THE BODY ELECTRIC
Written by Christine Berardo / Directed by Gwen Arner
EXT. TELEGRAPH OFFICE - DAY ONE - MARCH 1872
PRESTON waits impatiently at the window while a muddled HORACE rummages
absently through an untidy mess of papers --
I know it's here -- somewhere.
How long has it been here?
Horace locates the missing telegram and Preston snatches it, examines
the date, and answers his own question:
This came in two days ago. Why didn't you tell me?
I been busy.
He's coming today.
Horace gives a helpless shrug. Irritated, Preston hurries away toward
INT. GAZETTE - DAY ONE
BRIAN is struggling with the press, trying to put out an edition
of the paper when Preston bursts in, waving his telegram.
Dorothy, I need you to -- ah, Brian. Where's Dorothy?
In Chicago, at that meetin' of western publishers.
What's she doing there?
You told her to go. Find out how to expand the Gazette.
Preston groans. This day is turning into a disaster.
I need a notice printed -- right away. A public invitation to a
A poetry readin'?
America's most famous poet -- Mr. Walt Whitman -- is coming to my
Walt Whitman's comin' here?
He's recovering from a stroke and he's chosen my resort to restore
him to health.
EXT. GENERAL STORE - DAY ONE
MATTHEW stands talking with LOREN and the REVEREND.
A stroke? Is he paralyzed?
I dunno. Preston offered him a rest cure in exchange for him givin'
a poetry readin'.
Wish he hadn't done that.
I heard he advocates free love.
Loren's eyebrows shoot up. Matthew looks uncomfortable.
It's a load of rubbish.
You ever read his poems, Loren?
Loren quickly shakes his head, no.
I s'pose the man's free to write what he wants, but why does he
have to go readin' it in public?
EXT. GRACE'S CAFE - DAY ONE
GRACE pours coffee. MIKE and SULLY react to Brian's news:
A public reading? Why, that's wonderful. The whole town will get
to hear him speak his own words.
Mr. Whitman is Sully's favorite writer.
He's more than a writer, Brian, he's a famous poet.
And he started out workin' on a newspaper when he was your age.
Mike and Sully exchange a smile over Brian's enthusiasm.
Maybe he'll give you some pointers.
Ya think so? A famous man like him?
INT. BARBERSHOP - DAY ONE
JAKE lathers Preston's face. HANK watches.
Sure he's famous -- 'cuz a all those racy poems he wrote.
Racy? Just another word for artistic -- a true genius, Jake.
Jake and Hank exchange an 'oh-brother' look.
An' he's comin' to your hotel?
Yes, which reminds me --
(pulling out watch)
-- can you hurry it along? He's arriving on the four o'clock train.
A TRAIN WHISTLE, OVER, takes us to --
EXT. TRAIN (SLOWLY MOVING) - DAY ONE
WALT WHITMAN, 55, a tall burly man in full white beard, open collar
and rough homespun suit, stands on the platform of the train as
it pulls in. He leans heavily on his cane.
ANOTHER ANGLE - STATION PLATFORM
A small crowd of curious townsfolk - among them Mike, Sully, Brian,
Preston, Horace, Grace - crane necks to catch sight of the world-famous
man. ANDREW hurries up, distressed, lays a hand on Preston's shoulder.
Preston, I must talk to you before he...
"... Arrives" is drowned out by SQUEALING BRAKES of the
(pulls away, excited)
Not now, Andrew.
With a BURST OF STEAM, the train lurches to a stop. Whitman peers
out at the assembled townsfolk from under a battered felt hat. There
is a burst of polite applause.
An expectant hush falls over the crowd. Brian has his reporter's
pad ready, pencil poised to record the first words from the lips
of America's poet.
Preston leaps forward, extending his hand up the steps.
Preston A. Lodge the Third, at your service, sir. Allow me to assist
Why, thank you, Preston A. Lodge the Third. My gracious patron.
Leaning on Preston, Whitman precariously descends to the platform...
where he pauses to feast his eyes on the town, filling his lungs
Ah, the fragrance of wilderness!
Sir, may I introduce the Harvard-educated physician who will supervise
(pulls Andrew forward)
... Dr. Andrew Cook.
Whitman extends his hand.
Pleased to meet you.
Andrew hesitates, strangely ill at ease. His hand inches forward
toward Whitman's -- but instead changes course and reaches abruptly
toward Mike --
Actually, Dr. Quinn here...
(grasping her arm)
... is far more experienced than I to see to your care.
Preston's head snaps around in disbelief. Mike stares at Andrew,
stunned. Whitman, confused, looks from one to the other, his hand
dangling in mid-air.
Quickly recovering, Mike rescues the moment by graciously taking
his outstretched hand.
I'm honored to meet you, Mr. Whitman.
Sir, I assure you...
A lady doctor? Ah, the unexpected bounty of the frontier.
Mike takes over introductions, while Preston, seeing his plans disintegrate
before his eyes, glares daggers at Andrew.
This is my husband Byron Sully...
Pleasure. I've admired your writin' for a long time.
... and my son Bri--
A small misunderstanding, sir. I can straighten this out in no time.
There's nothing to straighten out. I'm perfectly delighted with
Must be tired after your trip.
Yes, yes of course, the carriage is right here.
Sully slips a firm hand under Whitman's elbow to help him toward
the carriage. Brian follows with Whitman's valise. The crowd drifts
Preston lingers, waiting until they're out of earshot to turn on
Have you lost your mind?
I - I'm sorry, I cannot treat this man.
Because of his poetry?
He glances at her, painfully embarrassed and upset.
Please, don't ask me to explain.
(appealing to him)
As physicians, we have a duty to put aside personal feelings.
I beg you, Michaela, trust me.
