Young Adult Script posted October 4, 2015 Chapters: 2 3 -4- 5 


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Saving Natives from deadly smallpox

A chapter in the book SPIRIT BASKET

Scene 4: The Priest

by Alaskastory



Background
Jared, a teenage boy, delivers his ancestors�??�?�¢?? Spirit Basket to a museum, and tells the stories it holds. Over 270 years each generation had ways greatly changed by strangers coming to Alas
Scene 4

EXT. FADE-OUT OVER OCEAN AND IN TOWARD UNIVERSITY OFFICE

INT. DR. LEE'S OFFICE - AFTERNOON

DR. LEE
So, Irina and Richard lived their lives together?

JARED
Yes, with their six children they settled far out on the Aleutian Chain at Unalaska. For many years Richard paddled canoes on high seas to serve a priest traveling from one colony to the next.

DR. LEE
That had to be Father Ioann Veniaminov of the Russian Orthodox Church. He was a brilliant man known as an inventor, builder and the master of several languages. He actually wrote an Aleut dictionary and did biblical translations.

JARED
The youngest son, Mikhail Zanskar, was a student in his school. ~He was picked to travel to Sitka Island in 1834. Father Veniaminov needed his help.

DR. LEE
What sort of help could that boy do?

JARED
Two things. Quickly learn the Tlingit language to communicate with unfriendly Indians. And Keep company with Timofei, a son of the priest.

EXT. DOCK FOR BOARDING A SHIP - MORNING

Pier is crowded with passengers and freight preparing to board a skiff that will be paddled to a ship in the harbor. Father Veniaminov stands much taller than anyone and is with his wife and son, Timofei, who is younger but a head taller than Mikhail. Mikhail is beside his large family consisting of three older sisters, husbands and their children, his mother, Irina, and father, Richard. Irina is holding the large family ancestral basket.

IRINA
All you will need in New Archangel is packed in this basket. Your grandmother would want you to have it.

MIKHAIL
(takes the basket and strokes the red designs)
I promise to give it good care.

RICHARD
Every day you are away I shall remember when I sailed there with Baranov. The colony did well until it was destroyed.

IRINA
The good Father is sure to teach the Tlingit Indians to turn away from fighting.

VENIAMINOV
(wears a broad smile.)
I am thankful to hear you say that, Irina. The Tlingit people are difficult but clever and smart traders. They are to be admired.

TIMOFEI
(a pout of discontent on his face)
How can we admire them if they worship birds and animal gods?

VENIAMINOV
These people have much to learn about Christ, but their art and culture is advanced compared to many in the world.

TIMOFEI
Mikhail says they killed hundreds of colonists. I want to go back to Siberia ...and so does Mother.

RICHARD
I did tell him stories of how Captain Baranov set up the colony. Years later it was attacked.

MIKHAIL
But it was long ago that it happened. Now Father Veniaminov speaks their language.

VENIAMINOV
And so do you Mikhail, my good student. Come on. Time to get into the skiff.

Mikhail quickly gives sisters, nephews, nieces and his mother and father farewell hugs, boards the skiff. His teary gaze lingers on the family he leaves behind.

EXT. SIX DAYS LATER SHIP ENTERS A BUSY HARBOR - AFTERNOON

MIKHAIL
Can you smell that?
(takes deep breaths)
It's trees, real trees. Not ones that drift to the beach.

TIMOFEI
Six days to get here. So now we might get off and go climb a tree.

MIKHAIL
But look, Timofei, at what the Tlingit's have made of trees. Houses, boats.

One side of the shoreline are fiercely decorated wooden boats and a row of houses.

TIMOFEI
I see what I want to see. A fence! It's really high and goes all around the town.

MIKHAIL
Looks like a stockade of cannons. There's a church with a steeple and a very large home up on that hill.

VENIAMINOV
(comes up and puts a hand on his son's shoulder)
That is Baranov Castle, the governor's mansion. And, I do believe coming along side us is Governor Wrangell.

Sailors paddle a boat up to the ship. A short man with a bright red beard waves and begins to shout.

WRANGELL
I am Baron Ferdinand von Wrangell. The governor of Russian America. No one may come ashore until vaccinated for smallpox. Cursed American whalers have spread deathly sickness here.

VENIAMINOV
We all have been vaccinated in Unalaska.

The governor responded by signaling he would board. Father Veniaminov gave him a hand and pulled him onto the deck. Despite his tall hat, the governor barely reached the priest's chest. He shook hands.

WRANGELL
Welcome to New Archangel. Boats will take you to shore. When you get settled in quarters, do not ever go beyond the wall that encircles the town. The stockade is there to keep hostile Indians out. Please be guests in my home for dinner.

INT. BARANOV CASTLE SITTING ROOM - EVENING

A piano is being played and is accompanied by a violinist. The sounds are foreign to Mikhail. He covers his ears.

TIMOFEI
Don't you want to listen, Mikhail? The music sounds so good.

MIKHAIL
It is the loudest noise I ever heard. The sounds scream at me.

VENIAMINOV
You need not stay. Feel free to run on back to our quarters.

TIMOFEI
It's kind of scary out there.

MIKHAIL
Want to check out the bell tower? It will be a good climb, Timofei.

Timofei eyes widen. Father Veniaminov gives his son an approving nod.

TIMOFEI
I guess I'll go.

Mikhail grabs his arm and they exit.

INT. BELL TOWER OF THE CHURCH - EVENING

The summer sun is beginning to set as the boys climb up a long case of twisting stairs.

MIKHAIL
We see so much from up here.
(looks about, stops abruptly)

TIMOFEI
(looking in opposite direction)
There are houses all the way up that road. Someone has a horse pulling a cart and two people are riding bicycles.

