Amazing Grace

A New Friend

On one of her walks during the winter months, Christy stumbles upon a cabin that is unlike any she has ever encountered in Cutter Gap. As she enters the yard, Christy calls out hello but receives no reply. Christy ventures inside the cabin and discovers Hattie McHabe and introduces herself as the new teacher. A minute later, Dr. MacNeill arrives with an offering of beans for Hattie and is surprised to find Christy there. Hattie invites Neil to join her for her meal, but a weary Neil refuses, having been up all night attending to an appendix. Christy offers to fix him something to eat at his place and Neil accepts. As she turns to leave, Christy extends her hand to Hattie who is unaware of its presence until Neil tells Hattie that Christy wants to shake hands. Hattie invites Christy to return . . .

The Way to A Man's Heart Is Through His Stomach

While Christy is preparing breakfast at his cabin, Neil tells her that Hattie, who is his real aunt, lost her sight years ago to trachoma. Christy shudders at the thought of living alone in the mountains but Neil assures her that he checks on her frequently. She is able to obtain meat and corn by trading a song or two and she stays safe by sticking close to the mountain. Neil is a little bit wary of Christy's cooking after finding an egg shell in the dish of eggs but Christy assures the doctor that she is a fine cook. Neil tells her that she will probably make a good wife one day. The subject of marriage prompts Christy to enquire if Hattie ever married. Neil tells Christy that she was married to Timothy McHabe and had three children, all of whom are dead. Neil tastes a bite of the food which is cooking over the fire and gives it a thumbs up. He offers to accompany Christy back to the mission and Miss Huddleston doesn't argue. Neil is a different person, not his usual difficult self, causing Christy to feel confused about her feelings toward him . . .

Harland the Historian

As Miss Alice empties a pitcher of water outside at the mission, a man arrives on horseback. He identifies himself as Theodore S. Harland, a historian, essayist, and admirer. When Alice appears to be confused by his presence, Mr. Harland asks if she received his letter in which he wrote to make arrangements for his stay. Alice apparently never received such a letter and asks what the man wants. He explains that he would like a few days board while he does his research. Alice politely tells the man that the mission is not a hotel. Harland explains that he is gathering material to preserve the culture of places like Cutter Gap and charms Alice by taking the pitcher of water that she is holding and emptying it for her . . .

A Preserving Project

As Theodore admires a cornhusk doll, he tells Christy, David, and Miss Alice that the folklore of these hollows must be shared. When David asks why, Harland points out that outsiders believe that the mountaineers are whiskey drinking, gun toting hillbillies' with nothing better to do then to shoot at each other. They tend to overlook the people's kindness of spirit, strength, fierce loyalty, and the traditions they share. He tells them that the heart and soul of the people lie in their stories and songs which should be shared with all the people of the world. Alice comments on his eloquence and Christy praises his wonderful project and tells him about Hattie's songs. Alice warns Harland not to disrupt their neighbor's life for they wouldn't want to feel like a curiosity. Theodore promises to show them the utmost respect . . .

Back From the Dead

Miss Alice is reading her Bible in bed and gets a strange feeling. She goes outside to find a woman standing in the moonlight. She calls out Christy's name but the woman turns and calls her "mother". Alice looks as if she's seen a ghost but the woman assures her that she is indeed her daughter, Margaret . . .

A Tale of Deceit

As Alice leads Margaret inside her cabin, she starts rambling about the improvements that have taken place in the cove since Margaret left. She tells Margaret that it is a miracle that she is alive and that she never allowed herself to believe that her daughter wasn't dead for it was she who told Neil to give up the search when Margaret was lost. She asks Margaret if she has seen Neil but Margaret tells her mother that she wanted to see her first. She asks Alice if she can spend the night at her cabin and sleep on the floor. Alice offers to take the floor as she is used to sleeping on the ground while traveling. Margaret lights up a cigarette and tries to explain her absence. She tells her mother that it was an ugly thing to do to allow her to believe that she was dead but she had to get away from Cutter Gap. She wanted to write but she knew that Alice would come looking for her and it was easier if everyone believed she had drowned. Margaret starts coughing and blames the cigarette which Alice promptly puts out. She explains that she arrived with Theodore Harland from Atlanta, where she has been staying. Margaret twirls around, showing off her outfit, remarking that the city agrees with her. When Alice doesn't answer, Margaret notes that her mother never approved of her clothes. A radiant Alice tells her daughter that none of that matters for the light has come back into her life . . .

