Summary and Analysis: Chapter 10
This chapter opens in the middle of a surprising conversation between Kit and Mercy: Kit went to see Mr. Kimberley and discussed the situation at the school and got her position back. When Mercy asks how Kit had the courage, she jokes about being bewitched, and this leads into a discussion of her meeting with Hannah Tupper. Kit’s Aunt Rachel advises Kit not to tell people about her meeting with Hannah, not because she is a witch but because she is a Quaker, and Quakers have caused trouble in all of the colonies. Some Quakers have been driven out of colonies, while others have even been hanged.
Kit is upset and decides that she cannot talk about Hannah with William, because he’d be shocked. She thinks she could tell John Holbrook but never gets time alone with him. He now visits regularly, and it is clear that Judith is in love with him. When he visits, John is clearly torn in his political loyalties. Matthew Wood often questions and mocks him, but John works hard to stay loyal to his teacher’s positions.
Finally, one afternoon when Judith and Kit are working in the onion field, Kit tells Judith she is going to visit Hannah. Judith is horrified, even when Kit tells her about her past meeting with Hannah, and declines Kit’s invitation to come along. When Kit arrives, Hannah is spinning flax. They talk about Kit’s situation—and about Hannah’s. Kit is surprised to learn that Hannah must pay a fine in order to not attend Meetings (worship services). This leads Kit to ask about being a Quaker, but before Hannah can answer, Nat Eaton appears in the doorway. It turns out that Nat and Hannah have been friends for a long time and that he brings Hannah gifts from far away. Like Kit, Nat first found his way to Hannah’s house by running away in tears and being comforted. Nat shares his story of how his talk with Hannah gave him the courage to go back to the ship, and Kit tells how she is now a teacher.
Rachel’s advice to Kit to avoid Hannah because Quakers have caused so much trouble does a good job of adding complexity to the portrait of the colonial political and religious landscape. The Puritans did come to the New World to worship freely, but they didn’t mix particularly well with others, and this warning shows how little tolerance there was even in a colony concerned with its rights and freedom.
When Nat visits Hannah while Kit is there, another thematic resonance is introduced: Hannah plays a similar role in both of their lives and “saved” each of them at a time of great emotional upheaval through simple kindness.