Do you work for her or for me?
Andrew leans close, speaks into Preston's ear --
You will thank me for this.
He strides away. Mike and Preston exchange a look of utter bewilderment
INT. CLINIC - DAY TWO
Whitman sits on the examination table, his left sleeve rolled up.
Mike gently pokes and touches his useless hand and arm with a needle,
testing for nerve response. He watches her with keen interest, admiring
her confident professionalism.
Ah, doctors. I love them --
-- and I hate their medicine.
Mike looks up, taken aback. Sees he's gently teasing her.
I was a volunteer nurse myself, in the War.
Oh, I see.
You don't feel this?
(at his head-shake)
How long has it been like this?
Long enough to know it isn't going to get better.
She reacts to his noticeable change in mood, surprised.
Perhaps it's only temporary. I've seen cases of delayed recovery.
He turns his full honest gaze on her as if to say, Come on, doctor,
don't try to fool me. She quiets.
Like you, Doctor, I've looked Death in the face. So many young men.
So much waste.
We're old friends, Death and I.
'Friends'? As a doctor, I've always viewed death as the enemy.
He looks at her gravely. Then, a slight twinkle:
Oh well, guess there's no use dying now, with a whole week of free
room and board.
Mike smiles, putting down the needle and reaching for a jar.
I've been reading about experimental treatments for damaged nerves,
using electric current.
Oh, I tried that, tried it all. Shock therapy, hydropathy, phrenology
-- what is that?
Mike holds out the jar she has just opened.
Hot pepper ointment.
That I have not tried.
She smiles back, starts to massage it into his hand and arm.
It's to warm and stimulate the affected parts of the body.
He watches her with an open, steady gaze, liking her, taken with
her determination. She feels his eyes upon her.
She senses something -- can't put her finger on it -- a quiet melancholy
behind the gentle smile.
(appealing to him)
A positive attitude is important to recovery. You celebrate life
with such eloquence in your work.
Whitman looks at her, curious and intrigued.
'I sing the body electric' - ?
You know my work?
She turns to wash her hands with a self-conscious smile.
Oh, yes. And now that I'm a married woman, I can appreciate it more
He laughs delightedly. She puts her stethoscope to his chest, listens
to his heart.
Never married, myself.
I've known love, though, yes indeed. I've known love.
He rolls his sleeve down over his limp arm, as Mike lowers her stethoscope.
Your heart is strong and you appear to be very much alive.
(hands him ointment)
Apply this twice a day, and come back tomorrow. I'd like very much
to help you.
Whitman is unconvinced, but he's charmed by her determination.
I can think of no one I'd rather be cured by.
He takes his coat. She hands him his cane. He takes a step toward
the door, then turns, again tips his hat.
Well, so long...
He smiles wistfully... and exits. OFF Mike, concerned --
EXT. STREET OUTSIDE CLINIC - DAY TWO
With a smug grin, Preston drives Whitman away in his carriage --
to REVEAL a slightly awe-struck Grace, watching from in front of
the General Store (with shopping basket).
She spots Mike coming from the clinic, hurries across --
Dr. Mike -- !
(catching up to her)
Well? What's he like?
Mr. Whitman? Oh, he's very charming. There's a gentleness about
him, a sweet sensitive nature...
She stops, frowns slightly. Grace sees she's troubled.
What is it, Dr. Mike?
I don't know. He seems sad.
Well, it must be discouragin', a big strong man like that, suddenly
findin' himself crippled.
As they move in the direction of the Cafe --
I have a feeling there's more to it. He's resigned. I don't believe
he expects to be cured.
A beat as Mike mulls it over.
It's a shame he has no one to support him through this difficult
Could be he's just plain lonesome.
A little companionship might help.
Brian runs in (from direction of school).
Ready, Ma? You said we could go to the library.
Mike smiles at Grace, moves off with Brian.
EXT. LIBRARY - DAY TWO
Loren stands in the doorway, his nose in a book, a shocked expression
on his face. Mike and Brian approach.
Hey, Mr. Bray.
Loren looks up, startled. He tries to hide the book...
Why, Loren -- you're reading LEAVES OF GRASS?
You call this poetry?
Isn't that by Mr. Whitman?
You ain't gonna let him read this stuff, are ya?
Mike looks uncertainly from Loren to Brian -- and back.
Well, yes. Not all of Mr. Whitman's work is so --
(searching for the word)
-- so, unfettered.
Brian and Loren exchange a baffled look.
It means free. Liberated.
It means disgustin', is what it means!
He thrusts the book into her hands and walks off. Brian watches
him go, puzzled. Mike tries to explain.
Mr. Whitman's poems ask us to look at certain things in a new way.
What's wrong with that?
(with a sigh)
Nothing. It's just, sometimes people are afraid of new ideas.
I'm sure we can find some poems that are suitable.
EXT. SMALL CLEARING IN WOODS - DAY TWO
Mike gathers wild mushrooms in a basket, as Brian follows nearby,
his nose in his book.
I like this part --
"Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road...
+ANOTHER ANGLE - NEARBY IN WOODS
Sully rides his horse along the path, coming from work, as Brian's
voice continues, OVER:
"Healthy, free, the world before me, the long brown path before
me leading wherever I choose..."]
Sully slows his horse as he catches sight of Mike and Brian. She
looks up. Their eyes meet. Brian reads on, oblivious.
"Now I see the secret of the making of the best person; --
It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth."
"Camerado, I give you my hand! I give you myself more precious
than money, I give you myself before preaching and law.
Sully dismounts, goes to her. They look deeply into each other's
"Will you give me yourself? will you come travel with me? Shall
we stick by each other as long as we live?"]
A sweet moment, as he bends to plant a tender kiss on her lips.
