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Shadows on Society Hill is a Historical Character Mystery that is part of Addy's books.


From the Central Series

Only In Shadows on Society Hill

Chapter By Chapter Summary

Chapter One: A Daring Rescue

It is a Saturday, and Addy sees a white man crossing the street moments before a horse breaks away from his carriage and handler and bolts down the street towards the man. The man keeps walking without noticing, and Addy yells at the man to get out of the way, but he doesn't appear to hear her. She runs towards him while calling her Poppa, who is repairing the overhang of a building close by. Addy leaps at the man and knocks him to the ground moments before the horse zooms by. Poppa catches up to Addy (after barreling down the ladder to her side) and asks if she is alright and what happened. A crowd has gathered, and a white woman accuses Addy of knocking down the man. Addy explains the horse broke loose as she wasn't trying to hurt him, and the man defends her as well, saying that that Addy was trying to save him before shooing the crowd away, including the scolding woman. The man explains he keeps cotton in his ears because the cold weather hurts his eardrums, so He hadn't heard the horse or Addy, and thanks her profusely.

Poppa again asks Addy is she is alright and she assures him she is. When she takes the man's hand to shake it, he is surprised to see she is a child. Addy states she's eleven. Poppa says he's glad the gentleman wasn't hurt and turns to walk away. The man says he'd like to give Addy a reward for saving his life. Poppa turns the man down, and the man protests, holding out ten dollars. Addy is very tempted to take the money; they need it, it could pay for an entire year of schooling at the Institute for Colored Youth, and Poppa hasn't had continuous work for about four months now. But she turns down the offer respectfully as she can see Poppa wouldn't want her to take it. The man protests but Poppa is firm as he grabs his tools from the overhang and tells Addy that they have to get home.

The man notices the the overhang over Milner's Builders and asks Poppa if he did the work, to which Poppa says yes. The man inquires where Poppa learned, and Poppa explains he's self-taught outside of working on fancy summer houses on Cape Island, New Jersey (in the events of Addy's Summer Place). The man asks if Poppa works for the company and and Poppa explains no, the owner had him do the little job to show his skills but doesn't have any immediate work and will call him back if he does a good job. The man offers Poppa a job on the spot. Addy is excited, as Poppa had said just that morning he'd do any kind of work. She hopes he takes the job but that it doesn't take him far away. Poppa offers Mr. Roberts as reference, but the man says that his handiwork is all the reference he needs and he'll pay a fair wage for the fancy woodwork Poppa can do, introducing himself as Albert Radission, an architect. Mr. Radission and Poppa shake hands firmly as they discuss the terms of his employment, and Mr. Radission asks him to be there early Monday morning.

As Mr. Radission walks away, Poppa says bringing Addy with him was a stroke of luck, as he has a new job thanks to her. On the way home, Addy thinks that 1866 is turning out to be the best year ever; the war is over, black people are free, she's doing well at I.C.Y., and her whole family is reunited.

Chapter Two: Snowfall

Monday, Addy is heading home in a snowfall, trying to catch snowflakes on her tongue. Snow is a reminder of how quickly good disappears; very shortly after Poppa got his new job, Mrs. Ford informed Ruth she was moving with her sister to Maine and closing the shop for good, leaving Ruth without a job. Addy wishes that she could talk to Uncle Solomon or Auntie Lula about the changes happening, but they have both passed. Addy arrives at the boarding house to see through the window Poppa talking to Momma. She's worried he's home early because he's been let go from his new job already. She comes in to find Momma crying and asks what's wrong. Momma says she's fine and asks Poppa to explain.

Poppa explains that they're moving. Addy immediately worries that Mr. Radisson didn't give him the job until her parents smile. Poppa explains that Mr. Radisson has plenty of work as he's fixing up his house to get married and wants things ready before his mother and fiancée arrive. In the process, he's invited the Walker family to move into the former servant's house behind his house. Addy asks if it's nice and Poppa informs her and Momma it's on Society Hill. Mr. Radisson's uncle left him the house when he died; Mr. Radisson closed the house up and let the previous servants go. The servants had been a married couple with two girls, so the house is still furnished and only needs dusting. The house is large enough that Addy and Esther can have a room to themselves. Addy excitedly swings Esther around in joy. Sam comes in and asks what's going on, and Poppa lets Addy riddle him (and she stumps him) before letting him know they're moving to a house on Society Hill--and that Sam will have his own room as well in the garret. The family celebrates together.

The next Sunday at dusk, it is snowing again; the Walkers are making their goodbyes to the Goldens. M'dear hugs Addy and lets Addy know she is always loved. Addy knows M'dear can't see her tears but she knows Addy will miss her and the Goldens; they have become like family. Addy will also miss the boarding house, even though it's been one shared room. They take one last round of goodbyes before leaving with their belongings. Since Poppa no longer works for Mr. Roberts, they do not have use of a wagon. Poppa has put a trunk on wheels, where he puts the sled he made for Addy and Esther and slings a sack over his shoulders. Momma carries he sewing supplies in two large shawls and the fabric in a basket on her head. Addy carries the kerosene lamp that was a gift from Mrs. Ford. Sam carries Esther, and Esther carries Janie.

