A Girl of the Limberlost (1990) Movie Script

(grandiose music)
(gentle piano music)
- Hello.
What's your name?
Go ahead.
(gentle orchestral music)
- Shoo.
Get on now, shoo.
Get on now.
Old Black just about walked off.
Where's that girl again?
- Can I help out?
- You had your chance, I told you,
if you wanna go to school,
you prove you can get your work done here.
- It'll be done tomorrow
before school, I promise.
- No.
- You lost your chance.
Not a soul to help since your
father died 16 years ago.
- Mother, may I come in?
- Elnora, if it's about high school.
- Oh, Mother, please, I
really wanna go to school.
- Seven years of schooling
is plenty good enough.
It's not as if I ask
somebody to help out here.
The farm is more important!
- Yes, Mother.
(door closing)
(crickets chirping)
Why is mama so stubborn?
Was your mother this difficult Freckles?
If only you could tell me what to do.
I know I can do the high school lessons.
I studied all summer.
Ms. Sims, remember her?
My teacher at Bershowitz School,
she passed me on with honors
and said, "Elnora, you have the mind
to go right through to college and beyond
if you work hard."
I know you think it's
in poor taste to brag,
but I guess I'm doing
it because I'm scared.
I'm scared I won't be able to go Freckles.
But I've gotta figure this out tonight
because tomorrow school starts.
(rooster crowing)
(door slamming)
(horse whinnying)
- Mmh.
Chores are done.
(horse grunting)
- Good morning.
(door closing)
Milkin's done.
- Better wash up and change your clothes.
It's a long walk to town.
- Mother?
You'll let me go?
Oh, thank you, Mother.
Oh, you'll never regret this.
- Hurry up or you'll be late.
Just be home as quick as you can.
You've gone off forgetting your food.
- I don't want anything to eat.
- You'll take this or
you'll not go one step more.
Walk almost three miles and then no food
from one till late in the day.
Pretty figure you'd cut
if you had your way.
Fixed it special.
It's chicken, your favorite.
- Thank you, Mother, goodbye.
- Not so fast.
No child of mine'll walk the streets
of Onabasha looking like
a play actress woman.
Wet your hair and pull it back decent
while I find something warm in case
the weather turns.
And remember this, Elnora,
there won't be any place to run off to
when the going gets too hard.
No safe secret places to sing
and pretend the hours away.
Although why you love
that ugly dangerous swamp
is beyond me.
- There's great beauty in it, Mother,
when you know how to look.
- You won't fit in with
those frilly town girls.
- I'll be late.
- Keep warm.
Come directly back home.
(whimsical music)
- [Billy] Help!
Get away!
Get away!
(dog barking)
- Bad dog!
Get outta here!
Go home!
You can come down.
It's all right now.
Billy, don't you go to school?
- Didn't have much a chance for that.
- Oh.
- Probably got some food in there, huh?
Maybe even more than you'd want.
- I'll look and see.
- Your ma pack this grub for you?
- Yeah.
- You sure are lucky, ma'am.
You got yourself a ma.
- Well, where are your folks?
- Pa's comin' get me.
That milk you got in that jug?
- Where's your mother then?
- Took sick and died.
So me and my Pa, we hit the road.
Livin' on trains mostly.
Where do you live?
- Back up the road in Limberlost.
(suspenseful piano music)
(bell ringing)
- Excuse me.
Would you please tell me
where the freshmen go?
- The same place as the freshmen.
- I'll wager you're
the first person I meet
when I find it.
- Have you ever seen an uglier hat?
(bell ringing)
(door closing)
- Oh, I'm sorry.
- Are you all right?
If you're looking for my music
auditions, they're right-
- No.
Can you tell me where the freshmen go?
- Around the corner,
three doors to your left
and the bell has rung.
Uh, miss?
Do you have your schedule and book list?
- Book list?
- The textbooks you must purchase.
- Algebra presumes the prior knowledge
of basic computation.
(class laughing)
As I was saying,
we will begin with a review.
Yes, you.
Uh, yes, and all right.
And since you were late,
you can be the next volunteer.
Well done, Miss Cornstalk.
- My name is Comstock.
- Then why did you write cornstalk?
- In my nerves I may have made a mistake.
- I see.
(people chattering)
(horn blowing)
(girls giggling)
- [Man] Lovely day indeed.
(bell ringing)
- Can I help you?
- Yes, sir.
I'm with the freshmen class.
- Over here.
- Thank you, but I was
wondering if it was possible
maybe to exchange.
- Five dollars and 50 cents.
- Exchange maybe for-
- Used books are half price, Miss.
- I mean, for goods.
Like eggs, something from the farm.
- I'm sorry, I can't do that.
- For work?
Sweeping up.
- My son helps me run the store.
- Oh.
(bell ringing)
(trees rustling)
(ax chopping)
(cow mooing)
- I forgot to tell you to bring home
the scraps for the chickens.
