next day, at the mining camp. Colin and Brian are walking between the tattered tents and huts, Colin wearing his suit and collar. Families are outside sitting in front of their homes, visiting with one another. Children are playing in the rows. A little girl chases a ball that rolls in front of Colin's feet. He bends down and hands it to her. She smiles at him, then runs down the row.
BRIAN: That was a fine sermon you gave. I know they appreciated you coming out here.
COLIN: I should have done it sooner. I never realized that so few of them could get into town in time for church.
BRIAN: Just those that are off shift then.
COLIN: I'll come more often now that I know.
BRIAN: You should have always known.
Colin looks at him questioningly, but Brian shakes his head. They walk on in silence, then suddenly Brian looks at Colin and smiles.
BRIAN: I still can't get used to seeing you dressed like that.
COLIN: Rob used to say that. But he grew accustomed to it. You will, too.
BRIAN: It's an odd choice for a profession, is all. Strange for you, I mean. You were pretty wild. We both were.
COLIN: We did get in a bit of trouble, didn't we? I know my profession seems an unlikely choice to others, even to my family at first. But it doesn't seem so strange to me. Anyway, it's not so different than yours. We both try to help others.
BRIAN: You know about what I do, then.
COLIN: Of course I know. It didn't take me long to figure out what brought you back here after so many years.
BRIAN: I heard you spoke to Frank Blackwood yesterday.
COLIN: I did. But he's a stubborn fool, Brian. I couldn't convince him to ride out to the camps, let alone negotiate with the miners.
BRIAN: I could have told you that. But thanks, anyway. They never want to get involved with us until they have to, until we get their attention.
COLIN: And how do you do that?
BRIAN: We have ways that work.
COLIN: Brian, I believe in labor unions. I believe in unity, in standing up against forces more powerful than one individual. I believe in the strength of a righteous cause.
COLIN: But only if it's done peacefully. We've read about labor disputes at other mines. And I think you were probably present at them, although I'm not sure I really want to know.
BRIAN: And what did you read?
COLIN: At one camp, a supervisor's office was set fire. He didn't have a chance to get out. And at another, a mine was dynamited so that the owners were forced to shut down until an agreement was reached. Only an agreement was never reached. The miners were ordered back to work, but they wouldn't go. Troopers were called in to force them back down the mines. Two children were killed before it was finally over. Children, Brian. Is that what you do to "get their attention"?
Brian looks at Colin and shakes his head.
BRIAN: If you could hear what you sound like right now. So full of virtuous indignation. So full of contempt. You know what your problem is, Colin? You still believe in justice. And it's not your fault, really; you've just been too sheltered from the world not to believe in it. You still think that with patience, good work, faith in the Lord, that right will prevail. That justice will prevail.
COLIN: It will if you give it a chance. You don't need to resort to...
BRIAN: To what? Do you think violence is what I want? Don't you think I'd do anything else to help these people? There is nothing just about what is going on at this place. Even you must see that.
COLIN: But surely if you negotiate...
BRIAN: Negotiate. They don't listen. They don't hear. They only hear the jingle of coins in their pocketbooks.
COLIN: You were my best friend when we were growing up, Brian. But our lives have taken different paths. You know I can't condone violence. I won't condone it.
BRIAN: You've no right to judge my actions, or me. You won't condone it? Who do you think you are? Two days ago you barely even knew these people were here. You can ask yourself why that is, because it should have been your job to know. Or maybe you're like Blackwood-you chose not to know. You retreat behind your religion and you become blind to the problems of the rest of the world. It must be so easy for you, so convenient, to stand behind your pulpit and judge. But I'm telling you now, Colin-no, I'm warning you-don't you judge me or these people. You don't know anything about our lives here, anything about what we need to do or how we need to do it to make our lives better. You stay out of our affairs here, or I swear to you I'll see to it that you do.
Colin makes no reply and Brian leaves.
Later, at Langara. The family is gathered in the drawing room. Kathleen and Michael are there also.
Kathleen turns to Michael.
KATHLEEN: Michael, you'd better pop off to bed. Matt says he's leaving at first light.
MICHAEL: I know. I'll be ready. Thanks for letting me go, Mum.
MATT: She didn't have much choice. I told her I need all the top drovers I can find on this.
MICHAEL: Thanks, Matt. And thanks for letting me stay in your room, Rob.
ROB: Well, you'd better not snore.
MICHAEL: Danni says you're the one that snores.
Rob scowls at Danni as Michael kisses Kathleen goodnight. Michael leaves the room.
ROB: I'd better turn in, too. I double-checked the gear, Dad. Looks like we're all set.
