Alex Cross's Trial Summary
When we first meet Ben, he's trying a case for a Black woman named Gracie who is accused of murder. He thinks the only reason she's found guilty of the crime is because of her skin color, but he's in for a surprise: Gracie really did it. She thanks him for trying her case anyway, and hugs him goodbye.
When Ben gets home that night, his wife is acting strange. She tells him that they're growing apart and she's sick of waiting around for him. She gets why he wants to use his Harvard law degree to stand up for people no one else will, but those cases don't make money, plus she wants him to take more of an interest at home with her and their two daughters.
It turns out Ben can't do this, though, because he's been sent on a top-secret mission to Eudora, Mississippi for President Roosevelt. His old army buddy wants him to investigate reports of lynching; he's not sure whom to believe, and he needs Ben to report back to him with the truth. Of course Ben says yes to the mission—you don't really say no to the president—but he's also interested in finding out what's happening back home. He's from Eudora, and his cover story is that he's interviewing some judges while he's down there.
Ben's first stop back home is his dad's house. The guy is a well-respected judge in town, but Ben doesn't care for him much and they don't really see eye-to-eye. After a painfully awkward meeting with his dad, Ben gets down to business. He catches up with some old pals like Jacob, L.J., and his first love, Elizabeth, going to some dinner parties along the way. President Roosevelt gave him the name of someone in the Quarter who can help him out, so Ben pays him a visit, too.
The guy's name is Abraham, and he's as friendly as they come. Right away, the two strike up a friendship. Ben knows he can trust Abraham, so when his new friend takes him to several lynching trees, he figures out Eudora is being torn apart. In fact, he even hears about several lynchings while down there—and when he tries to stop them, Ben is attacked and lynched himself. He almost dies, but Abraham and his family nurse Ben back to health.
By the time Ben is back on his feet, everyone in town knows about his scuffle with the mob. Here's the thing: No one cares very much. Everyone wants to leave things well enough alone, even some of his old friends. Ben goes to stay with his childhood BFF, Jacob, for a while, but stops after the guy takes him to a Ku Klux Klan meeting one night. It seems like everyone in town, from the police chief to the local doctor, is part of the KKK. Yikes. Next Ben stays with his buddy L.J. who isn't a KKK member and is willing to help his friend out. Phew.
It turns out that L.J. is willing to put his money where his mouth is, too: He hires protection for Ben to stop the White Raiders from hunting him down again. When Ben hears that Abraham's family is in trouble, he and L.J. head over there to protect them. Things go from bad to worse when the White Raiders show up, guns in hand—there's a scuffle and two people die.
Normally this sort of thing would get swept under the rug in Eudora, but L.J. convinces the police chief he has to make an arrest because the men killed two people for no reason. Luckily, the chief listens and throws some of the White Raiders in jail.
Ben knows that the trial won't be a fair one, though, especially when his dad is appointed the judge over the case. He helps the other lawyer assigned to the case (a dude named Jonah) argue against the White Raiders, but it's of no use and the men get off scot-free. Again. Ben is frustrated, and decides to make a big statement to the whole town. He visits Abraham one last time before his old, sick friend dies.
Then he asks Abraham's granddaughter, Moody, if she'd like to hold his hand walking down the street. Since Moody is Black and Ben is white, this is a big deal in this neighborhood—everyone stares at them, and some people even spit or threaten worse. Ben kisses Moody and then they run back to the Quarter. They tell everyone to get ready for the White Raiders to show up again that evening.
And show up, they do. The White Raiders enter the Quarter mighty and proud, only to be taken down a peg or two by the Black people in the Quarter. Ben has the chance to kill Jacob and some of the other White Raiders, but he doesn't because he doesn't know how he'd live with himself if he did. Instead he goes back to Washington, D.C. to be with his family. Luckily, his wife Meg has reconsidered leaving him, and he promises he won't go anywhere either.
A Preface to Trial
- Cross explains that he's spent a bunch of time hunting some bad guy named Tiger around the world and now he wants to write a crime novel. Not sure what he's talking about? Check out Cross Country, where all this goes down.
- Alex also tells us that the novel is based on a story his grandma used to tell, and it takes place when Teddy Roosevelt was in the oval office.
- The story involves a guy named Abraham Cross, who was a great baseball player from Mississippi. Oh, and he's also Alex's cousin Moody's grandpa.
Part 1, Chapter 1
A Good Man is Hard to Find
- We start in medias res (that means "in the middle of things," for you non-Latin readers out there) in a courtroom, where a judge named Otis L. Warren is trying to quiet people down.
- It looks like a bunch of people want Gracie Johnson hanged, and they aren't afraid to chant it in the courtroom.
- Finally Judge Warren instructs someone to escort all the people in the "colored" section out of the building.
- We interrupt this program for a little history snack. This book takes place back when segregation limited interaction between the races in parks, libraries, billiard halls, schools, restaurants, bathrooms, bus stations, markets, theaters, bars, hotels, pools, and even brothels. And by limited, we mean there was a whole lot of preferential treatment for white folks, and a whole lot of rules dictating which places Black people were allowed to use and how they were allowed to use them. In the case of our story, all the Black people are sitting in one section of the courthouse.
- Now back to the show.
- It looks like Ben Corbett is Gracie Johnson's lawyer because he objects to the judge's ruling. None of the Black people make a peep—it's all the white guys who are rowdy. So why don't they have to leave?
- We learn a little bit more about what's going on: Gracie is on trial for murdering Lydia Davenport, but she doesn't deserve to be.
- Since Gracie is Black and Lydia is white, our narrator (ahem, Ben Corbett) worries whether the trial will be fair. It's 1906, after all—in fact, he's pretty sure they'll hang Gracie before her trial's even over.
- Judge Warren asks everybody to get back to business.
- The opposing attorney, Carter Ames, continues questioning Gracie.
- He claims she admitted to murdering Lydia, right there on the stand. Don't believe him? Just ask the court stenographer.
- Naturally, the stenographer reads her testimony back and has Gracie saying Lydia had it coming—she was mean, bossy, and threatened to fire Gracie the day before her murder.
- At this, Ben objects; that's not what she meant, and they know it.
- No one really cares, though. Carter Ames might be twisting Gracie's words, but the Judge doesn't care one bit.
- He calls a two-hour recess so everyone can grab some grub.
- After the recess, the lawyers are supposed to give their closing arguments.
- Carter Ames goes first; Ben notes that he's very skilled when it comes to playing the jury.
- Even though he babbles on about "the Kingdom of Truth" and "facts," he doesn't say much aside from the fact that they must convict Gracie.
- The evidence? She claims Lydia had it coming and that's as good as a confession in Carter's eyes, plus Gracie told the jury that Lydia yelled at her that day, so Gracie had motive.
- We know that wouldn't hold up in Law and Order, but Ben worries that Carter has won the jury over somehow.
- Now it's his turn for closing argument.
- For Ben's closing argument, he knows he has to go big or go home.
- He starts out by citing the facts of the case: No one saw Gracie murder Lydia, and all the witnesses who testified are white.
- And then he plays the race card: He knows one of the reasons Gracie is on trial is because she is Black, and that's simply not fair.
- Ben encourages the jury to see through this maneuver and acquit Gracie since that's the only fair thing to do.
- Then he throws in a Bible verse just to seal the deal—if Carter wants to talk about big truths, two can play that game.
- While they're waiting for the jury to decide, Carter and Ben chitchat.
- Carter offers Ben some bourbon to take the edge off, but Ben refuses.
- He even compliments Ben on being a good lawyer, but Carter thinks Ben still has a lot to learn.
- For instance, why remind the jury about race? Don't you think they notice what color everyone is?
- That's just one of the reasons why everyone thinks Ben is a little goodie two shoes. Sure he's Harvard educated and from a small town down south, but up here in Washington, you can't be like that.
- Ben says he just does what he thinks is right—but before he can explain any further, the jury comes back.
- The jury announces their verdict: Gracie is guilty.
- Ben is really upset. In fact, he's more upset than Gracie is when they hug goodbye.
- She knows she'll be hanged, but she tells him not to worry; he tried to save her and that's what's matters.
- Even though Ben knows she's strong, he tells her it isn't fair—this whole thing is more about race than facts.
- Then Gracie lowers the boom: She admits to Ben that she did it.
- Huh? Lydia was supposed to be napping when she came downstairs and saw Gracie stealing the silver. She's usually honest, but Lydia barely paid her for being a maid and she needed the money.
- Lydia yelled at her, and Gracie snapped, then she stabbed Lydia.
- And you know what? She'd do it again.
- After the court case, Ben walks home.
- His mind is racing over everything that's happened, but he's not prepared for what's about to happen next. (Hmm…is that foreshadowing? It sure sounds like it…)
- When Ben gets home, Meg, his wife, isn't around, but there's a peach pie fresh out of the oven.
- Ben asks the cook, Mazie, where Meg is and is told she went out for a while and was pretty upset.
- Even though his wife is kind and compassionate, Ben knows she doesn't love him taking charity cases all the time. It's tough on them and doesn't pay.
- He sits down to play the banjo since he's been trying to learn it for a while.
- Everything seems so rushed now. He thinks back to a time when he was in Mississippi and things weren't as manic.
- That makes him think of his mom.
- Ben thinks back to when he was seven years old and lived in Eudora, Mississippi.
- His dad was a judge and a famous one, too (at least in his little town). But it was his mom who everybody knew well.
- Louellen Corbett was known as "the Poetess of Dixie" for her simple poetry about southern hearts, which was featured in Woburn's Weekly Companion.
- Everybody loved Ben's mom.
- One day he and his mom went down to the fabric store to get some blue velvet for some curtains his mom was making when she suddenly began slurring her words and not making sense.
