Chapters 11–16

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. cobbler
    a person who makes or repairs shoes
    He’d already been out to check on the address where them twins was s’pose to be and the place was a cobbler shop owned by a white man who didn’t know nothing ’bout no colored twin babies.
  2. kindling
    material for starting a fire
    He checked every tin and jar of food, then emptied ’em on the pile of broke-up dishes; he used his boots to stomp every chair into kindling. Every broom and mop was snapped in half.
  3. ruckus
    the act of making a noisy disturbance
    As much ruckus as the cap’n was making, the pounding that exploded out of the small house’s only door was even louder. I near jumped out my skin when someone yelled, “Chester, Eloise, is y’all all right?”
  4. lapel
    a fold of fabric below the collar of a coat or jacket
    The cap’n pressed his ’vantage and flipped his lapel so’s his slave-catcher badge was showing.
  5. execution
    the act of accomplishing some aim
    “And we can kill anyone that try to stop us from the ex-a-cution of our swore God-give duties. This here badge give us that right.”
  6. holler
    a small valley between mountains
    “But if you hadn’t-a misspent your youth chasing rabbits and possums barefoot through the hollers and learnt to read, you’d know that these here letters is the key to another fifteen hunnert dollars."
  7. fugitive
    someone who is sought by law officers
    “Our third fugitive, who’s going by the alias Sylvanus, has got hisself in a school ’crost the river in a place called…”—he looked back at the envelope—“called St. Catharines.”
  8. alias
    a name that has been assumed temporarily
    “Our third fugitive, who’s going by the alias Sylvanus, has got hisself in a school ’crost the river in a place called…”—he looked back at the envelope—“called St. Catharines.”
  9. strive
    attempt by employing effort
    ‘I continue to do well in my studies and am first in my class in calculus and Greek. I am currently second in literature and Latin but strive daily to improve.’
  10. gall
    irritate or vex
    That don’t gall you?
  11. parley
    discuss, as between enemies
    I ain’t gonna be long in Canada, and once I gets holt of that big, smart, edy-cated boy a yourn, me and him and you’s gonna do some par-laying and soon after our talking’s done, they’s gonna have to write a new chapter for the Bible.
  12. resurrect
    cause to become alive again
    “I’m hoping Lazarus don’t mind sharing the spotlight, ’cause sure as shooting, after I’m done talking to y’all, I know them dead twins a yourn is gonna get resurrected, they gonna shake off that scarlet fever, pop out they graves good as new, and, hallelujah, it’s gonna be a miracle when the whole family join up for the trip home!”
  13. spruce
    make neat, smart, or trim
    The sheriff said, “Well, gennel-men, one thing you gonna have to do if y’all insist on going through with this is...and I ain’t meaning to be indelicate, but y’all gonna have to do some...uh... sprucing up of yourselfs.”
  14. touchy
    quick to take offense
    The cap’n thought on it for a second, give the sheriff a weak smile, and said, “I do ’pologize, sir. It’s jus’ that I ain’t as yet use to being up here; y’all do so many things different that I’m probably being too touchy. I do ’preciate your ’sistance.”
  15. impressive
    making a strong or vivid mental image
    You’s gonna have to say good-bye to the beard and them muttonchops and that’s one sure ’nough impressive moustache you got there, but it’s got to be tamed down some too.
  16. dandy
    a man who is much concerned with his dress and appearance
    We’s trying to get the South Carol-liney offen y’all and, much as it’s gonna turn y’all’s stomachs, turn y’all into a couple of Yankee Doodle dandies.
  17. livery
    the care of horses for pay
    So iffen it was me, I’d board my horses at the livery here in Dee-troit, take a ferry ’crost, then get on the train and go scout out what you need to do to get holt of your boy.
  18. blemish
    a mark or flaw that spoils the appearance of something
    The cap’n said, “Well, I ’preciate the advice. I ain’t lost no one yet; these three’s the only blemish I got and I’m intending to rid myself of that.”
  19. considerable
    large in number, amount, extent, or degree
    The barber said, “Let me see what I’m working with,” and pult on the cap’n’s hat, but the hat was so stuck in place it didn’t want to leave the cap’n’s head without some considerable pulling.
  20. bogus
    fraudulent; having a misleading appearance
    When that hat come off and I seent what it was hiding, I knowed I’d been riding with the man day and night for near a week and hadn’t never seent him not wearing that hat! Not even whilst he was taking that bogus bath in the river.
