Chapter 8 Summary
Well before dawn the next morning, Sylvie wakes Ruth from a dead sleep and rushes her out the door. Sylvie has already packed a lunch, and practically forces breakfast onto Ruth. The two make their way in the dark down to the water where Sylvie insists there is a boat that she has been borrowing. When the boat is not in the place where she expects it, Sylvie explains that the boat is often moved to a different place. She finds it buried under some tree branches and ignores Ruth’s concerns that it belongs to someone else who doesn’t want her to use it. Sylvie hurries Ruth into the boat, pushes off, and begins rowing just as a man appears headed toward the shore. The man shouts at Sylvie and throws rocks at the boat while Sylvie rows furiously. The man follows them along the shore for some time, but eventually gives up and fades into the distance.
After a long trip, they eventually bring the ship ashore at one of the many islands in the middle of the huge lake. Sylvie insists that many people live on the islands, including children. During her previous visits there, Sylvie has been sure that some of the island children have been nearby, but she hasn’t seen them. She brings food in the pockets of her jacket, hoping they will show up and wonders if Lucille’s presence will lure them out. They go searching around, and suddenly Ruth realizes that Sylvie has disappeared. She searches for her for a long time, and becomes increasingly alarmed. Ruth finds the wreckage of a collapsed house and begins to toss lumber aside hoping to be able to build a fort for herself. She is near hysteria at the thought of having been abandoned when Sylvie reappears. Ruth collapses weeping into her arms, and Sylvie comforts her. It is very late when they head out, and darkness soon sets in. They become disoriented and have trouble finding their way back. Ruth dozes periodically as Sylvie rows. Eventually they get their bearings and realize they are far out of town. Sylvie decides to park the boat and walk up to the train tracks and catch a train into town.
The wait for the train feels endless; when one finally appears, Sylvie and Ruth jump into an open boxcar. They ride into town in the company of an indigent woman and jump off at the station in town. They walk through town back to the house and Ruth feels highly conspicuous. Shortly thereafter, Lucille shows up and wants to know where they two of them have been, but Ruth is too exhausted to explain.