- Ben thought she must be sick, but the clerk said she was drunk—this is what happens when you drink a little too much whiskey.
- Ben was confused, though, because his mom didn't drink.
- He didn't have much time to think about this before his mom collapsed on the floor.
- The store clerk got two boys—one redheaded white boy, one Black boy—to help carry Ben's mom home.
- As the redheaded boy went to the back of the store, the other kid said he thought Louellen was really sick.
- Again, though, the clerk was all nah, she's drunk.
- Still, the kid whispered to Ben that he'd help carry her to the doc if he wanted.
- When they got to the doc, they found out that Louellen wasn't drunk at all—she had a stroke.
- Everything changed from then on. All of a sudden, Ben's mom was in a wheelchair and needed help getting around.
- While she eventually regained her speech, it took a long time and she seemed much older. Ben found himself wishing his mom were drunk that day; it would've been much easier.
- Louellen got a kick out of the fact that everyone thought she was nursing the bottle since she never drank.
- She even wrote a couple poems about her experiences.
- The biggest thing she learned? It was a Black boy who helped her that day, something she reminded Ben of over and over again.
- So often, in fact, that later in life, he wants to help other Black people.
- Ben's still daydreaming when his wife and kids get home.
- His twin daughters, Alice and Amelia, rush in to give him a hug, but his wife is a little colder.
- Even though they're twins, the girls look nothing alike; Ben teases them about getting them confused.
- The girls are all giggles. Alice whispers to her dad that they've been hiding in the church, but they aren't supposed to tell him.
- Amelia teases Alice that she's in trouble, then they run off smiling and laughing before they spill any more secrets.
- After dinner, Ben and Meg talk in the parlor. Meg has something she wants to discuss.
- She explains that they are living in two different marriages.
- True, Ben has been working hard on cases, but it's not enough; she feels like she's been waiting for him forever. First she waited while he was at Harvard, then while he was at Columbia, then afterward as he fought a war in Cuba.
- From where she's sitting, it hasn't gotten better through their 11 years of marriage.
- Meg respects the cases that Ben takes—heck, she even loves that he wants to help the little guy, people who are poor, Black, or have a tricky case—but she also wants to live in a house without a leaky roof. She's sick of giving up what she wants so other people can be helped.
- Ben realizes that his wife is right. It's not that she's selfish; she just wants like to be a little cozier than this.
- Just then, there's a knock at the door. Mazie announces it's a Black guy named Nate who wants Ben's help.
- Meg is livid at Ben. How could he just ignore her feelings like this and let some guy named Nate in? Doesn't he hear what she's saying?
- Ben explains that Nate is a friend from his army days, and he knows it must be important if he shows up unannounced like this.
- Nate strolls in as Meg leaves, her feelings hurt.
- And then Nate announces he's here on a mission from the White House.
- Ben is intrigued. (Gee, ya think?) He was feeling a little overwhelmed with the news his wife just dropped, but he's interested in what Nate has to say now.
- Ben meets up with the President himself.
- They get together in the oval office, where Teddy (a name the President hates, by the way) fills Ben in on what's happening. In short, Ben's hometown is in trouble.
- There has been a series of lynchings lately, and even though everyone claims to know nothing about it, Roosevelt suspects the Ku Klux Klan is responsible.
- Ben's confused because the KKK hasn't been around in a long time.
- Yep, but it's making a comeback in little Eudora.
- And this is where Ben comes in.
- President Roosevelt pours them some drinks as he explains a little more about the situation to Ben: The mission, should he choose to accept it, is to go to Eudora and figure out what's really going down.
- Are there lynchings? Are Black people living in peace? Is the KKK alive and thriving down there? These are the million dollar questions he wants Ben to sort through.
- Of course President Roosevelt can't officially send someone down there, since governors and congressmen have sworn up and down that there's no such problem in Eudora.
- So Ben's cover story is that he's interviewing a few federal judges in the area.
- Roosevelt gives him a slip of paper before he leaves and tells Ben that he trusts the guy whose name is written on it.
- As Ben leaves the White House, he secretly hopes he runs into someone he recognizes so he can name drop.
- Then he looks at the paper in his pocket. It has a name on it that he doesn't recognize: Abraham Cross.
- He confides in us that he's actually seen a lynching once.
- Ben thinks back to the summer he turned 12 when he saw the lynching.
- He and his buddy Jacob used to smoke cigarettes in a vacant lot. It made them feel like men.
- One Monday in August, they were smoking back there—even though they weren't supposed to—when they saw three Black guys shooting the breeze in the street.
- One of the guys, George, was saying how Black people do everything around there; he'd like to see the white people take care of themselves for a while. Imagine that.
- Ben knows George isn't supposed to talk like this, and George knows it, too, because when some white men come over to teach George a lesson, he runs.
- George is trying to outrun the white men, and Ben and Jacob decide to follow along.
- They hide behind bushes, though, because they don't want to be seen—they could get in big trouble for being there.
- George is getting away when one of the men trips him with a rope.
- Next thing Ben knows, they've strung George up on the rope and are making him bow down to them.
- The white men are hooting and hollering, acting like it's all a game.
- Ben wants to do something, but Jacob tells him that's crazy, so finally Ben tells Jacob to run home and get his dad while he tries to distract the men.
- Before anyone can do anything, though, one of the men, Leon, cuts George's ear off. Ouch.
- Still hiding in the bushes, Ben wants to throw up.
- He knows he can't stop three grown men, but he wants to try—they are stringing George up to a sycamore tree, telling him not to boast anymore.
- One of the men says this is a bit harsh for what the kid did, but another tells him to shut it. The moment they let Black people act like this is the moment all Black people think they can act like this.
- Ben wonders where Jacob and his dad are. He's starting to think his pal just ditched him and isn't getting help at all.
- Finally Ben comes out of hiding and announces himself, but the men just chuckle at his attempt to stop the lynching.
- Ben tells them who his dad is (ahem, a judge) and that they better stop it now, but the men just laugh and mock Ben for trying.
- Next they take a photo of George and tell Ben he better beat it or he'll be next.
- He knows they're serious, so he runs for his life.
- Back in the present, Ben goes home and finds Meg still angry with him.
- He tells her that he's just gotten back from the White House, which makes her excited for a second—she thinks this means he'll be working with the President, and that finally something good is happening to them.
- Nope, Ben explains; he's just working for the president on a top-secret mission that he can't tell her anything about.
- Meg's ticked off. First she tells him that she's sick of waiting around for him, and now he's running off so she can wait longer? That's so unfair.
- She warns him that if he leaves now, she won't be waiting for him when he gets back. In fact, he doesn't even need to bother coming home.
- Just then, they realize Amelia and Alice are listening in the doorway.
- Ben takes them back to their room, tucks them in, and kisses them goodnight.
- Before he leaves, Amelia pleads with him not to go—she worries they'll never see him again if he does because of what mom said.
- It's then that Ben realizes that his daughter might be right.
Part 2, Chapter 19
- On the train down to Mississippi, Ben decides to do a little reading.
- His pick? The Memphis newspapers from the past couple of weeks.
- In them he finds many reports of lynchings that have taken place.
- One man was hanged from a tree and shot so many times that a bullet hit the rope holding him; another was killed right in front of his kids so they could learn a lesson.
- There are quotes from witnesses, and even critiques of the quality of lynching.
- It seems the people view lynching as more entertainment than anything else, which sickens Ben.
- He decides to open a window, and another passenger on the train helps him do it.
- Henley McNeill, a fellow passenger on the train, introduces himself to Ben. He's a grain trader, and grew up on the Mississippi.
- When he asks Ben what he's doing with so many newspapers, Ben tells him the truth: he's researching lynching.
- Henley shares his two-cents on the topic.
- First of all, the newspapers don't always tell the truth, so watch out; and secondly, Henley doesn't think that white people hate Black people. Instead, he thinks they're afraid of Black people.
- Why? Black people are stealing jobs and opportunities from white people, and it's tougher now to make a living. Or so Henley's reasoning goes.
- He thinks Black people just have to figure out a way to be peaceful and understand this fact—and if not, Henley suggests they just get rid of Black people. Yikes.
- Ben arrives home to lots of familiar sights and sounds.
- One thing he wasn't expecting? Different doors labeled "White" and "Colored" at the top of every store.
- The last time he was home was six years ago when he came back for his mom's funeral.
- A lot has changed since then, but many things are still the same, and in some ways, Ben feels like he's back in the place he was as a kid.
- A porter asks him if he wants his bags taken to his dad's house, but Ben says no—he's actually here on business, so he's staying in an inn.
- Just then, Ben sees something that makes him shocked.
- Right there in front of him is his first crush, Elizabeth Begley. Only she's still 11 years old.
- Ben realizes that the little blonde girl is actually Elizabeth's daughter, when the real (ahem, adult) Elizabeth trails behind her.
- The two of them meet and exchange pleasantries. She's all, "It's been way too long. Let's catch up." He figures they will at some point, being such a small town and all.
- When Elizabeth says she bets the judge is thrilled to have Ben home, he nods and pretends that's true.
- We get the sense that there's a history between Ben and his dad, but we're not exactly sure what it involves.
- Before we know it, Elizabeth has to run her daughter (whose name is Emma, by the way) to dance class, so they say goodbye.
- As Ben walks up the steps to his childhood home, we get some backstory about his dad.
- He's known as the most honest judge in town, but he's also super conservative.
- This wouldn't be a problem, except Ben's political views swing the other way—Ben is more progressive, and his dad won't ever let him forget it or stop mocking him.
- Six years ago when Ben came back for his mom's funeral, his dad threw around insults about being progressive and helping the poor like it was a bad thing.
- Since then the only communication they've had is during Christmas each year when Ben's dad sends a card. That's it.
- Knock knock. Ben raps the door of his childhood home, all the while dreading seeing his dad.
