The Eagle of the Ninth (1977) s01e06 Episode Script


Oh, when I joined the Eagles, as it might be yesterday, I kissed a girl at Clusium before I marched away.
A long march, a long march and 20 years in store.
When I left my girl in Clusium beside the threshing floor.
Well met, Guern the hunter.
Well met, Demetrius of Alexandria.
Guern, we need your help.
Just as soon as I've tethered my cow securely - ill luck to her, she's forever straying.
Her straying has stood us in good stead tonight.
I've heard of your plight.
You brought away the Eagle and the Epidaii are after you.
The word went by at sunset.
Now the Dumnonii and my own tribe are joining spears with them.
We want food and a false trail, if you can provide them.
Well, food's easily managed, but you'll need more than a false trail to get you to the wall in one piece.
Every pass to the south will be guarded by now, and there's but one way known to me that's likely to be left open.
- Tell us how to find it.
- Telling isn't enough.
It's death without a guide.
That's why the tribesmen won't trouble to guard it.
- And you know the way? - Yes, I know the way.
I'll take you.
But how if you are missed from your own place and any think to wonder where you are? I won't be.
There will be many out hunting over the next few days.
And if any come upon us together, I can always knife you and claim the honour of being the First Spear among the hunters.
It's a pleasant thought.
From now on we must go behind one another.
Follow me exactly and do not halt for so long as a heartbeat.
Even on the secret way, the ground is soft.
Do as I and you will cross safely.
Disobey me and you'll sink.
I've brought you as far as I can.
Every man to his own hunting ground, but from now on the land is strange to me.
You've brought us clear through the guard of our enemies, Guern.
From now on we can fend for ourselves.
They may be searching those hills also.
So travel by night and lie up by day.
If you don't go astray or fall into the hands of the tribesmen, you should reach the wall sometime in the second night from now.
You have our thanks, Guern.
Before our trails divide, it is in my heart that I would see the Eagle again.
It was my Eagle once.
It has lost its wings.
So I've seen the Eagle once more.
Maybe I shall never look upon a Roman face again.
It's time you were on your way.
Come with us.
My welcome might be an over-warm one.
- I have no yearning after death by stoning.
- What you've done would alter that.
We owe our lives to you and if we get the Eagle back to its own place, you'll have had a hand in that.
I'm of the Selgovae.
I have a woman of the tribe to wife and she's a good wife.
I have sons born into the tribe and my life is here.
If ever I was something else or my life was elsewhere, all that lies in another world and the men I knew have forgotten me.
There is no way back through the Waters of Lethe.
Then good hunting to you on your own trails.
Wish us well between here and the wall.
I wish you well.
And I will wish myself with you.
If you win through, I will hear of it and be glad.
The light of the sun be with you, Centurion! He'll hear if we come out of this with our lives, but we'll never hear if he does.
I wish he'd chosen to come with us.
There Is no way back through the W aters of Lethe.
No, he was right.
It's as Geurn said, they're searching these hills too.
How far have we got to go by your reckoning? It's hard to judge but, by the fall of the land, I'd say 12, 1 4 miles.
As far as that? It's been a slow two days' travelling since we left Geurn.
My leg's stiffened.
It may not support me much longer.
Well then, perhaps we'd better abandon travelling only by night.
Push on as best we can.
1 4 miles? It's a long march, Esca.
We'd do well to find ourselves a fox -hole for the night.
That broch would do.
It's not a broch, Esca.
It's a Roman signal tower.
It's an obvious place to hide, too obvious.
Maybe the hunters have searched it already.
At the worst, it would give us a chance to put up some sort of a fight.
Up there to the roof.
Mithras, that'll announce our whereabouts.
Three men heading this way.
They may not think to search this place.
They will search this place, the raven has made sure of that.
Aye, I believe they will.
I suppose I should feel guilty about you, Esca.
For me, there was always the Eagle.
What had you to win in all this? I have once again been a free man among free men.
I've shared the hunting with my brother and it's been a good hunting.
It has been a good hunting.
A good hunting and now I think it has ended.
- Still only three.
- Don't use your knife unless you have to.
They may be more use to us alive than dead.
Only three, that was a mistake.
We sought to be the First Spear, lest the lowland tribe claim the Eagle for its own.
It was brave but foolish.
There will be others here soon.
When they come, you will tell them that we aren't here.
