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Across Five Aprils

Irene Hunt

Chapters 6–7

Chapter 5

Chapters 6–7, page 2

page 1 of 3
Summary

Chapter 6

The next morning, after a sleepless night, Ellen notices that Matt looks pale and sick. Matt says he is fine and wants to go into town looking for the man that tried to hurt Jethro. Ellen suggests that he stop at the Burdows to thank Mr. Burdow for his help. A few minutes after Matt leaves, Ellen hears a noise and goes outside. Matt is lying on the ground, having suffered a heart attack. The doctors are able to revive him, but "the vigorous, erect Matt Creighton was gone."

In the following months Jethro has to assume many of the responsibilities his father can no longer handle, including working the fields. One day when Jethro is in the fields, his neighbor Ed Turner stops by and tells him of a bad fight in which Grant's army was surprise-attacked. Ed says that more than 12,000 Union soldiers were killed and says he hopes they hear from Tom or Eb soon. Jenny and Jethro talk about the battle, and Jethro notes that every time the Union army does not lose badly to the South, they call it a victory. They speculate about how Grant could have been taken by surprise and whether Grant is another general that will fall down through the ranks.

Jethro and Jenny become close, working in the fields together and talking. One day Jenny receives a letter from Shadrach Yale, and Jethro wants to read it. Most of the letter is personal, however, and Jenny only reads portions of it to the rest of the family. Jethro is hurt and angry, but during a visit Nancy tells him not to be upset and explains that sometimes when someone writes words meant for only one other person, they should not be shared. Nancy talks about how John probably is not fighting yet, but still training, and how she cannot sleep when she thinks of the battles to come. Later that night, Jenny confronts Jethro about being angry with her and offers to let him read the rest of the letter. Jethro declines and forgives her.

Later that night they hear horses, and they find a message: "There's trubel fer fokes that stands up fer there reb lovin sons." After that they take turns watching at night, and Nancy and her sons stay at the Creightons. A few weeks pass and their fears dissipate somewhat, until one night they awaken to the site of the barn burning down. When Jethro tries to get water from the well, he finds it full of coal oil.

Chapter 7

Men from all over the country help the Creightons that spring, bringing farming equipment, helping with the barn, and keeping an eye out. Meanwhile, news of the battle of Shiloh comes in, and one day Dan Lawrence, a soldier wounded at Shiloh, tells the Creightons that Tom died there. Tom and Danny were watching boats with reinforcements when Tom got hit, and he died instantly.

Ross Milton publishes a letter in the paper addressed to the people who burned the Creightons' barn and put oil in the well. In the letter he says that Matt Creighton and his son Tom epitomize integrity and that the men harassing the Creightons are cowards who never had to take a bullet for anything. Jenny writes Tom's name in the ledger of births, deaths, and marriages they keep in the Bible, and Jethro asks her about his three siblings who died within a week of each other. Jenny says it was a miracle that she and Jethro did not get sick too.

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