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Father Goose
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Father Goose

Catherine sends the girls outside, and tries to convince Walter that they must work together, and their main concern must be the children: He must let them have the hut, and help her keep them safe and secure; above all, he must stop swearing and drinking in front of them...after all, he is the 'Father' figure. Walter retorts that he has no intention of being a 'Father' figure...all he intends to be is a 'Total Stranger' figure. He tells her to get out and let him get some sleep. He defiantly takes off his pants in front of her, and lies down on the cot. She leaves...but a few moments later her little guerrilla fighters attack the hut with sticks and coconuts. Walter comes outside with a blanket wrapped around his waist, pants over his arm, and a bottle in his hand...'Lady,' he says to her threateningly, 'you're making a powerful enemy.' But it's an empty threat, and they all know it. He retreats to his boat, where he will stay for the duration. Later, one of the girls comes down to the boat to fetch him: Frank is on the radio, again. Walter hurries off to the shack...not noticing the girl stays behind, and beckons to the others, who have hidden in the trees nearby. Walter finds Catherine alone in the shack, mending a piece of clothing. He looks around nonchalantly for the whiskey...'I asked you to stop drinking in front of the girls,' she says, primly, 'but you wouldn't.' She has hidden it all away again, to Walter's supreme frustration! Frank is no longer on the radio, but he left a message, and after some suspicious fumbling and stalling, Catherine finally produces it. Frank has been unable to arrange a parachute drop...they'll have to make do with what they have. Catherine asks Walter if he would consider sharing some of his personal belongings with her and the girls. He tells her he'd trade for his whiskey. She declines, and he leaves. As he starts back down to the boat, the girls run past him one by one, each concealing a bundle of clothing, tools, blankets, which they've taken from his boat. As the last little girl runs by, Walter finally gets wise...he tries to stop her, and she hits him on the toe with the hammer she's stealing. By the time he recovers, all the girls are inside the hut with Catherine standing guard. Out-maneuvered again, he retreats to his empty, empty boat. He keeps a watch on the hut, and on Catherine and the girls, now wearing bits, pieces and weirdly-altered versions of his clothes. There's Elizabeth (Stephanie Berrington), 15, pretty, but shy and bespectacled; Anne (Pip Sparke), 13, sullen and aloof, whose unfailing answer to every question is, 'I want to go home!'; Harriet (Jennifer Berrington), 11, a cheerful tomboy who prefers to be called Harry; the French sisters, Angelique, ten, and Dominique, nine (Laurelle and Nicole Felsette), who speak only French; Christine (Verina Greenlaw), about eight, a no-nonsense little Brit, and her invisible friend, Gretchen (age indeterminate!); Jenny (Sharyl Locke), also British, around six or seven, very quiet and sad. He waits for his chance: he'll give up the hut, and they can have the clothes...but he wants that whiskey! One day he spots a Japanese destroyer in the bay, and an inflatable raft with four armed Japanese sailors coming ashore. He runs up to the shack and finds only Catherine and Christine there. The rest are on the beach gathering coconuts. He and Catherine run down quickly to find them. They find four of them coming back from the beach, their arms full of coconuts, and send them back to the shack to hide. They continue to the beach, where they find Anne perched precariously, but more or less hidden, high up in a palm near where the sailors are landing. Jenny is nowhere to be seen. Walter motions to Anne to stay still, and he and Catherine crouch down behind a couple of fallen logs. The sailors set off down the beach, away from them...just as Jenny appears, oblivious to what's going on, to add two more coconuts to the pile under the palm. Walter whispers to Catherine that if Jenny makes a sound they're done...Catherine murmurs that Jenny hasn't spoken since she left her parents. 