(whispers to her)
His poems say what I feel in my heart.
(lost in his eyes)
If only people could see that's nothing to be afraid of.
EXT. SPRINGS CHATEAU - ESTABLISHING SHOT - DAY TWO
INT. SPRINGS CHATEAU - HALLWAY/ALCOVE - DAY TWO
Preston gestures expansively toward a blank wall, describing his
plan to his clerk, GORMLEY.
Whitman's will be the first portrait. One day this entire wall will
be a gallery of our famous visitors.
Catching sight of Andrew scurrying down the hall en route to the
Andrew! A word with you.
Please excuse me, Preston, I have patients waiting.
And I am not in business to provide patients for Michaela Quinn.
You owe me an explanation.
Andrew sees there is no escape, draws Preston aside.
I should think again about placing Whitman's photograph on your
wall - or in any way associating the reputation of this establishment
But why? What are you talking about??
I'd rather not repeat gossip, but...
He looks around, notices Gormley lurking nearby. Gormley, caught
eavesdropping, suddenly remembers:
Ah -- photographer is ready, sir.
Andrew shrugs helplessly, moves away.
EXT. SPRINGS CHATEAU - DAY TWOPreston and Whitman (with cane) pose
solemnly for the camera. Preston impulsively throws his arm around
Walt's shoulders just before the photographer squeezes the bulb.
(nodding to Whitman)
Thank you, sir.
Brian rides up, as Whitman hobbles stiffly away.
Mr. Whitman - ! I was wonderin' if you'd let me do an interview.
An interview - ?
Brian slides off his horse, extends his hand.
I'm Brian Cooper. I'm a reporter for the town paper, The Gazette.
No perfume like printers' ink to the nose of a young writer, eh
(absorbs it; smiles)
Unfortunately, I was just on my way out. I am in need of taking
some cool, clear air in this magnificent wilderness of yours.
He observes Brian's attempt to mask his disappointment.
Sure. Maybe another time.
Or, perhaps you'd like to walk with me. Just to make sure I don't
OFF Brian's delighted grin...
EXT. WOODS NEAR CHATEAU - DAY TWO
Brian and Whitman walk along a path. A thrush SINGS loudly nearby.
Whitman stops, pulls a pencil and a battered notebook from his pocket,
scribbles something in it.
My journal. It goes with me wherever I go. Whatever comes into my
head I write down.
That how ya got to be a writer?
You ought to keep one.
Brian takes out his reporter's notebook where he's jotted down a
Mr. Whitman - ?
You can call me Walt.
Walt -- how'd ya learn to write poems?
Whitman looks keenly at Brian, then gazes up at a lofty pine.
Ever wonder what it's like to be that tall?
Brian looks up at the tree.
To have roots for toes digging deep into the soil? To bend in the
wind, feel the sap running up and down through your veins? To have
He steals a glance at Brian to see if he's getting it --
(a bit tentative)
In your hair - ?
Exactly. It's the only way I know to be a poet. To smell and hear
and see and feel as the tree does, until I lose track of myself
and become the tree. And the tree becomes part of me.
Brian looks intently at the tree.
"There was a child went forth every day, And the first object
he looked upon and received with wonder or pity or love or dread,
that object he became..."
+CLOSE ON BRIAN
EXT. LIVERY - DAY THREE
Preston stops to admire a newly-posted handbill announcing the poetry
reading at the Chateau. Andrew comes up behind.
What is this?
Opportunity! Something you must learn to seize.
He looks around, sees no one nearby, draws Preston into the darkness
of the livery. Thinking they are alone --
My roommate at Harvard had a cousin who spent a good deal of time
in Whitman's company.
(lowers his voice)
He told me...
+ANOTHER ANGLE - INSIDE LIVERY
ROBERT E at his workbench, turns his head to hear better...
+RESUME ANDREW AND PRESTON
... that Whitman is - peculiar.
(still doesn't get it)
He prefers the company of men, if you understand my meaning.
+ON ROBERT E --
shock and horror on his face.
+RESUME - PRESTON
His jaw dropping in stunned silence.
I only told you because...
Yes, yes, of course, not a word to anyone.
Andrew moves off while Preston absorbs this.
EXT. GOLD NUGGET - DAY THREE
Hank and several rowdies snicker broadly as Jake reads a line of
Whitman's poetry (from a magazine):
"I am for those who believe in loose delights, I share the
midnight orgies of young men, I dance with the dancers and drink
with the drinkers..."
During this, Preston passes by.
Shoulda booked his act here. Our customers would know how to 'preciate
Can't wait to see Dr. Mike's face when he reads that poem.
LAUGHTER from the assembled customers, as...
+ANGLE ON CLINIC - OPPOSITE
... Whitman comes out of the clinic. He nods amiably to the jocular
group, unaware he is the source of their merriment.
(heads his way)
Ah, Mr. Whitman! I've been looking for you.
Your kind attention flatters me.
Quite the opposite -- I'm afraid I've been terribly remiss. I had
no idea the extent of your infirmity...
Mike comes through the door of the clinic in time to catch the last
... and I see now that a public reading would be altogether too
taxing for you.
It's no trouble, no trouble at all.
No, no, I cannot allow you to run the risk of another stroke.
Andrew watches from the edges of the crowd.
It seems to me it's for Mr. Whitman to decide if he feels well enough.
Whitman, who's heard every excuse, sees right through him.
Perhaps there's another reason, Mr. Lodge?
Of course not. I'll arrange for a private car on tomorrow's train
to take you to Dr. Tuchman's Institute in Omaha.
Mike fumes that Preston is so spineless. But Whitman stands his
Oh, but I find your resort quite adequate. You were gracious enough
to offer me a full week's board and lodging, and I think I'll stick
to the bargain.
