Kit and Mercy begin teaching school at the Wood’s house. Mercy is infinitely patient with the younger children, while Kit teaches the older children to read. Not a particularly patient person, Kit uses “ingenious tricks” and rhymes to keep the children’s attention (9.11).
There are eleven children in all, both boys and girls from ages four to seven. William Ashby’s little brother, Jonathan Ashby, is among them.
After lessons, Mercy allows Kit to tell the children a story, though she worries a bit that storytelling is indulgent.
On this particular day, Kit gets the brilliant idea to tell the story of the Good Samaritan from the Bible. Then she has a brainstorm, though, and decides that it would be much more fun to have the kids act out the parts.
Playacting in a Puritan school? Mercy is not sure about this, but Kit assures her it can’t be wrong since it’s from the Bible.
As you can imagine, things do go horribly wrong. The boys start roughhousing and smacking each other around. Just at that time, Mr. Eleazer Kimberly, the schoolmaster, and Reverend John Woodbridge walk through the door for an inspection of the school.
Naturally they demand to know the meaning of all this, and Kit takes the blame. The men are shocked and disappointed. They dismiss the children and tell them not to come back tomorrow.
Kit is also dismissed and the men say they will consider whether or not Mercy should continue in the position alone. The men leave, and Kit sees tears in Mercy’s eyes.
Upset beyond belief, Kit runs away to the Great Meadow to have herself a nice big cry. She sobs and moans and falls asleep. When she wakes, though, there is someone there.
A woman’s voice says to Kit that she “did well, child, to come to the Meadow” (9.41). The voice belongs to the Widow Tupper, Hannah, the woman they call the witch of Blackbird Pond.
Hannah says that the Meadow has spoken to her too and Kit feels a sense of peace and calm. The two, it looks like, are going to be friends.
Hannah brings Kit back to her house where she gives her water to clean herself with and feeds her corncake studded with blueberries.
Kit admires Hannah’s home which, while small and plain, is clean and peaceful. Hannah tells Kit that her husband, Thomas, built the house for her.
Kit asks about Hannah living in the meadows. Hannah tells Kit that she and her husband came from Dorchester, Massachusetts. She mentions that she could get no land in the town because of the brand on their foreheads. (The branding is from being a Quaker – Hannah will explain this later.)
Kit sees a piece of coral sitting in Hannah’s house and recognizes it as something from a tropical climate. Hannah tells Kit that she has a seafaring friend that brings her goodies from his voyages. A sailor boyfriend? Kit thinks it’s a possibility.
Kit then begins talking about her own home back in Barbados and Hannah realizes that Kit is homesick. Kit tells Hannah about coming to Connecticut and the events leading up to her running away to the Great Meadow.
Kit says she hates it here and she doesn’t belong. She doesn’t know how she’ll go back.
Hannah takes Kit outside and shows Kit a blooming African flower. “I doubted it would grow here, but it just seemed determined to keep on trying and look what has happened” (9.77). (Metaphor alert!)
The moral? Like the flower, Kit should go back and try again. Kit feels peaceful and as if she knows what to do. She heads straight for the door of Mr. Eleazer Kimberly.