And why should I do it? Because of that? No, because when the first of them sets foot on the stair, I will send the Eagle into the tarn at the foot of the tower.
We're still a long way from the wall and you will have other chances of regaining the Eagle, you and the others of the hunt.
But if we die here, you will lose whatever chance you have.
They're closing in.
Choose, Liathan.
The water is deep.
You will never recover the Eagle.
Liathan, have you found them? They're not here.
Try the woods.
They must have slipped through.
They'll likely have bolted that way.
It was well done, was it not? Truly it was well done.
Keep your head down.
Leave the gag for the moment, Esca.
See to the ponies.
We'll need them later.
Why did you come among us to steal the winged god? I came to take back, not to steal, for it was never yours.
It was the Eagle of my father's Legion, the Eagle of the Ninth.
Somy grandfather was right.
He said you were the son of the Red Crest chieftain who died under its wings.
We didn't believe him until Gault the fisherman found your ring-brooch by the water's edge.
And your grandfather sent you to kill us.
He said, "Kill him if you can, but but also give him his father's ring, for he is his father's son in more than blood.
" You will find it on a thong around my neck.
If we had fallen to your spears, how then would you have carried out Trudis' bidding? You should have had the ring to take with you, as a man takes his weapons and his favourite hound when he dies.
I see.
When you get back to your own place, thank Tradui for the gift of my father's ring.
Marcus, the ponies are ready.
Your sword brethren will return before long, but just to be sure, I will leave word that you are still here when we've reached the wall.
Open! Open up in Caesar's name! Who demands entrance in Caesar's name? Two who have urgent business with the Commander and would like to keep whole skins.
Open up! Now then, what's all this about? Marcus Flavius Aquila former Pilus Prior Centurion of the Fourth Gaulish Auxiliaries, the Second Legion.
What in the name of thunder brings you here, sir? We have brought back the Hispana's lost Eagle.
Marcus, is it you? Yes, we have come home, Stephanos.
Master, come quickly! They're alive! They're back! How goes it with you, sir? It goes the better for seeing you safely home again.
What news? - Been resting, Marcus? -No, I've been feeding Cub.
What have you done to him, Uncle, he's nothing but skin and bone.
We've done nothing to Cub.
Since you left, he's refused food from any but Cottia.
And since her going, he's preferred to starve.
Did she leave no word for me at all? No.
Well, not word exactly.
She did seem a little upset that she'd had no word from you.
She came to me in a fine flaming passion the day she went away, to bring back your bracelet.
Didn't you tell her about keeping it in case I didn't return? I did not.
Some things are better left unsaid, until the need comes for saying them.
I did tell her that since you'd left it in her charge, it seemed to me best that she should keep it until the spring when she returns and could give it into your own hands.
I also promised to tell you that she will guard it well through the winter.
She's a vixen that little one, but a faithful vixen.
And the springs not far away.
Sad that the Lady Cottia isn't here in Calleva to greet us.
Yes, her Aunt Valaria has taken the whole household to Aquae Sulis for the winter.
Still, we are fortunate that the Legate Claudius is still here.
He's just about to return to Rome.
You should try to remember every detail of our journey.
I'm sure he'll want to question us closely.
I think I will not go to your uncle's study.
It's a matter between the three of you.
It's a matter between the four of us.
Esca, what maggot's got into your head? I should not go to your uncle's private sanctum.
- I've been a slave in his house.
- You're not a slave now.
Oh, no.
I'm your free man now.
When I was in the north, I knew I was free.
The hound slipped from the leash.
- But now we've come back.
- Esca, listen to me.
Are you going to live the whole of your life as if you've just taken a whipping and you couldn't forget it? You don't like being a freed man.
I don't like being a lame man.
It makes two of us.
The only thing that we can do about it is to learn to bear our scars lightly.
I will come to the study.
So the rumour was true.
You've done well, both of you.
Thanks to you, a weapon, which might one day have been used against the Empire, will never be so used.
I salute two very courageous lunatics.
And the Legion? No, I'm sorry.
Sir, there were upward of three cohorts who were not with the Legion when it marched north.
Many Legions have been reformed from fewer survivors than that.
If the Eagle was still in Roman hands, surely the men Those cohorts were disbanded 12 years ago and distributed among other Legions of the Empire.
By now, more than half of those men may have finished their military service.