MATT: Thanks. You turn in, too, Danni. I don't want you yawning tomorrow.
DANNI: I've been on muster before, Dad. I can get myself to bed.
MATT: Sorry. What was I thinking?
Danni smiles and hugs him goodnight, then says goodnight to the others. She leaves the room.
EMILY: The guest room is all ready for you, Kathleen. Let me know if you need anything else.
KATHLEEN: Thanks. I think Jack is looking forward to having the farm to himself. Too much of a woman's touch around there for him, I think. I hope I'm not putting you out.
EMILY: Of course not. I'm glad you wanted to stay here. I'll be grateful for the company. It's going to be lonely around here for the next week.
Emily goes to Colin, who is sitting in front of the fire, staring into the flames. She takes his hand and gently tugs, trying to get him out of his chair.
EMILY: Come on. Your bedtime, too.
Colin pulls his hand away and looks at her.
COLIN: Maybe I won't go tomorrow.
COLIN: Well, I've been thinking. A week's a long time. Suppose someone in my congregation needs me while I'm away.
MATT: That's never bothered you before.
COLIN: Maybe it should have.
MATT: This is really short notice, Colin. If you weren't intending to go on this muster, I needed to know before now. I'm counting on you bossing the job on the north ridge.
EMILY: Colin, you've been looking forward to this for ages. It's practically all you've been talking about.
COLIN: All right, all right. I didn't know it would cause such a fuss. I'll go. I might as well do something I'm good at, anyway.
He leaves the room and goes outside.
KATHLEEN: What was that all about?
EMILY: He's been in a mood all afternoon. Excuse me.
Emily takes Colin's coat from a hook in the entryway and goes to the door. Colin is standing on the veranda, looking at the sky. Emily comes out of the house, handing the coat to Colin
EMILY: It's getting chilly.
Colin puts the jacket on.
He looks back up at the sky.
COLIN: The moon is bright tonight. And the stars.
EMILY: Yes, they're lovely.
COLIN: They seem so close. It's hard to comprehend that they are so far away.
Emily takes his hand.
EMILY: You are far away tonight. Are you all right?
COLIN: Just thinking about my place in the scheme of things, I guess. Emily, do you ever wish that I did something different as a profession?
Emily laughs in surprise.
EMILY: No. Of course not. Why? Do you?
COLIN: I don't know. Maybe there's another route I could have taken. Something not as, not as-I don't know. Not as confining.
EMILY: How can teaching the word of our Lord be confining? It's the finest work there is, Colin, and I love you for it.
Colin smiles at her but then looks back up at the sky, seemingly lost in his own world.
EMILY: Come inside.
COLIN: You go. I'll be in soon.
Emily leaves him and goes back inside. She stands hesitantly beside Matt, who is sitting at the desk and going over some ledgers.
Matt looks up and smiles at her.
EMILY: Matt, would you...no, never mind.
Matt gets up and stands next to her.
MATT: You can ask me for anything, Emily. I thought you knew that by now.
EMILY: Colin has something on his mind he's not talking about. You know how he gets.
MATT: I do know. And you'd like me to talk to him, is that it?
EMILY: I wish you would. I tried, but he only hinted at what was bothering him.
MATT: Don't take it to heart. I've had more practice at it, that's all.
Matt smiles at her and goes out on the veranda. He stands next to Colin.
MATT: You have a special young lady in there.
COLIN: Did she send you out here?
MATT: She's concerned. If there's something on your mind, son, you'd better talk it through. If not with Emily, then with me. You know I'll always listen.
COLIN: I know. I can't talk to Emily about this. She wouldn't understand.
MATT: Why not?
COLIN: Because whoever I am right now is all she's ever known.
MATT: Is there someone else she should have known?
COLIN: Maybe. Maybe I'd be someone else if I hadn't gone into the clergy. Maybe I was someone else before I went in.
MATT: I think maybe you were. But that's part of growth, Colin. We all change. And you're so young. Someday you'll look back at this time in your life and realize that you're not this man any more, either.
COLIN: I hope that I become a better man than this one.
MATT: I've never heard you talk like this. Where is this coming from?
COLIN: I lost the friendship of a good man today. Brian and I had a falling out that I don't think either one of us can mend.
MATT: What could be that serious?
COLIN: It doesn't matter. But he said some things to me that I think are true, that I don't want to be true.
MATT: What things?
COLIN: That I'm a clergyman because it's convenient, that I use it as a retreat from the problems of the rest of the world.
MATT: You know that's not true.
