Study Guide

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party Part 3, Chapter 4

By M.T. Anderson

Part 3, Chapter 4

  • A letter from Elijah Tolley to Mr. Gitney, May 6, 1775, Lincoln, Massachusetts:
  • Tolley describes to Mr. Gitney how his son found a "beast" in their smokehouse.
  • When Tolley gets there, he notices that it isn't an animal but a N**** boy, about fifteen or seventeen years old, who looks just about dead.
  • Tolley figures out that they boy is probably a gentleman's valet because he's dressed in fancy clothes.
  • He tells the boy that he's caught and points his gun at the boy, but Octavian (obviously it's him) just stands up.
  • And when he does, Octavian's so tall that Tolley gets scared.
  • He tells Octavian that he'll shoot, but that doesn't scare Octavian—in fact, that's what Octavian wants, and he puts his chest against the gun and asks Tolley to fire the gun.
  • But Tolley refuses to do it because it would be a sin.
  • But Octavian's not budging, so finally Tolley goes to hit him over the head, but Octavian fights him off and runs away.
  • Tolley and his son, along with their neighbors, try to catch him, but he escapes.
  • They look through the papers for ads and find Mr. Gitney's public notice about Octavian.
  • They figure it's him and apologize to Mr. Gitney about losing him, although they hope that they might get some financial reward for leading Mr. Gitney in the right direction.

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