Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
Chapter 14 a satisfied mind Summary Ada and Ruby work at harvesting and processing apples for most of the autumn. After picking the apples they make dried apples, applesauce, pie, stewed apples, apple butter, hard cider, etc. They feed the leftover apple pulp to the hogs to sweeten the meat.
Ruby goes out to trade cider for beef and instructs Ada to split the oak logs and burn the brush from the lower field while she is gone. Following the method Ruby showed her, Ada splits the pieces of oak trunk until she is soaked with sweat. She goes back to the house, rinses off and begins a letter to her cousin, Lucy, in Charleston. The letter explains how Ada has changed, both physically and in character, as a result of her life on Cold Mountain. She is serene and satisfied with her new situation.
Ada then goes out with a pitchfork and the third volume of Adam Bede. She piles brush together and as it burns she sits down to read. She is not engrossed in the book and gets up often to tend the fire. Ada enjoys this time and the view of the mountains. She owns the entire span of ridge before her.
As she relaxes, waiting for Ruby, Stobrod and another man approach. Stobrod carries his fiddle; the other man carries a banjo. Stobrod introduces his simpleminded companion as a son of the Pangles, though the Pangles won’t claim him. The Pangle boy had lived in a cave, which has since been occupied by Stobrod and other outliers. Pangle took a liking to Stobrod and his fiddle playing. Stobrod further explains that he had been part of a raid on a wealthy farmer against whom an outlier held a grudge. The other outliers stole food and valuables, but Stobrod took only an old banjo from the tool shed. He gave the banjo to Pangle and taught him what he could. Pangle has a natural talent and now he and Stobrod are a duo of sorts.
Ruby returns with a disappointing amount of meat. She seasons it and cooks it in the brush flames. As the meat cooks Stobrod and Pangle play impressive music. The four then eat and Stobrod explains he needs a place to stay. He does not want to be part of the outlier raids and does not want to be caught by the law. Ruby replies that Teague is too much of a threat for her to consider taking in an outlier, but defers the decision to Ada. Then Stobrod and Ruby each tell their own versions of Ruby’s childhood, and Ruby storms off. Ada dismisses Stobrod and Pangle with a vague idea of compromise.
Alone again, Ada gets quilts and a spyglass so she can sit outside and watch the lunar eclipse. She thinks about the lyrics to one of Stobrod’s songs, “Come back to me is my request”. She writes these words and addresses them to the hospital in the capital. She falls asleep, her quilts covered with frost.
This chapter opens with the feeling that there is a rhythm to the days on the farm. As throughout the novel, there are descriptions of procedures and chores done the old way without any powered equipment. Nothing goes to waste. Fallen, faded and inferior apples have a use. Even the pulp left from pressing the cider is not wasted.
While Ruby is away, Ada is now completely self-sufficient. She cuts wood, burns brush, milks the cow, etc. This is a powerful contrast to the helpless, hopeless Ada of Chapter 2. Ada is finding herself. She is losing interest in the simple people of Adam Bede. She has found new depth and contentment in nature. The new Ada is evident in the letter to Lucy and in Ada’s musings about the setting sun. Ada feels in place.