Author's notes: This episode is set in the third season, between "Fire Boy" and "A New Life." I've got bunches of these scripts that I wrote while the show was airing. Just for the fun of it at the time. I'll post more if anyone requests.

In town. Children are coming out of the schoolhouse. Michael and a friend, a boy Michael's age, go to their horses. The boy nudges Michael and points to a man that is going up the road to the church. The man is bearded and appears to be in his late thirties or early forties.

BOY: Look. There's that hermit man. It's the first time I've seen him in town. Why do you suppose he's going to the church?

MICHAEL: I don't know, Donny. To pray, I guess.

DONNY: Don't you think it's strange the way he kind of just stays in the mountains by himself and the way he showed up out of nowhere? I bet no one even knows his name.

MICHAEL: Well, I know. It's Mr. Porter.

DONNY: How do you know that?

MICHAEL: He bought a horse from my stepdad when he first got here.

DONNY: Was it a nice horse?

MICHAEL: Yes. One of our best. Why?

DONNY: Then he has money. Why would someone with money live up in the hills all alone? And dress like that? It doesn't make any sense.

MICHAEL: What difference does it make?

DONNY: My father says he's touched. I'm going to ride up to his place and see how he lives. Maybe he's hiding something up there.

MICHAEL: I don't think you should, Donny.

DONNY: I'm not asking for permission. And you don't have to come. If you're afraid...

MICHAEL: I'm not afraid. I just don't think we should be spying on him. Besides, I don't feel very well.

DONNY: Oh, sure. You look fine enough to me. But you do what you want. I'm going up there.

Donny gets on his horse and rides off. Michael hesitates and then mounts his horse and follows him.

Inside the church. Colin comes out of the office to find a man sitting in the sanctuary. The man is sitting in a pew, his head in his hands. Colin sits next to him and puts his hand on his shoulder.

COLIN: Mr. Porter, isn't it?


COLIN: Can I help?

PORTER: No one can help.

COLIN: Whatever it is, it may seem that way. But there's always help here.

Porter stands up.

PORTER: I'm sorry. I don't know what brought me here.

COLIN: Do you want to try to figure it out?

Porter heads to the door and Colin follows him.

COLIN: Mr. Porter, please stay. Let's talk.

PORTER: I can't. I'm sorry.

Porter leaves and Colin watches after him with concern.

Later, Michael and Donny are on their horses in the bushes next to a hut.

MICHAEL: There's nothing to see. It's just an old hut.

DONNY: Maybe we should look inside.

MICHAEL: I'm not having anything to do with that.

DONNY: Suit yourself.

Donny starts to get off his horse, but Michael grabs his arm.

MICHAEL: Wait! Here he comes.

Porter rides up to the hut and dismounts.

MICHAEL: Let's get out of here.

Michael's horse whinnies and Porter looks around.

PORTER: Who's there? Show yourself.

MICHAEL: Come on, Donny!

The two boys ride from the bushes. Donny's horse steps in a hole and goes down. Donny tumbles to the ground. Michael dismounts and goes to him.

DONNY: I hurt my shoulder.

He holds his shoulder in pain.

Porter comes over to the boys.

PORTER: What are you two boys doing up here?

MICHAEL: He hurt his shoulder.

PORTER: So I see.

Porter reaches for Donny, but the boy backs away.

PORTER: Be still. I won't hurt you.

He turns to Michael.

PORTER: You grab hold of your friend here and make sure he doesn't move. Hold on to him tight now.

Michael holds onto Donny and Porter gently grasps the injured shoulder. He manipulates the arm at the shoulder joint and massages the shoulder itself.

Donny gives a sharp cry of pain and then looks up at Porter.

DONNY: Hey, that's better. What did you do?

PORTER: The bone came out of its socket. Sounds nasty, but it's back in place now. Still, you want to bind it up when you get home, so it stays in place. These things can be tricky.

Donny just stares at him.

DONNY: I want to go home, Michael.

Michael helps him to his feet but almost falls down himself. The doctor looks at him carefully.

PORTER: Bright eyes, pink cheeks. You've got a fever, son. Stay there.

DONNY: How does he know this stuff? This is strange, Michael. I want to leave now! Help me on my horse.


Porter comes out of the hut with a doctor's bag. He gives Michael a pouch of powders.

PORTER: You mix this up with water and drink it down. You'll feel better for it.

DONNY: You can't take that, Michael. It might be poison.

MICHAEL: Shut up, Donny.

Porter smiles and helps both boys onto their horses. The boys ride away.

Later, at Langara. Kathleen is on the veranda looking down the road beyond the gate. Matt is standing next to her.

KATHLEEN: He didn't say he was going anywhere after school. He should have been home hours ago.

MATT: You have to quit fussing after him. Fourteen-year-old boys have all sorts of things to do after school.

KATHLEEN: That may be, but they also have mothers at home who like to know where they are.

She sees Michael ride through the gate.

KATHLEEN: Thank goodness.

She goes to greet him. Michael is slouched on his horse, barely hanging on.


Matt runs to the horse and gets Michael down. He takes the boy in his arms and carries him to the house.

Later, in Michael's room. It is dark and lamps are lit. Kathleen is sitting by the bed. Matt comes into the room.

KATHLEEN: Did you cable for a doctor?

MATT: Dr. Cole will be here on the morning train. How's Michael?

KATHLEEN: Feverish. He's complaining of stomach pains, and he's been vomiting.

MATT: I didn't need to cable for the doctor. Plunkett had already wired for him. He's ill as well. Apparently several people in town have similar symptoms.

