Chime begins at what looks like Briony Larkin's end—she is on trial and testifies that she is not innocent, and that she deserves to be hanged. None of this makes much sense without the backstory, but here's a quick breakdown of that:
Briony and Rose are twins whose mother died while giving birth. Years later their father remarries, becomes ill, then stops coming home to be with his family altogether. Meanwhile, with their father out of the picture, their stepmother reveals to Briony that she is a wicked witch who injured her sister in a jealous rage at seven. At some point both girls become ill, and then their stepmother does too after Briony supposedly injures her with a witch-conjured flood.
Eventually the stepmother dies (mysteriously) of arsenic poisoning, and somewhere along the way Briony burns down their library too. Oops.
Back in present time, it has been decided that Eldric Clayborne will live with the Larkins despite the fact that Rose, who seems to have some form of disorder, openly dislikes boys. While Briony is getting to know Eldric, Rose runs away into the swamp.
Oh yeah, we forgot to tell you—they live in a swamp.
So anyway, Briony goes running into the swamp for Rose and Eldric chases after her. They run into a few witches, and later tell the men back at the house about them. The men and Briony decide to go back into the swamp looking for evidence—and when they do, Mr. Drury is attacked and killed.
At his funeral, the ghosts of children who've died of the swamp cough ask Briony to help stop the disease by telling those draining the swamp about the curse of Boggy Mun. Briony is afraid Rose has the swamp cough too, but knows if she tells people will suspect her for what she is: a witch. Briony decides to talk with Boggy Mun, the swamp spirit, who inflicts Rose with the swamp cough and threatens death to Briony if she doesn't stop the swamp draining.
Later, while forming a bad boy fraternity with Eldric, Briony figures out how to save herself from being exposed as a witch and save her sister from the cough. That night Briony blows up the pump that drains the swamp, proving she might be a pyromaniac but also curing everyone's swamp cough. Meanwhile, after the witch sighting, Nelly Daws stands trial as a witch and is found guilty and hanged. She does not turn to dust, however, which proves she was not, in fact, a witch. Bummer.
Rose's cough returns along with everyone else's when the swamp pump starts working. Briony attempts to break the pump again but is caught by Robert and Eldric (who follows Briony stalker-style when he sees her head for the swamps). Eldric promises not to tell on Briony if she helps him get permission to have a party in her father's garden—the party he throws ends up being for Leanne, an older, beautiful, voluptuous girl who makes Briony very jealous.
After being caught out with Eldric on the night of their secret fraternity initiation, Eldric and Briony are no longer encouraged to spend time together and Leanne is chosen as a better influence on Eldric. Briony returns to talk with the Boggy Mun again, and arranges for little Tiddy Rex (friend of Briony's) and Rose to not get sick or die before Halloween. On the way back, the Dead Hand catches her and almost gets her hand, but luckily Eldric was stalking her again and saves her.
Briony's hand is pretty much crushed from her run in with the Dead Hand, and she is in recovery for some time. Eldric visits her daily, sings to her, and even invites her to Blackberry Night.
When Briony does decide to sneak out for Blackberry Night though, she is attacked by Cecil Trumpington, who claims to be in love with her and to want to marry her. He is addicted to arsenic, however, so he tries to rape her instead. Eldric again saves Briony and they share a kiss before she runs away. Soon after this Eldric becomes ill. Briony doesn't visit him, but she does warn that Leanne's visits seem to be draining him.
Once Eldric recovers, the two friends resume boxing and playing in the swamp together. Briony warns Eldric that Leanne is a Dark Muse, a witch that drains men's energy and makes them go mad by having them incessantly work on their art. Though he doesn't believe her at first, he does eventually see Leanne for what she is and kicks her to the curb. Thank goodness, right? Eldric tries to tell Briony he loves her, but she interrupts him to tell him she is a witch and he loses his nerve.
Finally Eldric tells Briony he loves her on Halloween night, but Briony has to run to conjure up the ghosts of the children killed by swamp cough so they can convince the town to stop draining the swamp. Busy, busy.
When she brings the ghosts to talk to the townspeople, they also see Stepmother's risen corpse, which accuses Briony of poisoning her. Briony remembers that she did indeed poison her stepmother and tries to run away, but is followed again by Eldric who loses his hand to the Dead Hand. In order to save Eldric's life, Briony returns to the village where she is put on trial.
Back full circle to the trial where Briony asks to be hanged. Rose, Briony's father, and Eldric come to her rescue when they all confirm that Stepmother was a Dark Muse who was slowly killing Briony's family.
Briony insists that she is a witch and cites that fact that she has second sight (ability to see into the spirit world) as proof. Rose, however, finally reveals a secret she has been forced to keep for years by their evil stepmother: Briony was born a Chime Child, not a witch, since the birth registration has her birthday recorded as between the chimes of midnight. Go Rose.
When Briony is finally released, she is again sick and must recover. More importantly though, she begins to recover from the psychological wounds her evil stepmother inflicted by teaching her she was evil all that time. Briony begins learning to love herself, and Eldric gets up the courage to show his love for her, again. Without meaning to, Briony admits she loves him back and their love begins to heal them both. Aw.
- How do you end a story before it even begins? With a narrator who wants to be hanged and politely declines retelling her story. If the suicide isn't interesting enough for you, there's also some grossness about dead hands and smelly eels and swamps that swallow. Sounds fun.
- She goes on to describe herself as having "the face of an angel" (1.4) but a "horrid sort of heart" (1.4), which we know is pretty common actually and not that surprising—especially if you've watched Mean Girls or any other teen movie.
- Get ready to be a little confused, Shmoopsters, because this narrator is talking to us like we know the whole story. Based on this chapter's title, it feels like we are the jury, or maybe even the judge. So much power, yet so little knowledge.
- Someone called "Chime Child" wants to give this pretty, arrogant, evil, suicidal person a chance seemingly because she doesn't want to "hang an innocent girl again" (1.5). Wait… again? What?
- There is some more begging and pleading for us to believe her so we think she means it—that or she just really can't stand living with these smelly, swampy, dead hand memories. We get it—nightmares can wear you down.
- Even though she doesn't want to tell her story she starts to anyway. Does this girl mean anything she says? Maybe she's just fond of hyperbole.
- She mentions some guy named Eldric. We don't really know much about him, but he sounds like someone cool to meet based on the "handsome stranger" (1.8) description.
- Our narrator asks to be hanged… again.
The Taste of Burnt Matches
- Enter the narrator's sister, who is not into whatever they are doing and wants to go home.
- Whatever they are doing, apparently, is standing by a river waiting on Eldric (remember the handsome stranger from before?) on a barge.
- Father tells the sister no because they don't want to hurt Eldric's feelings, and Rose (that's the sister's name) cares about that about as much as a hungry dog cares about table manners.
- You can tell a lot about a family based on whether or not the kids listen to their parents—and Rose obviously doesn't. So she says she wants to go home again, which is the theme she pretty much sticks to for the rest of the chapter.
- Turns out both the narrator and her sister are important enough to be given space—think presidential children, except their father is a clergyman.
- The town they live in is called the Swampsea, which sounds awesome if you're into things like swamp creatures and being sticky and dirty and getting bit by mosquitos.
- Try to remember to assume that Rose still wants to go home—but if you forget, don't worry, because she'll totally remind you.
- The narrator lets us know a couple very important things while complaining about the villagers staring. First, she and her sister have been sick and not really out and about for three years. Second, their stepmother killed herself. Except the narrator doesn't think she killed herself so let's put a big question mark around that event for now.
- We meet Eldric's father, who is also called Mr. Clayborne—he's waiting for his son with the two girls and their father.
- Rose stops talking about going home to tell us all that she doesn't like boys; the narrator mentally agrees.
- Apparently the stepmother died only two months and three days ago. The narrator thinks about the day she died and wonders why she hesitated to go in her room. Okay, wow—this sounds like regret of the worst kind: regret when someone you love is dead.
