What happens in Chapters 16 and 17 of The Witch of Blackbird Pond?
On All Hallows Eve, sailors play a stunt on William Ashby, placing jack-o'-lanterns at his house. The perpetrators are put in the stocks; one of them is Nat Eaton. Nat is defiant, saying the prank was worth it to see the look on William's face. In addition to time in the stocks, Nat's punishment includes banishment from Wethersfield.
Upset, Kit flees to Hannah's place. The two talk about Nat's crime, which leads the conversation to William's courtship of Kit. Kit does not love William, but might marry him to escape her uncle's house. Hannah tells Kit that without love, there will be no escape. Prudence comes for her lesson, and when Kit returns home, she discovers that John Holbrook has enlisted in the militia, leaving Judith distraught (Chapter 16).
The fever strikes in Weathersfield, and Judith, Kit, and Mercy fall victim to it. Mercy is near death, but Matthew Wood puts aside his differences with Reverend Bulkeley, who comes to the house with a treatment that ultimately saves her life. Angry townspeople gather to go after Hannah, and to a lesser extent Kit, whom they believe are witches and are causing all the sickness. Kit runs to save Hannah, spiriting her to the river where Nat awaits to take her to safety. Nat wants Kit to come too, but Kit declines; Nat thinks it is because she is going to marry William, but Kit tells him it is because she must stay to care for Mercy (Chapter 17).
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