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The House of Dies Drear

The House of Dies Drear


by Virginia Hamilton

The House of Dies Drear Chapter 3 Summary

  • Thomas wakes up as they arrive at the new house.
  • He hears Mrs. Small talking excitedly about how big it is.
  • The house is just what he had hoped it would be: creepy, huge, and ghostly-looking, perched oddly on the side of the hill.
  • Thomas can tell right away that the house is definitely haunted.
  • The wet feeling of the air doesn't appeal to him at all.
  • As they get closer, Thomas sees that there is a spring running down the rocky hill the house is on. The spring leads to a river.
  • The rocks the spring runs over are rusty and reddish color, and they make the water look like…blood!
  • He says that the view must be great from the top of the hill above the house, and asks his dad where the springs are coming from.
  • Mr. Small explains that there is lots of limestone in the area, and the water percolates through those rocks.
  • Everything is wet and rainy.
  • Mrs. Small says she thinks the house will "never be pretty!" (3.20).
  • Mr. Small says that on a warm, sunny day, everything here must look very beautiful.
  • They near the bridge that leads to the house, and Mr. Small gets out to check if it's safe, since there has been so much rain.
  • Meanwhile, Thomas looks at the scene, and thinks he knows what's going on.
  • The house looks like a castle, and he wonders who the "king" is, and who will win this "war" (3.28). He's sure there is a king and sure that a war is on. He's also sure the house is haunted, that the place is cut off from humanity by something mean.
  • Billy and Buster start to cry as they get closer to the house.
  • Thomas calms them, telling them about the new trees and the new stars they will see.
  • Now they are very close to the house. It looks even bigger than Thomas thought – a three story house with a balcony going around the ground floor.
  • Thomas likes the house, but knows that it's more than the gray, rainy weather that makes it seems scary.
  • He knows the house has secrets, old secrets. Now that he's here, he'll make sure those secrets are revealed.
  • Billy and Buster decide not to get out of the car, so Thomas and his mom carry them to the front door.
  • Mrs. Small tells Thomas that she's worried that the house is too big. It will be a problem to clean, and the twins will be hard to watch.
  • Thomas tries to get her excited about the house, and promises to help take care of Billy and Buster for her.
  • The family begins going into the new house. Mrs. Small is talking about driving into the town for groceries.
  • Thomas notices that Billy and Buster seem afraid to touch the house – especially the heavy oak front door. He picks them up and brings them in.
  • It's dark and shadowing in the house.
  • Thomas asks his dad why the furniture that had been sent to the house ahead of them wasn't piled inside.
  • Then they notice that all the furniture has been set up and arranged. There is even a large mirror that they haven't seen before.
  • Mrs. Small says she likes it, and asks who did the arranging.
  • Mr. Small says it must have been Pluto, the caretaker.
  • Thomas doesn't like it. He thinks that they way the furniture is arranged looks like some kind of warning for them to leave the house.
  • He tells his parents he resents Mr. Pluto messing around with their stuff. He thinks it's nosey and bossy.
  • His parents defend Pluto, saying it was nice of him to unpack the furniture and arrange things for them. Mr. Small suggests they go upstairs, to see where Mr. Pluto has put their beds.
  • Thomas asks his dad if he's "going to let [Mr. Pluto] take over" (3.77).
  • His parents continue to defend Pluto's actions.
  • Thomas can't believe they are letting some strange man interfere in their lives!
  • Grumpily, he decides to go outside and have a look around.
  • When the twins cry because he's leaving; he takes them with him.
  • He puts them down on the veranda (covered porch), trying to calm them, as he wonders out loud what the deal is with Pluto.
  • Sure that Pluto is the "devil" who is trying to be "king" (3.88), Thomas vows not to let him.
  • Thomas begins examining the steps and the big oak door, with its carved wood flowers.
  • One, and only one, of the flowers has a little button in the middle of it. There is cool air coming from the button. He understands that the cool air is what upset the twins earlier.
  • He touches the button, and nothing seems to happen. But, the twins completely freak out.
  • Thomas is sure they've seen something "scary" (3.99) and dangerous.
  • Mean, baby-scaring ghosts, he thinks.
  • But then he wonders how pushing a button could summon a ghost.
  • He decides that the twins must be scared of something "real" (3.102).
  • When his mother comes out to see what's wrong, he says he thinks they must need to eat.
  • She agrees, saying they probably need to sleep, too.
  • The evening meal is already cooking.
  • Lucky for them, Mr. Pluto even stocked up the fridge.
  • That's not what Thomas wanted to hear. More Mr. Pluto. Ugh.
  • He moves back to the veranda and peers into the distance, discovering that he can see through the mist if he tries.
  • Everything is very quiet and very wet.
  • Thomas goes back to the oak door and pushes the button again.
  • Nothing.
  • But wait! Now he sees why the twins were scared when he pushed it before.
  • The front steps have risen from the ground leaving a big hole leading under the house.
  • He thought someone, or something would be coming up, but instead, he got a big surprise coming from around the side of the house – the strangest thing he's ever seen.

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