- He knows it's a small town, though, and his dad will find out he's there sooner rather than later, so he might as well get this over with.
- Dabney, his dad's housemaid, greets Ben with a big smile. She says it's good to see him, and Ben is glad at least one person is happy he's home.
- His dad's welcome isn't quite as warm, though. In fact, he jokes that someone must have died for Ben to show up again.
- Ben promises himself he won't let his dad get to him.
- The judge offers him some turtle soup, but since it's 90 degrees outside, Ben declines.
- Ben can feel the awkwardness, especially when his dad finds out why he's in town.
- With nothing else to talk about, Ben decides to go.
- His dad tells him on the way out that they should meet up again soon—in another six years. Ouch.
- Over at Maybelle's Inn, Maybelle offers Ben some food, but he doesn't feel like eating.
- It's just as well because there's not much grub anyway.
- Ben thinks about how barebones this place is—even a monk wouldn't feel at home in his hotel room. It's that narrow and unexciting.
- The only thing Maybelle's Inn is known for is random guests and prostitutes. Aside from that, it's as basic as they come.
- Ben goes to bed, but it's too hot to sleep.
- Since Ben is too hot to sleep, he figures he'll start his detective work.
- He begins by reading old newspapers, like the Jackson Courier from in town, and as he reads, he finds some details about a strangulation and hanging that took place in Eudora.
- The details are similar to the other newspapers he's read, a.k.a. full of contradictions.
- One witness talks about the hanging being exciting and gruesome, while the police chief claims there was no hanging. Say what?
- Even Ben's own dad—Judge Corbett—is quoted in the article saying he knows nothing about a hanging.
- It's clear there's a cover-up, and Ben wants to get to the bottom of it.
- The next morning, Ben has breakfast (if you can call an old biscuit, lumpy grits, and over-fried salt pork breakfast) and rides a bike into town.
- Along the way, he takes a stroll down memory lane.
- He passes the spot where he made out with Elizabeth, and Ben remembers how they would go at it for a while, but then she would stop them before they could take a turn between the sheets.
- After that, he went off to Harvard and met Meg. The rest is ancient history.
- Ben keeps riding the bike around the town.
- Along the way, people recognize him from his childhood and say hi; he stops a couple times and makes small talk.
- Before long, he hears an angry voice and looks over to find the Purneau brothers picking on some Black boys.
- The boys have come into town to find work, and the Purneaus make it clear that the jobs will go to white people only.
- Not only that, but they don't like when Black people think…at all.
- One of the Purneau bros sucker punches a kid right in the face.
- Ben stops pedaling and wants to interfere, but he worries it might compromise his mission.
- Luckily, the Black boy jumps up and runs away, lickety-split…
- But just then, Ben feels the cold barrel of a gun on the back of his head.
- "Don't make any sudden moves," the guy tells him.
- Ben's worried, but then he turns around and sees Jacob standing there. Psych!
- Jacob's laughing, and Ben realizes the whole thing's a joke. Great joke…not.
- The pair has a good chuckle, and decides to head over to Slide Inn for some catfish.
- Jacob and Ben walk down Myrtle Street together, hungry for catfish. Along the way, they see some old friends, and Ben says hi.
- Before long, Jacob asks why Ben's back in town, so Ben explains that he's interviewing some judges. You know, his cover story.
- They reminisce about the past and agree that those were the good old days.
- Let's get one thing straight, though, Jacob says in a serious tone.
- Ben leans in, expecting his old pal to share some juicy gossip, but instead Jacob says that he was always the pretty one. They laugh and have a good time together. Such a jokester, this Jacob is.
- After lunch, Ben decides he has to get down to business.
- Sure, it's nice catching up with Jacob and remembering all the good times with Elizabeth (wink, wink), but he's come here on a mission, and he's going to deliver.
- He sets off for the Quarters to find Abraham Cross.
- When he gets to the Quarters, Ben notices people watch him a little closer.
- Everyone who passes is a little surprised to see a white guy down there, and most of them don't make eye contact with him.
- It dawns on Ben that things have gotten a lot worse since he was a kid; it was never like this before.
- Ben stops a man on the street and asks where Abraham's house is. He's informed it's the one that smells like onions.
- When Ben smells onions, he looks up and there is Abraham.
- The guy's a little older than Ben was expecting, but he knows exactly who Ben is.
- Right away, Ben likes Abraham. The guy is warm, funny, and welcoming.
- As they sit on the porch swapping stories, Abraham greets every single person who passes by—it's clear he's a friendly dude.
- Abraham tells him that he used to play baseball back in the day, and then he even hits a peach with an old broom to show his new friend that he still has it in him.
- The two get along well pretty much immediately.
- Before long, though, Abraham announces that they have a job to do and it's serious, so as much as he'd love to sit around dishing about baseball, Black people are in trouble and someone has to help.
- Abraham and Ben ride two mules out to a nearby lynching tree.
- It doesn't take them very long to get there, and Ben realizes which one is the lynching tree all on his own. There's a big, sturdy branch that doesn't have much bark on it anymore, and dark spots fill the ground all around him—he knows this is from people's blood.
- Ben shudders to think what happened here.
- Next to the tree, there's a sign that warns "Coons" and "Coon Lovers" to beware, hung up with a white nail.
- When Ben comments that he's never seen a nail that color, Abraham informs him it was made from a human bone. Yikes.
- Ben goes to take the sign down, but Abraham tells him not to bother—another will just be put up in its place before he knows it.
- Before Ben can saying anything else, Abraham warns him that they have company.
- This is the second time today that Ben's been face-to-face with a gun. And guess what? He doesn't care for it much. Go figure.
- This time, the person on the other end is a girl named Moody, and she wants to know what Ben's doing out by the lynching tree.
- Abraham tells her to quit it and put the gun down.
- Luckily she listens, probably because she's Abraham's granddaughter.
- She doesn't understand why her grandpa would work for a guy like Ben (a.k.a. white and out by a lynching tree), but Ben explains that they're working together, though Moody's not sure she believes him.
- Abraham and Moody take Ben to a gumbo joint over in the Black part of town, where they meet up with Moody's brother Hiram.
- The man serving them has no chin or arm, and when Ben inquires about what happened to him, Abraham tells him that the guy lost it in the war.
- He was fighting for the side that wanted to keep him a slave, but hey, the pay was good and lots of Black men fought on that side, even Abraham.
- Abraham makes a joke about the guy wanting to fiddle (which he obviously can't do with no chin or arm), and Ben falls for it.
- Everyone has a laugh at Ben's expense. "Mr. Corbett ain't too swift," Hiram points out.
- The waiter comes back to the table with gumbo and a couple of beers.
- Ben reflects on the fact that he's welcomed into a Black restaurant, but the same would not be true if someone from this place tried to eat elsewhere in town. Doesn't seem fair to him.
- As they eat, some of a band starts playing the blues, complete with banjo.
- Ben is impressed by the sound—he loves how the music is a remix of slave tunes, church hymns, and other random bits and pieces, and it sounds beautiful.
- Ben is quite pleased with the gumbo situation, and after he finishes, Abraham gives him some sugar cane to chew on since it was really spicy.
- Moody is all sass when her grandpa asks her if she wants some, though, and this launches Abraham into a mini-lecture about how his two grandkids behave.
- It's fine that they're comfortable here with Ben, but they have to be really careful—other white men won't be as easy going as him.
- Abraham says anything a Black person says these days can get him beaten or worse.
- Moody fills Ben in on the details. There's a story about a Black man working hard in a white woman's yard, and her refusing to pay. He asked for his money, and instead of giving it to him, she called the cops and complained he was harassing her. He got hanged.
- There's another about some Black kids sitting on the sidewalk talking who got their teeth punched in.
- Moody's even dealt with it. Just yesterday she was bringing the ironing in the house to Mrs. Cooper when her son starting saying dirty jokes to her.
- She just ignored him, but he got to second base and ran away laughing.
- Ben can tell Moody is really upset, so he tells her that she shouldn't worry—he's there to help the situation.
- Moody tells him he better go home. Nothing can be done about it now.
- The next morning, Ben gets some letters in the mail—a note from Elizabeth saying she hopes to see him soon, a dinner invitation from an old pal (L.J. Stringer), and some hate mail.
- He's bummed that he didn't get any letter from his wife and kids. He misses them.
- As he reads the third letter, he wonders whom it's from; there's no name, but a picture inside of a Black man being hanged. Ben's stomach churns just looking at it.
- The note says they know why he's down there—the real reason—and this is what they do to people who help Black people.
- It also warns him to go home now…or else.
- Over the next couple of weeks, Ben keeps investigating the lynchings.
- He figures he has to keep up his cover story, so he also interviews a few candidates for federal judgeships.
- A couple weeks later, he gets a haircut and runs into Elizabeth outside the barbershop.
- She's very flirtatious with him, and he worries it could lead to something.
- When he asks her why she wasn't at L.J. Stringer's dinner party the other night, Elizabeth fesses up. Her hubby, Richard, is too important for that kind of stuff, and L.J. Stringer wouldn't have wanted them there.
- Everyone thinks Richard will be the next governor since he's already a senator now, and as it turns out, L.J. Stringer is a little jealous (well, at least according to Elizabeth).
- She doesn't want to leave Eudora, but she knows her husband would love the governor's seat.
- Ben walks her to the store and she kisses him on the cheek.
- Ben thinks back to how his mom used to say that when you're in love, you can see that person's face all over the place.
- Sure enough, there in his coffee cup is Elizabeth's mug shot. He feels guilty since he's married to Meg, but then again, she is mad at him.
- He's eating at Slide Inn again since the food at Maybelle's is nothing to write home about.
- And then Miss Fanny tells him there was a lynching last night.
