The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

by David Wroblewski

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Part 4, Chapters 5-6 Summary

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While Henry is at work, Edgar cleans out his shed. Filled with a variety old farm equipment and machinery, the shed gives Edgar a chance to make up for stealing from Henry before Tinder’s accident. Henry says he wants to put an old car that is now sitting on blocks in the yard into the shed where it belongs. Edgar divides the trash into burn, sell, and save piles. As Edgar cleans, he sees a figure in the shadows out of the corner of his eyes. Rushing out of the shed, he looks back but sees nothing. The figure reappears as he works but disappears if he looks straight at it. From a sideways glance, Edgar can make out an old farmer who begins to speak. He explains that the trash is due to his wife, who made him save everything. When she died, he was going to clean out the shed, but he could not bring himself to do it. Eventually, the figure disappears.

When Henry comes home, he looks at the piles of trash in the yard, then looks into the shed and remarks that it looks as though there is the same amount of trash as before. He makes Edgar stop for the day. Henry has brought dog food and medicine, for which Edgar thanks him. Henry explains that he used to be engaged to a woman named Belva, who eventually broke it off because she found Henry too “ordinary.” That night, Edgar relaxes enough to go to sleep. Edgar realizes that he is beginning to trust Henry, but he has to think about moving on north once Tinder’s paw heals.

Over the next several days, Edgar cleans out the shed. The old farmer reappears frequently, commenting on the significance of each piece of trash that Edgar hauls out. One evening Henry suggests to Edgar that they go for a ride, taking the dogs with them. Edgar reluctantly agrees, and Henry drives through town and around back home. He explains that he had intended to take Edgar to the sheriff’s office but decided against it. Edgar and Henry put wheels on the old car and roll it into the now empty shed. As Henry looks at the trash, he decides that he cannot part with it after all, and they move it back in. Henry and Edgar go for another ride, this time in the daylight. Stopped by a passing train, Henry looks at the car next to him and sees Belva, his ex-fiancée. Edgar hides down in the seat as Henry talks to her. Henry explains that the dogs belong to his nephew, but Belva points out that he is an only child. Henry then tells her that she misunderstood. He meant “Nathoo” (the name Edgar gave to Henry instead of his real one). Henry tries to get Edgar to sit up. When he does, he notices the State Patrol car behind them.

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