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My Brother Sam is Dead

Christopher Collier & James Lincoln Collier

Chapters Ten–Eleven

Chapters Eight–Nine

Chapters Ten–Eleven, page 2

page 1 of 2

Chapter Ten

With neither Mr. Meeker nor Sam at home, Tim and his mother must work overtime to keep up the tavern. Mrs. Meeker tells Tim not to worry, that God will forgive them for working Sundays. Tim thinks to himself that he was not worried. Business at the tavern is good, but because money is short, many people pay in commissary notes that will only have any value if the Rebels win the war. Mrs. Meeker has a discussion with Colonel Read, who has lost hope in the Rebel cause. Colonel Read mentions that Sam might not even be allowed to return home. Tim finds that since returning from Verplancks Point, he has felt a new responsibility for the tavern, a drive to do chores well, and an unwillingness to postpone work. He excitedly imagines showing off his knowledge of the tavern and its upkeep to Sam. Still, Tim misses his father and resents Sam's willingness to shirk family responsibility.

Winter passes, and on April 26, 1777, Tim hears an alarming thundering noise. He overhears a local black man named Ned telling Captain Betts that the noise is British troops marching in. Captain Betts sends Jerry Sanford to alert Mr. Rogers, another local Rebel. Tim notes how impressive the British army is, uniformed and spanning a mile on the little dirt road. He watches several officers go into Mr. Heron's house. Tim talks to an Irish member of the British army, and when the soldier asks why Tim is not afraid of him, Tim replies that his town is mostly Tories. Tim realizes as he speaks that he counts himself a Tory after watching Father's kidnap by Rebel cow-boys.

Events speed up and grow more violent. The officers break into Captain Betts' house as Tim watches in fear. The British seem organized and ready to move on when a Rebel messenger appears at the top of a hill and is shot down by the British. Colonel Read helps carry the bleeding men into the tavern and sends Tim to Dr. Hobart's house. Tim runs the two miles there through the woods. He is almost there when he hears gunshots, and drops into the woods to hide. From his hiding place, he observes the British army surrounding Captain Starr's house, where Starr and several other rebels, including Ned, are firing at the army. As Tim watches, the British enter the house and massacre the Rebels. Tim vomits when he sees Ned's head jumping in the air, sliced off by a British sword. The British soldiers burn the house and bodies, and as Tim continues to Dr. Hobart's house, he loses his sympathy for the British side and the Tories.

Chapter Eleven

Back in the tavern, Dr. Hobart removes the bullet, and the wounded Rebel messenger seems all right. Before passing out from all the rum he drank as an anesthetic, the wounded messenger tells the people in the tavern that Captain Benedict Arnold was preparing to bring his army through Redding in pursuit of the British. Tim knows Arnold is the leader of Sam's troop, and he hopes that Sam will return with them. Captain Betts runs into the tavern saying that the British let him go but kept Jerry Sanford. This puzzles Tim. Captain Betts tells Tim to ring the church bell to alert the town, but Mrs. Meeker forbids it. Tim is relieved, for he no longer wants to be involved in the war. Mrs. Meeker prays and then begins preparing dinner. Several Rebel officers burst in the tavern, demanding food and rum. One of these officers is Benedict Arnold, and upon seeing him, Tim races to a group of soldiers in front of the church across the street and asks for Sam. One soldier sympathizes with Tim and brings him inside, where he and Sam reunite, happily and tearfully.

Tim tells Sam about their father's capture. Sam knows, and has already tried unsuccessfully to get him out of prison. Sam hides in the barn and Tim runs inside and signals Mrs. Meeker to follow him outside. Tim brings Sam food, which he eats like he is starving. Mrs. Meeker tries to persuade Sam to return home after his enlistment ends in two months. Sam refuses, saying he has promised some of his friends in the army that they will all would stay in it until the British are beaten. Mrs. Meeker begins to argue with Sam, but Tim warns her that arguing will not change Sam's mind, and she falls quiet. As Tim says goodbye to his brother, he notes that for the first time he knows that Sam is wrong about something. Tim understands that despite Sam's hard soldier's life, Sam feels fulfilled by being part of something greater than himself. Tim suddenly feels like Sam's equal, not his little brother.


Tim's loyalties and principles shift a great deal in Chapter Ten. Religion, an ever-present force in the Meeker family, becomes less important to Tim. He has real responsibilities and worries, and bothers less with his worries about sin. He begins to think most about taking care of the tavern, and stops thinking so much about God. Anglican principles, such as not working on Sundays, seem unimportant compared to the more immediate fears of starvation and poverty. It is not that Tim squelches his guilt; he does not even feel guilty to begin with. The Meeker business becomes Tim's responsibility, and he speaks with a new responsibility and interest about running it. He puts aside his childish way of grudgingly doing chores at the last minute and leaving the greater decisions to his parents.

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