KATHLEEN: You don't think it's an epidemic of some kind?

MATT: Now, don't jump to conclusions. Let's just wait and see what the doctor has to say. In the meantime, see if Danni will help. I bet she has a trick or two up her sleeve to make him more comfortable.

Kathleen smiles.

KATHLEEN: Yes, I bet she does.

The next morning, at Langara. Dr. Cole is in Michael's room. He puts his hand on Michael's forehead and turns to Danni.

DR. COLE: The fever is coming down. Whatever you did last night seems to have helped.

DANNI: Oh, I just boiled some things together I thought might help.

Dr. Cole laughs.

DR. COLE: Potions, eh? Well, how about if you and your potions come on calls with me? I've got several more patients to see, and I could use the help.

DANNI: Sure. Do you think this is something serious?

DR. COLE: No. Not if we get it under control now. Your brother and the others should be feeling better in a few days.

That afternoon, in town. The doctor and Danni are in the room at the back of the telegraph office. Mr. Plunkett is sitting up in his bed, his head propped up with pillows. Danni gives him a glass of liquid.

DANNI: Here, Mr. Plunkett. Drink this. It will bring the fever down.

Dr. Cole brings a stethoscope from his doctor's bag. He puts the instrument inside of Mr. Plunkett's undershirt and listens.

DR. COLE: Heartbeat strong and regular. You'll be feeling fine by tomorrow, Mr. Plunkett.

MR. PLUNKETT: That's good. It's hard to run an office from here.

Dr. Cole begins to put the stethoscope away, but Danni takes it from him.

DANNI: May I listen?

DR. COLE: Mr. Plunkett?

Mr. Plunkett shrugs and Danni listens to his heartbeat.

DANNI: What would it sound like if there was something wrong?

DR. COLE: An extra beat, a missed beat perhaps. You're really interested in this, aren't you?

DANNI: Well, it's all so fascinating.

Dr. Cole laughs and closes up his bag.

DR. COLE: Stay in bed until tomorrow, Mr. Plunkett, and then ease into your chores gradually. You don't want to overdo.

MR. PLUNKETT: No, I won't. Thanks.

Danni and Dr. Cole go outside.

DR. COLE: Danni, have you ever given any thought to a career involving medicine?

DANNI: You mean like a nurse?

DR. COLE: Well, actually, I was thinking more in line of a doctor.

DANNI: Can women do that?

DR. COLE: They can. I won't pretend to you that they don't have to struggle with acceptance. Men don't face that, and it's difficult for women to get into the schools. But the very determined make it. I think you could make it.

DANNI: Well, I never really thought about it.

DR. COLE: Why don't you consider it? At least look into the possibility. I have some literature I can bring you next time I come, if you'd like.

DANNI: I guess it wouldn't hurt to look at it.

DR. COLE: Good. You have a talent for healing, young lady. It would be a shame if you didn't try to develop it.

Danni smiles and Dr. Cole returns the smile.

DR. COLE: Come on. We have a few more people to see. If nothing unusual arises, I'm leaving on the morning train. I'll leave some things with you. You know what to do if anyone with this sickness needs help after I leave?

DANNI: I think I can manage it.

DR. COLE: I thought you could. But just remember, Danni, you're not a doctor-not yet, anyway. Don't be afraid to cable me for help if something comes up in the next few days that seems more severe than what we've seen here.

DANNI: No, I won't. Who are we seeing next?

The two of them walk up the street.

Several days later, at the church. Emily is standing on a ladder outside of the church, washing a window. Josh is watching her. Colin comes outside of the church and sees her.

COLIN: Emily, get down from there.

EMILY: These windows are so dirty, I can't stand them any longer.

COLIN: Then I'll wash them.

EMILY: I'm not helpless, Colin. I can manage this. And you've been so busy calling on people who have been ill, you're not going to get to this.

Colin goes to the ladder and holds it.

COLIN: Get down now, or I'm coming up after you.

Emily gets down.

EMILY: Honestly, Colin, I wish you wouldn't hover over me so.

COLIN: Humor me.

He kisses her.

COLIN: I've got a few more calls to make today and tomorrow, but then I'll wash them. I don't think God minds if we're too busy to wash our windows.

EMILY: You're too busy. I'm not.

Colin scowls at her.

COLIN: I'm ready to go back to town. You coming?

EMILY: I thought I'd stay here and work in the flower beds. That is, if you think I'm capable.

COLIN: All right, all right. Do you need Josh?

EMILY: Do you want to help me, Josh?

JOSH: Sure.

COLIN: I'll see you two later.

Colin goes down the hill, and Emily and Josh look after him. When he is down the hill, Emily goes to the ladder and repositions it under the window. She climbs up.

EMILY: Hand me that rag, will you, Josh?

JOSH: But, Colin said you shouldn't climb the ladder.

EMILY: Colin worries too much. It's all right.

Josh hands her the rag and Emily begins to wash the window.

Emily hands the rag back down.

EMILY: Will you rinse this out for me?

Josh reaches up and takes the rag. He dips it in the bucket, then stops when he sees a rabbit dart out from the bushes against the church wall. He puts the rag down and begins to run toward the rabbit. He bumps the ladder as he does so, and it falls. Emily falls off the ladder and lands on top of it. She lies motionless. Josh runs to her and puts his hand on her head.

JOSH: Emily! Get up, Emily!

Emily stirs and looks at him. She begins to get up, but sits down on the ground, holding her stomach.

