Soon June arrives, and with it, the last day of school. Woo hoo! Rob walks home with his report card in his pocket, happy that the school year is over.
He sees Pinky from afar, playing and ambling around in front of her pen.
She's grown quite a lot since Rob first got her, and now she's almost as big as he is.
When Rob gets to the house, Mama is on the front stoop, beckoning him to come in.
His Aunt Matty, from town, has come to visit. (She's not Rob's real aunt, just a distantly related friend of his mother's.) Rob shows his report card to Mama and Aunt Carrie.
They can only read a little, but they're pleased that he received As in almost every subject.
For some reason (ahem), he doesn't point out that he got a D in English.
Aunt Matty, though, can read, and she is shocked that Rob got a D—and in English, of all subjects! (Obviously he didn't have your trusty friend Shmoop to help him out, right?)
Aunt Matty says that there is a remedy, though. The word "remedy" is a word Rob has heard before—in his world, a spoonful of remedy is something his mother gives him when he's not feeling well. It makes you "go to the backhouse a lot" and it makes "your butt burn like Hellfire" (6.24). Whoa. That's definitely enough detail for us, thanks.
But no, Aunt Matty's remedy is different. She says that Rob just needs a tutor, but Rob doesn't understand why he would need a "tooter," and when Aunt Matty says that she herself will tutor him, he thinks it's funny to imagine her playing on a cornet.
Aunty Matty takes Rob into the parlor and tells him he needs to work on grammar.
The problem, she says, is that he's been raised in the Shaker way—he wouldn't have gotten a D in English if he were a Baptist.
This alarms Rob, because he's heard about Baptists from a friend's mother. "They put you in water to see how holy you were," he thinks (6.32).
He's glad there's no pond in the parlor.
Aunt Matty gives Rob a little grammar test by saying four sentences and asking him to tell her which one is correct.
When he fails, she says that he needs to know how to diagram, and she writes down a sentence and asks him to diagram it.
He tells her he doesn't know how. So she diagrams it herself, putting "a zig-zag here, and a crazy elbow joint there […and…] ovals and squiggles all over the paper" (6.64).
Oh, tutors.Rob thinks the diagram is some kind of Baptist dark magic, so he's happy when Aunt Matty is finished.
She tells him to take it up to his room and pin it on the wall.
As he leaves to go do his chores, he hears his mother ask Aunt Matty how the lesson went, and she replies by saying that the next time, she'll teach the pig instead.Ouch.