Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version
Tea Cake writes to Janie from Jacksonville, where he has been working. He tells her to wear the blue wedding dress and take the next train. Some townspeople see her go, and although they admit she looks good, it is hard for them "to love a woman that always made [them] feel so wishful." Tea Cake meets her train, and they go straight to the preacher. After the wedding ceremony, the newlyweds go to his rooming house. Janie is "so glad, she is scared of herself." They go out on the town, spending only Tea Cake's money; Janie hides her own two-hundred dollars inside of her clothes, for just-in-case. After a week, Janie sends Pheoby a postcard to let her know that everything is great.
One morning Tea Cake gets up before Janie, and she asks him to go and buy some fish to fry for breakfast while she sleeps a bit longer. When she wakes up, he is not back. She waits and waits; at noon, she discovers that her two- hundred dollars are missing. All day and all night go by without a word from Tea Cake, and the next morning Janie thinks about Mrs. Tyler. A widow in her fifties with a house and insurance money, Mrs. Tyler developed a liking for younger men. After she spent her money on them, they always left her. The last one persuaded her to sell her house and follow him to Tampa, where he stole all her money and abandoned her. She had left Eatonville crammed into sexy clothes and sure of herself; she returned a broken and pathetic old fool, hanging and hungry. A grown daughter took her in to die. The images of Mrs. Tyler haunt Janie. She prays to God that Tea Cake still loves her, for she has waited a long, lonely time for him in her life.
At sundown, Janie goes into an unsound sleep. A bit later she hears a guitar in the hall, and Tea Cake walks in strumming and grinning. He sees that she is upset and guesses that it is about the money. He assures her that he has not spent it on another woman and teases her about doubting his love for her. She calls him a "lil boy rooster." He insists on eating before he will tell her the story.
When he found all Janie's money, Tea Cake got "excited and felt like letting folks know who he was." He ran into some friends and wanted to spend some money on them, to feel like a millionaire. He decided to give a big feast, free to his friends, with chicken, biscuits, macaroni, and music. He tells how one man came and made trouble, being picky about the free food, and how another two men nearly started a fight; Tea Cake successfully settled the problems. When Tea Cake realized that the guitar player only knew a few songs, he bought the guitar and had fun playing himself. Janie wonders why he did not come and get her for all the fun. Tea Cake claims that he wanted to, several times, but he did not believe that a high-brow like her would like such goings on and that he did not want her to leave him when she saw his low-class friends. He had made a vow to himself when they married that he would not drag her down.
Janie tells him that she will kill him if he ever goes off to have fun without taking her again. She wants to be part of all of his life. He agrees and assures her that he will return the money, for his payday is coming up. He plans to win her money back by gambling. He tells her he is one of the best gamblers God ever made. Janie watches him throw dice and play cards all week, practicing up. On payday, he buys a new switchblade and two decks of cards, cuts a piece of Janie's hair off for good luck, and goes off to win the money. Janie waits all evening, worrying about the idea of Tea Cake being a gambler and deciding that it does not matter what other folks think about such things because she knows he is a good man. She thinks about the knife he has purchased and hopes no one hurts him.