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Thompson first approaches Kane's second wife, singer Susan Alexander, in the Atlantic City nightclub where she now performs. After the drunken Susan orders Thompson to leave, the accommodating bartender reports her claim that she had never heard of Rosebud. Next, Thompson reads the unpublished memoirs of Wall Street financier Walter Parks Thatcher, Kane's guardian and trustee of the mining fortune left to Kane by his mother: Thatcher first meets young Kane in 1871 at his mother's Colorado boardinghouse. Learning that she has become wealthy from mining shares left her by a former boarder, she is determined that her son will be reared and educated in the East. As young Charlie plays outside with his sled, Mrs. Kane hands over management of the mine's returns to Thatcher, against her husband's wishes, then grants the financier guardianship over her son. Despite the boy's protests, he is sent away to live with Thatcher. When Kane turns twenty-five, he assumes control of the world's sixth largest private fortune, and while professing disinterest in most of his holdings, writes Thatcher that he intends to run The Inquirer, a small, New York newspaper acquired through a foreclosure. He moves into the paper's offices and with the help of his best friend, Jedidiah Leland, who acts as the drama critic, turns it into a lively, muckraking publication, which attacks slum landlords, swindlers and big business. In 1898, The Inquirer attempts to draw the United States into war with Spain. After the 1929 stock market crash, Kane relinquishes control of his empire to Thatcher's syndicate. Thompson finishes his reading of Thatcher's memoir without learning anything about Rosebud.
Thompson next questions Bernstein, formerly Kane's general editor and now chairman of the board. Bernstein describes the early days of Kane's tenure at The Inquirer: After Kane and Leland take over the publication in 1892, Kane prints a declaration of principles--that he will report the news honestly and will make the paper a champion of his readers' rights as citizens and as human beings. Leland senses the document's importance and keeps the handwritten declaration as a memorial. Six years later, when Kane acquires the top reporters from the rival paper, whose circulation The Inquirer has surpassed, Leland worries that Kane's approach to the news will also resemble his rival's. During this period, Kane begins to collect the European statues and furniture that will later crowd the rooms of Xanadu. On one European trip, Kane meets and becomes engaged to Emily Monroe Norton, the President's niece, whom he marries in 1900. After relating these events, Bernstein suggests that Rosebud was probably something that Kane lost, perhaps a woman.
Taking Bernstein's advice, Thompson visits Leland, a self-described “disagreeable old man,” in the hospital where he is living out his old age. Leland claims Kane believed in nothing except himself, but suggests that Kane's story is about how he lost love because he had none to give: As Kane's empire expands, his marriage to Emily deteriorates. One night in 1915, Kane encounters Susan as she is leaving a pharmacy after purchasing a toothache remedy. Susan innocently offers to let Kane, who has been spattered by mud from a passing carriage, use her apartment to clean up. Kane is at ease with Susan, who has no idea of his importance, and when he learns that her mother wanted her to become an opera singer, requests that she sing for him. In 1916, Kane runs for governor against corrupt political boss Jim Gettys. After a successful campaign speech, Emily sends their son home alone and asks Kane to accompany her to Susan's boardinghouse, where they find Gettys with Susan. Gettys admits that he forced Susan to contact Emily and tells Kane that he will reveal their relationship unless he withdraws from the campaign. Despite the hurt that scandal will bring to his family and Susan, Kane refuses, convinced that he has the love of the electorate. He is mistaken, however, and loses the race. Leland accuses Kane of treating “the people” as if he owned them and asks to be transferred to The Inquirer's Chicago branch. After Emily divorces him, Kane marries Susan and in 1919, builds the Chicago Opera House for her. Susan's voice is very poor, however, and her debut is met with ridicule, except by The Inquirer critics. When Kane finds Leland slumped over his typewriter in a drunken stupor after beginning an unfavorable review of Susan's performance, he finishes the notice himself, retaining the negative viewpoint, but then fires his old friend.