COLIN: No, I don't know. And you don't, either. I'll never forget the look on your face when I told you I wanted to leave Langara and go to seminary.
MATT: Look, Colin. Why are we going over this again? This is old territory. It doesn't mean anything now.
COLIN: Maybe it does.
MATT: I promise you, it doesn't. I didn't agree with your decision, but only because I was being selfish. You are so bright, so capable, I wanted you to run Langara. I had dreams of us running it together. But those were my dreams. It wasn't fair to include you in my plans. I couldn't stand in your way.
COLIN: But, Dad. I need to know what you think of me. Would I seem more responsible, more worthy of respect, if I worked on Langara every day like Rob? Or maybe if I labored in a mine, like Brian?
MATT: You don't need me to answer that. You need to answer that. Would you respect yourself more if you had another occupation?
COLIN: I don't know right now. Brian said I judge people, and I do. Ever since he's said it, I've thought about it. I judge them if they don't do things the way God would want them to do it, but in reality it's only my perception of what God would want. Would I lead my life according to God's instructions if I was truly faced with adversity? If I didn't have you and Danni and Rob? If I didn't have Emily? If I struggled every day to put bread on the table?
MATT: None of us know what we would do until the situation comes. We think we do, Colin, but we don't.
COLIN: Well, all I know is that perhaps being a part of the ministry provides a very narrow perception of life. Maybe I do need to experience other things to better understand them. Brian's right. I have no right to judge them until I do.
MATT: Son, it's late. And you're being awfully hard on yourself. You can't ask more of yourself than you are capable of doing. You can't very well experience first-hand the lives of others.
COLIN: No, but perhaps I can know a part of Brian's and the other miners'.
Colin leaves the veranda and heads for the stable.
Matt follows him.
MATT: You're not going out right now?
COLIN: I just want to think, Dad. There's a full moon. I want to ride.
MATT: Are you all right?
Colin gets his horse and saddles it. He mounts and turns to Matt before he rides out.
COLIN: I'll be fine, Dad. Tell Emily not to wait up for me.
Matt frowns but heads back to the house.
Emily steps out onto the veranda and watches Colin ride away.
EMILY: Where is he going?
Matt puts his arm around her reassuringly.
MATT: He used to do this all the time. Go riding when he had something weighing on him. We'll leave a lamp burning for him.
EMILY: It's all right. I'll wait up.
MATT: I knew you would. Come on, let's go in.
Later. Colin rides up to a mine shaft and dismounts, tying his horse to a nearby timber. He takes a lamp from the pile of equipment at the mine entrance. He lights the lamp and enters the mine.
While he is inside, Brian and two other men approach the mine on foot, one of them carrying a bag.
One of the men notices Colin's horse.
MAN #1: What's this horse doing here?
BRIAN: It must have wandered here.
MAN #2: But it's tied up. You don't think there's anyone in the mine?
BRIAN: Why would there be? Everyone is off shift. That's why we're doing this now. I promised you no one would be hurt.
MAN #1: Still, maybe we should check.
BRIAN: Forget about that horse. You know no one is going to go down the shaft in the middle of the night. Now, if we do this right, we can really get someone's attention. They listen to our demands, or the next night we blow another shaft. Now let's get moving.
One of the men takes sticks of dynamite out of the sack and positions the sticks at the mouth of the shaft. Then he lights the sticks and all three run for cover. The dynamite explodes and the entrance to the shaft is blocked with dirt and rocks. The men then run away from the mine.
At Langara. Dawn is just breaking. Emily is still in her clothes, asleep on the sofa. She awakens and looks around. She gets up and goes to her room. The bed is made and has not been slept in. She goes outside to the stable. Colin's horse is not there. Emily goes back in the house, where Matt is just coming out of his room.
MATT: Morning, Emily.
EMILY: Colin's not back yet.
Matt frowns, but he attempts to speak reassuringly.
MATT: He probably rode too long and lost the moonlight. He would have had to make camp for the night. Don't worry. It's not the first time he's done that, either.
EMILY: Well, you'd think that now that he's married he'd know that he can't just run off at night like he used to. You'd think he'd...
She stops herself and smiles at Matt.
EMILY: I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be critical. I'm just worried.
MATT: I know. Look, Rob and I will go out and see if we can find him. He's probably on his way home right now.
Later. Matt and Rob are riding in town.
MATT: We'll ask around. He was in a strange sort of mood. He might have gotten a room if he wanted to be alone and didn't want to come home.
ROB: He'll have to answer to Emily if he did. I'd hate to be in his shoes when he gets home. And I've got a few things to say to him myself. We should have been out with the men an hour ago.