- There weren't any scraps.
And I'm hungry again.
- I'm surprised.
You had a good healthy lunch.
- Yes, Mother.
- Well, we can eat first
and do the work afterward.
Where have you been?
I expected you an hour ago.
I see you been crying.
I thought you'd get your fill in a hurry.
- Did you know I'd look funny?
- Funny?
- Yes.
- No one else wears boots like this
or dresses like these anymore.
No one else had a funny old hat.
My hair was all wrong.
I didn't know where to go,
I didn't know what to do.
They all laughed at me.
- Don't matter.
Tomorrow we'll get up early
and haul the beets for winter,
then we'll spend the rest of
the day hoeing the turnips.
- No, Mother.
- What?
- Maybe the hardest is over.
Tomorrow, they'll know what to expect
and sooner or later,
they'll stop laughing.
(rooster crowing)
The only problem is that I
can't go back without books.
- Now you want money, too.
- I need five dollars and 50 cents.
- I told you I couldn't afford a cent
for going to school, I told you not
to ask me for money.
- I never knew about buying books.
- Well, I did.
You're so bulldog stubborn,
I thought you better
find out for yourself.
- You knew?
- Of course I knew.
Everybody has to pay for everything.
You don't pay one way, you do another.
Of course I knew you had to pay.
- You mean you let me go into town,
into that school, knowing-
- You went, and you found
out you can't afford it.
Now all this high school
foolishness is over.
- Perhaps someday I will
learn to understand you.
I certainly cannot now.
You can't possibly realize
what you let me go through today.
I'll get the money somehow.
I'll raise it myself.
I'm going back tomorrow
and the next day
and the next.
You need not come out,
I'll finish all my work alone.
- [Kate] Elnora!
(tree rustling)
- I'm sorry, sir, I'm sorry, ma'am.
- Took me nearly an hour to set this up
and now look at it.
- I'm sorry, I couldn't see.
I mean, I didn't know that you were-
- Well, I understand that.
It's also difficult for me to see
with tears in my eyes.
- I've been upset.
- So have I.
Nevermind, I'm losing the light away.
I have to catch the moths
as soon as they come out.
- Catch moths?
- In pictures.
I photograph the Limberlost.
Well, that is what's
left of the Limberlost.
Darn loggers are destroying everything.
Did you know that?
I was working down the
south end of the swamp
and I came back to take
pictures of my hatchings
and the whole areas was gone,
just crushed by the
trees that they killed.
- Well, why did they cut down the trees?
- Business.
Just business.
Then what'll happen?
Where will the birds make their nests?
What'll be the homes
for all the butterflies
and all the other living things?
All keep the air clean.
With the trees gone,
even the clouds will be in danger.
- Yes, ma'am.
- And look at this today.
I nearly had an imperialis
and now that's gone.
- I'm sorry, I didn't-
- It's all right.
I probably had to be going anyway.
Being in the Limberlost
at night frightens me.
- Well, I'm here at night all the time.
Maybe I can find something
that you're looking for.
I see a lot of things.
- Then you live near here?
- Yes.
Just right over there.
- [Gene] So you know your
way around the swamp?
- Well, no one really knows
the Limberlost completely.
People have died here.
- But you come here anyway?
Because it's so beautiful.
I understand.
- Let me help, please.
- All right.
- I hope that you can get the pictures
that you need some other time.
- Oh, I will.
I don't give up easily.
- Hello, I'm Mrs. Porter.
- You're on private property.
- I'm just going to the road.
My carriage is over there.
I'm sorry, I'm disturbing you,
but this is the only safe
path out of the Limberlost.
The south tracks are
being used by the loggers.
- They're not coming here to log.
This is my land.
- Yes, I understand
and I respect-
- I have work to do.
- Well, my work takes
me into the Limberlost
and this is the only path.
- That's not my fault.
This is private property.
- You've made that quite clear.
Good day.
- She's the most interesting person.
First I thought she was a man.
Are you listening?
(Freckles cooing)
She's a lady.
A wonderful lady.
She takes photographs
and talking about nature.
It was if I'd known her before.
(Freckles cooing)
(gentle piano music)
(gentle orchestral music)
(rooster crowing)
- Since you're so set on going,
you might as well eat right.
- Thank you, Mother.
What was it like when you went to school?
- Same as for you.
- Were the town girls always mean?
- You can't trust those townspeople.
Too much time for themselves I suppose.
- Did you like school?
- I didn't keep it up.
More important things to do.
- Such as?
- I don't know Elnora.
I worked with my parents on their farm.
Then I met your father.
It was a long time ago.
Don't hope for too much my girl.
Your father had all kind of dreams.
Take your food.
At least we're fortunate to have more
than enough for that.
- Thank you for the lunch.
- Foolish dreams.
(birds chirping)
- [Man] Good morning, ma'am.
(bell ringing)
- Well, the girl from the Limberlost.