Preston hadn't counted on this. He's stuck -- but recovers:
If you insist. But the poetry reading...
... will be cancelled. I understand you perfectly.
(tips his hat)
Good day, Preston A. Lodge the Third.
Whitman walks off. Preston is face to face with Mike.
What happened? You've given in to pressure, haven't you?
I do not give in to pressure.
Preston rips down a handbill posted nearby. He looks to Andrew,
who nods discreetly --
I have my reasons.
Jake, who's observed all, can't resist a dig.
Whatsamatter, Preston? Lose your taste for poetry?
I suppose I should have known better than to think you would ultimately
take a stand.
Considering you're such a Whitman admirer, I'll leave that to you.
Perhaps one day you'll come to see the wisdom of my decision.
Preston strides off down the street, tearing down handbills as he
Well, Dr. Mike -- what are ya gonna do?
Mike looks after the retreating form of Preston, then looks to Andrew
-- who looks away, uncomfortable.
I don't know, Jake. But there will be a poetry reading, I can promise
OFF Mike's look of resolve and determination, we:
END ACT ONE
EXT. MEADOW - DAY THREE
Mike walks across the meadow toward the church.
EXT. CHURCH - CONTINUOUS
Strains of PIANO HYMN MUSIC ("Just As I Am"). Mike pushes
open the door...
INT. CHURCH - CONTINUOUS
... to find the Reverend at the piano, playing confidently (he's
been practicing since "Farewell Appearance"). He stops.
Yes - ?
It's Michaela, Reverend.
What can I do for you?
I'm here to ask a favor. I know we've both had reservations in the
past about Mr. Whitman, and I know this is asking a lot...
(a deep breath)
... but I hope you will consider it with an open mind.
I've come to ask if we may have the poetry reading here.
The Reverend's face tightens into a troubled frown.
This is the house of the Lord.
It's also a public gathering place. It would be a shame if people
didn't have a chance to hear a great writer speak his own words.
Silence from the Reverend. He doesn't want to turn down Mike, but
how can he say yes to this? She lays her hand lightly on his arm.
Mr. Whitman is a lonely man going through a difficult time. He needs
our help, Reverend.
When do you have to know?
I'm afraid we only have a few days.
He knits his brow, breathes a silent prayer. Reluctantly --
I will probably regret this...
OFF Mike's grateful smile...
INT. SPRINGS CHATEAU HALLWAY/ALCOVE - DAY THREE
Preston strides through the hallway with Gormley at his heels. He
spots the photograph of Whitman (with Preston's arm around him)
on the wall.
What is that doing there?
I put it where you instructed...
(cutting him off)
Take it down.
Sir - ?
Get rid of it. Right now.
Preston steels himself at the sight of Mike coming in the door.
Michaela - ?
I've come to see Mr. Whitman.
He's in the springs.
EXT. HOT SPRINGS/SPA - SAME TIME - DAY THREE
Whitman sits alone, soaking in the steaming water, reading a letter
written on flowery stationery. His journal lies nearby. Mike approaches,
cheerful about her good news:
The Reverend has agreed to let us have the poetry reading at the
(a quizzical look)
The church -- ?
We aren't all like Mr. Lodge. The Reverend is fairly broad-minded.
You've been very kind.
He slips the letter back inside the envelope, ponders it.
A proposal of marriage from a lady I've never met.
(a weary sigh)
It's my own fault. All those poems of yearning for a 'soul mate'
get me into trouble.
Perhaps you should reply.
(with a twinkle)
The truth is, I already have a soul mate.
You never mentioned it.
(when he doesn't reply)
Where is she?
I left my beloved in Washington.
I know when Sully's away I feel very lonely.
Whitman sighs deeply, again: she's touched a nerve.
Why not send for her?
Whitman gives her a penetrating look, weighing her suggestion and
wondering how she would respond if he took her advice.
EXT. LIVERY - NIGHT THREE
Grace has brought supper to Robert E, who's working late. They are
in the midst of a heated discussion.
It ain't natural, Grace. It's evil.
Well, all I know is, when I was a girl growin' up in N'Orleans,
there was all kinda folks. We jest minded our own business.
'Folks' - like him?
Plenty of families had their bachelor uncles or aunties.
You're the one always quotin' the Bible. You gonna tell me the Bible
says that's all right?
Bible says, 'Judge not, that ye be not judged.'
OFF Robert E, on the horns of a dilemma, confused by Grace's unexpected
EXT. HOMESTEAD - DAY FOUR
Sully is splitting firewood. He looks up to see the Reverend's buggy
approaching, driven by Robert E. He goes to meet them.
Mornin', Reverend. Robert E. Anything wrong?
Good morning, Sully. I'd like a word with Michaela, please.
Mike appears at the door.
Reverend - ?
I'm sorry, Michaela, I've come to say I've changed my mind. The
poetry readin' can't be at the church after all.
But you agreed. I've already told Mr. Whitman.
What made ya change your mind?
The Reverend faces grimly ahead.
There's no point to further discussion.
Mike looks from him to Robert E, who turns away from her look. Sully
The sooner Whitman leaves our town, the better.
At a gesture from the Reverend, the buggy lurches forward.
Good day, Dr. Mike. Sully.
They drive off. Mike turns to Sully in dismay.
Why won't they give him a chance? If they could only open their
minds they'd see his poetry is all about love.
Maybe that's what's botherin' 'em.
He goes back to chopping wood.
Where else can we have the reading? We have to find a place large
enough to fit everyone inside.
Why inside? How 'bout the meadow? Y'know how Mr. Whitman loves bein'
Mike considers it a moment, her eyes lighting up.
What a wonderful idea. It's perfect.
