Chapter 7 Summary
During the summer, the girls’ lack of structure under Sylvie’s supervision worsens. One evening, Lucille and Ruth stray too far into the woods and get lost. They end up building a ramshackle fort and sleeping outdoors surrounded by wild animals and all of the elements. When they finally get home, bedraggled and exhausted, Sylvie acts as if there is nothing unusual about their disappearance. This seems to enrage Lucille even more than usual, and she storms off to her room. After dozing fitfully, Ruth goes to see Lucille, who insists that they dress up and go into town. Lucille is particularly fussy about Ruth’s choice in clothing, and the two finally head off to town. Lucille becomes increasingly exasperated by Ruth’s awkwardness as they shop; eventually she asks her sister to go home.
When Lucille returns home, she has purchased fabric and a pattern to make herself a new dress. Lucille enlists Ruth to help her, and asks her sister to get a dictionary to look up unfamiliar terminology in the pattern’s instructions. As Ruth flips through the dictionary, she finds pressed flowers and becomes distracted by them. Lucille wants help with the sewing while Ruth ponders where to put the pressed flowers. Frustrated, Lucille deliberately crushes the flowers and yells at her sister for being unwilling to help her. They get into a big fight and don’t speak to each other for several days. Lucille doesn’t have much luck in constructing the dress and one day brings the dress down and burns it in the stove, pins and all. Ruth and Lucille make some amends, but Lucille is disturbed by Ruth’s similarity to Sylvie. Insisting that they have isolated themselves, Lucille tells her sister that they need to socialize with other people.
On the first day of school, the principal calls the sisters into the office demanding an explanation for their absences from school the previous year. Ruth says little, and Lucille tries to blame Sylvie. Lucille then proceeds to ignore Ruth at school as she attempts to make friends of her own. One night, after a school dance, Lucille packs a bag and goes to the home of Miss Royce, the home economics teacher, begging to stay with her. Miss Royce, already getting wind of Sylvie’s unusual handling of the girls, relents. Sylvie is puzzled by Lucille’s departure and vows to become closer to Ruth. She makes plans for them to spend Monday together, promising to write a note to excuse Ruth from school.