Thompson now returns to Atlantic City to question Susan again. She insists that it was Kane's idea that she have an operatic career and describes their tempestuous life together: During a noisy quarrel with Susan, Kane receives a special delivery from Leland, returning the $25,000 check Kane sent after firing him and including the handwritten copy of the declaration of principles, which Kane burns. When Susan begs to quit, Kane insists that he will be humiliated if she leaves the stage, and forces her to continue singing until she attempts suicide. Later, they retire to Xanadu, where a bored Susan spends her days working jigsaw puzzles. Finally fed up with his overbearing attempts to orchestrate her life, Susan reproaches Kane for trying to buy her affections with jewels and other material things. He slaps her in anger, and she leaves him. Her story finished, Susan sends Thompson to talk to Raymond, the butler at Xanadu. Thompson confesses to Susan that he feels sorry for Kane, and Susan admits that she does, too.
At Xanadu, Raymond agrees to speak with Thompson for a price, then relates the events following Susan's departure: The furious Kane tears apart Susan's room, until he comes across a small glass snow globe with a tiny cabin inside. Kane picks it up, murmurs “Rosebud” and leaves the room, seemingly unaware of the servants who surround him. Still as ignorant of the significance of Kane's dying word as when he started, Thompson prepares to leave Xanadu with the other reporters and photographers. Passing through rooms where Kane's possessions are being inventoried and crated, Thompson is now convinced that even if he had learned the meaning of Rosebud, it would not have explained the man. Unnoticed among the boxes and crates is an old child's sled. As a workman throws the sled into a furnace, the word Rosebud, painted across the top, is consumed by the flames.
Just after Ashley and Melanie marry, Scarlett and Charles marry as well, delighting Melanie, who tells Scarlett that now they will truly be sisters. Some time later, Scarlett receives word that Charles has died of the measles, and she is forced to don widow's black clothing and refrain from going to the parties she loves. Her understanding mother Ellen decides to let her go to Atlanta to stay with Melanie and her Aunt Pittypat, hoping that Scarlett will feel less restless there. At an Atlanta fundraising bazaar, Scarlett is so bored watching other girls dance, that when Rhett bids for her in a dance auction, she enthusiastically leads the Virginia Reel with him, oblivious to the outrage of the shocked local matrons. Rhett, who has become a successful blockade runner, continues to see Scarlett over the next few months and brings her presents from his European trips. As the war rages, Melanie and Scarlett receive word that Ashley will be returning home on a Christmas leave. Atlanta is now suffering the privation of a long siege, but the women manage to give Ashley a small Christmas feast. Before he returns to the front, Ashley tells Scarlett that the South is losing the war and asks her to stay by the pregnant Melanie.
Melanie goes into labor as Atlantans leave the city before Northern troops arrive. When Aunt Pitty leaves for Charleston, Scarlett desperately wants to go with her, but remembers her promise to Ashley, and remains with Melanie. Because Melanie's labor is difficult and the doctor is too busy attending wounded soldiers to come to her aid, Scarlett must attend her alone. After the baby is born, Scarlett sends her maid Prissy for Rhett, who reluctantly arrives with a frightened horse and a wagon. Though he thinks that Scarlett is crazy when she insists upon returning to Tara, he risks his life to drive the women and the infant through the now-burning city. Outside Atlanta, as Rhett and Scarlett see the decimated Southern army in retreat, he feels ashamed and resolves to join them for their last stand. Scarlett is furious with him, even after he admits that he loves her and gives her a passionate kiss before leaving. When the women finally arrive at Tara, the plantation is a shambles and the house has been looted. Scarlett's mother Ellen has just died of typhoid and her father's mind is gone. Desperate for something to eat, Scarlett first tries drinking whiskey, then goes into the fields. After choking on a radish, she vows that if she lives through this she will never go hungry again. [An Intermission divides the story at this point.]
