A Nightingale Falling (2014) Script

A keeper of secrets.

This is what I am.

what I too have become.

September 15th, 1920.

Morning air brings with it, hope... a lingering sense of peace captured in the stillness.

For the most part, all is normal.

Since the passing of our parents the life at Gleep House had settled down into a passion of routine and unrelenting work the roles that of myself and my sister Tilly dovetailed with... #

I have known and worked alongside Tom Noolan since I was a girl.

Since papa's passing I have come to depend on him as I would a brother.

This is a private matter.

So I do apologize.

Is everything alright?

Tom, you've been a good friend of ours for many years and I know...

I know my father would not be best pleased to hear me say this but I have to make the important decision for the house.

And with things the way they are, I have no choice. I must... sell another field.

Oh! I'm sorry. I did not realize that things were that bad.

Well, perhaps, you could consider, which field might fetch a considerable sum and make the arrangements.

And also... poor Tilly need not trouble herself with such matters.

Yes, Miss May.

In fact, keep this as quiet as you can.

Of course.

Thank you Tom.

And I'm...

I'm sure your father would understand.

Tom rarely speaks of his only son, Jackie.

Not yet 20, and if local gossip is trusted... wild and heady buck who is very possibly an active member of the local IRA volunteer brigade

Despite our financial struggles and the... unspoken threat that is all around us... we are surviving... as best we can.

I found a new journal... and just the right combination

It is now late evening and the peaceful silence that falls blankets the house like a veil.

Though the future is uncertain...

I must continue to show strength in... word... deed... and action.

Hold your guns. Hold your guns... #





Tilly, I need you.

What's the great emergency?

Come with me.

-Oh, dear Lord, is he dead? -No.

You must be calm, Tilly. We have to deal with this immediately.

Who is he?

Tilly, take hold of his leg. We must shift him from this position.

Fetch some clean sheets.

We'll see he doesn't die on us.

How is he, May?


There's someone.

Shall I go get the dcotor?

There's no time.

We must get off to the back room and see to these wound before it's too late.

What? That doesn't make any sense.

-Do you want to let the man die? -No, of course not!

Well then, think straight.

Go into the store, inside the stables.

In the corner under some blankets, you'll find papa's old chair... that'll help us get him upstairs.

Gently, gently.


Well, will he live?

Too soon to say.

But... there are no major arteries cut and... there seems to be good clotting.

Oh... Tilly.

You're quaint.

We'll do for him as much as we can and... the rest we'll leave to God's mercy.

I've done all we can for him now.

And he seems to look more human now he's cleaned up a bit.

Not a bad looking chap, I thought.

I am delighted to see you awake to us and the world this morning, Captain Shearing.

Perhaps... you do not fully recall the other evening's conversation.

Perhaps, we did no fully introdcue ourselves to you.

I am May Collingwood.

And this is my...

# sister Tilly.

Tilly, go have your breakfast.

I can get a meal here.

I brought these up so you can at least communicate with us.




# I was a nurse once.


Captain James Shearing.

How long have been staged at the barracks in Phillipstown?

-Now Captain Shearing, it's time... -You're not going to beleive this May.

Believe what?

Hello May.

You're speaking.


-Well, don't try to say too much... -Oh, May, please!

It's because of your wonderful nursing skills that James is now speaking again.


How are you feeling today?


Take it easy. Those wounds do need a lot of attention.

But you're doing great.

I helped James with this.

What's this?

It's for my parents.

To let them know he is good hands.

Of course, he is in good hands.

I'll see to it.

I want to remind you of something.

He's still a patient of ours.

It's only natural, now that he has.. regained full consciousness, that our personal relationships with him will change.

But we ourselves must keep a professional distance.

Of course.

The sun rises... and the sun sets.

The hours in between moved with a slow... rythmic pattern... of the usual seasonal labours.

Tilly and I continued to watch over and attend to our wounded patient.

I tried to imagine his family background... and his life as a soldier in the trenches.

What horrors had he witnessed in the Great War?

I recall my father saying that... the wounds we don't see on the flesh are the wounds that never heal.

