Chapter 2 Summary
Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 429
When the funeral is over, Isabel has trouble working up the courage to do what she has to do. But with Momma gone, it is her responsibility. She approaches Pastor Weeks, holding herself in the proper way—“chin up, eyes down”—and asks where she and Ruth should go. She explains that she knows she can find work but that she does not know where they should sleep.
Pastor Weeks seems surprised by Isabel’s question. He says that she has no need to find a new home because Mr. Robert owns them now. Isabel corrects him:
Ruth and me are free, Pastor. Miss Finch freed us in her will. Momma, too, if she had lived. It was done up legal, on paper with wax seals.
To Isabel’s dismay, Mr. Robert says that she is lying. He says that his aunt did not need a will because there was no reason for anyone to disagree about how to distribute her property. After all, he was her only relative.
Isabel explains that she saw the will and read it aloud to Miss Finch, whose eyes were bad at the end of her life. Mr. Robert calls her a liar; slaves cannot read. Isabel suggests that he ask Miss Mary's lawyer, Mr. Cornell. Unfortunately for her, Mr. Cornell is far away in Boston.
Pastor Weeks seems uneasy about this disagreement. He admits that Miss Finch had “some odd notions” that led her to teach Isabel to read—but otherwise he supports Mr. Robert. Pastor says that if no will can be found, then the ownership of the girls must naturally pass to Miss Finch’s nephew. With that, he considers the matter closed. He refuses to contact Mr. Cornell in Boston, and he tells Isabel to forget about freedom.
Mr. Robert immediately begins making plans to sell the two girls. Isabel protests, but the pastor shushes her. He tells Mr. Robert to make sure to bring along the girls' shoes and blankets. “They’ll fetch a better price that way,” he explains. He even agrees to lend his wagon so that Mr. Robert can set out immediately.
Isabel stands still, feeling cold with panic. She wonders if she and Ruth will be separated. The last time her family was sold, when Ruth was just a baby, their poppa was taken away. He roared and "fought like a lion” against the separation, and it took five armed men to subdue him. Isabel has not seen him since. Now she needs to roar like a lion, but she cannot make a sound.