EMILY: It's all right. I think I just had the wind knocked out of me.

JOSH: I'll go get Colin.

Emily grabs his hand.

EMILY: No. I don't think we need to tell Colin about this, Josh.

JOSH: Why?

EMILY: You know how much he worries. I'm all right, really.

JOSH: Do you promise you're okay?

EMILY: I promise. I think I'll have a bruise where I landed on the ladder, but that's nothing. Now be a good boy and help me up.

Josh helps Emily to her feet and she smiles at him encouragingly.

The next morning, at Langara. Kathleen is in the sulky and Danni and Michael are standing next to it. Matt and Rob are saddling their horses.

KATHLEEN: Michael, if you're well enough to be out of bed and out here, you're well enough to get yourself to school.

DANNI: The teacher's out sick, Kathleen. She was one of the people I went to see with Dr. Cole. The students are to stay home until next week.

MICHAEL: Can't I go out with Matt and Rob, Mum?

KATHLEEN: I don't think you're up for that yet, Michael. They're going to be out until sunset.

MICHAEL: Then maybe I could go to the printery with you.

KATHLEEN: I've got a long day in front of me, too. You just stay here and let Danni take care of you.


KATHLEEN: Colin said he'd drop off Emily and Josh for a visit before he goes out on his calls. Maybe when they get here, you could take Josh riding.

MICHAEL: All right.

KATHLEEN: But only if you stay close to home and have Danni check you over first to make sure you're up to it.

DANNI: I'll look after him, Kathleen.

KATHLEEN: Then I'm off.

Matt comes to the sulky and kisses Kathleen good-bye.

MATT: Have a good day. Don't work too hard.

KATHLEEN: Don't you, either.

She signals the horse to move and Rob and Matt mount their horses and ride in the opposite direction. Michael and Danni go inside.

Later. Colin drives up to Langara in the sulky with Emily and Josh. His horse is tied to the back. He gets out and helps Emily out. Danni and Michael come from the house to greet them. Emily winces as Colin helps her down.

COLIN: Are you all right?

Emily catches Josh's eye and shakes her head slightly.

EMILY: I'm fine.

COLIN: You look a little flushed this morning.

DANNI: She's probably got a touch of the grippe. I was wondering when one of you was going to have your turn.

Colin continues to look at Emily with concern.

COLIN: I don't want you to wear yourself out chasing after Josh today. You spend the day resting.

EMILY: Are you sure you need to be away all night?

COLIN: If I'm going clear out to the Fosters' I do. They can put me up. You take care of yourself today. Don't try to drive the sulky home this afternoon if you're not feeling up to it. I don't want you home by yourself if you're getting sick. Perhaps you and Josh should stay here tonight.

EMILY: No, I 'm sure I'll be just fine. Stop fussing, Colin.

DANNI: Don't worry. I know what to do for her. She'll be fine, Colin.

COLIN: Thanks, Danni. I know I can count on you.

Colin kisses Emily good-bye.

COLIN: I'll see you tomorrow afternoon.

Colin hugs Josh good-bye.

COLIN: You be good. Don't give Emily any trouble.

JOSH: I won't.

Colin smiles, then gets on his horse and rides off.

MICHAEL: I'll unhitch the horse.

EMILY: Thanks.

Emily begins to walk up the steps to the house, but she stops and grips the railing.

Danni takes her arm and steadies her.

DANNI: Feeling queasy?

EMILY: A little.

DANNI: You've got the symptoms, all right. Let's get you into bed. Michael, you feel well enough to take care of Josh?

MICHAEL: I feel well enough to be out with Rob and Matt. Between you and Mum, I've had enough fussing over.

Danni helps Emily into the house and turns to Michael and Josh.

DANNI: Okay, then come in when you've finished there and get Mrs. Tan to pack you a lunch. I suppose you can ride until afternoon. But you come back if you feel tired, Michael.

MICHAEL: Whatever you say, Danni.

Danni smiles and goes inside with Emily.

Later. Michael and Josh are sitting under a tree eating their lunch.

MICHAEL: You don't have much to say today, Josh.

JOSH: What did Danni mean when she said Emily had symptoms?

MICHAEL: She means she's coming down with what I had a few days ago. You remember, when Doctor Cole came out.

JOSH: Will she be very sick?

MICHAEL: Maybe, for a few days, but then she'll be better. Just like I am. Don't worry, Josh.

Michael smiles at Josh, but Josh returns only a concerned look.

Same time, at Langara. Emily is in bed in the guest room. Danni enters with a tray that has a bowl of broth and a cup of tea.

DANNI: Let's see if you can keep some down this time. Can you sit up?

Danni sets down the tray and props up the pillows behind Emily. Emily tries to sit up, but she cries out and clutches her stomach.

DANNI: Oh, Emily. The stomach pains are worse, aren't they?

Emily says nothing and Danni smiles at her.

DANNI: Well, you've just got a bad case of it, is all. Some more hot broth and some tonic will put you right. And some cool cloths will bring your fever down. I'll have you feeling better in no time.

Emily sinks back down on the pillows, and Danni looks at her with concern.

Later. Michael and Josh come into the room.

MICHAEL: Josh wants to see Emily. I can't convince him she's all right.

Michael looks at Emily lying in the bed. Her hair is damp and her face flushed. She is curled in a tight ball on the bed, rocking back and forth in pain. She is clutching her stomach.

Michael steps quickly in front of Josh so he cannot see.

MICHAEL: Go outside, Josh, and brush down your horse. I'll be out in a minute.