- The narrator, who we now know is named Briony (yay), breaks out of her own thoughts about death and poetry, and reminds herself that Stepmother would tell her to take care of Rose who has a cough, and mentions that she promised her stepmother she would take care of Rose.
- Briony worries about something called swamp cough, which doesn't sound good—she thinks Rose might have it, but her father is pretty much ignoring her concern.
- Fast fact: swamp cough has no cure.
- Poor Eldric is already hated by Rose, and now Briony is planning on not talking to him and threatening to feed him to some river spirit called Mucky Face. Nice Briony. We see what you meant when you called yourself wicked.
- Eldric finally comes off the barge and everyone is pretty excited about his looks (except Rose, of course, who has no intention of shaking his hand).
- He's super tall, like six or seven feet according to Briony, and he's old enough to go to university and pretty fashionable. Briony's father calls him handsome, but she doesn't agree—she's mostly taken by his clothes and the sense that he knows something about culture.
- We'd like to note here that Briony is a true swamp girl. Not to be rude, but this girl is impressed by a vest, a tie, and the idea of turn-on lamps and motorcars. It's also very possible that this isn't taking place in our current, technologically advanced world.
- Briony mentions a boy named Cecil Trumpington who wants to marry her for her looks.
- Yep—we are definitely not in Kansas anymore. In the middle of introducing us to some other seemingly minor characters (Swamp Reeve, Mayor Brody, Judge Trumpington, and Mrs. Trumpington), Briony thinks about how beautiful Mrs. Trumpington's frock is. This is a fancy old-fashioned English way of saying dress—definitely not how most people talk today.
- Briony starts to feel self conscious about her family, their clothes, and herself. Actually, she says more than once that she hates herself, so all that talk about being hanged earlier makes sense. She also plans on hating Eldric. This poor guy.
- Rose and Briony are twins? What? Yeah, we just did the same double take Eldric does. What's up with Rose then? She doesn't seem all there…
- And while we're talking about family, what is up with Briony and her father? She says he doesn't talk to her, and she seems pretty angry about the way he's pretending they have a happy or perfect family.
- Briony introduces herself to Eldric.
- Eldric has orange brown hair and golden eyes that make Briony compare him to a lion.
- Briony has been taking care of Rose for years, which has pretty much sucked the life and the laughter out of her. She actually describes Rose, unintentionally perhaps, as a kind of parasite when she wonders if her sister is feeding off of her soul juice. Can this girl's life get any more depressing?
- While everyone waits, Briony thinks about how awkward things are going to be with Eldric living at their house, and about how awkward things have been in general ever since her stepmother got sick and died. Then she goes off on a tangent about everything she hates. This girl is no sunshine, that's for sure.
- Rose doesn't like strangers, and she's getting ready to scream.
- We learn that Briony and her father didn't talk after the investigation of her stepmother's death… which means there was an investigation. Is someone hiding something? Seems she died of arsenic poisoning. Briony's father says she took her own life, but Briony says she never would have done that.
- And… cue Rose screaming.
- Briony starts thinking morbid thoughts about silence and burnt matches. Just what did she set on fire?
A Crown for the Steam Age
- Back at their house, Rose hides in the cupboard and doesn't want to talk about it.
- Pearl, who has an ugly baby and used to help out the family before their father remarried, points out that Rose doesn't like the men who are visiting.
- They try to bribe Rose to get out of the cupboard with iced buns. Um… we want iced buns too.
- Briony wants to go visit Tiddy Rex who has the swamp cough to compare Rose's symptoms, though she knows that if Rose has the cough there will be nothing they can do about it.
- Eldric walks in right as Rose asks for iced buns. He makes a joke about talking cupboards and tells Briony her father wants to see her in the dining room.
- Pearl says she will take care of Rose. Briony thanks her, but then thinks about the fact that she's getting paid. This leads her down self pity street as she starts to wish she could get far away from her responsibilities to Rose.
- In order to get better acquainted (and please their parents), Eldric and Briony talk about Eldric's being kicked out of university, studying, and boxing.
- Briony reminisces about all the ways her stepmother encouraged her—even though things like boxing are thought to be only for boys, Briony knows her stepmother would have supported her doing it.
- Eldric apologizes for her stepmother's death.
- Briony thinks that she has something to apologize for regarding her stepmother. Apparently she injured her spine, which is um… a pretty bad thing to do.
- While the men in the dining room talk about draining the swamp, Eldric and Briony take a tour of the house.
- Briony's description of the house throughout the chapter reveals that there was a flood that destroyed many elements of their once beautiful house.
- On their tour the two find something in common—they both think paperclips are the coolest. Eldric actually took a bet for paperclips that got him kicked out of school. These kids are weird.
- Cecil Trumpington (the guy who wants to marry Briony) is brought up again, this time as Eldric's competition for the title of local bad boy.
- So not only is their house ruined from a flood, but six months ago Briony decided to set their library on fire and cremate the stories she wrote. Might we suggest crumpling them in a ball and throwing them out next time instead?
- Eldric gives her a crown made of paperclips. Though we don't normally associate paperclips with romance, this definitely gets an ooh la la, we think.
- When Briony goes to show Eldric his new room, which is Stepmother's sick room, he innocently asks her if she visits the swamp. She says she hasn't for a long time, while thinking about the last time she visited, which was three years ago. It was the day her stepmother told her she was a witch.
- Briony has a moment of attraction to Eldric while looking at him in the light, but this is interrupted by Pearl screaming that Rose ran into the swamp.
- More self-hatred and regret from Briony as she remembers her promise to take care of Rose. The chapter closes on this depressing note as Briony tells herself to never, ever forget to hate herself.
Such a Pretty Little Rosy!
- Briony runs toward the river while counting her steps.
- Eldric follows.
- Briony tells him he can't come, and Eldric ignores her and tells her about her father's plan: Eldric and Briony search the swamp while the Reverend Larkin and Eldric's father search the fields. We think the men took the easier, less messy end of this deal for themselves, but, hey, they're the grown ups.
- Briony's father gave Eldric something called a Bible Ball that's supposed to protect him from something else called The Horrors. Oh goodie.
- Eldric pleads with Briony not to over exert herself, especially after her illness—and though Briony doesn't respond, she does agree with him in her head and recalls how difficult her illness had been.
- Briony is pleased to see that the swamp is still as muddy and oozy as it was when she left it three years ago. Yuck.
- They stop to make a plan and Briony explains the quick and dirty (or should we say muddy) of the swamp to Eldric. Basically, there are three parts: Flats, Quicks, and Slough.
- They continue and Briony begins to hear voices calling her that only she can hear. Okay…
- A quick memory of her stepmother encouraging Briony to write and helping Rose make collages also reveals that Briony hears these voices because she has something called second sight.
- Apparently, stepmother made Briony promise not to go into the swamp anymore because her powers there could be dangerous.
- Side swamp note: The Quicks are plants that want to eat people, and snickleways are like creeks that smell really bad. We're talking rotten eggs bad.
- They locate Rose when they hear her yelling "'fires are dangerous!'" (4.76) and the voices of girls in reply calling her Rosy.
- When they get to Rose, they see that the voices belong to three young witches.
- Let's pause here for couple of interesting notes about these witches. First, they don't ride broomsticks, they ride tree branches. This probably makes it easier to find a ride in the forest, so we applaud the savviness of their vehicular switch. Next, these witches don't seem to be causing much more trouble than schoolyard bullies—they basically circle Rose, taunt her, and then steal her hair ribbon. Finally, these witches don't wear underwear. Yes, we think this is a weird thing to note too, don't worry, but they made sure to tell (and show) everyone. Perhaps they misunderstood the idea of a full moon?
- After a kind of confusing and somewhat difficult to picture tussle between the witches, Briony and Eldric, and their branches, the witches ride away causing what Briony refers to as an "unnatural wind" (4.111).
- The unnatural wind causes Briony to have a flashback to a time before stepmother had married her father, when she and Rose were just seven years old. In her memory, Rose injures her head on a large rock after being knocked off a swing by a jealous wind that little Briony conjured up.
