Chapter 102 Summary
Tom stays on the Askew plantation until Thanksgiving, when the family welcomes him home for a visit. Everyone is there to greet Tom with hugs and kisses except for Little George (whom Chicken George is teaching to tend the chickens) and Ashford (who preferred the company of women off of the Lea plantation). Even the ailing Uncle Pompey comes out of his cabin to greet Tom.
Tom is overwhelmed with love for his family, whom he missed so much while he spent his first months learning to blacksmith. The family’s love and respect overwhelm Tom. Even though Chicken George teases Tom a bit at dinner about neither making money nor shoeing horses yet, the family can tell that Chicken George is just as proud of Tom as the rest of them.
The family gathers at a large table under a tree outside to share their Thanksgiving meal together. Tom is amazed when his mother, Matilda, asks him to say the blessing. Not being good with words, Tom wishes he had been prepared. After the quick and simple blessing by Tom, everyone stuffs their faces full of food. When they are done, Tom tells the family all the news he has heard from the white folks when they come to get their horses shod.
The latest news is about the telegraph sending messages over wires. Tom also tells them how President Polk has died, with President Taylor to take his place. They talk about Stephen Foster, who is a white man writing songs to sound like slave spirituals. However, the biggest news is about the many famous black people who are fighting against slavery. Frederick Douglass taught himself to read and write and now has his own books and newspaper. Sojourner Truth speaks to huge crowds of people, telling about her former slave experience. Harriet Tubman makes numerous trips back to the South to help slaves travel to freedom via the underground railroad. Even Abraham Lincoln, a white man running against Stephen Douglass for president, is said to be on the side of freedom for slaves.
After a quick discussion about the California gold rush, the meal is over, and Chicken George and Tom wander down to the gamecock area to relieve Little George of his duties so he can go eat. On the way down, Chicken George speaks frankly with Tom about how both of them have good jobs that have the potential to make money enough to buy freedom. With that suggestion, Tom is spellbound and excited. They figure with two of them working as hard as possible and saving as much as they can, it will take sixteen years to buy the family members their freedom.