The characters are Lyddie, Ezekial, Mrs. Cutler, and Triphena.
Lyddie is the main character in the book. Lydia Worthen is a young woman who works at a pub called Cutler’s Tavern to pay off debts incurred by her family farm.
When visiting her family farm on a break from the tavern, Lyddie sees a runaway slave named Ezekial. At first she is afraid of him because he is a strange man in her house. He is the one who thinks that Lyddie is breaking in. When he learns who she is, he explains that her neighbor Stevens is allowing him to stay there. He tells her that he thinks she will be understanding.
"I hope he was not mistaken." He smiled apologetically. "Here, do come down from there and share a cup of tea with me. You've had a long journey, I'd imagine, and a rude shock, finding your home occupied by a stranger." (Ch. 6)
Ezekial, the fugitive slave, is self-taught and likes to quote the Bible. He is very kind to Lyddie. She is so impressed by him that she lends him the money that she had from selling the calf. It is all the money she has.
Lyddie and Ezekial have an interesting conversation where Lyddie compares her situation to his.
"I couldn't leave my home," she said.
"No? And yet you did."
"I had no choice," she said hotly. "I was made to."
"So many slaves," he said softly.
"I ain't a slave," she said. "I just‐I just‐‐" (Ch. 6)
This is a manta that continues to go through Lyddie’s head as she works at the factory later. She does not want to think of herself as a slave, even though she often has little control over how much work she has to do.
When Lyddie returns to the tavern, the cruel and strict tavern owner Mistress Cutler immediately dismisses her for being away from her post. Lyddie feels this is unfair, because she did not know that she couldn’t leave while the boss was away.
Triphena, the cook and Lyddie’s friend, comments that Lyddie is the best she has ever had. Lyddie tells Triphena that she is going to go be a factory worker. Triphena lends Lyddie some money since she gave away all of hers.