EXT. TRAIL THROUGH WOODS - DAY FOUR
Mike rides Flash along the trail, musing over the morning's events.
Something catches her attention. She reins the horse, stops, listening.
A FAINT WAILING sound.
She turns her horse off the main trail, following a track toward
the sound. As she draws closer, it becomes more distinct as Whitman's
voice, SINGING (tune: "Down in the Valley"):
Writing this letter containing three lines...
Mike stops, dismounts. She cautiously makes her way through foliage
as the SINGING grows LOUDER...
Answer my question, Will you be mine?...
She pushes aside a branch to stop in astonishment as she sees:
+SMALL CLEARING, NEAR CREEK - MIKE'S POV
Whitman sits on a rock, partially concealed by foliage, stark naked
but for his hat. His clothes flutter from a nearby branch. He vigorously
rasps his bare chest, sides, and arm with a stiff-bristled brush,
turning his skin pink, as he continues singing:
Will you be mine, dear, Will you be mine?...
Mr. Whitman - ?
He stops singing, looks up, seeing her.
Come no closer, dear lady. I wasn't expecting company.
+ANGLE - MIKE
Her eyes go to the fluttering clothing.
Are you sure you're all right?
I'm not half-cracked, if that's what you mean. You have stumbled
by accident upon my daily rejuvenation routine.
Then I won't disturb you.
No, no - wait, please.
He reaches out his cane and retrieves his trousers from the branch,
and begins pulling them on.
Sweet, sane, still Nakedness in Nature! -ah, if poor, sick humanity
in cities might really know it once more.
He yanks the suspenders up over his bare chest and hobbles toward
her, a comical sight in hat and bare feet.
There come moods when these clothes of ours are too irksome to wear.
Your mood seems rather improved.
I thought over what you said -- about feeling lonely? I've sent
for my soul-mate.
(not so sure)
Perhaps I should...
No wonder your spirits have lifted so. I am pleased.
They share a warm smile.
EXT. TELEGRAPH OFFICE - DAY FOUR
A saloon girl at the window waits for a letter. Next to a handbill
posted on the wall, two MEN pass the time of day.
Know what I heard about that Whitman feller over at the livery?
+HORACE AND SALOON GIRL
Turning curious eyes and ears toward the men.
EXT. SALOON - DAY FOUR
Saloon girls giggle around Hank as the tale spreads. Hank looks
over at the clinic, a grin spreading over his face.
No kiddin' - !
INT. BARBERSHOP - DAY FIVE
A scandalized look in Horace's eye, as Jake lathers his face.
You sure 'bout that?
Heard it with my own ears.
EXT. GENERAL STORE - DAY FOUR
Two women pick over potatoes, tongues wagging.
+ANGLE ON LOREN
Just inside the door, eavesdropping.
That's right. I heard it from Miz Bailey whose brother was by the
station pickin' up feed...
EXT. GRACE'S CAFE - DAY FOUR
Mike enters carrying her newly printed notice, finds Grace chopping
Oh, Grace. I have the new notice for you to post.
She holds up the notice for Grace to see.
+CLOSE ON NOTICE
"POETRY READING ON THE MEADOW, SATURDAY AFTERNOON, THREE O'CLOCK"
+ANGLE ON GRACE
Smiling at Mike, in admiration.
Good for you, Dr. Mike, for stickin' by him. Never mind the whole
town talkin' gossip.
About Mr. Whitman.
What about him?
Don't you know?
Grace leans in and whispers into Mike's ear. Mike's expression changes
to one of shock and chagrin. She stares at Grace, incredulous, as
END ACT TWO
EXT. HOMESTEAD PORCH - LATE AFTERNOON - DAY FOUR
Mike is beating rugs with a vengeance. Sully rides up, home from
work. He dismounts. Mike comes down to meet him.
The whole town is talking about Mr. Whitman. It seems...
She looks at him, surprised. Is that all he has to say?
Well, what do you think?
Don't matter what I think. It's just talk.
He leads the horse toward the barn. Mike follows him.
Sully begins brushing down his horse.
How do we know it isn't true?
Thought you were the one sayin' folks should keep an open mind.
This is different. We don't know anything about him -- as a person.
They are interrupted as Brian rides up on his horse. He dismounts,
clutching his book. He looks upset.
Hey, Ma. Hey, Sully.
Is something the matter?
Anthony called Mr. Whitman a sinner.
Mike and Sully trade a look -- how much has Brian heard? (During
following, Sully helps Brian unsaddle his horse.)
It ain't true. He's really nice, the way he explains stuff ya never
even thought about before.
You spoke with Mr. Whitman? You didn't mention it.
I talked to him for an article I'm writin' for the Gazette.
A little flutter of anxiety stirs in Mike.
So it was an interview.
Yeah. We took a walk in the woods.
Walt called it a 'ramble'.
That's what he said to call him.
Just the two of you?
Mike steals a quick look at Sully -- who shoots a warning look back:
relax, will ya?
He's helpin' me see things the way a poet does.
Each question leads to ten more. Brian picks up his book, starts
for the house.
I got some readin' to do.
He starts away. Mike tries to keep her voice casual:
Sweetheart, I know Mr. Whitman is a very interesting man -- but
if you plan to interview him again, perhaps it would be more professional
to do it in town.
Mike waits until Brian is out of earshot.
Sully, what if it is true?
Sully considers this a moment. Remembers --
The Cheyenne believe some folks are just natur'ly that way. 'Heh-emma-neh,'
they call 'em. They're respected members of the tribe, just like
Mike struggles to absorb this. She looks toward the house, her thoughts
Look, if you're worried 'bout Brian...
Well I... I don't know what to think. I mean, Mr. Whitman was there
in the clinic, right in front of me. And I didn't see it.
