78 pages 2 hours read

Richard Peck

The River Between Us

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 2003

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Chapters 4-8

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 4 Summary

Tilly cannot sleep knowing that there are two strangers sleeping in the room next to her. Just before dawn, Mama enters Tilly and Cass’s bedroom and stands above Tilly, scaring her out of a fitful sleep. Mama tells Tilly to be careful around Delphine and Calinda and urges her not to explain anything, even if she is asked. Mama also believes Calinda may be enslaved by Delphine, and the women may not realize that they’re on the free side of the Mississippi River. Mama leaves Tilly’s room and walks directly into Calinda, who is already dressed for the day.

Mama and Tilly bustle around the house, preparing breakfast for their guests. They put a worn cloth on the table, and Mama fries eggs and scrapple—a meat-and-cornmeal dish—as if it were Christmas. They have no coffee, so she brews sassafras tea. Mama sends Cass upstairs to bring their guests down to breakfast, but Cass runs back down the stairs a moment later, terrified, claiming that Calinda is killing Delphine. After she convinces Mama and Tilly that this is real, not a vision, Mama and Tilly sneak upstairs and peek through the crack in the door to the guest room. Mama quickly falls back after seeing what is going on.