The Voyage South
an original screenplay by Matthew Bissonnette
and John Windsor
ext. Washington d.c. noon
The city of Washington D.C. in the year 1811 during a clears summer's noon. Between the white capitol buildings are dirt roads which horse's pulling wagons ride down. Men and women in period attire also walk along the dirt streets. The White House stands against a blue sky. Nearby is the Senate, the circular white building now has the voices of many men arguing coming from inside.
INT. inside the senate building seconds later
A large circular room full of older men in dark suits sitting at desk spread out behind the room. They are all talking loudly. Then a portly man with white hair and glasses stands up, Senator Adams. All the arguing men stop and look at him.
Gentlemen, there is no doubt that the British Navy's practice of forcible conscription proves the hostile intent of the monarchy. Our men, forced aboard British ships and forced to serve as crew, it is outright slavery!
Senator Adams sit down and all the senators rap their hands on their desks. Then another senator stands up, a gaunt elderly man with slicked back gray hair named Senator Freeman. All the senators look at him as Senator Freeman sticks a hand inside his coat and speaks.
My colleague speaks the truth. Our boys taken by force, it is an act of war no doubt. But we must fight them a sea! Do we risk another war within our borders. We where all children when our fathers, grandfathers and uncles shed their blood to win our nations freedom. But if we ignite a war with the British upon the land, then enemy armies will march through the streets of our cities and our towns. Our young men, our sons, slaughtered in front of their mothers. We must not allow war to erupt within our shores!
Then Senator Freeman sits down as all the Senators rap their fists against their desks. Then another Senator, a large imposing man with balding white hair and cold eyes stands, Senator Henderson. He then walks out from behind then desk and begins to walk around the room.
I must most adamantly disagree with Senator Freeman. Now, since we all now the hostile intent of England and its monarchy is still a threat to our people, we must face the true threat.
Senator Henderson points North and all the Senators look in that direction then look back at the talking Senator.
To the North, the remaining British colonies still are a stronghold from which the British army can mass their forces! To the North is a vast land from which our enemy, the same enemy which shed the blood of our fathers, can prepare to attack! If we love our children and our wives, our very families; then can we afford to ignore this looming specter which hangs over the head of our people!
Senator Freeman stands up and frowns at Henderson.
What are you suggesting!
Senator Henderson points North again.
Attack! Drive the British armies from North America and then this whole continent will belong to the American people and it will be a bastion of freedom! Our fathers shed their blood for our liberty, our we not prepared to do the same! I say we begin to mass our army, train men and then train more then! And when we are ready, attack!
Senator Freeman falls back into his seat and seems worried. The rest of the Senators get to their feet and start yelling.
ext. outside senate seconds later
The Senate building in the distance as the voices of the Senators yell from inside.
Attack! Attack! Attack!
ext. a dirt road morning
A dirt road which cuts through the countryside in one of the Northern British Colonies a month later. A man walks down the road, on either sides are fields and rustic cabins. He, Fletcher Harrison, is a tall muscular man with a square jaw and steely eyes; he has brown hair and a thick beard upon his face and is also seems stone faced. Fletcher is wearing a brown leather outfit, a large knife in a sheath in his belt and a musket hanging from a strap over his shoulder; he also has a leather satchel over his other shoulder. When he see's a cabin in the distance; Fletcher smiles and walks quicker.
EXT. Harrison home seconds later
A large cabin which sits between fields under a blue sky as puffy clouds drift lazily over it. There is a porch in front, on it is two rocking chairs. In one of the rocking chairs is a young woman; a handsome lady with long red hair who is knitting a quilt and is wearing a blue faded dress. She is Emily Harrison, Fletcher's wife. She is looking down when a voice calls outs.
She looks up when she see's Fletcher approaching quickly. She smiles, stands up and drops the quilt. She smiles and calls out.
