Once again, we're plopped back in Camp Green Lake, past-style (one hundred and ten years ago). The town has a doctor named Dr. Hawthorn and an "onion man" named Sam, both of whom help out the townsfolk when they get sick.
Sam the onion man walks through the town with his donkey, Mary Lou, selling onions from a secret onion patch on the other side of the lake. (He gets there in a boat he made himself.)
Sam's onions, and the ointments and other medicines that he makes from them, are said to heal all kinds of ailments. Sam himself claims that eating raw onions makes for a long life.
We'll just trust him on that one, because we're sure not about to try. Shmoop is not a fan of raw onions: are you?
Sam is also good with his hands, and Miss Katherine makes a deal with him: he'll fix the leaky roof of the schoolhouse in exchange for some of her spiced peaches. The people in this book are all about trade-offs, huh?
This onion man of ours works on the roof in the afternoons after school lets out. He isn't allowed to attend the evening classes with the other townsfolk, because he's "a N****" (25.24). (This reminds us that we're way in the past here.)
While Sam fixes the roof and Katherine grades schoolwork, the two get to know each other pretty well. Sam likes poetry and learning, and they have a lot in common.
In fact, Miss Katherine keeps coming up with other things that need to be fixed around the schoolhouse so that she can spend more time with this guy. But one day, she can't find anything else that needs to be fixed.
In a pretty sad scene, she sits crying in the empty schoolhouse, missing Sam. But then she hears him outside with Mary Lou and his onion wagon. She runs out to him, and in an oh-so-sweet moment, they realize they're in love. (Cue sappy music.)
But don't get too cozy: the scene is quickly ruined by a townswoman who, seeing the two lovebirds, declares: "God will punish you!" (25.46)