Chapters 21-23 Summary
At the police station, Marshall will not answer the inspector's questions, but he will talk to April if she does the asking. The little boy says that the man who grabbed April had orange hair and "spotted" skin. He identifies the culprit as the "man who carries things at the store," but the inspector does not hear him.
The Professor is brought in, looking nervous and disheveled. When April, at the inspector's direction, asks Marshall if the reclusive man is the criminal, the boy responds that he is not. Marshall describes the Professor as "the man who watches us all the time...[from] his window." He says that the Professor is the one who broke the window when April was in trouble, and called for help.
Marshall reiterates that the person who tried to hurt April was the man who works at Mr. Schmitt's store, and April tells the inspector that he is referring to the shop's stockboy. The next day, Marshall picks the perpetrator, a red-headed man with freckles, out of a police lineup. The stockboy confesses to assaulting April, and to murdering the two other children in the neighborhood as well.
News gets around, and Marshall is regarded as a hero, but his newfound fame does not go to his head. The only difference in his behavior is an increased confidence in manner; he no longer needs to take Security with him wherever he goes, and only needs his stuffed octopus at night, when he is going to bed.
Gains and Losses
After April's close call, the Professor's storage yard is boarded up. The children mourn the loss of Egypt; in addition to being "full of...mystery and way-out imagining," the Egypt Game had been something special, "meant to be shared with best friends only—a life unknown to grown-ups and lived by kids alone."
At the beginning of Christmas vacation, April goes to the Professor's store, and finds that it is much changed. Mrs. Chung works there now, and things look "cleaner and brighter and not so cluttered." Uncharacteristically, the shop is filled with customers, and April must wait to see the Professor, whose real name, she learns, is Dr. Julian Huddleston.
When April thanks him for saving her life, Dr. Huddleston self-effacingly downplays his role in the incident. He shows April some Egyptian artifacts he has in a box on a shelf, and the two examine the pieces with shared interest. In answer to her question, Dr. Huddleston explains that he is not a medical doctor, but a doctor of philosophy, and says that he would prefer it if she and her friends would continue to simply call him "the Professor."
Later that day, April receives a letter from her mother, inviting her to come to Palm Springs for a few days to spend time with her and her new husband. Examining her own reactions, April finds that her feelings are muted; she is only a little happy to be asked, and also only a little angry "to be asked so late and for so little." April declines the invitation, telling her mother that she already has plans for Christmas with her friend Melanie, and with Caroline, whom she now calls "Grandma."
After dinner on Christmas Eve, the Professor meets with the Egypt gang at the Halls' apartment. He has come to tell them a story; a "Christmas story, in a way," but one that is sad, and yes, even terrible, but one which he feels they ought to hear.
The story begins when he was a young professor at the university. He had always been quiet and reserved, until one of his students, a young woman named Anne, came into his life and changed it forever. In contrast to the dour Professor, Anne was "fun-loving...and optimistic." They married, and spent their lives traveling; he studied the cultures of native tribes around the world, while she got involved "in various efforts to improve the living conditions of the people" in the areas they visited.
On their last trip, there was a local rebellion where Anne was working, and, tragically, she was killed. The Professor retreated into the small store near the Casa...
(The entire section is 1,047 words.)