- Miss Fanny and Ben ask one of the kitchen helpers what happened, and though the boy is reluctant to tell them at first, eventually he spills the beans.
- A Black girl named Annie was walking home when Jasper Young (who owns the hardware store) asked her for a good time.
- When she refused, he told her she didn't have a choice—he's white and she has to listen to what he says. Then he raped her.
- Annie told her mom when she got home, and her dad and brother went over to Jasper's house in a rage.
- Once they got there, they smashed his stuff and punched Jasper a couple times.
- When the neighbors got word, though, they summoned a crowd to get Annie's dad and brother and kill them for breaking into Jasper's place.
- Ben asks where this took place, and the kid tells him Frog Creek.
- Ben heads out to Frog Creek to see what happened the night before.
- This isn't the lynching tree he went to with Abraham, but another one.
- When he gets there, he sees a woman kneeling by the tree, which still has the two bodies hanging.
- The men's bodies are beaten, and one even has his penis cut off.
- As the woman notices Ben, she tells him to go away—her family is already dead, so he can't do anything else to her now.
- Ben explains that he's a friend and not there to cause any more hurt.
- He notices that she's holding something pink, which she explains is Nathan's tongue. The men ripped it out so he couldn't talk back to them.
- The woman, Annie, weeps by Ben's side as he tries to comfort her.
- Meanwhile, he notices a rustling in the bushes.
- Out from the bushes, a bunch of Black men and women come to collect the bodies.
Part 3, Chapter 44
Southern Funeral Favorites
- On his way back from Frog Creek, Ben pedals as slowly as possible. He's so down about what happened to those men, he can't find the motivation to do any more.
- When he gets back to the inn, he learns from Maybelle that Elizabeth came by to see him.
- He also has some mail. Much to his surprise, there's a letter from Meg.
- Ben is overjoyed as he opens it. In it, Meg shares that she's been doing extra housework since Mazie's been off taking care of her sister (who drinks too much).
- Aside from that, though, everything is good, and the girls really miss him.
- Then she tells him what the letter is about. She's leaving him, plain and simple.
- Things haven't worked for a while now, and there's no point in belaboring it, so she's going to move in with her dad.
- At first, Ben can't believe it—he must have read the letter wrong—so he reads it over and over again, until he can force himself to believe his wife is leaving him.
- On the back of the note is one from his little girls. They say they miss him and want him to come home soon. Aw.
- Ben splashes his face with cold water before sitting down to write a letter of his own.
- He realizes the pen he's using was a gift from Meg on their first anniversary. Because of course it is.
- Ben writes that he thinks they should talk about it face to face. He doesn't want her to leave him, and he's still in love with her; he pleads with her to think of what this will do to Alice and Amelia, begging her to reconsider.
- Just as he finishes the letter, Maybelle calls out that Elizabeth is there to see him. Because of course she is.
- Elizabeth has on a different bonnet than she did that morning, and Ben realizes how beautiful she is.
- Maybe it's nostalgia talking…or the fact that his wife just left him.
- Either way, he doesn't mind when she flirts with him a little.
- She apologizes for running off that morning, but Ben brushes it off with a joke.
- Elizabeth invites Ben over to dinner—she and Richard are having a party, and they want him to come.
- Ben says he'll be there, and then she leaves to pick up her daughter from piano lessons.
- Back in Washington, D.C., Senator Morgan gets his pants in a bunch when he's told to wait for an elevator. Don't they know who he is?
- He can't see a reason that he'd be told to wait—ever. Well, unless the President needed the elevator, of course.
- At that very moment, President Roosevelt walks in and breezily says hi to Morgan.
- Roosevelt goes upstairs to a hotel room and is told "they" are coming up the service elevator.
- Roosevelt says that he can't imagine they'd be thrilled with that.
- Inside the hotel room, Roosevelt welcomes his guests, W.E.B. Du Bois and Ida B. Wells-Barnett.
- They've come to discuss the lynching problem that is only getting worse.
- According to them, it's an epidemic and something needs to be done about it.
- At this, one of Roosevelt's men, Jackson Hensen, interrupts, reporting that Black men raping white women is a growing epidemic in the south as well. Ugh.
- It's clear Hensen is naïve, but his news is upsetting to the guests nonetheless.
- They just want to make sure that Roosevelt knows about the problem and does something about it.
- Roosevelt assures them that he has a man on the inside working on the case, and he will act on the report he's given as soon as he gets it.
- Once W.E.B. Du Bois and Ida B. Wells-Barnett leave, Roosevelt instructs Hensen to get in touch with Abraham Cross. He needs a report from Ben—stat.
- Ben heads over to the hardware store to get a bike of his own.
- He's been borrowing the one at Maybelle's Inn, but he figures he should stop that now and get one for himself.
- He rides it into the Quarter, where he meets up with Abraham.
- The guy promises to show him some even scarier sights than he's seen already.
- First stop? A lynching tree where people have built seats so everyone can sit down and watch the lynching take place.
- Ben is disgusted, especially when he figures out that there's even a place to sell refreshments.
- Abraham and Ben keep riding their mules together to other lynching spots—each one is worse than the last, and Ben feels sick just seeing them.
- When they are riding, Abraham stays behind Ben just in case anyone sees them. He's supposed to show respect since he's Black.
- Ben notices that Abraham winces a few times, and it dawns on him that the guy is much older than he seems.
- He thinks Abraham is just holding on for a little while longer until they can get this report off to the President.
- The final place Abraham takes Ben to is the most gruesome of all.
- There's still a man hanging from the tree; his fingers, toes, and penis have been cut off, and flies are swarming his body.
- Abraham reports that you can buy a "nigger toe" in the general store for a quarter.
- Ben is nauseous and throws up; Abraham, sadly, is used to scenes like this by now.
- After he's done puking, Ben decides to climb the tree and get the man down. Everyone deserves a burial, and he wants to give this man one.
- Abraham warns that the lynchers wanted the body to be left up there as a warning to everyone else, but Ben doesn't care.
- When he's done, Abraham tells him to hurry—someone will be watching.
- No problem, Ben says. He has a report to write anyway.
- Sunday evening, Ben is excited to go to the dinner party at Elizabeth's place.
- He knows he shouldn't be so thrilled to see her, but he is.
- When he gets to her house, Ben is greeted by Elizabeth's husband, Richard—a guy who's perfectly polite, but always making jokes and pretending to be funny.
- Senator Oscar Winkler, his wife, and Judge Corbett (a.k.a. Ben's dad) are also there. Ben remembers interviewing the senator way back in the day; he seemed like an honest guy.
- Ben doesn't love running into his dad again, but he can't get out of it now.
- Over dinner, Ben's dad makes slight digs at Ben—in jest, of course. He jokes about not seeing his son very much, or being not as important as his son's "business."
- Ben has a few zingers he could send back, but he knows it's not the time to come to blows with his dad.
- When Ben comments that the KKK has killed some people, his dad corrects him, saying the KKK was outlawed so Ben's misinformed.
- But Senator Winkler stands up for Ben—pointing out that just because something's outlawed, doesn't mean everyone obeys it. In fact, sometimes it makes people want to do it more.
- There's definitely a blinking contest between the two men, and Ben is about to say something else when a servant walks in with a cake.
- Elizabeth asked the help to make a hummingbird cake since it's Richard's favorite.
- As she's saying this, though, she grabs the inside of Ben's thigh. Ooh la la.
- Every day, Ben asks Maybelle if he's gotten any mail, and each day, her answer is the same—nope.
- He's bummed out since he wrote to his wife a week ago and wants a response.
- In the meantime, though, he's been busy with his report.
- He wrote a long letter to the President, giving him dates, times, locations—all the specifics.
- Ben goes over to Abraham's house to get his take on the report, but Abraham thinks it's way too long and suggests sending a quickie telegram, and the President should get the gist.
- With that, Ben realizes that Abraham's right; Roosevelt likes it when things are succinct and to the point.
- The only problem? A telegram has to go through a stationmaster, which means that everyone can see its contents.
- He figures he should send it from a different town so no one knows what he's up to.
- Luckily, in a nearby town, Mark Twain is scheduled to appear. It's a win-win, since that's Ben's favorite author.
- Ben goes to the telegram office and writes down his message.
- The worker is super excited to get to send a telegram to the actual White House—he's never done that before.
- Ben's a little nervous, but he meets up with Elizabeth who has a carriage they can use to get to the Lyric Theatre (where Twain will be).
- The two of them stroll up to the theater, and Ben is noticeably excited; Elizabeth says he's like a kid in a candy store.
- To say that Ben loves Mark Twain is an understatement: The guy thinks Twain is just about the funniest, wittiest, smartest writer ever. So fortunately, at the event, Twain doesn't disappoint.
- He makes jokes in his standard, satirical way, and he reads a passage from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
- Every now and again, Ben looks over at Elizabeth to see if she's enjoying herself. Sure enough, she's laughing and nodding along just as much as he is.
- Then things turn more serious, and Twain talks about lynching.
- He says people don't actually want to watch a lynching—they do it because they're afraid of what will happen if they don't.
- According to him, it takes a brave man to stop what's happening in the South, but there aren't 300 brave men in the whole country.
- Everyone nods along in agreement.
- On the carriage ride home, Elizabeth shares that she had a wonderful time, and Ben's all ditto, girl.
- He really did love every minute of it.
- Suddenly, Elizabeth gets a little sad. She wishes she could share this with Richard and feel the way about him that she does about Ben.
- Instead of responding, Ben is silent—he knows he could tell her about his marriage woes, but that wouldn't be right.
- When they get to her house, she kisses him goodbye, this time on the lips.
- Even though it's only for a few seconds, that kiss makes Ben see fireworks.
