Part 4, Chapters 1-2 Summary
Edgar walks deep into the woods with the three dogs: Essay, Tinder, and Baboo. Soaked by the rain and the dew, Edgar tries to dry off his clothes but is unsuccessful. He tries to find food for himself and the dogs, but there is nothing around. He has to stay off the road to avoid being seen. At one spot, he hears a car approach. Hiding in the bushes, he sees that it is Glen Papineau, who calls out for him. Glen drives off, and Edgar crosses the road and continues into the woods. The dogs find some turtle eggs to eat, and Edgar finds a few blueberries. The cabins he comes across are locked, but he knows that a woodsman would not leave any food inside to attract wild animals. On the third day, Edgar sees a cabin that looks occupied. The door is locked, and no one is inside. Edgar pries open the screen and enters. He takes several food items, including a can opener, and is about to leave when he spots a piece of paper on the table. It is a notice about Edgar, who is listed as a runaway. Edgar leaves the cabin and eats the food slowly, sharing it with the three dogs.
As the days progress, Edgar heads northward, always keeping to the woods. He becomes adept at taking food and supplies from cabins whose residents are not at home. During the Fourth of July holidays, the dogs howl at the noise of the fireworks. Edgar knows he should try to stop them to avoid detection, but he likes the sound after the lonesomeness of the woods. Edgar dreams of Almondine, thinking how much he misses her presence as well as the sound of voices.
At one cabin, Edgar spots a car by a cabin where he had seen car keys on the table. He contemplates taking the car but decides that car theft will only bring the police faster. As he continues to walk north, he comes to more meadows. At one point, he is spotted by two girls. The three dogs immediately bound toward them, encircling the girls so that they will not approach Edgar. As Edgar signs to them, the girls run off, awed by what they had seen. Edgar worries about the encounter. The police would be sure to believe the girls’ report and follow Edgar’s trail. He does not linger; he drives the dogs forward into the deep woods. He becomes homesick for the first time. They approach a tumbledown barn, surrounded by a field of sunflowers. After looking into the barn, Edgar leads the dogs into the sunflowers.