She then runs off the porch and rushes towards Fletcher, he then runs towards her. Once they reach each other on the dirt road in front of the house, they embrace then kiss. They continue for a moment then pull away from each other, yet are still in each other arms. She seems happy as does he.
I'm so glad you are back.
There has not been a single minute of the past ten months I have not wanted to hold you in my arms again.
I missed you.
Then Fletcher pulls away from her then pulls the satchel from his shoulder and hands it to her. She looks at it for a moment and then looks back at Fletcher.
How much did you make during your time in the Northern Wilds?
I was able to trade in enough furs to keep you warm and fed for another year.
Emily then drops the satchel to the ground and holds Fletcher again.
I wish you did not have to go back North in two months,
Fletcher begins to stroke her hair.
As husband must do what he must for the wife he loves. But the two months we have together makes every cold night I spend alone for the ten moths worth it.
Emily then pulls away from Fletcher then takes his hand.
Come inside your home Fletcher, and have dinner with your wife. I'll make you a cup of tea.
Emily then leads him towards the cabin.
I have not had a warm cup of tea in so long. I am so glad to be home and with you.
She then leads him into the cabin and the door closes behind him.
EXT. streets of Montreal night
The French city of Montreal during a warm night. In the poorer part of the city, a dirt street runs between wooden shops and dilapidated buildings as light is provided by street lamps, torches burning inside. A man walks down the street as men and women pass by. He is a tall, wiry French man by the name of Louis Lafleur who has a mangy beard. He is wearing dark leather clothing, a large knife hangs from the sheath on his belt, and has a coonskin cap covering his hair; a leather satchel hangs over his shoulder. He is grinning widely and then see's an older woman in a brown dress approach. He stops in front of her and she ceases and looks at him and smiles. He removes his cap and bows then looks at her again.
The name is Louis Lafleur madam.
She then grimaces, walks past him and then he turns and watches her leave. Louis then puts the cap back on his head and raises the palm of his hand to his mouth and breaths into it. He then smells his palm then lowers his hand.
I breath is not that bad.
Louis then shrugs, turns and walks down the street again. He continues for awhile but stops when he sees a two story, wooden building at the end of the street, a bordello from which is coming laughter. He smiles and then walks towards it.
I've arrived my lady.
int. bordello seconds later
Inside the bordello is a large room lit by candles hanging from the walls. It is full of cloth couches and chairs and smoke from pipes. There are numerous men, several whom of which are in red uniforms of the British army. Sitting on the couch and looking at the ground is prostitute Nora Bechet, a petite young woman with short dark hair and wearing a green dress which reveals from the top of her cleavage; a large healed over scar runs down her left cheek. A British soldier then stands before her and looks down at the woman.
Excuse me young lady. But I only have one night before I must report back to duty; and I would like to spend it with you.
Nora looks up, but when the soldier sees the scar he frowns then walks away. Nora looks back down at the floor, she seems glum and distant. She is so preoccupied she does not notice a man walk up. A voice speaks out.
Are you available to make a lonely to make a lonely fur trapper a happy man for an evening.
Nora looks up and when she sees that it is Louis, she smiles and gets up to her feet and throws her arms around him. He begins to rock her back and forth and Louis laughs.
I thought you where never coming back Louis!
Louis then pulls away and she looks at him. Then he kisses her and she leans back as they do. They Louis pulls back and smiles at her.
After twelve months venturing through the most dangerous wilderness on Earth up North, I wanted to spend some time with my favorite women of easy virtue.
Louis then takes the satchel from off his shoulder and hands it to her. She looks at it.
How did you do this time?
I skinned enough animals to make a kings envious. Well, maybe enough to spend the next three weeks in Montreal visiting all my favorite brothels.
Nora hands the satchel back to him and turns away.
I suppose now you have all this money, you will want all the prettier girls.
Louis puts the satchel back over his shoulder then turns her around and smiles as he looks at her.
You know that the first night, when I leave the wilderness and come back to civilization, that I always spend the first night with my favorite woman.
