The first thing we hear in this book is that the narrator Dana has had her arm crushed inside one of the walls of her house. We're not quite sure how this could happen, but it seems to be something Dana can't explain to the police or the hospital doctors. And away we go…
It turns out that Dana has the power to travel backward in time. The only problem is that she doesn't get to choose where she goes. Instead, she keeps travelling back to visit her ancestor Rufus Weylin, a young boy living on a Maryland slave plantation in 1815. Oh yeah, and Dana is black, so she's not walking into the friendliest of environments.
Dana quickly realizes that her trips backward in time are provoked by moments when Rufus is in mortal danger. Dana must travel back to save his life so that she can be born more than a hundred years later. The problem is that Dana really doesn't want to save Rufus, because he grows up to be a horrible slave owner himself. He thinks he's a good guy, but this delusion only makes him worse.
As the book unfolds, Dana realizes that she'll need to help Rufus have sex with one of his slaves (named Alice) if Dana ever plans on being born. So she goes through with this plan, even though she hates herself for it. All the while, Rufus whips and beats Dana whenever she disobeys him. He's really pushing his luck because Dana can choose not to save his life at any moment and can leave him for dead.
In the end, Dana decides to take things into her own hands and stabs Rufus to death. Luckily, her ancestor Hagar has already been born by this point, so she can kill Rufus without having to worry about whether she'll stop existing like Marty McFly.
Back in 1976, Dana goes with her husband Kevin to visit the remains of Rufus Weylin's plantation. She reads a newspaper article about how Rufus died in a fire and realizes that one of the slaves must have burned the house down to conceal Dana's murder of Rufus.
Kevin closes the book by saying he's glad Rufus is dead. And that's a wrap.
- The first line of the book tells us that the narrator has lost her arm on her last trip home. So… what kind of trip was it? Was she trying to get home through a war-torn country or something? What in the world is going on?
- See what Octavia Butler just did there? That's called hooking the reader…
- Anywho, the narrator also apparently lost a year of her life on her last trip home, too. We imagine this is just a figure of speech, but then again you never know. We know that someone named Kevin has been arrested by the police and then let go, but everything's still murky.
- Eventually, we find out that the narrator has been in the hospital after losing her left arm. The police assumed her husband Kevin had abused her and somehow crushed the arm, but they had to let him go because they have no clue how he could have done it.
- The narrator insists that her arm was crushed by getting stuck inside one of the walls of her house. Um, okay?
- According to Kevin, he just heard the narrator scream at one point and he ran downstairs to find the narrator screaming with her arm crushed inside a wall.
Chapter 1: The River
- The narrator takes us to the day of her twenty-sixth birthday, where she and her husband Kevin have just moved into a new house.
- When the narrator (named Dana) and Kevin take a break from packing, Dana suddenly feels dizzy and falls down. Everything around her goes blurry, then vanishes.
- Dana wakes up somewhere outdoors beneath a bunch of trees. She looks toward a nearby river and sees a red-haired child drowning in it. She runs to the kid and pulls him onto the shore, but it looks like he's already stopped breathing.
- When Dana reaches the shore, a woman (the kid's mother) shows up and tears the child (named Rufus) from her and screams that Dana has killed him. Dana quickly responds by taking the kid back and giving him mouth to mouth. But the mother doesn't seem to understand what Dana is doing. She showers Dana with punches while Dana tries to save the boy, and despite her meddling, Dana manages to bring the kid around.
- The next thing you know, Dana can hear a man's voice. She spins around and sees a man pointing a shotgun in her face. Then everything goes blurry again and she wakes up back in the present day with her husband Kevin standing over her and asking what the heck happened.
- Dana doesn't know, but she knows that whatever it was it almost killed her. Kevin thinks she just had a hallucination, even though he saw her disappear from the living room with his own eyes.
Chapter 2: The Fire
- Dana takes a shower and tries to get over the insane transportation thing that just happened to her. She has trouble taking her surroundings as real because she feels like they could disappear again at any second.
