Chapter 105 Summary
It isn’t long before the family admits that life on Master Murray’s plantation is a whole lot better for them than it was on Tom Lea’s. The Murrays “soun’s like good Christian peoples.” However, the lack of Chicken George, Kizzy, and the others still weighs on the hearts of the Murray slaves. It turns out that Master Murray doesn’t know much about either farming or owning slaves. Originally from the big city of Burlington, Master Murray didn’t move out to the country until his uncle left him this plantation.
Master Murray, casually commenting that he might need an overseer, listens to Tom and the others when they tell him that the slaves will be happy to raise a bumper crop of tobacco without any overseer. Tom’s only worry is that Master Murray won’t want to seem an “easy” master. Meanwhile, everyone is waiting for Chicken George to return.
In 1856, the slaves on the Murray plantation do their best. Matilda cooks and cleans in the big house. The others work as field hands planting tobacco and cotton. Tom, of course, continues to be a blacksmith. Everyone does such a good job with the house and fields that the Murrays are beside themselves with appreciation.
Anyone who visits the Murray plantation, white and black people included, always admire Tom’s blacksmithing capabilities. Everything Tom makes is expertly crafted. It isn’t long before other plantation owners are asking Mr. Murray for Tom to have a traveling pass to do some extra work away from home. Master Murray always pays Tom ten cents on the dollar for everything he produces.
Life continues on the Murray plantation with Tom’s youngest sisters, L’il Kizzy and Mary, visiting with young slave men from other plantations down at the blacksmith shop. Matilda is getting more and more worried about their flirtatious ways. Finally, Mary announces that she wants to marry a stablehand from Mebane; however, Matilda is more worried about Mary leaving the family.
As Matilda and Tom discuss this new development, Matilda shocks Tom by asking him when he is going to get married. Tom changes the subject by asking how much money is saved to buy the older slaves on the Lea plantation. Eighty seven dollars isn’t enough. Tom does finally admit to Matilda that in his travels he has noticed a beautiful girl on the Holt plantation named Irene. Matilda is beside herself with joy.