- She invites him in, and he definitely wants to join her, but he knows he shouldn't, so instead he goes home to Maybelle's and feels lonely.
- It's been a couple days and Ben hasn't heard anything back from the White House. What's the deal, yo?
- Ben walks around town that afternoon to kill time, and he hears a woman getting mad at some men; she's standing up from some Black boys who are about 12 or 13.
- Three adult men are holding them underwater to "teach them a lesson" and she thinks it's wrong. The men just laugh at her.
- Ben remembers what Twain said about a brave man, and since he wants to be one, he goes over to the men and tells them to let the boys go.
- They loosen their grip for a moment and one of the boys gets away, but the other doesn't. So again Ben tells them to let the kid go.
- After a struggle, the kid runs free, and the men take their anger out on Ben. They come at him swinging, and they throw him down on the ground.
- Ben manages to defend himself against the bullies using some tactics he learned while boxing at Harvard.
- He hits one guy in the throat, then bobs and weaves to get the others off his back.
- They call him "nigger lover" as he walks away.
- Meanwhile, local photographer, Scooter Willems, asks if he can take Ben's photo.
- It's impressive that he fought off three dudes by himself, and Willems thinks it should be commemorated.
- Ben's not so sure, though. For one thing, he doesn't trust Scooter, so he tells the guy not to take his picture.
- Just then, Moody catches up with Ben. She saw the whole thing, she says, and tells him he's crazy—he can't fight off every single man in Mississippi who hates Black men.
- Before she runs off, though, she thanks him for trying anyway.
- Ben's now been in Mississippi for four weeks. He realizes his room is always damp and hot; it's not a fun way to live.
- He still hasn't heard anything from Roosevelt.
- It's then that Ben begins to wonder whether the message even reached the President's desk.
- Just then, a man comes up to Ben's window and asks if he's Mr. Corbett.
- It turns Moody sent the guy. There's been another lynching, and this time it was Hiram Cross.
- Ben is overcome with emotion at the news of Hiram's death.
- Someone overheard Hiram say that white men will work for Black men someday, and then he was lynched for saying so.
- Ben hears the news, but can't really process it.
- Before he knows it, he up-chucks.
- Ben goes to Hiram's funeral; everyone is singing hymns and crying.
- Everyone except Moody, that is—she's there but doesn't cry, save one single tear when the preacher asks how much longer they have to forgive their white brothers.
- People are yelling "Amen!" this way and that. The Bible teaches to forgive and turn the other cheek, everyone says.
- They're trying to do that, but sometimes it seems like they're the only ones.
- On their way out of the church, Ben notices that Scooter and his pals are there—not to pay their respects or anything; these guys are taking photos.
- They make fun of Ben for standing out amongst the crowd, then promise two kids nickels if they stand in the photo.
- Ben knows Scooter and the gang are up to no good, though, so he tells the boys to run along.
- Then he tells Scooter and his posse to get lost. Now.
- Back at Abraham's house, everyone is eating and talking about Hiram.
- It dawns on Ben that Scooter knew Moody's name at the funeral. How?
- When he goes over to talk to her, she tells him to get his white hand off her Black skin—white men killed her brother.
- Moody says she's been to a lot of funerals, but this one has no "peaceable joy."
- That's what she calls it when everyone is sad at a funeral but they know the person isn't in pain anymore or has lived a full life—it's the feeling you get at an old person's funeral.
- Hiram was young and had his whole life ahead of him, though, so why did he have to die?
- Ben's not sure what to say, so he offers her some food. She has to eat sometime.
- Ben realizes that Moody is right: There's no peaceable joy in sight. Or any joy for that matter.
- On his way out the door, he hugs Moody goodbye and shakes Abraham's hand. He's not sure what else to say.
- When he gets to his bike, three white men are waiting for him.
- They jump him, beat him up, and tell him he's found the trouble he's looking for.
- The next thing Ben remembers is a voice, though he's not sure whose.
- The men are picking out a tree to hang him from, debating whether one is tall enough because Ben is pretty tall himself.
- This one should do it, one of the men says. That's where we got a really tall guy one time.
- So they string Ben up and hang the rope over the tree.
- He can't believe how much pain he's in, and then he suddenly can't breathe.
- Ben slips in and out of consciousness, unsure whether he's awake and confused or actually dead.
- He sees flashes, first of his mom reading him a poem, and then he tries to feel his fingers, but can't.
- All he feels is pain—and then nothing.
- He is still hanging from the tree when some men come by and start talking.
- One of them isn't sure if he's Black or white because he's drenched in so much blood, but another is sure he's white and they should cut him down.
- Ben starts moving, though, and they run—they didn't realize he was still alive.
Part 4, Chapter 70
"My Name is Henry"
- The first thing Ben hears when he comes to is "My name is Henry."
- He opens his eyes, looks around, and sees a woman; she's feeding him mushy peas.
- Moody fills in the gaps for Ben. They got him down from the tree and brought him home.
- Everyone thought he was dead, but Abraham found a pulse—it was weak, but it was there.
- Aunt Henry has been nursing him back to health ever since.
- His knees aren't broken, but he's pretty badly hurt; he's been there for over a week and counting.
- Moody says they have to get him up and running because the men will hunt him down and hang him again if they get the chance.
- Ben starts to find his sea legs, but he's shaky as all get out—he walks with crutches, and each step is excruciating to him.
- Abraham goes by Maybelle's for Ben to check for mail, but there is none. Darn.
- What hurts more than his physical injuries is the fact that no one seems to care if he dies.
- Okay, Abraham and Moody, but what about his dad? Or Elizabeth?
- He knows everyone must have heard about his lynching by now in the tiny town.
- Abraham tells him there are cowards in the town and the Quarter; that's the only way that bullies can have their way.
- As Ben walks down the street, someone stops him and thanks him for trying to help out Black people. They know not every white man is evil.
- Moody quips that everyone knows Ben helped them so he's even more of a target now. Yikes.
- One day, Aunt Henry tells Ben that he's healed and no longer needs her to take care of him.
- He knows she's right, but he doesn't want her to be—there's something so comforting about being fussed over.
- Ben's really enjoyed spending time getting to know Abraham better, and he loved the time with Moody, too. (Hint: We think he wants to be more than just buddy-buddy with her.)
- Abraham tells Ben one night that he better be careful around Moody.
- He thinks highly of Ben, but Ben can't hook up with Moody with the way things are.
- Ben assures Abraham that he won't try anything, noting that Moody's not exactly chomping at the bit. She never says a nice word to Ben.
- Silly Ben—that's exactly how you know a woman is in love with you, Abraham says.
- At night, Abraham, Moody, Ben, and others take turns standing guard outside the house.
- They figure that if someone comes by and tries to hurt Ben, they better be prepared.
- One night, Ben is out there standing watch, and Moody comes out to talk to him.
- He asks her how come she's always wearing the same dress, but it never gets dirty. Moody laughs at this bizarre question.
- It turns out that she actually has three of the same dress. Now Ben knows all her secrets.
- Before she goes back to bed, she turns and tells him she's never going to sleep with him.
- When he asks if it's because he's white, she says nope, it's because she's Black.
- Back at Maybelle's, Ben realizes he's no longer welcome.
- Maybelle tells him that she can't have him staying there and causing trouble—maybe one of his Black friends can help him out. Ouch.
- Ben thinks back on what Abraham said about people being cowards. It turns out he's right.
- All throughout the town, no one wants to talk to him or even look him in the eye.
- Ben decides to go to the one person who will help him (though he doesn't tell us who that is).
- Over at Jacob's house, Ben asks for a place to stay; he has nowhere else to go.
- Jacob is caught off guard at first—he has the smallest house in town and the biggest family—but eventually, he agrees to let Ben stay.
- The house isn't big, but Ben is grateful.
- When Jacob's wife, Charlotte, comes in and hears the news, she says something sarcastic about being everyone's favorite family in town with their new guest.
- The next night, Jacob asks Ben to go for a walk.
- Along the way, they meet up with Byram Chaney, a teacher who has been waiting for them.
- What's the occasion? Jacob and Byram are taking Ben somewhere special.
- Ben freaks out. Will they hurt him? Where are they going? Why the secrecy?
- Things go from bad to worse when they give him a white hood to wear.
- Yup—Jacob is part of the Ku Klux Klan. Yikes.
- Ben looks through the holes of his KKK hood and wonders how his old pal could be a Klansman. How did he not see this coming?
- When they get to the meeting, Ben sees a bunch of other men in white hoods.
- Normally people don't like to show their faces at these meetings, but tonight is a special occasion.
- Everyone disrobes to show Ben who they are; they want him to know they aren't crazy.
- Ben recognizes almost everyone in the crowd.
- Everyone from the sheriff to the pharmacist is there, and they all claim to want to reason with Ben.
- The meeting starts, and people begin complaining about things that happened that week. There's a lot of "this Black man did this" and "that Black woman did that." None of it is that serious, but the members get angry when they hear it.
- One of them says to Ben that this shows that Black people are just trying to take their jobs.
- It occurs to Ben that this is about more than hate. These men are afraid, worried that Black men will steal their jobs, wives, and hopes for the future.
- As he's thinking about all this, the KKK members tie his hands around his back. He knows this can't be good.
- Ben is forced to walk alongside the other men to a lynching tree.
- He starts panicking—the last time this happened, he was hanging from the tree in no time.
- When he yells out to Jacob, though, he's told to shut it.
- Ben can't believe his own friend would do this to him.
- This is when he realizes that he's not the one being lynched. There's already a man over there, and he's white.
- The KKK explains the situation to Ben. This guy is a Jewish person named Eli Weinberg who's been selling land that doesn't exist to people.
- Or that's what fellow KKK members down South say, so the gang's all here to hang him.
- Eli pleads for his life, swearing the land is real and he can prove it, but no one listens.