- Once Dana gets back to the living room, she feels dizzy and sits down. She reaches for the dining table, but it disappears before she can grab it.
- Dana wakes up sitting on a small green bed. She turns and sees a boy standing at the bedroom window and lighting the drapes on fire. Dana jumps up and beats the fire out of the drapes. Then she tells the boy he could have burned down the whole house if he hadn't been careful.
- The boy tells her not to talk to him like that. Then Dana realizes that the kid has red hair and that he might be the same kid she saved from drowning the last time she was transported. But this kid looks like he's several years older than the other kid would have been.
- Sure enough though, the kid tells her his name is Rufus. She asks him if he remembers a time when he almost drowned. This gets the kid's attention and he stares closely at her. He says he remembers her as the woman who saved him. She also realizes that Rufus had a vision of her in her dining room with her husband before she was transported.
- It's strange, but Dana has had to save Rufus' life both times she's traveled. But she gets sidetracked when she hears Rufus using some really racist language. She tells him not to talk that way and he just stares back at her in confusion.
- When Rufus starts talking about his daddy using a whip on black people, Dana becomes suspicious of where she's traveled to. She finds out that she's in Maryland instead of California, which is where she lives with her husband. Oh yeah, and she also finds out that it's the year 1815.
- Yup, so she has traveled not only across the country, but back in time to the days of slave plantations. Suddenly, Dana realizes that Rufus Weylin is the name of one of her very distant ancestors. She asks Rufus his last name and sure enough it's Weylin. So she has traveled back in time to save the life of her great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather.
- She never knew that this ancestor of hers was white, though. It turns out that her female ancestor Alice is a free black girl living in the area. Rufus says Alice is his friend, though Dana knows that they'll eventually grow up and have a baby girl named Hagar.
- Now Dana wonders if she is travelling back in time in order to save her ancestor and therefore herself, since she can't be born if Rufus doesn't grow up to have a baby with Alice.
- Rufus quickly tells Dana that she'll have to start acting like a slave and call white people master if she wants to avoid getting in trouble. But she's not willing to do it.
- Dana gets Rufus to help sneak her out of the house without being seen. She wants to know where she can find Alice's cabin in the woods because Alice and her mother are freed slaves and Dana thinks she can stay with them.
- Dana heads out into the woods and finds the cabin she's looking for. But before she can get there, she sees a gang of white men barge into the cabin, knock a woman unconscious, and drag out a black man kicking and screaming. They whip him nearly to death and drag him toward the Weylin house. Meanwhile, they leave behind a woman and her daughter (Alice). Dana approaches them after the men have left.
- Dana helps Alice's unconscious mother wake up. She asks the woman if she can stay with her for the night and the woman eventually agrees. It turns out that the black man who got dragged away was her husband. But he wasn't a free black like her, but a slave who was off his master's property without permission.
- Dana gets the mother and daughter inside the cabin before heading back outside to fetch a blanket.
- When she's out there, she runs into one of the white gang members who has come back looking for Alice's mom. He takes one look at Dana and tries to rape her. But she manages to grab hold of an old tree limb and knock him out with it. The dude is dead for all she knows. But just as she loses consciousness, she feels herself transporting again…
- Yup, Dana is back home in 1976 again. Kevin is hovering over her asking if she's alright. But she's so tired she passes out until the next morning.
- Dana wakes up and tells Kevin everything about travelling back to 1815 Maryland. They decide that, no matter what happens, the best thing to do is for Dana to tie a bag around her waist with some useful supplies in it. She also takes a switchblade with her. She also takes a map of Maryland in case she gets stuck in time and has to flee to the Northern U.S. to escape slavery.
- Kevin also figures out that Dana tends to come home whenever she's convinced her life is in danger, whether it was facing down Tom Weylin's shotgun the first time or fighting with the white rapist the second time.
Chapter 3: The Fall
- Dana gives us a flashback to how she and Kevin first met. They were working at crummy factory jobs and both trying to make livings as writers. Kevin kept asking her about what kinds of stuff she wrote, and she eventually fell into a relationship with him. This is the first time in the book that Dana informs us that Kevin is a white man. It turns out that people found an interracial relationship weird in 1976, although not as weird as people would have found it in 1815.