Meeting Margaret

The next morning, Christy comes down the mission's stairs to find Harland playing the piano. As Christy is enquiring about Miss Alice's whereabouts, the lady in question enters with Margaret and introduces the two. Margaret makes herself at home on the piano bench next to Theodore and explains to a confused Christy that she and Harland are already acquainted. She enquires if Christy is the teacher and Christy politely replies that she is pleased to make her acquaintance. Christy looks at Miss Alice and expresses her confusion. Margaret assures Christy that she'll be filled in on the details of the story. Margaret lights a cigarette and comments on Christy's youth, wondering how someone who is so young could teach about life when she hasn't yet lived it. Alice assures her daughter that the children are very fond of Christy and her of them. Margaret notes that Christy is probably better at teaching than she'd ever be. She laughs and tells Teddy that at one time, she was asked to teach. Christy breaks the mood by asking if anyone has sent for Neil. Margaret tells her that she can look after her own affairs and to concentrate on the children. Margaret turns her back to Alice and Christy and smokes her cigarette while Theodore plays a tune . . .

Once a Dead Wife, Always a Dead Wife

Theodore is grateful to Christy for offering to take him to Hattie's cabin. As Christy and Harland prepare to leave for Ms. McHabe's cabin, Neil comes charging into the mission on his horse, calling for Margaret. Margaret tries to explain her disappearance but Neil interrupts, noting that only she could do something so hateful. He tells his wife that she is dead to him and rides off in a fury. Christy gives a backward glance to the mission as she and Theodore ride away to Hattie's . . .

Hear the Wind Blow

John Spencer captures the words of the beautiful mountain hymn on paper while Hattie is singing it. Theodore wonders if John writes all of Hattie's songs down and John assures the man that he not only writes the words but tries to capture the tune as well. Harland tells Hattie that he would be honored to hear all of her songs and Hattie happily agrees to perform them . . .

I Want to Be Alone

Christy pays a visit to Neil's cabin and enters of her own accord when she receives no reply to her knock. She goes to the locked room and asks if Neil is inside. She tells him that she is worried about him and begs him to open the door. When she receives no answer, she tells him that she just wants to talk. Her words are answered with a crash from within. Christy tells Neil that she knows he is upset but shutting everyone out won't help. She pleads with him to let her know that he is all right but Neil refuses to answer . . .

Come and Listen to A Story About a Girl Named Margaret

Christy finds Miss Alice sitting alone in the school. Alice asks her if she'd like to hear a story with a happy ending and Christy tells her yes, seating herself next to the lady on the bench. Alice tells Christy that when Margaret was a child she had to have everything her own way and Alice allowed her, being only a child herself when her daughter was small. Margaret grew up selfish and always craved more freedom. One day she demanded that Alice provide her with the details of her birth. Margaret thought that the story was very glamourous and laughingly called herself a bastard child. Margaret rejected all of her mother's beliefs, especially God. Neil was attracted to Margaret's rebellion and she to Neil, as he came from a wild, foreign place far away from the Quaker circle. The two ran away and got married and came to Cutter Gap to live. When Alice learned that her daughter planned to cut all ties to her, she followed her to the cove. Christy looks stunned at the revelation as she thought Miss Alice came here for a different reason. Alice is pleased that she has finally fallen off of Christy's pedestal and continues with the story. She knew that Margaret would resent her following her to Cutter Gap but she came anyway. Soon after Alice arrived, she saw that the marriage had a serious flaw but did not pay heed to how unhappy her daughter had become as she was so wrapped up in her work here. Her joy in the mission blinded her to her daughter's sadness. Alice shows Christy a locket that she gave to Margaret on her tenth birthday, a locket that Margaret never took off. Neil found the locket in a scarf on the river bank and Alice knew that Margaret had put it there. Christy is horrified at Margaret's actions but Alice is only thrilled about her daughter's return, feeling that she has been given a second chance . . .

