• Jethro is 9 years old at the beginning of the book. This is his first year helping to work in the fields, which means he gets to sit at the adult table and have coffee.
• The men talk about the impending Civil War. Jethro is excited, but Ellen, his mother, worries about the pain and devastation it will bring.
• Jenny, Jethro's sister, is 14, and she and Shadrach, the schoolteacher, are in love. Matt, Jethro's father, has refused to let them marry as Jenny is too young.
• When talk of the war is brought up, there is a tense silence. It is evident that there are differing views about the war in the family.
• Jethro and Shadrach are close as Shad enjoys his thirst for knowldge, and Jethro loves learning. Ellen praises Jethro for his intelligence and ability to share what he learns.
• Ellen's nephewm, Wilse, from Kentucky...
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