Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 505
Opal and the preacher walk back to Gloria’s house, and they hear music a block away. When they enter Gloria’s kitchen, they see Gloria and Miss Franny sitting around Otis, smiling and singing while he plays the guitar. Sweetie Pie is sitting in Gloria’s lap, and Amanda, Dunlap, and Stevie are sitting on the kitchen floor. All of them are singing and clapping and having a great time.
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Opal is shocked that they are all so happy even though Winn-Dixie is missing. Opal shouts to everyone that she and the preacher were not able to find Winn-Dixie. Otis stops playing the guitar. Gloria looks at Opal and tells her that she already knows that Opal and the preacher did not find Winn-Dixie—he was right there in the kitchen all along. Gloria takes up her cane and pokes under her chair; she tells the dog to come out of hiding. Winn-Dixie snuffles under the chair. Gloria says Winn-Dixie is sleeping because he wore himself out being scared of the thunderstorm. Gloria pokes with her cane again, and Winn-Dixie comes out and yawns. Gertrude squawks, “Dog,” and Winn-Dixie smiles, wags his tail, and sneezes. Opal rushes past everyone, drops to the floor, and gives Winn-Dixie a big hug.
Opal asks Gloria how she found him, and Miss Franny says it is a long story. Gloria says that everyone was just sitting around waiting for Opal and the preacher to return. To pass the time, Gloria convinced the Dewberry boys that she is not a witch. Stevie confirms and looks disappointed that the myth is now over. Gloria says that when they were through with the “witchy” things, Miss Franny suggested they have some music while they wait. Otis played his guitar. Gloria says that Otis has a gift because he can play any song on his guitar just by listening to someone hum the tune. Gloria and Miss Franny brought up all the songs they knew as girls when suddenly someone sneezed. When they looked around, they could see that none of the people sneezed. At first they thought there might be a burglar in the house, but not finding one, they started singing again. Then they heard another sneeze. The sound came from the bedroom, so Gloria sent Otis in to check. He found Winn-Dixie hiding under the bed, but every time Otis played the guitar, Winn-Dixie forgot he was afraid and would smile and wag his tail. So Otis played, and Winn-Dixie eventually crept out from under the bed. When he got out, he was covered in dust like a ghost. When the storm stopped, Winn-Dixie lay down under Gloria’s chair.
Opal thanks everyone, and Gloria says that while she was gone, everyone got to be good friends. The preacher sits down and asks Otis if he knows any hymns. The preacher begins to hum, and Otis picks out the tune on his guitar. Opal looks at the happiness on the faces of her friends, and her heart feels full.