Part 2, Chapters 15–20

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Reviewed on February 20, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1138

Chapter 15

The day of Hiram’s departure is about four months after he arrived at Bryceton. The group set out for Clarksburg, after which they will cross the state by rail and proceed to Philadelphia. Hiram heads for the back of the train, trying to look confident.

Illustration of PDF document

Download The Water Dancer Study Guide

Subscribe Now

Two days later, he arrives at Gray’s Ferry station. Hawkins and Bland do not acknowledge him; for safety reasons, they are not traveling together. Hiram is greeted by Raymond White, a colored man in “gentleman’s clothes,” who drives him in an omnibus to a house where Bland and Hawkins are already waiting. Otha White, kin to Raymond, is also there. He is a freed slave. Hawkins then leaves.

In a bakery, a colored man, Mars, the baker, is kind to Hiram and offers him gingerbread, but Hiram is suspicious. The taste of the gingerbread Conducts a vision of his mother in the kitchen at Lockless.

Chapter 16

Hiram is glad he still has the power of Conduction but does not know how he summoned it.

He finds Raymond pacing in the house; he, Hiram, and Otha leave the house together. Raymond says that the law of the state is that slavery is illegal, but the masters in the state conceal this. A woman, Bronson, has asked for help in leaving her captor, who refuses to acknowledge the law.

The men tell Mary Bronson’s captor that he must let her go. He argues and tries to hold on to Mary’s arm, but Mary takes her child and stands behind her saviors. She is escorted back to the house.

Mary says she had a husband and two other boys, but their old master died, and one of the “low whites” began beating the slaves and sold her husband and her older two boys. She cries, and Otha comforts her.

Hiram begins work in a carpenter’s shop. Otha invites him to dinner with his mother, Viola White, and Mars, the baker, is also there. The group is very loving, which surprises Hiram. Otha explains that he had a brother, Lambert, who died, and a wife, Lydia, who is still alive but in captivity. Their parents managed to escape after several attempts, but their children had to make their own way out. Lambert did not escape. The children were separated, and Otha did not know Raymond was his brother at first when he made use of the Underground. However, he recognized his mother at once.

Chapter 17

Hiram begins to experience more frequent Conductions and remembers more about his aunt Emma. He feels the Conduction, which is very tiring, is about revealing parts of his own psyche to him, but he cannot bear how depressed it makes him, so he determines that he will leave the Underground entirely.

He makes his way to the docks, but once there, a white man hits him across the back of the head, and he is chained, blinded, and gagged. He realizes he has been picked up by Ryland's Hounds, who drive him for several miles. Bland, however, rescues him from this captivity. He is accompanied by a girl, who demands to know what Hiram was doing by running. Bland tells him that the girl is Moses.

Hiram tells Bland about his love for Sophia and his anguish at not knowing her current situation. Bland tells him to use that anguish to fuel his commitment to the cause. He is returned to Raymond’s house.

Raymond says he knows where Sophia is being held and apologizes for not having admitted this before. Sophia is at Lockless.

Chapter 18

Two weeks later, Raymond shows Hiram a ladder up into the rafters of his house. Here there are two crates, in which are various papers and testimonies. Raymond says they are yet to make contact with Sophia because another matter preoccupies them. He says that Lydia’s captor in Alabama has refused all their offers to pay for her freedom, so the goal is for Bland to help her escape. He asks if Hiram will assist, knowing that this is not official Underground business sanctioned by Corrine. Hiram says he will and...

(The entire section contains 1138 words.)

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this The Water Dancer study guide. You'll get access to all of the The Water Dancer content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

  • Summary
  • Chapter Summaries
  • Themes
  • Characters
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Part 2, Chapters 10–14


Part 2, Chapters 21–27