Soon Scarlett bullies her sisters and the remaining house slaves into working in the fields. After she kills a Yankee scavenger and, with Melanie's help, hides the body, the contents of his wallet provide them with some money for food. When the war ends, Ashley returns and Scarlett goes to him for advice when Pork, one of the former slaves who has remained with the family, tells her that $300 in taxes are owed on Tara. Ashley offers no solution to her problem, but admits once again that he loves her, even though he will never leave Melanie. More determined than ever to obtain the money after Jonas Wilkerson, a ruthless Yankee who was once Tara's overseer, says that he is going to buy Tara when it is auctioned off for taxes, Scarlett decides to ask Rhett for the money. With no proper clothes to wear, Scarlett and her old governess, Mammy, use material from Tara's velvet drapes for a new dress. In Atlanta, they discover that Rhett has been imprisoned by the Yankees, but has charmed his way into their good graces. Scarlett tries to pretend that everything is fine at Tara, but Rhett soon sees her roughened hands and realizes what her situation is. Because he is under arrest and his money is all in an English bank, Rhett cannot help Scarlett, so she leaves, infuriated. That same day, she runs into Frank Kennedy, her sister Suellen's beau, and sees that he has become a successful merchant. Scarlett tricks Frank into marrying her by telling him that Suellen loves someone else, and is thus able to use his money to save Tara. Scarlett then moves to Atlanta to work at Frank's shop and to make his fledgling lumber business a success. She also uses an unwitting Melanie to help make Ashley come to work at the lumber mill. One day, Scarlett is attacked by scavengers while driving her carriage near a shanty town, but is saved by Big Sam, a former Tara slave. Scarlett is not physically harmed, but that night Frank, Ashley and some of the other men band together to “clear out” the shanty. While Scarlett, Melanie and the other women wait at Melanie's house, Rhett arrives to warn them that the Yankees are planning an ambush. Melanie tells him where the men have gone, and some time later, he prevents their arrest by pretending to the Yankees that they have all been drinking with him at the notorious Belle Watling's bordello. Ashley is wounded, but Frank has died on the raid.
A few weeks later, Scarlett, who is drinking heavily, is visited by Rhett, who proposes to her and offers to give her everything she wants. Though she says that she does not love him, she agrees to marry him, and on their expensive honeymoon, he vows to spoil her to stop her nightmares of the war. A year later, Scarlett gives birth to a daughter, whom Melanie nicknames “Bonnie Blue.” Though Rhett has never cared about Atlanta society, he now wants to ensure Bonnie's future. He begins to acquire respectability, and within a few years his charitable contributions and sincere devotion to Bonnie impresses even the hardest of Atlanta's matrons. Meanwhile, Scarlett still longs for Ashley and has told Rhett that she no longer wants him to share her bedroom. One day, Ashley's sister India and some other women see Scarlett and Ashley in an embrace. Though nothing improper happened, Scarlett is afraid to attend Melanie's birthday party for Ashley that night. A furious Rhett forces her to attend, though, then leaves. Melanie's open affection to her makes Scarlett ashamed, and when she returns home she sneaks into the dining room to drink. There she finds Rhett drunk and a violent quarrel erupts. After Scarlett calls Rhett a drunken fool, he grabs her and carries her upstairs, angrily telling her that this night there will not be “three in a bed.” The next morning, Scarlett is happy, but when Rhett scoffs that his behavior was merely an indiscretion, her happiness turns to anger. Rhett then leaves for an extended trip to England and takes Bonnie with him.
Some months later, because Bonnie is homesick, Rhett returns to Atlanta and discovers that Scarlett is pregnant. She is happy to see Rhett, but his smirk of indifference and accusation about Ashley enrages her so that she starts to strike him and falls down the stairs. She loses the baby, and although she calls to him during her delirium, Rhett does not know and thinks that she hates him. After she recovers, he suggests that the anger and hatred stop for Bonnie's sake, and Scarlett agrees, but as they are talking, the headstrong Bonnie tries to make her pony take a jump and she falls and breaks her neck. Both are shattered by Bonnie's death, especially Rhett, who refuses to let her be buried because Bonnie was afraid of the dark. Only Melanie, to whom Rhett has always felt a closeness, convinces him to let the child go. After her talk with Rhett, Melanie, who has become pregnant despite the danger to her health, collapses and suffers a miscarriage. On her deathbed, Melanie asks Scarlett to take care of Ashley, but when Scarlett sees how much the distraught Ashley loves Melanie, she finally realizes how wrong she has been for years and knows that it is Rhett she truly loves. She rushes back home and tries to prevent him from leaving her, but he will not stay because it is too late for them. Scarlett tearfully asks him what she will do and as he leaves he answers, “Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.” Through her sobs, Scarlett begins to think of Tara, from which she has always gained strength, and determines that she will return there and will think of a way to get Rhett back. She resolves to think about it tomorrow for, “after all, tomorrow is another day.”