- Rose screams in the memory, and back in current day she is screaming as well—Briony suggests Eldric plug his ears, but he refuses for fear of missing something.
- Briony's reminds herself that all of this is her fault a few times.
- Rose won't wear dresses with the wrong colored hair ribbons—that's why she's screaming now, for her hair ribbon.
- Briony returns to the flashback and remembers how she wanted Stepmother's attention while she was tending to Rose. She remembers the look on her stepmother's face and her stepmother telling her never to tell her father about this.
Help to Get Them Witches
- Back at the Larkin House, Mr. Clayborne also seems impressed by the flying branch innovation.
- Swamp Reeve says some stuff—he speaks kind of funny and is hard to understand, but we know he calls the branches a snag and he wants to talk to Rose.
- Just a couple things about Swamp Reeve: Who invited him over? Why is he named after a swamp? And why is he so bossy?
- Briony says something about Brownie who used to lie on a carpet by the fire. She says they were dangerous together, but without any real description all we can picture is a cute little brown puppy, so we're not sure what the big deal is yet.
- Briony starts craving the swamp like an addict, and Rose starts asking for Briony to read to her.
- Father asks Rose to come out from the table and act like a big girl.
- The constable asks to speak with Rose. While we're on the subject, who invited the constable over?
- Rose starts screaming. Briony makes a side note that Rose's scream is always on the note of B flat. B flat major, by the way, also happens to be the key to "I'll Never Break Your Heart" by the Backstreet Boys, so it can't be all that bad (on second thought, maybe it can be).
- Pearl takes Rose upstairs.
- The constable and the Reeve begin questioning Briony now instead. Briony thinks about not having a "proper witchy education" (5.36), and thus not knowing the rules about witch camaraderie. Is this a "snitches get stitches" situation or a "see something say something" type? It's all so complicated.
- When Briony doesn't give up much information, the two men take to questioning Eldric, who reveals that one of the witches was a redhead.
- They talk about the Chime Child, whose job has to do with catching witches and mention that she's actually not a child, but quite old. Later in the chapter they also reveal that this person "has a foot in both worlds… one in the world of the Old Ones, the other in the human world" (5.76). So basically, she represents the witches of the world, like a mystical defense attorney of sorts.
- Eldric brings Rose a paper rose he made for her, which stops her screaming and entices her to come downstairs. Aw…
- Rose commences to incessantly ask Briony to read to her, apparently forgetting that all of their books burned in the library fire. When she's reminded though, she mysteriously refers to her book, which did not burn in the fire, and is a secret.
- The men decide a walk to where the witches were spotted seems nice. Briony mentally opposes, but says nothing.
- Eldric happily gives the men an overview of what he learned about the Old Ones at the Alehouse. The Deadhand destroys hands, the Wykes lure, the Dark Muse sucks away spirits, and the Boggy Mun is king of the swamp.
- Reverend Larkin tries to convince them to go at a less dangerous time (daylight for example), but they insist the evidence would be gone by then.
- Briony has no plans of going, until she sees Death (personified by a bony skeleton that moves its mouth and points and waves) over Mr. Drury's shoulder. She convinces herself that she wants to go into the swamp with them to save Mr. Drury, not to fulfill her swamp craving.
Please Let Him Live!
- We begin with Briony and Eldric drifting and seeping and bleeding and weeping into the swamp, to use Briony's exact terms. Alright, we know this sounds like a painful, gross, and potentially devastating experience, but Briony seems to quite enjoy it and Eldric doesn't complain.
- Eldric and Briony discuss her long absence from the swamp, and by discuss we mean Briony avoids saying anything real or of substance while Eldric asks nosy questions.
- Through another of Briony's memory narrations, we find out that her father stopped coming home altogether after she got sick (except to sleep)—so it makes sense that Briony is supremely irritated and angry with her father now.
- Briony briefly argues with Eldric about whether or not Stepmother killed herself. Really though, Eldric doesn't argue back much with a secretive and brooding Briony.
- While they walk through the swamp Eldric sings a song about needing a body, crying, and gin and Briony imagines playing "he loves me he loves me not" with a flower version of Eldric.
- Witch trivia time, Shmoopsters. Why can't witches survive in big cities? Because machines and metal make them sick. Bonus question: Can vampires survive in cities? Why yes, yes they can.
- Night falls and the Horrors start to try to scare them. Briony and the Reeve try to warn Mr. Drury not to run or act scared, but the silly man gets tricked by the Wykes' false lights and flees from Briony's grasp.
- As Mr. Drury runs wildly through the swamp, the rest of them run after and try to catch him.
- Briony begins to blame herself for Mr. Drury's impending death and reminds herself again how evil she is. She says some things about calling Mucky Face, which gets a little confusing, but it seems she's describing a wave that she has named.
- They find Mr. Drury and tell him not to move.
- Briony goes back to remembering Mucky Face and the time when her Stepmother told her that she, Briony the teenage witch, had caused her stepmother's injuries.
- Mr. Drury is "slurped and swallowed" (6.124) by the swamp. Nom nom, we guess.
- Briony beats herself up some more with reminders of how evil she is, the promises she continues to break to Stepmother, and now, Mr. Drury's death.
Girl What Can Hear Ghosts
- At Mr. Drury's funeral Reverend Larkin gives a sermon as Rose complains about the color black, which she says is not a color at all.
- While trying to distract Rose from distracting others from the funeral, Briony takes Rose to their mother's grave and laments that Stepmother was not buried in the family plot.
- At a small plot of small children's gravestones, Briony notices she is having the second sight when earthquake-like symptoms begin to happen to only her.
- This second sight allows Briony to see the dead children killed by the swamp cough. Sixth sense anyone? Instead of throwing up or slamming cupboards, these ghosts talk about Boggy Mun, the lord of the swamp, who killed them with the swamp cough and will continue to kill until the town stops the swamp-draining project.
- The ghost children ask Briony to stop the cough and tell the people about Boggy Mun, then they fade away before Briony can ask them if Rose has the swamp cough.
- Rose says, very matter-of-factly, that she does not have the swamp cough. She then makes Briony cover her ears as the church bells chime twelve o'clock. Briony assures us that this is just another of Rose's everyday eccentricities.
- Rose wants something called funeral meats.
- Briony imagines telling the town about Boggy Mun and writes a charming little nursery rhyme in which she tells them, causing them to find out she is a witch and hang her.
- Rose and Briony walk away from the cemetery toward the Alehouse, and as they do Rose talks more about these meats and generally takes her time.
- Briony imagines another nursery rhyme where she kills her sister.
When in Rome
- Rose doesn't like Mad Tom, which she announces rather loudly so as not to treat him any differently than the other men she dislikes.
- Mad Tom goes on about losing his mind outside the Alehouse that Briony and Rose wish to go into—Rose for the previously mentioned meats and now some funeral biscuits, and Briony to find out if Tiddy Rex's cough sounds like Rose's.
- All of the mourners and townspeople are at the Alehouse where Eldric has saved Briony and her sister a seat.
- The bad boy competition (and the competition for Briony's heart) is on when Cecil Trumpington meets Eldric. To be more specific, Cecil asks Briony to introduce him to "the new fellow" (8.18). Ooh—burn.
- The boys shake hands, and Briony takes this opportunity to check them both out. Her description seems to favor Eldric as she describes Cecil as "all pale and dead poet-ish" and Eldric as "all electric and alive" (8.20). Really though, who are we to judge Briony's type? Plus Cecil smells like money.
- Cecil insists on calling Briony "milady" (8.21) and counting the days since he last saw her. Briony finds this annoying, but wonders anyway if she should swoon for this handsome rich man who is interested in her.
- As Eldric, Rose, and Cecil talk about hunting funeral biscuits (yes, these people are weird), Briony eavesdrops on people. Highlights from her ear hustle include: Nelly Daws is being accused of being a witch, the Chime Child doesn't want people to be too hasty about accusing and hanging innocent people, the Hangman also does not want to hang someone unnecessarily.