JOSH: I want to see her.

MICHAEL: Take care of your horse first. Then you can see her.

Josh leaves and Michael goes to the side of the bed. Danni is wringing out a cloth.

MICHAEL: She doesn't look very good, Danni. Have you sent someone to telegraph for the doctor?

DANNI: No. She'll be all right. Sometimes it's this bad. When I went with Dr. Cole, Mrs. Tanner was like this. Emily just needs rest and time.

MICHAEL: I'm going into town to wire the doctor.

DANNI: Trust me, Michael. I know what I'm doing. I got you better, didn't I?

MICHAEL: Yes, but...

DANNI: Go see to Josh. It will be all right.

Michael goes outside and helps Josh in the yard where he is grooming his horse. Suddenly Danni runs from the house calling for Michael.

MICHAEL: Stay here.

Michael runs to the veranda.

DANNI: She passed out. I can't...I can't revive her. You'd better get to town. Tell Kathleen to cable the doctor.

Michael looks at her strangely.

DANNI: Hurry, Michael.

Later, in town. Kathleen and Michael are in the telegraph office.

KATHLEEN: Surely there should be a reply by now, Mr. Plunkett.

MR. PLUNKETT: Patience, Mrs. McGregor. I'm sure...

A message starts to come over the wire, and Plunkett writes it down.


MR. PLUNKETT: I'm sorry. He left Cooma about an hour ago. There's no way to reach him. We can telegraph ahead for him, but he's expected to be on the road until tomorrow afternoon.

KATHLEEN: Well, send the message. We'll just have to hope he catches up to it. Cable Mansfield, too. Maybe we can get the doctor there to come on the stage tomorrow. Come on, Michael. Let's go home.

Later, at Langara. It is sunset. Kathleen is in Emily's room. She is sitting next to the bed, brushing Emily's hair from her face. Emily is still unconscious. Her face and hair are damp. Danni is looking on.

KATHLEEN: How long has she been like this?

DANNI: She had a fever and was nauseous when Colin dropped her off. And she had stomach pains. It was the same as the others who were sick, so I...

KATHLEEN: She's burning up with fever. What have you tried to bring it down?

DANNI: Everything I can think of.

KATHLEEN: If only you had sent Michael or one of the hands to town earlier. We only missed Dr. Cole in Cooma by an hour. Couldn't you see that she needed help?

DANNI: I'm sorry. I thought if I...

Danni's eyes begin to fill with tears, and Kathleen gets up and puts her arm around her.

KATHLEEN: I'm sorry, Danni. This isn't your fault.

Kathleen looks out the window when she hears riders. She sees Rob and Matt dismount from their horses and Michael say something to them. Michael leads the horses to the stable, and Matt and Rob come into the house. They enter Emily's room.

MATT: How is she?

KATHLEEN: Poor. I'm frightened for her, Matt.

Matt comes to the bedside and puts his hand on Emily's forehead. His face betrays his astonishment.

MATT: A fever this high will kill her.

Danni leans against the wall, and Rob goes to her and puts his arm around her.

MATT: Danni, you and Michael chip off all the ice we've got and bring it in here. If we pack it around her, maybe we can bring this down.

Danni begins to leave the room, but Matt calls out to her.

MATT: Danni, do you know where Colin was headed this morning?

DANNI: He said he was going to spend the night at the Fosters'.

ROB: That's a long way away.

MATT: Jim can loan you a fresh horse for the return trip.

Matt looks once more at Emily lying motionless in the bed.

MATT: Ride hard, Rob.

Rob nods and leaves.

Later, at Langara. It is dark outside and the lamps are lit. Matt and Kathleen are sitting next to Emily's bed. Danni comes into the room. The clock on the mantle reads 2:00.

KATHLEEN: Did you check on Josh?

DANNI: He's crying. I don't think he's slept since I put him down, and that was hours ago. He's pretty upset. He really wants to see her.

KATHLEEN: That would only upset him more.

MATT: I'll go talk to him in a bit.

DANNI: Is she any better?

KATHLEEN: I think the ice helped. She's been stirring.

DANNI: I've got some salts. Maybe we can bring her around.

Danni pulls a vial of smelling salts from her apron pocket. She waves the container under Emily's nose. Emily stirs and moans. Her eyes open and she looks around the room.

EMILY: Colin?

Matt takes her hand.

MATT: He'll be here soon.

Emily closes her eyes tight and moans.

EMILY: Oh, it hurts.

DANNI: Your stomach?

Emily nods and begins to cry.

EMILY: Colin...

MATT: Shh. He's coming. It will be all right.

Matt leaves the room and Danni follows him out.

MATT: Danni, what would cause her to be in such pain?

DANNI: I don't know. She has a bruise across her stomach. Perhaps she…bumped into something?

MATT: Could she have harmed herself doing that?

DANNI: I wouldn't think so. Maybe. Oh, I just don't know. Why are you asking me? Can't you see that I don't know how to help her?

MATT: Danni...

DANNI: I wish Rob would come back with Colin. Do you think he found him?

MATT: I don't know, sweetie. We'll pray he did.

Later. Kathleen and Matt are sitting next to Emily's bed. The clock reads 4:00. Kathleen is wiping the sweat from Emily's neck. She is either asleep or unconscious.

KATHLEEN: The fever's climbing again. Matt, I'm so frightened. I think we're going to lose her.