- When one of Kevin's novels made enough money to let him quit his job and write full-time, he asked her on a date because he didn't want to stop seeing her once he left the factory.
- Back in the present (1976), Dana rejects Kevin's offer to go to the library so they can forge her some fake "free slave" papers for the next time she time-travels. She doesn't want to go because she's worried about what'll happen if she transports while sitting in a moving car.
- Just as Kevin's about to go out, Dana feels that old sickening dizziness. Kevin runs to grab her and the two of them travel back in time together.
- Dana looks and sees Rufus lying on the ground with a black boy about his age, named Nigel, standing near him. Rufus has fallen and broken his leg. Dana gets Nigel to go find a wagon to take Rufus home.
- Dana decides to tell Rufus everything she knows about her time-travelling and where she's really from. Rufus has trouble understanding, but he eventually believes her after she tells him a few things that'll happen in the future and shows him a few coins from her time. It turns out that Rufus has also told Nigel about Dana in the past and how she appeared and vanished out of nowhere.
- Mr. Weylin shows up with a wagon and takes them all to his place. Then he asks Kevin to come with him (as a white man) while ordering Dana to go get something to eat with the rest of the slaves. Rufus wants Dana to stay with him, though, so Weylin agrees.
- After they've gotten Rufus settled, Mrs. Weylin orders Dana downstairs. She heads out to the cookhouse with a mute slave named Carrie.
- Out in the cookhouse, Dana realizes how much some of the slaves like to talk about their masters behind their backs. She tries to talk smack with them, but then they shut down because they don't trust her. She talks too much like white people for their liking.
- While she's eating, Dana can hear Rufus screaming from the house. It sounds like the doctor has arrived and is trying to reset his leg bone in its proper place. Dana remembers that doctors in 1815 don't necessarily know as much as doctors in her time.
- Dana talks to the cook named Sarah and finds out that Tom Weylin has sold off all of her children except one—Carrie. As you can imagine, this has left Sarah deeply resentful toward the Weylins. She especially blames Mrs. Weylin.
- Kevin comes outside and leads Dana away for a private chat. They decide it's best if Kevin stay as close to Dana as possible without raising too many eyebrows. If Dana transports back to 1976, she might leave Kevin behind if he's not holding onto her.
- In the meantime, Kevin has told Mr. Weylin that he is a writer who's out of money. Weylin has offered him a job to teach Rufus to read and write, so it looks like Kevin and Dana have a plan for the time being. But this also means that Dana will have to work like a slave alongside the others. Kevin doesn't like the idea, but it doesn't look like they have a choice.
- Dana decides that they should put as much effort as possible into raising Rufus to be a good non-racist person. That way he'll treat Dana well if she ever comes back and he's running the Weylin plantation.
- Days go by and Dana spends most of her energy trying to stay away from Margaret Weylin. The woman hates Dana and will do anything she can to make her life miserable. Dana also finds out that Margaret has been hitting on Kevin really hard and trying to get into his bed.
- Kevin insists that Dana sleep in his room with him, and he doesn't care what kind of scandal it will create in the house. He doesn't want Dana sleeping on the floor in a room full of slaves.
- Rufus wants Dana to read to him, so she picks out the novel Robinson Crusoe and starts reading. She tries to keep it secret though because the Weylins don't like educated slaves.
- After Dana is done reading, Rufus tells her that he told his mother that Dana was the same woman who saved him from the river when he was a kid. Mrs. Weylin said she didn't believe it, but Rufus knows that she knows in her heart that it's true.
- Dana runs into Tom Weylin when she steps into the hallway. He yells at her for reading to his son. Then he walks her down the hallway and asks her personal questions about when she was born and how many children she's had. It turns out that he's sizing her up because he's thinking about buying her from Kevin. It sounds like Mr. Weylin actually feels sorry for Dana for belonging to Kevin.