Girl Talk

While saddling Prince for Christy, David tells her that he believes the MacNeill's should work things out for themselves. Christy wonders if David is telling her what to do but he denies doing so, pointing out that he wouldn't be saddling Prince if that were the case. Margaret interrupts their conversation, wanting to borrow a horse to go for a ride. Christy offers to let her take Prince, telling Margaret she changed her mind about wanting to take a ride. David leaves with the excuse of a sermon he must prepare. When Christy calls Margaret, Mrs. MacNeill, she laughs at the phrase and tells Christy that she hasn't been called that in quite a while. When Margaret enquires if Christy was planning to see Neil, Christy tells her that she was. Margaret assures Christy that there is nothing between her and Neil anymore for he is the same stubborn arrogant man who is only happy as long as he has his work. Christy informs Margaret that the people in Cutter Gap need Neil but Margaret retorts back that Neil needs them more as Christy must have discovered. As Margaret pets Prince, Christy notes how well the animal responds to her. Margaret retorts that she isn't entirely evil, contrary to popular belief. Christy denies that opinion exists but Margaret disagrees, saying that she is the one that hurt the Bonnie prince Neil. When Christy assures Margaret that she likes living in the cove, Margaret promises her that she'll feel differently after a winter of being snowed in with no one to talk to and now where to go. When Christy asks why Margaret didn't talk to her mother during those long winters, Margaret laughs at the notion of talking to someone so righteous but wonders if things would have been different if she had been more like Christy . . .

Irreconcilable Differences

Margaret picks up Neil's pipe off of his mantle and smells it, remembering old times. When Neil arrives and finds Margaret inside his house, he orders her to leave. Margaret tells her husband that they must talk sometime but Neil informs his "wife" that they have nothing to discuss. When Margaret makes the comment that she is still talking to the wall, Neil tells her that she could have found something in Cutter Gap to occupy herself with. Margaret tells Neil that she only wanted him but he wasn't there for her. When Neil informs Margaret that she knew what she was getting when she married him Margaret retorts that he knew what he was getting as well. Margaret tells Neil that he would have married a mountain woman if that was what he really wanted and asks him why he married her if he didn't love her. Neil tells her again to leave and she does . . .

Bad Blood

That evening, Margaret tells Alice that she is planning to leave the next day. Alice wraps her shawl around her daughter noting the chilliness of the evening. Margaret tells her mother that now that Teddy has collected his songs and after her fight with Neil, there isn't anything to keep her in Cutter Gap. Alice doesn't believe that her daughter's return was for no reason. Margaret returns her shawl to her mother and tells her that she came back to make peace and that's all for she'll never be happy in Cutter Gap. Alice tells her daughter that she'll never be happy unless she stops running from her mistakes and makes peace with herself. Her remark angers Margaret, who claims that her mother is "doing it again." When Margaret has a terrible coughing spell, Alice sees that she is ill and offers her a handkerchief. She is startled when she sees blood on the handkerchief but Margaret runs back inside the mission ordering her mother to stay away from her . . .

A Truce

Alice goes upstairs and finds her daughter packing and apologizes for her lecture. When she asks Margaret if her illness is tuberculosis Margaret pauses from her packing and is silent. Alice asks her if Neil knows but Margaret wonders if he would care. Alice urges her daughter to seek treatment and offers to go with her to a clinic in Asheville. Margaret tells her mother that she is needed in the cove but Alice assures her daughter that she is the most important thing to her. She tells Margaret that after her treatment, she is free to go wherever she likes with no judgement from her at all. She begs Margaret to allow her to go with her and a sobbing Margaret nods her permission. Alice tells her that it will take two days to settle things in Cutter Gap and that they could leave Saturday if that is all right with her. Alice opens her Bible and takes out the locket, putting it in Margaret's hand . . .

