Chapters 6–10

In order to repay a debt, twelve-year-old Charlie agrees to help the cruel Cap'n Buck to capture several fugitive slaves. But when Charlie is confronted with the horrors of slavery, he is forced to reconsider his plans.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. hitch
    connect to a vehicle
    We give the cap’n a hour to make sure he wasn’t gonna double back, then I hitched Spangler to the wagon and pulled it from behind the shed.
  2. cringe
    draw back, as with fear, pain, or embarrassment
    I ain’t sure if it was the way Ma’s face twisted so’s she had the same look that Grandma did the day she died, or if the highness of her shriek was what made me draw up and cringe.
  3. astride
    with one leg on each side
    Sure ’nough, there, sitting astride his horse not ten yards from us, was Cap’n Buck, his eyes crinkling up in a horrible smile!
  4. recoil
    the backward jerk of a gun when it is fired
    The second shot belched out the barrel with a ball of sparks and a flame that lit up the front of the wagon. It was a good thing Ma was gripping on to it with both hands; the recoil sent the gun jumping o’er her head.
  5. graze
    scrape gently
    The sixth shot grazed my pants leg gentle as a kitten rubbing itself ’gainst my shin.
  6. plumb
    She was plumb outta bullets and the click-click-click of the dry-firing pistol echoed ’gainst the trees ’round the cabin.
  7. puny
    inferior in strength or significance
    I said, “No, sir, that’s kind of you, but we don’t need no help. We’s heading o’er to Auntie May-May’s jus’ up the road for a week or two to try and get Ma better. She been feeling puny lately and—”
  8. inkling
    a slight suggestion or vague understanding
    Well, I’ve been blessed with what’s knowed as the seventh sense. I gets these inklings when someone’s plotting ’gainst me, this kind of itching in my skin when plans is getting laid to do me or mine wrong.
  9. hostile
    characterized by enmity or ill will
    Maybe it’s jus’ me, but that do seem to go right past being unfriendly; that go all the way to being downright hos-tile.
  10. yokel
    a person who is not intelligent or interested in culture
    I can see them yokels debating with one the ’nother ’bout what was the ’mount of shots they could take at the ol’ cap’n without suffering no repa-cussions.
  11. repercussion
    a remote or indirect consequence of some action
    I can see them yokels debating with one the ’nother ’bout what was the ’mount of shots they could take at the ol’ cap’n without suffering no repa-cussions.
  12. befuddled
    perplexed by many conflicting situations or statements
    And imagine how befuddled gonna be when it come to using a double-barrel shotgun?
  13. sully
    place under suspicion or cast doubt upon
    “How’s I s’pose to let you live after you done sullied my rep-a-tation so?”
  14. vile
    morally reprehensible
    I yelled at him, “They all say you’s the sickest, most vile piece of white-trash garbage on this earth. They say your ma was a skunk and your pa was a rat. They say there’s a special spot in the bad place a-waiting the day you gets what you deserves. That’s what they say, you stanking piece of human filth.”
  15. deserts
    an outcome (good or bad) that is well merited
    He tolt Ma, “The only reason I ain’t put you down is ’cause if I was to give you your jus’ deserts, this boy would hate me so much that he wouldn’t be no good to me.”
  16. transgression
    the violation of a law or a duty or moral principle
    So I’m gonna be a good businessman and a good Christian and forgive your transgressions and hope y’all’ll forgive mine.
  17. flush
    having an abundant supply of money or possessions of value
    Big Charlie bought Spangler back when we was flush, paid near a hunnert dollars for him.
  18. sire
    have offspring
    “That’s what I remembered, sired by...”
    Ma said, “He was sired by Grand Sha-vois!”
  19. bluff
    deceive someone about your strength or intentions
    “You’s bigger than most full-growed men. If you keep your hat pulled low and your mouth shut, all I really need is someone to bluff folks and gimme another set of eyes to make sure don’t nothing go wrong behind my back.”