Matt begins to answer but looks up when Colin enters the room. He is still wearing his riding coat and gloves. His hat is in his hands. He is sweaty and dirty and has obviously been riding hard. He stands near the doorway and stares at Emily. He makes a strange sound and suddenly leaves the room. Matt gets up quickly and follows him outside. Colin is standing on the veranda, hanging on to the railing. His head is bowed. He is breathing hard and fast.

MATT: Colin?

Colin turns to face him.

COLIN: Oh, Dad. I wasn't prepared for this.

Matt puts his hand on Colin's back. Colin shakes his head.

COLIN: I've sat at deathbeds. I know what it looks like. Emily looks like that now.

MATT: Now, son, we don't know…

COLIN: I'll go to her.

A short time later. Colin has washed up, and he enters Emily's room. Kathleen gets up from the bedside and leaves the two of them alone. Colin sits in the chair Kathleen has just left. He looks at Emily, then takes her hand in his.

COLIN: I'm here, Emily. It will be all right now.

He brings her hand to his cheek and holds it there.

COLIN: Oh, Emily. Don't leave me. Don't.

He begins to cry and sinks to his knees beside the bed. He bows his head in prayer.

COLIN: Please make her better. Don't take her away from me.

He begins to sob, his shoulders shaking. Kathleen enters the room and looks at him in alarm, then quickly goes to the bed and checks Emily, putting her hand on Emily's neck to feel for a pulse. She breathes a deep sigh of relief, then goes to Colin. She puts her hands on his shoulders.

KATHLEEN: Colin, come away for a while. I'll stay with her.

Colin allows Kathleen to help him up and lead him out of the room. He is sobbing and seems dazed. Kathleen leads him into the drawing room.


Matt quickly comes and takes Colin in his arms. Kathleen goes back into Emily's room.

COLIN: Dad? Help me.

MATT: It's all right. I've got you, son.

Colin holds onto him and cries.

COLIN: I can't lose her. She's everything in the world to me. I don't know how to let her go.

MATT: I know.

Rob and Danni are watching. Rob has tears in his eyes and Danni begins to cry. Rob puts his arm around her, and she leans her head on his shoulder. Kathleen comes back into the room.

KATHLEEN: She's conscious.

Colin begins to go, but Kathleen puts her hand on his arm.

KATHLEEN: No. She wants to see you, Matt.

Matt leaves, and Rob and Danni come to Colin and help him sit down on the sofa. They sit on either side of him, Rob with his arm around him and Danni with her hand on his shoulder.

Matt enters Emily's room and sits down in the chair.

Emily opens her eyes, then closes them again.

EMILY: Matt?

MATT: I'm here.

EMILY: Help him.

MATT: What?

EMILY: Help Colin. Take care of him. Don't let this destroy him.

MATT: Emily, you're going to be fine.

Emily opens her eyes and reaches for Matt's hand. She looks at him.

EMILY: Matt, don't. I know. Promise me. Promise me you'll take care of him. It's going to be so hard for him.

Matt tries to hold back tears, but his cheeks are wet.

MATT: I promise. I'll look after him.

EMILY: Thank you.

She closes her eyes again and is silent. Matt kisses her forehead.

A short time later, Matt goes into the drawing room. He goes to Colin, who is still sitting between Rob and Danni.

MATT: She's asking for you, son.

Colin nods and gets up. Danni and Rob rise also, and they all watch him sympathetically as he leaves the room. He passes Michael in the hallway, and Michael comes into the drawing room.

KATHLEEN: It's not daylight yet, Michael. Go back to bed.

MICHAEL: I can't sleep. Josh is crying. Can't he see Emily?

Matt and Kathleen exchange glances.


MICHAEL: Is she that bad, Mum?

Kathleen goes to him and puts her arm around him.

KATHLEEN: Come sit next to me.

They sit on the sofa.

MATT: I'll see to Josh. I meant to do it hours ago.

He leaves and goes into Michael's room, where Josh is in the extra bed. Josh has his head on the pillow, crying hard. Matt sits next to him on the bed.

MATT: What's all this about?

JOSH: I didn't mean to do it.

MATT: Do what? What did you do?

JOSH: Yesterday, when I was chasing the rabbit. I bumped the ladder.

MATT: What ladder?

JOSH: Emily was washing the windows at the church. I bumped the ladder and she fell off.

MATT: Did she hurt herself?

JOSH: She landed on top of the ladder. It took her a long time to get up.

MATT: She didn't tell anyone about this?

JOSH: Colin told her not to climb the ladder. She didn't want him to know. She made me promise not to tell. Don't tell her I told. I don't want her to be mad at me.

MATT: I won't tell her. This isn't your fault, Josh. Emily's going to be fine. Now, you get some sleep, and before you know it, it will be morning.

JOSH: Will Colin be back then?

MATT: He's here now. You'll see him soon.

JOSH: Good.

Matt hugs him and tucks the blankets around him, then leaves and shuts the door. He goes into the drawing room, where Danni is putting wood on the fire.

MATT: Danni, would a hard blow cause Emily's pain?

DANNI: I suppose, but surely bumping into…

MATT: No. Josh said she fell from a ladder yesterday. She must have landed hard on top of it.

Danni looks at him carefully.

DANNI: Some kind of internal damage?

MATT: That's my guess. That would account for both the pain and the high fever from infection.

DANNI: Oh, Dad. If we don't get a doctor for her, she's not going to make it.

MATT: I know.

ROB: Kathleen said she wired Mansfield. Maybe there'll be someone on the coach.

MATT: That's almost ten hours from now. Emily can't wait that long.

ROB: All night, I just couldn't believe this was real. Emily's really going to die, isn't she, Dad?

