Chapter 11 Summary
When the sheriff leaves, Sylvie and Ruth realize the reality of the situation: Sylvie will lose Ruth and possibly they house as well. Unable to face that inevitability, they decide to burn the house down. The task proves more difficult than they first thought, because every time they start a fire it fizzles out because the house is so damp. Eventually, Ruth and Sylvie get a few fires going and flee, knowing that the fire will soon attract the attention of the rest of the town. Racing through the dark, Sylvie tells Ruth that they will jump on a train headed out of town before the fire is discovered. Unfortunately, they are too late and miss the last train leaving Fingerbone.
Sylvie knows that they have few options because the sheriff and other people in town will soon be looking for them. Realizing they have no other choice, she tells Ruth that they must walk over the long train trestle that crosses the lake. Terrified, Ruth complies, gingerly taking the slats two at a time. Ruth can barely see in front of her, and hears Sylvie more than she can see her. As she crosses the massive lake, Ruth realizes that this massive body of water is the final resting place of both her mother and her grandfather; she imagines a reversal in time in which her grandfather’s train comes back out of the water and is able to complete its journey.
A newspaper article states that Ruth and Sylvie fell into the same watery depths that claimed their relatives. As Sylvie had assumed, when whoever was following them arrived at the bridge, they assumed that the two women fell or jumped. In reality, Sylvie and Ruth hid on the other side of the lake until another outbound train passed by. They jumped aboard and became transients. They travel around the northwest, occasionally stopping to live in one place for awhile. Ruth even takes jobs periodically, until she feels that someone notices her difference. She isn’t exactly sure how she and Sylvie became so different, but is often keenly aware that they are. Occasionally, one of the trains they hopped on will pass through Fingerbone again, but they never got off there. They wonder if their house has been renovated or replaced with a newer house. Ruth often wonders about Lucille and where her life took her. She had always wanted to go to Boston, but when Sylvie looks for her name in a Boston phone book, none matched. Ruth knows that wherever Lucille is, she is forever haunted by the memory of Sylvie and herself.