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After the children have become alienated from T.J. who has spitefully caused their mother her position as a teacher at the Great Faith Elementary and Secondary School, they are eager to work in their fields again as Spring approaches. Jeremy Simms, who meets the Logans at the end of his forest trail on his walk to school complains that he will miss Cassie and Stacey. Then, he suggests, "Maybe I can come over to see y'll sometime." But, Stacey knows this would not work. "Don't think Papa would like that." Cassie wonders aloud how Jeremy can be lonely with so many siblings, but Jeremy replies that the small ones are too young to play with, and Lillian Jean, R.W., and Melvin are not to his liking.
When Jeremy lets it slip that T.J. is running around with his older brothers, Stacey questions him, especially when Jeremy says that they do not treat T. J. "right" as they talk badly of him after he leaves. Later, Cassie asks her mother as they make cornbread why the white boys would let T.J. run around with them; she tells her daughter,
"Some folks just like to keep other folks around to laugh at them...use them."
Here there is some foreshadowing as Cassie then asks why T. J. does not realize that the Simms boys are ridiculing him, and her mother says that T. J. probably craves the attention of the older white boys. Just then, a car pulls up and Mama goes to see who it there. It is Mr. Jamison who asks where her husband is and soon goes across the field to talk to David Logan.
After the school year is over, Cassie notices that her father seems reluctant to leave for his job on the railroad. In fact, Papa tells the family,
"Sunday I'm gonna have to go. Don't want to though. I got this gut feeling it ain't over yet. It's too easy."
He is speaking about the boycott of Wallace's store and the conflict this has caused. Shortly, Mr. Avery comes over and informs Papa that he does not want anything in Vicksburg because Mr. Granger threatens to cut his sharecroppers percentage if he does shop at the Wallace's store. He and Mr. Lanier apologize and depart. Afterwards, Cassie calls them cowardly, but her father explains that they have to support their families and cannot afford to take a cut in their percentages.
The next day, Papa and Stacy leave for Vicksburg to shop for the remaining seven boycotters despite Mama's misgivings. When they do not return until late in the rainy night, Papa has been badly injured. His head is wrapped in a rag, bloodied from his injury, and his leg has been broken. As Mama and Big Ma and Mr. Morrison attend to Papa, Cassie coaxes the story out of Stacey. He tells the other children that the wagon wheels came off on the way home. Since there was not time to unload the wagon, Mr. Morrison lifted it while Papa put the wheel back on. However, as he did so, a shot rang out; Papa fell and the frightened horse pulled the wheel over on his leg.
Stacey cries that all is his fault because he could not hold the horse steady and prevent the wagon from moving. But, Cassie blames the men who shot at Papa. Continuing his tale, Stacey says that Mr. Morrison fought the white men, throwing one down hard upon the road, and running into the dark. When another man came around the wagon, Stacey says he heard the bone break. There emerged a man who picked up the thrown man while the man with the broken arm appeared, as well, and they all got into a truck and left.
"Then what?" Little Man inquired.
"Nothin'. We put on the other wheel and come on home," Stacey replies.
At this conclusion, the children's worries turn to their father. Mama tells them he is asleep, not dead. Still, the children are anxious and watch the closed door to Papa and Mama's room, hoping morning will soon come.
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