In 1958, Vito's grandson, Anthony Corleone receives his First Holy Communion in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. After the ceremony, his parents, Kay and Michael, host a lavish party at their lakeside estate. Michael, who has succeeded Vito as the don of the Corleone family, receives guests who seek his favor, including Senator Pat Geary, a pompous hypocrite, who incurs Michael's enmity when he demands money in exchange for the license Michael seeks for a gambling casino. Others at the party include Michael's weak, older brother, Fredo, who cannot control his drunken wife, and their widowed younger sister, Connie, who prefers the high life to caring for her children. Al Neri, who represents elderly Jewish gangster Hyman Roth, discusses a Cuban casino deal between Roth and the Corleones, while old family friend and lieutenant Frankie Pentangeli begs Michael not to do business with Roth or his cohorts, the ruthless New York Rosato brothers. Late that night, as Michael prepares for bed and admires a picture that Anthony has drawn for him, the room is riddled by machine gun fire. Because Michael drags himself to Kay's side and covers her body with his, neither is hurt, but Kay is quietly resentful and views Michael's promises to turn the family business legitimate as lies. Michael warns his security men to capture the assassins alive, but by the time the men are found near the lake, they have been killed. Privately, Michael confides in his adopted brother, Tom Hagen, that he is the only person he trusts and relates that he will be in complete charge while Michael goes away to try to solve what has happened.
In 1917, In New York's Little Italy, Vito, now a grown man with a wife and baby son, goes to an Italian-language vaudeville show with his friend, Genco Abbandando, who is in love with one of the actresses. Backstage, Vito sees local Black Hand leader Fanucci intimidate the young actress' father and is distressed to learn that Fanucci offers "protection" to all of the local Italian merchants, even Genco's father, for whom Vito works. Soon after, Clemenza, a neighbor across the alley, throws a package to Vito and asks him to hide it. A short time later, Fanucci comes into the Abbandando grocery and demands that Genco's father hire his nephew. When the distraught Signor Abbandando tells Vito that he must let him go, Vito comforts him and says that he will never forget all of his kindnesses. The next day, Clemenza stops Vito on the street and asks about the package, which contained guns. Impressed when Vito says that he does not concern himself with things that are not his business, Clemenza offers to give Vito's wife a rug that belongs to a friend. Cemenza then takes Vito with him to a luxurious house, where they break in and steal an expensive carpet.
