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The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

by Elizabeth George Speare

The Witch of Blackbird Pond Chapter 2 Summary

  • Without the sea breeze to propel the boat, the Dolphin spends nine agonizingly slow days journeying up the river from Saybrook to Wethersfield.
  • Discussing the situation with a red-haired sailor, Kit learns that this tortoise-worthy speed is typical. Frustrated, she begins to understand why Mrs. Eaton chose to stay on land.
  • Kit remains at odds with the other passengers, who blame her for the lack of wind. She tries to take an interest in Prudence, the child whose doll she rescued from the water. Goodwife Cruff, though, won’t permit the acquaintance to develop into a friendship.
  • Ignored by Nat and the captain, Kit’s only company on the boat is John Holbrook, the man in the black hat, though he always seems to have his nose in a book.
  • Through John and Kit’s conversations we learn more about their lives.
  • John is the son of a tanner who once dreamed of going to Harvard. He worked in the day and studied Latin at night, but couldn’t save enough money for tuition. He is travelling to Wethersfield now, though, to study with Reverend Bulkeley, a “very famous scholar, in medicine as well as theology” (2.18).
  • Kit, we should note, is from an aristocratic household and is, to be honest, a little embarrassed by all of John’s talk about tuition money.
  • Kit opens up about her past: her father was born in Barbados, married her mother in England, and then returned to Barbados. The two died on a trip to Antigua, and she was then raised by her grandfather and his slaves. Kit misses her grandfather very much.
  • Kit mentions her mother’s sister, Aunt Rachel, whom she will live with in Connecticut. Kit has never met her aunt, but knows that she was very beautiful. John tells Kit not to forget that things change.
  • With no wind, the sailors resort to towing the ship up the river using a smaller boat – a method known as “walking up the river” (2.29).
  • During the towing, Kit sees Nat splashing around in the water, swimming. Flirtatious banter ensues. Things are going well enough until Kit calls the Dolphin filthy – which sets Nat off.
  • Nat launches into a tirade about how the Dolphin may be a dirty ship, but at least it has honest cargo (that is, the ship does not carry slaves). The Dolphin, he tells her, has “a good honest stink of horses” (2.47).
  • Later on, Kit astonishes John Holbrook when she grabs his book and reads a passage from it. He’s shocked that she can read so well.
  • Kit also mentions having read plays by John Dryden, William Shakespeare, and Thomas Otway (old seventeenth-century playwrights). John is again shocked by all this, claiming that “the proper use of reading is to improve our sinful nature, and to fill our minds with God’s holy word” (2.60). Kit completely disagrees.
  • It’s around this time that Kit realizes she and John Holbrook will probably never be very close friends.
  • The next morning the wind picks up, and the ship arrives in Wethersfield. Kit gets a very unpleasant goodbye from Goodwife Cruff and a formal bow from John Holbrook.
  • Captain Eaton notes that Kit’s aunt and uncle are not here to meet her. That’s when Kit must finally fess up: the Wood family doesn’t actually know that she’s coming to live with them in Connecticut.
  • The captain is angry, though he says he will deliver her to her uncle’s. What’s worse, he asks Nat to carry her trunks.

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