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As the first snowfall hits Wethersfield, Mercy is finally able to get out of bed. Judith, Mercy, Rachel, and Kit get her all bundled up and take Mercy to sit by the front window to see the first flakes coming down. Mercy loves the snow’s beauty, though Judith doesn’t quite understand why. (Typical.)
This is Kit’s first snow as well, and though she’s not sure about it at first, she is blown away by the beautiful snowy landscape that greets her the next morning.
William comes by that evening and Kit is distant. He happens to mention that there’s been no word from John Holbrook’s militia since they stopped at Hadley. “There’s been new Indian raids up Deerfield way” (20.14). Judith and Mercy both betray some emotion and Aunt Rachel fusses at William for spreading gossip.
Aunt Rachel suggests that Kit and William lay a fire in the family room, but Kit declines. As she walks William to the door, the two finally have a heart to heart talk.
William expects Kit not to associate with people like Hannah and Prudence anymore, especially given his status in the town. This is not something Kit can accept. The two agree that they would simply make each other uneasy in marriage, always hoping for the other one to change. They mutually agree to part ways.
A new event is on the horizon: Thankful Peabody’s wedding. There are lots of delicious foods and cake, though all Kit can think about is the last wedding she attended in Barbados.
As the bride and groom depart, two Wethersfield men enter the room, having just returned from the militia. They have some disturbing news: some of the Wethersfield men had been ambushed and taken captive by Indians. Among them? John Holbrook.
Judith nearly faints, but is caught by William and taken home by him in his sleigh. Judith spends the following weeks lifeless and pale. Kit pities both her and Mercy, who must hide her feelings. She wonders whether she should tell Mercy about John’s feelings, but decides not to for now.
Christmas passes with no celebration, as the Puritans don’t celebrate Christmas. Bah humbug.
As January and February pass, the winter is long and hard. Kit wonders how Hannah endured winters like these all alone. Often her thoughts turn to Nat. If she had gone with him on the Dolphin she could be in Barbados by now!
One night she has a dream that she is standing with Nat at the bow of the Dolphin. She wakes up crying, wanting to go home to Barbados. She knows what she must do – return to the tropics.
As the days pass, Kit clings to the idea of returning home. She reminisces with Mercy about a cave her grandfather took her to see once.
In the meantime, it becomes clear that William and Judith are very well matched – and will be together in marriage soon.
By March another blizzard comes. That afternoon a haggard figure knocks at the door and stumbles across the threshold. Who could it be? It’s John Holbrook! He’s returned!
John staggers through the door – and falls at Mercy’ feet, his head in her lap.