Who Comes with Cannons?


When Truth Hopkins's father dies, she goes to live with her uncle and his family on their North Carolina farm. Like Truth, the Bardwells are Quakers. They oppose slavery but refuse to take up arms in the civil war that is now being waged to end this inhuman institution. Then one day, a runaway slave takes refuge on the Bardwell farm and, to Truth's amazement, her uncle hides him from the slave catchers. Even more puzzling, he asks her to accompany him when he deliverswagonload ...

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When Truth Hopkins's father dies, she goes to live with her uncle and his family on their North Carolina farm. Like Truth, the Bardwells are Quakers. They oppose slavery but refuse to take up arms in the civil war that is now being waged to end this inhuman institution. Then one day, a runaway slave takes refuge on the Bardwell farm and, to Truth's amazement, her uncle hides him from the slave catchers. Even more puzzling, he asks her to accompany him when he deliverswagonload of hay to a neighbor late: that night.

This ride, and the wagon's real cargo, involve Truth in a mysterious and dangerous underground movement — and reveal how she can help further the cause of freedom without the use of a rifle.

Patricia Beatty, best-selling author and winner of the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction, takes readers on an unforgettable trip aboard the Underground Railroad. Her powerful story of the Civil War captures the secrecy, suspense, and heroism of this little-known chapter in America's history and will long be remembered by readers.

In 1861 twelve-year-old Truth, a Quaker girl from Indiana, is staying with relatives who run a North Carolina station of the Underground Railroad, when her world is changed by the beginning of the Civil War.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Beatty's posthumous Civil War novel will be welcomed by readers of her earlier works, such as Charley Skedaddle and Jayhawker . Truth Hopkins, a Quaker, is sent to North Carolina relatives on the eve of the Civil War; her mother is dead and her father dying. Doubly an outsider, she watches and helps in small ways as her kin run a station on the Underground Railroad. When war comes her two male cousins are forced into the Confederate army; later--in a rather improbable journey north and back again--Truth rescues one of them from a Union prison in Elmira, N.Y. The once-timid Truth can then take her place in the family and in the local Meeting for Worship. The risky choice to create a heroine who plays a passive role for much of the story succeeds in the end--Truth's quiet determination allows readers to view the Civil War from the perspective of a group persecuted by both sides. Ages 10-up. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-- A novel set during the Civil War, told from the perspective of a southern Quaker family. Truth is 12 when her parents' deaths send her to North Carolina to live with her uncle, his wife, and their two sons. Beatty follows the girl as she gains acceptance in her new family and they trust her to help them with their activities on the Underground Railroad. Through the war years, Truth matures as she and her family suffer the vilification of Quakers who will not fight for either side. When her cousin, conscripted by the Confederates, is captured by Union troops, Truth undertakes a dangerous journey north to ask Frederick Douglass to intercede with President Lincoln to set the young man free. Strong characters and a careful evocation of period make this another worthy title in Beatty's historical fiction canon. --Sally Bates Goodroe, Houston Public Library
Carolyn Phelan
Twelve-year-old orphan Truth Hopkins lives on Aunt Elizabeth and Uncle Matthew's farm in North Carolina. The outbreak of the Civil War brings danger to their Quaker family; Quakers were pacifists, and pacifists were scorned. Soon Truth discovers that the farm is a station on the Underground Railroad. Later, she and her uncle become "passengers" going north to seek the release of cousin Robert from a Union prison. The necessity of filling in the background through conversation slows down the beginning a bit, but Beatty creates situations of rising tension, climaxing with a scene in which the birth of her cousin's baby keeps Truth and her friends huddled in a house for three days while the Battle of Bentonville rages around them. Offering a different perspective on the Civil War, this historical novel acknowledges the moral and physical courage of those who refused to take sides.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688110284
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/28/1992
  • Pages: 192
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 760L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.25 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Kettle Cousin

Kettle Cousin, Indeed! The name stung. Hearing Robert's voice say that stopped Truth Hopkins in her tracks. She stood on the porch behind the partly open door to the kitchen, listening. Cold gusts of the March 1861 wind blew around her. Truth heard her cousin Robert's words clearly, and they were like a stab to the heart. "That's what she is, Ma, a kettle cousin, another mouth to feed. Thee knows what kettle cousins are supposed to do -- lick the pot when the rest of us get done with our food. And besides, she can bring us trouble with the law."

