Under Southern Skies (1915)
50 min | Drama
Lelia Crofton, although she knows there is some mystery concerning her mother, whom she has not seen for years, and about whom she has made many unsuccessful inquiries to her father, Major Crofton, and to her Aunt Doshey, determines that, inasmuch as her eighteenth birthday is now being celebrated on her father's vast plantation in Louisiana, that she shall insist upon her parent revealing the secret surrounding the disappearance of her mother. Although the Major is pressed hard to tell, he again refuses but in a vision he sees how, years ago, it is the year 1860 now, he lived happily with his wife and baby girl in Savannah, when their happiness is blighted by the elopement of his wife with a young man who had been importuning her to flee with him. Unnerved by the attendant humiliation and desiring to keep the mother's indiscretion from his daughter, the Major goes to Louisiana, where he lives on a big plantation. As the party is in progress Lelia's mother, who years ago had been deserted by her lover, arrives at the Crofton estate and is seen by Steve Daubeney, a suitor who has been rejected by Lelia in favor of Burleigh Mayor. She is brought to the cabin of Aunt Doshey, who recognizes her. Lelia gives a Hallowe'en party, and invites Steve, who has returned from Savannah. He, resolving to make Lelia his wife, tells her that while he was in Savannah he discovered that her mother is not dead and that he has learned all about her, but that if she will marry him he will keep the secret. Lelia agrees. Later, when everything is ready for the wedding Lelia declares that she will not marry Steve. Almost immediately after this utterance Lelia's mother, who has been looking in the window to see her daughter marry, rushes into the house and falls at the feet of Lelia, pleading for forgiveness. In answer to Lelia's request as to who the woman is, Major Crofton tells her that "she is your mother." The Major is greatly surprised at hearing his daughter remark that she is a white woman and asks her who told her that she wasn't. In answer to her father's request, Lelia declares that Steve informed her, promising to keep the secret if she would marry him. Before anyone can lay his hands on Steve he disappears, and Burleigh Mayor, whom Lelia really loves, comforts her. They later become engaged. Fort Sumter is fired upon. Steve is made a private while Burleigh is given an officer's position. Steve, who has an intense hatred for Burleigh, has a gang of toughs capture the officer with the intention of subjecting him to the tortures of being tarred and feathered. Anner Lizer has witnessed the abduction and informs Lelia, who, after searching the woods for her sweetheart, discovers him tied to a tree. While the attention of the gang is engaged in preparing the tar, she releases Burleigh, but before they have gone any distance Steve sees them. He orders the gang to go in pursuit and the lovers, being cornered in the middle of a bridge by a section of the gang at each end, jump over and swim ashore. The gang, frightened, retreat. Although Burleigh is Steve's superior officer, the former's good nature will not permit him to punish the culprit. Before the armies leave for the front, Lelia and Burleigh are married and just as the minister is ending the ceremony, which is taking place on the lawn in front of the Crofton home, Steve, who had determined that Burleigh shall not marry Lelia, raises his gun in his place of concealment to kill the officer when a bullet from the gun of a member of the squad, who had proclaimed Steve a deserter and had gone after him, kills the vindictive man. After the war the Major and his wife are seen seated on the veranda of his home with Lelia and Burleigh, who have just returned from their belated honeymoon.