Matt says nothing, and Rob looks at him with concern.
ROB: Dad, you really are worried about him. I can remember, before he married Emily, he used to do this all the time.
MATT: I know. But I just can't see him putting her through this worry. Anyway, this is different. He wasn't just riding. He was going someplace, and I think I know where.
MATT: To experience the life of a miner.
ROB: To do what?
MATT: It's something he said last night. I think he's gone out to the mines. But I might be wrong. I'll check the rooming house; you see about the hotel.
Rob nods and they both dismount and tie their horses to a rail. Matt goes to the rooming house and knocks on the door.
Mrs. O'Brien, the owner of the boarding house, answers the door. She is wearing a robe.
MRS. O'BRIEN: Why, Mr. McGregor. I usually don't get visitors this early in the morning. No one wants a room at this time of day.
MATT: I'm sorry to disturb you. I'm looking for my son.
MRS. O'BRIEN: Young Rob?
MATT: No. Colin. Reverend McGregor. He's not here by chance?
MRS. O'BRIEN: Why, no. Is everything all right?
MATT: Yeah, fine. Again, sorry to bother you.
MRS. O'BRIEN: Well, usually I'd be up and dressed by now, but it was so hard to get back to sleep last night after the noise of that explosion.
MATT: What explosion?
MRS. O'BRIEN: I would have thought you could have heard it at Langara. It was a big one. We didn't think much of it, though. You know they do things day and night at those mines. You'd think they'd have some consideration for...
Matt leaves hurriedly and shouts to Rob, who is coming out of the hotel.
MATT: Mount up. We're going out to the mines.
Later. Matt and Rob approach the mining camp. There are men standing about the camp. Matt and Rob overhear two men speaking.
FIRST MAN: Well, I say it's a good job done. Now if they want that mine back in production, they'll have to give us what we've been asking for or we're not going to dig it out for them.
SECOND MAN: And in the meantime, what are me and mine going to eat?
FIRST MAN: We can hold out longer than they can, believe me. Every day that mine's closed is money out of their pockets.
Matt dismounts and speaks to one of the men.
MATT: Did you say the mine is closed?
FIRST MAN: Well, the one I work is closed. The other shafts are open, though.
ROB: Why is it closed?
SECOND MAN: Explosion. Someone blew it last night. It's blocked up completely. Tons of dirt.
He eyes Matt suspiciously.
SECOND MAN: Say, you aren't management, are you? We heard they were on their way over.
MATT: No. Come on, Rob. Let's go take a look.
Matt and Rob ride over to the mine. There are three men in suits standing around the blocked shaft and discussing the situation. Frank Blackwood is among them.
Matt and Rob survey the piles of dirt and rocks.
ROB: Oh, Dad. You don't really think Colin would have gone in there?
MATT: I can't think that until I have to, Rob. You were probably right in the first place. He probably camped out in the bush somewhere.
Matt and Rob dismount and Frank approaches them.
FRANK: Well, you McGregors can't seem to stay home. This is no concern of yours.
MATT: I hope you're right. Frank, did you happen to see Colin on your way over here?
FRANK: No, I didn't happen to see Colin on my way over here. It was barely daybreak, Matt. Does the good reverend wander about so early in the morning?
Another man overhears them and comes over to them.
MAN: Excuse me. Did I hear you say you were looking for someone?
MATT: Have you seen someone?
MAN: No. But...well, one of the men found a horse near here this morning. It was tied outside the mine, actually.
MATT: Where is it now?
The man nods to a clearing behind the mine. Matt and Rob run over to the horse, immediately seeing that it is Colin's. Matt bows his head on the neck of the horse.
MATT: Oh, no. Oh, Colin.
Matt runs back to the shaft and sinks to his knees on the pile of dirt. He begins to dig with his hands, shouting Colin's name. The businessmen gather around Matt. Rob goes to Matt, trying to pull him up.
ROB: Dad. Dad, you can't do it this way. We've got to get equipment, get organized.
FRANK: What is it, Rob? What's happened?
ROB: Colin's in the mine.
FRANK: How can that be? Why would he be in there?
ROB: I don't know. And I don't care. But he is.
FRANK: Look, Rob, surely you don't think he's still alive. Even if he's survived the explosion, he's been in there all night. Exposure, lack of oxygen...
Matt gets up and holds Frank by the collar.
MATT: This is as much your fault as anyone's. You get those miners up here and tell them to dig this out. We need men, and we need better equipment for this than picks and shovels.
