Summary (Masterplots, Definitive Revised Edition)
In 1861, Penn Hapgood, a young Quaker, was the schoolmaster in the small Tennessee town of Curryville. Because he made no effort to conceal his antislavery convictions, he was unpopular among the hotheaded Secessionists of the community. The Unionists, on the other hand, had offered him a commission in the militia unit that they were secretly organizing. Penn refused the commission offered him on the grounds of his religious faith.
His unpopularity grew after he aided Dan Pepperill, a poor white, flogged and ridden on a rail because he had befriended a whipped slave. Penn’s friend, a kindly young German named Carl, offered him a pistol to use in self-defense if he were attacked, but the schoolmaster saw no need to arm himself. A short time later, a party of ruffians seized Penn and tarred and feathered him. Carl, unable to save his friend, searched for some Union sympathizers to defend Penn, but by the time the rescue party arrived at the schoolhouse, the young teacher was not to be found. It was learned, however, that he had gone to his boardinghouse, where his landlady, Mrs. Sprowl, had refused to let him in. She had acted on the orders of Silas Ropes, the leader of the mob.
Penn had found shelter in the home of a blind clergyman, Mr. Villars. The minister’s household was made up of his two daughters, Virginia and Salina, old Toby, a freed slave, and Carl, the young German. Old Toby and Farmer Stackridge, a staunch Unionist, tended to...
(The entire section is 1460 words.)
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