Summary and Analysis: Chapter 14
When October arrives, Kit is completely unprepared for the beauty of the changing colors of the leaves. She also catches sight of something almost as striking: she sees her Uncle Matthew touching the soil in the garden and crumbling it through his fingers with reverence. Kit is baffled by why this image seems to hurt, but she is distracted by Judith’s call telling her a trading ship is coming into town. This makes her realize how much she would like to see the Dolphin—and Nat—again. The trading ship does turn out to be the Dolphin, and when the girls go watch it unload cargo, Nat comes over to see Kit and to give her a package for Hannah.
Kit suggests that Nat should deliver it himself, but Captain Eaton wants to sail right away. Nat is also pretty bitter about another cargo—fancy windows shipped from England to William Ashby for the house he is building for his new bride—and tells Kit she should have told him she was getting married. As the girls walk home, Judith quizzes Kit about how she knows Nat (and, by implication, why he should care she was getting married), but the conversation is cut short by finding Rachel at the doorway of their home. Matthew has been called away, and when he returns, he brings word that Sir Edmond Andros will be arriving in Hartford to take over as royal governor. This is disturbing, but there is also another bit of news that bothers Kit just as much: the Dolphin missed the wind and is becalmed nearby. Kit decides she will not deliver the package to Hannah until the ship is gone.
This chapter continues the novel’s exploration of the power and importance of what is not and cannot be spoken. In Matthew’s caress of the earth, Kit unexpectedly finds a love of place that matches her love of Barbados—but she cannot find a way to put her understanding of these private passions into words, and, in truth, the Puritan worldview had little place for such earthly passions. Nat’s bitterness over Kit’s failure to tell him she was getting married is a more mundane demonstration of this and addresses a problem that is still all too common. Nat knows he loves Kit, but Kit cannot admit to herself yet that she loves him, and in failing to let Nat know about William, she has accidentally created a somewhat dishonest situation.