After leaving Lake Tahoe, Michael travels to Miami, where he goes to the modest suburban home occupied by Roth and his wife, and tells him that Pentangeli was behind the assassination attempt. Agreeing to do business together in Cuba, Roth tells Michael to bring $2,000,000 cash to him in Havana. Michael asks Roth if he minds that Pentangeli must be killed, but Roth dismisses Pentangeli as "small potatoes." Next, Michael travels to Long Island, to his father's former house in Long Beach, now occupied by Pentangeli and his family. He then tells Pentangeli that he knows it was Roth who tried to have him killed and asks him to pretend to make peace with the Rosato brothers so that Roth will be lulled into a sense of security. Sometime later, when Pentangeli and his cohort, Willy Cicci, go to a New York bar to meet with the brothers, Tony Rosato grabs him from behind and, saying “Michael Corleone says hello,” starts to strangle him. Just then, a policeman enters the bar and the Rosatos flee, leaving Pentangeli for dead and wounding Cicci outside. Meanwhile, as Michael travels to Cuba, Kay begins to feel like a prisoner at the estate because the guards, under Tom and Michael’s orders, prevent her from leaving. In Havana, Michael and Roth are among several prominent American corporate executives who are being wooed by the country’s president, who assures them that the country’s rebels will be driven out by the new year. Later, on the way to Roth’s 67th birthday party, Michael sees a mass arrest and is struck by the dedication the rebels show when one man blows up himself and a soldier with a grenade. At the party, Roth, who has a heart condition, tells those gathered that he will leave most of his interests to Michael, then privately asks Michael why the $2,000,000 has not arrived. Back at his hotel room, Michael greets Fredo, who has brought a briefcase filled with the money. After Michael tells Fredo that Roth and his underling, Johnny Ola, are in Havana, Fredo denies having met them. Michael then suggests that they spend the day together. Listening as Fredo almost tearfully asks why they never spent time alone together before, Michael, who thinks that Pentangeli has been killed on Roth’s orders, says that Roth will never see the New Year. That night, which is New Year’s Eve, Fredo acts as host to a number of American VIPs, including Sen. Geary, who now is indebted to the Corleone family because a few weeks before, Tom had covered up the violent death of a prostitute with whom Geary was involved. When Johnny arrives, he and Fredo pretend not to know each other, but when the party goes to a sex show and Fredo casually tells Geary and the others that Johnny had told him about the club, Michael knows that Fredo had betrayed him. Meanwhile, Johnny is strangled in his hotel room. The killer then goes to kill Roth, but because Roth has had a mild stroke, he is being taken to the hospital. There, while one of the nurses leaves to celebrate the New Year with her friends, the killer sneaks into Roth’s room and starts to strangle him, but is interrupted by the nurse and a guard, who kills him before he can finish. At midnight, in the presidential palace, Michael embraces Fredo and tells him he knows that it was he who betrayed him and that he broke his heart. Moments later, the president announces that, because the rebels have advanced, he is resigning and will be leaving the country immediately. As Fredo wanders through the chaos in the streets, Michael calls for him to come with him to a waiting plane, but the frightened Fredo runs away. Days later, Michael meets Tom at a Las Vegas hotel and learns that Kay has had a miscarriage. He tells Tom to find Fredo and tell him that he knows he was misled by Roth but he should come home and not be afraid.
In 1918, as Vito drives through Little Italy, Fanucci jumps on his car and tells him that he wants him and his friends to “wet my beak” and give him $200 as part of their earnings from stealing expensive dresses. That night, Vito convinces Clemenza and their friend Tessio to give him $50 and promises to make Fanucci accept that. When Vito visits Fanucci at a local café, he offers the $100, saying he needs more time for the rest. Impressed with Vito’s courage, Fanucci agrees, and leaves. Because it is the Festa of San Rocco, Fanucci struts through the crowds and offers money to the church. Unknown to him, Vito has followed him on the rooftops and enters Fanucci’s house. When Fanucci arrives, Vito shoots him at close range, then takes the money from his wallet, disposes of the pieces of the gun in different drain pipes, then joins his wife and three young sons to watch fireworks.
When Michael returns to his Lake Tahoe estate, he goes to his mother’s cottage to talk with her before his family. Speaking in Italian, he asks if his father ever lost his family. When she says that you never lose your family, he whispers “ tempi cambi ,” times change. At the same time, Willy Cicci, who was only wounded by the Rosato brothers, is testifying before a U.S. Senate committee investigating organized crime, saying that he was a “button man” for Michael when he wanted something done.
In Little Italy, in 1923, Vito is now known as “Don Vito,” and with his old friend Genco, he has started the Genco Olive Oil Company, which imports oil from Sicily. Vito is so respected and feared within the Italian-American community that when his wife’s widowed friend, Signora Colombo, faces eviction by her landlord, Signor Roberto, the mere knowledge that Vito is her patron, makes the frightened Roberto allow her to keep the dog her son loves and stay in her apartment with a lowered rent.