And ulimately cause the most suffering and damage to those who carry them.

I am becoming... acutely... aware of a familiar notion running up inside me, a... strong and tender regard for this once dying and broken soldier, whom I've cared for all these months.

I lost to love before.

I do not intend to lose again.

Three glasses, Till?


One's for James.

I'll take it up to him.

It perhaps will seek to raise his low spirits.

Boy! Boy!

Nobody panic.

Is this your home?

No. I just work here.

What's your name?

Tom Nolan.

It's my home.

Along with my sister Tilly.

You're a Collingwood right?

May Collingwood.

Well, May... where is she at?

I imagine she's inside.

-Does anyone else live here? -No.

A few months ago, we lost one of our men.

It happened close to her.

And we haven't found him.

I reckon, somebody knows something.

Well, we don't know anything.

Thst's what everybody says.

Well, we found this.

It was found close to here.

So somebody heard soemthing, seen something...

If we had seen anything at the time, we would have come forward with that information.

I'm in these fields everyday. Surely, I'd have seen some thing.

Well, you didn't see this, did ya?


What exactly do you do here?


That's quite a big house for two women to live in all alone out here.

What of your parents?

They are both deceased.

My father came here in 1880.

He was a Colonel in the British Army.


Now I coud see myself in a house like that some day... when all this madness is over.

Do you mind if I have a little look around?

Of course.

You and your men are welcome to some tea also.


I apologize.

I have to return to the barracks for a debriefing.

Another time perhaps.

Our door is always open.

Next time it is.


James wants to see you.

What is it?

I'm leaving.

I want to return to my regiment.

Captain, I fear you are not in your right mind.

Of course, I am.

Tilly told me that they were here and they were wearing my clothes.

Captain, you not yet well enough to go anywhere. Please return to your bed.

May. I thank you for the kindness you showed me, but please... fetch me my uniform.

-Captain, get back into bed. -I want to leave.

They were here looking for me and you kept me locked up an you...


What do you think will happen to us here if you do leave?

Our lives will be at risk and our home will be burnt to ground. I will not allow that.

Our care...

I can guarantee you.

All I ask in return is that you consider our safety.


You'd be surprised.

May I?

Of course.

That good?

Yes, it is.

It is a collection of poetry.

You can borrow it if you like.


Happy Christmas.

It's just something small.

Jackie, you shouldn't have.

Like I say, it's just something small.

Don't know how you can sit out here. I'm freezing.

Thank you for the present.


My pleasure.

You're warm enough now?

Yes. Thank you.

Well, eat now.

I promised James, I'd finish these chapters.

You go ahead.

You have to have a candle on Christmas eve.

It's nice.

Thank you.

I'm sure you are thinking about your family tonight.

I'd say I was the same when I was in France during the war.

Not knowing if I was alive or dead.

I still have nightmares.

You have nothing to be afraid of here.

If it wasn't for you, who knows what might have happened.

May is the one that saved you.

She is the nurse.

Do you think...

Would you like to join us for Christmas dinner tomorrow?

I'd like that.


I don't know why I never put them in the same place.

What's wrong?

The jug.

That right?


You're not ready.

Go on without me.

I just think it will be lonesome for James to be on his own on Christmas eve.

I'm sure he will be perfectly alright by himself for a few hours.

Besides, I gave Mrs Johnson my word, we'd both be there.

Tell her I'm under the weather.

We haven't missed a Christmas eve... in years, Tilly.

This year's a little different though, May.

You made sure of that.

Christmas toast?

To what should I toast?

To your health, of course.

To your kindness.

To health and kindness.

Good morning, Tilly.

Merry Christmas, May.

Many happy returns.

Hard to believe another Christmas is upon us.

I must prepare.

What do you think, you're doing?


Well, I was thinking we should set up the table in Captain Shearing's room.

He is joining us, isn't he?

But I don't think we should take any chances.

I wasn't sure you were gonna make it.


I was with me dad.

You sure you want to put your...

# lady friends for dinner, huh?

I was thinkin' about that house.

I heard the Tom's were around, but didn't touch the place.#

Why was that?

I don't know.

You want to help us right?

