Chapter 16 Summary

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When Bud awakens the next morning, he finds himself beneath the covers. His clothes are stacked in a neat pile nearby, the way his Momma used to fold them. He realizes that Miss Thomas must have come by during the night, undressed him, and put him in bed. Bud dresses quickly. Drawn by the sound of laughter and talking emanating from the kitchen, he tiptoes quietly down the stairs. When he gets to the kitchen door, he overhears Miss Thomas telling Herman E. Calloway:

You have no idea how bad those orphanages can'll take care of any stray dog wandering through this neighborhood, but when it comes to a child all of a sudden you have no sympathy.

Mr. Calloway replies caustically that he is going to "find out what the real story is in Flint," and Miss Thomas says:

That's fine, I believe the child...until we've heard otherwise from Flint, he's staying right here.

Not wanting to be caught eavesdropping, Bud hurries soundlessly back upstairs. He loudly washes up in the bathroom and clumps down the hall and back down the steps as if he has just awakened. When he enters the kitchen, everyone has looks on their faces "like they hadn't been talking about [him] at all." 

Bud says "good morning." His greeting is heartily returned by everyone except Mr. Calloway, who gets up from the table and goes outside, using the excuse that he needs to work on his car. In his absence, Miss Thomas, Steady Eddie, and Mr. Jimmy tease the boy good-naturedly for sleeping in so long; it is after noon, and lunch will be ready soon. Miss Thomas then tells Bud that she and Mr. Calloway and the band discussed his situation "for a long time" the night before. They have decided that, though they need to talk to some people in Flint before any arrangements are finalized, they would like Bud to stay at Grand Calloway Station with them "for a while."

Bud's gigantic smile signals his delighted assent, but Miss Thomas cautions him that he will have "a lot of chores and things to take care of." He will be expected to "pull [his] own weight [around here] the best [he] can." Among his hardest assignments will be to practice patience, especially as it pertains to Mr. Calloway. Despite Bud's frail build, Miss Thomas has no doubt that he is physically strong enough to do the work that will be required of him. She also recognizes that he is uncommonly resilient in spirit, but she warns him that things will, without a doubt, get very hard at times. The kind woman wants Bud to always remember that, no matter what, they consider him to be "a godsend" to them and that he is going to be "part of the family."

Steady Eddie gives Bud an old saxophone case in which to carry his valuables. Now that the boy will be traveling with the band, his old, tattered suitcase will not do. The rest of the band members arrive then. After hearing the good news, they enthusiastically welcome Bud "on board." Steady Eddie informs the boy that Herman E. Calloway requires all musicians to practice for two hours a day and presents him with his first instrument, a "skinny wooden flute" called a recorder, which Bud will use until he is ready to "move on to something a little more complicated." Ecstatic, Bud expresses his thanks, but the band members are not finished with his initiation. Bud, like all of them, must have a nickname. After careful deliberation, they settle on the moniker "Sleepy LaBone."

Mr. Jimmy then instructs Bud to kneel down. He taps Bud three times on the head with the recorder, ceremoniously proclaiming, "Arise and welcome to the band, Mr. Sleepy LaBone." Bud stands and looks around at everyone. He is grateful beyond words for the acceptance they have shown him. He is also thrilled with his new name, which is amazing enough to make him want to practice four hours a day, "just so [he] could live up to it!"

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