In spring, the maple syrup sugar making is done and Mrs. Cutler leaves to sell it.
During the winter, Lyddie and the others at the tavern work hard making maple tree syrup into maple sugar. It is a “frenzy of activity” and also hot and exhausting work. Lyddie is tasked with clarifying the syrup in addition to all of her other work.
When spring comes, they no longer need to make maple sugar. The mistress of the tavern, Mrs. Cutler, went to sell what they had made. This made the work much lighter for Lyddie and Triphena.
Work did not disappear with the departure of the mistress, but it became as pleasant as a holiday. "If I could make life so happy for others just by going away, I'd go more often," Triphena said. (Ch. 5)
Triphena tells Lyddie that she can take a few days off. Lyddie is skeptical. Triphena points out that she always does it. Lyddie wants to make sure it will be all right.
"If I say so," Triphena said. "With her gone, I'm in charge, ey?" Lyddie wasn't going to argue. "If you was to wait, the ground would thaw to mud. Better go tomorrow if it's fair. Take a little sugar to your brother on the way." (Ch. 5)
Lyddie believes her. She desperately wants to go home to see her brother. It turns out to be a mistake. Mrs. Cutler is angry when she finds out, and says that Lyddie left without permission. It isn’t true, but Lyddie is fired anyway.
It is very unfair, because Lyddie is an excellent worker. She is happy to go though, because she hates working at the tavern. Her money is sent directly to her mother and she feels like a slave. Lyddie knows she can make more and have more freedom at the factory.