What happened in Chapter 5 of Lyddie?

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Lyddie, of course, has been sent to Cutler’s Tavern and Charlie has been sent to Baker’s Mill.  Lyddie takes advantage of Mistress Cutler’s absence (as she has gone to Massachusetts to sell some maple sugar) to take a “vacation” in order to see her family.  When Lyddie stops at Baker’s Mill to find Charlie, she finds out that Charlie is not there because he is still in school.  Lyddie is disturbed by this and begins to hate the family that has been taking care of Charlie.  Lyddie finally arrives at the farm and is surprised to find a black man staying there.

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sciftw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Lyddie has been working hard at Cutler's tavern, and I mean really hard.  Mrs. Cutler is a serious task master, and Lyddie can barely catch a moment to herself.  Fortunately, Lyddie is a hard worker, and that earns her the respect and friendship of Triphena.  That's helpful to Lyddie in Chapter Five, because in this chapter Mrs. Cutler decided to go to Boston to sell the maple sugar and visit some family.  Because of the reduced workload (Mrs. Cutler isn't there anymore), Triphena encourages Lyddie to go visit her family as well.  

Lyddie first goes to see Charlie at the mill, but she is surprised that she can't find him there.  The reason is that Charlie is still in school, which upsets Lyddie.  She's being worked to the ground, and Charlie's family is allowing him to go to school. Lyddie is disgusted at the situation and slightly worried that Charlie will forget his real family.  

The next place that Lyddie decides to visit is their former farm.  To her surprise she finds a runaway slave in the house.  This is a new experience for Lyddie for two reasons.  One, she has never seen a runaway slave before and thoughts of the reward money do creep into her head.  Two, Lyddie has never seen a black man before.  

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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I see that I answered this back in 2009, but I can expand upon it further after reading the chapter yet again. Lyddie is longing to visit home again to check on her brother, Charlie, after being sent to work at Cutler’s Tavern under the watchful eye of Mistress Cutler. One day, Mistress Cutler decides to go into Boston in order to sell her recent batch of maple sugar, and Triphena suggests that Lyddie take advantage of the situation.

Sure enough, Lyddie leaves the tavern and tries to visit Charlie at Baker’s Mill. When Lyddie arrives, she finds out that Charlie is at school instead of at the mill. Lyddie is disgusted by Charlie’s “new family” and feels that he might forget his real one. With these thoughts in mind, Lyddie heads back to her family’s old farm. A surprise awaits her when she peeks in through the window: a “shadowy form” sitting quietly at the fireplace, a “shadowy form” that is not her mother. Lyddie is finally face to face with a black man, the first black man that she has ever seen in her life.

(Keep in mind that right before she left, in chapter 4, Lyddie talks with her friends at the tavern about the large sums given to those who turn in runaway slaves.) We won’t find out until Chapter 6 that this particular runway slave’s name is Ezekial Abernathy.

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