The Little Minister (1913)

ShortShort | Drama | Romance
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Part One. To start a little in advance of our story, Lord Rintoul, of the English nobility, finds a little Gypsy girl three years old, who had been deserted by her parents. Fifteen years later, Gavin Dishart, the Little Minister, receives an appointment, his first, at Thrums, Scotland. This was made possible through the self-sacrifices of his widowed mother, to educate him for the ministry. The community of Thrums is made up of weavers, who work hard, have little and accomplish much. They are ultra-religious and look upon their pastor with such reverence that he is a little lower than the angels. While naturally intelligent, they are grounded in dogma and intolerance. Just after the Little Minister takes charge of the "Auld Licht Kirk" and the Manse, the weavers resent a reduction, by the manufacturers, in their pay and a strike is declared. To protect themselves against the inevitable and unexpected arrival of the police and soldiers, they have sentinels stationed at the four approaches to the town. Lord Rintoul has established a large country residence at Thruns. He holds himself aloof from the townspeople and he is looked upon as a great and mighty peer. The soldiers, whenever they come to Thrums on their incursions of suppression, always stop at his dwelling to consult him or pay their respects. They do not make this particular visit an exception and do not fail to acquaint him with their plans. The rioters are all gathered together in the square and the Little Minister implores them to disperse and peaceably go to their homes. While he is addressing them, a Gypsy girl mounts the steps from which he is speaking and cries out to the people to stand firm in declaring their rights, "The soldiers are on their way even now to arrest you." The Little Minister is appalled at her temerity and he denounces her as a shameless woman. This is the introduction of "The Little Minister" to "Babbie," although he had seen her in the wood, when she appeared as a nymph-like vision of loveliness. Then the soldiers sweep into the square and drive the people before them as they scatter to the woods. Sanders Webster, the only support of Nannie, his sister, is arrested as a leader in the strike and Nannie is left alone in poverty. Captain Nalliwell, in charge of the soldiers, orders the Gypsy girl's arrest for inciting riot. The Little Minister, notwithstanding his denunciations, loves Babbie, despite himself, and to save her from arrest, he passes her through the outposts as his wife. He offers to escort her to her home, although she has always declared her home was the wood. She insists upon seeing him home, and when they arrive there, he bids her good-bye and enters the Manse. She seats herself on a settee in his garden and discovers lying on it, his Bible. She picks it up and writes across one of its pages, "I will never tell that you allowed me to he called Mrs. Dishart before witnesses, but is this not a Scotch Marriage? Babbie." Part Two. The Little Minister proves himself to be a power in Thrums and he is beloved by the people. Through his preaching, Rob Dow, the village drunkard, takes the pledge and joins the church. Babbie, who is known as the Gypsy, in Thrums, is known as "Lady Babbie" in the home of Lord Rintoul, by whom she has been educated as a lady, befitting one whom he intends to make his wife. He sets the day and announces it with a great reception; "Tomorrow, he is to wed his ward, Lady Babbie," Doctor McQueen calls at the Manse and tells the Little Minister that he is coming to take Nannie Webster to the poorhouse and asks him to accompany him in his sad errand. Gavin goes to Nannie's hut and as gently as possible, tells her they have come to take her away. The poor woman sees no alternative, but she hesitates and lingers in the home, which, however humble, is the dearest place on earth to her. At this moment, Babbie, the Gypsy girl, appears. She is indignant that Gavin and the Doctor should he engaged in such an errand. She provides Nannie with money and tells her that she shall stay, and she agrees to furnish through the Little Minister, a sufficient sum each week to keep her in comfort until her brother is released. They cannot credit such a proposition, but she arranges to meet Gavin in Caddam Wood the next day where she will deliver into his hands the first five pounds of Nannie's support. Regardless of the warnings of others, and the belief that the Gypsy has bewitched him, Gavin keeps his appointment and finds her awaiting him, perched in a tree. The astonished minister almost believes she has been making game of him in her promised provision for Nannie, but she soon convinces him to the contrary, when she places the money in his hand. Part Three. The next day is Lord Rintoul's wedding day, and there is great preparation at the Hall. "Babbie" has purposely kept out of Gavin's way that he might not suffer on her account. They unexpectedly meet and he tells her that he will meet her at Nannie's that day. She implores him not to come, but he says, "I will he there." The farmers of Thrums suffer greatly from the prevailing drought. The elders of the Kirk call a prayer meeting for that night to pray for rain. The church is full to overflowing, but the Little Minister does not appear. He is at Nannie's with "Babbie." She pleads with him to give up his love for her, as she is unworthy of it and then she tells him what she has never told him before; that she is the ward of Lord Rintoul and must marry him that night. She also tells him how she overheard the soldiers' plans and warned the strikers. She hides nothing from him. Gavin asks her to go to Lord Rintoul and tell him that she does not love him, make an honest confession and throw herself upon his better judgment. She replies that Rintoul would not listen to her and if she returns to the Hall, Gavin will never see her again. Remembering that the Gypsies are at camp in the woods, Gavin proposes that they he married according to Gypsy rites. They go to the camp and are married over the fire-irons, which is the marriage custom of the Gypsy race. They are watched by members of the Kirk and Lord Rintoul. The marriage has scarcely been performed when the lightning flashes and the thunder roars, the heavens are darkened and all is blackness. When again the lightning flashes upon the scene, Babbie has disappeared and Gavin at once decides that she has been kidnapped. This was a correct conclusion, for indeed she had been kidnapped by Rob Dow, who could never forgive her for having brought reproach upon the Little Minister. Gavin plunges into the wood to search for her and the rain descends, and the floods cover the earth. He wanders on and on, until he drops helpless, where he is found. At break of day, having recovered his senses, he insists upon going to Lord Rintoul's home for he feels sure that Babbie is there. He is advised not to venture out in the floods. He will not listen. As he reaches the cliff overlooking the river, which is running torrents, he meets a shepherd, who, in distress, cries that a man is caught in the torrent below. He has sent a messenger to the town to get help. Gavin discerns through the mist that the man is Lord Rintoul. He plunges down the cliff, into the water and to his rescue. Instead of one, two are now in danger, as they stand on the small piece of earth between them and death. The villagers have come; all hope has deserted them, when Rob Dow rushes down the cliff with a rope in his hand, swims through the whirlpool and passes the rope to Gavin, then sinks and is swept away. Willing hands, who have held tight to one end of the rope, pull hard and Gavin ties his end around himself and the helpless lord and they are drawn to the shore in safety. With cheers and happy hearts, the villagers proudly escort the Little Minister to the Manse, where he finds Babbie, with his mother, awaiting him. Lord Rintoul, whom Babbie did not marry, relinquishes all claim to her and she and the Little Minister shortly afterwards, have a real "Auld Licht Kirk" wedding, making them man and wife until death do them part. Needless to say, that Lady Babbie, as mistress of the Manse, proves herself a true and godly minister's wife. Written By Moving Picture World synopsis  Less

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