FRANK: Matt, I'm sorry about Colin. You must know that. But we've already spoken to the men. They won't dig this out or release any equipment until we meet their demands.
MATT: Then meet their demands! Damn you, Frank. Put aside your pride and your pocketbook for once. My son is in that mine!
Frank looks at the other businessmen uncertainly.
FRANK: We won't submit to their strong-arm tactics. Those miners are the ones that dynamited this mine in the first place. Besides, it's not just up to me. There are the other investors. Obviously, not all of them are here. We must discuss this with them before we settle a labor dispute. We must...
Matt draws back his fist to hit him, but Rob catches his arm.
ROB: Dad! This isn't helping Colin.
Matt lets go of Frank.
MATT: You're right. Rob, go into town and get all the men you can. Get someone to ride up to the ridge and tell the men on muster to come back. We're going to need every man we can find. But go to Langara first and tell Kathleen what's happened. I don't want Emily and Danni hearing about this from someone else.
Rob leaves and Matt grabs a shovel that is lying nearby. He begins to dig. Soon one of the businessmen, the one who told Matt about the horse, takes a shovel and also begins to dig. The other man joins him wordlessly, until only Frank is standing idly. Finally, he, too, takes a shovel and begins to dig.
Later. Rob returns with Michael and about twenty men, some on horseback but most huddled in carts and wagons. There are several more wagons loaded with water barrels and supplies. The men get picks and shovels from one of the wagons and relieve the men who had been digging. Rob offers to take the shovel from Matt, but Matt shakes his head.
MATT: I'm fine. But we're making so little headway. We still have tons to move. Even working in shifts, these men can't move this.
ROB: We can, Dad. We will. You'll see.
Matt begins to reply, but he looks up as he hears a sulky approach. Kathleen and Emily are riding in the sulky, and Danni is riding alongside on her horse. Matt puts down his shovel and goes to them.
KATHLEEN: I'm sorry, Matt. But I couldn't get Emily, or Danni, to stay away.
Matt nods and looks at Emily. Emily is staring at the piles of dirt. She shakes her head in disbelief.
EMILY: No! Colin! Colin!
She gets out of the sulky and runs to the shaft. She begins digging with her hands, much as Matt had done. Rob lifts her to her feet and gently leads her away.
ROB: Emily. Shh. Shh. We're going to get him out.
Kathleen and Danni come to comfort Emily, and Matt and Rob return to the digging. Michael grabs a shovel and joins them.
Later. The sun is high in the sky and the men are still digging. They are sweaty and dirty. About a fourth of the debris has been removed and piled beside the mine. Emily, Kathleen, and Danni are standing next to a wagon, giving food and water to the men who have just finished their shift at the pile. Suddenly a loud boom is heard and dust seeps out from between the cracks of rock at the entrance to the shaft. The men at the pile fall silent, watching the dust.
ROB: What was that?
One of the businessmen turns to him.
BUSINESSMAN: The roof just fell in, son. Now we're looking at more rocks and dirt behind this first pile here. And your brother...
The man shakes his head. All of the men look at their feet, carefully averting the eyes of any McGregors.
Frank puts down his shovel.
FRANK: Well, that's it, then.
The others also put down their shovels and move away from the shaft.
EMILY: No! You can't stop! You can't!
DANNI: Dad! Make them keep digging!
Matt looks at her but can't form any words. Finally, he speaks, his eyes full of tears.
MATT: Danni. Emily. Even if we had the help of the miners and their equipment we couldn't move that dirt now. It would take days even with their help. Without it, it would take...take longer than Colin...
His voice breaks and Kathleen goes to him and takes his arm.
Emily takes a shovel and faces the family.
EMILY: I won't accept this. He's alive. I'd know it if he weren't. I'd feel it. And we can't leave him down there like this. We can't!
She returns to the pile and begins to dig. Rob goes to take the shovel from her, but Matt shakes his head.
The townsmen shift uncomfortably, unwilling to leave, knowing it is futile to continue. Kathleen catches Matt's eye and nods toward the cluster of men.
Matt stands in front of them.
MATT: I...I want to thank you for your help. I guess you know that it's...it's of no use now...that Colin...
He is unable to go on and several men stand on either side of him to support him.
One of the men, the blacksmith George Custer, acts as spokesman.
MR. CUSTER: Matt. We can't tell you how sorry we are. Colin is...well, I've known him since he was a little boy, and I've watched him grow into a fine man, a fine member of this community. I know we can't get him out. But I'd like to stay here with your family, and him, anyway. I don't think he'd walk away if he were standing here. I'm sure he wouldn't.
