Lyddie’s dream was to return to the family farm with her sister Rachel.
Since her family was split up, Lyddie wanted nothing more than to get them back together. Lyddie’s job at the factory was supposed to give her the money to reunite them, but the dream began to slowly slip away. Her mother was institutionalized and her youngest sister died. Her brother was happy at the mill. No one had heard from her father for years. Lyddie wanted everyone together back on the farm, but she knew it was hardly possible.
Rachel was dropped off at Lyddie’s boarding house, and while Lyddie was happy to have her sister with her, she was also worried about what to do with her. Rachel was weak and sickly.
Lyddie mustn't worry. Summer was here. The weather was warm. Rachel would be over it soon. They'd take July off. Go back to the farm, the two of them. But it was a vain dream, Lyddie knew. There would be nothing to eat there. The cow was gone and no crops planted. (Ch. 15)
Lyddie’s farm was lent out by her mother and then sold by her uncle. Even if Lyddie was able to go back to the farm, she realized that there was nothing left there. Lyddie had no family there, and the farm was not hers anymore. She would not be able to stay there.
Lyddie considered sending her little sister to Cutler’s Tavern, but she didn't want to do to her sister what her mother did to her.
Triphena. She would send Rachel to Triphena. But Triphena meant Mistress Cutler as well as that lonely, airless attic. How could she do to Rachel at eight what her mother had done to her at thirteen? (Ch. 15)
Lyddie did not want to sell her little sister into servitude. She felt terrible when her mother did that to her. Yet Rachel was too young to work at the factory and not allowed to stay with Lyddie. Lyddie just wasn’t sure what to do with her.