After the children are told by their father, “In this family, we don’t shop at the Wallace store,” Cassie overhears that there have been some strange and cruel things that have happened: Three men are burned and another tarred and feathers. When the children hear cars coming down the road late one night, they worry that it has been learned that Cassie and the others have sabotaged the white school bus; however, the truth is that John Henry and Beacon and Berry were set on fire one night.
So, when Big Ma gets ready on the second Saturday of the month to go to market, the boys and Cassie begin their ritual of asking to accompany her although they have been refused every time. But, this time Big Ma lets Cassie and Stacey accompany her. Soon Cassie learns the reason--T. J. Avery is going with Big Ma because Mr. Avery needs a few things that he cannot get at the Wallace store. It seems Cassie is brought along with Big Ma so that T.J. will not be a nuisance to Big Ma; she tells Cassie,
"Lord, that's all I need with all the trouble about is for that child to talk me to death for twenty-two miles.
Dismayed that T.J. is going, Stacey and Cassie realize, however, that they owe their opportunity to accompany their grandmother to T. J.'s "obnoxious personality."