- Eventually, Mrs. Weylin gets so jealous of Dana sleeping in Kevin's room that she slaps Dana across the face.
- Dana goes to talk to Sarah the cook about Mrs. Weylin. Apparently, it was Margaret's idea to sell off all of Sarah's children. That's why Sarah has a real hate-on for Margaret. Sarah thinks that Dana can talk Kevin into freeing her as a slave, since she can see that Kevin loves Dana.
- Things go more smoothly until one day, Mr. Weylin catches Dana reading a book in his library and tells her never to do it again unless she's reading to Rufus.
- Later that day, Nigel asks Dana to teach him to read. And she does.
- One day, Dana passes some young black children and hears them playing a game. They're pretending to auction each other off at a slave fair. Dana is disgusted by the brutal life that these kids have to look forward to.
- One day, Rufus talks back to his father and his father punishes him by forbidding Dana to read to him for four days.
- Rufus' mom coddles him while he's being read to. One day, he explodes at her and tells her to leave him alone. His mother can't believe that he'd rather spend time with a black slave (Dana) than with her.
- Later on, Dana runs into the servant named Carrie and offers to teach her to read and write. These things would be especially useful for Carrie because she's mute.
- Dana sits down to teach Carrie and the boy Nigel to read and write. But wouldn't you know it? Tom Weylin comes barging in looking for help with something. He sees what Dana is doing and gives her a brutal whipping. Dana screams for Kevin, but he doesn't make it in time. She passes out and transports back to 1976 without him.
Chapter 4: The Fight
- Dana gives us another flashback to when she and Kevin first talked about moving in together. Kevin wanted her to get rid of some of her books so she could move in with him. She suggested that he get rid of some of his and he backed down on the request. They also got in a fight because Kevin wanted Dana to do some typing for him and she thought this work was beneath her.
- It turns out that neither Dana nor Kevin's families were pumped about the interracial marriage. Kevin's sister pretty much told him she wouldn't talk to him anymore. Dana's uncle felt like Dana was betraying her race by marrying a white guy.
- Eventually, Dana and Kevin got sick of dealing with their families and eloped to Las Vegas to get married.
- Dana brings us back to the present where she's awakened on her bathroom floor. She panics when she realizes that she left Kevin behind in 1815. Her back is still on fire from being whipped by Tom Weylin. She takes a bath to relieve the pain and to think about her situation.
- After a few days, Dana needs to call her cousin to buy groceries for her. The cousin sees her and assumes Kevin has been beating her. She's sad that Dana denies it because she assumes Dana is defending Kevin.
- Dana is home for eight days before her dizziness returns. She travels back to a forest and finds Rufus getting manhandled by a black man. It looks like the black man is going to beat Rufus to death. Nearby, a grown-up Alice Greenwood is crying and wearing a torn skirt. Dana can guess right away that Rufus tried to rape her and is getting a beating for it.
- Dana intervenes before the black man can kill Rufus. She tells the black man and Alice that they'll have no chance of surviving if they kill Rufus. She promises that she'll get Rufus to lie and say he was attacked by white men. So Alice and the black man (named Isaac) take off and Dana waits for Rufus to regain consciousness.
- When Rufus comes around, Alice gets him to promise that he'll tell his father that white men attacked him. Rufus doesn't like it, but he caves because Dana says she'll never help him again if he doesn't agree. At the same time, she secretly knows that Rufus has to get Alice pregnant with a daughter named Hagar if she (Dana) is ever going to be born.
- Dana can tell by Rufus' looks that several years have passed since she was last transported.
- She asks Rufus why he would try to rape Alice. Rufus blames Alice for the trouble by saying that everything would have been fine if she'd only stopped saying no to him. In other words, he thinks it's Alice's fault for getting raped because she wouldn't stop saying no to him. That's quite the logic, there...
- Dana goes to Rufus' house and fetches his father, who's super-annoyed by the way Rufus always gets himself into trouble. Oh yeah, and the old man isn't exactly comfortable to see Dana. After all, she disappeared right in front of his eyes last time her saw her (when he was whipping her).