I was thinking... why don't you find a safe place to hide those guns?




That's not the place for them.

The alternative is... we pay a visit to your employers...

and see how loyal they actually are.

You'll be ashamed to see a house like that burnt to the ground like so many of ours.

All right.

I'll hide the guns.

It's a safe place in the yard.

The store house

Go man.

Ans don't worry.

You'll learn to trust nobody.

Merry Christmas.

Thank you... for... all these wonderful gifts. and... thank you for a greater gift... that of my life.

Merry Christmas... to both you good ladies.

Bravo, Captain Shearing.


Well, shall we eat?

Do you think you will ever go back to India?

Almost 20 years, James.

It's a long time.

It didn't go without me.

We spoke Hindi, you know.

-Really? -Mmm.

I don't speak any langauges... well... a litttle French...


They were such mysterious, exciting times.

Our father used to take us horse riding on the shimmering plains of Delhi.

I remember mother taking us to the open markets and bazaars.

Bet you don't remember the time we got lost.

Miss Tilly...

Oh, I should like to hear this.

Our mother... was haggling with a street trader... and Tilly and I stood... staring in fascination as a... snake charmer piped his exotic melody to a... sleepy eyed cobra.

And suddeny I turned and Tilly is no longer at my side.

I don't remember this.

Of course you don't.

We plunge headlong into the crowd.

And Tilly is nowhere to be seen.

And after a few moments of panic...

suddenly she is visible to me.

And upon seeing me, she wrapped her arms around me... and we returned to the safety of our mother's embrace.

You must've been very frightened.

I really don't remember.

From that day, you hardly ever left my side.

She became as my shadow, she was to be found not... two steps behind me.

Even here at Kleep house, you... you have me look out for you. at least that's how she used to be.

That was me talking while the night is still...

Leave everything to the morning.

Tilly and I will take our leave.

Thak you for all of this.

This day of peace and renewal has in its gift... the power to bound and heal all wounds.

The pain of simply being alive these times is lessened... by an emotion I have long since suppressed.

Good morning, May.

Captain Shearing!

I think maybe you are well enough now to wash yourself.

There is hot water and soap buds.

Let us know if you need anything else.


Nothing... sorry.

-Happy New Year. -Happy New Year.

Happy New Year, ma'am. Happy New Year, ma'am.

Do you know if Jackie's coming over for dinner tomorrow?



I would imagine so, yes.

I heard again about him in that ambush.

Tilly, don't go saying any of this to Tom.

You are to act normally, for everyone's sake.

So you heard it too.

He likes you too.

You can always use that if the time ever comes.

I must say, Miss Tilly, every year, your cooking delights me.

Well, we like to keep father's tradition.

And you are very dear to us, Tom.

Isn't that right, Tilly?


Oh, yes...

Happy New Year.

Here's to a better year. to 1921.

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And days o' lang syne!

For auld lang syne, my dear For auld lang syne, We?ll tak a cup o' kindness yet For auld lang syne!

I'm sorry, May...

Go, go go!

What are you thinking about?

I was just thinking...


But you did.



The where would you go?

Well, I'm not going anywhere without you.

Well, I'm not a fool, James.

You don't have to pretend.

Tilly, I've been thinking about it.

I don't want to go back to my regiment.

So, what are you going to do?

I'm going to marry you.

Is that a proposal?

Why not?

I don't know if you're being serious or just fooling me.

Tilly... will you marry me?

Of course.

How do you feel about going to Argentina?

I've never really thought about it.

Well, I can't go home and I don't think #

Well, you've obviously thought about this.

Of course, I have.

We'll make our way to the Port of Cove and... board the first available ship to the Americas.

We can have the ship's captain board us en route We'll need money, though.

We can write there, as man and wife.

When will we leave?


And what about May?

We'll tell her together.


No. Leave it to me.

I need to tell her myself.

Today, I have to accept things as they are... and not how I would wish them to be.

Nothig could have prepared me for the way things have unfolded under this roof.

I sought to control matters from day to day, but... the problems that have arisen have come from within... and not, as I had feared from without.

