Nathaniel “Nat” Eaton is the son of the captain of the sailing ship the Dolphin. Always a mocking grin on his face, he is one of Kit’s potential suitors. The two have a playful, though at times antagonistic, relationship. Nat is friends with both Hannah and Prudence.
Though Kit entertains thoughts of marrying William Ashby, Nat is the novel’s best love match for Kit. Nat and Kit have similar values. Both befriend Hannah Tupper when they find themselves crying their eyes out in the meadow. (The difference being, of course, that Nat was only eight years old.) They both know more of the world than just Puritan New England. They both love books and have read the play The Tempest by Shakespeare. Ultimately, Kit and Nat both value peace, friendship, and a sense of home.
Nat and Kit’s personalities also match each other. Like Kit, Nat is headstrong, unpredictable, and at times, contradictory. He does, after all, get put in the stocks for illuminating William Ashby’s windows with jack-o-lanterns. Kit calls him a “contradictory person,” who is “always putting her at a disadvantage somehow, and yet, now and then, surprising her, letting her peek through a door that always seemed to slam shut again before she could actually see inside. She would never know what to expect next from him” (10.96).
Nat’s unpredictability is emphasized by his life on the sea: Nat is mobile and always traveling from one place to another. Kit’s feelings for Nat help her realize that home is any place where you are surrounded by the people you love:
If only I could go with Nat, she realized suddenly, it wouldn’t matter where we went, to Barbados or just up and down this river. The Dolphin would be home enough. (21.17)