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The Great Meadow

The Great Meadow(1931)

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In 1777, the Hall family of Virginia listens to a speech by Daniel Boone, the idol of Berk Jarvis, who is the eldest Hall daughter Diony's favorite beau. Impressed by Boone's descriptions of Kentucky's bounties, Berk, his brother Jack and their mother Elvira start a wagon train to be led by Berk. Berk asks Diony to marry him, and after the ceremony they set off. The journey to Kentucky is longer and more difficult than they had imagined, and Jack is killed during an Indian attack, but after six months the ragged little band reaches Ft. Harrod. The happy couple settle in, and are soon expecting a baby. One day, Diony and Elvira go outside the fort's walls to pick corn and are attacked by Black Fox, a Shawnee. Elvira bravely defends Diony and is killed and scalped. Black Fox is scared off before he can kill Diony, and everyone mourns the Jarvis' loss. Before long, however, Berk must leave to replenish the fort's supply of salt. Berk is gone for four months, during which time Diony gives birth to their son Tommy. On the night of Berk's return, the settlers have a celebration, which is interrupted by an attack by Black Fox and his warriors. Black Fox taunts Berk with Elvira's scalp, and the incident preys on Berk's mind until he tells Diony he must hunt down Black Fox and avenge Elvira. Diony tries to dissuade him, but acquiesces once she sees how determined he is. Berk leaves, and Diony and Tommy are taken care of by Evan Muir, one of Diony's former beaus from Virginia. Berk is captured by Indians, sold to the British and imprisoned for a year, but after he is freed, he continues his quest. He finds Black Fox and kills him, but is captured by the Shawnee. Evan receives news that Berk has been killed, and as time passes Diony's sorrow lessens and she marries Evan. Two years after Berk's departure, he escapes from the Shawnee, and returns to the fort. He finds Evan and Diony, who gently tells him that she married Evan, for she could not remain in the wilderness alone. The two men are on the verge of fighting when Diony reminds them of the wilderness law which says that if a man leaves his wife, and she thinks he is dead and remarries, it is for her to choose between the two men if her first husband returns. They agree to abide by her decision, and Diony tells them that although Berk is the great love of her life, she cannot forget Evan's great kindness and devotion, and so she chooses Evan. Berk prepares to depart, but when Evan sees how Berk's attention to sleeping Tommy brings tears to Diony's eyes, he realizes that she and Berk belong together. Evan tells Diony how much he will treasure their time together and leaves the reunited couple to begin their life together again.