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The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Witch of Blackbird Pond


by Elizabeth George Speare

The Witch of Blackbird Pond Chapter 4 Summary

  • Uncle Matthew returns to work and Aunt Rachel leaves to take leftover corn bread to Widow Brown. Judith thinks her mother helps other people too much, but the ever-good Mercy defends her mom, explaining that the “Scriptures tell us about caring for the poor and the widows” (4.4).
  • Judith, meanwhile, has been eyeing her cousin’s trunks and asks when Kit will unpack them. Why now, of course. What better time for a dress up party?
  • Though Mercy protests, Kit pulls out her gorgeous dresses and shows them off to the two plain-dressed girls. She gives Judith and Mercy each a pair of fancy gloves.
  • Kit then pulls out “a bright peacock blue” dress and has Judith try it on. Judith is excited and mentions that she’d like someone named “William” to see her in the dress (4.22). Judith looks “breath-taking” – so Kit gives her the dress (4.21).
  • Mercy further protests, but Kit doesn’t listen. Instead, she and Judith urge Mercy to take a beautiful blue shawl which, after a bit of convincing, Mercy accepts.
  • Around this time Aunt Rachel returns. She is initially startled by the scene, but is eventually drawn into the whirlwind of dresses and fine clothes. Kit has Aunt Rachel try on a bonnet and she looks, of course, wonderful in it.
  • At that moment, who should walk in the door? Uncle Matthew, of course. He commands the daughters to give Kit back her clothes.
  • The girls resist at first but eventually give in. Uncle Matthew gives Kit a speech on how she must conform to the family’s ways. No vanity! He does allow, with a little sweet-talking, Mercy to keep the shawl.
  • Uncle Matthew leaves, and the women (including Kit) must begin their work for the day. How can Kit work in her fancy clothes? Judith has nothing to lend her, so Kit puts on her least fancy (but still a bit fancy) calico dress.
  • Kit is to help Mercy card wool. Wool carding, it turns out, is a tedious job in which tufts of wool are pulled between wire teeth and then brushed flat. It’s totally boring stuff.
  • Fortunately the wool carding gives Kit some heart-to-heart time with Mercy. She asks if Mercy thinks she did the right thing by coming to America. Mercy, ever kind, says yes.
  • Kit confides in Mercy and tells her another reason for her trip to America: there was a man in Barbados to whom Kit’s grandfather had owed a great deal of money. He didn’t want the money back, though; he just wanted Kit to marry him. Yuck.
  • Mercy agrees that Kit can’t go back to Barbados.
  • Kit spends the rest of the day working, though she ruins the corn pudding for dinner when she gets impatient and dumps all the meal in the pot at once instead of adding it gradually. Everyone is irritated.
  • Night draws on and the family reads from the Bible, which Kit finds boring. (She prefers Shakespeare.)
  • Getting ready for bed, Kit overhears Judith complaining about having to share a room with Kit. She also hears Aunt Rachel and Judith agree that it would have been better if their cousin was a boy – at least then he could have helped Uncle Matthew with work in the fields.
  • Kit is upset by what she has overheard. As she falls asleep she hears howling in the distance. Afraid, Kit asks Judith about the sound. Judith replies that it’s only one little wolf – wait until she hears a whole pack of them!

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