Chapter 32 Summary
On the day of the picnic, Tom and Becky go into the cave with the other children. They quickly get tired of the hide-and-seek game everyone else is playing, and they decide to explore instead. Tom goes behind a waterfall and finds a downward passageway, much like a staircase. The two of them poke around for a while, marking their turns with smoke from a candle. Soon they find themselves in a magnificent world of stalactites and stalagmites. They come into a large chamber and disturb a family of bats, which chase them, putting out Becky’s candle. Tom relights it with his own candle, but when the two of them decide to turn back, he suggests taking a different route. They have no matches, so he does not want to go past the bats and risk losing both flames at once.
Tom investigates a whole series of passages, but does not recognize any of them. He tries to keep Becky cheerful, but she soon realizes that they are lost. Becky suggests retracing their steps, but this does not work. It never occurs to Tom to mark their latest turns with candle smoke; he thought he would find his way forward without needing to turn back. Becky begins to cry. Tom berates himself, admitting it is all his fault they are lost. Becky does not want him to feel this way, so she tries to cheer Tom up.
The children push onward, looking for a way back to the cave entrance. Tom scares Becky by blowing out her candle. While she knows he has a whole candle, plus several pieces of candle in his pocket, she does not want to imagine being stuck in the cave long enough to use them all up.
When the children stop to rest, Becky falls asleep for a while. They share a piece of cake that Tom stowed in his pocket during the picnic. Becky cries again, but Tom assures her that people will miss them and search for them. They quickly realize, however, that Becky is not expected home that night. And because Tom has a bad habit of staying out late, it is possible that neither child will be missed until the following day.
Eventually Tom stops beside a spring and admits that they can go no farther. Their last stub of candle is about to burn out, and they need to stay near water. For a time, he and Becky sit hopelessly in the darkness by the spring. When at last they hear voices calling, they grab each other by the hand and try to make their way toward the searchers. They shout and shout, but the sounds of the searchers...
(The entire section is 699 words.)