- Ben tries to get Jacob to see that this is murder, but he doesn't care.
- Eli is hanged and dies.
- After Eli dies, someone cuts him down. It dawns on Ben that animals are treated better than this guy was.
- Someone asks if they should bury him, and Ben notes that Jewish people are supposed to be buried before sundown on the day they die.
- People scoff—it figures he'd know that about Jewish people—and it's decided that Eli's body will be left on the ground.
- Everyone starts packing up and heading home.
- Jacob tries to reason with Ben. He's all, See? We don't hate Black people. We don't want anyone taking our jobs or land—we're so reasonable.
- Ben can't believe what he's hearing, though, and is so angry that he walks away and doesn't even get his stuff from Jacob's house.
- Ben sneaks into his dad's guesthouse. It's around the back of the regular house, where he figures he won't be seen.
- Inside, he finds memorabilia from his childhood.
- A sign welcoming him home from the war is on the wall, covered in dust; his old two-seater buggy and his catcher's mitt are there, too.
- All of a sudden, Ben breaks down in tears.
- He realizes that he's finally at home and it's heartbreaking.
- The next morning, Yvella, Ben's dad's cook, wakes him up with some coffee and biscuits—she knows he's been camping out in the guesthouse, but she won't utter a word to his dad.
- Yvella has even done his laundry and cleaned up for him.
- She wants him to eat up so he can get his strength back.
- He jokes around with her and offers her his food; he's not that hungry anyway.
- Ben is drinking coffee when he hears the dogs barking.
- They've noticed someone is creeping around back there, and Ben looks out to find Elizabeth and L.J. Stringer.
- They've come to warn him that his life is in danger.
- People are watching him all the time—everyone knows exactly where he is and what he's doing, and it's only a matter of time before they try to kill Ben again.
- Ben appreciates them coming by, but he also resents how they talk about the people in the town.
- Elizabeth acts like everyone is considerate and kind, when actually they are part of the KKK.
- L.J. tells Ben that he's willing to help the guy out.
- Then the pair leave, but not before warning Ben to watch his back and trust no one.
- Around midnight, Moody shows up at Ben's hideaway.
- Abraham is really sick and Aunt Henry is taking care of him, but it's not doing much good.
- What's more? They are in trouble.
- Her cousin Ricky was caught looking at a white girl. Someone claims he was thinking bad stuff about her, and they are going to hunt Ricky, Moody, and Abraham down because of it.
- Ben knows this is also partly because of their association with him.
- Moody starts crying, and Ben comforts her.
- He knows he'll have to ask L.J. for help to save his friends.
- When Ben shows up at L.J.'s house, his friend is a little surprised to say the least.
- Nevertheless, L.J. helps Ben out.
- Before they know it, Ben, Moody, L.J., and his crew are riding in L.J.'s wagon down to the Quarter.
- L.J. lectures Ben on how foolish this whole thing is.
- One of them—if not all of them—is going to get hurt.
- Still, though, L.J. goes along with it. He agrees something must be done to stop the madness, and maybe it should be done now.
- Abraham is sick and very feverish.
- Ben and L.J. set up a perimeter around the house. Some of L.J.'s men, along with people from the Quarter, help protect Abraham.
- Everyone is waiting all night for the White Raiders to show, but they never do.
- The next night, L.J. encourages everyone to stay alert.
- Abraham's fever broke and he's feeling a little better. It's clear he's still sick, but at least he can talk to Ben now.
- Ben asks his friend how he knows the President, and Abraham explains that Roosevelt's mom was from Georgia, where he's from, and his sister was her nurse.
- In fact, Abraham was actually visiting his sister when Roosevelt's mom died. It was the same day as Roosevelt's wife died. He guesses the President always remembered him from that.
- Just then, the White Raiders show up and come crashing through the house.
- Bullets are flying everywhere, and Ben can hardly tell who is still in the game and who is down.
- He remembers it being like this when he was at war, only then he wasn't shooting at his neighbors and people he'd known all his life.
- Everyone is yelling and panicking, but L.J. and Ben look at one another and have an idea.
- The plan? They wait until the men are out of ammo and then charge at them while the White Raiders are reloading.
- It works. Suddenly, they are the ones in charge.
- Another White Raider who was not part of the raid shows up and shoots L.J. in the cheek. He's down, and badly hurt, but he's still talking.
- He tells the other men to stand their ground.
- Ben realizes he hasn't heard Moody in a while, and then sees one of the Raiders has a gun to her head. He threatens to kill her if Ben doesn't drop his gun.
- Just then, Moody grabs a knife out of her dress and stabs the White Raider in the back before he knows what hit him.
- By 4:00AM, the chief of police (Phineas) is there and everyone is talking about the situation.
- L.J. points out that these men trespassed and committed murder, so they must be arrested—Ben, L.J., and company were just defending themselves.
- Phineas doesn't like the sound of this logic, but he has no choice but to follow it—he might be able to ignore it if only Ben were making the complaint, but since L.J. is a witness, Phineas has to arrest people.
- He starts arresting the White Raiders, and they can't believe it; they moan about how it isn't fair. (Cry us a river…)
- Phineas points out that L.J. is a respected citizen and a credible witness.
- And then Ben adds that they have another person on their side—President Roosevelt. Boom.
Part 5, Chapter 89
The Trial at Eudora
- Back in Washington, D.C., Hensen enters the oval office to find the President dancing.
- Roosevelt assures him that everything is fine; he's just glad to have gotten the latest from Ben and Abraham.
- Some people have been arrested for shooting a Black man. Yippee.
- Hensen doesn't see the immediate joy in that news, but Roosevelt assures him it's good news: Finally white men are being held accountable for what they do to Black men.
- Roosevelt knew he was right to sit back and wait for Ben to do something about the problem, noting that it's always best not to interfere. Phew.
- The first thing Phineas does is let some of the men go for "lack of evidence" (a.k.a. family connections).
- Ben isn't thrilled, but then again, he totally expected this to happen.
- At least three men are still in custody and going to be tried.
- Meanwhile, the crew down at the Eudora Gazette are running themselves mad printing the news—they're not used to there being so much to report.
- The trial is all anybody is talking about. It's the trial of the century.
- On L.J.'s porch, he and Ben talk about the trial.
- They notice that no one talks about anything but the trial these days in Eudora, though of course no one says much to them about it.
- Ben's been staying with L.J. since the night of the incident because it's the only place he's safe.
- They get news that the trial will start next Monday right there in Eudora.
- Even though they wanted it to take place somewhere else—anywhere else—they knew it was a long shot.
- It won't be a fair trial down here, but they don't have much of a choice.
- Oh yeah, and Judge Corbett will be the one ruling. Oh goodie.
- Ben is ticked that his dad is the judge on the case.
- His pops talks a big game about being fair and honest, but deep down, he doesn't care if Black men are treated equally or not—he's only against their enslavement.
- Ben knows he could appeal, but he doesn't think it'll do any good.
- Oh well. He'll just have to put up with his dad being the judge.
- They're talking about the case at L.J.'s place when a man comes up and introduces himself.
- No one in the town wants anything to do with Ben or L.J. anymore, so they're surprised to get a visitor.
- It turns out this is the lawyer who will be arguing their side of the case.
- His name is Jonah Curtis, and he was booked at Maybelle's Inn, but she turned him down when he arrived, probably because he's Black.
- L.J. chimes in that he can stay there for as long as he needs.
- L.J., Ben, and Jonah wonder who will be representing the White Raiders.
- They find out it will be a guy named Maxwell Hayes Lewis, a.k.a. "Loophole Lewis." And yes, he's a firm believer in loopholes.
- A little while later, he shows up at the house and introduces himself.
- Maxwell comments that it's weird for Ben's dad to be the judge on the case, but then he says it doesn't matter much since it will be so open and shut.
- It's clear he thinks he has the upper hand, especially when he says he's been checking into Jonah and Ben's court records from previous cases.
- The next day, Jonah and Ben go over the case from every angle.
- They make pros and cons lists full of different scenarios of what might happen during the trial.
- Ben notes that Jonah is whip-smart, but he's also wise—he knows that the recipe for this trial will be unique and different from anything that's come before it.
- Since there's never been a trial like this before, Jonah knows he has to prepare in a different way.
- Ben and Jonah use a lot of lawyer-talk and L.J. is left behind a bunch of times, but everyone is getting along well and preparing for the big day. Go team.
- That night, Ben, L.J., and Jonah hear chanting, so they go outside to see what's up.
- They are greeted by the sight of an army of Black men and women, marching down the streets.
- Why is this a big deal? Because Black people aren't supposed to congregate like that.
- They are all chanting "All white? No right! All white? We fight!"
- Ben tells us they are referring to the fact that the jury will be all white.
- Jury selection starts tomorrow, but Black men aren't allowed to serve on juries in Mississippi, so this group is taking a stand.
- Their leader? Ida B. Wells-Barnett and W.E.B. Du Bois, that's who.
- Ben thinks back to going to his dad's courtroom as a kid.
- Sometimes his mom would take him there on jury selection day to show him what his dad did.
- Bonus? His dad would scare people silly.
- Today Ben will be watching again, but with a different perspective this time.
- When his dad enters the courtroom, Ben notices that he's using the gavel Ben sent him for his 60th birthday.
- That's weird—he never got a thank you card for it.
- Looking around the courtroom, Ben notices that his dad made some upgrades for the big day.
- The press isn't allowed in during the trial, but they can come in and out during breaks, so he wanted it to look nice. Everything is new and shiny inside the courthouse.
- Jury selection has begun, and so far Jonah hasn't made a big deal about any of the jurors.
- Yes, they are all white men, but Jonah wants to be strategic with his objections.
- Next up is a guy named Patton William Taylor.