- Rufus keeps his word to Dana and lies about being beaten up by white men instead of by Isaac. He also neglects to mention that Isaac and Alice have run away.
- Dana goes with Rufus to his room to take care of him. She finds out there that Rufus' mother has gone off to a mental hospital after a few bad childbirth experiences.
- Rufus warns Dana about making the same mistakes she made last time she was in 1815. She can't go around teaching slaves how to read and write or she might get herself killed.
- Dana gets Rufus to promise her he'll send a letter to Kevin telling him to come back. It sounds like five years have passed since Dana left Kevin behind in the past. He waited for years for her to come back, then left Maryland to travel North. Rufus is confident that Kevin can be called back to Maryland, though.
- Rufus starts leafing through a book that Dana brought back in time with her. It's a history book that talks all about the end of slavery in America. Rufus can't believe what he's reading. He tells Dana to throw the book in the fire because she'll be whipped if she's caught with it.
- Isaac and Alice are gone for four days before the authorities catch them. And it gets pretty gruesome after that. They cut off Isaac's ears for running away and sell him off to a slave trader. Rufus buys Alice at an auction, which means that she's his slave now and no longer a free woman.
- Dana has a conversation with Sarah the cook about slaves running away. Sarah doesn't want to hear about how some slaves make it to freedom. She's determined to make the most of her terrible situation and not to dream about anything more.
- At this time, Rufus rushes into the cookhouse and asks for Dana's help. He has brought Alice back to the plantation on a wagon and she looks as though she's about to die. It turns out that she got a very bad beating after being caught with Isaac. She uses stinging pickle brine to keep the wounds on Alice's back from being infected.
- Eventually, Dana figures it's been long enough for Kevin to have received her letter. She asks Rufus about it, but he's evasive and says it'll take time. Meanwhile, Dana takes care of Alice and nurses her back to health. Alice has some amnesia and she doesn't quite remember Rufus' attempt to rape her. Rufus wants to keep it that way.
- One day, Carrie goes into labor and starts having a baby. Dana has to hang out with Alice in the cook house while Sarah takes cares of things with Carrie. During the conversation, Alice recovers her memories of what Rufus did to her and what happened with Isaac losing his ears. She freaks out and wishes Dana had just let her die. Now she also has a murderous hate for Rufus.
- At this point, Dana can hear the cries of Carrie's baby.
- The next time Dana sees Rufus, she tells him that she wants to write another letter to Kevin. Rufus says it hasn't been long enough for Kevin to get the letter, but Dana insists.
- And here comes Rufus' dark side. Now he wants Dana to convince Alice to sleep with him. Basically, he says he'll make Dana and Alice's lives impossible if Alice doesn't give in. So Dana eventually gives up and goes to Alice. Let's not forget that she needs Alice to give in if she (Dana) is ever going to be born.
- Horribly enough, Dana goes to Alice and convinces her to stop resisting Rufus. Alice calls her a traitor to all black people. It's a pretty ugly scene, as you can imagine. But in the end, Alice goes to Rufus.
- A few days later, Alice hands Dana some papers she found in Rufus' bag. The papers are Dana's letters to Kevin, meaning that Rufus never mailed them. Dana decides to run away from the plantation when she finds out.
- When she's trying to flee, Rufus comes riding after her with his father. Someone must have tipped them off about Dana leaving. They catch her and Tom Weylin knocks her out by kicking her in the face.
- When Dana wakes up, she's tied up. Rufus tells her nothing would have happened if she'd only done what he said. Again, he blames a woman for getting hurt when he and his dad are clearly the ones doing the hurting.
- Mr. Weylin strings Dana up by her hands and gives her another whipping. This time though, she doesn't travel back to 1976 because she knows the whipping won't kill her. She just lives through the horrible pain.
- Later on, a slave named Liza apparently falls down and hurts herself. But the truth is that the other female slaves have beaten her senseless because they know she ratted out Dana when Dana was trying to escape.
