The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

by David Wroblewski

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Part 5, Chapters 9-10 Summary

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Edgar slips into the barn and puts Essay into the pen with her littermates. He begins searching for the bottle Claude had hidden. Because Claude was handling it so carefully, Edgar reasons that he would not keep it in the house; he also did not seem to want to throw it away after all this time. Edgar looks in the medicine cabinet but finds nothing.

Suddenly he feels a hand holding a cloth over his mouth. He smells an odor and recognizes it as Prestone, which is almost pure ether. He hears Glen’s voice telling him to wait. Edgar tries holding his breath but, as Glen points out, this will only make him breathe deeper. As Edgar slips into semiconsciousness, Glen carries him to the barn door. When Glen sets him down to open the door, Edgar reaches out and finds the can of quicklime. When Glen picks him up again, Edgar dumps the quicklime over Glen’s head. With his eyes burning, Glen sets Edgar down and begs him to get some water to wash the lime away. Edgar staggers to the door and out into the fresh air, which begins to clear away the fumes of the ether from the broken bottle Glen dropped. Glen comes out to lean against the tractor, screaming for someone to help him. Trudy hears him from the house and rushes out.

Trudy lies awake, listening for Edgar’s steps to come onto the porch. She does not understand what he is looking for in the barn. She sits up in bed when she hears a man’s voice and the dogs barking. Claude tells her to stay in bed while he checks. She notices that his face looks more alarmed than puzzled. She recognizes the voice as Glen’s, and Claude says that he is probably drunk again. Trudy runs out to the porch to see Glen kneeling against the tractor. She also sees Edgar by the barn. Claude just stands on the porch as Trudy runs out. She is not sure whether to go to Edgar or just get Claude and Glen back to the house. Trudy demands to know what Glen is doing there. Writhing with the pain of his burning eyes, Glen tells her that he just wanted to ask Edgar a question and pleads with Claude to validate this. Claude says he is drunk, and Trudy calls Claude a liar. She smacks Glen in the face and tells him she’s not doing anything until she knows her son is safe.

As Trudy moves to the barn, there is an explosion and barn begins to burn. She tells Claude to call the fire department and accuses Glen of setting their barn on fire as she rushes to the barn. She finds Edgar letting all the dogs free. After some commotion, she gets them to all stay. Their obedience amidst all the chaos surprises her.

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