Matt doesn't answer him.

MICHAEL: What about Mr. Porter?

DANNI: You don't mean the hermit?

KATHLEEN: Why are you talking about him?

MICHAEL: Donny Simpson and I were up there last week. Donny fell from his horse and hurt his shoulder. Mr. Porter helped him. And he could see that I was getting sick. He gave me powders to take. He took them out of a doctor's bag.

KATHLEEN: Why didn't you tell anyone about this?

MICHAEL: We weren't supposed to be up there. We were spying on him. I mostly forgot about it. I didn't think of him for Emily until just now.

DANNI: Do you think he's a doctor, Dad?

MATT: He does seem to have a mysterious past. And I don't know why else he'd have a physician's bag.

ROB: It's less than an hour's ride up there. I'll saddle the horses.

Later. Dawn is just breaking. Rob and Matt ride up to Porter's hut and dismount. Matt bangs on the door. Porter answers the door. He is clad in an undershirt and trousers and has bare feet. It is obvious he has been roused from bed.

PORTER: What is it, man? It's barely daybreak.

MATT: We need your help, Mr. Porter.

PORTER: McGregor, isn't it? You sold me the horse.

MATT: Yes. My son, Rob.

PORTER: I can't possibly think of why you'd need my help, McGregor.

MATT: There's a young woman-my daughter-in-law-who's very ill. She needs a doctor.

PORTER: Then I suggest you find her one.

MATT: I have.

Matt brushes past Porter and enters the hut. Rob pushes Porter in and closes the door behind him. Matt looks around and sees a doctor's bag on a shelf. He gets it and holds it out to Porter.

MATT: You'll need this. Get dressed.

PORTER: You have no right...

MATT: I have every right. I made that girl a promise I don't know how to keep. Maybe if you help her I won't have to try to find a way.

PORTER: I have no idea what you're talking about.

MATT: It doesn't matter. What matters is that you're a doctor and she's sick. You have to help her.

PORTER: What's wrong with her?

MATT: We're not sure. She has severe stomach pains and a high fever that we can't bring down. She's drifting in and out of consciousness. She's very weak. Apparently she had a fall recently.

PORTER: She received a blow to her abdomen?

MATT: Yes.

PORTER: She needs surgery.

ROB: What's wrong with her?

PORTER: Some sort of internal damage. Could be any number of things. A hard enough blow could have damaged or even perforated an organ. Or she could have inflammation of the...

He stops and takes the bag from Matt and puts it back on the shelf.

PORTER: I'm sorry. I can't help you.

MATT: She's dying.

PORTER: Yes, it sounds as though she is.

Rob grabs him by the shirt and slams him against the wall.

ROB: If I have to shove you down this mountain with a rifle in your back, I'll do it. But you're coming with us.

MATT: Rob. That's enough.

Rob lets go of Porter and Porter glares at him.

MATT: I can't think of why you'd let a girl with her whole life in front of her die if it was in your power to prevent it. If you do have a reason, I don't care what it is. But Rob's right. You're coming with us. If he doesn't force you off this mountain, I will. Now get dressed.

Later, at Langara. It is daylight. Matt comes into Emily's room. Kathleen and Colin are sitting by the bed. Colin doesn't even look up when Matt enters the room. Emily's eyes are closed and seem sunken in her face. There are dark circles under them. She is pale and is lying very still. Matt looks at her.

MATT: Oh, Kathleen.

KATHLEEN: Did you find Porter?

MATT: Yes. He's with Rob. I'll go get him.

Porter and Rob are in the kitchen. Porter is washing up. Matt hands him a towel.

MATT: I'll show you where she is.

Porter follows him into Emily's room. He stands in the doorway and looks at Emily in the bed and at Colin. Colin's head is in his hand.

PORTER: Is that her husband?

MATT: My son. Yes.

Porter stands next to the bed and Colin looks up, then rises.

MATT: Colin, this is Doctor Porter.

COLIN: Thank you for coming.

Porter looks at Colin.

PORTER: You're the reverend.


PORTER: Reverend McGregor. I didn't put it together before.

Kathleen and Matt look at each other questioningly.

PORTER: I'd better examine her. What's her name?

COLIN: Emily.

He leans over Emily and strokes her cheek, then her hands.

PORTER: Emily? Can you hear me?

Emily does not stir.

PORTER: I'll need my bag.

MATT: I'll get it.

Porter turns to Colin.

PORTER: You'll need to take off her gown.

Colin nods and bends over Emily. Kathleen helps him. She puts the gown on the dresser. The doctor bends over Emily and after a few moments straightens up and tucks the blankets around her. He looks at Colin.

PORTER: Her abdomen is rigid and distended. I can't give you a diagnosis without some internal exploration, but if I had to say anything, I'd say she has peritonitis.

KATHLEEN: What is that?

Matt comes back in with the bag and Porter takes it from him.

PORTER: The peritoneum is the lining of the abdominal cavity. It can become infected when organisms from an injured area of the abdominal cavity seep into it. In Emily's case, a severe blow has likely caused a rupture to an organ or possibly to her intestinal tract.

MATT: How do you treat that?

Porter doesn't answer him. He takes the stethoscope from his bag and listens to Emily's chest. Then he takes the watch from his pocket and holds it in one hand while he holds Emily's wrist in the other. He times her pulse and puts her hand back down.

PORTER: In this case, we don't treat it.

COLIN: What?

PORTER: Reverend, surely you can recognize the condition your wife is in. She can't withstand surgery, which is what would have to be done.

