The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

by David Wroblewski

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Part 3, Chapters 7-8 Summary

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Edgar bicycles into Popcorn Corners, carrying the picture of Claude and Forte in his pocket. He goes into Ida Paine’s grocery store, greets her, and then walks along the aisles. He asks Ida for a Coke. Ida talks to Edgar about his father. She says that she had seen Gar only a week before his death and knew at that time that it might be the last time she saw him. She describes it as a “juice” that flows from the person when she touches someone. She tells Edgar to show her what he brought her. He shows her the photograph of Claude and Edgar. Ida says that she has not seen Claude for a long time, though she remembers him, especially the dogfights. She hands back the photograph, crushing it in Edgar’s fist. She tells him to look for “that bottle.” If he cannot find it, he is to leave and not come back. Edgar does not understand, but he suddenly has a vision of a bottle shaped like an old inkwell with oily liquid inside; the bottle's label has foreign writing.

When Edgar returns home, he sees Claude working in the kennel, with Almondine lying beside him. Edgar sees this as a betrayal on Almondine’s part. When he leaves, she follows him out. He signs for her to stay, which she does for a moment, then follows him. He angrily picks her up by her ruff and shakes her, then signs again. He walks away, but returns and apologizes when he feels remorse. He goes into the house, commanding her again to stay.

Mr. Benson, a man from Texas, comes to pick up a couple of the Sawtelle dogs. Doctor Papineau is also present, as he usually tries to be when a dog is placed. Benson mentions a “branch contract,” and Edgar becomes suspicious, connecting this with the conversation he had overheard between Doctor Papineau and Claude. Benson wants to see the litter that Edgar is training, impressed with how well Edgar communicates with the dogs. Edgar improvises a little “performance” by the dogs. Handing one dog a syringe, he signals it to place the syringe against the hip of another dog, as if it is injecting it. The dogs repeat this several times, and Edgar watches the frozen expression on Claude’s face. When Edgar signals the dog to place the syringe against Claude’s leg, Claude panics and leaves. After Mr. Benson leaves, Trudy demands to know what the performance was all about. Determined to make his mother understand Claude’s involvement in Gar’s death, Edgar physically drags her into the barn to show her what had happened. When he hears movement behind the barn door, he thinks it is Claude listening in. Edgar grabs a hay hook and stabs it into the door. When Trudy and Edgar look, it is not Claude but Doctor Papineau who is dead. Trudy tells Edgar to run away into the woods. Edgar takes off, followed by three of the dogs. He sees the police car, driven by Glen (Doctor Papineau’s son), approach the barn. Edgar, along with the dogs, flees into the Chequamegon woods.

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