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A Gentle Heart

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As the morning frost rises from the valley floor, Lee Coulter, assisted by a cane on one side and Rosemary on the other, limps back into his office at the mill. After making it to his desk, Lee is finally able to convince Rosemary to take a break from her nursemaid duties and allow him to do some work. Just then Wade, the new foreman, enters with terrible news. The recent spate of accidents has cost the mill yet another contract, the second in three days. To make matters worse, the repairs from the accidents are still underway and the backlog is growing.

At the schoolhouse, Elizabeth enters alongside her newest student, Hattie Ferguson. Like Elizabeth, Hattie and her family are from Hamilton. But unlike Elizabeth, Hattie has an instant and obvious distaste for Hope Valley. When Elizabeth tells her to take her seat next to Anna, Hattie glares at the girl before telling Elizabeth, “I don’t want to sit next to her.” Anna tries to be friendly and compliments Hattie on her dress. Hattie sourly responds, “Just because I'm sitting here doesn't mean we're friends.” Hattie’s attitude infects the other the children, all of whom begin acting out. Reaching her wit’s end with the rudeness, Elizabeth cancels recess and declares that this week will be Kindness Week. Each student will have to do a daily act of kindness for someone they normally wouldn’t. Elizabeth instructs them that the goal of this assignment is to remind them that they are a community and it’s time to start acting like it.

Across town at the café, Abigail is inside preparing a basket of food while Bill is out front chatting with Dottie Ramsey. This week is Dottie’s birthday and, with a little encouragement from Florence, Dottie has agreed to a celebratory dinner with Bill. Back inside Frank Hogan arrives to pick up the food Abigail is boxing up. Frank is doing his best to gather any available supplies to aid a small group of settlers living in the valley. Their plight reminds Abigail of the trials she endured when first moving to the frontier. Looking back on those memories inspires Abigail to take the afternoon off and help Frank deliver the food to the settlers.

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Just outside of town in the valley, Frank and Abigail make their way to the settlers’ camp. The families arrived searching for a better life, but jobs are not as bountiful as they had hoped. Amongst the group, Abigail notices a young woman cradling a crying baby. Abigail approaches the young mother and asks about the baby. The woman’s name is Edith and her child’s name is Oliver. Abigail gently brushes Oliver’s head and immediately recognizes the signs of fever. She insists Edith bring the baby in to town to see the nurse. Edith is initially hesitant but Abigail insists and tells her that she is part of Hope Valley’s family now. The generosity is enough to convince Edith to return with to town with Abigail and Frank.

Nearby at the jail, Faith drops in to talk with Jack to about Mayor Gowen’s offer for her to run the infirmary. Jack suggested Faith as a candidate to run the infirmary and was shocked to her that she refused the offer. Faith explained that while she loves her work, her fiancé made it perfectly clear that she needed to return to Union City and begin arranging their wedding. She had hoped to stay in Hope Valley long enough to set up the infirmary but Peter, her fiancé, was adamant and is heading to Hope Valley to retrieve her. Torn between her work and her fiancé, Faith is unsure about the crossroads she now faces.

The next day Peter arrives in Hope Valley. While taken with the town, he is eager to have his beloved return with him to Union City. As the couple makes their way through town, they run into Jack, who takes the opportunity to try and convince Peter to allow Faith to stay. Faith takes the hint and again tries to press her case, but Peter is unmoved and is insistent that as his wife “won't have to worry about playing little Florence Nightingale ever again.” The sentiment rings flat in both Jack and Faith’s ears, but at the moment, there is little either of them can do.

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Back at the schoolhouse, Rosemary joins Elizabeth at the front of the class to share a special announcement. In honor of Kindness Week, Rosemary has selflessly volunteered to organize a dance for all the children. While the class is excited about the new experience, one student is less than impressed. As soon as Rosemary leaves, Hattie tells the class that “in Hamilton, my best friend Janie and I went to cotillion all the time. You have to have a live orchestra.” Elizabeth tries to convince her that the dance will be fun without the orchestra but Hattie stubbornly replies, “It won’t be the same.”

Sensing the need to intervene, Elizabeth asks Hattie to stay after class. Sitting next to each other, Elizabeth first tries to convince Hattie to at least try and make new friends in Hope Valley. Her advice is met with the same stern and angry expression that’s been Hattie’s hallmark since she arrived. In a last ditch effort, Elizabeth suggests that Hattie write to her best friend Janie and invite her to visit Hope Valley. The suggestion makes things worse and, before storming off, Hattie tells Elizabeth that Janie will hate Hope Valley as much as she does.