COLIN: But...

PORTER: Her pulse and heartbeat are weak. Her breathing is shallow. I'm sorry. But I'm not going to operate on this girl.

He leaves the room and Matt follows him out.

MATT: Doctor...

Porter puts on his coat.

PORTER: It's been a long time since anyone's called me that.

Porter goes out to the veranda and Matt follows him.

MATT: But that's what you are.

PORTER: Once. Not anymore. I came here with you because I was forced to. But I can't be forced to perform an operation.

MATT: What are you afraid of?

PORTER: Afraid? I'm afraid of nothing.

MATT: Yes, you are. Coming to these mountains, cutting yourself off from others. Giving up your medicine. You're running from something.

PORTER: I'm going home, McGregor.

MATT: You go away from here now and that girl will die!

PORTER: It doesn't matter if I leave or stay. You've sought my help too late. There's nothing I can do for her. I won't kill her by trying.

MATT: Kill her? Is that what you think? If she dies during the surgery, you will have done everything to save her. If she dies without the surgery, we'll never know if she could have been saved. How could anything you do kill her?

PORTER: You don't understand. I don't want to be responsible for her death. I don't want to be responsible for another death.

MATT: Another death? Whose death do you feel responsible for? Is that what you're running from?

PORTER: All right! I'll tell you and then maybe you'll understand. It was my wife. Six months ago. She needed a complicated operation. I was a surgeon in a Melbourne hospital. It was a new procedure. No one felt qualified to do it. But I wanted to try, because I didn't want to lose her. I would have tried anything. And I was so sure I could succeed. But I failed. I made mistakes. She died a few days later. In great pain, in a hospital room. It didn't have to be that way. I never should have tried it. I should have let her just slip away.

MATT: But you couldn't.


MATT: Then understand how we feel about Emily. How Colin feels. If there's anything you can do, you have to try. How can we let her slip away without knowing that we did everything possible? We'll take what comes later as it comes.

PORTER: I honestly don't think I can save her. It's too late. It would take a miracle.

MATT: I know someone who believes in miracles.

PORTER: The reverend? He's a good man. He tried to help me once, but I wouldn't let him.

MATT: Maybe you can help each other.

Porter looks at Matt and then takes off his coat and goes back inside. Matt follows. Rob, Michael, and Danni are in the drawing room.

PORTER: I'll set out the instruments I need boiled. And I'll need that table from the kitchen scrubbed down and moved into Emily's room. I'll need an assistant. Someone with a steady hand. Perhaps your wife.

MATT: No. Danni can do it.

DANNI: I don't think so, Dad. You'd better get Kathleen.

MATT: No. Now you go with the doctor and get him everything he needs.

Later, in Emily's room. Emily is on the table, covered with a sheet. Porter hands a bottle and a cloth to Danni. Colin puts his hand on Danni's arm.

COLIN: Wait.

Colin bends over Emily and brushes her hair away from her face. He kisses her lips, then straightens up. Danni looks at him, and he nods.

DR. PORTER: Reverend, you and Mrs. McGregor had best leave. The fewer people in here the better. Danni seems as though she'll be a very capable assistant.

Kathleen takes Colin by the shoulders and ushers him out of the room. Danni holds the cloth over Emily's face. She lifts it up.

DANNI: Now what?

Dr. Porter hands her a bottle.

DR. PORTER: Apply this, right over the bruise. That's where I'll make the incision.

Danni nods and bends over Emily.

In the drawing room. Mrs. Tan comes out with the coffee pot and cups. She offers them around, but Colin shakes his head. Kathleen takes a cup.

KATHLEEN: Thanks, Mrs. Tan.

Josh, in his nightshirt, enters the room.

JOSH: Can I see Emily now? Matt said I could see her in the morning.

ROB: Not just now, Josh.

JOSH: But Matt said...

KATHLEEN: Hush, now, Josh.

Josh begins to cry and goes to Colin to be comforted. Colin hugs him.

JOSH: Why can't I see her?

Colin holds on to him and begins to cry. He looks at Matt helplessly.

COLIN: I can't do this. Take him out of here, Dad.

Matt takes Josh's hand and leads him away from Colin. Colin hides his face so Josh cannot see his tears.

MATT: Come on, Josh. I'll help you get dressed, and then we'll have some breakfast.

In Emily's room. The doctor and Danni are hovered over Emily.

DR. PORTER: Hold the incision open a little more. That's it. Ah, there's the culprit.

DANNI: What do you see?

DR. PORTER: You tell me.

DANNI: A hole in the…intestine?

DR. PORTER: You have not only a steady hand, but a keen eye.

In the dining room. The family is sitting at the table, but no one is eating. Colin is sitting in an armchair by the fire, his head in his hands.

KATHLEEN: Eat your breakfast, Josh.

JOSH: Isn't Colin going to come to breakfast?

KATHLEEN: Maybe later. Now be a good boy and...

The doctor and Danni come into the room. Everyone looks up, and Colin gets out of his chair and stands in front of them.

DR. PORTER: It was a straight-forward operation. No complications. I've repaired the perforation.

MICHAEL: Will she be all right?

Dr. Porter looks at Michael and then looks at Josh. He goes over to him.

DR. PORTER: And who's this?

JOSH: I'm Josh. And I want to see Emily.

DR. PORTER: I'll tell you what, Josh. I saw some yellow flowers in the dooryard. Why don't you pick some, and we can put them in Emily's room for her to see when she feels better.

Josh looks at Kathleen.

JOSH: Can I?

