Chapter 7 Summary

After Miles leaves, Lucky considers how to avoid having to move away from Hard Pan and live with a foster family. Lucky thinks that if she can become a world-famous scientist, Brigitte will not miss France so much. She will be too busy basking in “the extreme glory of being a world-famous scientist’s guardian.” Lucky figures that to get famous, she will need to lure people to Hard Pan to see her scientific work. She decides to make a new, fascinating exhibit for the Found Object Wind Chime Museum and Visitor Center. The museum is not “museumy enough,” but if Lucky can make a fantastic exhibit, then people around the world—even in France—will hear about it and come to see it. If that happens, then Brigitte will be able to speak French to the visitors. All the French mothers will say they are jealous and wish they could have wards like Lucky.

At ten o’clock, most of the grown-ups in Hard Pan go to the post office. There is no store or restaurant or gas station in town, so the post office is the one place for people to gather and hear everyone else’s news while the Captain puts the mail in everyone’s PO boxes. Lucky knows that Brigitte will be gone for half an hour or more, so there will be plenty of time to start working on the museum display. Before she leaves, Brigitte asks Lucky to put the wash in the dryer when the cycle finishes.

As soon as Brigitte drives away, Lucky gets out all her best insect specimens. She is not supposed to put bugs on the kitchen table, but she does it anyway; it is the only place where she has enough room. She owns a number of impressive desert insects, including a tarantula, a scorpion, and a hawk wasp. She begins by writing a description of the wasp, an inch-long insect with orange wings that often dive bombs passing people. Lucky knows that many people, including Brigitte, are scared of hawk wasps, but fear is unnecessary. The wasps do not hurt people. They only hurt tarantulas.

Lucky works hard to make her description of the wasp “dramatic and scientific.” She begins with a title and a warning: “DO NOT READ ALOUD TO YOUNG CHILDREN.” Then she explains how the hawk wasp does not sting people but does sting tarantulas. The wasp’s venom paralyzes its tarantula victim. The wasp lays an egg in the tarantula’s still-living body and buries it. Later a grub hatches and eats the tarantula from the inside.

When Lucky finishes her description, she feels very proud. She imagines all the tourists commenting on how interesting and informative Hard Pan’s museum is. She imagines them saying, “I never thought I’d feel sorry for a tarantula!” Her reverie is interrupted when Brigitte walks in the front door.