Study Guide

The Unvanquished Chapter 7: An Odor of Verbena

Chapter 7: An Odor of Verbena

Section 1

  • Bayard is now off at school in Oxford, Mississippi. One day he gets word from Ringo that his father is dead.
  • They ride back home and Ringo offers to go kill John's murderer, but Bayard refuses.

Section 2

  • Bayard remembers a time that he and Drusilla had walked in the garden and talked about the dreams of the Southern men they had known. Dreams to build up a country.
  • Bayard had argued that his father had killed too many people to see any possibility for good for the poor people who lived around him. But Drusilla said that he was right to kill the northern invaders.
  • Four years later, the summer before his father's death (we're still in a flashback), they had walked again in the garden. John had been busy working as state legislator after beating Ben Redmond in the race.
  • John had bullied Redmond, provoking him and calling him a coward. That's one way to legislate.
  • During the walk, Drusilla had asked Bayard to kiss her, and he did after protesting.
  • Afterward he confesses to his father, but John doesn't really seem to care. Guess that's what happens when you put an election before your own wedding.

Section 3

  • When Ringo and Bayard get home, there are a bunch of men there to receive them. George Wyatt, a friend of John's, offers to take care of it for Bayard, but he says that he'll do it himself.
  • Bayard sends all the men home and goes into the house. Drusilla and his Aunt Jenny, his father's sister, and Louvinia are all there.
  • Drusilla gives him two pistols and speaks poetically about justice and retribution. She kisses his hand, but suddenly seems to realize that Bayard doesn't have the same lust for revenge that she does, and starts laughing hysterically.
  • Aunt Jenny has Louvinia take Drusilla upstairs, and then tells Bayard that he doesn't have to kill Redmond.
  • Then she leaves him alone, and he "pants" from regret and grief and despair. Yes, pants.

Section 4

  • In the morning Ringo and Bayard get the horses ready, and then he (Bayard) says goodbye to Aunt Jenny.
  • Then he goes upstairs to see Drusilla, but she is still upset about having kissed his hand and Louvinia takes him back downstairs. There, Aunt Jenny tells him the story of an Englishman she knew in Charleston who only knew seven words: "I'll have rum, thanks" and "No bloody moon."
  • She repeats "No bloody moon" to Bayard, which is kind of weird and cryptic, if you ask us.
  • Ringo and Bayard ride into town, and a bunch of John's friends are waiting there for them.
  • Bayard goes into Redmond's office on his own, but before he does he says, "No bloody moon" to George Wyatt. He doesn't get it either.
  • Bayard walks right into Redmond's law office, and Redmond shoots at him twice, but misses. Then John's murderer runs out of the building and jumps on a southbound train. We can pretty much guess he's never coming back.
  • The whole gang charges in and figures out that Bayard walked in unarmed and was shot at, which seems to be a strange thing to do but acceptably brave enough to count as trying to avenge his father's death.
  • Bayard heads back home with Ringo. Before getting there, Bayard falls asleep down by the creek. He wakes up crying, and Ringo washes his face with creek water.
  • He goes back up to the house, where Aunt Jenny tells him that Drusilla has gone to Denny's house in Alabama. He sits down next to his aunt and she cries, cursing the Sartorises.
  • Bayard goes to his room and imagines that Drusilla is still there because the house still smells like verbena, the flower she liked.
  • That's quite a family.