- After Dana recovers from her whipping, Rufus calls her into his room and shows her a letter from Kevin saying that he's coming to the Weylin farm. It looks like Rufus' dad finally acted for Rufus and sent Dana's letters. Tom might even have a little more honesty in him than Rufus.
- Dana asks Rufus why he didn't send her letters, and he replies that he didn't want her to leave.
- The next day, Rufus and his father leave for town and the plantation's overseer forces Dana to do some washing. That afternoon, Rufus and his dad return with Dana's husband Kevin. Kevin has been living in the past for five full years now and the time has aged him badly. Kevin is slightly uncomfortable because he's gotten so used to the ways of the past and doesn't know how to act toward Dana.
- Kevin puts Dana on his horse and they ride away from the Weylin plantation. But once again, Rufus stands in the middle of the road to prevent Dana from leaving. He wants them to stay for dinner, but they try to ride past him. Then without warning, Rufus aims his rifle at both Kevin and Dana and orders them back into his house.
- Dana talks smack to Rufus until she's convinced he's going to shoot her. That's when she gets dizzy and passes out.
Chapter 5: The Storm
- After her run-in with Rufus' rifle, Dana transports back to her home in 1976. Luckily, Kevin has managed to grab a hold of her and come back with her.
- Kevin has a tough time readjusting to the modern world. He doesn't quite understand how his stove or TV work anymore, since it's been so long since he last saw anything like them. Kevin tells stories about how he was nearly caught helping slaves escape to the American North.
- Dana turns on the TV and watches the news, which shows a riot between black people and white people in South Africa. She figures that maybe some things never change as far as race goes.
- Dana later sits down for dinner with Kevin. But then she gets that sickening dizziness and disappears.
- Next thing you know, Dana is out during a rainy night and she finds Rufus passed out drunk and drowning in a puddle. She turns him over and drags him halfway back to his house.
- Dana goes to check on Rufus. It turns out that he's given himself as really bad cold by passing out in the rain. Dana helps nurse him back to health.
- After Rufus his better, Tom Weylin has a heart attack. Dana tries to save him but fails. Rufus blames her for not trying hard enough and sends her to do hard labor in the corn fields as punishment. He knows he's doing the wrong thing, but he does it anyway.
- Oh yeah, it turns out that, by this point, Rufus and Alice have had several children together. Alice is now pregnant again, and Dana hopes that the daughter will be her own ancestor Hagar.
- Working in the corn fields is hard on Dana. She comes to almost hate Rufus for making her work in them, especially when she knows Rufus has no good reason. He's just being a child.
- Eventually, the work is too much. Dana falls face-first into the dirt and passes out.
- When she wakes back up, Rufus is standing over her and asking her to walk back to the house with him. He tells her that she should stop making him do such terrible things to her. Again, Rufus always blames the victim for forcing him to do bad things.
- As if Rufus weren't already pushing his luck, he wants Dana to become his mother's personal caretaker. Now that Tom Weylin is dead, Rufus wants his mother to move home from the mental hospital in Baltimore. In case you don't remember, this woman always hated Dana. So Dana isn't totally eager to spend time with her. She agrees in the end though.
- Dana tends obediently to Mrs. Weylin. One day, Alice is so sick of Dana being such a spineless slave that she criticizes her.
- Later, Dana needs to go think in the woods, even though she knows she could get into big trouble for wandering off on her own. She sees a train of slaves being led away from Rufus' house by a group of white men with guns. They look like slave buyers. Dana recognizes one of the slaves and realizes that Rufus must have sold her.
- Rufus shows up and orders Dana to get away from the slaves. She argues with him and shames him for selling off Tess. Rufus says that the slaves are his property and he'll do whatever he wants with them.
- Dana goes off by herself and runs into Carrie. She tells Carrie about how she feels like a traitor to all black people, but Carrie comforts her.
- Later on, Rufus needs Dana to write some persuasive letters to buy some leeway from the people he owes money to.
- After leaving Rufus, Dana goes to the cookhouse and runs into Alice. They talk about how badly Rufus wants to keep both of them around for different purposes. He wants Dana because he needs someone to talk to and he wants Alice to have sex with.
