Study Guide

Year of Wonders Chapter 10

By Geraldine Brooks

Chapter 10

Among Those That Go Down to the Pit

  • The ladies return to the rectory to find that the sexton has died, leaving Mr. Mompellion with the burden of burying bodies. They worry that he'll expend all of his energy soon.
  • Jakob Merrill dies the next day. Mompellion has convinced him to name Brand as one of his successors to reward him for his loyalty and ensure protection for his family.
  • Using a lamb from her flock, Anna bribes her father, Josiah Bont, to help Mompellion bury bodies. He does so, though he grumbles like a fiend.
  • Things get crazy busy as winter drags on. Elinor and Anna have created some useful medicines to both mitigate the effects of the plague and limit its spread.
  • March begins with bad news: Mr. Mompellion has "surrendered to the inevitable" (2.10.28) and closed the church. Instead, services will be held beside the river.
  • The next day, Elinor and Anna share gossip about the Wickfords, a family of Quakers who live outside the village.
  • George Wickford, the father, had a mine that he claimed for the family. Then, the plague came, killing everyone but his youngest daughter, Merry.
  • Due to English law, failing to extract ore from a mine leaves it open to repossession by any individual who wants it. The shady David Burton is doing just that.
  • Anna and Elinor visit Merry and tell her that they will extract the ore for her, despite never having mined before. At least Anna has Sam's old equipment.
  • Anna and Elinor go down into the mine, have a panic attack or two, and utterly fail to extract a meaningful amount of ore. That's three strikes, peeps.
  • Anna has a plan, however. Miners are able to create mini-explosions by heating and cooling rocks in a rapid fashion. This happens to be the technique that killed Sam.
  • Anna forces Elinor to leave and then does her business. There's a massive kaboom, and Anna is buried in rocks. Well, that's the end. We're sure of it.
  • Nah. It turns out that Merry and Elinor both refused to follow Anna's directions and returned to the mine. They manage to save her, though she's pretty beaten up.
  • The looks on the miners' faces when the women drop off the ore is priceless.