Others mutter their agreement. Then one of the men begins to sing "Abide with Me" and soon everyone joins in, including the businessmen and Frank. Matt moves away from the group, back to his family. Emily is still digging. Danni is crying hard and holding onto Rob, who has tears on his cheeks. When the men sing the words "the darkness deepens," Matt puts his hand to his face and Kathleen quickly goes to him and holds him. He hangs onto her for a moment, then breaks away and looks at Emily.
MATT: I'm like Emily. I can't accept this. Kathleen, what if she's right? What if she really can feel that he's alive? Maybe he did survive the explosion, and maybe he was far enough back in the tunnel that the cave-in didn't bury him. I can't think of him alive down there, and us up here doing nothing.
KATHLEEN: But, Matt. We can't get him out. You know what you told Danni and Emily is true. No one can move that dirt.
MATT: I know.
He moves away from her and looks up at the sky, then back at the mine. He speaks very softly.
MATT: Don't let him suffer. Be with him and give him peace.
He wipes his eyes and goes to Emily. She is exhausted but is struggling to keep shoveling. Matt gently takes the shovel from her and takes her in his arms. She falls against him and sobs broken-heartedly.
MATT: Oh, Emily. I'm sorry. We tried. We have to let him go. We just can't move that dirt.
He looks at the dirt and speaks as if to himself.
MATT: Not that dirt...
Suddenly he shouts for Kathleen.
MATT: Take care of Emily. I've got an idea.
KATHLEEN: Where are you going?
MATT: To the camp. I'll be back soon.
Later. Matt is in the camp, wandering from tent to tent and shack to shack. He asks for Brian Donnely at each place, but he is always met with a blank stare or a look of contempt. Finally he enters the shack which is set up to be the company tavern. He goes in and finds Brian drinking at a table.
Matt stands in front of Brian.
MATT: I want to talk to you.
The other men yell at Matt to leave, but Brian silences them.
BRIAN: You men go on and clear out. I'll see this man.
The others grudgingly leave, and Matt sits down next to Brian.
MATT: Colin's trapped in the mine.
BRIAN: I know. We heard.
MATT: I'm asking you to help get him out.
BRIAN: You know we can't do that.
MATT: You mean you won't.
BRIAN: Can't. Won't. It's the same right now. We heard there was just a cave-in.
MATT: Word travels fast.
BRIAN: We've had men there all morning. We've had men there ready to talk to those fancy businessmen any time. But the time never came.
MATT: No. And it won't come anytime soon. They're not ready to solve this right now, today.
BRIAN: It's their decision.
MATT: But Colin needs this solved now. He needs your help now.
BRIAN: I told you. It doesn't matter. He's beyond help.
MATT: Maybe not. What if he somehow was deeper inside the mountain when the explosion happened? Would he have survived?
Brian eyes Matt carefully.
BRIAN: Maybe. Probably, if a roof didn't fall in somewhere else in the mine when the explosion happened.
MATT: And if he wasn't injured, could he have survived the night?
BRIAN: I don't know. If he didn't find a gas pocket, if he could find a chamber with clean air.
MATT: What about the cold?
BRIAN: The temperature's a problem, but he hasn't been in there much longer than one of our shifts. And no one worries how cold we get, Mr. McGregor. But, to answer your question. He could probably survive until nightfall, if he had no injuries.
MATT: So you agree that he could still be alive?
BRIAN: Let's get this straight. If he was far enough in the mountain. If he wasn't injured in the initial explosion. If there wasn't a cave-in deeper inside the mine. If he found a clean pocket of air. Yes, he could still be alive. But that's a lot of "ifs." I don't think even our beloved reverend can call in that many markers.
MATT: Don't you talk about him in that tone of voice. He is "beloved." To a lot of people. His wife, me, his brother and sister. The members of his congregation. You cared about him once, too. He loved you as much as his own brother when you were boys. Surely you can't have forgotten that.
BRIAN: No. I haven't forgotten.
MATT: Well, he didn't forget, either. It was his concern for you that took him into that mine.
BRIAN: What are you talking about?
MATT: He told me that you and he had an argument.
Brian fidgets nervously.
BRIAN: Did he say about what?
Matt shakes his head.
MATT: No. He said it didn't matter. But he wanted to understand you better, understand the miners better. That's why he went into the mine. To understand you better. To experience what you experience.
Brian makes no reply, but his expression softens.
MATT: I know you're in a tough position with the labor disputes. But we're talking about a man's life.
Brian slams his drink down angrily.
BRIAN: Don't you think I know that? And I'm talking about the lives of a hundred men.
Matt holds up his hand.
