Trials of the Heart
Back in Coal Valley, the courtroom is packed for the opening of the trial. Samantha delivers a damning opening statement but it seems to fall on deaf ears of the judge. The defense holds to its position that the mine was safe and that Noah Stanton caused the disaster. It’s then that Samantha calls Mr. Sweeny to the stand, certain he will vindicate Noah. But on the witness stand Mr. Sweeny recants his earlier statements and places blame for the disaster at the feet of Noah Stanton. It turns out that Mr. Sweeny left the Bureau of Mines to start his own business. Unfortunately Mr. Sweeny’s business had been slow to get off the ground and a bribe from the mining company was more than enough to convince him to change his testimony. Mr. Sweeny’s actions send shockwaves through the court and force Judge Parker to recess the proceedings.
Moments later, with the aftershocks of Mr. Sweeny’s testimony still rippling through the courtroom, Samantha unsuccessfully requests a mistrial. The motion is denied and she is ordered to give her closing arguments. As Samantha speaks a young woman enters the courtroom. The woman, it turns out, is Clara Stanton, the widow of Abigail’s son Peter. On the witness stand Clara presents a copy of the original mine safety report that clearly states the mine had a faulty ventilation system. Clara’s damning testimony abruptly changes the momentum of the trial. Faced with the new information, Judge Parker has no choice but to side with the widows. Judge Parker further rules that the company will be fined to the maximum amount allowed and those funds will be divided amongst the widows. He also rules that the mine will be closed immediately and permanently.
In Abigail’s café the townsfolk gather to celebrate their victory. The mood is joyous until Florence arrives. Always the pessimist, Florence reminds everyone that with the mine closed, the town is without work and a without future. That is until a stranger, who only recently arrived in Coal Valley, enters the café. The man introduces himself as Leland “Lee” Coulter. With the mine closed, Lee believes Coal Valley’s future is timber. He then announces that he’s opening a sawmill and will be hiring lost of men to help build it and run it. The only thing Lee needs is someone to show him where he can set up shop. As if on cue, Rosemary leaps to her feet and offers her services. The two hop on Lee’s motorcycle and ride off into Coal Valley.