- Here's some more witch trivia for you: What happens to a witch when she dies? If you guessed melt, you're in the wrong story—these witches turn to dust.
- Briony imagines dying and turning to dust, her father finding, to his surprise, that his daughter was a witch all along.
- Eldric and Cecil bring everyone some food. Rose comments on the brown color of the food—she does not like brown any better than black, apparently.
- Rose reveals that Mr. Drury dropped his Bible Ball before going into the swamp, thus sealing his fate, poor fool.
- Eldric and Cecil get into a silly argument about following the customs of a place. Eldric pokes fun at Cecil by pretending he is unaware that he is in Swampsea—he claims to think he's in a place called the "Dragon Constellation" (8.77).
- While Cecil doesn't seem to find this very entertaining, Briony plays along and brings her young friend Tiddy Rex in on the joke by telling him Eldric is an alien from Earth.
- Tiddy Rex greets Eldric from Earth with some more witch knowledge. According to him, they don't like wine and bread from church—based on Bible Balls and this recent revelation, it's probably safe to assume witches aren't church goers.
- They all talk about birthdays. During this conversation, Rose claims that Briony has no birthday. Like the book and the chimes she can't listen to, Rose tells Briony this is a secret.
- The girls' father stands up to play the fiddle. He asks Briony to sing with him, which is something they used to do often, but Briony—holding on tight to the resentment she has toward her father for giving up playing in the first place and not being around for the past three years—refuses to sing.
- After listening to the song Mr. Larkin plays, the teenagers talk more about Old Ones and Briony listens for and wills Tiddy Rex to cough. He doesn't cough however, so she is unable to compare his cough to Rose's.
- Briony's thoughts about Tiddy Rex and the swamp cough reveal the following: Briony adores Tiddy Rex as a friend, and the swamp cough is always fatal even if the symptoms seem mild at first.
- Because she knows she can't tell the villagers to stop draining the swamp without risking revealing herself, Briony comes up with another plan: blood and salt. Doesn't sound very appetizing Briony. She decides that she will offer Boggy Mun her blood and salt and try to negotiate with him. We don't know much about the ways of the wicked, but it sounds like Briony is playing with fire (or swamp water, as the case may be).
A Good Little Boggy Mun
- Briony heads to the Boggy Mun's bog-hole to see him during his "strict business hours" (9.1) of evening mist sharp.
- Briony sprinkles salt on moss, debates which hand to cut, decides on her left hand, then cuts herself while thinking of the horrible things she did to Rose and Stepmother.
- After calling to the Boggy Mun, Briony offers to come to him everyday with blood and salt if he will take back the swamp cough.
- Boggy Mun asks her to come church days as well, and she obliges.
- Boggy Mun rejects her offer though, and gets a little nosy. He asks her if she has a sweetheart, which she denies, but when Boggy Mun insists that she must be trying to save someone in particular she admits that it is for her sister.
- Somehow, this Boggy Mun has convinced Briony to confide in him despite his curse of the swamp cough and his (we imagine) gross swampy appearance. When he asks Briony the name of her sister, she tells him: Rose Larkin.
- If there's a lesson to be learned so far, it's that you can't trust swamp creatures. Boggy Mun strikes Rose with the swamp cough and tells Briony she must stop the swamp draining to save her sister. Ugh.
- Having made a mistake that will probably kill her sister, Briony now hates herself more than ever. She heads out of the swamp while thinking of all the reasons she should hate herself.
- She sees the Chime Child in the swamp and hides from her view so as not to be caught in the swamp. When she was a child, Briony remembers seeing the Chime Child in the swamp often.
- As she crosses the bridge out of the swamp, Briony decides that she will tell the villagers and save her sister tomorrow.
- Back at her house, Brownie waits for Briony. Time for three quick side notes. First, doesn't Brownie almost sound the same as Briony? Second, trying to picture this Brownie has proven to be pretty difficult for us. If you too are having trouble, we pretty much settled on something close to this in our imagination. Third, is anyone else hungry for brownies?
- Briony tries to avoid Brownie, but he insists on following her, calling her "mistress" and trying to tell her something.
- Dr. Rannigan comes to the house and confirms that Rose has swamp cough. Father tries to hold onto hope that scientists will find a cure, but the doctor talks instead of injections to stimulate her heart when it gets bad, and morphine to "to ease her passing" (9.87) when it gets worse.
- In bed that night, Briony convinces herself that she subconsciously did this to her sister on purpose. As she convinces herself of her evil, jealous plan, Briony falls deeper into her own brand of Hell.
Lo: the Gloriousness
- Briony begins to crave the swamp again. We're not sure what it is about the swamp that is so addictive to her, but she compares the craving to the arsenic addiction her ex tutor Fitz the Genius used to have.
- To keep from being bored and thinking about the swamp, Briony focuses on getting Rose ready for a trip to the firehouse.
- While helping Rose get dressed, Briony entertains thoughts of killing her sister. Sweet.
- Rose is excited about going to the firehouse to see Robert, a fireman who was nice to her when the Library was on fire. She has trouble agreeing to do simple things like put on her shoes.
- Do boys wear aprons? According to Rose they don't, but Briony thinks Eldric looks beautiful in his.
- Eldric informs Briony that he is cooking breakfast because Pearl's baby died and she won't be coming in.
- After their eggs (which Eldric cooks but does not join them to eat), they put on their well worn (read: hole filled) cloaks (fancy coat) and head out.
- Brownie follows them. Briony tells him to go away.
- They pass a group of boys throwing stones at Nelly's cell, which makes Briony think about them throwing stones at her cell when she is found out.
- Petey Todd picks on Rose, which is pretty stupid considering Briony is a witch and an all around big bad girl. You could say a fight ensues, or you could say Briony beats Petey up real bad—we're leaning toward the latter.
- While the fight is happening, Rose runs to get Robert to break it up.
- When they find out what's happened, Eldric and Cecil grab Petey together and pull him over to Briony angrily. Both boys are defensive of Briony, but it is quickly revealed that it was she who both started and finished the fight.
- Cecil has a needy moment where he whispers to Briony about his jealousy of Eldric. He claims that he and Briony "had an understanding" (10.104), but Briony pretty much ignores him.
- Rose seems to be doing pretty well with her crush, Robert, who has agreed to walk her home. She is all smiles.
- Here comes more romance for lucky witch Briony… Eldric cleans up her head wound, flirts, and offers to teach her to box. They talk about being bad boys, which gives Briony the brilliant idea to make the swamp water that is being drained run backward.
- Briony realizes this idea, though it started as playful banter, is the answer to her Boggy Mun problems and Rose's swamp cough. The best part is Briony doesn't have to be hanged. Yay.
- An excited, no-longer-doomed Briony suggests she and Eldric form a bad boy club. They agree to start a fraternity and speak confusedly in Latin.
The Chiming Hour
- Brownie is back. Something like a loyal lapdog, he follows Briony as she goes outside at night.
- Certain that her communication with Brownie and Mucky Face and other swamp activities led to her stepmother's spinal injury, Briony refuses to listen or reply to Brownie. Despite being ignored and almost getting his nose caught in the garden gate (ouch), Brownie asks Briony (mistress as he calls her) why she doesn't write stories anymore—he says he is not asking for himself only, but for the Old Ones. Of course this makes Briony even more determined not to talk to him or write stories.
- Briony left Rose at home asleep. It is late night and everyone in the village is asleep.
- It is midnight, the chiming hour, and Briony is headed out to the fields. She mentions that this is a favorite time of the Old Ones, which makes it perhaps not the wisest time to go out alone, but Briony is one dangerous girl.
- Time for more witch trivia. What is a Dark Muse? She's one of the evilest of the Old Ones by Briony's opinion, and she preys on men, taking their souls and wits.
- Briony arrives at the pumping station and takes out three candles and a book of matches. She closes the windows, lights the candles, and closes the door behind her with the fires burning inside.
- While looking to see the explosion of the pump station, Briony is interrupted by Mucky Face, who also calls her mistress.