I know now that I can no longer control events...

it is the events that control us.

How this will end...

only God knows.


He's gone to get the rest of the guns.

Let's keep moving.



What are you doing here?

Tilly, it's not waht it looks like.

I can't believe you have put us in such danger.

I'm sorry. really, I am.

They've only been in there a couple od days, I swear.

I don't want to put you in harms way.

Just get rid of them, please!



Why is that?

Say good bye.


I'm goin' away.

I have to.

Is there any point in asking why?



I'm goin' away for a while... don't know how long.

But you want to speak to May.

You can tell her.

Take care, Jackie.

I've always like you, Tilly.

I hope you don't think of me as a...


I do.

This is how it is supposed to be.

We make our decisions based on any give time.

Well, then...

another time.

I'm surprsied at how well they're healing.

You're very lucky.

Well, I'm feeling stronger, I know that much.

Do you think I should write another letter to my parents given that there doesn't seem to be any response.

By all means.

Besides... hopefully. we can orchestrate a way, for you to travel home in the near future.

So you've been talking to Tilly then?



It's just we've been discussing it.

Discusiing what?


When were you going to tell me?

Tell you what?

About this little plan you've hatched?

Did James tell you?

No, he did not.

I've been meaning to speak with you for some time now, May.

What is it that bothers you... child?

This matter concerns the Captain.

James and I...

He... and I... we... we are...

The Captain... and you, are what?

What about the Captain and you?

James and I... are in love.

I love him, May... and he loves me in return.

It is our intention to become man and wife as soon as is possible.

You and he are to be wed?

James wanted to tell you, but I thought it only wise and proper, that I should inform yoy myself

Do you hear the words coming out of your mouth?


You and Captain Shearing are to marry?

Please just say that you've taken leave of your senses, girl.

We could leave this place, we could leave this country.

Under cover, and in disguise, if necessary.

Oh! Don't be ridiculous!

A # officer, no less... are you being so naive?

What of his regiment # IRA?

It'll be suicide for you both and a death sentence for me.

We can start anew. We love each other, May.

What do you know of love?

You have not had a single gentleman call, or come a' courting in your life.

I have a right to live my life as I choose.

And I choose to spend my life with the man that I love...

What do you even know of the Captain?

Has he told you of his past?

Captain Shearing is a soldier... and has lived a soldier's life.

What do you even know of his dalliances with other women?

Oh, for pity's sake... wake up, girl... and put this silly nonsense behind you.

This is not nonsense... and it is not dalliance, as you put it.

James and I are in love.

This impertinent infatuation you feel for a man, who is yet a stranger to you, to us both.

Put it behind you, and you will soon see, that I speak sense.

You have never been in love.

How can you lecture me on that emotion?

You and the Captain thought that you could rot like base animals in this house, and not be detected?

Well, I have known of your sordid little affair since the very first night of your... coming and going between your room and his... like a cat on heat #

I will not allow it!

It must end here, it must end now!

My God.

I see it now.

You are jealous.

You resent our feelings for each other.

Don't be ridiculous.

You may be content, to live your life here, as a dry, withered, loveless, spinster...

but I do not want that for me.

When we have made our final plans, I will inform you.

Hello, Tom!

How are you, now?

You were away for a walk.

Even though, it's a big house... sometimes I need to get out and think.

Well, you do look a little tired.

I feel it.

Any word of Jackie?

No... no.

I'm sorry about that.

I hope that whatever # never finds its way here.

You don't need to aplogize to me.

I just hope he... knows what he is doing.

I know I said it before, but... if there is ever anything that I can do to help, just ask.

Your father was good to me... and I'm always willing to help, you know that.

Thank you, Tom.


I made some broth, if you'd like.

I will.

Thank you.


Good morning, Captain.

How are you today?

Most well.

Tilly tells me you aspire to depart here... and emabrk on a journey... and that she, is to accompany you.

Are these indeed your plans?

That is correct.

And as you are her only sister...

I therefore feel honour bound, that I should ask you for her hand, as I would, of your father.

Captain, I have denied you nothing.

Please sit.

But I cannot...