'Cause there was nothin' to see.
(isn't so sure)
Sully, if it is true and I didn't see it, what else did I miss?
Sully gives her a steady look. He clearly does not share her anxiety,
but gives her room to work it out for herself.
INT. CLINIC - DAY FIVE
Mike is at her desk, reading. There's a KNOCK at the door. She crosses
and opens it to find Whitman standing there.
She searches his face for clues. An awkward beat. He observes the
change in her.
I'm here for my appointment.
Yes, of course, come in.
He enters. She regains her professional demeanor, but the strain
How are you today?
(faint ironic smile)
The same as always.
More to the point, how are you?
I'm well, thank you.
(gestures toward table)
Let's begin by testing the reflexes in your leg.
He sits. She removes his shoe, rolls up the pantleg, peels down
the sock. He aches, seeing her discomfort.
She taps his kneecap with her rubber hammer. No response.
Have you been using the ointment?
I have, but...
(a shrug; then, gently)
Some things cannot be altered, dear Doctor. We must learn to accept
them as they are.
She continues testing his leg and foot, trying to decipher his meaning.
Cautiously, she broaches a delicate subject:
Brian told me about your ramble.
He's a dear boy.
He said -- you discussed poetry?
He hears the note of anxiety in her voice. He smiles innocently.
Idetect in him the soul of a poet.
Mike is flustered -- and more confused than ever. She quickly changes
Let me take a look at your arm...
INT. HOMESTEAD - NIGHT FIVE
Mike sits at the table, wrapped in her robe, pouring over Whitman's
book by candlelight. Sully comes downstairs looking for her.
Michaela - ?
She looks up, anguish written on her face.
"Camerado, I give you my hand! I give you myself more precious
than money, I give you myself before preaching and law."
He moves to kiss her, but she pulls away.
But do you see what it means?
"Will you give me yourself? Will you come travel with me? Shall
we stick by each other as long as we live?" Sully, he's talking
about his camerado. His comrade. A man.
It's the same words as before.
She searches his eyes, struggling to understand.
Are you saying even if it's true about him, it's all right?
What I'm sayin' is, even if it's true, he's the same man he always
He pauses and it hits her: that's what Whitman said.
What's changed is how folks look at him.
EXT. TRAIN STATION - PLATFORM - DAY SIX
Whitman is waiting as the train pulls in. Nearby, Mike picks up
her mail at the telegraph office. As she turns away, she notices
Whitman. She hesitates, uncomfortable yet curious.
Whitman doesn't notice Mike, his attention fixed on the disembarking
passengers. He brightens as he catches sight of PETER DOYLE, 34,
an urban working-class man unaccustomed to his ill-fitting suit
Pete - !
Doyle bounds carelessly off the train and warmly embraces the older
man, kissing him firmly on both cheeks.
Walt! Never thought I'd get here.
watching, chagrinned. Here is confirmation, in the flesh, for all
the town to see.
+RESUME WHITMAN AND DOYLE
They pat each other on the back affectionately. Pete slips a protective
arm under Walt's elbow as they turn -- and spot Mike. Whitman bows
gallantly to her.
Ah, Dr. Quinn. I want you to meet my friend Pete Doyle. Pete, this
is the angel who persuaded me to send for you.
Whitman looks at Mike, a gentle plea in his eyes.
Mike, hesitates -- and feels heads turning to stare. Slowly she
extends her hand.
A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Doyle.
Turning, Mike sees --
who is watching, scandalized.
+EXT. STREET THROUGH TOWN - DAY SIX
Whitman and Doyle walk arm-in-arm down the street, Walt hobbling
with dignity, Pete, carrying a small suitcase and taking in his
new surroundings -- a Western frontier town! -- with the wonder
of a child.
Welcome to the West, dear boy.
Mike follows them through town, as townsfolk peer through curtains,
lean out windows, and come out doors to gawk and smirk at the pair.
Robert E stares with silent disdain as they pass.
+OUTSIDE BARBERSHOP/GENERAL STORE
Hank saunters over to where Loren stands watching. Matthew and Jake
come out of the barbershop.
Look at 'em, will ya?
Matthew winces. He's unwilling to join in the ridicule, but unable
to keep himself from gawking at the approaching pair.
+ANGLE ON BANK
Loren's remark reaches Preston's ears. He turns to enter the bank
when Whitman stops him.
Ah, Mr. Lodge. Perhaps you would be so kind as to provide us with
transportation to the hotel.
I'm sorry, but we have no more vacancies.
(a glance at Jake and Hank)
Perhaps the Gold Nugget can accommodate your friend.
'Fraid we're all booked up.
The lie is confirmed by a nod from Jake. Loren nods in support.
Mike has come up quietly to stand between Grace and Andrew. She
is deeply disturbed by what she is witnessing.
Pete looks at Walt, uncertain.
Ain't I stayin' with you, Walt?
Whitman fixes his gaze on Preston.
My friend is tired after his long trip.
You insisted on sticking to our bargain, remember? It doesn't include
+ANGLE - MIKE
She looks around at the silent disapproval of her friends and neighbors.
Grace smiles back, sympathetic, then drops her eyes. Andrew miserably
stares at the ground.
Across the street, Mike notices Matthew, who looks upset, watching
to see what she will do.
Mike has a choice to make. Finally she steps forward:
I have a room at my clinic. You're welcome to stay there. Both of
Whitman is profoundly touched by her decency.
It'll only be for one night. We'll be on our way tomorrow.
Preston sheepishly retreats into his bank as Mike escorts Walt and
Pete toward the clinic...
+CROWD - MIKE'S POV
MOVING past faces etched with scorn, ridicule, and contempt.
