"Dread Nation" by Justina Ireland, Prologue–Chapter 4

The American Civil War ends abruptly when fallen soldiers begin to rise from the dead and attack the living. Like many Native American and African American children, Jane is conscripted into a combat school to learn to fight these so-called "shamblers." But when Jane heads to the West to search for a missing girl, she encounters dangers even more perilous than zombies.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Prologue–Chapter 4, Chapters 5–9, Chapters 10–15, Chapters 16–23, Chapters 24–29, Chapters 30–38
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definitions & notes only words
  1. swoon
    pass out from weakness or physical or emotional distress
    And then, depending what kind of mood she’s in when she’s telling it, my momma either demanded to hold me, her cooing baby, or she swooned and the villainous midwife gave me over to Auntie Aggie, who cleaned me up and put me into an ivory bassinet until one of the mammies could suckle me.
  2. remiss
    failing in what duty requires
    It is coming up on my third anniversary here at Miss Preston’s, and although I have not received a letter from you in quite some time, I felt that I would be remiss in letting such an important anniversary pass without acknowledgment.
  3. scythe
    an edge tool for cutting grass
    Sweat pours down between my bosoms, and my arms ache from the weight of the scythe.
  4. sickle
    an edge tool for cutting grass or crops
    When Miss Duncan said we’d be doing close-combat training I’d been expecting to work through some drills with the sickles, which everyone in Miss Preston's School of Combat for Negro Girls knows is my best weapon.
  5. revenant
    someone who has returned from the dead
    Perhaps she’s a revenant, like the creature in Mr. Alexander Westing’s latest weekly serial “The Ghost Knocks Thrice.”
  6. smattering
    a small number or amount
    Next to her stands a smaller girl with pale skin and a smattering of freckles, her hair in pigtails.
  7. armory
    a structure where military equipment is stored
    I ain’t in the mood to play show pony, so I file into the building with the other girls, heading back to the armory to secure our weapons.
  8. imposing
    impressive in appearance
    She’s the tallest of us here, big and dark and imposing, with arms like John Henry.
  9. staunch
    firm and dependable especially in loyalty
    But she is also from Virginia, and I ain’t had much cause to like Virginians. Partly because most of them are Baptists and Momma ain’t too keen on Baptists, being a staunch Presbyterian and all.
  10. sully
    place under suspicion or cast doubt upon
    “First off, they ain’t deathless—they're dead. That’s it. Just because they happen to run around terrorizing the countryside doesn’t make them anything but the walking corpses they are. Anyone who says otherwise is a fool and wouldn’t know a shambler if it held him down and bit him, including this professor character. Second, I’d be much obliged if you would keep my name out your mouth. The last thing I want is you sullying it with your silliness.”
  11. melee
    a noisy riotous fight
    Beside them are my batons, short wooden clubs with a metal spike in the weighted end and a leather thong at the bottom, a last resort in the case of a melee.
  12. vagrant
    a wanderer with no established residence or means of support
    “Jane McKeene, stop loitering in the doorway like a vagrant and come in.”
  13. bode
    indicate by signs
    “You’re here because your progress in your etiquette training is inadequate. In addition, Miss Anderson tells me she found you sneaking in newspapers yet again. As you are already on probation for previous infractions, these latest shenanigans don’t bode well for your continued enrollment here.”
  14. respite
    a pause for relaxation
    Still, I thought I might've had a bit of respite before I was going to be marched into Miss Preston's office.
  15. admonish
    scold or reprimand; take to task
    The smile that had been ghosting across Miss Anderson’s face while Miss Preston admonished me drops off real quick, and Miss Anderson’s usual sourpuss face reappears.
  16. indignant
    angered at something unjust or wrong
    I sniff, indignant.
  17. calico
    coarse cloth with a bright print
    Miss Preston surges to her feet, a mountain of calicos and lace.
  18. sardonic
    disdainfully or ironically humorous
    “Your sardonic nature has worn through Miss Anderson's tolerance, Jane. I spoke to a few of the other girls about their most recent examination, and I fear you are correct in your estimation of Miss Anderson's faithlessness. The questions she submitted for you were far more difficult than those of your peers.”
  19. faithless
    having the character of a traitor; disloyal
    “Your sardonic nature has worn through Miss Anderson's tolerance, Jane. I spoke to a few of the other girls about their most recent examination, and I fear you are correct in your estimation of Miss Anderson's faithlessness. The questions she submitted for you were far more difficult than those of your peers.”
  20. perfidy
    betrayal of a trust
    When I'd said all that nonsense about perfidy, I'd been telling a yarn, hoping that I could distract everyone from my questionable manners.
  21. coddle
    treat with excessive indulgence
    I have no interest in working as a show pony for some coddled white lady, but an Attendant Certificate from Miss Preston’s means I can go wherever I want.
  22. modality
    a particular functioning condition or arrangement
    “All of that having been said, you have some of the highest competency scores in the combat modalities. So I’m going to reassign your etiquette instruction to Miss Duncan, since she has some free time in her schedule. As for this most recent failure...I think it would behoove you to attend the lecture at the university tonight with Miss Duncan’s group. Get some real-world experience as to how a Miss Preston’s girl conducts herself.”
  23. behoove
    be appropriate or necessary
    “All of that having been said, you have some of the highest competency scores in the combat modalities. So I’m going to reassign your etiquette instruction to Miss Duncan, since she has some free time in her schedule. As for this most recent failure...I think it would behoove you to attend the lecture at the university tonight with Miss Duncan’s group. Get some real-world experience as to how a Miss Preston’s girl conducts herself.”
  24. flounce
    a strip of pleated material used as a decoration or a trim
    She is tucked into a pretty blue frock with a big flounce in the back.
  25. bravado
    a swaggering show of courage
    I take a deep breath and muster up all my bravado.
  26. pinafore
    a sleeveless dress resembling an apron
    She wears a flowered dress with a pinafore and her mouth gapes, a toothless black hole.
  27. bauble
    cheap showy jewelry or ornament on clothing
    Momma used the baubles to buy several hogs, and that was how Rose Hill came to have pork chops every Sunday after the Scripture was read.
  28. roil
    be agitated
    My stomach surged and gurgled, roiling with hot dread.
  29. maw
    informal terms for the mouth
    Joe was standing right where he’d been, not moving, frozen in the path of the dead woman and her gaping maw.
  30. hallowed
    worthy of religious veneration
    Momma, you would not believe the camaraderie and esprit de corps in these hallowed halls.
  31. cheeky
    offensively bold
    I'm wondering why science is a better discussion topic than politics, but I don’t say anything because that would be entirely too cheeky.
  32. wrought
    shaped to fit by altering the contours of a pliable mass
    The wrought iron is painted black.
  33. shindig
    a large and noisy party of people
    No way colored folks would be allowed at a Survivalist shindig.
  34. derby
    a felt hat that is round and hard with a narrow brim
    Jackson swaggers up, his derby pulled low over his eyes.
  35. solemnity
    a trait of dignified seriousness
    I blink, because I ain't used to such solemnity from Jackson.

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