I recently came across an old computer file on my PC, and realized it was the second draft of my first screen play.
The following is the first sequence that was dropped when I completely revised the next draft, switching the protagonist from George Whitefield to a young fatherless chimneysweep.
It is based upon a true incident in the life of the 18th Century Evangelist. Hope you enjoy it.
(Apologies in advance for the odd look to the formatting. I have not yet found a fix on WordPress).
EXT. A SCOTTISH MOOR – DAY (1741)
Two figures on horseback crawl at a snail’s pace across the empty moor.
I dinna think you shoulda given money to that
there widow, Mr. Whitefield.
Come now, Ian, if the good Lord makes us aware of someone
in distress we should relieve them.
GEORGE AND IAN
The young clergyman and his older companion slow their mounts as the road at this point steepens.
I be a-thinkin’ that four shilling would ha’ done for her.
Perhaps three e’en.
Her creditor was suing for a guinea and six. Less would
not gain back her furniture for her.
So she said.
They stop and dismount to lead their horses up the hill.
AT THE TOP OF THE HILL
A HIGHWAYMAN sits astride a horse keeping watch from behind an outcropping. He has a fine tricorn hat and lace at his throat, but his coat is faded and tattered. His hand rests on one of two pistols jammed in his belt.
HALFWAY UP THE HILL
George and Ian stop to rest.
Did ye ever stop and think of the debt you were
The thought of that debt never leaves me.
And it never will if you persist in giving money away. Ye wit well,
the Lord commands us to be good stewards.
Ian picks up the reins of his steed and walks it onward. George remains at a standstill and casts his eyes up to heaven.
(In a low voice)
Vindicate me, O Lord.
TOP OF THE HILL
The highwayman backs his mount deeper into the cover of the outcropping. The horse snorts and paws the ground.
He puts a steadying hand to her muzzle.
He screws his face up in the effort to hear his approaching prey.
George and Ian crest the hill and draw near to his hiding place.
He takes the reins in his teeth and with his pistols at the ready, kicks his mount into action.
The highwayman at once blocks their path, drops the reins and shouts:
(With larcenous relish)
Stand and deliver.
George and Ian stand beside their mounts stupid with surprise.
Give me your purses.
George draws his purse out.
It falls with a TINKLE at the feet of the highwayman’s horse.
Damn your eyes. Pick that up and give it me proper.
George walks over, picks it up and hands it to the highwayman.
I’ll have yours, and be quick about it.
Ian grudgingly takes out his purse and hands it to George who passes it up to the highwayman.
Will you spare us the price of a meal?
No, but I’m much obliged for the price of mine.
The highwayman spurs his horse around and gallops away.
A LITTLE FURTHER DOWN THE ROAD
George’s face, wreathed in a smile, beams at his friend.
It’s much better that our widow has the money
than that outlaw, wouldn’t you say?
Ian GRUMBLES an assent.
At the SOUND OF HOOVES they both look round. It’s the highwayman again.
George and Ian huddle behind their horses. The highwayman charges to a stop.
I’ve decided that you will oblige me by trading coats.
George takes off his coat and hands it up to the highwayman.
You have much more need of the coat of righteousness.
Save your sermons, parson.
The highwayman puts on the fine coat and tosses down his tattered one, turns his horse and gallops off.
On the road now nearing a village, George pulls the tattered coat closer about him to ward off the cold. The pair rides on in silence.
Ian turns his head at the SOUND OF GALLOPING HOOVES.
It’s him, again! Ride for your life!
George and Ian kick their horses into a gallop, and streak towards the village. The highwayman BELLOWS in anger at them to stop.
George and Ian reach the village and the highwayman, reins in his horse and shakes his fist in rage. Then turns and flees back down the road.
The village’s single street is empty, only by the curl of smoke from each of the chimneys do we know that the village is inhabited.
George and Ian stand beside their mounts to catch their breath.
I was sure he was a-meaning to kill us that time.
Aye. Thank the Lord we were so close to this village.
Ian eyes his companion with a wry smile.
You look a very scarecrow, Mr. Whitefield.
George lifts the hem of the coat, and feels the heft of a considerable weight.
He tears at the lining of the hem and takes out a small but heavy sack.
Bless my soul, Ian, will you look at this.
George pours the contents out into the palm of his hand.
Aye! It must have been what he came back for. With this I
can get some material to send to my orphans for winter clothes.
I know..I know.. It could be used to pay the debt. But this
falls very short of what the orphanage owes and is
remarkably close to what the material will cost.
You’ll be returning to London without repaying that debt?
The title sequence follows as the conversation continues against the backdrop of London.