As they walk, Addy ignores the pain in her hands and feet, thinking about how much different it will be to live in Society Hill as they head through town. Not many people are out, and Poppa is able to clear the snow with the trunk so the rest of his family can walk behind him. Addy feels as they get closer that everything feels cleaner: the bricks are brighter, there's no trash in the streets, the streetlights are bright, store signs are more elaborate with brighter displays in the windows, and even the dark alleyways seem neater. She glances in storefront windows as they walk by, and Sam tells her stay caught up as she gets distracted.

Addy is distracted by a blue dress with flowers and on her way to catch up when a policeman yells for them not to take another step, and she looks up into his glaring face. Addy's heart races as she's heard plenty of stories about police belong to gangs and beat up Irish and Black people. Poppa runs to Addy, ignoring the officer's command, and stands between Addy and the officer. Sam moves closer, and Momma moves towards Sam. Poppa offers his hand and explains they're on the way to their new home.

The officer looks disgustedly at Poppa's hand and demands to know where they got their "stuff." Poppa says it's their belongings and they're only a few blocks from their new home; Sam explains they don't have a wagon and have to walk. The policeman says he's not speaking to Sam and dismissively calls him "boy" and demands Poppa explain why they're in Society Hill. Poppa tries to explain and the cop accuses him of lying and the family of theft. Poppa reaches for his pocket and the cop smacks his hand, and when Sam tries to intervene Momma motions he shouldn't. Poppa keeps calm and pulls out the paper with the new address. The policeman demands to know what it says and accuses Poppa of not knowing how to read. Poppa reads the address and says he works for Mr. Radisson. The cop says no one by that name lives there, and Poppa replies that it's the house his uncle left him. The policeman says he'll let them go but will check on them when the weather clears (and dismissively calls Poppa "boy" as well.) Poppa politely defers and waits until they policeman leaves before saying they should hurry the last few blocks to get out of the snow as if nothing has happened.

Addy feels her nose burning and reaches up to see if her nose is bleeding, which it's not. She trembles and holds on to Sam's empty sleeve--the arm lost fighting for the country--and starts to cry. All her excitement has melted away due to the policeman's treatment, and her heart hurts.

Chapter Three: Uncle Solomon's Protection

The family arrives to Mr. Radisson's house, a three story brick house with so many windows. All the windows are dark, as Mr. Radisson has gone to pick his mother up from Virginia and won't be back yet. Poppa leads the around the back into the alley; there is a wrought-iron gate leading into the backyard. Esther runs ahead excitedly while the others look at the house and then step inside. As they walk around, Addy fingers the gas lamps rims, thinking abut what her old enslaver Master Stevens would say to know the Walkers now live in a gas-lit house (the plantation had just one in the parlor, with the rest of the house lit by candles and kerosene). After touring the house, Poppa and Momma unpack, Addy and Esther dust, and Sam gets fires burning in the fireplaces. Momma cooks cornbread and beans for supper and they eat together quietly. No one speaks about what happened with the policeman, but everyone other than Esther--who is too young--have it on their hearts.

Chapter Four: Troubling Answers

Chapter Five: A Cold Welcome

Chapter Six: The Mystery Woman

Chapter Seven: The Black Swan

Chapter Eight: A Strange Riddle

Chapter Nine: Confusion

Chapter Ten: Beautiful

Chapter Eleven: A Terrible Accusation

Chapter Twelve: From Bad to Worse

Chapter Thirteen: The Riddle Deepens

Chapter Fourteen: Caught

Chapter Fifteen: The Tale Is Told

Looking Back

Discusses the experiences of African Americans during the Reconstruction period. Topics covered:

  • The rights and freedoms formerly enslaved people in the South were granted after the Civil War, and the promise of Reconstruction
  • Ways many African Americans helped with the fight against slavery, including becoming abolitionists, joining the army and becoming spies for the Union
  • Harriet Tubman, who not only helped slaves escape through the Underground Railroad, but also operated a highly effective network of Black spies in South Carolina
  • Mary Elizabeth Bowser, who used her photographic memory to spy on President Jefferson Davis at the Confederate White House
  • The period following the Civil War, Reconstruction, which was intended to aid in helping elevate black people to their rights and restore the south after its damages sustained during the war.
  • The benefits and promises African Americans received during Reconstruction, such as the right to an education and the allowance for Black men to vote, including Black men being elected to Congress.
  • Southern states swiftly passing Black Codes to limit the freedoms of African Americans after Reconstruction was undermined by Southerners
  • Struggles many newly freed slaves faced with finding food and shelter, resulting with many living in conditions that were just as bad as slavery including sharecropping.
  • The Ku Klux Klan, a terrorist organization founded in 1866 that attacked and murdered black people, Jewish people, and other people in America they saw as undesirable.
  • Segregation Blacks faced in the North, and the pressures felt by northern cities when more immigrants and newly freed slaves began to arrive
  • How some light-skinned Blacks could 'pass' as Whites and the benefits of passing--ranging from small and immediate such as being allowed to use White facilities and get higher paid jobs, to larger situations where a person would pass fully as white.
  • Sacrifices passing Black people had to make in order to pass successfully, such as permanently abandoning their families and Black heritage
  • The 1960s Civil Rights Movement's aid with helping in reclaiming the equal rights that should have been enforced after the end of the Civil War

Book Covers



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Only mentioned, not seen.