'She can still scream, can't she?' says Walter grimly, and runs swiftly to Jenny while the sailors' backs are turned. He puts his hand over her mouth to silence any outcry (managing not to cry out himself, when Jenny gives him a good, hard bite), and hides her until the sailors are out of sight. Then he brings her back, frightened and whimpering, to Catherine, who comforts and quiets her. It turns out that Catherine understands Japanese, and she tells Walter that they are trying to find turtles for soup. Unable to find any, the Japanese return to the dinghy, and shove off. They don't leave a moment too soon: Anne is slipping from her perch. Walter manages to get under her, and, quietly but painfully, break her fall. When the sailors are back on board, and the ship is out of sight, they all leave the beach. No one notices that the bright red bandanna Anne was wearing (one of Walter's) has snagged in the fronds of the palm. Walter is working on his boat when Jenny suddenly appears, staring silently over the railing at him. He looks back at her for a moment, surprised...then tells her to beat it. She produces a bottle of whiskey, and sets it on the railing near him. Dumbfounded, he looks at it, then at her...and says, 'Thank you', in a slightly hoarse voice. He removes the cap, takes a healthy swig, and thanks her again. He asks her name--she doesn't answer. He produces a small, silver whistle on a chain, and asks if she'd like to have it. She nods. 'All you have to do is repeat three words after me.' She nods again. 'Elephant,' he says. After a pause, she repeats, 'Elephant.' 'Rhinoceros,' says Walter. 'Rhinoceros,' she repeats. 'Wrong!' says Walter. 'Why?' she demands, indignantly. 'No, not 'Why'..,' says Walter, ' 'Wrong!' That was the third word--you lose.' He puts the whistle back in his pocket...and Jenny snatches back the whiskey. Muttering about poor losers, Walter hands her the whistle, and she returns the whiskey. He takes another swig, and when he looks again, Harry is standing next to Jenny, smiling happily. They offer to help him fix his boat, and he tells them they can swab down the deck. Soon all the girls are there, working on the boat in one capacity or another. Catherine arrives, looking for the girls, and she's astonished to find them here. She orders them back to the shack for lessons, but Jenny protests that they'd rather stay and help Mr. Eckland. Catherine stares at Jenny in surprise, and Elizabeth brightly explains that Mr. Eckland got her to talk. 'Better do as she says,' Walter tells the girls, and reluctantly they head back to the shack. A little jealous, Catherine says tartly that next time she needs the girls to do anything, she'll just call on him. 'It's not my fault that boats are more fun than lessons,' he replies, mildly. As he's talking, he wades out into the lagoon a little way. He crouches, and after a moment plunges his hands into the water and skillfully flips a fish onto the shore. 'Why don't you teach them something useful, like that?' he says. Catherine tries it, but fails miserably. Walter approaches to show her how it's done...but standing so close to her, he suddenly realizes that he's very...attracted to her. Startled, he backs away. Confused, Catherine asks, 'Mr. Eckland, are you or aren't you going to teach me to fish?' After a moment's consideration, he replies, 'I aren't'. He wades deeper into the lagoon, and begins to swim away, while she watches, mystified. Catherine and Anne are foraging for berries, near a little pond. Catherine slips off a log, into the water. 'Oh... Something bit me', she exclaims, and looks at two little holes near her left ankle. 'A snake, a snake!' cries Anne, pointing to a long, dark shape in the water nearby. Catherine jumps out of the water, and they flee to the hut. After a moment, the dark shape emerges fully from the water: it's only a branch, with thorns and a couple of wilted leaves. Catherine is on the cot surrounded by the girls when Walter comes in, summoned by one of the French sisters. Catherine briefly explains what happened; he sends the girls out, and examines the tiny wound gravely. With his knife (sterilized over the stove's flame) he makes a small cut across the marks, and attempts to suck out the venom. Then he calls Frank on the radio: 'What kind of snakes have they got around here?' he asks. 'Uh, is that a rhetorical question, I hope?' asks Frank, warily. 'Miss Freneau went and found one,' replies Walter, evenly. Frank sends Stebbings for a doctor, and tells Walter to stand by. 'And Walter,' he adds, 'until we know what we're dealing with, don't try to be a movie hero and suck out the venom, ok?' Walter and Catherine look at each other a little sheepishly. Frank returns shortly, and asks Walter to put on the headphones. The doctor tells him there are three varieties of snakes indigenous to the islands, all extremely poisonous. Nothing can be done for Catherine...the end will come very soon: She'll experience a general feeling of numbness, then dizziness, and then death. The doctor tells Walter to make her comfortable, and recommends the liberal use of any strong, analgesic sedative he may have on hand to do so. 'I don't have anything like that,' protests Walter, and Frank replies, 'Nonsense, Walter, you've been using one for years.' Walter persuades Catherine to tell him where he can find a bottle of whiskey...best medicine for snakebite, after all. She drains her first coconut cupful quickly...and as he pours another, she tells him she doesn't disapprove of drinking, only excessive drinking. As she's working on her third cupful, she says that after the death of her mother, she served as hostess at all consulate functions. 