It Ain't Over Until It's Over

Neil finds Christy inside the school gathering her student's drawings. His greeting is met with a cold hello from Christy. He hands her a copy of Gray's Anatomy which Christy accepts for the children, then admires one of the student's drawings of Christy. When Christy comments that Neil probably didn't come to the school to discuss art Neil tells her that her intentions were good the other day at his cabin but sometimes talking just doesn't help. Christy informs the doctor that running away doesn't help either and that although Margaret hurt him badly, he can't wish her away for she is still his wife. Neil tells Christy that whatever they shared died a long time ago and their relationship is over. Christy tells Neil that it will never be over until he forgives his wife . . .

A Sour Note

John Spencer visits the mission and asks Christy to lend him a sheet of music paper so that he can finish recording Hattie's songs. When Christy opens the box where the paper is kept, she discovers a sheet with Harland's name on it. David examines it and says that Theodore was going to publish the songs in his name. John is upset at the fact that Harland was using him to rob Ms. McHabe and vows not to let the man get away with it. Christy tells the boy that it wasn't his fault but an angry John won't listen to reason and he leaves . . .

Songs Are for Sharing

John goes to Hattie's cabin where the lady is entertaining Theodore with another beautiful song. Harland is surprised by John's presence, telling the boy that his arrival is unexpected. John's sarcastic reply leads Hattie to enquire if anything is wrong. John takes Hattie's hand and tells her about his discovery, that Harland was planning on making a profit from her creations. Harland assures Hattie that he only wanted to share the songs with others so that they might learn more about Cutter Gap. John calls him a liar and tries to take the book of songs from Harland. David breaks the two men up and Hattie generously offers the songs to Theodore, saying that they are a gift from God. She asks John to accompany her to the mission for the singing and goes inside to get her shawl. Theodore starts to retrieve his book of songs but David grabs it before the man can do so, telling him that if he wants the songs he'll have to take them in his head. David advises the man not to show his face in Cutter Gap again and Harland leaves . . .

A Heart to Heart

Neil finds Margaret leaning against a tree high in the mountains. She tells her husband that she missed this particular spot as they don't have views such as this in Atlanta. Neil is surprised to find out that there was actually something Margaret liked about the cove. Margaret sarcastically tells Neil that the great doctor doesn't know everything and walks off. Neil follows and puts his coat around his wife's shoulders telling her that he didn't come up here to fight with her. As they stroll, Margaret asks Neil if he remembers the first time that he brought her here. She tells him that she was afraid of losing him, for every patient that he lost seemed to take a piece of him and it made her want to die. That is the reason she had to leave. Neil tells her that he knows about her tuberculosis and that he's glad she's taking Alice with her to seek treatment. Margaret comments on her mother's forcefulness and Neil tells her that Alice loves her very much. She asks her husband what went wrong in their marriage and Neil tells her that she never wanted to live by anyone else's rules. Although he fell in love with her for her free spirit, he should have never married her. Margaret says nothing and takes his hand . . .

Lost But Found But Lost Again

At the singing, Hattie's beautiful voice rings out as she sings "Amazing Grace." David places a hand on Christy's shoulder and she smiles as the sheets with Hattie's songs written on them burn in the fireplace. Alice glances around at her friends and neighbors and smiles as well. Neil finds a letter of goodbye from Margaret in his cabin along with her wedding ring. As Margaret leaves Cutter Gap, she pauses for a moment to stare at the mission. Miss Alice gets a premonition and runs from the singing to see her daughter's retreating figure. Neil retreats to the river and gazes solemnly into the rushing water. Alice sinks to her knees sobbing and Christy comforts her as she watches Margaret fade into the sunset.

Caroline Kent