# give my blessing to your request.

I do not agree with this highly irresponsible and ill concieved course of action.

That is quite harsh.

I have worked tirelessly these past few months to nurse, and I might add, putting us all to great personal risk, I did not expect you to repay it in this fashion.

In what fashion do you mean?

That you would further put some risk... to my life... this innocent child's life...


You saved my life...

I wholly and humbly acknowledge that fact.

For that, I owe you a debt, I can never truly repay.

But our feelings for each other have to be given the respect they deserve.


I do not deny the sincerity of your feelings.

But Tilly knows my feelings on the matter.

Go out of here and back to your military post, alone, if you must, but I cannot allow Tilly throw away her prospects, for an uncertain future with you.

I'm sorry, Captain.

I'm sorry, Tilly.

I told you James... she's stubborn and single minded.

We'll leave anyway.

Tilly, you have to organize a mode of transport.

A motor car, a horse and cart, whatever gets us to the nearest station.

But we need to leave soon, maybe next week.

And are you able to?

If I can get out of this room, I'll be fine.

You have to be so careful.

I'll wear one of May's old dresses if I have to.

You'll dress up as my sister to travel with me?

It's not a bad idea.

-It's a terrible idea. -Whatever it takes.

But we need to act fast.

Hello, Captain.

How are you?

I'm fine, thank you.

Are you coming down with something?

May, he's been coughing since we were outside today.


We took a walk around the yard.


It did him so much good to be outside again.

Tilly, I...

Captain, you've probably caught a slight infection.

Nothing serious.

I'm weary in bone and spirit... and I have only one thing occupyimng my mind.

It is certain. I... know it deep in my heart.

I have lost Tilly to this man...

and I have lost this man to Tilly.

If they leave here, I am lost to both of them.

But I have lost all to myself.

Shall I just leave these here?

Thank you, Tom.

May must have forgotten to tell me you were getting these for her.

She's a little under the weather.

That's right. Happy day ahead.



I'd forgotten you were coming today. I apologize.

Thetre's no need to apologize.

Is everything all right?


Just caught a little chill outside.


I'll be off.

How much do I owe you?

Don't worry about it. We'll sort it again.

Take care, now.


I've been thinking, and.... maybe you and the Captain should remain here for the moment.

Who knows what may happen in the next few months...

and we've both said things...

I can't lose you.

Not like this.


thank you.

I know you are concerned for my well being... but James and I have made our plan.

We will depart in a matter of days.

I fear if we leave it too long, his spirits will drop no end.

Thank you.

Thank you for everything.




Sorry to intrude, but...

I've become an exponent of drinking alone, these nights... and this has made me share it.

Don't be silly.

Of course.

We'll definitely share it.

Please, Tilly... continue.













Thank you.

I say we drink..

Hear! Hear!

It's hi!

It's him!




Oh God!



James is gone.

He's gone from me.

I was her by his side. I slept here all night.

Dear God, No!



Have you lost your mind?

You know full well that no doctor can be called to this house... or anyone else in this matter. There is no one else.

Tilly... even if a Dr. Devlin was here, there's nothing he could do.

It's too late for #

Tell me , please.

He can't go...

May God have mercy on us all.


It's time.

Leave us for one moment.

Do you want to say a prayer?

Rest in peace.

Captain Shearing.

Can I get you something to eat?

Oh! And some sugar too, please.



Trying to catch pneumonia?

You'll catch your death!

It feels there's a spring in the air.


I'm pregnant, May.

I'm with child.

I've known for a few weeks now.

I don't know... what to say.

Are you certain? How can you know for sure?

Of course, I know.

My body has informed me of my condition.

James died not knowing he was to be a father.


How long?

The birth will be sometime in mid-October.

He never knew.

You do know that this baby... cannot be born here at Gleep House.

Apart from the scandal that would ensue from such a revelation, there would reamin the mystery of the child's father.

And you know what arises from such speculation.

It was fated that this is how it would be for us.

I will write to George and Winny at London.

George is a second cousin on Mother's side and... they're good people.

Untroubled by wagging tongues.

Then you both... can return home.

Will you care for his grave while I'm gone?

