(Critical Survey of Literature, Revised Edition)

When the baby was born, there was a great ceremony on the Channing plantation. Mr. Channing brought out the baby and let Sam, their black servant, hold him. Then he told the young black boy that he was to be the baby’s body servant from that day on.

When Marse Chan, as Sam called him, grew up and went to school, he carried Anne Chamberlin’s books, and they were very close friends. The two neighboring families hoped that the friendship would result in a marriage to unite the two families. One day, when the river rose suddenly and Anne was in danger from the high water, Marse Chan waded in and carried her to safety. Mr. Channing was so pleased that he gave his son a pony.

The friendship between the two families was broken soon afterward. When Mr. Channing declared himself a candidate for Congress, Colonel Chamberlin was nominated to oppose him. Mr. Channing lost the election, and from that day on, there was enmity between the families.

One day, Colonel Chamberlin announced that he intended to sell some of his slaves. Mr. Channing wanted to buy Maria because her husband was one of his own slaves, but the Colonel asked far too much for her. Learning of Mr. Channing’s intention, the Colonel sent someone to bid against him at the auction, but Mr. Channing was successful in buying Maria. Then followed a series of lawsuits between the families.

In the meantime, Marse Chan had been going to college. During vacations, in spite of family opposition, his romance with Anne flourished. One day, a barn on the Channing plantation caught fire. Old Mr. Channing, in an effort to release the trapped animals, went into the burning structure. He was so badly burned that he lost the use of his eyes. A short time later, Colonel Chamberlin and Marse Chan became involved...

(The entire section is 735 words.)