Last Reviewed on February 20, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 906
After the bridge incident, Hiram remembers lying in a field, clutching his lucky coin. He recalls observing a monument to his ancestor, Archibald Walker. The next thing he knows, he is thinking of his mother again and seeing the blue light. He struggles for three days in a...
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After the bridge incident, Hiram remembers lying in a field, clutching his lucky coin. He recalls observing a monument to his ancestor, Archibald Walker. The next thing he knows, he is thinking of his mother again and seeing the blue light. He struggles for three days in a fever, experiencing these visions, until he wakes to Sophia looking after him.
Howell comes to see him; he is devastated that Maynard’s body has not been found. He says that Maynard loved Hiram, which Hiram finds incredible. Hiram realizes that this is something Howell has to believe because Maynard was all that Howell had left of his wife.
When he recovers, Hiram invites Sophia to his quarters. She explains that Hawkins, Corrine’s servant, found Hiram facedown “in the muck” by the riverside. This seems wrong to Hiram, given the strong recollection he has of being in the fallows by the headstone of his ancestor, which is two miles from the river. He has also lost his lucky coin, which he recalls having held in his hand.
That night he sees Sophia walking and goes out to meet her. Sophia says she had a man in Carolina before she came here, named Mercury, but he was sold. She loved him; she has no love for Nathaniel.
The next day Hiram finds his lost coin by the monument, confirming his conviction that he was there.
Hiram kneels down in the field, overwhelmed by this realization, and is found by Thena, his “other mother,” who helps him back to his quarters and tells him to rest. Roscoe reiterates this, but Hiram wants to work to escape his thoughts.
Corrine arrives in her chaise to pray with Howell. Without Maynard, Hiram is unsure where he is needed. He goes down to the Warrens instead, where Thena tells him to go back to bed, but he only smiles and goes to work sanding down the highboy. Hawkins finds him there and tells him that Miss Corrine “would like a word.”
Corrine says she is a “healer” and that she loved Maynard although he was a “buffoon.” She describes Hiram as Maynard’s “right arm.” Hiram lies to her and says that Maynard saved him. He suspects she wants to take him for herself as property.
At Christmas, a feast is held in memory of Maynard. The servants say Maynard is being mourned far more than he was loved. They discuss the legend of the “coloreds” who walked down to the Goose and vanished. Georgie says the story is true.
Hiram ends the night with Sophia, with whom he is falling in love.
Howell notices the highboy which Hiram has restored and tasks him with restoring other old pieces of furniture. In reading about the history of the pieces, Hiram becomes even more determined not to be taken from Lockless—but he also realizes it will never be his. He wonders what Georgie knows.
While Hiram is driving Sophia to Nathaniel’s house, Sophia explains that she was once close friends with Nathaniel’s wife, Helen, back in Carolina. They grew up together, but Helen died in childbirth. She thinks Nathaniel will never let her go until she is “used up.” She suggests that she and Hiram might leave together.
Hiram goes to see Georgie Parks, who asks why he is “looking for trouble.” Georgie tells him to go home and get married, but Hiram reiterates that he is going to leave and take Sophia with him. Georgie reminds him that he and Sophia are slaves but eventually relents and tells Hiram to meet him in a week. Hawkins sees him on the way back and asks why he was speaking to Georgie.
The next day, a group of whites stop Hiram and ask for his papers when he is traveling to retrieve Sophia from Nathaniel’s house. He and Sophia agree that they must get out.
Hiram once more mourns the fact that he will never inherit Lockless. His near-death experience has galvanized him, and he determines that he must leave.
Sophia comes to see him in the shed where he is working and tells him to meet her in an hour down by the gulch. Once there, he tells her he has put his faith in Georgie and his Underground. Sophia tells him she does not want to be "shackled" to him any more than to a white man. He assures her he wants her to be free and to choose him only if she wants to. Thena sees him on his return from the gulch and asks what he is doing with Sophia. She tells him he will regret what he is doing.
On the appointed date, Hiram meets Sophia at the edge of the peach grove, and the pair go to meet Georgie—but he has betrayed them and brought the “low whites,” “Ryland's Hounds,” with him.
The hounds escort Hiram and Sophia out of the woods at gunpoint and chain them in the yard at the jail. They are shackled in such a way that they are unable either to stand straight or sit down. Hiram can just see Sophia out of the corner of his eye; he apologizes to her, and she does not answer.
She does, however, strain at her fastenings until she can move close enough to touch Hiram so that the pair can huddle together in the cold.