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Jack Book 1, The Rebel

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208 pages3 hours

Summary

Master Whittemore quit preaching the moral rightness of slavery to sailors aboard the 'Helena' - an illegal slave ship - to teach children in Charleston, S.C.but Jack rebels against him and defeats him during a trumped-up "trial" master conducts in his schoolhouse.. Later that evening, the master, drunk, after some reflection, sees the criticism his students made that his praises of the plantation slavery system were wrong. He quits teaching and returns to the Helena on the ruse that he will again preach the necessity of slavery. He plans to incite rebellion. Jack and best friend Jeremy sign to the Helena to follow Whittemore after seeing the change in him, but don't know the 'Helena' is a slaver. The master is appalled to find them aboard that first night after the ship sailed past the Gulf stream. They beg him to not go through with his 'crazy' plan to tell the crew to turn the ship over to the first US or British naval ship they meet for illegally transporting slaves. In Jamaica (Book 2), they meet two young black ladies, All conspire to take the ship and set free the slave 'cargo' after being boarded in Cuba.The beautiful young women have romantic ideas about Jack and Jeremy, but Jack views them as complicating his plans about joining the southern army if war comes.Readers will find themselves rooting for Jack and Jeremy in their fight with Whittemore while engaging in questionable behavior. It's war. Jack is a difficult 15-year-old already facing adulthood. His dreams are not tempered by experience,and he is driven to find adventure and causes he can rally around while pressuring reluctant friends to join him. Whittemore presents him with the perfect challenge and chance to find excitement while winning popularity. He cooks up a revolt, inventing schemes to exact revenge on the master who beat him one day with a stick before the class.Jack refused to cry. Whittemore whacked him harder, but Jack did not whimper. Whittemore got only silence.The students began to join 'the rebel.' Jack didn't forget the beating.The master not only is abusive, but tries to impart to students his racist ideas, glorifying the southern white plantation slavery system. His students conspire to defeat him - except two who turn against the 'rebels.' The students didn't know Whittemore had been an unofficial preacher on slave ships and that he gave 'sermons' to support the crew in their nasty, brutalizing work, or that he praised their efforts in building the 'great southern civilization.' He is obsessed with triumphing over Jack. They hate one another. He is so bent on defeating him that he tries to bribe students with good grades if they help catch Jack in a lie or in some act that will humiliate him again. The master finally gets the evidence he needs from his two 'pet" students - the Sliney twins - who, Jack maintained, were "snitches and liars." Master concocts a lopsided trial after the twins told him Jack got many boys in the class to play tag and chase one another around the altar at altar boy practice while unsupervised the past Saturday. Whittemore names the church custodian as defense lawyer for Jack and the other revelers, and the church money collector as judge. Whittemore gets a hollow victory, but his students cheer Jack in the end, seeing Jack as the real victor who grilled the Sliney twins in cross-examination. At home that night, Whittemore gets drunk. He knew Jack stood on higher moral ground. He realized the truth - he had been lying to himself for years, and lying to children. He sees the criticism his students made. They rejected his racism. "From the mouths of babes," he tells himself. Jack and Jeremy witness a different side of Whittemore - one his students had hoped to see but never did. Still itching for adventure and sad that Whittemore just quit - or gave up - Jack convinces Jeremy to sign up to the same ship the master joined. A dangerous game begins after tragedy strikes aboard the Helena.

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