It is spring, and Cassie is looking forward to the end of the school year. Jeremy complains that he will miss the Logans every day as he walks to his school, which stays in session longer. He asks if he can visit the Logans over the summer, but Stacey says Papa would not like that. Cassie does not understand how Jeremy can be lonely with so many siblings. Jeremy says he does not like his older brothers and sister. His brothers have pretended to befriend T.J., but Jeremy says they call T.J. names behind his back.
It is nearly time for Papa to return to his job on the railroad. Cassie begs him not to go, but he says he needs the income to pay the mortgage and taxes on their land. As they argue, Papa’s friends Mr. Avery and Mr. Lanier come to sit with them. Mr. Avery says he cannot continue supporting the boycott on the Wallace store. He reports that Harlan Granger is threatening to cut his sharecroppers’ incomes from fifty percent to forty percent of the profits from their crops. Mr. Granger also says he will evict boycotters and have them arrested for debt.
After Mr. Avery and Mr. Lanier leave, Stacey complains that they are cowardly to back out of the boycott so easily. Papa grabs Stacey and tells him the men have every right to protect their families. Cassie asks if the Logans will back out too, and Papa says they will not. He compares the Logan family to a small but strong fig tree that keeps surviving even though it is surrounded by bigger trees on all sides.
That night, Cassie eavesdrops as her parents discuss the upcoming shopping trip in Vicksburg. Papa says he will still shop for anyone who wants to stay in the boycott. He also says he will take Stacey with him to Vicksburg. Mama protests, saying it is too dangerous for a thirteen-year-old boy, but Papa says Stacey is nearly a man and needs to know how to handle himself. “Mary, I want him strong…not a fool like T.J.,” Papa says.
Only seven families, including the Logans, still want to stay in the boycott. Although they know that this small loss of income cannot hurt the Wallaces, Papa and Mr. Morrison go on the shopping trip for the remaining boycotters and take Stacey with them. The evening they are supposed to arrive home, a hard rain begins to fall. The family waits late into the night for the men to return.
When the men finally arrive, Mr. Morrison is carrying Papa. Papa’s leg is broken and his head is bandaged. Mama orders Stacey to take the younger kids to bed. In the boys’ room, Cassie demands to know what happened. Stacey agrees to tell the story.
Stacey says the wheels of their wagon fell off on the way home from Vicksburg. Fearing that someone had tampered with the wheels on purpose, Papa and Mr. Morrison rushed to fix the wagon before anyone could come find them. Mr. Morrison lifted the fully loaded wagon while Stacey held the reins and Papa put the wheels back on. When one wheel was on, the Wallace’s truck drove up, and a gunshot rang out. The bullet grazed Papa’s head, and the horse bolted, pulling the wheel over Papa’s leg. While Papa lay injured and Stacey hid, Mr. Morrison single-handedly fought the Wallaces off.
When Stacey's story is over, Cassie and her siblings wonder aloud whether Papa will die. Stacey comforts the little ones, and the four kids sit quietly through the night, worrying and hoping.