Mike opens the door. She looks into Whitman's face. With great dignity
he gives a little nod and steps inside.
OFF Mike, uncertain why she's doing this but certain that it's the
right thing to do.
END ACT THREE
INT. CLINIC - DAY SEVEN
Mike looks up from cleaning instruments at a KNOCK.
Andrew enters. Mike gives him a searching look.
You knew all along, didn't you?
He can't look her in the eye. Miserably:
I came to apologize. I'm not proud of the way I dropped Whitman
in your lap. I didn't know what else to do.
He is not an evil man.
You're absolutely right. In fact, this paper...
(handing it to her)
... published last year in Berlin by Dr Westfal suggests sexual
deviancy may be a genetic defect.
Mike takes the paper, glances quickly through the pages.
According to Westfal, these people can't help themselves -- nor
control themselves. It's not their fault.
Fault? What an odd idea.
What does he suggest for treatment?
Placement in an asylum is recommended.
She hands the paper back to him.
How horrible. That's unnecessarily cruel.
Andrew shrugs a shrug of clinical detachment.
I need hardly tell you -- as physicians, our choices are not always
She looks at him, seeing the cold clinical side of medicine and
not wanting any part of it.
Suppose Dr Westfal is wrong? Suppose it isn't a genetic defect?
Then, it's a matter of will. If they can't control their impulses
There's a TAP at the door and Grace enters, carrying a tray.
Hope I'm not interruptin'. Thought your guests might be hungry.
Andrew, relieved, heads for the door.
I was just leaving.
Mike watches him go, turns wearily to Grace.
That's very kind, Grace. Thank you.
Any time, Dr Mike.
She slips out. Mike picks up the tray, and heads upstairs...
INT. CLINIC - RECOVERY ROOM - CONTINUOUS - DAY SEVEN
Whitman sits propped up on the bed, hat on as usual, while Pete
sits in a chair next to him reading a letter. It is a warm, intimate
scene. The door is slightly ajar.
Ho, ho that's a good one, Pete, does it really say that?
Mike cautiously sticks her head in.
I hope I'm not interrupting...
Walt is pleased to see her.
Come on in. Pete's just reading me my mail.
Mike enters, sets down the tray.
You sound in high spirits today.
I feel like a new-born babe.
I'm certainly happy to hear that, after what happened yesterday.
Oh, I don't let that bother me -- these poor human specimens, strapped
in their tight boots, buttons, and the whole cast-iron civilizee
life -- no time for that when one is in love...
Mike exchanges a look with Pete as Whitman hoists himself to his
feet, touching Pete's shoulder, and hobbles excitedly around the
... Oh, yes, I'm in love with being out of the city, in love with
the honest gurgling stream, with the rough grey oaks and the emerald
Pete laughs delightedly at Whitman's ecstasy...
... in love with this rampant wild territory of yours, this Colorado!
Mike looks from one face to the other, touched by their sheer happiness.
I almost forgot -- Grace sent over some lunch.
Whitman turns enthusiastically toward the tray.
Vittals? Sustenance? Marvelous! I'm starved.
Prob'ly from all that talkin'.
Whitman roars with laughter. Pete grins. Mike smiles in spite of
EXT. MEADOW - DAY SEVEN
Sully hammers a board onto a platform for the poetry reading. A
few benches are scattered about, others wait in the wagon to be
unloaded. Mike paces, unburdening her soul:
I wish you could have seen him. He was so obviously happy, so full
She stops, disturbed, trying hard to make peace with it.
Yet I just can't help feeling it isn't natural. I wish I could understand
Sully stops his work. He senses her struggle.
Remember why you told him to send for his friend?
I was worried about him. He appeared discouraged and sad and lonely.
An' that ain't natural either, right? You're a doctor an' ya wanted
him to feel better.
Well, yes, of course. I didn't know his soul-mate was a man.
An' now he's better.
(she can't deny it)
Why can't ya just accept that?
This stops her. Why can't she?
EXT. TRAIL THROUGH WOODS - DAY SEVEN
Brian moves along the trail with his fishing pole.
EXT. BOARDWALK OUTSIDE GENERAL STORE - DAY SEVEN
Mike passes the store just as Peter Doyle comes out. He stops, tips
his hat awkwardly.
Good afternoon, Mr. Doyle.
She passes by, but he stops her.
Ma'am. I just want to say thanks for lookin' after Walt. He was
so poorly, and whatever you done, he's much better.
It was your arrival that cheered him up.
He blushes with pleasure at her compliment. They exchange a warm
comes out of the barbershop, heading for the store. He stares pointedly
at Mike - which she ignores.
+RESUME MIKE AND PETE
Walt says your boy's a real fine writer.
It's kind of him to take an interest.
Guess they'll be back any time now, so as we don't miss our train.
They're out together -- fishing?
Pete nods his head, smiling.
Walt says it's how he gets his inspiration.
Her heart skipping a beat.
Yes. Well, goodbye, Mr. Doyle.
She watches him walk off (toward store), then turns and heads the
other way, as her mind starts to whirl.
INT. CLINIC - DAY SEVEN
Mike enters, closes the door. She leans against it a moment, pushing
away unwelcome thoughts.
She sits down at her desk and opens a patient chart, begins to make
notes. She looks up, distracted. Wills herself back to work. But
she finds it impossible to concentrate. She lays down her pencil.
Stands. Goes out again.
EXT. MEADOW - DAY SEVEN
Sully arranges the last of the benches. Mike approaches, unable
to disguise her concern.
Sully -- Brian's gone fishing with Mr. Whitman.
Didn't say he couldn't go fishin'.
But I told him to stay in town.
Yeah, for an interview.
She looks at him, can't believe he is so calm about this.