- Mucky Face tells Briony that he was sorry to strike her stepmother, but that the call came from a powerful, wicked Old One. When Briony tells him she was the one who called, he insists she was not the one.
- She reverts back to her memories of stepmother and the incident where Mucky Face injured her, and assures herself that she had been jealous and intended to hurt Stepmother.
- Briony argues with Mucky Face, but he does not back down on his assertion that it was not her. How strange, right?
- Mucky Face says he is sorry and wants Briony to write more stories about him. He says there is power in a story, and that if she writes about him, he'll never be forgotten.
- The pumping station explodes.
- Briony runs away.
Wolf and Lion
- Briony and Eldric go for a walk during their first meeting of the "Fraternitus Bad-Boyificus" (12.1), or in plain English, Bad Boy Fraternity.
- Briony muses over how short of a time it's been since Eldric came (five weeks) and how long it feels (months).
- Get ready for some difficult to understand conversations, because as part of their fraternity, Briony and Eldric attempt to speak in Latin. Mostly, though, it seems like they just throw around complicated versions of simple words and occasionally Briony corrects Eldric with the right way to say something.
- Briony is very pleased with herself for blowing up the swamp pumping station—she even writes a little poem/song/nursery rhyme about it in which she claims to deserve a break. Because of her arson, Rose and everyone else has been cured of the swamp cough. Yippee.
- While Eldric is teaching her to fight, Briony asks him if he plans to return to London—to her relief, he says no.
- Eldric asks Briony why her father didn't get her another tutor after firing Fitz, and Briony says not to blame him because he wanted to send her away to school. Unfortunately though, when Stepmother was injured and became ill, Briony stayed to care for her.
- There's trouble in the bad boy brotherhood already, as Briony and Eldric fight over whether or not Briony's staying home from school to care for Stepmother was a sacrifice, and whether or not Stepmother should have pushed her to go. Though Briony doesn't share any of this with Eldric in their fight, she thinks back to her Stepmother's fall and blames herself for injuring her.
- Frustrated with her inability to make Eldric understand, Briony runs away and Eldric chases her happily.
- Eldric mentions the pumping station, which is owned by his father. Specifically he says "funny about the pumping station" (12.69). Does he know Briony's secret? Briony stays quiet on the subject.
- Eldric begins teaching her to fight. Of course, there's a little flirting in the mix too. Good thing Cecil's not here to see.
- Briony acknowledges that the swamp pump is being repaired and will resume work soon. She has a plan to save her sister though—before the pump starts draining the swamp again and the swamp cough comes back, they can take the London-Swanton train line out of town to where Boggy Mun can't reach them.
- Noticing her scar, Eldric asks Briony about the fire, and she tells him what she calls the heroic version where she smelt the burning and tried to save her stories for Rose.
- In her head she remembers Stepmother running to her rescue—she briefly wonders how Stepmother was able to do so with her spinal injury. In the end, she decides that love and fear gave her stepmother the strength to run to her rescue.
- Something called the Strangers (Old Ones that Eldric can't see) start asking Briony to write stories about them again. We're sensing a theme here about the Old Ones and Briony's stories—seems they like them quite a bit.
- Eldric tells Briony her fists are beautiful in (perhaps) a romantic attempt; Briony reminds herself not to get too close to anyone, to keep her secrets safely guarded.
- Pearl comes back to work the day before Nelly's trial. Eldric insists on helping her, telling jokes, and making her feel better after the death of the baby—Briony marvels at the way Eldric puts everyone at ease without trying too hard.
- The family goes to the court.
- Eldric gave Rose a new hair ribbon to replace the one that was stolen, which she seems very happy about.
- Outside of the courtroom, Briony's father tells her she has been called as a witness and must appear.
- Briony claims to get ill in courtrooms because of the smell of eels. Maybe someone isn't cleaning with the best cleaning product in this court?
- Briony and her father have a small argument in which Briony, typical teenager, is a little disrespectful and Mr. Larkin, typical father, says he will not tolerate it.
- Mr. Larkin explains to someone that Stepmother's trial was here just four months ago.
- Briony begins to get a headache from all the memories that flood her about her Stepmother. Tiddy Rex holds Briony's hand and asks to sit with her, and she is very happy and grateful.
- A beautiful, full figured, and well-dressed Leanne enters the scene, and everyone seems enamored with her.
- Leanne says she is here from another town twenty miles away because she hates witches and likes to celebrate their hanging.
- Briony points out the Chime Child to Eldric who mentions that she looks old.
- Tiddy Rex explains that the Chime Child can see the Old Ones while humans cannot—this is called the second sight.
- Briony dreams of what Stepmother probably looked like as she died.
- The constable's testimony relies on the fact that one of the witches had red hair and so does Nelly.
- When Rose is called to the stand, she points out that Nelly's hair color does not match the color of the witch they saw in the swamp—but then she yells at Briony to cover her ears at noon and discredits herself in front of everyone.
- Eldric takes the stand and reveals every detail of their witch encounter except for the part where the witches mooned them.
- Briony has a sudden memory of herself feeding her stepmother soup and the eel smell returns. She runs out of the courtroom into an alley and throws up.
- While watching the village children play on the train tracks, Briony thinks about the suspended London-Swanton line and what it might mean for Rose if they cannot escape. Certainly she will die of the swamp cough if Briony's plan doesn't work.
- Eldric and Briony meet at the Alehouse as they have for the past four Fridays. Pearl is taking care of Rose, so Briony feels particularly free.
- Eldric teaches the local little girls a depressing and morbid jump rope rhyme about tying a baby to the train tracks.
- Cecil comes by, calls Briony "milady" again, and checks her out in her new clothes. All of these things seem to annoy Briony, who tells him not to stare—when Cecil points out that Briony doesn't mind Eldric staring, she simply says Eldric doesn't stare.
- Cecil pushes Briony to talk about some mysterious "it." She says she doesn't know what he is talking about, but he continues to push, saying Briony always has an excuse and that she is betraying him.
- Petey Todd interrupts to make fun of Tiddy Rex, and Briony stands up for Tiddy by poking fun at Petey.
- The arrival of Leanne prompts stares of admiration and compliments from children and Eldric, and jealous thoughts from Briony.
- The four young people (Cecil, Eldric, Briony, and Leanne) sit down to a pretty awkward double date where they eat bar food and talk about Nelly's hanging. Leanne reveals that witches have plagued her family, which is why she came to town to watch Nelly hang.
- While everyone excitedly (morbidly if you ask us) watches Nelly's hanging, Briony makes every attempt to not watch or think about it.
- When Nelly doesn't turn to dust, they have confirmation that she was not, in fact, a witch. Not a good day to be Nelly, Shmoopsters.
- Pretty much unfazed by the death of an innocent girl, Eldric introduces his new crush, Leanne, to the game he and Briony play where they guess what people would be if they were something else.
- Cecil continues to make feeble attempts at Briony's attention.
- Mr. Larkin asks Briony to come sing with him.
- This is one complicated father daughter relationship. Briony refuses to sing with him, bitterly holding onto the fact that he gave up singing in the past. He calls her by her nickname—Briony Vieny—but she bitterly turns away from him.
- Something about the food they are eating reminds Briony of eel, which makes her feel sick.
- Cecil continues flirting with Briony as Eldric drunkenly flirts with Leanne.
- Frustrated and upset with everything that is happening around her, Briony runs out of the Alehouse to Hangman's Square, where she is confronted with Nelly's dead body.
- She reminds herself not to think too hard about everything or anything.
- Back home, Briony learns that Rose has the swamp cough again.
- While she is thinking frantically about everything that is going wrong, their father comes home and goes to bed.
- Briony decides she must act, and runs to the pumping station again.
- This time, however, Mr. Clayborne has hired Robert (Rose's favorite fireman) to guard the pump station.
- Eldric also (mysteriously) happens to be there, and he tells Robert he will handle it.
- Okay, so his being there wasn't very mysterious after all—he admits to nosily following Briony there.
