Chapter 94 Summary
In 1827, Chicken George wakes up on the morning of his wedding day in a panic. It is expected that he will have his new cabin completed by this day, but he still has so much work to do (mostly because he wasted so much time in the past weeks). He finishes putting the hinges on the front door that Uncle Pompey made and stained himself. Then he mixes up some whitewash and completes the outside of the cabin. Then he saunters inside, where he views the tub that he has for bathing right in the house. He gets the tub ready for his wedding day bath. Afterward, he gets dressed up quite fancy for his wedding day, with a blue shirt, a yellow suit, a black belt, bright orange shoes, and a green scarf. Chicken George even wears a new black derby hat given to him by Tom Lea himself.
The group sets out for the wagon ride an hour late. The wedding will be at the MacGregor plantation, where Matilda works the fields. Unfortunately for everyone, the last item that Chicken George slips into his pocket is a small flask of “white lightning,” an inexpensive liquor that many of the poor white people drink. He begins sipping from the flask on the way to the wedding and is already drunk when the group arrives.
With fierce looks from Kizzy as well as the other slaves from the Lea plantation, Chicken George staggers about, meeting all of Matilda’s friends and family on the MacGregor plantation. The entire slave row does not have a very high opinion of Chicken George due to his indulgence of the bottle on this very important day. Still, the wedding commences.
This particular wedding is a combination of jumping the broom and a traditional Christian ceremony. Still, poor Matilda has to lead her drunk husband to the proper place by the preacher before the ceremony can begin. Chicken George says his vows much too loud and kisses Matilda much too long, but the two are married nonetheless, though not before George misquotes one of the Psalms: “De Lawd is my shepherd! . . . He done give me what I wants!” Glared at by the crowd, Chicken George gives up trying to get in their good graces and drinks the rest of his liquor.
Chicken George sleeps all the way back to the Lea plantation. Kizzy and the other slaves run to their cabins and slam the doors in disgust, but Matilda takes one look and can’t believe what she sees through the door: the wedding present that George has purchased for her, a real grandfather clock. Chicken George carries Matilda over the threshold and the two spend their wedding night together in their new cabin.