You come a long way to high school.
Your parents must be very proud.
- I only have a mother.
She isn't always happy about school,
but I come anyway.
- Good for you.
Can I tell you something?
I once entered a town school
straight from the country.
I wore a brown calico dress
and my shoes were very heavy.
- Did they, uh?
- Yes, they did.
All of it, they didn't miss a thing.
- Yesterday on the blackboard,
they changed my name to Cornstalk.
For a minute I thought I'd died.
- What should it be?
- Comstock.
Elnora Comstock.
- I'm Gene Stratton-Porter.
I don't wanna tell you how many ways
they found to change that.
- Did you make them stop?
- Yes.
I worked on my books.
You'll see.
You work on your books
and before long, you'll
hear yesterday's tormentors
boasting that they were
once classmates of yours.
- Will be there anything
else today Mrs. Porter?
- No, thank you.
Good day Elnora.
- Thank you Mrs. Porter.
(bell ringing)
- Now, how many I help my second customer
of the day?
- I need the books on this list.
- Right over here.
- I really need them,
but I can't pay just yet.
Please let me take them
and I'll pay on Friday
or I'll return them as
perfect as they are.
Please, trust me.
- I'd like to, but your
family doesn't have
an account here.
Perhaps your parent could
come in and open one.
- Do you know someone
who needs a good worker?
- You'll have to check along the street.
- [Woman] Morning.
- Good morning.
- Nice day.
I've got quite a list for you.
- Excuse me.
Is it Mrs. Porter that
wants butterflies and moths?
- Yes.
- Thank you.
(horse whinnying)
- So, for tomorrow, you
will reread chapter two
and be prepared to answer some questions.
(bell ringing)
(kids chattering)
- Go, go, go, let's go.
- Snake!
- She touched it.
- [Girl] Oh, look at her.
- She's a farmer.
(door closing)
- That was really brave.
- It wouldn't have hurt anyone.
It's not that kind of snake.
Somebody might have stepped on it.
- No, I mean, isn't is
slimy and disgusting?
- No.
But I guess farmers are strange.
- I didn't say that.
I think being brave is good.
It was brave of you to
come to school here.
- Why?
Because country girls
can't read and write?
Is that what you think?
- You could let someone talk to you
without snapping their head off.
- Sally.
It was nice of you to say that.
- Elnora.
You may join us.
We're getting candy.
- Don't invite her.
- I said she could come.
Come on, I'm treating.
- Thank you, but I gotta
get home right away.
- Elnora.
I'll give 'em back to you
for the rest of your lunch.
- Come on, Billy, give 'em back.
Billy, come on.
(girls laughing)
- So you know Billy.
- [Girl] She would.
- I gave him some of my lunch.
Some of us share with those
that are less fortunate
instead of teasing them.
(birds whistling)
Oh, how pretty.
I wonder what your name is?
- Hello!
How do you like baloney?
- Never had any.
And don't sneak up on me.
- Then maybe you'd like to try some today.
Anything you got at home
will be fine to trade.
- Billy, where do you live?
- Wanna trade or not?
- First you tell me where you live.
That's mine.
Come back here!
- Pretty good, huh?
Don't get rained on.
- You sleep here?
- Pa and me, we slept in worse places.
- You can't stay here.
It's going to get cold.
You gotta find a barn somewhere.
- My Pa told me to wait right here.
- Look at this place.
- If you don't like my
house, get outta here.
I can take care of myself.
I got plenty places to stay.
(gentle music)
- Aren't you going out for lunch today?
- No, I'm going to eat inside.
Aren't you going out?
- I'd love to but
my mother makes me take
violin lessons, I hate them.
- Oh, I'd love to hear you play.
(cow mooing)
- Ma'am?
- Yes.
- Elnora told me to come.
- [Kate] Elnora told you to come here?
- She said I could sleep in her barn.
- Uh-huh.
Well, it's not her barn, it's mine.
- You're Elnora's mama?
- Yes.
- You're the best cooker
in the whole world.
- Now how'd you know that?
- I tasted some of her fried chicken.
I ain't never ate fried
chicken that delicious
in my whole life.
- In your whole life, I see.
- Do you like baloney?
- Sometimes, when it
comes from little boys.
- Here you go.
- So she's thinking you could do
some work around here, is that it?
- Yes, ma'am.
- Are you hungry?
- Sure am.
- Here, you churn the butter
and I'll see what there is for you to eat.
- Yes, ma'am.
- Where are your parents?
- My mother died.
My Pa's coming back.
We used to ride the rails.
Got off here.
He's gonna find me soon.
My Pa used to wrap me in his coat.
I can sleep anyplace.
On the floor, anywhere.
If you had an old coat I could-
- Well, I don't know if I can use you yet.
You gotta prove yourself.
There's a lot of work around here.
- [Billy] Yes, ma'am.
- We'll see.
- No.