- Briony asks Eldric if he suspected her, and he says he didn't not suspect her. It seems fair enough.
- Eldric asks her why she did it, but she says she cannot tell him. As far as friends and fraternity members go, Briony is definitely struggling with the trust and honesty part.
- Eldric agrees not to tell on Briony if she will help him get permission to have a party in her father's garden. Who is the party for Eldric?
- The two of them take a seat against the pumping station wall and begin talking about their fraternity. Proving his bad boy status, Eldric produces communion wine which they drink while they sit and talk, leaning against each other.
The Party's Always Over at Midnight
- The day of Eldric's garden party has finally arrived, and Rose is, as always, being difficult about getting dressed. Rose talks about Robert, saying he will come, and Briony thinks to herself that he probably won't come because it would be awkward for him.
- Leanne arrives at the party and Rose asks her how old she is. Leanne says she is very old indeed, but Eldric and father say she is joking and she is just twenty-two.
- Briony observes that Eldric had been working hard on the party for some time, and notices that he looks like he was lacking in energy—he physically looks tired and less vibrant.
- Eldric's decorations and paintings for the garden party are so impressive that Briony runs to compliment him, but she stops when she sees Leanne next to him.
- While Briony is sulking by the river, Cecil comes by to flirt/annoy her some more, champagne in hand. He gets frustrated with Briony when she wants to talk about Eldric and not about Cecil and their (nonexistent) relationship.
- After getting a little loud and forceful with Briony, and almost attacking Mad Tom who was accusing Briony of stealing his wits, Cecil calms down slightly and gets the two of them a table.
- Have you wondered what these teens do for fun in Swampsea? Do they sneak out at night, get drunk, and strip off their clothes? They do on Blackberry Night! Add to this running barefoot through the swamp, chasing the Devil, and an activity that forces many of them to have quick surprise weddings soon after, and you have the party Cecil invites Briony to.
- Briony thinks about how her father, the preacher, feels about Blackberry Night—predictably, he's not a fan.
- Briony uses this as her excuse to turn down Cecil, but he persists, saying he loves her and he will protect her.
- Briony avoids his request by thinking about Eldric and Leanne. She realizes that she is jealous, even angry, about the situation.
- Cecil continues to try to flirt, acting lustfully toward Briony. Briony asks him to look at Leanne, hoping to direct his attention away from her and honestly wondering aloud if she is beautiful.
- Not the least bit interested in Leanne, Cecil offers to get Briony some sweets and runs to fetch them. He returns with sweets and Eldric and Leanne for yet another awkward double date situation.
- Mr. Clayborne comes to wish Leanne a happy birthday tomorrow, and Eldric says that they will raise a glass at midnight to toast her birthday. It is then that Briony realizes the purpose of the party—it is a birthday party for Leanne.
- At midnight when Eldric toasts Leanne and calls her "the best companion a man could ever have" (16.138), Briony's jealousy hits full force.
- Briony takes Rose to bed while ignoring requests from Brownie for her to write more stories.
- Rose asks Briony to read her a story, and Briony tells her that there are no more stories.
- The two of them lie down for bed.
- Five nights later, Briony wakes up in the middle of the night to see Eldric at her window.
- She becomes poetic over his beautiful hands and fingers—so if there was any question about whether Briony felt romantically toward Eldric, consider it officially answered.
- Briony wonders how he recovered from the illness he came down with the day of the party.
- The time has come… For what we don't know, but Eldric was nice enough to set up ropes for her to climb down in the night.
- Briony happily compares herself to Leanne, and realizes Eldric never would have planned an initiation for her. Even if he had, she muses, Leanne was not as strong and capable as Briony.
- Eldric leads her into the swamp with a task: to follow the bread (or moon) crumbs to a treasure, and not to return without it.
- Briony happily goes to look for her treasure in the oozing, muddy, dirty swamp; she can barely contain her excitement as she splashes in the swamp water.
- Briony finds the treasure wrapped in oilcloth and waits for Eldric to open it.
- Inside is a small wolf girl made of tiny pearls and wire—Eldric has made a treasure in Briony's likeness.
- Briony is speechless, but she doesn't need to talk because Eldric tells her they must go so as not to be caught.
- While walking back Briony observes that he seems well after being sick for a while. Eldric says he recovered quickly while reviewing tutor applications with his father.
- When they arrive home Mr. Larkin and Mr. Clayborne are waiting for them.
Sticks and Stones
- Still swampy, dirty and smelly, Eldric and Briony sit across the table from their fathers.
- Both fathers accuse Eldric of doing something wicked. Of course Briony, the wicked witch, is confused by this. Isn't she the wicked one?
- Mr. Larkin checked on his daughters (to Briony's surprise, he does this often) and found Briony missing.
- Eldric ignores the seriousness the adults are trying to convey and tries to start a toothpick sword fight with Briony. Mr. Larkin responds to this by yelling, "'don't touch my daughter!'" (18.16).
- Suddenly everyone begins to see what the adults are upset about—they think Eldric and Briony have slept together.
- Yelling ensues as Eldric defends himself against accusations, while Briony covers her ears.
- When Briony unplugs her ears she finds that the adults and Eldric have calmed down.
- They have decided that Eldric is a bad influence on Briony. Mr. Clayborne jokes that Briony is actually a bad influence on him, but then goes on to say that Eldric is more level headed with older women.
- Briony fears he is talking about Leanne, and her fears are confirmed when Mr. Clayborne suggests that Eldric will study with Leanne instead of Briony.
- Upset, Briony goes off on a thought tangent about Eldric studying with Leanne and getting romantic, Leanne being an Old One, herself being an Old One but mortal, Boggy Mun's immortality, and finally thinks up a deal that would satisfy Boggy Mun and save her sister.
- Briony stands up and pretends everything is all right in order to be excused.
- She has plans of visiting the Boggy Mun.
Make Love Story!
- Briony hurries into the swamp thinking jealous thoughts about Eldric and Leanne studying together.
- The Boggy Mun will be out soon, so she rushes to catch him.
- She offers him her own blood and salt again—this time she says she wants to bargain.
- Here's the bargain she offers: She will get the men to turn off the swamp pump on All Hallows Eve if Boggy Mun will cure Rose of the swamp cough. She does not tell him, but she plans to get the ghosts to tell the men of the town themselves about Boggy Mun and the swamp cough.
- Here's the counter bargain: Rose and Tiddy Rex will get no worse until All Hallows Day. If Briony succeeds in getting the swamp draining to stop, everyone including Rose will be cured of the swamp cough.
- Briony agrees and leaves Boggy Mun while thinking of her latest plan. After bringing the ghosts to tell the town their story, Briony will escape into the swamp and hope to live.
- As she is heading out of the swamp, she sees the Bleeding Hearts (which are small and idiotic creatures) that keep asking her to make a story. These little creatures insist on her making a love story, however, and keep mentioning a pretty boy she laughs with. This, of course, makes Briony think of Eldric.
- Briony tries to get back to thinking of her plan, but the Dead Hand comes and attacks her hand. She is losing a battle to get her hand back (and listening to the crack and stretch of her wrist bones and skin… ew) when Eldric comes to her rescue.
- She is thinking of her hand being squeezed and the words of the Bleeding Hearts, "pretty girl love pretty boy" (19.113), when she loses consciousness.
Happily Ever After
- Briony is injured and sick in bed after her encounter with the Dead Hand.
- Her hand has been crushed and the anesthesia they are having her take to numb the pain seems to have an added effect of confusing time and Briony's thought processing ability.
- Briony smells mint and apple and tries to tell Brownie to go away.
- More medicine comes, and a love song from Eldric.
- Father sings her a song about mothers and eel soup; this upsets Briony.
- Eldric sits on the edge of her bed and she asks him to sing the love song again.
- He clears his throat and then Briony blacks out.
- Eldric comes to tell her about a castle Tiddy Rex and he are building, complete with a catapult and a woman's hairpin to catapult.