At the mill, Lee gathers his two foremen to take stock of the current situation. As if his own injuries weren’t enough, Lee must now face the fact that someone may be sabotaging his operation. Bill has been snooping around the mill and has presented Lee with some fairly convincing evidence that maleficence is afoot. The foreman agree that the situation is suspicious and advice that Lee double security.

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Having reached her limit with Hattie, Elizabeth decides to talk with Hattie’s mother to get to the bottom of the situation. Hattie's mother Corinne knew her daughter was unhappy about the move, but had no idea that Hattie was taking her anger out on other children. Coming from Hamilton herself, Elizabeth understands how Hattie could miss the big houses and elegant parties. It’s at this point that Corinne reveals that they are not rich and that she was governess for a judge and his daughter Janie. Elizabeth again suggests that perhaps inviting Janie to visit may help Hattie adjust. On hearing this, the expression on Corinne’s face immediately changes. She somberly explains to Elizabeth that the reason she was no longer needed as Janie’s governess was because Janie died.

After her conversation with Hattie’s mom, Elizabeth decides to take a new approach to the problem. She invites all the girls from her class over to try and get them to understand what Hattie is going through. The young ladies are already convinced that Hattie is mean and hates them all. But when Elizabeth tells them Hattie lost a very close friend, the girls suddenly realize that at one time or another, they have all been in the same situation. Armed with a new perspective, the young ladies agree to work together to make Hattie their friend.

Nearby in the café, a champagne cork pops and Bill fills Dottie’s glass. In honor of Dottie’s birthday, the two are enjoying Bill’s home cooked meal. The evening is extra special as it’s the first time a man has ever cooked for Dottie. While charmed by his manners, Dottie can’t help but question the many chapters closing in Bill’s life. His divorce from Nora and his leaving the Mounties all contribute to a perception the Bill is very unpredictable. Escorting Dottie home, he proves just how unpredictable he can be. When she begins to ask about matters of the heart he impetuously leans forward and kisses her. Feeling his actions speak for themselves he takes his leave, leaving Dottie to decide for herself who Bill Avery really is.

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At the saloon, Faith confides in Jack about the state of relationship with Peter. Despite her pleas, Peter has issued the ultimatum that Faith return with him to Union City or the engagement is off. While Faith loves Peter she feels he is being unfair and unreasonable. At the same time Faith feels that she can’t go back on the promise she made to marry Peter. Jack is supportive and tells Faith the despite her promise, she could be facing a lifetime of unhappiness.

Early the next morning, Elizabeth brings Hattie to the café for a surprise welcome party with the girls of the town. When she finds out that she’s in store for a surprise Hattie tells Elizabeth that she’s not going to the party and that Janie is the only friend she needs. Elizabeth then sits her down and reveals that she knows what happened to Janie. A tearful Hattie reveals that she misses Janie dearly and that losing her has made her afraid to open her heart again. She then admits that she’s been so mean that she can’t believe that anyone would want to be her friend. Elizabeth lovingly tells Hattie that in Hope Valley, they believe in second chances and that despite her doubts, Hattie is worthy of a second chance. The young lady wipes her tears and follows Elizabeth into the next room where a chorus of girls shouts surprise and, for the first time in Hope Valley, Hattie smiles.

Outside at the depot, Peter flashes a smile and remarks that it will be good to get home. Behind him, Faith looks on somberly. As Peter turns to his her she tells him that she’s not going with him--she can’t abandon people in need. Stunned, Peter tries to brush off her refusal before sternly telling her that the engagement is off if she doesn’t come with him. Faith is resolute and tells Peter that ending their engagement is his choice. He angrily tells her that she will regret this. Faith stands tall and tells him that might be true, but she has to find that out for herself.

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At Lee’s offices in town, Jack and Bill arrive with grave news. Another accident has befallen the mill. This time a piece of equipment mysteriously caught fire. Both Jack and Bill agree that Lee’s mill has suffered too many accidents for it to be coincidence. Without a suspect and no leads, Jack and Bill feel that launching an official investigation would only tip off the criminal. They all agree to keep the incident quiet while they work to ferret out the saboteur.

Nearby, the town gathers for the Kindness Week dance. All the kids are dressed in their finery and are ready to show off their best manners. Hattie arrives with her new friend Anna, who is wearing the dress Hattie loaned her for Kindness Week. The two girls greet Elizabeth and Rosemary before giggling and running off to be with the other children. As the music starts the boys sit on one side and the girls sit on the other, not moving. Rosemary looks on nervously, seeing her grand plans flailing. Just then Cody stands, approaches Elizabeth and asks her to dance. As they approach the dance floor, Hattie walks up and tells Cody that she hoped he would save the first dance for her. The two take each other’s hands and head off to the dance floor.