KATHLEEN: Yes. But don't pull them up by the roots.

JOSH: I'll be careful.

He goes outside and the others rise from the table.

DR. PORTER: There was so much infection before the operation. It wasn't stopped from spreading early enough. I can't tell you she'll recover. Her fever's still dangerously high. My first priority is to bring that down. Do you have any ice?

MATT: We used it all. But Rob and Michael can take the dray to town and get more.

DR. PORTER: The sooner the better.

ROB: We'll leave right now. Come on, Michael.

He and Michael grab their coats and leave.

COLIN: I want to see her.

DR. PORTER: Why don't you get some rest? She's not conscious; she won't even know you're there.

COLIN: Yes, she will.

He leaves the room and goes into the hall.

MATT: We want to thank you for what you've done.

DR. PORTER: I still think I got to her too late. But time will tell.

KATHLEEN: How much time?

DR. PORTER: If the fever breaks before nightfall, she might have a chance.

MATT: If it doesn't?

DR. PORTER: She won't make it.

Danni leaves the room and goes out to the veranda. She watches Josh pick flowers. Dr. Porter comes out.

DR. PORTER: I've worked with trained nurses who couldn't have handled themselves any better in there. You have a skill, Danni.

DANNI: If Emily dies, it will be my fault.

DR. PORTER: How can it be your fault?

DANNI: I knew she was sick early in the day yesterday. But I thought I knew how to take care of her, so I didn't try to get her a doctor. I didn't try to get any help for her until she was unconscious. You keep on saying that she got help too late.

DR. PORTER: Perhaps not. But whatever happens, you can't blame yourself. Sometimes we make mistakes when we become overly confident in ourselves, but we can learn from those mistakes. It doesn't make any sense to go to the other extreme and lose our self-confidence altogether.

DANNI: No, I suppose it doesn't.

DR. PORTER: Come on. Let's go check on our patient.

The next morning. The sun is shining in Emily's room, and a vase of yellow flowers is on the stand next to the bed. Colin is sitting in the chair next to the bed, asleep. He is unshaven and wearing the same clothes as the previous day. The doctor is standing next to the dresser, putting his stethoscope into his bag. Matt, Kathleen, and Danni come into the room. The doctor nods toward Colin.

DR. PORTER: Any chance of getting him out of here and into bed?

MATT: I doubt it, but I'll try.

DR. PORTER: Emily's going to pull through. But she's going to need a lot of care. Make sure he doesn't make himself sick worrying over her.

Matt looks at Colin and smiles.

MATT: I'll take care of him.

Kathleen puts her hand on Colin's arm. He wakes with a start.

COLIN: Emily?

KATHLEEN: It's all right. Dr. Porter's leaving.

Colin looks nervously at Emily.

MATT: It's okay. Rob went to town. No doubt Dr. Cole's there by now, or will be soon. Rob will bring him back.

Colin gets up and shakes the doctor's hand.

COLIN: Thank you. Thank you.

DR. PORTER: She's a very sick girl. She's going to need bed rest for a month and constant care during that time. You might think about hiring a nurse from Melbourne.

DANNI: No. I can care for her.

DR. PORTER: We're talking about around-the-clock nursing, Danni. Are you sure you're up to that?

DANNI: Yes. I can do it. That is, if Colin thinks I can.

Colin goes to hug her.

COLIN: I know you can. And I know Emily would rather have you care for her than anyone.

Danni smiles and then they all walk the doctor out the door. Colin walks him to his horse, which is saddled and tied to the rail.

COLIN: We need a doctor in Paterson's Ridge. Won't you think about it?

DR. PORTER: I'm not a country doctor. I'm a hospital surgeon. If I do practice again, it will be back in Melbourne.

Colin nods and the doctor gets on his horse. Colin and Dr. Porter look at each other.

COLIN: Take care of yourself. You know where to get help if you need it.

PORTER: Thank you. I'll be fine. You take care, too.

Colin nods and watches him ride off, then he goes inside.

Later. Various scenes in Emily's room show the passage of time. Early scenes show Colin kneeling by the bed with his head bowed in prayer, and later, Danni gets up from a cot in the room and puts cloths on Emily's head as Emily tosses feverishly. Later scenes show Emily sitting up in bed and Danni spooning broth for her. Another scene shows Colin leading Josh into the room to Emily's bedside, where Emily and Josh smile at each other. Next, Rob is sitting next to the bed reading to Emily, and the final scene shows Matt, dressed in a robe, enter the dimly lit room. Matt looks at Danni asleep on the cot and then at Colin, who is in the chair next to the bed watching Emily intently as she sleeps. Matt gets him up and leads him out of the room.

Later, at Langara. The family is gathered on the veranda. The bench has a quilt on it and pillows against the arm. Colin comes out, carrying Emily in his arms. She is wearing a nightgown and robe and is wrapped in a blanket. Danni, Michael, and Rob cheer when they see her. Colin puts Emily down on the quilt and arranges the pillows against her back and tucks the blanket around her. He bends over her.

COLIN: You all right?

Emily brings his head down to hers and kisses him. She looks up at the family.

EMILY: It's wonderful to feel the breeze on my face.

Josh comes running out the door.

KATHLEEN: Uh-oh. We forgot about someone.

Josh tries to jump on Emily, but Colin catches him just in time.

COLIN: Whoa! Gently, Josh.

EMILY: It's okay. Come here, Josh.

Emily holds out her arms and Josh comes to her. The two hug each other as the rest of the family looks on. The scene ends.