- Briony notices the smells of a fire, spices, and soap; she observes the sun in the window and the heaviness of her arm.
- She notices that she is in the sewing room where Stepmother was sick and died. Briony remembers the smells of her stepmother's sickness and of the eels in eel broth—she wishes for the smell of Brownie.
- Briony opens her eyes again, more aware than before. Eldric is again by her side, excited to see her up.
- Eldric looks skinny and pale. Briony tells him he looks tired, but he brushes her comment off by saying he should say the same to her.
- She asks him to talk to her even if her eyes are closed and he tells her he's been with her the whole time, skipping lessons and the hayride and other events.
- Some hours or days later (Briony is super dazed and confused), Briony asks about her hand—she thinks it has been torn off.
- Both father and Eldric try to assure Briony that she still has her hand, but they are so nervous and flustered while trying to explain the condition of her hand that she can tell it is very badly injured, "mangled" (20.82) even.
- She asks how many bones were broken and set. Twenty-seven. So she asks how many bones are in a hand. Twenty-seven.
- The next time they are alone, Eldric asks her what she was doing with a knife in the bog. He tells her they saw the cuts.
- Briony tries to change the subject to how he found her, but he answers quickly with a romantic (or stalkerish) "'I can always find you… Don't ever think you can hide from me'" (20.96), and then pushes to know what she was doing again.
- Eldric admits, after some convincing on the part of Briony, that her father wanted to talk to her that night about the details of seduction. Eldric asks what he should tell Mr. Larkin about Briony's knowledge of this adult topic and Briony says to tell him she reads a lot.
- Eldric asks her again what she was doing, but she refuses to answer him. He asks her to consider using his blood as an offering instead next time, and points out that though they are in a fraternity she has trouble asking for help and trusting him. He promises not to give up until she tells him.
- Eldric invites Briony to Blackberry Night by promising her that Reverend Larkin will not find out—apparently he and Pearl have been planning her participation in the night.
- Rose visits Briony's bedside to try to make her better. When Briony says she will get better on her own, Rose tells her she wants her to get better in a different way and it is a secret.
- Rose mentions that Eldric says Briony will be pretty again when she recovers, so Briony asks for a mirror.
- While Briony looks at her own reflection, Rose persists in trying to communicate her secret with Briony.
- Ignoring Rose's intentions, Briony asks after Eldric, and finds out that he is at his lessons with Leanne.
- Rose talks about the different look between before and after midnight and more secrets; finally she decides against continuing to try and says she will consult Eldric.
- Pearl helps Briony get dressed for a surprise tea party.
- Excitedly, Rose leads her toward the library for the surprise. The family has restored the burnt library with musical instruments and some books.
- Father, Rose, Eldric, Leanne, Cecil, Mr. Clayborne, and Thorpe (Eldric and Leanne's new tutor) are all in attendance at the surprise party.
- Rose gives Briony paper and tells her now she can write her stories again.
- Cecil offers Briony a plate of pie, and Leanne goes up to Briony and announces that Eldric has made her a gift.
- Eldric looks sick again. What's up with the people of this town? Why are they always seemingly near death? Certainly this can't be all Briony doing.
- Briony admires the chain of crystals he presents, and when Eldric's father asks when he will find focus, Leanne jumps to his defense.
- Feeling kind and thankful to Rose, Briony writes a story in which Rose is the hero, and ends the story with "happily ever after" (20.240).
Comin' Thro' the Rye
- On Blackberry Night, Briony is finally free of her cast and well enough to run about in the swamp.
- Briony has come alone and is avoiding Cecil and Eldric, though she mentions (a little bitterly we might add) that Eldric really wants to be with Leanne.
- Cecil finds her though, and grabs her, demanding to know if she has kissed Eldric. He tries to force a kiss out of her and grips her so tightly he hurts her.
- Looking at his huge pupils and listening to his words run together Briony becomes terrified—she bites him and tries to tear her way from his grip.
- She punches him but he grabs her other wrist and continues to try to force her to kiss him.
- True to his promise of always being able to find her, Eldric again comes to Briony's rescue and beats Cecil.
- When he returns to Briony, he comforts her by holding her and kissing her wrists and they share a kiss.
- He lies down on top of her before looking at her and saying, "'We can't do this'" (21.52).
- Upset and embarrassed, Briony runs from him, thinking that he didn't want her, but Leanne. Eldric calls after her but doesn't chase her.
How is Mister Eldric?
- After Blackberry Night, Eldric becomes ill. He is on bed rest and Briony feels relieved not to have to see him and feel embarrassed.
- Briony also feels guilt though, as she blames herself for Eldric becoming sick. In case you didn't catch it yet, Briony reminds us of her witchy ways.
- Briony refuses to answer daily letters from Cecil.
- When Briony finally asks about Eldric's health after four days, Pearl confesses that he is very ill and that Leanne is making him feel worse. Apparently, she is always bringing him little pieces of things and asking him to make things. Sounds like Leanne hasn't heard of chicken soup and rest…
- After spending days alone, Briony starts to talk to Brownie again, and even tells him she missed him. She admits she shouldn't be talking to him because they hurt people together, but Brownie says they never hurt anyone.
- Briony sets off looking for Dr. Rannigan and is told he might be at the Alehouse. She finds him in the Alehouse with Cecil, but tries to walk away without talking to either.
- Cecil follows her, however, and forces an apology on her.
- Briony has thoughts of eels and the taste of eels in food being used to cover the taste of poison.
- Cecil talks about Briony using him for something mysterious and says he did it out of love.
- When Briony insists she doesn't know what he's talking about he vows to expose her and ruin her. Cecil has become one seriously unsavory dude.
- After Dr. Rannigan visits and delivers depressing news to Mr. Clayborne, Briony mentions what Pearl said about Leanne to Eldric's father. He decides Leanne may not visit until Eldric is well.
- Briony compares Eldric's sickness to Stepmother's and wonders how she caused him to get sick.
- Eldric makes a miraculously fast recovery that no one can believe or explain; he writes to Briony asking her to meet with him to discuss something.
- Briony replies to his request right away, joking about their fraternity and agreeing to meet him, but asking him to forget about Blackberry Night.
- In his reply letter, Eldric says he can't think of anything unpleasant to forget from Blackberry Night, and jokes about a secret form of communication for the fraternity.
- Briony visits Eldric and struggles not to act super awkwardly—nothing quite like a kiss on Blackberry Night to make an easy friendship complicated.
- Eldric asks about Cecil, and Briony says she has him wrapped around her finger but then admits that she feels stupid for practicing boxing but not being able to punch Cecil.
- They agree that Briony needs practice with real fighting.
- Eldric tells Briony that Cecil is dangerous to her because he takes arsenic—and when Briony doesn't fully understand the effects of this, he explains that it makes men feel more lustful. This helps Briony understand why her father fired her tutor Fitz (an arsenic addict) and told her a man doesn't leave his daughter with someone like that.
- The smell of paraffin forces Briony to have a flashback about the library fire. She wonders why she set her stories on fire and why she burned herself; she yells at herself to stop remembering. All of this, of course, happens in her head and not aloud, which is fortunate because Eldric might think her crazy otherwise.
- Eldric pleads with Briony to watch out for Cecil, while Briony convinces herself that she caused Eldric's sickness and thinks to herself that he should watch out for her.
- Briony and Eldric meet to practice unpredictable boxing. While marveling at how little effort Eldric is putting forth, Briony fights off feelings of love for him and strips off layers of clothing as she becomes hot. She says she's hot from the exercise, not with attraction to Eldric, but we're thinking it's a little of both.
- When they stop fighting, Briony becomes cold. When she mentions that all of her clothes are wet Eldric holds up his coat for her to change behind and promises not to look. What a gentleman.
- Now Briony is wearing just her blouse, which she describes as being better than nothing but close to it. Eldric wraps his coat around her, making sure not to touch her.
- Their walk home becomes increasingly awkward with Briony thinking of their kiss and Eldric silent; to break the silence Briony says "'Awkwardissimus!'" and Eldric agrees.