When Michael is summoned to testify at the Senate hearings, rather than exercise his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, Michael calmly answers the senator’s questions, saying that he is not a Mafia boss but a legitimate businessman. In a statement, Michael challenges them to produce any evidence of his crimes. A short time later, Michael and Tom learn that Pentangeli survived the attack against him and, thinking that Michael had ordered his death, has been cooperating with the FBI. Michael asks Fredo for information, but Fredo, who knows nothing, lashes out at Michael for relegating his older brother to menial assignments. After Michael says that that is what their father wanted, he tells Fredo that he now means nothing to him and never wants to see him again. After leaving Fredo, Michael tells one of his underlings that he doesn’t want anything to happen to Fredo while his mother is alive. Meanwhile, Pentangeli, who is living in comfort within FBI custody, fears testifying, but his FBI guards assure him that they can protect him. When the hearings resume, Pentangeli, who is set to testify, is stunned when he sees his older brother, who lives in Sicily, enter the chambers with Michael. When questioning begins, instead of corroborating what he had said in sworn statements to the FBI, Pentangeli denies Michael’s criminal activity and says that he merely told the FBI what they wanted to hear. Although the senators suspect intimidation, there is nothing they can do. After the hearings, at their Washington hotel, Kay tells Michael that she is leaving him and taking the children with her. While they are arguing, Michael tells her that he knows that she blames him for the miscarriage but that he will change. She then confesses that it was not a miscarriage but an abortion because the “Sicilian thing” must end and she did not want to bring another of his sons into the world. After slapping her with such force that she falls, Michael screams that she will never take his children from him.
In 1927, Vito, his wife and their three young children arrive in Corleone. They are welcomed by Vito’s old friend and now business partner in Genco Olive Oil, Don Tommasino. After celebrating with relatives, who admire the prosperous family, Vito accompanies Tommasino to now elderly Don Ciccio’s estate. After introducing himself and kissing Ciccio’s hand, Vito tells him that his father was Antonio Andolini, then rips the don’s belly apart with his knife. As Ciccio screams out and dies, Tommassino is wounded as he and Vito make their escape. Leaving Corleone a short time later, Vito shows baby Michael how to wave goodbye.
At Mama Corleone’s funeral in Lake Tahoe, a distraught Fredo wants to speak with Michael, but Tom tells him Michael will not enter until Fredo leaves. Connie then goes to speak privately with Michael and tells him that she had hated him for a long time, but now realizes that he was just being strong for the family. Saying that she now wants to take care of him, she asks him if he can forgive Fredo. Michael then goes to Fredo and embraces his sobbing brother, but with his eyes, lets his underling Rocco Lampone know that his feelings have not changed. Sometime later, as Michael and Tom discuss the fact that Roth, who survived a stroke, has been deported from Israel and is flying back to Miami, Michael lashes out at him for not being with him on the things he needs to do. Tom assures him of his loyalty and asks what he can do. Tom soon visits Pentangeli in custody. Assured by Tom that his brother is safely back in Sicily and his own family will be well cared for, Pentangeli, who loves history, lets Tom know that he will die as disgraced Roman senators did, opening their veins in a warm bath. Back in Lake Tahoe, Fredo, who has enjoyed spending time fishing with Anthony is about to go out onto the lake when Connie says that Michael wants Anthony right away. Later, when Fredo and Rocco are out on the lake, Fredo says a “Hail Mary” just before Rocco shoots him. At the same time, Roth arrives at the Miami airport, where he is shot and killed, and the FBI agents discover that Pentangeli has killed himself in the bathtub. As Michael sits alone in his den, he thinks about Pearl Harbor Day, 1941, when he, his brothers and Connie waited for their father to come home for a birthday celebration: Although he is going to college, Michael announces that he has just enlisted in the Marines, angering Sonny and Tom. When their father comes home, everyone leaves the dining room to greet him at the door, except Michael, who remains at the table, alone.
