Study Guide

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing: Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party Part 4, Chapter 12

By M.T. Anderson

Part 4, Chapter 12

  • They're all back in the lab room—you know, the room where Cassiopeia was dissected.
  • Only now the room is also full of couches and tea settings.
  • Octavian hobbles in like a geisha girl.
  • The people in the room are: Mr. Gitney, Mr. Sharpe, and Mr. Trefusis.
  • Mr. Trefusis is sitting in the back of the room, with his chair tilted; he looks totally without worries.
  • Then Mr. Gitney starts.
  • He goes on about how Phaeton flew too close to the sun—against his father's orders—and fell from the sky, and that's how Africans became black, because Phaeton burned the earth and the Africans on his way down.
  • What's Mr. Gitney's point?
  • Octavian doesn't care; he only wants to know what they're going to do with him.
  • Now it's Mr. Sharpe's turn, and he's way more direct.
  • He says that Octavian's made a big mess for them.
  • Octavian points out that they may call themselves the "Sons of Liberty," but they're total hypocrites.
  • Mr. Sharpe though thinks it's all okay though—their cause is so they can all be free of the Brits.
  • But Mr. Gitney doesn't totally agree; he feels badly and tells Octavian that they don't actually believe in slavery.
  • But you know, if they were to free Octavian, Mr. Gitney would have to pay a huge price and he just doesn't have that kind of money to throw around.
  • Mr. Sharpe interrupts and starts a really long lecture about how slavery is necessary to America's economy and how, without it, America would totally collapse.
  • Plus there's all this evidence that blacks are inferior—after all, they have all that data from Octavian's youth.
  • Octavian groans at this point (we don't blame him).
  • Mr. Gitney tries to interrupt and tell Octavian they didn't mean anything by the experiment, but he just can't stop Mr. Sharpe from going on.
  • It's a good thing Dr. Trefusis jumps in and asks if anyone wants tea.
  • Mr. Sharpe is going on about how this is all about the Great Chain of Being, which Octavian's really not hot about because—after all—he knows all about chains.
  • Mr. Sharpe and Octavian have a back-and-forth about whether slavery is all about business and profit, and Octavian points out that he's never gotten any profit from slavery and that he never agreed to sell his body for profit either.
  • Dr. Trefusis really wants to pour the tea at this point.
  • Mr. Sharpe and Mr. Gitney both drink the tea that Dr. Trefusis poured.
  • The argument between Mr. Sharpe and Octavian continues, to the point that Mr. Sharpe orders the Irish boys to come back in and put the iron mask back on Octavian's head.
  • While Mr. Sharpe continues to speak, Octavian falls on the ground and starts vomiting into the mask.
  • While Mr. Sharpe goes on and on, he drinks his tea.
  • Octavian notices something strange though—Mr. Gitney is trying to talk but can't, and he's also trying to move, but seems unable to do so.
  • In fact, he's starting to convulse behind Mr. Sharpe (who's still talking).
  • But even Mr. Sharpe is starting to act weird—his speech is faltering, and he trips over Mr. Gitney, who's now on the floor like a slug.
  • Mr. Sharpe turns to Dr. Trefusis and says "The tea."
  • Yup—Dr. Trefusis, wily guy that he is, drugged Mr. Sharpe and Mr. Gitney with the tea.
  • Mr. Sharpe's seriously delusional now and thinks he's in heaven, so Dr. Trefusis wryly notes that Mr. Sharpe has earned his wings, and then Mr. Sharpe and Mr. Gitney fall asleep.
  • Dr. Trefusis frees Octavian's feet and face, and together they tie up the other two men.
  • Octavian still has the shackles on his wrists because, as he points out, it'll be easier for them to escape if he looks like he's not free.
  • Dr. Trefusis sees his point and gets him out of the house and into a carriage (all the while cracking philosophical jokes—this guy's got a wicked sense of humor).
  • A couple of the Young Men stop Dr. Trefusis before he and Octavian get into the carriage.
  • They want to know what's up with Mr. Gitney, so Dr. Trefusis tells them not to bother Mr. Sharpe and Mr. Gitney since they're busy in the lab.
  • The Young Men say they'll wait—but not for long.
  • Dr. Trefusis and Octavian get away finally, but they definitely don't have much time.
  • Dr. Trefusis tells the driver that they're heading to Worcester, but that's just a false trail—he's about to redirect the driver to Cambridge.
  • The plan is to go from Cambridge and into Boston (Brit territory), but Octavian points out that they should really go to Roxbury or Dorchester instead because there's a floating fort full of Patriots at Cambridge so they could get caught more easily there.
  • Dr. Trefusis is excited—ah, a strategic mind. He's incredibly happy that Octavian's with him, and they go to Roxbury instead.
  • When they get to Roxbury, Dr. Trefusis pays the driver and tells him that Mr. Gitney doesn't need the carriage for another day.
  • Octavian's starting to feel calm, and he can feel his brain working clearly.
  • His plan is this: Get into Boston, find an inn, then a position in the Brits' military orchestra, get some money from that, and then find some more permanent housing.
  • He knows that once they're settled, he'll get some other ideas.
  • Dr. Trefusis and he hide in the bulrushes, to wait until late at night when there aren't any militiamen around.
  • While they're waiting, Octavian points out that they're not actually in the rushes—they're in the middle of grass.
  • He knows this because Mr. Gitney taught him all about these plants.
  • Dr. Trefusis starts cracking up (it is a pretty funny moment), and he says Octavian's a gem and that it would be an honor if he could be by Octavian's side.
  • Finally the moment comes.
  • Dr. Trefusis and Octavian run to the water and swim toward Boston.
  • Octavian doesn't know what he's running toward; he doesn't even really know what freedom means or what his future will look like—he only knows that he and Dr. T. are running toward a clear goal.
  • They leave the Patriots behind.
  • It's all about the city in front of them now…

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