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The household is all astir as tonight is the town husking bee: a big party where everyone husks corn. There’s a fiddle, “cakes and apples and cider,” and every good thing (13.3).
Judith is excited, to say the least, since she’s hoping to get a red ear of corn in the husking. (That means you’ll be getting married. Kind of like catching a bouquet.)
Judith and Kit go to the meadow to gather the corn with Judith in high spirits. Judith confesses to Kit that she’s going to try to push John Holbrook along in proposing.
Kit expresses her doubts about John’s readiness (he’s poor and a student), but Judith tells Kit that she should worry more about William.
Right. William. Kit knows she’ll accept his proposal (he has money and appreciates her), but she’s still a bit uneasy about the whole thing.
After working in the meadow, Kit pays a short visit to Hannah. The two discuss Prudence’s reading progress.
On Kit’s walk back home, she runs into John Holbrook. The two talk about Hannah, and John warns Kit to be careful of associating with Hannah since she’s been accused of witchcraft, and since Kit herself got some strange looks on the boat that first day when she could swim so well.
John starts parroting Dr. Bulkeley (that means he is simply repeating what Dr. Bulkeley says – like a parrot) and Kit flies off the handle about John thinking for himself. She apologizes, though, and John forgives her.
Their walk and chat continues and evolves into a heart-to-heart. John mentions that he’d like to talk to Mercy tonight, and Kit guesses what he means: John Holbrook loves Mercy!
Kit is so happy she could “dance a jig” (12.54). She is sorry for Judith, but the match is otherwise perfect. She urges John to tell Mercy tonight.
Arriving home, Kit and Judith prepare for the husking bee. John arrives and announces his intention to stay at home with Mercy for the evening.
Judith, being as headstrong and oblivious as she is, protests. John says he wants to talk to Uncle Matthew about a matter.
Unfortunately, Judith completely misinterprets this statement. She thinks John is saying he wants to ask Uncle Matthew for HER (Judith’s) hand in marriage. Oh boy.
Judith drags her father into the conversation and basically announces to the room that she and John are getting married. John is dumbfounded. He doesn’t set Judith straight. He agrees to the engagement. (WHAT?!)
Kit will be the only one who ever knew the truth about John’s feelings for Mercy. UGH.
Kit and the newly-engaged Judith head to the husking bee with John and William. On the walk, William mentions marriage (it’s contagious), but Kit asks for more time. He gives in.
The husking bee is a fun party for all, and Judith does end up getting the red ear of corn. She exclaims to the crowd that she doesn’t need it – and flings it straight at William.