Back in the schoolroom, Kit is teaching the kids in the hot summer heat. Why can’t she be as patient as Mercy? (Hey guys, Mercy is patient. Got it?)
Kit relates to us an anecdote in which she (rather tactlessly) exclaimed to Mercy that she wished that Mercy could join her on a social outing.
Mercy explained to Kit that she has come to terms with her inability to go out. She focuses instead on what she can do. That’s a positive mental attitude, for you.
Back in the present of the schoolroom, Kit notices something in the doorway. Flowers! Still, who could be leaving them for her? Kit investigates further and finds none other than little Prudence (the girl who dropped her doll into the ocean) outside of the schoolroom.
Kit asks why Prudence isn’t coming to the school and Prudence tells Kit that her dad wants her to attend school, but her nasty old mother won’t let her. Goodwife Cruff says that Prudence is too stupid. (Harsh.)
Kit asks Prudence to come in for a bit of lesson, but Prudence says no. Determined to help the girl, Kit asks if Prudence will meet her in the meadows this afternoon. Kit will even bring her a hornbook (a paddle with the alphabet written on it). Prudence says “maybe.”
Later that day Kit finds an excuse to get in her trunks and finds a fancy little hornbook with a silver handle that she had been given back in Barbados.
Flash forward three weeks: We’re sitting under the willow tree in the meadow as Kit teaches Prudence her letters with the hornbook. Prudence is making excellent progress.
Kit urges Prudence to take the hornbook with her (it’s a present), but Prudence says she can’t. Solution? Leave it at Hannah’s.
Prudence is a little afraid at first, but once they get to Hannah’s house, all fear is dispelled. There is, after all, blueberry cake and kittens!
Speaking of kittens, there are four new ones to see, and Prudence is allowed to cradle one. Hannah promises to keep the hornbook safe.
Hannah then traces the letter B in the sand on the floor and asks Prudence what letter it is. Prudence traces the letter back in response. Good job! Blueberry cake for Prudence.
As Prudence and Kit walk back, Prudence asks why people call Hannah a witch. Kit replies that it’s simply because no one has taken the trouble to get to know her and people are “afraid of things they don’t understand” (11.58).
Kit wonders if she has done the right thing by introducing Prudence to Hannah, but concludes, in the end, that Prudence needed a friend.
Back at home, William is visiting and can talk of nothing but the house he is building. No one is really interested except Judith, who loves to talk about such material things.
A discussion of roofs follows. Judith tries to pull John into the conversation with no luck.
Mercy steers the conversation to reading. John has brought a poem by Anne Bradstreet to read.
The poem, about the sun, is beautiful; as John reads it, Kit sees something that surprises her. She catches a glimpse of Mercy’s brightly glowing face – turned toward John Holbrook – and realizes that Mercy is in love with him
Kit’s hands shake when she sees the purity of Mercy’s love: how right, yet how impossible!