Prentiss manages to escape prison and death, and he runs away with Caleb.
In The Sweetness of Water, Prentiss has a brother, Landry. As the Civil War has ended and slavery has been abolished, George Walker, a relatively kind Southern man, hires the formerly enslaved Prentiss and Landry to work for him. George’s humane relationship with Prentiss and Landry doesn’t sit well with the racist people in George’s community, Old Ox.
George’s son is having an affair with August; his father, Wade, is rich and has significant power in Old Ox. Landry witnesses George and August’s affair, so August kills him. Caleb says August committed the murder, so Wade confronts the Walkers at their home. Demonstrating his anger, Prentiss spits on Wade. Due to Wade’s position in Old Ox, Prentiss finds himself arrested and facing death. He’s treated badly in jail, but Isabelle, George’s wife, manages to get him food with the help of a sex worker, Clementine.
Throughout Nathan Harris’s novel, Caleb struggles with cowardice, but he finds the courage to free Prentiss from prison, so he and Prentiss can live a decent but hardworking life on their own.