The Pruitts eat dinner and head off to the first big gathering of the spring season, a dance over at Rodgers's store.
In the middle of the dance, word comes that a steamboat is at the landing. It's a big deal because the Union blockade of the Southern states is just taking effect, and the town depends on traffic and goods that come on the river.
T.W. Jenkins, who owns the other store, sends his employees, including Noah, to unload the boat.
The whole town follows along because a boat is a really big deal. Yeah, not a lot happens in Grand Tower.
The town is enthralled with the sight of a beautiful and elaborately dressed young woman coming down the plank.
Delphine Duval announces that she and her companion, Calinda, a young woman with dark skin, intended to travel to her aunt, Madame Blanche Leblanc, in St. Louis but feel it is too dangerous to go further up the river after they were insulted at the last stop in Cairo (that would be Illinois, not Egypt—the Mississippi River is not that long).
She asks for a hotel, but Mama steps in and invites her to stay with them since the hotel in Grand Tower wouldn't exactly get rave reviews on Yelp.
Delphine announces that she will pay board for herself and Calinda, and the Pruitts head home with them, everyone's head spinning a little.