Soon Ilderim goes to Messala’s home, offers a wager of a trunk filled with gold and silver and asks him and his companions for odds on an upcoming chariot race. When Messala hears that his opponent will be Judah, he accepts the wager at four to one, calling it the difference between a Roman and a Jew--or an Arab. On the day of the race, Pontius Pilate, an old friend of Arrius, who has become the new governor of Judea, oversees the race. Ilderim is optimistic, and happy that Judah has earned his horses’ affection, but worries when he sees that Messala’s chariot has spiked wheels and warns Judah. During the nine-lap race, Messala uses the blades on his wheels to destroy many chariots, and several of the other charioteers are killed or maimed. Messala tries to destroy Judah’s chariot, but instead crashes his own and is dragged by his team. Judah wins the race and is crowned victorious by Pilate, who calls him the crowd’s current god when the Judeans cheer loudly for him. After the race, Messala, who is in agony, will not allow the physician to amputate his mutilated legs until after Judah, whom he has summoned, arrives. Rather than seeking forgiveness, as Messala dies, he taunts Judah by revealing that Tirzah and Miriam are not dead but living in the valley of the lepers. In despair, Judah goes to the valley to find his mother and sister, ignoring the fear of contagion. As he searches, he is stunned to see Esther and Malluch, the mute who takes care of Simonides, bringing baskets of food down to the lepers’ caves. Judah angrily confronts Esther for her deception and demands to see Miriam and Tirzah, but she pleads that they would be shattered if he saw what has become of them. When Miriam and Tirzah weakly call for Esther, Judah hides as Esther gives them food, and weeps when he hears his mother ask if he is well and happy. Although still unconvinced by Esther’s pleas to remain hidden, Judah nonetheless leaves with her and Malluch. On their way back to the city, they see a crowd gathering on a mountain top. Balthasar, who is in the crowd, calls out to Judah, saying that the Nazarene who will speak is the one he sought, and that he is the son of God. Although Judah momentarily thinks of the Nazarene who had given him water, he scoffs at the remark and returns to the city alone. Judah is then summoned by Pilate, who greets him warmly as the son of his old friend, and delivers the message that he has been granted Roman citizenship. Though expressing his affection for Arrius, Judah rejects the citizenship and gives Arrius’ ring to Pilate to return, saying that Rome turned Messala into what he became. When Judah returns home, Esther tells him of the words of love and forgiveness she heard from the Nazarene, but Judah will not listen. The next day, Esther returns to the valley of the lepers, followed at a distance by Judah. When Miriam approaches she reveals that Tirzah is dying. As Esther tells Miriam of the Nazarene’s words and says that she wants to take them to him, Judah comes forward. Miriam tries to make Judah go away by showing him her deformed face, but Judah strokes her forehead and embraces her. He then carries Tirzah from the cave and, with Miriam and Esther, walks back to Jerusalem. The city is almost deserted when they arrive. People shun the lepers, but an old blind man tells them that people are gathered for the trial of the Nazarene. They then walk to the center of the city and observe Pilate washing his hands of the man, who is sentenced to death. Seeing the Nazarene's tortured body, the women weep, but Judah suddenly recognizes him. Judah then follows his journey to the crucifixion site, and when the Nazarene stumbles under the weight of his cross, offers him water. As the women sadly return to the valley of the lepers, Judah continues to follow the Nazarene. When Judah sees Balthasar, he relates what happened in Nazareth and wonders what the man has done to deserve this, but Balthasar says that he came into the world for this purpose. As the Nazarene dies, the skies darken and a storm rages. Outside the city, Miriam, Tirzah and Esther have taken cover. Tirzah says that she is no longer afraid, and Miriam sadly says, “His life is over.” Suddenly, through lightning flashes, Esther sees that Miriam and Tirzah no longer bear the deformities of leprosy. That night, when Judah returns home, he embraces Esther and relates that, even near death, the Nazarene sought forgiveness for those who caused his suffering. Esther then shows him that Miriam and Esther have been cured and the four lovingly embrace.