I'm really not very good.
- Really, I'd like to listen.
Play something now.
- All right.
- Beautiful.
(violin music)
- [Mr. Hinton] A, Miss Brownlee,
that's supposed to be an A.
- May I try?
- Do you know how?
- Show me.
- Just move it back and forth.
(violin music)
- Better.
See, that proves what practicing can do.
Miss Brownlee, practice is only effective
when you are the one who is doing it.
- Mr. Hinton, I was just showing-
- Never mind the variations,
I've already heard the theme.
Now go practice.
- Yes, sir.
- And you, young lady.
I see you found the freshman class.
- Yes, sir, I'm sorry.
It wasn't Sally's fault, I asked.
- Do you play the violin?
- I'd like to.
She was just teaching me.
- Oh.
Miss Brownlee has graduated to teaching.
Well, beginner's lessons with me
are 50 cents each hour, one day a week
and you practice the other days, Miss, uh,
what's your name?
- 50 cents every time?
I see.
Well, thank you, sir.
- [Mr. Hinton] What's your name?
- I can't afford the lessons.
- What is your name?
- Elnora Comstock, sir.
- Come back.
Come back.
Oh, my.
My, my, you have grown
into a fine young lady.
Let me see your hands.
- It's hard to keep them nice.
We live on a farm.
- I know.
I know.
So, you're Robert Comstock's child.
You're tall just like he was.
I see him in you.
- Did you know my father?
- Robert Comstock was the best violinist
I ever taught.
- You taught my father?
- Well, to be precise,
I don't think anyone
taught Robert Comstock.
I gave him lessons.
You see, I used to think it wasn't fair
for someone with that much talent
to have that much fun, too.
- He had fun?
- Oh, my dear, your father played
for all the town dances.
Of course he got married and-
- Do you know what happened?
My mother says he died
in the Limberlost swamp.
- I know very little about that night.
Your mother is the one.
See, I lost touch with
him after he left school.
That's an A Miss Brownlee.
Elnora Comstock, your lessons
will be every Tuesday during lunch.
- Well, sir, I-
- Don't bother me about money.
And I have a violin that you can use.
I don't think Ms. Brownlee would mind
if we borrowed the
remainder of her lesson.
Shall we?
- Mother, I'm home!
- Thanks, Elnora, your mom is real nice.
- What are you doing here?
- I'm gonna do some work.
- Somebody has to help instead
of running off with strangers.
- Well, Mother, I have
some wonderful news.
- I throw away enough
to feed a little tyke
like him every day.
- [Elnora] Don't you wanna hear my news?
- Since you sent him here,
I guess you mean for
him to take your place.
This is my special spice cake
and you are gonna love it.
- Mm-mm.
- Isn't that good?
I told you, huh?
(gentle music)
- Aren't you lovely.
Oh, you feel so soft.
(gentle orchestral music)
(doorbell ringing)
- Yes?
- The notice in the store said
you wanted butterflies and moths?
- Yes, but I didn't expect those so early.
- Oh, I'll go.
- No, come in.
Come in.
Please, let me see what you have.
- Oh, no.
I was so careful.
- I'm sure you were.
It's the moss.
There are little bugs in the moss
that love to eat butterfly wings.
Now, next time what you'll
do is you'll mount it
on a wooden board like this,
I'll show you how to do that.
- I didn't know.
I thought that-
- It's a wonderful regalis.
I haven't been able to find one of these
for two winters.
It'll make a very handsome photograph.
The colors are still fresh.
- You can use it?
- Oh, yes.
Yes, I'm updating this book.
This one.
- I didn't know there
were books like this.
- Oh, I didn't either.
- [Elnora] Oh.
- I bet I was a lot like you.
I used to walk through
the woods all the time.
Still do.
- The photographs are so beautiful.
Or are they paintings?
- Oh, no, they're photos.
I color them myself.
- Oh.
This one.
I seen this one.
It's beautiful.
- That's an imperialis.
That's very rare.
Let me show you something.
Come here.
This is a male imperialis.
See, how I've left space for its mate.
But in all these years
I've never found one.
- Then it would be valuable.
- Oh, yes, extremely.
I've also written a book on
birds if you're interested.
That's when they started calling me
the bird woman.
- Do you feel bad?
- No, not at all.
I prefer birds to some
humans I've encountered.
Just as I see you prefer these.
- When I found out they die so soon,
I started saving them.
- I thought the same thing.
But in their little
lives, how much they do.
- Do?
- Oh, those little beings have
a very big job, carrying pollen
to create new plants.
Well, just think without
their delicate wings
how barren the world would be.
Everything in nature
depends on one another.
We're all part of a chain.
When I was your age,
nature inspired me with wonderment
and still does.
Now, about this regalis.
- I'm sorry I did them wrong.
- It's all right, when I was your age
I did much worse.
Now I'll show you how to open the wings
when they get hard.
