Across Five Aprils Chapter 6
Matt and Ellen are worried and frightened after hearing about what Guy Wortman has tried to do. On his way out to consult Ed Turner about the matter, Matt collapses after which he is unable to regain his former vigor.
For Jethro, that March of 1862 is a turning point. During the drive home from Newton, he learns about men and dangers, and after Matt's collapse, he learns to be the man of the family: "Now he was to know labor from dawn till sunset; he was to learn what it meant to scan the skies for rain while corn burned in the fields, or to see a heavy rainstorm lash grain from full, strong wheat stalks, or to know that hay, desperately needed for winter feeding, lay rotting in a wet quagmire of a field." Chapter 6, pg. 92
In April, Jethro is alone on the fields for spring plowing. Passing by to offer help, Ed Turner tells Jethro about a battle that has occurred in Pittsburg Landing where Grant was surprised by the Confederate army. Although the battle eventually resulted in a Union victory, it cost many lives.
One day, Jenny finishes her housework to go out to the field with Jethro. They take turns plowing, keeping each other company by talking. They talk about how General Grant wasn't more careful, letting his men get attacked by the Confederate army at Pittsburg Landing. Jenny admits to having many thoughts these days--about the battles and the boys in the war.
For the next several weeks, Jenny and Jethro go out together to work the field. Sometimes, Ed Turner's children come to help with others from nearby farms, but Jethro likes to work alone with Jenny. They have become closer, and the difference in their ages does not seem much to Jethro.
One day, Israel Thomas brings a letter for Jenny from Shad. Although Shad's letters have usually been addressed to the Creighton family, this time, the letter is a love letter addressed only to Jenny. Jethro is childishly angry when Jenny runs off with it, reading only parts of it to the rest of the family. On the field, Jethro is still irritated with Jenny for not sharing all of the letter, but he feels better as he thinks of a lesson from the book Ross Milton gave him. Later, Nancy brings him some food, and they talk about the war and the boys who are off. Finally, before hesitating a little, Nancy tells Jethro that he must not be angry with Jenny for keeping the letter to herself: "A letter is kind of a close thing; it's somebody's words that are writ only fer you. It's like you're bein' unfair to someone you love if you let his words be read by others when he writ'em only fer you." Chapter 6, pg. 101
At night, Jenny greets Jethro as he comes home from working in the field. She cheerfully offers to unhitch and take care of the horses, but Jethro sulkily refuses. Unable to read the newspaper that night, Jethro goes to bed after eating. When he yells out from a nightmare, Jenny comes to talk to him. She begins explaining that she didn't let the family read Shad's letter because Matt has always been saying that she is too young to think about getting married. Jethro is still angry, but finally, he reaches out to her, telling her what Nancy told him earlier that day.
As Jenny is leaving, there is the sound of horses outside--the sound of two to three horses. Closer to the house, the sound stops, and they can see men on horses. After getting closer to the house, the men yell drunkenly the word Copperheads. After throwing something at the gate, they ride off. What the men have thrown is a symbol used by ruffians in the community to warn of punishment that is to follow. Attached to it is a note: "Theres trubel fer fokes that stands up fer there reb lovin sons." Chapter 6, pg. 104
For the next three weeks, there is always a man with a gun on watch in front of the Creighton house. The neighbor men take turns standing watch. Although most of the community is supportive of Matt, there are some who aren't because Bill has gone off to the South. It is possible that Bill is fighting against their own sons. When nothing happens, however, the men stop coming, and the family begins to think that it has all been an empty threat The family's shepherd dog disappears, but other than that, nothing happens until one night, the family is awakened by the barn burning up in flames. Although the animals are safe because they had been let out into the pasture during the nights, the barn is destroyed. Later, the well is found to have been contaminated with coal oil.