MATT: Now hold on. Just hear me out. We can't get through the dirt at the shaft. That's obvious. But if Colin is behind the dirt, can't we sink a new shaft and get to him that way?
BRIAN: Yes, you could. But how are you going to do that? You have no idea where that tunnel runs, where to position the shaft, how to even dig it so the entire mountain doesn't cave in.
MATT: No, but you do.
BRIAN: I told you, no.
MATT: Brian, I only need you and some better equipment. Not the other miners. We'll dig it out if you will supervise.
BRIAN: And what will that look like to the others? To the miners and to those men in suits out there? I'm the labor leader. I was called up here to organize a labor party. You must know that.
MATT: I do know that. That's why it has to be you. If you help sink this new shaft, then those businessmen will see that as a good faith effort on your part, and they'll be willing to sit down and negotiate with you. I promise you that. As a member of this community and as a member of Parliament, I have ties with all of those men. And I promise you that as a member of Parliament I'll work with you to get legislation through that will ease these conditions you live with here.
BRIAN: And what of the miners, when I have told them to stand fast and be united? How can I be the one to go against that?
MATT: Because someone has to make a start in all of this, and it's going to have to be you. Look, if the negotiations don't go as planned, then you can still have a work stoppage. You haven't lost anything. But if you help with this, then you might save Colin's life. Surely it's worth the risk.
Brian is silent for a moment, then speaks softly.
BRIAN: Yes, it's worth the risk. You're right-it is my fault Colin's trapped in that mine, more than you know. And I'll help get him out. I owe him that.
Brian gets up and heads to the door.
BRIAN: We'll get the map of those tunnels from the office. But I have to tell you, that mine is fairly unstable by now and sinking a new shaft may cause another cave-in. Colin wouldn't have a chance then.
MATT: It's a better chance than he has now. Let's go.
Later. All of the men, including the businessmen, are on top of the mountain, about a quarter of a mile away from the original opening. Some of the men are sawing timbers, and some of them are operating the boring and drilling equipment that has been brought up. Brian has the map in his hands, showing something to Matt. Kathleen, Danni, and Emily are behind the men, watching. They all look strained and weary, especially Emily, but no one is crying.
Later. It is dark and torches have been lit around the site. Brian is giving orders.
BRIAN: No, you have to shore that up. That's right. Now you can make the opening bigger.
MATT: Can't we go in now? It's big enough to get a man through.
BRIAN: You'd better do it right, or this mountain is going to come down on whoever goes in there.
Matt frowns, but he continues to help put a timber in place.
Later. All of the men stand back and survey the shaft.
BRIAN: That's it, then. Move as fast as you can down there. It's not at all stable. And, Matt...if he's dead, don't bring him out with you. It will just slow you down.
Matt nods and takes the lamp that has been held out for him. Rob takes a lamp, also, but Matt shakes his head.
MATT: No, Rob. It's too dangerous. You stay.
Matt's voice is firm.
MATT: I said no. I won't risk both my sons.
Brian secures a rope to a timber and ties the other end around his waist.
MATT: Where are you going?
BRIAN: With you. How did you think you were going to find your way around in there and back out again?
MATT: I didn't think about it.
BRIAN: I know. Let's go.
Several men hold the rope taut, Frank Blackwood among them. They lower Brian down the shaft. Frank puts his hand on Matt's shoulder before Matt is lowered down.
FRANK: Good luck, Matt.
Matt nods, and soon he disappears into the blackness of the mine.
Inside the mine. Brian is leading the way, Matt following. Matt is calling Colin's name, but he gets no response.
MATT: Do you think we should be heading further back, instead of toward the front?
BRIAN: I don't think so. He's unfamiliar with the mine. I don't think he would have ventured back too far. But after the explosion, he might have looked for a more stable area. We'll check some of the smaller passages.
The two men continue and Brian stops at a side passage. Brian takes a candle and lights it with his lamp. He holds it in front of him and tentatively sticks it into the passageway.
BRIAN: Stay here.
Brian disappears into the tunnel and Matt waits nervously. Soon he hears Brian's voice.
BRIAN: The air's good. Come on.
Matt calls again for Colin and again gets no response. A rumble is heard and the two men stop and stand still.
BRIAN: That one was near the entrance again, but if a roof falls behind us, we're trapped here. We have to get out of here now.
MATT: You go. I can't leave now. We've worked so hard, come so far. I can't leave him now.
BRIAN: You can't stay here. I know how you feel, but you have a family up there that is counting on you. You can't get killed down here trying to save a man who is more than likely dead.