What you do is you put
them in a cloth like this.
It's been wet for several days.
Now they should be quite soft.
And you hold them by the thorax like that
and you press.
The wings will open up
and you take a little mounting pen
and put it through.
You put it in your board.
- Yes.
- Then they'll harden in about five days
and you'll have a perfect specimen.
- Oh.
- I'm going to give you these
so that next time when you come
you'll know what you have
and you can do better.
- You mean I can come again?
- I certainly hope so.
- Prices?
- Mm-hmm.
For the moths and the cocoons,
they'll be spinning soon.
- You would pay me for them?
- Absolutely.
- I'll look very hard for the cocoons
and I promise next time I'll do better.
Thank you.
- Here.
This is for what you brought me today.
- You want them?
- They're very valuable to me.
Very, very valuable.
- Thank you.
- You're welcome, Elnora.
(horse whinnying)
- Dear, I told you before, we don't trade.
- Is this enough for the freshman books?
This is the first thing I've ever bought
with my own money.
(engine idling)
- [Kate] What are you doin'?
- [Thaddeus] Are you Mrs. Comstock?
- I am.
- Thaddeus Applegate, county assessor.
- Assessor, what's that, tax collector?
- Well, we don't actually collect,
you receive a notice.
- I pay my taxes.
Paid 'em same every year
since my husband passed.
- It must be quite a burden for a woman,
looking after this much
property on your own.
- I don't see how that's your concern.
If you have a paper to give me,
I'll get back to work.
- It's not that simple.
You've got some valuable property here.
Standard beech.
Plenty healthy mature oak.
Early maple, elm, black walnut.
- Get to the point.
- The point is Mrs. Comstock,
with the timber interest
moving into our country,
your assets on this
property are very valuable.
- Thank you.
- That means they'll
bring a much higher tax.
- What?
You're telling me I'm
gonna have to pay more
for my own trees.
These trees have been here
since long before I was married.
- I'm sure.
I'm sure if your husband was here,
he'd understand that times are changing.
New roads have to be built for automobiles
and the town high school,
now there was a very large expansion.
- How much?
- These figures are
just for our appraisal.
You'll receive a notice.
- If I don't know how much,
how am I gonna get it?
- You have no need to worry,
just sell off some of the trees.
- Never.
Robert loved those trees,
they're part of this land.
Some of them he planted himself.
- Well, it's your choice ma'am.
I'd say better sell off
some of those valuable trees
than lose the whole farm.
- Lose the farm?
(suspenseful music)
(birds whistling)
(violin music)
- I was playing the violin.
(Freckles cooing)
(violin note playing)
- That's it, yes.
(violin music)
Very good, once more.
More clarity.
(violin music)
- Good, now put them together.
(violin music)
- Well, violins must cost a lot.
- Now, don't talk.
Concentrate on the feel.
Get back to the original hand position.
(violin music)
- He did quite well playing
for those local dancers.
I'll never forget the day
that he earned enough to
buy that violin of his.
Robert polished it till it glowed.
(violin music)
Your father used to make it sing.
(violin music)
- Billy!
(cow mooing)
- Is it lunchtime yet?
- You just ate breakfast.
When you finish getting all the eggs,
we'll get out to the field
and I'll show you how to stack corn.
- Farming's hard work.
- You get all the eggs now.
(owl hooting)
- I was out this way and, uh,
thought I'd drop by.
- $150?
That's more than double the tax we pay.
- I knew you'd be surprised.
I did everything I could to help.
See, that's why I came
out here personally.
The lumber company's
paying others around here
top dollar for their timber.
- No!
I told you before we're
not cutting our trees.
- I see.
Do you have some other plan?
- I got enough for the old tax.
The seed corn's real good this year.
- Tax is due at the end
of the month, you know.
- We'll pay on time.
- Well, just in case, remember
the lumber company pays upfront.
- Good day, Mr. Applegate.
(cow mooing)
- Guess what?
I got something to tell you.
Today at school-
- Be quiet Elnora.
The county tax man came here today.
There's gonna be a lot
more taxes on the farm.
- Oh?
- So get into your work clothes.
Won't be needing those
town frills anymore.
- What do you mean?
If we don't pay, they're
gonna take the farm?
But it's ours.
- Yes, my girl.
Now maybe you understand
why I've kept you close.
This farm your father left us
is everything we have.
- Well, can we sell
enough crops to pay it?
- The only way I can
figure is if we double
up our work and clear the fields quick.
We'll hurry and bring
the whole crop to market.
- I'll get up early in the morning
and work and come home right after school.
- No, my dear.
The only hope is if we
work straight through,
dawn to dark
and before the weather changes.
- Then I can't go to school.
- Might as well get rid of those books.
(rooster crowing)
(cow mooing)
(rooster crowing)
(birds whistling)
(violin music)
(horse whinnying)
- I'm almost sure it's clean.
- What are you doing in that getup?