MIKHAIL
Over here I see a tribe there along the beach. Men and women tending cook fires.
(he gasps)

TIMOFEI
(pressing against Mikhail)
I hear screaming and Indians are running all around.

MIKHAIL
Look a woman who screams carries her child into the sea.

A man waving a mask chases after the woman who plunges the lifeless child into water.

MIKHAIL
Hear the words the shaman yells? It means, "Child burns with evil".

TIMOFEI
Ugly bird beak on the mask.

MIKHAIL
He wags his mask over her, but she still screams and plunges the child. How sad! See the little one's hair float over the water?

Timofei stumbles into the church bell. It gives a loud BONG. A startling silence follows. Mikhail grabs hold of Timofei.

MIKHAIL
Crouch, Timofei, the villagers are looking up here. One is raising his fist.

TIMOFEI
(trembling)
I'm sorry, I'm sorry. The whole town heard the bell.

MIKHAIL
Let's get down the stairs.

They descend the steep staircase.

INT. LOG CABIN QUARTERS - EVENING

Both boys hunch over and sit at the table. The boys jump up and stand at attention as Father Veniaminov and his wife enter.

VENIAMINOV
(slight smile)
We are well aware you reached the top of the bell tower.

MRS. VENIAMINOV
Did you enjoy seeing all the sights from up there.

TIMOFEI
No, it was so terrible. The lady threw her baby in the ocean.

Timofei rushes into his mother's arms. She looks shocked. Father Veniaminov turns an intense blue-eyed stare to Mikhail.

MIKHAIL
At first the Indian village was peaceful with men and women tending fires and doing chores. Then, instantly, everyone started chasing after a screaming woman. She carried a limp child into the sea.

TIMOFEI
A witch doctor yelled at her.

MIKHAIL
The masked shaman cried, "Child burns with evil".

VENIAMINOV
No doubt the child has smallpox.
(hesitates with head prayerfully bowed)
Tomorrow morning I'll insist the governor allows us to visit those people.

TIMOFEI
Tomorrow? So soon?

VENIAMINOV
(touching his son's shoulder)
I'm sure your mother will need your help tomorrow. Mikhail will go with me.

MIKHAIL
(trying to sound brave)
Yes sir.

EXT. OUTSIDE GARDEN AT BARANOV CASTLE - MORNING

In light rain four soldier with rifles lead the way. Fr Veniaminov appears in full white flowing robe, lofty headdress covering his unruly hair. Following is Dr. Popov in a black coat, derby and carrying a doctor's valise. Mikhail hurries to walk beside the priest.

MIKHAIL
(on wooden boardwalk they pass many buildings)
The governor is letting us go through the stockade?

VENIAMINOV
It did take some encouragement.

At the wall, soldiers unbar the gate. Veniaminov raises a hand to stop them from leading the way.

VENIAMINOV
You men wait here for our return.

DR. POPOV
The Governor ordered them to protect us...

VENIAMINOV
We will walk not with soldiers, but with God.

DR. POPOV
That can't be wise. I won't enter without their protection.

VENIAMINOV
(thoughtfully stroking his beard)
Give the serum to Mikhail. He will carry it to the dying children.

Veniaminov turns on his heal and stomps off down the hill. The rain stops. Sunlight beams off the white robe.

DR. POPOV
What? I never heard of such...

MIKHAIL
(taking the bag from the doctor)
I saw a tiny child with its hair floating in sea foam. They need help.

Mikhail runs after Veniaminov.

MIKHAIL
Father, behind us there are cannons on the wall that are aimed right at the village.

VENIAMINOV
That helps to explain the looks of anger, fear, and deep sadness. Listen, many voices are speaking.

Dozens of small wood houses line the beach. Veniaminov stops at the largest one painted with a long, red tongue hanging from the face of a bear. Boats on the beach are decorated, men wear hats shaped like birds or animals. Women huddle together, babies strapped to their backs and children cling to their fringed shawls.

VENIAMINOV
(with long arms outstretched)
I am your friend.
(speaks slowly in their language)
Here to protect you and your children from the smallpox disease.

SHAMAN
(points a bird-beaked mask)
What is this? You bring a trick?

WOMAN
(with arms around two children)
Shaman called to gods. Yet, my two sons and my husband died. My sister too. Only these children are left.

VENIAMINOV
(a tall figure towering over all)
Bring them to me.

MIKHAIL
(indicating a sturdy log for sitting)
The Father will help you.

WOMAN
(scowling toward men holding spears)
I must try.

SECOND WOMAN
I will bring my son too.

Other women fall back around the shaman. The men circle Mikhail and Veniaminov.

MIKHAIL
Be brave. This little mosquito bite will keep you well.

Veniaminov does not hesitate. Mikhail opens the bag and Veniaminov gives shots to the women and their children.

INT. BARANOV CASTLE SITTING ROOM - EVENING

WRANGELL
(lifting a glass for a toast)
At the end of this summer, your frequent visits to strong-willed, Tlingit people made them become friends. Many even attend church services. Tell me what your secret is?

VENIAMINOV
In order to influence the heart, one must speak from the heart. Then the hearts of listeners will find your words hard to resist.

MIKHAIL
I will forever remember that secret.

FADE AWAY to University of Alaska campus and museum.

INT. DR. LEE'S OFFICE - AFTERNOON

DR. LEE
Amazing how Father Ioann Veniaminov was such an outstanding missionary priest. In history, both here and in Russia, he is revered as Saint Innocent of Alaska.



This screenplay is based on my novel, The Spirit Basket, beginning in 1745, ending in 2015. Each scene depicts what a teenager may have actually experienced in times of struggle.
Many thanks to benhar for "Ship in the Night" illustration.
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