Pages 324-328 Summary
Mary and Celestine are torn between sitting high in the grandstands under an awning and roasting in the front row closest to the royal platform. They choose the front row and wait in silence. They see a priest sitting at the end of the row, and Celestine considers getting him to help Sita, but Mary reminds her that Sita has left the church. It does feel as they should have done something for Sita, and Celestine thinks the solid-looking priest looks quite capable of helping if they asked him.
Russell arrives and finally the princesses claim the platform. Dot is the last to arrive. Mary thinks Dot looks stunning, like an “ancient pagan goddess,” but Celestine thinks her daughter looks uncomfortable and perhaps desperate. The entire crowd is uncomfortable, even miserable. Karl and Pfef, both soaked, are distraught, and Pfef explains to the women that Dot knows he rigged the pageant to get her elected. Celestine does not believe him, but Mary always expects the worst and is not surprised.
As the mayor drones out his prepared welcome speech, the pilot of a small plane in the nearly field prepares to do what Pfef paid him to do. Suddenly Dot runs off the platform and, without asking, hauls herself into the plane. The crowd is mesmerized as the plane takes off and glides in and out of the clouds above them before skywriting “Queen Wallacette” in the air before “disappearing over the treeline.”
After a few seconds of silence, the mayor gives Celestine the roses Dot should have received; soon the entire grandstand is empty except for four people, all of them listening for the airplane’s return. They are a strangely connected group, watching Dot’s name get sucked, letter by letter, back into space.