- Going to school.
I have to return some
books to Mrs. Porter.
- Don't you understand that soon
there won't be a home to come back to?
- Mother, can't we just-
- Maybe that other woman
and those fancy town people is where
you think you belong.
- No, Mother.
- Now, get rid of those books
and get to work.
Maybe we can sell them back.
- I won't sell my books.
- You've got to Elnora.
- Why have you never told me
about my father's music?
(rooster crowing)
- Who told you about that?
- What happened to his violin?
- It died with him.
Robert and music died together.
- No.
I don't believe that.
It just doesn't die.
It just doesn't happen.
- She didn't mean it.
You do love her, don't you?
- [Man] Timber!
(trees crunching)
(trees crashing)
- What are you doing?
Don't you understand that thousands
of animals live in here?
- What is that noise?
- Loggers.
They're felling trees
at the other end of the Limberlost.
- Elnora's father did this?
- Yep, a lot of days, side by side,
only I was holding nails
and he'd be fixing.
Built part of the house
and all these fences himself.
This here, Robert's handiwork.
Every foot of it from our own lumber.
- Sure do need a man around here.
- I have to admit it, it
does feel good to laugh.
I hadn't laughed much since, hmm.
- Was Elnora's Pa funny?
- Well, not exactly,
but when I was younger, we had fun.
It was a long time ago.
- Did you dance?
- Sometimes.
- You used to dance?
- Robert played the fiddle
so we went to all the country dances.
- [Billy] Show me.
- No.
- Please?
(upbeat violin music)
- Here.
Take this to the barn Mr. Man.
Help him Elnora.
(somber music)
(horse whinnying)
- I told you stay off my land.
- Please put down the
weapon Mrs. Comstock.
- How'd you know my name?
- Your daughter Elnora told me.
- So, it's you meddlin' with my girl.
- Your daughter is a wonderful girl.
I was happy to help.
- We don't need any help, Mrs. Porter.
- I meant with her schooling.
I met her in the Limberlost
when I was taking pictures
for my book.
Would you like to see?
- I don't need pictures
of what I seen all my life.
Neither does Elnora.
Girl's head's already
filled with nonsense.
She's needed here.
- It doesn't have to
be that way for Elnora.
She's got great potential.
- When people like us get
filled up with dreams,
no good comes of it.
A mother knows what's best
and I will not have you
giving her impossible dreams.
- Mrs. Comstock, I have children, too.
They're grown and gone.
It wasn't easy, but I knew
that when birds get too big for the nest,
the mother pushes them out.
That's how they start to fly.
- Stay away from my daughter!
(horse whinnying)
Get back to work!
- Go fetch me some water Billy.
- I'm on my way.
- Elnora!
What a big place.
I had no trouble finding it.
Everybody knew where
the Comstock farm was.
Sorry for coming all of a sudden.
It's just, you weren't
in school for two weeks,
so Mr. Hinton asked if
I would come and so-
- How are your violin lessons going?
- Fine.
You were getting really good he said.
But he wanted me to tell you
if you don't come back in a few days,
you'll be expelled.
- Expelled?
- That's the rule.
So you have to.
- I can't, Sally.
- Why not?
- 'Cause if we don't bring in the crop,
we're gonna lose the farm.
So will you tell him that for me please?
And tell Mr. Hinton that I,
just tell him I said thank you.
- Well, it's really pretty here.
- I can show you my
secret place if you want.
- You've got a secret place?
- It's in the swamp, it's dangerous.
There's hidden rivers under the grass
and if you get lost, you could drown.
- Good, let's go!
(birds chirping)
- This is really something.
- Sally, look at this.
This is a cocoon of a polyphemus moth.
- First of all,
what's it made of?
- Well, anything it finds in the trees.
It weaves it together in its own silk.
- What are you going to do with it?
- Oh, I know a woman who
buys things like this.
She writes books and pays me money.
And she can do anything she wants.
- Really?
- This is Freckles.
- [Sally] I never knew
anybody with a pet owl.
- Well, I brought him here
when I found him hurt.
He can't fly anymore.
- He doesn't bite or anything?
- [Elnora] No, see.
(Freckles cooing)
(Freckles cooing)
- You're the first person
I've ever shown this place.
On purpose.
- I wish I had a secret place.
Is this where you fix your butterflies?
- Yes.
- Elnora.
I just had an idea how
you can stay in school.
- I managed to forget
about that for a moment.
- Listen to me.
You have to try.
Since you sold those butterflies,
what if you sold lots more?
- I thought of that.
- So?
- My mother won't let
me go into town anymore.
She even told Mrs.
Porter not to talk to me.
It's because she needs me here so much.
- Just don't tell her.
Do it.
- You're my friend.
Thank you for coming.
- So I'll see you in school?
- All right.
Thank you.
What do you think Freckles?
- I have something you want.
- You don't have anything I want.
Where'd you get that?