I missed you, I missed you a lot.
Louis then laughs heartily then takes Nora's hand and leads her towards the stairs to the upper floor.
EXT. HARRISON HOME morning
The next morning outside the Harrison home. Fletcher and Emily sit in the rocking chairs on the porch of their home, he smokes and pipe and has shaven his beard. She is again knitting the quilt. They rock in silence for awhile when he looks at her.
I remember when I built this house those many years ago. Many months it took, but it was worth it just so we could get married.
Emily smiles but still looks down at the quilt.
I would have married you anyways Fletcher.
He then looks out towards horizon as he smokes the pipe.
I father always told me that a man must build a home for the woman he loves before they can be married. It is just the way things are done.
Emily then looks at Fletcher.
I just wish I did not spend so much of the year alone in this house. It is agony when you are not here.
My father was a fur trapper, like his father before him. I suppose there is not much else I can do.
He looks at her.
I wish I had the money so we could spend the whole year together.
Emily is about to say something when she hears the galloping of horses in the distance. She and Fletcher look towards the dirt road in front of the house and see that four men, all in red British soldier uniforms with muskets slung across their backs, ride towards the house. She looks at Fletcher.
I wonder what they want?
Fletcher gets up, still holding the pipe, and walks down the stairs of the porch and stands in the front yard. He then watches as the four men bring their horses to a halt in front of him. The soldier in front is Officer Hopkins. Fletcher looks at him and nods.
Good morning gentlemen.
Officer Hopkins looks down from atop the horse and seems extremely serious.
Are you Fletcher Harrison?
Maybe, what do you want with Fletcher?
I have been ordered to bring you to the fort I'm stationed at South. There is a matter of the utter most urgency you can help the British Empire with.
Fletcher looks back at his wife then turns to the officer.
I have two months to spend with my wife before I must leave for the Northern wilds. The British Empire will have to find someone else.
Fletcher then turns away and goes back up onto the porch and stands with his back to the horses. The officer frowns at him and raises his voice.
Mr. Harrison, I am not giving you a choice. Either you will come willingly or my men will take you by force.
Fletcher sighs and looks at his wife then turns to the officer.
What does the British army want with a humble fur trapper like myself?
My commander will explain that when we arrive at the fort in two days. Now are you going to accompany us willingly or will my men have to drag you.
Fletcher sighs heavily and looks at Emily.
I guess I have to go with them.
Emily drops the quilt and gets up then rushes to Fletcher and holds him.
Come back soon Fletcher.
I'll be back as soon as possible.
She then lets go and then they look at each other in silence then Fletcher turns away and walks down the porch and approaches the men on the horses.
This better be important. And how will I travel with you, walk?
Get on my horse, you ride with me.
Fletcher looks back at Emily and he smiles, then he hoists himself up onto the horse with the officer and they all ride of. Emily watches them leave, her eyes sorrowful.
INT. second floor of bordello morning
For men in red British army uniforms, holding muskets, stand in a long hallway outside a wooden door. The man closest to the door, Officer Granger, looks at his men then turns to the door and knocks hardly on it. There is a moment of silence when the door opens and Louis looks out, now with his coat off and not wearing his boots. He looks at the soldiers, laughs then slams the door in their face. Officer Granger then knocks again harder. The door opens and Louis looks at them and smiles.
Friends, I'm busy. Please go ruin some other person's good time.
He then slams the door in their face again.
INT. inside Nora's room moments later
Behind the door is a bedroom, there is no furniture but a large bed with satin sheets. Louis walks away from the door towards the bed, Nora is in the bed, covered in sheets and wearing only under clothing, and she looks at him.
Who was at the door Louis?
Louis walks up to the bed and looks down.
I really don't care Nora. Now, where did we leave off?
Then the door is broken open when Officer Granger kicks it in. The officer enters followed by his men. Louis then sits on the bed and looks at them, Nora seems frightened.
I hope you guys are going to pay for my lady friends door.
