Rebel Treasure sixteenth post

EXT. MAIL STEAMER, OFF GULF COAST OF PANAMA – DAY
Title: April 1861
Early morning haze rises from the water along the shore, giving the appearance that the land is floating on a low cloud.
Lon paces the foredeck in his U. S. uniform, deep in thought. At Romeo’s approach, he stops his pacing and goes to meet him.

ROMEO
The captain’s steward told me that the mail steamer that passed us yesterday is the one that’ll be taking the gold North.

LON
Good. We’re in time.

INT. SHIPPING OFFICE – CRISTOBAL, PANAMA – DAY
A more than puzzled look greets Lon in the face of the balding, fortyish MR. HARVEY, seated behind a desk piled high with shipping manifests. He looks away from Lon to his SECRETARY who had ushered him in.

MR. HARVEY
(to the Secretary)
What’s the meaning of this interruption? Can’t you see I am busy?

SECRETARY
I believe, your standing order requires me to present immediately anyone sent by Mr. Clay.

MR. HARVEY
(flustered but unrepentent)
Quite right! So you have, now begone!

As the secretary retreats behind the door, Harvey thrusts an open palm out to Lon.

MR. HARVEY (CONT’D)
Your bona fides?

Lon removes a strip of paper from his wallet and passes it to him. Mr. Harvey holds it up to the lamp on his desk, the heat of which causes a message to appear. He grunts in satisfaction.

MR. HARVEY (CONT’D)
And what can I do for you, Mr. Turner?

LON
Some information. Mr. Clay informed me that you would be able to put a ship at my disposal.

MR. HARVEY
You’ll have to make other arrangements, I am afraid.

LON
Sir?

MR. HARVEY
Haven’t you heard the news?
(Lon shakes his head)
Here!

He shoves a newspaper headline at him, it reads:
“The War Begun”

LON
It finally happened! When?

MR. HARVEY
Two weeks ago. Baltimore is in flames. Norfolk is ours. Old Abe is quaking in his boots.

Mr. Harvey’s jubilation sobers as he notices Lon’s downcast demeanor.

MR. HARVEY (CONT’D)
That upsets your plans?

LON
Mine. And those of our fellow Knights. I was charged with scouting out the possibility of seizing a certain shipment before it was delivered to New York.

Mr. Harvey’s gaze wanders to his window and the ship moored to the dock.

MR. HARVEY
Ah! But she is not going to New York! Washington has ordered that the gold be taken to the capital via Annapolis.

LON
Interesting!
(he walks to the window)
I think I’ll ask her captain the favor of transporting me and my servant back to the Academy.
Can you get a message right away to Mr. Clay for me?

Rebel Treasure sixteenth post

[next pt 17]

Rebel Treasure fourteenth post

Rebel Treasure fourteenth post

INT. HEMSLEY’S TAVERN KITCHEN – NIGHT
The kitchen bustles with activity. Romeo is seated at a crowded servants’ table. Lon talks with his childhood friend and family slave.

ROMEO
Bless me, but haven’t you grown. And such a gentleman.

LON
I’m not the only one. Look at you, you’re taller than me.

A SERVING GIRL delivers a steaming platter to Romeo. She smiles at him coyly and drops a curtsy before dashing away.

LON (CONT’D)
How are things to home?

ROMEO
Mostly the same. Though Sissy done had her twins.

LON
Twins?

ROMEO
Yes sir. A boy and a girl. And there’s gonna be a powerful cane crop this year.

Romeo takes a bite of food.

LON
I can’t wait to see home again. It’s been a long time since we sat around the sugar house together.

ROMEO
Oh, we’re not a-headed home.

LON
What?

Romeo puts his fork down, realizing that he’s said more than he should.

ROMEO
Now, I shouldn’t have said anything about that. It isn’t my place. Massa Clay–

Before Romeo finishes talking, Lon is on his feet and out of the kitchen.

HEMSLEY’S TAVERN
The CLATTER of silverware and the BUZZ of voices lend a cheery tone to the busy tavern. Mr. Clay occupies a cozy table in the corner by a roaring fire.

LON
What’s going on? Romeo tells me that we are not going home.

Clay eats a spoonful of the chowder while waving to Lon to take his seat. Without ceremony, Lon plops down and tries to wait for his answer, but loses patience.

LON (CONT’D)
Did my father send you to encourage me to resign?

Clay looks around for eavesdroppers.

CLAY
Please, Mr. Turner, a little discretion.

LON
Are you going to answer my question?

CLAY
First, let us eat. I am famished.

LON
And I, sir, am famished for the truth!

Clay drops his spoon into the bowl and pushes it away.

CLAY
All right then. No. Your father did not send me to influence you. But he did send me–

LON
For what?

CLAY
I see another uniform in your future, Mr. Turner.
(pauses as his words sink in)
I am authorized to offer you a commission, when the time is right, in the Navy of our new Southern nation.

LON
And why would I not be going home, then?

CLAY
Quite simply, we have a mission for you.

The interest and excitement on Lon’s face glows almost as bright as the fire behind him.

LON
Where?

CLAY
We think you should take a tour of the Caribbean. There are some sons of the South serving in the U. S. Army down in Panama, and we want you to contact them and make a similar offer.

Lon grows thoughtful, dropping his eyes to stare at his bowl of chowder.

LON
Would this new nation have an interest in acquiring a shipment of gold?

Clay’s eyebrows rise in surprise, and he leans forward.

LON (CONT’D)
I have heard that every spring a shipment crosses Panama on the way to New York from California. I could keep my eyes open.

CLAY
Do that! A nation runs on the yellow metal. I shall contact my fellow “knights” and we’ll see what they can do to help. I have a feeling that you are going to go far in your profession.

The blaze from the fireplace illuminates the pin on Clay’s lapel – a golden circle.

[next pt 15]