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It was an exciting day for Cassie, since she had never been to the big city of Strawberry before. It proved to be a great disappointment in many regards. First, Strawberry was a small town, "a sad, red place" with one paved road, lots of mud, and "gloomy store buildings." Although Cassie and T.J. were told to wait in the wagon, they decided to explore. It would prove to be a big mistake. After entering the Barnett Mercantile store, Cassie waited in line for Jim Lee Barnett to fill Big Ma's order. But Barnett repeatedly ignored Cassie, waiting on white customers who had come into the store long after the Logan children. Finally, Cassie had had enough. She spoke up, demanding politely that Barnett wait on her.
"Whose little nigger is this!" bellowed Mr. Barnett.
After responding that she "ain't nobody's little nigger," Cassie was ordered from the store.
But things only got worse. Outside, she literally "bumped into" Lillian Jean Simms. The young white girl demanded an apology, and when Cassie refused, Lillian Jean's father threw Cassie into the street. Cassie suffered yet another indignity when Big Ma forced her to apolgize to Lillian Jean.
Cassie got her revenge later. After pretending to subordinate herself to Lillian Jean by carrying her books after school each day, Cassie suddenly did an about face, "smashing Lillian Jean's books on the ground." She then tackled Lillian Jean, punching her repeatedly before demanding an apology from the white girl. Lillian Jean apologized, all right...
... for herself and for her father. For her brothers and her mother. For Strawberry and Mississippi, and by the time I finished jerking at her head, I think she would have apologized for the world being round.
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