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The House of Dies Drear

The House of Dies Drear


by Virginia Hamilton

The House of Dies Drear Chapter 18 Summary

  • It's night and Thomas feels like he's been hiding in the woods forever.
  • On top of not being allowed to move or walk, Thomas is freeing.
  • Mr. Small is nearby, but Thomas can't see him in the darkness. Pluto and Mayhew are also out of his range of vision.
  • Thomas is wearing chains and has phosphorous tape (glow-in-the-dark tape) on his face so he'll glow like a ghost.
  • That's why he has to keep his head down until the Darrows come – otherwise they might see him glowing.
  • Since he's getting scared, and doesn't want to get scared, Thomas tries hard to think about everything they did today after they left Mr. Pluto's cave.
  • Here's his memory:
  • First, he and his dad had driven into Columbus, Ohio, a nearby city. They go to a theatre supply store and buy the supplies on Mayhew's list, including a pair of wings made out of a thin, shiny fabric.
  • Back in their town, Thomas and Mr. Small stop to buy groceries, and some dishes to take the place of the ones the Darrows broke.
  • Then they go to the hardware store.
  • Suddenly, they see three of the Darrows.
  • One of them asks Mr. Small if he's Mr. Small.
  • Yes, says Mr. Small, and asks who he is.
  • The Darrow does not introduce himself.
  • But, he tells Mr. Small he heard that there were exciting things happening at the Small's house.
  • Mr. Small says that yes, the fact that Mr. Pluto had to go to the hospital, and is spending the night there is exciting.
  • The Darrows look nervous and ask if there was any other kind of excitement at the house.
  • (He's obviously referring to the whole apple juice/flour/broken dishes mess they made of the Small's kitchen.
  • But, Thomas and Mr. Small play innocent, then say goodbye.
  • Now, here in the darkness, Thomas smiles at the memory.
  • Really, really uncomfortable from hours of being still in the dark, he feels like he's going to have to move in a minute.
  • Mr. Small is nearby, worrying about Thomas.
  • Like Thomas, he's wearing raggedy clothing and chains, much like a running slave might have worn.
  • In fact, he feels a little like a slave might have felt, hiding in the darkness, hoping not to get caught.
  • He also feels silly, and can't believe he let Mayhew talk him into this. He might get sick from being in the cold, and he shouldn't have let Thomas be a part of this.
  • While Thomas and Mr. Small are freezing, Mayhew is hot. Instead of wearing rags, he's wearing a suit, a gray-blond wig, a cream colored mask – his ghost-of-Dies Drear outfit.
  • He never thought he'd play this role – the role of a white abolitionist!
  • Pesty is hiding in a tree near Mr. Pluto's cave, and Mayhew wonders if she fell asleep.
  • Upset with himself, he thinks he shouldn't have let her be part of this.
  • Earlier, he'd given her a note he'd written – it was supposed to be from Mrs. Small, and she'd given it to the Darrows.
  • The note asked if Pesty could spend the night at the Small's house that night.
  • The Darrows hadn't answered the note, so Mayhew is assuming the Darrows don't mind.
  • Pesty is watching from the trees and is supposed to give Mayhew, Thomas, and Mr. Small the signal when she sees the Darrows approaching the cave.
  • Whoa, ho! Mayhew, Thomas, and Mr. Small hear the signal.
  • Mr. is waiting calmly and comfortably in a chair in the mouth of the cave.
  • But, he's a little worried that this joke is on him. Maybe Mayhew had called an ambulance, and he would soon be carried off to the hospital against his will.
  • He's also afraid that he might really see the ghosts of Dies Drear and the murdered slaves – he has before.
  • The Darrows had been pretending to be those ghosts for so long that sometimes Mr. Pluto can't tell the difference between them and the real ghosts.
  • Tonight he wants to scare the Darrows. If he can do that, they'll stop bothering him!
  • Speaking of the Darrows, here they come.
  • They are all three within Thomas's range of hearing. One of them is saying that it looks like Mr. Pluto is actually really gone.
  • As they near the cave, Mr. Pluto gets a quick idea.
  • First he takes off his shoelaces, then he ties an end of his blanket to each of his wrists with them.
  • Finally, he throws the blanket on top of his head. This way he can flap the blanket like bat wings.
  • Everything is completely dark as the Darrows reach the entrance of the cave.
  • They shine in the flashlight and they see a huge and horrible bat flapping its wings!
  • When they realize its Mr. Pluto they aren't any less scared.
  • He starts talking, calling to Mayhew, Thomas, Mr. Small, and Pesty by saying, "Come, my winged bird, my glory, nightbird! Come, all ye demons three who walk with me forever!" (18.64).
  • One of the men drops their flashlight, and it breaks.
  • Pesty is on the horse, which has been painted with glow-in-the-dark paint. She takes off the sheet that has been hiding it. She starts flapping the little wings Thomas and Mr. Small bought for her.
  • All the Darrows see is a glowing horse with flapping wings. Somehow it looks like the horse is moving up and down.
  • Uh oh. Thomas is scared, too. All the effects are a little too much for him.
  • He's supposed to be moving forward to scare the Darrows even more now, but he's frozen.
  • His dad urges him to move, and he does, reluctantly.
  • Soon, the Darrows are stuck between the ghosts (Thomas, Mayhew, and Mr. Small) and the demons (Pesty and Mr. Pluto).
  • When Mayhew, as the ghost of Dies Drear, starts making scary noises, Thomas gets really scared again, and he cowers.
  • To the Darrows, Thomas's fear probably makes things look more "real."
  • It looks like he's a little ghost being tormented by the bigger ones.
  • They start yelling, and begging Mr. Pluto to call off his demons.
  • They promise never to come back.
  • Now they are running, and Mayhew is laughing, but in his regular voice.
  • A Darrow stops and looks back. Mr. Pluto starts laughing in his regular voice, too.
  • He hugs Mayhew.
  • When the Darrows are gone, Mr. Small gets on their cases for laughing before the Darrows were gone.
  • Mayhew explains that it was important to let them know that they had been tricked.
  • This will make things all the more embarrassing for them, and they'll be more likely to keep the promise not to return.
  • Mr. Small helps Thomas get to Mr. Pluto's cave. He's shaking with fear, and really embarrassed for being afraid.
  • There goes my acting dream, he thinks.

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