Before the Tuck family departs, Jesse gives Winnie "a bottle of water from the spring" and instructs her to drink it when she turns seventeen. With this water, Winnie will be able to live forever like Jesse and his family. Winnie had wanted to live forever. She did not want to die. Her opinion changes, however. When she gets back home, she hides the bottle of spring water "in a bureau drawer."
Later, Winnie sees a dog bothering a toad. She chases it away and then goes up to her room to fetch the bottle of spring water. She impulsively "[pulls] out the cork from the mouth of the bottle" and dumps it onto the toad, causing it to live forever. Winnie reasons that there is still eternal water in the spring in the woods.
Winnie never drinks the water from the spring. She lives to be almost eighty-years-old before she dies. Jesse and his mother return to look for her in 1950, but they discover that she had already passed away. They later see the toad, who had been the recipient of the bottle of spring water, sitting in the road.