- Ben scribbles on a note to Jonah that this guy was sent to jail for breaking a Black girl's leg.
- It's clear the guy is racist, but when Jonah asks him about his time in the slammer, Taylor is vague and noncommittal.
- Jonah asks the judge to get the guy to give him a straight answer.
- Judge Corbett tells Jonah the guy already answered, though, so get over it.
- Jonah pushes back, but the judge just schools Jonah on how things are done in the South.
- He can object to the other lawyer, but he can't object to the judge.
- Then the judge tells him to sit down and shut it. Oh snap.
- The all-white jury is selected, and when Jonah tries to point the whole all-white bit out, the judge just gets annoyed and does some gavel-banging again.
- Ben knows his dad loves to put on a good show in the courtroom, and this is no different.
- On his way outside, a messenger delivers a letter to Ben from the White House.
- The letter to Ben from Roosevelt tells him to keep his head in the game; everyone is watching Ben from afar—including the President.
- Roosevelt is totally Team Ben, though, and he really hopes the trial goes well.
- Ben reads the letter again and then hears someone call out his name.
- Ben turns around and finds a Black man standing a few feet away calling his name.
- When he tells the guy to come over and talk to him in the park, the man responds that he can't—that's a whites only park.
- Ben goes over to the where the guy is standing, and learns his new friend is from the Indianapolis Cross.
- It turns out he's met the guy before. His name is Marcus, and he's the kid who helped Ben carry his mom to the doctor the day she collapsed in the general store.
- Remember the redheaded kid? He's none other than Henry North, who is on trial.
- Marcus tells him that he's followed Ben's career as a lawyer and knows he tried to help out Black people. That always gave him hope that something might turn around one day.
- Hearing the guy talk, Ben feels a glimmer of hope himself.
- Getting dressed on a big day is always tough, especially for Jonah when the cards are stacked against him.
- He decides on a blue suit, white shirt, and red tie—it makes him look patriotic.
- Opening arguments are today, and he wants his to be memorable.
- And memorable, it is: Jonah tells the details of the crime, but makes sure to leave out who is Black and who is white.
- He talks about how men went looking for trouble to teach a kid a lesson, found it, and murdered two people.
- He purposely doesn't mention race until the very end when he tells the jurors that race has nothing to do with this trial.
- One juror is so moved that he claps, upsetting the judge.
- Next up? Maxwell Hayes Lewis for the defense.
- He knows a thing or two about a good opening argument, and he makes sure to add a douse of drama by wiping his brow every now and again.
- He tells the jury that he wholeheartedly agrees with Jonah—race has absolutely nothing to do with the case.
- But that's where the agreement ends.
- Maxwell paints a different picture, one in which men went out on the town to clear up the matter of a girl being treated poorly.
- Along the way, other men attacked them, so they shot people in self-defense.
- He says this is the truth, plain and simple.
- Over at L.J.'s place, L.J., Ben, and Jonah talk about the case.
- L.J. points out that they will never win if everyone on the other side just lies all the time.
- When Jonah reminds them that the chief of police is on their side, Ben corrects him—it's true the guy arrested the White Raiders that night, but since then he's done nothing. Plus he's known lynchings are happening for a while, and hasn't done anything about that either.
- All of a sudden the men hear thunder, which is weird since it's not raining.
- Sure enough, when Ben looks outside, instead of a brewing storm, he sees a mob of 40 men with guns and pitchforks.
- Ben and Jonah get ready to go to court the next morning, having made it through the night unharmed. They don't think the mob will be so kind going forward, though.
- Abraham is set to testify today.
- When he takes the stand, he's calm, witty, and even funny at times. Abraham gets the jury listening to what happened that night and everything is going smoothly.
- Abraham testifies that the men on trial broke into his home with guns and grabbed his granddaughter, Moody.
- He was feeling sick, but he saw the whole thing from his living room.
- Next up, Maxwell questions Abraham. He tries to set a bunch of traps to trip him up, but Abraham doesn't fall for any of them. He's quick.
- Still, when Maxwell produces a warrant to search Abraham's pad, things go from bad to worse.
- (Hint: Maxwell and the men on trial wrote this warrant after the fact and are lying about having it that night. It makes it look like they had a right to be at Abraham's house, when they didn't).
- Maxwell points out that Abraham is 89 years old—the same age as Mississippi—so his memory can't be trusted.
- Abraham counters by calling Maxwell a liar.
- After Abraham's testimony, Jonah objects to the search warrant.
- Everyone—including Judge Corbett—knows it's a fake, but it doesn't matter.
- The judge practically laughs it off. It's a search warrant, so obviously it's admissible in court.
- He makes fun of Jonah a bit and then lets everyone know he has another case that afternoon.
- They'll be back in court at 9:00AM tomorrow morning.
- Before court starts the next morning, Maxwell comes over and fake apologizes to Jonah and Ben.
- It sounds a lot like this: "Hey, sorry for busting you with that search warrant the other day."
- Luckily Ben has a sense of humor and shoots back, telling Maxwell they know he was busy writing it himself, so not to worry.
- Of course Maxwell can't admit that he faked the warrant, but Jonah gets a chuckle out of the whole thing.
- Before proceedings begin, the men are called outside. A cross is burning on the courthouse steps.
- The mob comes back to L.J.'s house that night, only this time, they start chanting, yelling, "Free the Raiders!" over and over again.
- Someone throws a rock through the window, smashing it. Then another person follows suit.
- Ben suggests to L.J. that he get his wife and kids to safety, so he does, heading off to stay with his wife's sister for a little while until the trial is over.
- This way L.J., Jonah, and Ben can still work from the house.
- Ben watches as L.J.'s wife and kids ride away in the carriage.
- Just then, there's a knock at the door.
- It's Elizabeth; she's worried about Ben and wants to help in any way she can.
- He feels a sense of relief that she's on his side, and he tells her that her support is help enough.
- There's just one other thing, though. He's come up with a brilliant beyond brilliant plan (but he doesn't let us know what it is).
- Ben fills Elizabeth in on the details, and we know we'll learn about them soon enough.
- It dawns on Ben that this trial is impossible to win.
- He never thought it would be easy—he's been thinking it will be an up-hill climb since the night of the arrest at Abraham's house—but now something is different.
- For one thing, Maxwell faked a search warrant and the jury is buying it; for another, he makes every witness look stupid.
- Maxwell is very good at twisting people's words, and it's losing the case for their side.
- And then Jonah calls Moody to the stand.
- Ben's surprised to see Moody all dressed up. She looks like a grown-up, not the young gal she is.
- He notices that she acts proper on the stand, even going so far as to hide her sass.
- Everything is going according to plan, and Moody testifies what happened that night, just like all the other witnesses.
- That is, until she mentions that the men did have a search warrant when they showed up to her grandpa's house.
- Remember—this isn't true since Maxwell made the whole thing up.
- Ben and Jonah are left scratching their heads. Why would Moody say there was a search warrant, when there wasn't? What's she up to?
- At first Ben's ticked off, but then he realizes what's happening. Moody is throwing Maxwell for a loop. The guy's not sure how to carry on with the case because he knows Moody is lying, but he can't admit it without bringing himself down.
- Maxwell and the judge keep telling her she must tell the truth in court—or else—but instead of fessing up, Moody smiles innocently and says she is telling the truth. That's exactly what they say happened that night, right?
- No one else saw the warrant but Moody, so that's why no one else could testify about it.
- It occurs to Ben that Moody just changed the game. Before everyone thought Abraham and Moody were cranky liars up to no good, but now they are trustworthy citizens who were attacked. It just took one lie to change all that.
- Back at L.J.'s, Ben and Jonah question Moody, asking her what she was thinking when she decided to lie on the witness stand.
- Moody points out that no one can accuse her of perjury without fessing up to their own lies; plus she wants to fight fire with fire.
- Ben still doesn't like it, but he admits that Moody helped their case.
- The mob shouts, "Free the Raiders!" outside again, and Moody turns to leave.
- She thanks Jonah for working on the case, and tells Ben that Abraham isn't doing so well.
- He kisses her on the cheek before she goes home.
- Ben decides to test out his latest plan. We're not sure what it is, but we know it involves breaking the law, so Jonah can't come along.
- Moody and L.J., on the other hand, aren't lawyers in the trial of the century, so they join in.
- The three of them go to Scooter's place and break in.
- They don't want to steal anything, but Ben knows the guy is always lurking around with his camera and wants to get some photos as evidence.
- As they look through the stacks of photos, they find so many of men being lynched, including Moody's brother.
- In many of the photos, the jury members or people Ben knew growing up are watching—or participating—in the lynching. It makes him feel sick.
- Just then, Ben hears a voice behind the curtain.
- At Scooter's place, Ben is surprised to run into Scooter and his posse: Jacob, Police Chief Phineas, and Senator Richard Nottingham.
- How did they know he'd be there?
- It turns out Elizabeth told them. She reported every word Ben said to her back to her hubby, so they knew he'd try to steal the photos.
- Darn. Ben is upset that his plan didn't work, but he's even more shocked that Elizabeth would be the one to betray him.
- Jacob takes the box of photos from Ben, except for the one of him being hanged—he figures Ben would want that as a souvenir.
- Jonah and Ben talk about what they should do next.
- They've tried Ben's plan, so now it's time to try Jonah's.
- Jonah explains that he wants Ben to deliver the closing arguments.
- Why? Because he's white, for one thing, plus he grew up in this town and he was there that night, so the jury trusts him more.
- Jonah points out that he's tried the case, but it's really been Ben's all along.
- The next morning, Ben and Jonah head to the courthouse to find everyone there.
- The whole place is packed with people from Eudora and a bunch of reporters and tourists as well.
- Ben notices that his dad is commanding and in charge inside the courtroom; he throws people in jail for contempt when they yell stuff out, just to make a point.