- Dana keeps waiting on the plantation to see if Alice's next baby will be her ancestor Hagar. She probably figures that the moment her ancestor is born is the moment she can let Rufus die.
- Dana finds out later on that Alice has asked Rufus to set free the children he and Alice have had together. He keeps saying he'll think about it. Finally, Alice tells Dana that she's going to run away with her children. Dana thinks this is a really bad idea.
- Alice sticks around until her baby is born. Sure enough, it's a girl and she names it Hagar, despite Rufus' protests.
- Not long after Hagar's birth, Alice asks Dana to get her some things to help her escape the plantation. Dana is certain that Alice and her children will die or be tortured when they're caught. She talks Alice out of leaving, and Alice yells bitterly at her for being such a traitor. She still claims she'll leave eventually if she doesn't see Rufus draw up some freedom papers for her children.
- Meanwhile, a slave named Sam starts chatting up Dana and paying attention to her. She warns him that, if he doesn't stop, Rufus is going to sell him away. Sam decides to take his chances. He wants to know if Dana is sleeping with Rufus, and he doesn't quite believe Dana when she says no.
- Days later, Rufus sells Sam to a slave trader. Dana curses Rufus for being such a horrible person, but he doesn't bend. That's the last anyone ever sees of Sam.
- Dana is so fed up that she runs a hot bath and slashes her wrists.
Chapter 6: The Rope
- Dana wakes up in her bed in 1976 with Kevin hovering over her. She finds her wrists are bandaged, which means Kevin must have gotten to her quickly after she came back to 1976. Apparently, the doctor that stitched up Dana's arms wants her to see a psychiatrist because she appears suicidal. Go figure.
- Kevin wants Dana to promise him that if and when she goes back in time again, she will let Rufus die. Dana is still scared that if she does, though, all the other slaves will be sold off.
- Dana is home this time for fifteen full days. Kevin is obsessed with asking about whether Dana has ever been raped. She keeps telling him no and says she resents being interrogated.
- Eventually, Dana travels back in time. She wakes up and gets kicked in the stomach. Rufus is nearby and he wants to know why Dana is there. Rufus doesn't seem to be in trouble, so Dana and he both want to know why she's there.
- Rufus leads Dana out to his barn. Hanging dead from one of the rafters is Alice. She has killed herself because she thought Rufus had sold her children to a slave trader. Rufus tells Dana that he only said he had done this to scare Alice into being more obedient. Well, it looks like the trick backfired royally.
- Sarah the cook wants to murder Rufus when she hears the news. But she just pushes her anger back down inside herself.
- Dana goes back to Rufus in his library and finds him fondling a handgun. It looks like he's thinking about shooting himself.
- They have a funeral for Alice the next day. Rufus brings his children back to see their mother one last time. Dana is disgusted by all of it.
- After the funeral, Rufus gets Dana alone and talks about how scared he is that she'll leave him someday and let him die. He gets really up in Dana's face and even grabs her. Dana realizes that he's going to try and rape her, so she grabs a knife and kills Rufus.
- The slave named Nigel comes into the office and sees what Dana has done. He panics and runs toward Dana. But Dana gets dizzy and starts to disappear. Then right at the end of the chapter, she feels a screaming, crushing pain in her arm. The arm seems to be merging with a wall.
- Now we return to the opening scene of the book, where Dana talks about losing her arm. When she travelled back to 1976 for a last time, her arm reappeared inside one of her house's walls and was crushed and later amputated.
- Dana and Kevin travel to Maryland as soon as Dana feels well enough (after losing her arm). They go to where the Weylin plantation should be standing, but Dana can't find it.
- They go check out some newspaper articles and see that the Weylin plantation burned down on the same day Dana murdered Rufus. Dana figures that Nigel must have set fire to the house to conceal what Dana had done. Dana can't find any evidence of what happened to Rufus' slaves after he "died in the fire."
- Dana and Kevin both end the book by saying they're glad Rufus Weylin is dead. So, just in case you had some sympathy for the guy, this book wants to encourage you not to.