Tend to the flowers I've sown?

You have my word.

Less than two weeks from writing the letter, I recieved news.

George and Winny would be more than delighted to have Tilly in their Highgate home.

My general muse this morning is...


Dark... bleak...

I know that from this day... the 8th of April, 1921... nothing will ever be quite the same here again.

You look rested.

Ready for your journey?

Eat well.

It will sustain you for the long day ahead.



It's time.

Get up!

Get up!

Don't look at me.




Turn around and go back.

We can't do that. We have to go through.

Perhaps you didn't hear me.

Turn around.

We have to go on. We must catch a train to Dublin.

You're from that big house, right?


Gleep House.


Let them through.



-Bring him over here! -#

Know these women, do ya?

I said...

-Do you know these women? -I work for them.

So... you employ IRA scum on your farm?

I know him from the village.

But he does not work for me.

Nor has he ever set foot in Gleep House.

Should I say... you know, it makes me laugh.

The choices we make in combat.. one side or the other... but never both.

Clear the road.


May! Please don't! We need to go back! May!

Next one.


We have to go on.

Walk on.


How's Miss Tilly getting on in London?

I think she likes it.

Any change is as good as a rest, so they say.



I'm sorry, I couldn't go to Jackie's funeral.

I was in a bad place until he left.

Please, Miss May... we all have our troubles.

How are you coping?

I suppose we're like a large family, that's really it...

That's not right, you know?

I have to bury a son.

And she's getting along well. She is.

Yes. We have thousands over there.

Have you heard the news?

They're after calling a truce.

The war. It's over!

What's news?

What's going on here?

A deal!

A general truce between the IRA and.... the forces of the English government.

-It's just terrific. -When did this happen?

Just yesterday in Dublin, I think Mr. # has announced... that he will travel to London to meet with Lord George.

So it is over?

Thank God if this is true.

Of course, it is true. Mrs. Galvin heard it in Dublin yesterday.

New beginning, my dear. New beginning.

The Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed in London.

Our country will now become a dominion within the British empire... kown as the Irish Free State.

Everything is changing.

But nothing will change how lost I've become.

How can you tell, Jack, the letter is good or bad?

A simple deduction.

I only have to look at the writing on the envelope to tell.

Thank you.

Good news, Miss May?

Yes, Jack.

Wonderful news.

Dear sister Tilly has been delivered of a baby boy.

A child to Miss Tilly?

I never...

Well, praise be...


Any day we get good news is a good day.

Has the child been given a name?


Oh, Tilly # at last

You are so... welcome home.

Oh, May!

This is your nephew.

James... Anthony Collingwood.


Nothing has changed here, May.

How do you find her, doctor?

I know this should be a joyous home coming May... but treasure what time is left.

Thak you.

Welcome home, Miss Tilly.

I want you to have this for the wee lad.

It's Jackies , you know.

Twenty odd years ago, I made this with my own hands.

Oh, he's a handsome fellow.

Thank you, Tom.

Thank you, May.

Can I get you anything else?

No. Thank you. I'm fine.

How is James?

He's sleeping.

It was very kind of Tom to bring...

Did you speak to him about the day I left?

Of course, not.

How could I?

You regret... what happened that day?

How we denied him?

I have many regrets...

more than you will ever know.

But sometimes the situation... one finds oneself in leads to a... necessary course of action

Do you think we could've saved him?

Perhaps this isn't such a good idea.

Maybe we should be indoors.


Dr. Devlin told me...

I know my fate.

Let's just sit here.

Let me be.



I can do the necessary here.

I don't know what to say.


Please don't think my decision to be rash.

To see, maybe James ghost in this house, will break my heart.

We can't have children of our own.

Yes. I know.


My darling boy.

O Lord The very words


Tilly, please... continue.








I say we drink.

You're here.

I cannot undo the wrongs I've caused.

And it is a weight that I cannot bear with me till my final judgement.

I am not afraid of the consequences.

So please know this.

The truth... is more important.

A keeper of secrets.

This is what I am.

What I too have become...

This is my final journal entry.

Regretfully yours..

May Collingwood