- Jonah stands up and announces that Ben will deliver the closing statements.
- Judge Corbett doesn't like this, but then he realizes that he doesn't have a leg to stand on—since Ben is a lawyer, the judge has no choice but to let him proceed.
- Ben stands up, ready to deliver his final message to the jury.
- Before he can even begin, though, his dad jokes around a little bit, taking one last chance to get in a dig.
- His dad comments that he's heard a lot from Ben over the years, so it's time that other people get that pleasure (a.k.a. torture).
- It's clear his dad is trying to ruffle his feathers, but it doesn't work; Ben simply says he'll try not to disappoint the judge.
- In his closing arguments, Ben goes over the facts of the case.
- He recalls what happened that night and the testimony everyone has provided, and then Ben points out that the facts themselves can't speak, so the jurors have to rely on the witnesses to speak for them.
- Ben claims the evidence can't be refuted, and he encourages the jurors to have the courage to stand up for what's right.
- The final thing he does is quote from the Bible. He uses a verse about how they should see matters of the heart the way God sees stuff instead of the way man does.
- Next Maxwell stands to give his final arguments.
- Ben notices that he doesn't bother refuting Ben's case—in fact, he doesn't comment on the case much at all.
- Instead Maxwell relies on the fact that the jurors are racist and will likely use that bias to acquit his clients.
- He even suggests that Black people don't know what truth is because they're lesser than white people.
- Maxwell even throws a Bible verse of his own in for good measure, one about not lying, which Ben thinks is a joke since all Maxwell does is lie.
- It's time for the judge to give the jurors instructions.
- Usually this process is pretty simple—the judge tells the jurors to think hard on what they've seen and heard and deliver a fair verdict—but this is no simple case.
- Judge Corbett tells the jurors all the usual stuff, but then he adds one thing. He says that Black people are just as capable of telling the truth as white people are.
- Maxwell's jaw almost drops to the floor, but Ben can see this for what it is. His dad wants to go down in history as being bold and helping out the case.
- Too bad it's too late for that. Throughout the whole trial, his dad has blocked their requests and objections, so it's no use starting to help them now.
- Ben leaves the courthouse and tries to dodge all the reporters outside.
- They've been there throughout the trial, but they are particularly feisty today since the jury is deciding the case. One of them even thrusts a $20 bill in his hand for an interview.
- As he rushes back home, Ben avoids as many reporters as he can.
- When he arrives, he writes a letter to Meg explaining what's happening. He says he loves her and wants them to still be married, but he's worried she won't be there when he gets home. He knows he's made her wait around a lot, and he's sorry for that.
- But he's not sorry for the fact that he's helping people no one else will, and he has to keep following his principles.
- He hopes she can understand.
- The verdict is in.
- Judge Corbett orders everyone to zip it while they read their decision.
- Ben holds his breath as it is read aloud and it's…not guilty.
- He's really disappointed of course, but he can't say he's surprised.
- The whole courtroom erupts with emotion.
- The men on trial are relieved and excited, while all the Black people are upset.
- Ben sneaks out the side door of the courtroom so he doesn't have to see the reporters.
- He rides his bike to the Quarter, hoping to get away from it all.
- There, everyone out on their porches greets him and tells him not to worry about it; they knew the trial would be unfair from day one.
- He's bummed, but he runs into Moody and she asks him to come see Abraham—he's getting sicker and wants to see Ben one last time.
- Ben expects Abraham to be upset about the trial, but instead he tells him that this is how things are.
- Sure, it would be great for those men to go to jail for murder, but the trial still changed stuff.
- How? Abraham points out that progress takes a long time to take effect.
- He remembers the ground full of blood when he was fighting during the war, but that's when things started changing. At least some things, anyway.
- He asks Ben which Bible verse he quoted at trial, and Ben recites it for him.
- Then Abraham tells Ben that he did "just fine," and Ben notes that those are the last words he and Abraham said to one another.
- Moody tells Ben that she's angry. She knows she should be grateful for the trial and the work he and Jonah did—she even gets what her grandpa means when he points out that change takes a long time to happen—but she's ticked off that it's not happening fast enough. She doesn't want to be old by the time things change in her life.
- Moody needs some wintergreen oil for Abraham, but she can't go into town and get any since she's Black, so she asks Ben to go for her.
- He agrees but on one condition: she goes with him.
- In town, Ben and Moody walk down the street hand-in-hand; everyone stares at them as they walk past.
- When they get to the store, Doc Conover claims he doesn't have any wintergreen oil, even though Ben can see it on the shelf.
- Next stop: Slide Inn. There's a big sign out front that says, "Whites Only," but who is going to stop them?
- Ben and Moody stroll up and ask for a table and some iced tea.
- The waitress there says the last gal was fired for sympathizing with Ben so he can't stay.
- Someone spits on him; another calls him a nasty and racist name.
- Ben doesn't care if he causes a riot, though, so he kisses Moody, right there in the street.
- Everyone starts chasing them away, and they run all the way to the Quarter.
- When Moody and Ben get to the Quarter, they are stopped by some of the Black people there who want to know why they're stirring up trouble. Ben points out that all he did was kiss Moody, so it's no big deal.
- Moody tells everybody to grab their guns and knives, though, and to get ready for the night.
- They don't want violence, but if the White Raiders come looking for it again, they'll be prepared. There's need to take this lying down.
- Then she grabs Ben's hand and walks away.
- She's not doing it for show this time, but just because she wants to. It means the world to Ben.
- That night at midnight, Ben waits on Abraham's porch to protect them.
- Moody brings out some food and she and Ben joke around.
- Abraham is still inside, sick and not talking, but sleeping.
- All of a sudden, the White Raiders show up.
- They're armed and ready to go, but then again, so is the Quarter this time.
- At least, that's what Ben hopes.
- Only nine men come to the Quarter that night.
- Ben thinks about the fact that the White Raiders are certain that no one will resist them, but he knows it's not going to be that simple tonight.
- He instructs Moody to stay there and protect Abraham, and though she's reluctant at first, she does what he wants.
- Doc Conover, Lymann Tripp, Jacob, and some of the men on trial show up ready to fight.
- There are gunshots and wounds everywhere that Ben looks.
- This time, the Quarter is fighting back, making sure the White Raiders don't kill more people and get away with it.
- Police Chief Phineas shows up on a horse, yelling at Ben that he better back off, or else.
- Doc Conover is there, too, joking about how he should have brought Ben the wintergreen oil after all.
- Meanwhile, Aunt Henry gets out a gun and shoots Conover in the elbow. He's hurt but he's not dead.
- Ben grabs the policeman's whip and gets Phineas off his horse.
- The two of them are rolling around on the ground fighting when Ben takes the upper hand.
- He can kill Phineas, and he knows Phineas wants to kill him, but he decides not to—Ben doesn't want to kill people unnecessarily.
- So he lets go of Phineas and jokes that the Doc might need some wintergreen oil after all.
- There's chaos everywhere as people fight.
- Ben turns around and sees Jacob with a gun to his head, telling him to drop his weapon.
- Jacob asks him why he had to ruin their nice town; they were doing just dandy before Ben came back.
- You sure about that Jacob? We can think of a few people who'd probably disagree…
- Ben almost can't believe what's happening.
- How could the guy who was his best friend have a gun to his head? Why did this happen?
- As he tries to reason with Jacob, Ben realizes it will do no good.
- The two of them begin fighting, and Ben grabs a knife and gets ready to kill his old friend.
- Instead, though, he throws it away, then gets up and leaves.
- Most of the fighting has simmered down by the time Ben is done with Jacob.
- Only one person (Leander Purneau) died, but many got hurt.
- Aunt Henry starts fixing up wounds of white and black men alike; Ben notices how forgiving and gracious that is.
- The White Raiders leave with their tails between their legs, promising to return another time with more men and weapons.
- For their part, the people living in the Quarter already feel stronger.
- Ben sees the blood on the ground and thinks about what Abraham said about change happening after fights—this is one of those moments.
- Then Ricky comes outside to get Ben. Abraham has died.
- Ben knows he's already said his goodbyes to Abraham, so he doesn't need to go to the funeral.
- Plus Moody knows what the guy meant to Ben, so he decides to pack up and leave the town before he causes any more pain.
- He has to get back to his family where he belongs.
- Three days after leaving Eudora, Ben arrives back in Washington, D.C.
- He's glad to be home, and his first order of business is seeing his family, who are hopefully still there.
- Before he can get home, though, Hensen from the White House stops him.
- Hensen reports that Roosevelt wants to see him right away, so even though Ben wants to go home, he knows this can't wait.
- At the White House, President Roosevelt greets Ben with a happy grin.
- Ben's not sure what the guy is so excited about, but the President explains that Ben's a hero around here—everyone respects the work he did down in Eudora, and people have been talking about him non-stop.
- He explains to Ben that he didn't want to interfere before the trial, but now that it's over, he's going to make a big press statement that the whole thing was his idea. Roosevelt even says they're lucky the trial came along. Hooray.
- Ben can't believe what he's hearing. Sure the president sent him down there, but he was nowhere to be found when it came to the trial or getting justice…and now he wants to take all the credit? Ben's annoyed, and tells Roosevelt he doesn't want to stick around for this.
- Roosevelt is a little hurt, but he doesn't stop Ben from leaving.
- Ben leaves the White House with a huge weight lifted from his shoulders.
- He wishes he could do more for the people in Eudora, but he's given too much of himself already.
- He thinks of Abraham's last words to him—that he did "just fine"—and feels this is good enough for him.
- When he gets home, Ben's not sure what to expect.
- He opens the door and hears Alice's voice inside, then all three girls rush to hug him.
- Ben whispers to Meg that he'll never leave her again. And he never does.