Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 808
A blizzard strikes that night, leaving the residents of Sunset Towers “snowbound—with a murderer.” The electricity is out, and Turtle takes advantage of the situation by selling homemade, gaily striped candles left over from summer camp; the candles tell time: each stripe burns for half an hour. Sydelle Pulaski receives numerous invitations to coffee and afternoon tea from players hoping she will share her shorthand copy of the will with them. None of them get what they are seeking.
Sydelle takes Angela over to visit Chris Theodorakis, who is looking in a book at a picture of various grains and is delighted with the company. The boy sees that Sydelle limps, but he recognizes her disability as a pretend limp; she is not the person he saw entering the Westing mansion. Chris pictures his clues in his mind: “FOR - PLAIN - GRAIN - SHED.” He wonders if “grain,” which might refer to “oats,” might point to Otis Amber and if “for” plus the d from “shed” might indicate J. J. Ford.
“SEA - MOUNTAIN - AM - O” are the clues that belong to Turtle and Flora Baumbach. Turtle thinks they stand for the names of corporations on the stock market and convinces Flora that Sam Westing would want them to use their money to invest.
Grace Wexler’s and Mr. Hoo’s clues read “FRUITED - PURPLE - WAVES - FOR - SEA.” Grace entertains the idea that “for” and “sea” are actually 4C, the number of the Hoos’s apartment. Mr. Hoo feels insulted at her suggestion that he might be the murderer and leaves in a huff. Grace Windsor Wexler, also known as Gracie Windklopper Wexler, vows not to endorse their $10,000 check.
Doug Hoo and Theo Theodorakis are stumped on their clues, “HIS - N - ON - TO - THEE - FOR,” and Theo suggests that perhaps everyone’s clues should be put together to make a meaningful message.
As Judge J. J. Ford ruminates on the clues she shares with the doorman, “SKIES - AM - SHINING - BROTHER,” she considers that Sam Westing “was not the type to let himself get killed.” She comes to the conclusion that the crafty businessman has concocted this game to exact revenge on one of the heirs who is, for some reason, an enemy. Resolving to identify and save the hypothetical victim, she calls the newspaper to find out if there might be any information in the archives about the players and their relationship to Sam Westing.
While scouring Turtle’s room for the newspaper article about Westing’s death, Angela takes a peek at her diary, which leads her to believe that one of her sister’s clues is “MT,” which might stand for “mountain” or “empty.” Angela and Sydelle examine their own clues—“GOOD - GRACE - FROM - HOOD - SPACIOUS”—as well as those they have discerned from watching the behavior of others: “KING - QUEEN - PURPLE - WAVES - ON(NO) - GRAINS - MOUNTAIN (MT/EMPTY).” After briefly considering then rejecting the idea that “grace” might refer to Angela’s mother, Grace Wexler, Sydelle goes back to her apartment with the intention of transcribing her shorthand copy of the will, but her notes are gone.
Sydelle Pulaski’s notebook is not the only item that has been stolen recently. The back wall of Sunset Towers’s elevator becomes a bulletin board of sorts. Sydelle reports the loss of “important business papers,” Turtle asks for the return of her Mickey Mouse alarm clock, and Grace Wexler inquires about a missing silver cross on a chain. Among the other postings, J. J. Ford invites everyone...
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to an informal party she will be having that evening.
When Grace Wexler offers to fix Turtle’s hair later that day, the young girl is at first taken aback at her mother’s uncharacteristic sweetness, but she quickly catches on to her mother’s intent when Grace tries to get her to share her clues. Angela comes home without her engagement ring, and, in answer to her mother’s query, complains that she has a rash on her finger. Sydelle Pulaski clumps into the apartment after Angela; her crutch is now painted in black and white squares to match her new dress. Grace tries to get Sydelle to share her notes with her, announcing that if she wins the inheritance, she will give everything to Angela. Turtle reacts to the slight by bouncing up in anger, kicking the furniture, and shoving her way out of the room.
The newspaperman calls Judge Ford with information on several of the heirs. Most intriguing is news of a lawsuit that was brought against Sam Westing by an inventor named James Hoo. The doorbell then rings, reminding J. J. Ford that the party is about to begin.