  21. slew
    a large number or amount or extent
    As hard as the cap’n had used his mouth on the innocent folks in the barbershop, this was their chance to repay him, ’cause you wouldn’t-a needed no imagination at all to come up with a slew of insults to make about what he’d been keeping hid under his hat.
  22. deranged
    driven insane
    But that egg what was sittin’ atop his head didn’t do nothing but serve to make the cap’n look scarier and more de-ranged than he done afore.
  23. civilized
    marked by refinement in taste and manners
    One the things you got to love ’bout A-mur-ic-a is that we’s got laws that protects all sorts of folks from getting hurt by other folks. Canada, from what I heard so far, ain’t nowhere near that civilized.
  24. swanky
    impressively fashionable and elegant
    The inside of the train was swanky as what my imaginings had told me the inside of the Tanners’ plantation house was like. Or maybe even George Washington’s! There was fancy, soft-looking seats on both sides of a little lane that run from the front of the car to the back.
  25. becoming
    according with custom or propriety
    “Look, you giant hick, it ain’t becoming for no one as big and growed-looking as you is to be jumping up and down in his seat and making ’em gigglish goo-goo sounds every time a house go by or some deers look up at you. Try acting your age and pretending you been outta Possum Moan once or twice.”
  26. strain
    use to the utmost; exert vigorously or to full capacity
    Riding on ’em rails so fast meant I couldn’t lock my eyes on nothing long ’nough to get a good train of thought going and afore long, falling asleep seemed a better idea than straining my eyes.
  27. calico
    made of or resembling coarse cloth with a bright print
    My eyes followed the leather tree trunks up and the leather turnt to blue jeans, then the blue jeans turnt into a calico shirt stretched ’crost the wide back of a giant man.
  28. discipline
    punish in order to gain control or enforce obedience
    ...the best disciplining is always simple. And cat-hauling’s ’bout as simple’s you can get.
  29. gander
    mature male goose
    I figgered they must’ve tied the birds’ legs to something underwater to holt ’em in place, but when I got too close, one ’em big ganders come ripping at me out the water and give me a right proper bite that drawed blood on my leg, which got the cap’n laughing.
  30. soothing
    freeing from fear and anxiety
    But maybe these Canadians was doing something right with this idea ’bout parks, ’cause it sure was soothish and calming to sit there and wait.
  31. sympathetic
    expressing compassion or friendly fellow feelings
    There was something else the cap’n wasn’t seeing about Sylvanus neither, and even though the boy was a thief, it had me feeling right sorry and sympathetic for him.
  32. homely
    lacking in physical beauty or proportion
    “I ain’t heard you mention ol’ Stanky one time today. That dog’s gonna be right jealous you dumped her so easy for something as plain and homely as that skinny, knock-knee Foster girl. You done forgot there’s anything else in the world ’cepting for her.”
  33. smite
    affect suddenly with deep feeling
    “Don’t you worry none, Charlie, I felt the same way ’bout your pa first time I seent him cutting trees; I was sure ’nough smited. And once you get smited, ain’t nothing you can do ’bout it but hang on for the ride.”
  34. frolic
    play boisterously
    Poor ol’ Sylvanus had got hisself smited bad! And judging by the way he was skinning and grinning and frolicking ’round this one colored girl, he wasn’t holting on for the ride, he was getting dragged foots-first by anything the girl done.
  35. headlong
    in a hasty and foolhardy manner
    The way Sylvanus’s face took a-glowing and the smile he give showed this colored girl could’ve walked headlong into the middle of the lake and he’d-a sure ’nough followed.
  36. sap
    a person who lacks good judgment or is easily tricked
    If there wasn’t but one drop of human blood in your veins, you couldn’t help but feel sorry for the poor sap; we was probably doing him a favor getting him outta this turrible sit-a-way-shun.
  37. bleak
    offering little or no hope
    Please tell me, I can take it, this is so unusual, something must be very bleak with them. Is Mother or Father badly hurt?
  38. premonition
    a feeling of evil to come
    For the past month I’ve had the most horrible premonition!
  39. bawl
    cry loudly
    Petey pult hisself up and acted like he was gonna laugh too, but the pain in his leg was too much and, even though he’s got to be more’n thirty years old, he bust out bawling same as a two-year-old.
  40. inconvenient
    not suited to your comfort, purpose or needs
    He give me a long look and said, “I apologize again. I don’t know what I was thinking. Thank you and your uncle for taking the time to come get me; it must be most inconvenient for you. Thank you so much.”
Created on October 12, 2018 (updated October 18, 2018)

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