Officer Granger scowls at him.
Are you Louis Lafleur?
Louis looks back at Nora.
They must be looking for the greatest lover in the Northern Colonies.
He looks back at the soldiers.
Now what in the hell do you men want?
We are to take you to the fort I'm stationed at. We will arrive in a few days.
Let me see. Either go with you four men, or spend my few weeks in civilization in the company of women. A tough decision, but I hope you guys have a nice ride to your fort.
Officer Granger looks back at his men.
Men, take him. If he resists, knock him out with the but of your musket.
Two off the soldiers then grab Louis and pull him up off the bed. He escort him out of the room and into the hallway. The officer looks and the remaining soldier.
Get that French man's clothes.
The soldier nods and picks up Louis's coat and boots. Then they both leave.
INT. SECOND FLOOR OF BORDELLO seconds later
The four soldiers escort Louis towards stairs at the end of the hall. Nora steps out from the doorway and watch him get taken away. He looks back at her and smiles.
I'll be right back. Don't forget about me.
Nora watches Louis get taken down the stairs.
EXT. Fort morning
A large stone fort sits on a cliff overlooking a large river in the southern region of the British Colonies. Countless soldiers patrol the area around the base.
INT. office of commander Spooner seconds later
A large office inside the fortress. A big oak desk sits before a small window as a shaft of sunlight comes through it. The walls have book cases placed against them. Fletcher is sitting in one of two chairs in front of the desk. He seems expressionless and is looking around the office. The the door behind him opens and two soldiers, holding Louis by the arms, throw him into the room and he falls to the ground. They then shut the door. Louis gets up and brushes the front of his leather outfit with his hands. He then see's Fletcher and walks up behind him.
I'm Louis Lafleur friend. You are?
Fletcher looks back at him for a moment then looks toward the window. Louis breathes into the palm of his hand and sniffs it, he then shrugs. Fletcher then lowly speaks.
The name's Fletcher.
Louis looks closely at Fletcher and see's the knife in the sheath hanging from his belt. Louis smiles.
So, you are a fur trapper as well. Well this is a coincidence.
I don't care.
Louis then starts walking around the office, looking at the books on the shelves.
Any idea why they brought me here? Because I was abducted from the bedroom of my lady by force.
I was taken against my will to.
The accent. You are British. Should you not know what this is all about.
Please, don't talk to me.
Louis shakes his head and begins to walk around the office when the door opens. He older man with a bald head and glasses, wearing a uniforms, enters and closes the door behind him. He is commander Spooner and the two other men look at him. He looks at Louis.
You must be Lafleur. Would you please sit with Mr. Harrison.
Louis says nothing and gets into the chair beside Fletcher. Commander Spooner then walks around the desk and sits behind it. He then picks up a pen from off the desk and holds it in both his hands. He looks at the two fur trappers.
Can you finally tell me why I am not with my wife at the moment?
Same here. Why am I not in bed with my lady?
Commander Spooner throws the pen down on the desk and frowns at the two men.
There is a situation developing and the British army needs both of your help.
An informant south of the border as informed us that the Americans are preparing to attack the Northern Colonies. Maybe next year, maybe in a few months.
Fletcher and Louis look at each other then back at Spooner.
The yanks are about to invade?
We believe so.
Why now after all this time? The war ended decades ago.
The British Navy has been forcibly conscripting American sailors to serve of British ships. Our information says that this has moved their senate to prepare to invade.
Abducting Americans against their will. That is a good way to start a war.
To be honest, I do not agree with the Navy's practice but that is none of my concern. My business is what happens in the Colonies.
Why do you need me and this French man?
You are both going to do a service to the crown.
Fletcher shakes his head.
I am not interested.
You are a citizen of the British Empire. It is your duty.
Maybe, but I am also a husband. My first duty is to my wife, so find somebody else for what ever it is you need.
And your queen is not my queen, I'm French. And even if she was my queen, I still would not do it.