And if they have not, they will have changed their allegiance to new Eagles long ago.
On your own showing, the name and number of the Ninth Hispana is no heritage for a new Legion to carry.
It is better that it be forgotten.
But what of their last stand that Marcus has just told us about? The way his father fought for the Eagle till the end.
Isn't that a heritage fit for any Legion? The conduct of a few score men cannot counterbalance the conduct of a whole Legion.
You must see that, Aquila? Even though one of them was your own brother.
However, if you wish it, I will lay the whole matter before the Senate.
But I have no doubt about their verdict.
I've come to return your bracelet to you.
Thank you for looking after it for me.
Did you like Aquae Sulis? No, I hated every moment of Aquae Sulis.
I never wanted to go there in the first place.
I wanted to wait here for you.
- And all winter I had no word from you.
- And do you know why? Yes.
Yes, I've been told.
Now that I am here, you don't seem at all glad to see me.
Oh, I am glad, Cottia.
You don't know how glad I am.
Yes, I believe you are now.
Why were you not a moment ago? Because I didn't recognise you.
You've grown up.
What will you do now, now your well again, return to the Legions? No.
I'd do well enough in a skirmish maybe, but I couldn't march my cohort at 20 miles a day and I'd certainly be no use in the parade ground.
If you cannot go back to the Legions, what will you do? I'm not quite sure.
Perhaps you'll go home.
Yes, you'll go home and take Esca and Cub with you.
I don't know, truly, I don't know.
Take me too, wherever you go.
They'll build a city wall round here soon and you couldn't leave me in a cage, you couldn't.
- Marcus, take me too.
- Even if it were to Rome? Yes.
Yes, anywhere at all, if only it's with you.
Oh, Cottia, Cottia, my heart.
It's no use.
I possess nothing in the world.
I don't even have a trade to my hands.
- How could I take you with me? - Marcus! We have visitors.
The Legate has returned.
Come with me now.
"And the Senate decrees in just recognition for service to the state" Which is nonetheless real, though it must remain unpublished.
"that the freed man Esca Mac Cunoval be granted full citizenship.
" What does it mean? What it says, you are a Roman citizen.
And for the same service, Marcus, you are rewarded the gratuity, which would normally be given after 25 years' service, to a Cohort Centurion, paid in the old style, part sesterces, part land.
According to established custom, the land grant will be paid to you here in Britain, being the province of your last military service.
But it should be possible to make an exchange for land in Etruria, if you so wish.
I can go home.
Trust the Senate to pay their debts in the old style, land and money.
As much land and as a little money as may be.
It comes cheaper that way.
Also one Roman citizenship.
Which is a thing apart from price, though again, not costly in the giving.
But my congratulations to you both.
It's not everyone for whom my friend Claudius would sweat, as he must have sweated, to drag justice out of the Senate.
I thank you, sir.
Esca, this is a new beginning.
I imagine you could be in Etruria in the autumn.
I shan't be going back to Etruria, Uncle.
I shall take my land here in Britain, not Rome after all.
You did say anywhere, didn't you, Cottia? Yes.
Oh, now I suppose I'll have to arrange matters with Kaeso and the Lady Valaria.
Jupiter! Why did I never realise how peaceful life was until you came? Did you think I'd be away back to Clusium on the first tide? Well, if you had applied for that land exchange, I believe I might have been a little lonely.
There was one other matter, the Legion.
It was as I predicted.
I'm sorry, there will never be a Ninth Legion again.
- The Senate? - Has ruled.
Tell me how many people know that the Eagle has been brought back? South of the wall, but a handful.
Rumours may come down from the north, of course.
If they do, I think they will probably die like the earlier ones.
What do you suggest becomes of the Eagle? Give it honourable burial.
- Where? - Why not here in Calleva? Five roads meet here.
The Legions are forever passing by.
As long as Rome lasts, the Eagles will pass and re-pass under the walls of Calleva.
What better place for it to lie? When I had this house built, there was unrest hereabouts.
I had a small hiding place made under the floor of the shrine, to take my papers and so forth in case of further trouble.
Let it lie there.
Here lies the Eagle of the Ninth.
The Hispana.
It found honour in many wars against foes abroad and rebellion at home.
Shame came to it.
But in the end, it was honourably held until the last of those who held it had died beneath its wings.
Let it lie forgotten.
It has been a good hunting.