Sully, did you ever stop to think, what if you're wrong about him?
For just a moment, Sully allows himself to consider it. Mike can
contain herself no longer.
I'm going to find Brian.
Just take it easy --
But she's already running back toward town for her horse.
(starting after her)
Michaela - !
EXT. WOODS - SERIES OF SHOTS - DAY SEVEN
Mike leads the way, following the trail where she encountered Whitman
+CLOSE ON MIKE
her face tight with concern.
+BANK OVERLOOKING CREEK
Mike and Sully ride up and dismount. They scan the creekside below.
Sully ties their horses, leads the way on foot...
Sully and Mike clamber over big rocks near the water. Suddenly Sully
stops. He holds up his hand, lays a finger across his lips signalling
for silence. He points toward...
EXT. CREEKSIDE - DAY SEVEN
CLOSE ON a line, dropping into the water.
+ANGLE ON BIG ROCK
Brian and Whitman sit leaning against it in companionable silence,
drinking in the beauty of time and place -- murmuring water, chattering
birds, rustling branches, fishing lines dangling in the water.
+DIFFERENT ANGLE - SULLY AND MIKE
They creep closer, staying out of sight. Sully keeps a close eye
on Mike, who starts toward Brian -- but then instinctively stops
in time to see --
+WHITMAN AND BRIAN - MIKE'S POV
Brian glances at the old man, working up his nerve to ask him something.
Mr. Whitman - ?
Wish you'd call me Walt.
Walt -- are you a sinner?
Whitman looks gravely out over the water.
Last time I looked, the Good Book says we're all sinners.
In town, they're sayin' you're a Nancy-boy. What's that mean?
+MIKE AND SULLY
exchange a look as they eavesdrop.
+RESUME WHITMAN AND BRIAN
It's a word, son. A word, used as a weapon.
Oh, words can wound deeply as a bayonet. But words also have the
power to heal.
He is interrupted by the SONG of a thrush nearby, pauses to listen.
I'm a singer of words, and so are you. It's up to us, you and me,
to use words for building up, not tearing down. To babble love across
this wondrous, young land. To celebrate what's good, and true and
free and --
He breaks off, searching for a word.
Whitman looks at him, impressed.
That's a good word. Unfettered.
+MIKE AND SULLY
She smiles, knowing where it came from. She exchanges a long look
with Sully. Brian is in good hands, and Sully was right: it is all
Sully is relieved to see she's finally at peace with herself.
With a quick move of head she signals -- let's go. They quietly
turn and creep away.
EXT. BANK OVERLOOKING CREEK - MOMENTS LATER - DAY SEVEN
Mike and Sully reach their horses. She swings into the saddle, looks
down at him.
Do you remember what you told me, that his poetry is about what's
already deep in our hearts?
And you said it's nothin' to be scared of.
Mike nods thoughtfully. Sully mounts up, and together they ride
off through the woods.
INT. CLINIC RECOVERY ROOM - DAY SEVEN
Whitman snaps shut his valise. Pete helps him into his coat. Walt
picks up his journal from the bedside table and tucks it into his
pocket. Laying a hand on Pete's shoulder:
So, Pete, shall we journey forth, my boy?
Pete grins, nods, picks up the suitcases. There's a TAP at the door
and Mike enters. She takes in the moment.
Yes, dear Doctor, we must say goodbye.
I was hoping I could persuade you to stay -- until the poetry reading?
Whitman looks from her to Pete, surprised -- and pleased.
It's up to you, Walt.
We all need to hear your eloquent words.
A beat. Whitman smiles, remembering their talk in the clinic --
as we hear the rich sound of WHITMAN'S VOICE, OVER (PRELAP SOUND
from next scene):
I sing the body electric, The bodies of men and women engirth me,
and I engirth them...
EXT. MEADOW - DAY EIGHT
PAN DOWN from trees to find Whitman standing at the podium, reading
I have perceived that to be with those I like is enough... To pass
among them... to touch any one...
Rows of mostly empty benches. Clustered in a small, spellbound group
are Mike and Sully, Brian, Grace, and Peter Doyle. As Whitman's
voice continues, OVER, Matthew walks up, slips into an empty seat...
... to rest my arm ever so lightly round his or her neck for a moment...
I do not ask any more delight...
+POV OF TOWN (FROM MEADOW) - DAY EIGHT (SAME TIME)
I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear...
EXT. LIVERY - SAME TIME
Robert E working at his workbench --
The carpenter singing as he measures his plank...
INT. BARBERSHOP - SAME TIME
Jake, draping a customer for a shave...
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work...
INT. GENERAL STORE - CONTINUOUS
Loren ringing up a sale for a customer...
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench...
INT. CHURCH - CONTINUOUS
The Reverend, laying out hymnals...
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else...
DISSOLVE BACK TO:
EXT. MEADOW - DAY EIGHT
CLOSE on Brian, listening, following every word:
There was a child went forth every day, And the first object he
looked upon and received with wonder or pity or love or dread, that
object he became...
Who looks proudly at Brian...
And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part
of the day... or for many years or stretching cycles of years.
+PAN FROM FACE TO FACE
Enthralled and electrified by his majestic voice...
The early lilacs became part of this child, And grass, and white
and red morning glories, and white and red clover, and the song
of the phoebe-bird...
+WIDE SHOT - WHITMAN AND AUDIENCE
PULLING BACK until they are lost in the meadow as his VOICE rolls
And the school mistress that passed on her way to the school ...and
the friendly boys that passed... and the quarrelsome boys... and
the tidy and freshcheeked girls... and the barefoot negro boy and
girl, And all the changes of city and country wherever he went...
These became part of that child who went forth every day, and who
now goes, and will always go forth every day.