My Brother Sam Is Dead
by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
My Brother Sam Is Dead Chapter 4 Summary
- It's time for Tim to see his big bro, and he's so excited he can hardly contain himself. He even says he feels "all sparkly inside" (4.1). That is some serious excitement.
- But in order to see Sam, Tim has to figure out an excuse to leave the tavern.
- While Tim is mulling over some potential excuses, a group of horsemen ride into town and up to the tavern. And these aren't just any men on horses. These are members of the Continental Army (i.e., they are fighting for the colonies and against England). Tim calls these guys Continentals and Rebels. So that means our list of terms for Team American Colonies now includes Massachusetts Minutemen, Patriots, Continentals, and Rebels.
- All these Continentals are wearing blue (while the British supporters wear red). Plus, Tim notices that lots of the Continentals also have a Brown Bess, just like the gun Sam took from their father. So we've got a bunch of Continentals going into the tavern, and we already know that Tim's dad is a Loyalist and supports England. We're thinking this is going to get ugly, and Tim thinks so too.
- To find out what's going on inside, Tim peers into the tavern through a slightly open door.
- And what he sees isn't a pretty sight.
- One soldier is restraining his mom with a rifle and another is threatening his dad with a sword.
- As Tim watches, the soldier with the sword tells Mr. Meeker that he better give them his Brown Bess—or else.
- Tim's dad tries to explain that his son stole the gun, but the Continentals just won't believe him.
- One even goes so far as to hit Mr. M across the face with his sword. Whoa there fella.
- Tim can't stand watching this anymore. He knows there's just one person who can help out "and he was up at Tom Warrups'" (4.16).
- Tim's chance to see his big bro just got a whole lot more complicated.
- So Tim runs as fast as he can over to Warrups's place.
- As he runs, he comes to two conclusions about the war:
- (1) The war has officially arrived in his little town of Redding. They can't ignore it anymore.
- (2) The Continentals want to make sure that the Tories in Redding don't have any weapons to fight with. So that's why they're gathering up all the guns.
- When Tim gets to Warrups's shack, he finds Sam sleeping inside. Sam is the only one in the hut except for a very important piece of weaponry: their dad's Brown Bess. The only trouble is that Sam has the Brown Bess tucked under his arm, sleeping with it so no one will take it.
- Tim figures he's got to take his chance. After a couple of tries, he grabs the gun and Sam still seems to be asleep.
- So Tim takes off running as fast as he can, but soon realizes that Sam is up and running after him. Sadly for Tim, his older brother is stronger and faster so he eventually catches up to Tim.
- Now things get seriously scary. When Sam reaches his little bro, Tim points the gun at Sam and makes a pretty hefty threat: "Don't come any closer, Sam, or I'll shoot you" (4.26). Golly gosh, this is some scary stuff.
- Sam says the gun isn't even loaded, but Tim doesn't know whether to believe him or not. And neither do we. But after another moment Sam has snatched the gun from his little bro.
- The good news is that there'll be no bro-on-bro violence today. But the bad news is that this situation is about to get way more complicated.
- Tim explains that the Continentals are threatening to kill their dad if he doesn't give them the Brown Bess. But then Sam says that he's not even supposed to be in Redding. He slipped away for a day to visit Betsy Read.
- According to Sam, everyone in the army slips home now and again, so as long as he's back soon it'll be fine, and no one will notice he was missing.
- But here's where the real pickle lies: if Sam goes to the tavern to give back the gun, the Continentals will know he left the army for a bit and might punish him as a deserter. Plus, if he gives Tim the gun and returns to his army without his weapon, he might get hanged as punishment. Hmmm.
- Eventually Sam agrees to go toward the house with Tim, so they can see what's going on.
- When they reach the tavern, it looks like the Continentals have left, so the brothers go inside.
- Happily, their dad is alive, even though he does have a bloody cut on his cheek.
- The second Sam sees his dad, he takes off running back the way he came, Brown Bess and all.
- Tim and his dad call after Sam, but he just waves and keeps on running. Well, at least the good news is that so far no one has died.
- But that pesky title about Sam dying has us pretty worried about what's up ahead.
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