The View from Saturday

by E. L. Konigsburg

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Chapter 8 Summary

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After defeating Knightsbridge for the district championship, The Souls begin to drill for the regionals. Epiphany is in the Finger Lakes Region, which has never won a state championship. In contrast, the Hudson River Region, which includes their opponent, Maxwell Middle School, has won three times in the past four years. The week before the final competition, Mrs. Olinski arranges for a Saturday-afternoon study session. To her surprise, The Souls decline because they already have an engagement that day at Sillington House to meet for tea. With their explanation, The Souls extend an unspoken invitation to their teacher. Remembering that she has promised to one day treat herself to "another cup of slow tea," Mrs. Olinski decides that she, too, will go to Sillington House on Saturday afternoon.

When Mrs. Olinski arrives at the bed and breakfast, Mr. Singh meets her at the curb and pushes her to the porch and into the dining room. He tells her that they are glad she has come because "Sillington House is its own place," as she shall soon see. The Souls, who are standing at a table at the back of the room, welcome Mrs. Olinski, and Ethan pours her a cup of tea. As she sips it, she once again feels as if a weight is being lifted from her shoulders.

Other paying customers arrive, and The Souls excuse themselves to serve them. When the guests leave, the children go into the kitchen to help clean up, and Mr. Singh comes out to sit with Mrs. Olinski. Gravely, he tells her that The Souls had been getting worried because she had been about to choose someone else as the fourth member of her team, a choice that would have been "disastrous." Mrs. Olinski had never told anyone that she had considered choosing someone other than Julian. She wonders uneasily how Mr. Singh knows. Mr. Singh deepens her sense of discomfiture when he reveals that he is aware that the other student had been Hamilton Knapp. Again, Mrs. Olinski had never told anyone that she had almost chosen Ham. Mr. Singh senses Mrs. Olinski's unease and tells her that "later [she] will understand" what he is saying. For now, he just wants to thank her "for realizing that Julian [was] the necessary soul."

The Souls come back into the dining room, ready to practice. Mr. Singh gives Mrs. Olinski a pack of cards made by himself and the children. The questions address "languages and weights and measures," which are Mr. Singh's specialties, as well as two other topics, "music and the Bible." Noah argues that they should not need to study the questions from the Bible, as they attend a public school supported by secular taxpayers, and would not be quizzed on it. Mrs. Olinski, who had not learned until today that her team calls themselves The Souls, muses that she both likes the name and is comfortable with the category of the Bible. She suggests that it would not hurt if the children were familiar with material from the Koran and the Upanishads as well.

Mrs. Olinski takes a sense of peace and gladness with her when she leaves Sillington House. She also feels confident that "The Finger Lakes Regional Championship [is] in the bag."

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