'We had martinis before dinner, white wine with the fish,' she says, running through the checklist, 'red wine with the main course, champagne with dessert, cognac with coffee, and port after dinner.' Walter takes a swig of the whiskey and comments enviously, 'Sounds GREAT!' After her fifth drink, Catherine observes that it's getting very hot in the shack...and seems unable to keep from waving her very limber legs in the air and giggling. She asks Walter what her blood tasted like. After some discussion as to whether or not it was too salty, Walter decides the girls don't need to watch all of this, and closes the blinds and draws the curtain over the door. They can still listen, though, and while they're doing so, Anne suddenly shouts she's going to kill that rotten snake, and runs off toward the pond. Catherine admits she's obsessively disciplined. 'I'm a picture-straightener,' she laments. 'Whenever I see a picture hanging crookedly, I straighten it. And I brush my teeth every morning and every night, no matter what.' She tells him that she's lived in 11 countries and speaks seven languages...that she once had a fiance named Cesare...he worked for the Italian Consulate, and whenever he kissed her, he would first ask 'Permesso', and afterward he would say 'Grazie.' She giggles wildly, and tells Walter that Cesare would never have done to her leg what he did. She tells him earnestly that she liked what he did to her leg. Then she asks Walter what 'she' was like. 'What 'who' was like?' asks Walter. 'The woman who drove you to this,' she says, gesturing all around her, to the shack, the island...to his solitary life. 'It was no woman,' he replies, 'it was a necktie.' Believing that she will not live to pass the story on, he tells her that eight years ago, he'd been a professor of history at an American university. One morning, in a rush, he'd gone to class without his necktie...and they'd refused to let him in. He'd thought they'd care more about the content of his brain than what he wore around his neck, but he'd looked at them, then, and realized they all wore neckties. They all looked the same, talked the same, and thought the same, and they weren't learning anything...at least nothing he had to teach...and they were perpetuating the same old problems. So he'd packed up and departed for the South Seas the next day. Catherine listens with interest...then giggles to think that he was once a school teacher...then remarks that she's beginning to feel numb. Recognizing this symptom of approaching death, he helps her lie back on the cot. 'Oh, I'm dizzy,' she murmurs, 'I'm so dizzy!' She suddenly sits up and exclaims, 'Oh, dear!' in a surprised little voice...and passes out cold. Walter assumes she is dead. Slowly, gently, he takes the cup of whiskey from her hand, crosses her hands on her breast and pulls the blanket up over her face. Then he drinks the whiskey left in her cup (waste not, want not!) Meanwhile, Anne has returned, carrying the snake-resembling branch in her hand. 'What's that?' asks Elizabeth. 'It's the snake,' replies Anne. 'That's not a snake,' says Jenny. 'It LOOKED like a snake,' says Anne. 'You ninny!' declares Christine. 'Oh, la!' sighs one of the little French girls. Walter calls Frank: 'It's over,' he says, 'Miss Freneau is...gone.' 'I'm sorry, Walter,' says Frank. 'Have the girls been told?' 'No,' replies Walter, 'Stick around, why don't you...I may need you later.' Walter comes out and sits down on the porch, and the girls gather around him. He tells them gently that Miss Freneau is gone. They tell him earnestly that she's not. Anne produces the stick, and he asks, 'What's that?' 'It's the snake,' says Anne. 'Well, that's not a snake,' he replies. 'It LOOKED like a snake,' says Anne. She hands it to him, he looks at it, and after a moment, agrees, 'That looks like a snake.' He goes back inside, and pulls the cover back from Catherine's face. Her eyes open, and she looks at him, quizzically....'Is it morning already?' she asks, and he covers her up again. He goes back to the radio, and calls Frank. Frank has summoned the chaplain to say a few words of comfort. 'Never mind,' says Walter. 'Miss Freneau's alive. It's the snake that's dead.' Leaving Frank sputtering on the radio, he takes what's left of the bottle of whiskey, and heads back to his boat. He's tinkering with the patch he's rigged for the hull when Catherine, walking gingerly due to a monstrous hangover, comes in to talk to him. She asks him if she said or did anything for which she'd need to apologize. He tells her no...except when she put the flower between her teeth and danced naked around the room. 