  20. atone
    make amends for
    “But they ’bout to get a big surprise; justice sleeps but not for long and one day when it wake up, all sins is atoned for.”
  21. redeem
    restore the honor or worth of
    He said, “What you gonna do, boy? How smart is you? Is we gonna settle this right on the spot”—he took the pistol off of Ma and put it on me—“or is you gonna take advantage of this chance I’m giving you? Is you gonna re-deem your pa’s good name?”
  22. keen
    demonstrating ability to recognize or draw fine distinctions
    As I’m sitting there trying to figger what to do, my ears got keen to every sound in the forest, to the birds and the crickets, to the wind in the trees and the toady-frogs and whatever it was that was rooting ’round behind ’em trees.
  23. cuff
    hit with the hand
    I couldn’t walk by the shed without ’membering that it was here that me and him had done this or that together, or that it was o’er there that he’d cuffed me for being hard-headed...
  24. plod
    walk heavily and firmly, as when weary, or through mud
    Plodding ’long behind the cap’n was keeping all ’em worries and thoughts at bay, but it was also giving me a ’preciation ’bout me and Ma’s talk ’bout working in the fields.
  25. frail
    physically weak
    I knowed if push come to shove and the boat was going down and the life rafts was full but for one seat and there was a frail old Virginny lady or some young ’un looking to take it, it would sound a powerful lot like suicide to me if I didn’t get involved in some type of tussling for the last seat.
  26. mirth
    great merriment
    For the first time since we’d been traveling, the cap’n laughed a real laugh and said, “And with that bit of mirth I’m gonna read my Bible..."
  27. righteous
    morally justified
    That means the righteous, Christian thing about going north with Cap’n Buck is that by bringing thieves back to pay for their sins, we’s helping to right a great wrong.
  28. odoriferous
    emitting a smell, especially an unpleasant smell
    I couldn’t tell you where that peculiarity come from ’cause don’t neither Pap nor Ma get bothered by being around folk that’s smelling ripish. Or, truth tolt, they don’t get upset by being odoriferous their own selfs.
  29. brook
    put up with something or somebody unpleasant
    You best watch yourself boy, I ain’t use to brooking no sass from no youngsters, I don’t care how big you is.
  30. frock
    a one-piece garment for a woman; has skirt and bodice
    We both gived a yell, and Ma reached down to get her frock with her right hand and, spreading the fingers on her left hand, she put ’em ’crost her chest.
  31. flummox
    be a mystery or bewildering to
    I ain’t never in my life seent no one who ’peared to be so flummoxed.
  32. gumption
    fortitude and determination
    “You think I ain’t seent that look afore? Has you really got the gumption to stand there bold-face and look at me with pity? Pity?”
  33. kin
    group of people related by blood or marriage
    You and all your kin ain’t nothing but a half step better...
  34. reprobate
    a person without moral scruples
    We’s looking to get holt of some... reprobates that run off.
  35. hackles
    a feeling of anger and animosity
    I could see the cap’n’s hackles raising up.
  36. hospitality
    kindness in welcoming guests or strangers
    The cap’n said, “So how much we owe y’all for tending to the horses?”
    The man answered, “Let’s jus’ call it good old-fashioned Southern hospitality being served up a long way from home.”
  37. fleece
    rip off; ask an unreasonable price
    And third, whenever someone starts right off getting false-friendly with you, keep in mind all they trying to do is get a leg up on you so they can know what’s the best way to fleece you.
  38. lark
    any carefree episode
    That sheriff who ain’t nothing but a common thief with a badge, would jus’ as soon stab you in the back on a lark as give you the time of day.
  39. uppity
    arrogant or self-important
    I said, “Yes, ma’am,” but I was thinking what I really needed to do was get back to South Carol-liney, where folk don’t act so strange and uppity.
  40. partial
    having a strong preference or liking for
    You partial to jewelry? I knows you is, so I brung a special bracelet for you; crawl on over here and get it, girl.
Created on October 12, 2018 (updated October 18, 2018)

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