The Witch of Blackbird Pond
by Elizabeth George Speare
The Witch of Blackbird Pond Chapter 8 Summary
- June arrives and Kit and Judith are sent down to work the onion field in the south meadow.
- Kit, by this time, has her own plain calico dress. Judith is in high spirits, possibly because of this fact.
- The girls pass by the Great Meadow, a stretch of grassy land that is often flooded by the river. Judith explains to Kit that no one lives there, but most landowners have a lot or garden there.
- Kit is taken with the meadow; she feels at home. Something about it reminds her of Barbados. Kit wishes to be there alone. The narrator hints that Kit will find her way back to the Great Meadow soon enough.
- Kit notices a little house and asks Judith about it. Judith informs Kit that the building is the home of Widow Tupper, the only person stubborn enough to live in the meadows.
- Hannah Tupper, Judith tells Kit, lives with only her cats by Blackbird Pond. Most people think she’s a witch, as she does not attend Meeting. What does she do when the meadows flood? No one seems to know.
- Kit sees the woman in the distance bent over a kettle and is a little creeped out herself. She does look a little like a witch.
- The girls finally make it to the onion field were Judith pulls weeds with gusto. Kit is less enthused about the task and even cries a few tears of pity for herself. “Sir Francis Tyler’s granddaughter, squatting in an onion patch?” (8.20).
- Kit thinks to herself that a marriage to William Ashby would, at least, save her from this kind of work.
- The girls return home to find that Mercy has some great news. Dr. Bulkeley has recommended that Kit help Mercy with the dame school this year.
- What is the dame school? Well, a little classroom that Mercy runs out of the Wood’s house. She teaches letters, reading, and a little writing. The children pay with money or barter items such as eggs or wool.
- Mercy mentions that it was John Holbrook who told Dr. Bulkeley that she could read (which Kit finds a little weird). Kit is to be tested for the job next week.
- Kit is very excited about her new job, especially since she’ll be earning wages. She mentions this to Mercy, adding “perhaps you will all think I am of some use, even if I’m not a boy” (8.37).
- Mercy picks up on the bitterness. Kit mentions the conversation between Judith and Aunt Rachel she overheard on her first night at the Wood’s house – the one in which they mentioned that it would have been better if their cousin were a boy.
- Mercy feels terrible, of course, but she explains the situation. Apparently Aunt Rachel gave birth to two different boys and they both died. One was stricken with fever (the same fever that crippled Mercy) and died.
- The other was born prematurely and baptized three days later in the middle of January. He passed away soon after.
- Kit suddenly realizes why Uncle Matthew is so grim and Aunt Rachel looks so worn down. Kit vows to try better to understand them.
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