Across Five Aprils

by Irene Hunt

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Student Question

Describe the incident involving Sam Gardiner and Guy Wortman in Across Five Aprils.

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Sam Gardiner is the owner of the general store in town.  He is kind to Jethro when the young boy comes in alone, having been sent to get supplies for his family.  There are a number of other men loitering in the store, however, and some of them, Guy Wortman in particular, begin to give Jethro a hard time.

Wortman, who has been drinking, asks Jethro insinuatingly if his pa is "good and down on Bill...does he teach you yore brother is a skunk that deserves shootin' fer goin' aginst his country?"  When Jeb responds that his father teaches him nothing at all on the matter of Bill joining the Confederates, Wortman accuses Matt Creighton of being as much of a traitor as his son, and a heated discussion ensues.  Sam Gardiner speaks up in defense of Jethro, and suggests that instead of spending his days "loafin' 'round drunk in (his) store", Guy Wortman should join up himself.  He agrees with another speaker that it is easy to "kick up...mob violence", because that way "your own hide is safe"; it is much harder to join up and do one's "patriotic duty".  Wortman tells Sam to keep his mouth shut, but leaves the store with a threat to do something about the matter. 

When Wortman has gone, Sam tells Jethro that he is sorry that the boy had to hear talk like that.  Sam himself does not like what Bill has done, but he thinks that Jethro was right to stand up for his brother (Chapter 5).

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