'I couldn't' have done that!' she protests, then asks doubtfully, 'Did I?' He asks her what she does remember. She replies nothing, really, and he relaxes. Or at least, she adds, nothing after his story about the necktie. He explodes. He shouts at her that he never wants to hear about that again. She doesn't see why it should bother him so much, she'd thought he was running away from something much worse. He shouts that he wasn't running away, he was escaping...from hypocrites like her who have to get drunk to let themselves go. 'If you'd start letting men wear their own pants, maybe they'd feel they could touch you without asking 'Permesso',' he shouts. Catherine slaps his face, crisply. He thinks about it...and slaps her back, not hard, but with sincerity. She isn't hurt, physically, but her face crumples into tears, and she runs off the boat. Walter watches her go with the beginnings of shame on his face. Later, as the girls are sitting down to dinner, Walter arrives at the front door. 'Look,' says Jenny, in wonder, 'he's combed his hair.' 'And he's actually wearing socks,' says Christine, awed. He apologizes for interrupting, and says he thought that if they had any extra food, he might... Catherine jumps up to prepare a plate for him. She is wearing the suit jacket and skirt she wore when they first met. They look at each other shyly, knowingly, and she sits down and passes the plate she has fixed for him down the table. 'I'm tired of tinned beef,' says Anne. 'Why can't we ever have fish?' 'Professor Eckland was giving me fishing lessons,' says Catherine, demurely...'but he never finishes what he starts!' Walter chokes on the bite of food he's just swallowed...the nearest girls all begin to pound on his back, while the others shout advice. In the midst of the confusion, practical little Jenny brings him a bottle of whiskey. He takes off the cap and prepares to have a swig...but Catherine says, 'Uh-uh-uh, Mr. Eckland,' and he reluctantly, but respectfully, puts the bottle aside. Shuddering a little, he has a sip of coconut milk instead. Suddenly, they hear a plane...very loud and close. A Japanese pilot has spotted the red bandanna in the coconut tree, and is flying by it repeatedly, trying to figure it out. Walter runs out of the shack, and watches the plane from behind a palm tree, as it circles around. When it's gone, he immediately calls Frank. But Frank is unimpressed, convinced this is another ruse on Walter's part to get off the island. Angry, Walter stalks out of the shack, knowing that at some point the plane will come back. Later, Catherine comes down to his boat, to talk to him about the girls. She notices that the hole has been patched and he's working on the engine now. The talk turns to their own situation, and raised voices follow as they try to deny they have feelings for each other. Finally, after Catherine calls Walter a drunken escapist, and he calls her a frustrated spinster, Catherine slaps Walter's face again...and Walter slaps her right back. But instead of running away this time, Catherine gets a very determined look on her face, and slaps him again. Walter pauses, considering what to do next. Stebbings calls to Frank, and tells him that Walter is requesting a chaplain. 'Good heavens,' Frank exclaims, 'he's finally killed her!' 'No,' declares Stebbings, 'they want to get married!' 'Married?!?' says Frank, astounded, 'Goody Two Shoes and The Filthy Beast?!?' A chaplain is summoned, and a sailor with an accordion. Catherine has put her hair up, and all the girls have dressed in their neat school uniforms. Walter has dressed up again, and even fastened his collar button. Harry removes her necktie and offers it to Walter. 'Oh, no thank you, Harry,' says Catherine, 'neckties don't suit Mr. Eckland,' signifying that she's ready to accept him 'as is'. Frank says he needs to fill out a little paper work on their behalf...they each tell their full name for the record, and each smiles a little at hearing the other's for the first time. Frank asks the name of the maid of honor, Catherine supplies Elizabeth's name, and Elizabeth looks pleased. Frank asks the name of the best man...Walter looks around at the girls, and finally announces, 'Harry MacGregor.' Harry smiles radiantly. The sailor begins to play 'Oh, Promise Me' on his accordion, and the chaplain begins to read the text. Just as he asks if there are any objections to the marriage, the angry sound of an airplane engine interrupts them. Walter runs to the door, and looks up...the Japanese fighter plane has returned, and is lining up for a strafing run on the shack. They dive for cover just in time, as bullets rip through the shack. The plane turns around for a second run, and they scurry out to hide in the trees. Walter darts back inside, while the plane turns around for a third run...he interrupts the chaplain who is droning on about Walter taking this woman, and asks for