"Thy name for thy cousin Truth is cruel, Robert," said Truth's aunt Elizabeth. "It is not her fault or shame she was sent to us with only her carpetbags and what she stood up in."

Nineteen-year-old Robert was fuming as he went on, "We didn't get any warning she was on her way from Indiana -- only the letter sent along with her by Pa's brother-in-law Hamish saying that he couldn't take her with him to the hospital in California. She's only twelve. He should have left her with some folks back there. And what kind of name is Truth, anyway?"

"It's Tabitha Ruth, as thee very well knows. But we shall call her Truth. As she says, Tabitha Ruth is difficult to say. Remember, she can be a help to me. Thee and Todd will make her welcome and feel a sister to thee. Like thee two, she was reared a Friend. She'll go to the meetinghouse with us on meeting day."

Truth heard Robert's mumbled reply. "Then make her wear a bonnet. Folks stared at her in Goldsboro when Pa, Todd, and I met her at thetrain. It's that yellow hair she's got and . . ."

"Yes, I know, Robert. Though she wears our plain dark dress, she stands out. Her hair is butter bright and curly and her cheeks too highly colored. She is a Friend so she will wear a Quaker bonnet. But she is not at fault for the coloring the Lord gave her."

Truth sucked in her breath. Too bright to be a good Friend? What was she to do -- get some flour from the bin and dust it on her cheeks to make them pale?

Now, exasperated, Truth set her lips in a firm line. Well, she would show Mister Robert Bardwell she was a faithful Friend and a good, hard worker. She was no stranger to work in houses, gardens, and fields. She could scrub and weed and tend to animals; and she could pick and chop cotton. She was fleet of foot, too. She'd already won two footraces against bigger girls at her new school, and she had attended it only a few days.

Robert spoke again. "I wish she hadn't come. She doesn't know anything about our work."

"Robert, what we do here is done mostly by night. I've taken note that she sleeps heavily. And she sleeps at the front of the house where she can't see what goes on near the barn."

"Ma, do they do the same work in Indiana as we do?"

"Yes, son, but since Indiana is a northern state, perhaps they don't do it as often as we must in the South. I do not think Hamish took part in our work, though. Truth's mother was ill with consumption so much of her life. What we do is done by the strongest of us."

"I know that, but our kettle cousin could find out anytime, Ma."

"So she could. If she does, we shall have to put our trust in her. That is all we can do."

Truth heard her aunt sigh. She sounded weary. Aunt Elizabeth's face was long and kindly looking, and her blue eyes were as calm as summer skies. She'd passed on her straight, dark brown hair to her sons, and they resembled her and not her stocky, short, sandybearded husband, Matthew, who seldom spoke. Truth liked her. Right now, Aunt Elizabeth was kneading bread dough for the Saturday baking. She was a good farm wife and her husband a good farmer.

Raised on a farm herself, Truth could judge the worth of the Bardwells' North Carolina farm. Their animals were sleek, and their fields of corn and cotton would yield abundantly this summer. Anyhow, she'd show her mother's people how valuable she could be as a farm girl. They'd need no hired girl with her around. She'd do well at school, too, because her aim was to become a nurse someday -- but back in Indiana, not in the South. At home, she had heard plenty about the southern states and hadn't liked it a bit, but here she was now. If war came, she would ask to be sent home to some folks who she knew would take her in. That's what Pa had told her to do.

Her forehead creasing in thought, Truth wondered what went on in this peaceful place at night. Would she find out? And why did her being here worry Robert? It must be something dangerous. He had talked about the law.

Truth let out a tiny sigh. Going to a new meetinghouse would be a trial for her. It seemed far easier for old people to behave properly and not fuss and fidget in the silence as they waited for the Inner Light to come to them and inspire them to speak aloud. What courage it would take to dare to speak out, and what confidence in what one had to say. Did the Light have to be grown into, like wisdom? Silly thoughts of running races and climbing apple trees, and sometimes lines of poetry, came flooding into her mind while she sat in the silence...

Who Comes with Cannons?. Copyright © by Patricia Beatty. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2007


    I got this book from my school library...........This book is truly amazing!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2001

    Just keep reading

    This book is a little odd at first because of the Old English Language. It sounds funny but you get used to it if you keep reading. The book is a little slow to go into much detail or action until much later in the story. But once you do begin to read and advance farther into the story, it turns out to be full of nice events and happenings. It ends up being a nice little story and it's worth the time you'll spend reading it.

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