Chapter 7 Summary
Bud enters the library hoping to find Miss Hill; perhaps she can help him. As always, he notices the smell of the library. It is hard to clearly identify the collection of fragrances that he detects because they are made up of an assortment of odors all mixed together. He closes his eyes and takes a breath: he smells the leather covers of old books, the cloth covers of new books (that creak when opened), and even the paper. Bud surmises that it must be all these scents mixed together that make it so easy for people to fall asleep in the library, which is almost as bad to do as laughing out loud.
Bud starts looking through the building for Miss Hill. He leaves his suitcase at the front desk for safekeeping then walks repeatedly down each aisle, but he cannot find her so he goes back to the lending desk to ask about his missing friend.
The librarian realizes that he must not have heard the news. (One of his rules suggests that “haven’t you heard?” asked by an adult usually means someone has kicked the bucket.) At his stricken look, the librarian smiles and explains that nothing bad has occurred. On the contrary, Miss Hill has married and is now living in Chicago. When Bud asks how far away this is and how long it would take him to get there, the librarian—using some books—does some math and explains it would take Bud fifty-four hours to walk from Flint, Michigan, to Chicago. She advises him that he should wait until Miss Hill, now Mrs. Rollins, comes back to town to visit.
Bud’s disappointment is obvious. He realizes that returning to the Home is out of the question. He does not want to return at all, but he also remembers how things have changed: when he first arrived at the Home, new kids rarely arrived, but now it is very crowded and new kids arrive and depart each day.
After a while, Bud retrieves his suitcase, leaves the library and its smells behind, and walks out into the regular, stinking air of Flint. When the door closes behind him, Bud is reminded of his mother's words about one door closing and another opening: he expects this is one of those situations. He figures he can anticipate another door opening soon.
Bud returns to the Christmas tree, climbs under the branches, and quickly falls asleep.