Frank. He tells Frank the plane has returned. Frank is still doubtful, but Walter leaves the mike open so Frank can hear the bullets from the plane's last run, and Frank hurries off to make arrangements to get them all off the island. Catherine runs into the shack to make sure Walter's all right, and the chaplain asks if there's anything he can do. The plane has gone, so Walter tells the chaplain to finish the ceremony. Lying under the table in the ruined shack, and using a band-aid for a ring, Walter and Catherine are pronounced man and wife. Frank breaks in at this point, and tells Walter that an American sub is running submerged a few miles away. When they surface at nightfall, he'll get a radio message to them, and they should be able to make Matalava by dawn. He advises them to stay away from the hut, to sleep on the beach and be ready to signal the sub when it arrives. That night, as Walter and Catherine keep watch over the sleeping girls, she whispers to him, 'You'll not be coming with us, will you?' 'I can't leave the boat,' he replies. 'It must be a good one,' she says, wistfully. 'Good or bad, it's all the dowry you're going to get,' he responds. 'I'm thinking of starting a charter service, after the war...somewhere around the Solomons or maybe the New Hebrides. There'll be good money for anybody with a boat who knows the islands.' Walter, it seems, has plans to rejoin the human race for Catherine's sake. At dawn, they hear the sound of a heavy engine approaching. But as the ship comes into view, they see it's not the promised American submarine, it's a Japanese patrol boat. Walter hurries the girls off the beach, telling Catherine to hide with them at his launch. Trying to distract and delay them, Walter runs up to the shack, and sets it on fire. Two rubber rafts have landed, with a dozen or so armed Japanese sailors. He ducks them as they run toward the shack, and runs down to their rafts on the beach, slashing them with his knife to deflate them. Catherine and the girls are hiding, but come out when he returns to the launch. Catherine points to the transom, where Walter has neatly painted 'Catherine', with 'Matalava' underneath, and asks when he did that. 'Last night while you slept,' he says...and adds in a meaningful tone, 'There wasn't much else to do.' He tells them to get into the dinghy, but to stay hidden in the lagoon. The sub will not surface while the patrol boat is there, but they will be watching, and he will decoy the patrol boat out past the reef where the sub can sink it. As he jumps into the launch, Catherine calls after him to be careful...'I look simply awful in black,' she says. On the submarine, just outside the bay, the captain and the mate are taking turns watching the hut burn through the periscope. They see Walter's launch dart out of the lagoon, and watch as the patrol boat comes about to pursue it. The patrol boat is firing on and lobbing shells at the launch...some of the shots come perilously close. The captain watches tensely as both boats approach the reef, and as the launch crosses over it, he orders the torpedoes readied. Just as the patrol boat clears the reef, one of the Japanese boat's shells hits its mark... and the launch is blown to smithereens. The captain orders the torpedoes to be fired, and the patrol boat is itself destroyed. The captain orders the mate to surface and look for survivors...without much hope. Catherine and the girls have piloted the dinghy out into the bay, and they are desperately looking through the wreckage of the launch for Walter. The motor has stalled, and Catherine is frantically trying to get it started again. One of the girls notices Walter's hat floating by, and Catherine sorrowfully reaches out to retrieve it. Suddenly Walter himself swims up to the boat, and they greet him joyously. At the last second, he'd been able to tie off the wheel and jump overboard. 'I'm sorry about our boat,' Catherine says. 'Well, in a war, everybody loses something,' he says, philosophically...'I'm just glad it was THAT Catherine.' She leans down to kiss him, and he tells her to wait just a moment, and let him get in the dinghy. He puts a leg up over the side, and the boat rocks ominously. The girls squeal, and Catherine protests that he's going to tip them in. 'No, no, no,' he says, 'this will work...all of you get over to that side. Look, will you just do it MY way for once?' In the next scene, the little boat is upside down in the water. Walter, Catherine, and all the girls are sitting on top of it, soaking wet. They all look at Walter accusingly. 'Shut up,' he says, morosely. The sub commander has been watching, and smiles. 'Looks like we're going to be taking on passengers after all,' he tells the mate. As the sub approaches, Walter muses, 'I wonder if they serve coconut milk on submarines.'
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