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The House of Dies Drear
by Virginia Hamilton
The House of Dies Drear Chapter 14 Summary
Now they are walking deeper underground. There are stalactites hanging from the cave ceilings. Thomas remembers what he heard about stalactites and stalagmites – both are found in limestone caves and caused by dripping water with calcium in it. The stalactites look like monsters to him. Pesty and Mr. Pluto are waiting, watching them come forward. They walk deeper into the cavern and down a staircase. Mr. Pluto is sitting behind a huge desk. He, Thomas thinks, "is the king!" (14.12). Mr. Small thinks he dreaming, and that Pluto is "The Lord of the Underworld" (14.13). The cave is full of treasure, from fine clothes and carpets, to native American canoes, to all kinds of gold, jewels, and other fine things. One huge section of the cave wall was full of glassware in amazing colors. Mr. Small realizes that this is the collection of riches that must have belonged to Dies Drear before he died. When Thomas marvels out loud, his father says that some of that glass is extremely old. Pesty stands up and walks toward the glass and climbs onto a ladder near it. She begins polishing glass and proudly tells Thomas that her job is to keep the glass clean. Mr. Pluto has some very old ledger books in his hands. He tells Thomas and Mr. Small that these are old account books kept by slave holders. They were a record of slaves that were bought and sold. He clarifies that they were not Dies Drear's records. (Dies Drear was not a slave owner.) He doesn't know where Dies Drear got the records. Now Mr. Pluto apologizes for not talking to Mrs. Small at church today. He felt sick, and has been sick for some time. Then he congratulates Mr. Small on finding him, on finding the treasure. When he first met Mr. Small, he thought he'd be the one to find him. Pesty was the only other person to have found it. At first Mr. Pluto thought she'd tell River Darrow, but she hadn't. She is completely trustworthy and loves hanging out with Mr. Pluto. Suddenly, Mr. Pluto becomes upset, talking wildly about the Darrows and about ghosts. Thomas begins to see that Pluto is not the devil, but just a man grown old, a person like his Great-grandmother Jeffers. He feels bad for thinking he was the devil. Pluto begins to apologize for tricking Thomas and his father. Mr. Small doesn't understand and asks him to be clear. It wasn't the Smalls Pluto was out to trick, but rather the Darrows. He was sure they would find out Mr. Pluto was sick and use the information to rob him. River Swift Darrow was a young man when Mr. Pluto was. River claimed that his grandfather was a Mohegan (a Native American tribe) and that he had come to the town with Dies Drear. He wanted the treasure and believed it was his. Mr. Small asks if there are other hidden places he hasn't seen on the property. Again, Pluto apologizes for his tricks, but then Thomas and Mr. Small hear another voice. They turn. What Thomas sees makes him lose all his strength and slide to the ground. It's another Mr. Pluto! I knew it! Mr. Small exclaims. Thomas thinks he has everything figured out now. Pluto can multiply himself as many times as he wants, and he made all the beautiful things in the cavern with his magical powers! He is angry and he jumps on the second Pluto pulling at his beard. The second Pluto is strong, and he throws Thomas down. Thomas starts screaming because pieces of Pluto's beard are stuck to his hands! The second Pluto calls Thomas's name. When Thomas looks up, Pluto recites the first part of a poem about masks and hiding. (The poem is "We Wear the Mask" by Paul Lawrence Dunbar (1872-1906). Check it out here.) The second Pluto starts peeling back the skin from his face.
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