Study Guide

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party Part 3, Chapter 5

By M.T. Anderson

Part 3, Chapter 5

  • It's the first letter of a series from Private Evidence Goring to his sister Fruition (or Shun, for short)—and yes—those are really their names.
  • This letter is dated May 11, 1775.
  • Priv. Goring describes what high spirits he has, marching along the road.
  • He's a militiaman, passionate about the war against the Brits, and he tells Fruition to send word to their family that all is well and to pass a couple of loving messages from some hometown friends in the militia to their family members.
  • He describes two guys who keep picking at their blisters.
  • Then he asks after their mother.
  • Finally he gets to the meaty part of the letter—how the Kedron company (that's the name of his group) met with Octavian.
  • The company stops at an inn for a night and listens to a fiddler play music on a fiddle fashioned out of what looks like spare furniture parts.
  • The fiddler, by the way, is Octavian, so of course everyone is completely wowed by his music.
  • The only thing is, his music is incredibly sad—even the happy songs sound sad.
  • The innkeeper isn't down with this downer, and tells him to play something happy, but Octavian just can't play the music the way the innkeeper wants him to.
  • So the innkeeper says he's withholding dinner from Octavian.
  • Poor Octavian—that's what all the guys in the Kedron company think at least.
  • In fact, Captain Draper of the company offers to pay for Octavian's dinner and asks him to play the last song again.
  • When it's time to sleep, the men of the company notice that the innkeeper is still on Octavian's case.
  • This time, the innkeeper has him sleep outside and berates Octavian for having a bad cough.
  • The men feel bad for Octavian so they convince Captain Draper (the "Kindest of Men!") to hire Octavian as their company musician.
  • They give him a fife (a small flute), which—even though he's never played one before—Octavian plays well.
  • Captain Draper even gives him a pep talk about how all men, slave or not, have to stand together for Liberty (yes, a big "L") against the Brits because Parliament protected and had interests in the slave trade.
  • As a result, Octavian joins the company as their music man and does a good job of making everyone happy.
  • The company passes a lot of other companies along the way, until they get to a place called Menotomy, where—in the middle of a road—a guy sits at a desk waiting for them.
  • He basically organizes the companies—tells them where to go or what supplies to pick up.
  • Another guy appears from a shed on the side of the road and tells the Kedron company to go north to the shoreline, where they'll meet up with the New Hampshire company and wait for orders.
  • Their goal will be to take over a town called Dulwich.
  • At this point, Goring ends his letter because it's time for him to sleep.
  • Except for a final note: He wants Shun to tell some girl they know called Liz that he's a great brother and a fine man, full of all those great qualities you want in a nice guy.
  • Then he showers the love on his sister and signs off.

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