- I found it in the bushes.
- You stole that from Mrs. Porter.
- I found it.
- How am I gonna give it back to her?
You little monster.
Come back here.
- [Hobo] Anybody home?
- I can't hire any farmhands.
- Mrs. Comstock.
- [Kate] What do you want?
- You got a boy named Billy here?
- Yes, I have Billy.
- Ma'am, I knew his daddy.
He wanted the boy to have
the coat if anything.
I traveled with him after Onabasha,
so he talked to me some.
I know he left the boy in Onabasha.
Some of the folks in town said
they saw your girl with him.
- Why did he leave the boy?
- Don't know, ma'am.
Looks like it was a good idea.
- What happened to him?
- Died on a train to Lafayette.
- I'm sorry.
Would you want some hot food?
- I have to catch a train.
(door squeaking)
(clock ticking)
- [Elnora] Mother you know what Billy did?
- Did not.
- Mother, Billy took the-
- I have to talk to Billy.
- My Pa is back?
That's his coat.
He would never leave his coat.
Where is he?
- Billy.
A man came today
and brought the coat.
- That's his coat.
He used to wrap me in his coat.
- Yes, but your Pa isn't here.
He died in another city.
- That man didn't know.
Not even Pa's coat.
Pa's coat was tore up like this.
- I'm sorry.
- No!
We used to ride the rails
and one day I just got lost.
- [Kate] Billy, he's not coming back.
You have to be strong.
- You did it 'cause you always want money.
You took his coat.
- You can stay here Billy.
- You knew it a long time ago.
Just didn't tell me 'cause you wanted me
to keep working.
- The man came today.
- Why'd you have to go and tell me?
You ruined everything.
You're lying.
Lying, you're lying,
you're lying, you're lying.
- He's gone now Billy.
Let him go.
(gentle music)
Say goodbye to your Pa.
Say goodbye.
(crickets chirping)
- Just gotta keep going I guess.
Just like Mrs. Porter.
She writes books even though people used
to tell her she couldn't.
- Maybe you can play the violin anyhow.
- You think so?
- Sure you can.
My Pa is never coming back.
I know it now 'cause he'd
never leave his coat.
- Well, you can stay with us.
Mother said.
- Why doesn't owl fly away?
- Well, he was hurt so bad
when I first found him
that he'll never fly again.
He's healthy now except for his wing.
He's a friend.
- Gonna give it to that lady?
- I'm gonna try.
It's not very special.
- Mighty pretty, though.
- You know, she said if I can find
an imperialis, she'd pay me lots of money.
- Really?
Oh, I won't steal from her no more.
- And I'll never tell about the box.
- Agreed?
- Agreed.
- This is the last stack.
- This is the best seed
corn we've ever grown.
About to get us some money for sure.
- There sure is enough of it.
- 121, 122.
Just $28 to go.
- But taxes are due right way.
- Just time enough to bring
the seed corn to market.
- I could go back to school.
- If you work early and late
in the fields tomorrow
and we get it all in.
- Hurray!
(thunder blasting)
- Hitch up the horse,
bring the cart to the field.
Let's bring all we can to the barn
or we'll lose all the corn!
- Lightening won't get you.
- Billy, come on, get your coat on.
(horse whinnying)
(dramatic music)
(horse whinnying)
(dramatic music)
(thunder blasting)
- Come on, it's no use.
Take what we have to the barn.
Come on Mother!
- Come on, we gotta go in.
- No!
(thunder blasting)
(Kate grunting)
(horse whinnying)
- Mother stop!
Mother stop, please!
Come on.
You have to stop!
Please, Mom, please!
Please stop!
Please stop!
Please stop her, please.
No, no.
Stop her!
(thunder blasting)
- All the corn.
All the corn.
First they'll cut down our trees
and take the farm.
- Mother, it's all right.
(thunder blasting)
- What you gonna do?
- You stay with Mother.
I'm going to check on Freckles.
- [Billy] Elnora, don't go!
(thunder blasting)
(rain pounding)
(thunder blasting)
- All these years I kept it up.
You would've been proud.
Best seed corn, you should have seen it.
(thunder blasting)
(Freckles cooing)
(door squeaking)
(thunder blasting)
(Freckles cooing)
(thunder crashing)
Oh, it's all right.
It's all right Freckles.
Freckles, it's all right, it's all right.
(crickets chirping)
What a storm.
Huh, Freckles?
Are you all right, huh?
(Freckles cooing)
Good, good, good.
(Freckles cooing)
Oh, my Freckles.
(gentle music)
(doorbell ringing)
Oh, please.
- Oh, dear, what have you done?
- I found an imperialis.
- Oh, you did, didn't you?
That's wonderful.
Come in, come in.
(door closing)
(rooster crowing)
(cow mooing)
(door closing)
- Mother!
- You're not dead, I thought
you drowned for sure.
- I almost did once or twice.
- [Kate] Where've you been?