You two may be instrumental in helping lessen the threat of the American invasion.
I still will not do what ever it is you want me to do. But I'm curious, what is this really about?
There is a general in the American Army. He is a very experienced, cunning and resourceful man. He also is very knowledgeable about the Northern Colonies, the location of our forts and barracks. He is going to be a great asset to this coming invasion.
I see this is where this is going. You want me and him to kill this general.
Commander Spooner leans back in his chair and nods.
Why do you need two fur trappers? We are not soldiers. Don't you have have anyone better suited for this?
This general lives around a thousand miles south of the border. Now, two men who can trek across dense wilderness with minimal supplies would be well suited for such a task.
No thanks. Going that deep into a country that is about to invade sounds a little dangerous.
I could do this probably. But I won't kill a man, no matter who it is. So go find someone else.
Yes. I don't mind killing animals, but I don't think a general's pelt will get me very much. So, good luck.
Louis and Fletcher stand up when Commander Spooner opens and drawer in his desk and takes out to large black bags. He drops them on the desk and the two men look at them.
What's in the bags?
Look inside gentlemen.
Louis and Fletcher pick up the bags and look inside, they are full of many gold coins. They both look at Spooner.
Complete this task for the British Empire and you both will live comfortably for the rest of your lives. Now put the bags back on the desk.
Louis and Fletcher drop the bags on the desk and Louis smiles.
What I said about your queen not being my queen. Well, I guess a queen is a queen so what's the difference. I'm in.
I'll do this because I need the money. But why me and him, there must be countless other fur trappers? And why do you need two?
My men have been asking around about who are the best. Both your names come up. As to your other question, if one of you is killed, the other can complete the mission. Now, any questions?
When do we leave?
The invasion might be soon so today. A man outside will take you two where your supplies for this voyage are kept. You will also be given a map showing the best route to your destination as well as the location of this generals home. Now, get going.
The two fur trappers turn to leave when Spooner speaks up and they face him.
And gentlemen, good luck and happy hunting.
Then Fletcher and Louis leave. One the commander is alone, he frowns.
A lot are riding on those two. Hope we did not chose the wrong two men.
int. storage room later
Deep inside the fort is a large room with several windows and shafts of sunlight fall to the floor. Inside are racks with many muskets as well as flintlock pistols. There are also several bags on a table as well as two iron traps. Leaning against the far wall is a large, silver canoe. Then the door opens and a soldier walks in, followed by Louis then Fletcher. Fletcher is reading the map while Louis looks around the room. Louis looks at the traps and picks one up.
Nice trap, though not a nice as mine.
The soldier stands beside the door.
In the bags are food, some flint for camp fires among other supplies. There is also a compass. Take as many guns as you need.
Lafleur, take only two muskets.
Maybe you should take more.
I been looking at our route. We can take the great lakes south, then there is a smaller river that goes farther south. But we will have to cross some land in some areas for long distances. With such a large canoe as well as everything else, we don't need the additional weight.
Are you sure?
This Fletcher fellow is right. Besides, we just have to kill one general. If we start getting into fights with Americans along the way, well it might give our little secretive voyage away.
We'll stick to the wilderness the whole way if we can, hopefully me and Lafleur will not run into a single American along the way.
Louis the walks to the canoe and tries to lift it but seems to have trouble. He looks at Fletcher.
This boat is a lot heavier then the one I use. Do you red coats have anything lighter?
Sorry. We don't have the time to requisition anything else.
It will have to do I suppose.
Then Fletcher folds the map the map and puts it into a pocket of his leather outfit. He then goes to the canoe and helps Louis pick it up and they lay it on their shoulders. The soldier looks at them.
Hope you two have a safe voyage.
No problem. I once crossed a thousand miles of the wilds of the North with nothing but a knife and the clothes on my back. Oh, red coat, can you carry the rest of our supplies?
Come on. We have to get going.
The soldier picks up everything then follows the two men out the door.