Elijah is an eleven year old boy, who is the first freeborn child in Buxton, Canada, Buxton was established as a community for former slaves. Elijah and his family meet the preacher, who does not exactly have the qualities one might expect in a preacher. He is very interested in Elijah's ability to chunk rocks and comes up with a scheme of his own.
As the carnival approaches, the parents of Buxton, knowing that the carnival is sleazy, don't want their children to go or have any part of it. The preacher convinces Elijah to sneak out and meet him to go to the carnival. While at the carnival, Elijah meets a woman named Madame Sabbar. Madame Sabbar has a great ability with the sling shot. The preacher arranges for Elijah to meet the owner of the carnival, and they decide that Elijah and Madame Sabbar will have a show off. Elijah also meets a boy named MeWaw, who is nothing but a pawn in the schemes of the carnival. Elijah beats Madam Sabbar, and the preacher wants the owner of the carnival to pay him and he and Elijah will travel with the carnival. The owner, on the other hand, wants to buy Elijah outright. At the sight of this form of human trafficking, the preacher, who doesn't have many scruples, is put off by this and disagrees. He and Elijah leave quickly. Later that night the preacher returns and gets MeWaw released.
This story is about former slaves trying to make a fresh start. Elijah represents that fresh start. He is the first son born that is free. When the preacher takes him to the carnival, Elijah gets his first taste of what his parents have talked about. He sees first hand how nasty people can be, and how the bonds of slavery are still alive. Sadly this will not be Elijah's only time to see this, but Elijah has the strength of the former slaves in his family running through his veins.