Eleven-year-old Elijah Freeman is the very first freeborn kid in Buxton, Canada, a settlement created for previous slaves just over the Michigan border in 1849. Elijah can "chunk rocks" through such accuracy that he catches fish by acquisition aim and hitting castle on the head with stones. As Elijah is returning house with ten fish he has actually caught, the runs into the Preacher, who convinces him that he have to tithe a tenth of his wide range to him, together the servant of the Lord. Elijah is confused about the Preacher; he knows he is manipulative, but cannot quite accept the the supposedly holy man is completely hypocritical and also self-serving.

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Elijah recalls a time as soon as he had flippantly used the native "nigger" in former of a neighbor, Mr. Leroy. Mr. Leroy had automatically slapped that hard and also shown that a brand ~ above the skin top top his chest, raging about how, as soon as he was a slave, his infant girl was offered away and also his wife offered to an additional man because that his own. All the moment Mr. Leroy and his family members had stayed in slavery, they had been referred to as "nigger," and he is appalled the Elijah need to be for this reason ignorant as to "(keep) they hate alive." Elijah knows the the lesson the learned indigenous Mr. Leroy is the very same as one Mr. Travis, his teacher, has tried to teach in class, however it is the endure with Mr. Leroy which impresses upon that the full affect of his thoughtless usage of a word the "ain"t never called with nothing however hate."

The carnival concerns town, yet the conscientious parental of Buxton, recognizing its unsavory nature, forbid their youngsters to go. The Preacher, however, hope to make use of Elijah"s rock-chunking talent, convinces him to defy his parents and accompany him to the event, where they watch Madame Sabbar, a woman who has actually an amazing capacity with a slingshot. The Preacher arranges a meeting with the carnival owner, introducing Elijah together Ahbo, a rock-chunking boy elevated in Africa. Together he goes to mam Sabbar"s tent for a showdown, Elijah meets MaWee, a small black urchin who is shamelessly illustrated as a pickaninny, vanquished by the slingshot artist in the show. Elijah displayed his ability versus the of mam Sabbar"s in a contest and beats her handily. The Preacher tries to negotiate a deal whereby he and Elijah will certainly be payment to travel through the carnival, but the owner wants to purchase Elijah outright. Uncharacteristically, this blatant attempt at human trafficking offends even the generally unscrupulous Preacher, and he and also Elijah make a quick exit from the carnival. The Preacher later on returns come the carnival and secures MaWee"s relax from bondage in ~ gunpoint.

Newly escaped servants arrive in Buxton, traumatized through the experience of their pasts. They space welcomed right into the settlement, and also the Liberty Bell is rung to celebrate their new found freedom. Elijah, who has actually never experienced what it method to have been a slave, struggles to understand the emotional scars borne by all who have actually been victims of the institution.

Elijah picks up the mail because that the settlement, bringing back a letter from America because that Mrs. Holton. Since Mrs. Holton, like many Buxton adults, is illiterate, Elijah reads the letter aloud to her. Such letters almost always bring poor news, and through this one, Mrs. Holton learns that her husband, John, has been beaten to death by his owners. Later, Ma relates a story indigenous her own childhood. As a slave, she had actually been sent out to Detroit to work, and also when she returned home, she mother, upon learning that Ma had actually been in ~ a half-mile that freedom but had not taken benefit of the possibility to escape, had passionately reprimanded her. When Ma was sent out again come Detroit, the worth of liberty had to be indelibly etched into her mind. She knew she would cross the border right into Canada the first chance she got, and also would never see her mother again.

Mr. Leroy carves a memorial plaque because that Mrs. Holton, in memory of her husband John, and in return, Mrs. Holton offers him the money she had been saving to buy she husband"s freedom. Mr. Leroy asks Pa for aid in securing his family"s release from slavery, but at this suggest the Preacher arrives and manipulatively supplies to take the money and also go down to America come buy Mr. Leroy"s household himself. Pa advises Mr. Leroy against trusting the Preacher, but Mr. Leroy is desperate to have actually his family members with him. He asks Elijah what he thinks around the Preacher, and although Elijah to know the Preacher is deceitful, he remembers that the man saved MaWee. Elijah tells Mr. Leroy the he to trust the Preacher can be trusted. The Preacher goes come America through a neighbor, Mr. Highgate, however a couple of days later, Mr. Highgate, having been shot by the devious man, is brought home by a stranger. Mr. Leroy is frantic, and Elijah is get over by guilt.

Mr. Leroy resolves to pursue the Preacher, and forces Elijah to accompany him. In Michigan, they find out that the Preacher is gambling v white males at a steady where slavers stay. Regardless of the danger, Mr. Leroy presses on, but is stricken with a love attack. Together he lays dying, Mr. Leroy provides Elijah promise to go on to the stable and also get the money, or else kill the Preacher.

Elijah start the darkness of the stable and immediately senses over there is something terribly wrong. To his horror, the discovers the Preacher, strung up by his hands and also beaten to death, and also over to the side, 4 runaway slaves, naked and also chained come the wall, with a baby. The sight of the shackled slaves impresses ~ above Elijah the full atrocity the the school of enslavement in a way that every the class of his parental and others never could. Elijah brings the captives water, and the only woman among them, Mrs. Chloe, whose hands have been left unbound so that she have the right to tend the infant, says that the Preacher died just prior to sunset, having actually been brutally tortured, and warns Elijah to it is in quiet, as a slaver who has been assigned to was standing guard is lying in a drunken stupor nearby. Elijah tells the runaways the they are just an hour far from the Canadian border, and makes no hope plans to relax them and also bring them house to freedom, but Mrs. Chloe and also the others recognize escape will certainly be impossible. Elijah, then, go the just thing he have the right to for them, agree the baby girl native the woman to take earlier to Buxton, wherein she, at least, will thrive up in freedom.

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