MATT: Just a little more. A hundred more meters. Then I'll turn back. But you'd better go.
BRIAN: No. I'll stay with you.
Brian again takes the lead and after a minute, suddenly stops.
MATT: What is it?
BRIAN: I think I've found him!
MATT: Colin! Colin!
The two men run to a dark form on the tunnel floor. Colin is on his side, his clothes and head black with dirt. Matt rolls him over gently and kneels beside him.
He gets no response, and Brian kneels down also. He takes Colin's wrist and places two fingers on the vein, searching for a pulse. Matt watches him, silently pleading.
Later. Men are gathered around the new shaft. One of the men shouts.
MAN: I think I see a light. They're coming out!
Rob shoves aside men to get to the shaft and kneels at the edge.
ROB: Brian's coming up. Pull the rope!
Danni and Emily have also come to the shaft, but they are not close enough to see in.
EMILY: Who else? Oh, Rob, who else do you see?
ROB: I can't see. It's dark. Dad...Yes, there's Dad and...Emily! He has Colin! He has Colin, Emily!
Cheers erupt among the men, and Danni and Emily hug each other and begin to cry. Brian emerges from the hole and goes straight to Emily.
BRIAN: He's not hurt. He's very weak, but he's not injured.
Emily hugs him and sobs.
EMILY: Thank you, thank you.
In the hole, Matt has secured the rope around Colin's waist, then shouts up to the men.
MATT: Okay, pull him up. Be gentle with him.
The men pull the rope, then grab Colin under his arms and pull him out of the hole. Someone unties the rope from Colin's waist and throws it back down the shaft for Matt. Rob and Frank carry Colin away from the hole and put him gently on the ground. Emily runs after them and kneels beside Colin. The others gather round, including Matt, who has been pulled out of the shaft. Emily cradles Colin's head on her lap, and her tears fall on him, making clear little pools in the dirt on his face.
Colin is roused and looks up at her. He speaks in a hoarse whisper.
COLIN: You're going to drown me, Emily.
Everyone laughs, long and loud, a final release of tension. Someone brings Colin a blanket and someone else hands a flask to Emily. She helps Colin take a sip of water. A man begins to sing "Amazing Grace" and all join in. The singing continues as the scene fades out.
The next day, at Langara. Colin is in the stable, mucking out the stalls. Matt rides in and dismounts. He unsaddles his horse and watches Colin with concern.
MATT: Are you sure you're up to this?
COLIN: I'm fine, Dad. A good night's sleep in a warm bed was all I needed. I thought you'd be out on the muster.
MATT: Rob can boss this one for now. I just got back from the mines. It's hard to believe, but Frank Blackwood and Brian Donnely are sitting at the same table. I really think they'll work this out.
COLIN: I hope so.
MATT: Well. I guess you found out what it's like to go down a mine.
COLIN: I found out a lot of things in the past day.
Matt puts his hand on Colin's back.
MATT: It's good to have you home, son. You can't know how we felt, thinking of you alone down there.
COLIN: I was never alone. I felt you with me, and Danni and Rob. And Emily. But mostly I felt...
He stops and looks at his father earnestly.
MATT: Felt what?
COLIN: I felt the hand of my Lord on my shoulder. It gave me...it gave me...peace.
Matt smiles and closes his eyes for a few seconds, then looks at Colin.
MATT: Let's go outside for a minute.
The two stand outside the stable and lean against a rail.
MATT: You asked me the other night what I think of you. I'm going to tell you now.
COLIN: You don't need to.
MATT: Yes, I do. I don't say what I feel often enough. I guess I had to watch someone I treasure almost slip through my fingers before I realized that.
Matt puts his hand on Colin's shoulder and looks at him.
MATT: Your choice of occupations doesn't change the way I view you, son. You had the strength to follow your convictions. You still do. That takes courage. I admire that. I respect that. I respect you.
Colin has been looking uncomfortably at the ground, but he looks up as if in surprise.
MATT: Don't you know that, Colin? You've earned that respect, not just from me, but from all the members of this community. I could see that so clearly last night. They care so much for you because your compassion for others is always with you. I don't think you really know how rare that is, how special.
Matt puts his free hand on Colin's other shoulder and faces him squarely.
MATT: I'm not telling you this because you're my son. That's love, but this is something different. You're one of the finest men I've been privileged to know, Colin.
Colin looks at Matt, his eyes full of tears.
COLIN: Thanks, Dad.
MATT: Well. Are you going to finish mucking out those stalls or not?
Colin smiles and returns to the stable. Matt watches him fondly, then goes to the house. The scene ends.