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Finally a reason to celebrate: it's Zigzag's birthday.
In honor of the occasion (not really), Stanley tries to figure out how long he's been at Camp Green Lake. Zero, in another display of crazy math power, instantly says it's been forty-six days.
Later, as he digs his hole, Stanley thinks about how much he's changed since he came to the camp. For one thing, he's stronger and much better at digging. Oh, and luckily, Mr. Sir is giving him water again, too.
Zero is still helping him out with his hole-digging in exchange for reading lessons, as they had agreed. But the whole situation makes Stanley awkward, and the other boys are getting pretty angry about it. They tease Stanley big time, saying that he's doing Zero a favor by letting him dig his hole, and mockingly asking if he'll let them dig his hole, too.
Mr. Pendanski comes by with the water truck, and X-Ray makes Stanley go to the front of the line for water and lunch: you know, since "[h]e's better than all of us" (30.36). Ugh, bullying.
After they get their lunches, Zigzag continues to harass Stanley, saying he'll trade his cookie for a chance to dig Stanley's hole. Stanley pushes the cookie away, and in a not-so-equal response, Zigzag pushes Stanley.
X-Ray is watching and says that Stanley should be able to take care of himself, since he's bigger than Zigzag. Stanley is relieved to see Mr. Pendanski approaching, but it turns out Mr. P's attitude is the same as X-Ray's: he says that Stanley should go ahead and hit Zigzag back.
"Teach the bully a lesson," he says (30.68).
Stanley tries, but he really doesn't have the heart to fight. Zigzag, on the other hand, seems eager to fight Stanley: he jumps on top of him, slamming him to the ground and punching him over and over… and over again.
This is when things escalate. Zero joins in and attacks Zigzag, pulling him off of Stanley and starting to choke him. Just when things look really dire, Armpit pulls Zero away from Zigzag and Mr. Pendanski fires his pistol into the air to signal for help.
When the other counselors and the Warden arrive, Mr. Pendanski tells them that "[t]here was a riot" (30.85). X-Ray, on the other hand, tries to downplay what happened, saying that Zigzag was just short-tempered because of the heat.
But Zigzag won't back up X-ray's story. Instead, he tells the truth: he was angry because Zero has been digging Stanley's holes for him.
Stanley explains: Zero is digging for him because he's teaching Zero to read and write.
The Warden asks Zero to tell them something he's learned. At first Zero doesn't respond, but after Mr. Pendanski basically calls him stupid, he tells them some of the letters and sounds he knows.
The Warden quizzes him on a few things, most of which he gets right. But when he makes a wrong guess about a letter that he hasn't learned yet, all of the counselors laugh at him. Man, this kid can't catch a break.
The Warden says that from now on, Stanley has to dig his own stinkin' hole: it's all about learning a lesson. Oh, and no more reading lessons for Zero.
Then, in a moment of triumphant defiance, Zero announces: "I'm not digging another hole" (30.128).
No one really buys it. Mr. Pendanski tells Stanley that "Zero's too stupid to learn to read" (30.133), and he hands Zero a shovel so he can get back to digging.
Zero takes the shovel and – eek! – hits Mr. P across the face, knocking him unconscious. He says that he hates digging holes, and he runs away across the lake.
The search is on for Zero. The Warden tells the counselors to take turns guarding the camp's water sources: he'll have to come back for water and that's when they'll catch him.
When he returns, she says, she is going to have to paint her nails again.