After moving to Charleston at the height of the American Revolution, Charlotte makes a stand against slavery by freeing two black slaves, in the process helping her husband escape from enemy anti-loyalists. Charlotte is a young, recently married woman who wishes to spend more time with her loving husband. She travels from Quebec, Canada, to Charleston to join her husband, Nick, who has gotten a job in the Civilian Department of the Southern Command. When she lands in Charleston, however, a soldier named Captain Braemar greets her instead of Nick. Apparently, Nick has been assigned on a secret mission to spy on some South Carolina communities to find out if they are supporting the British king or the rebels. As they walk through Charleston, Charlotte sees a lot of Black people and she learns from Captain Braemar that the British have offered freedom to their slaves if they spend one year helping the military. But the situation is complicating because the possibility of freedom is only given to slaves of rebels – slaves of loyalists are returned to their masters. To make things messier, the British agreed to return slaves to rebels that have switched sides to become loyalists. When Captain Braeman finally shows her to her husband's quarters, she is told by another, Captain Knightley, that his quarters have been given to someone else and there's no place for her to stay. Captain Knightley's wife, Clara offers to let her sleep in her bedroom until she can find a place for herself. Charlotte doesn't approve of the fact that the Knightleys keep slaves and she dislikes that Captain Knightley keeps making excuses as to why it's okay to keep slaves.
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Charlotte goes to live with a kind Quaker woman named Mrs. Doughty, and her three children. Mrs. Doughty explains that her husband was killed by people who dislike Quakers for their anti-slavery sentiment. One night, Charlotte is awoken by the noise of a screaming woman. She sees two slave masters drag a black woman and a man from out of Mrs. Doughty's cellar. Apparently, Mrs. Doughty had been helping a slave to hide from her master until she and her lover could escape North. Unfortunately, the slave masters have found them. The black woman, named Phoebe, left behind a baby that Mrs. Doughty and Charlotte decide to raise. Charlotte and Mrs. Doughty plan on buying Phoebe and freeing her.
One day, Nick returns from his mission and Charlotte is overjoyed. She gets him to help them buy Phoebe. At the slave auction, however, Nick is spotted by two men who realize that Nick had been spying on them while in rebel territory. Nick is kidnapped while on his way to get the paperwork for Phoebe's freedom. Charlotte determines to find Nick and help him escape. She dresses as a Quaker boy and travels to the nearby swampland. With the help of Jammy, the runaway slave who is Phoebe's lover, she eventually finds Nick in a cave. She hides him in the loft of an abandoned cabin nearby that her friend, Elijah, had told her about. After learning that Phoebe is alright, Jammy goes back to Charleston to see his lover. Nick's kidnappers had beaten Nick until he is severely wounded so Charlotte must nurse him back to health. The men chasing Nick run away from the swamp, after one of them gets eaten by an alligator. Nick regains his health but he has a slave collar around his neck and a lock on his hand that they are unable to remove without the right tools.
Charlotte and Nick decide to hitch a ride under the tarp of a wagon loaded with goods. The wagon turns out to belong to Mr. Morley, who is Jammy's slave master. Upon reading the Bill of Lading, Charlotte learns that Mr. Morley isn't a loyalist like he claims – he's actually a rebel spy who's been selling goods to the rebels secretly. Charlotte thinks that this knowledge will help Jammy get his freedom as the British offer slaves of rebels a chance to freedom. Nick tells her this knowledge is crucial information that the loyalists would need to know. At Charleston, Nick goes to the Blacksmith to get his slave collar and lock removed. Charlotte learns from Phoebe that Mr. Morley has set a reward for Jammy's capture. When Charlotte goes to town, she sees Jammy get dragged to the courthouse where he is forced to stand trial. Mr. Morley is mysteriously absent but his representative insists that the trial proceed. Charlotte tells the judge to delay the trial, though she can't tell him why as Nick has told her not to speak a word about Mr. Morley's traitorous nature until he has informed the loyalist headquarters.
Later, news spreads that Mr. Morley has been arrested and Charlotte is regarded as a hero for discovering his betrayal. The judge lets Phoebe to take Jammy home until things clear up. As the weeks pass, Nick is given a plot of land in Canada and he and Charlotte plan on moving there. Phoebe and Jammy decide to go to Canada, too, where black slaves can be free. The story ends with Charlotte and Nick boarding a ship destined for the North.
Best part of story, including ending:
I like that Jean Rae Baxter tries to capture how, even though the British were offering freedom for black slaves, the entire process was complicating, difficult and full of loopholes that still excluded most black slaves and was pretty much a sham for the British to have extra men in the military to fight their battles. There is just so much irony and hypocrisy in that system as the loyalist who are supposed to be better than the rebels in terms of their mindset regarding slavery were really just as bad. It was doubly ironic that slaves of loyalists could not gain freedom using this method.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene was when Charlotte stands up on behalf of Jammy when he was brought to court at the end of the story. I thought Charlotte was very brave to speak up against so many bloodthirsty people for justice for her friend.
Opinion about the main character:
I like that Charlotte is courageous, independent and wasn't afraid to get her clothes dirty in the process of eking out a living or rescuing her loved one. I like that she wasn't silly and mindless like the other home-makers living in Charleston.