Study Guide

Cold Mountain Chapter 13

By Charles Frazier

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Chapter 13

Bride Bed Full of Blood

  • Inman's wondering why they don't have McDonalds out here in the hill country. He does meet a man named Potts, who sends him to a cabin where a woman might give him a meal.
  • At first she hides from Inman. He is a big unshaven dude in dirty clothes at her door in the middle of nowhere, after all. But then he says that Potts sent him for a meal and she lets him in.
  • He offers to pay her for food, and she says that she's hard up but not so poor that she has to take money from people for a meal.
  • We learn that the woman is named Sara, that she has a small baby, and that she was married to a man named John, but he died in the war. Now she has very little.
  • Her family is dead, and while Potts seems to be a kind neighbor, he's not much help with work. Her whole hope of surviving the winter rests on the hog outside, but butchering it is a hard task for her alone.
  • Inman offers to help her with butchering the hog, and she says that she would feel bad unless she could do something for him in return. She offers to wash and mend his clothes if he'll help her. In the meantime, she lets him borrow her husband's clothes.
  • Inman goes out to sleep in the corncrib, but eventually the woman comes out to talk to him. She asks if he will sleep in her bed next to her but not do anything else.
  • Inman agrees, and she tells him more of her story. She and her husband loved each other and hoped to build a life here, and now she is grieving his death and impoverished.
  • The next day, when Inman had planned to help butcher the hog, she wakes him up and tells him to run. Men are approaching, and whether they're escaped Federals or the Home Guard, it will be bad for both of them if he's caught in her house.
  • He runs into the woods, but watches from a hidden point. The men are Federals. They threaten both the woman and the baby, trying to get her to give them money. They even tie her up. They're definitely bullies. Inman would try to defend Sara, but can't think of any way to do it that won't get them all killed.
  • She really doesn't have any money, which the Federals eventually come to believe. Finally, they take her chickens and hog and untie her. She says the hog is all they have for the winter, and that the soldiers might as well kill her and the baby now if they take it. They take it anyway.
  • Inman follows them secretly. When they stop for a break later, he tricks them through a series of ruses that convince them first that he is a bird they can hunt and then that he is elsewhere than he is.
  • Using these ruses, he kills them all. He isn't proud of himself, but he can't see any other way to get the hog back, and Sara probably won't make it through the winter without it.
  • He takes the hog and chickens back to Sara. They butcher the hog and have dinner.
  • Inman shaves, using equipment left by Sara's husband.
  • Sara sings to her baby that night, and she and Inman sleep in the same bed again before he leaves in the morning.

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