- Mother, look.
I got it.
It's for you.
For the taxes.
- Where'd you get that money?
- From selling a moth.
I found the one that's very rare.
She said she-
- She?
That woman from town?
- She collects insects
and she said that maybe I could have
a vocation after high school.
- Vocation?
This farm is your future.
Your father left us this land.
- And because of her we can keep it.
- Because of her?
I work my fingers to the bone
and all you can say is because of her.
- Now you don't have to
worry about the farm.
I was hoping you'd be glad.
- Better get changed
outta those wet clothes.
(rooster crowing)
(violin music)
- I haven't heard that
since your father performed.
That's an oriole song, isn't it?
- You understood.
- Oh, you certainly are
your father's child.
Those were his two loves.
Music and the Limberlost.
He used to take his violin
out there to listen.
To listen.
- But I thought you said
he played for the town dances?
- Oh, he did, he did that, too.
But he was different from
all the other players.
Not because of how he learned to play,
but how he learned to hear.
- I wish I'd known him.
We could have played
together in the Limberlost.
- Oh, he would've like that.
We should begin.
(people chattering)
(engine idling)
- Why good afternoon, Mr. Applegate,
it is a pleasure to see you.
- Hello, Mrs. Comstock.
So sorry about that storm.
Your corn crop must be ruined.
- It couldn't have come at a worse time.
- Well, step over to my office,
I'll send my secretary with a note
to Mr. White of the lumber company.
- Oh, I wouldn't trouble you
to do that, Mr. Applegate.
I've come to pay my tax.
- You've got it all.
- Every cent.
(door closing)
(stamp pounding)
Do it again.
(Stamp pounding)
I like the sound.
(door closing)
(violin music)
- Mother.
- Stop it.
- Kate, please.
- Stop it.
That song.
That song was.
- Kate, please.
- You.
You took Robert from me and now-
- [Mr. Hinton] Kate, it was never-
- You want her, too.
Well, you'll never get her.
If you hadn't tempted him,
I'd still have my husband.
I never gave you permission for this!
- It isn't me taking them from you Kate!
- Let me go!
- No, you're gonna hear me.
- Why!
Why did you have to ruin it for me?
- I ruined it for you?
Don't you think you-
- Don't you understand?
I wanted you to hear me.
I wanted you to be proud of me.
- Now, you understand, missy.
I have fed and sheltered you.
You have taken everything I have.
- Taken?
I tried to love you.
You do love me, don't you, Mother?
- The truth?
All right.
You can take yourself to high school
and stand up on that stage, you're ready.
I would've had a life if it wasn't
for that music.
The night you were born,
your father was playing his fiddle
for some people in town.
It was Mr. Hinton's fault.
Tempted him with crazy dreams
to be a fiddler.
- Leave me alone.
- I usually went with him.
But it had rained, the
way it poured last night.
I was close to my time for birthing you.
He didn't want me getting
wet, catching cold.
But he just had to get out
of here with that fiddle.
He must've called when
he slipped in the river,
but I never heard him.
Because of you I wasn't with him!
I wasn't with him when he called.
- And it's my fault?
- I didn't say, I didn't mean-
- Then you really do hate me.
(cow mooing)
- I made it for you.
I made it for you 'cause you're
always making stuff for us.
(doorbell ringing)
- What is it dear?
- Can I talk to you?
- You're so cold.
- It doesn't matter anymore.
- Tell me.
- I found out about my father.
He drowned in the swamp
the day I was born.
It was my fault.
That's why she hates me.
- She probably said that out of pain.
I feel she's waiting at
home for you right now.
- I can't go home Mrs. Porter.
She doesn't want me.
Now I understand everything.
- Don't let her win Elnora.
Don't let her stop you.
- She only wanted him all these years.
- She probably loved him very much.
My guess is she's afraid.
- Not her.
- She's afraid of being left alone.
- She said he drowned because of me.
- You know better than that.
You know how the Limberlost
is after a storm.
The river was too deep.
Your mother couldn't have saved him.
No one could.
Except you.
Play for him.
And yourself.
- All these things that you talk about,
I once wanted my mother
to be a part of them, but-
- [Mrs. Porter] Yes.
- I'll go on myself.
- You all right, Mrs. Comstock?
- Do you know where I'll find Elnora?
- She said her place was a secret
'cause you'd get real angry.
- I'm not angry anymore Billy.
- She goes to a place in the Limberlost.
- Show me.
- Elnora's shown me
where it's safe to walk.
- I haven't put a foot in here since.
- [Billy] Over here.
- There's no one here.
- Freckles is here.
(Freckles cooing)
- [Kate] This is my daughter.
- Mother.
What are you doing in here?
- I thought I was keeping you safe,
but I drove you away.
This is for you.
It was your father's.
(gentle violin music)
- Sweetie.
Oh, sweetie.
I'm sorry.
(gentle orchestral music)