- Back in town, Mad Tom is telling Leanne she stole his wits and asking her to give them back. When Eldric sees her Briony wonders if his look is one of love.
- Leanne asks Eldric to rid her of Mad Tom. While he walks him away, she makes small talk with Briony—for some reason, the smell of Leanne reminds her of Stepmother before she was sick.
- When Mad Tom returns, Leanne plays damsel in distress again (did we mention how annoying she can be?) and suggests she walk away with Eldric this time.
- Eldric says he has dinner plans with Briony, which Briony recognizes as a lie and happily wonders if he doesn't want to be alone with Leanne.
- Still, he ends up walking her away with a promise to be right back.
- After waiting for what probably feels like forever, Briony goes off to find Eldric, only to catch him kissing Leanne in an alley. Upset, Briony returns to the bridge and feels stupid for waiting for him.
- Mucky Face calls to Briony to warn her that a powerful Old One was calling him to crash onto her. She commands him to stop and he begs her to try harder as he rises as a great wave above her. When she finally succeeds in making Mucky Face return to the river, Eldric is beside her waiting for her to explain herself.
Wine is Cheering
- Eldric demands to know what Briony was doing talking to a wave, and Briony asks him again and again to promise not to tell anyone.
- He promises, as he has all the times before, and Briony tells him that she has second sight. She tells him that she was talking to an Old One when she was talking to the wave—then, to confuse Eldric even further, Briony explains that another Old One called the wave on her.
- Eldric notices that Briony is cold and goes off to get her something to drink and eat; while he is gone she wonders who would have tried to hurt or kill her.
- Eldric returns with wine and bread, still angry at Briony. When she asks why he is angry he tells her it's because she didn't tell him and he feels betrayed.
- This is the part where Eldric doesn't use his brain so Briony has to put the pieces together for him. Wasn't he present for Nelly's trial and hanging? Briony implies to him that if people suspected her abilities she would probably have the same fate.
- After a long silence, Briony brings up his make-out session with Leanne while she waited for him. Eldric, who probably wants to avoid this conversation more than a root canal, says he was embarrassed that she saw him.
- When he starts to explain his weird situation with Leanne (basically, he doesn't like her very much when he's not with her but he can't resist her in person), Briony asks to write about him and Leanne while he explains it in hopes of uncovering the truth of their situation.
- What Briony writes (a summary): Leanne is a Dark Muse that is making Eldric ill by forcing him to make his little fidgets. She is jealous of Briony so she tried to kill her with Mucky Face.
- Eldric does not believe this story—prideful man that he is, he believes that he is too smart to be put under someone's spell. This causes him to become angry with Briony and call her a liar.
- After a while, he apologizes and points out that Cecil is romantically lurking and staring at her. Briony makes a joke about the romantic lurking—obviously she's not into his creepy behavior.
- The wine they have been drinking makes Briony feel bold enough to ask Eldric if he's gone all the way with Leanne. He denies it, but starts to become embarrassed when Briony asks about other girls in his past.
- They talk around the subject of sex awkwardly and flirt for a little before Eldric decides Briony has had too much wine and it's time to go.
- Eldric walks her home and sneaks her into her house; she falls asleep still in Eldric's coat.
- When she wakes up, Briony has a hangover and is embarrassed to remember all she said and did the night before. She remembers asking Eldric for a kiss and feels sick to her stomach.
- Tiddy Rex comes to tell Briony that Eldric has a surprise for her and Rose.
- Can you guess what the surprise is? It's not an engagement ring, a witch's broom, or more wine… It's a Motorcar.
- Eldric helps local children into the car to sit in it and Briony marvels at the beauty of it. When he asks her what she thinks she says she loves it.
- Eldric asks Briony to take the first ride in it with him. He has had Pearl set up a picnic for them and assumed that Briony and Rose will agree to go.
- Teasingly (but more than a little seriously), Briony asks if Eldric didn't mean to take Leanne on the first ride, but he says not after what Briony said last night.
- They promise Tiddy Rex he can go on the next ride, and tap the horn before heading to their picnic.
- While they are driving, Briony wonders how Eldric will react to finding out she is a witch on Halloween night. She toys with the idea of telling him beforehand so he doesn't find out with everyone else.
- They sit down for the picnic and Briony begins to apologize for her drunken behavior the night before. Eldric accepts her apology playfully and Briony notices the awkward moments between them that keep growing.
- Rose spots Leanne riding a horse up to their picnic spot and Eldric tells everyone to eat the biscuits quickly before she arrives. Briony feels sick to her stomach and Rose wonders aloud about telling secrets.
- When Leanne arrives, she invites herself to their picnic. Have we mentioned how annoying she can be? Add rude to that list.
- Ignoring Leanne, Rose continues to ask about secrets—Briony tells Rose one must always keep a secret, but Eldric says it depends on whether the secret is wicked or not.
- The conversation steers toward whether or not it is okay to hurt someone to protect someone else, and Eldric speaks indirectly about the time he saved Briony from Cecil.
- Briony notices Eldric looking at Leanne and hopes he is not falling under her spell again. In an attempt to help, she reminds him about the night before when he said he wasn't stupid enough to fall under her spell.
- The conversation that follows mostly involves Briony and Eldric speaking in code about Leanne, Leanne continually trying to enter the conversation, everyone ignoring Leanne, and finally Rose telling Leanne to be quiet as she makes an important decision. High five for Rose.
- Rose shows Briony a collage she made with Eldric's help and tries to use it to get Briony to guess the secret. She points out that she and her sister are the same in many ways, but have one big difference—and when Briony doesn't understand fully, Rose explains that she wants to help make Briony better by telling her secret.
- The sickness Rose says she wants to cure Briony of is her unhappy thoughts. We've got to say, though, with all the unhappy thoughts Briony has had lately, Rose seems to be a very ambitious girl.
- They get very close to revealing Rose's secret but only figure out the following: The collage is of two babies—one is Rosy Posy and one is Briony Vieny—and the moons are in different positions—one represents midnight, the other right before midnight.
- Rose falls asleep and the three remaining talk about secrets.
- Leanne, who has pretty much been sufficiently disrespected by Rose and the rest of them by now, says her secret is that she has a gift for pulling the best out of artists. This makes Briony think her theory is pretty much dead on.
- Eldric says he has a secret he can't share with all three people, and Briony wishes to know what it is.
A Proper Punch
- Briony visits Eldric's room. Finally she begins to admit (only to herself though) that she is feeling lustful feelings for Eldric.
- He makes a pretty fitting joke about not having her sit on his bed, and has her sit by the fire. Either this guy doesn't return Briony's feelings, or he's an eternal gentleman.
- When Briony spots a half written letter, Eldric quickly throws it into the fire and calls himself an idiot.
- He doesn't explain the letter, but asks Briony to stay even though he is in a bad mood.
- Briony asks Eldric to bring a gun to the feast of Halloween night, but doesn't explain why. What evil are you up to, Briony?
- Dark Muse fun fact: A Dark Muse can only feed on the blood relative of her original host or she will die. This fun fact means Eldric turning Leanne down could put his father in danger, so Briony warns him.
- They both tell each other they have something important to tell the other, and Eldric insists Briony go first.
- When Briony tells him she is a witch, Eldric doesn't believe her and tells her to prove it. Briony tries to call up a fire, but is unable, so instead she tells him about hurting Rose as her proof. This doesn't convince Eldric either though, as he insists Briony loves Rose and wouldn't hurt her.
- When Eldric suggests that maybe Briony's stepmother was the witch, Briony gets angry and they get into a verbal fight.
- Briony punches him with her left hand, and he laughs at what a good punch she got in.
- She asks what he was going to tell her, and he says maybe another time.
- Briony backs out of his room thinking that after Hallows eve she will be off to London and never see him again.
A Face in the Mirror
- On Halloween the villagers all put on masks and gather in a place decorated with many mirrors and nooks and crannies.
- Eldric beckons for Briony to follow him behind a curtain of canvas where they can talk in private.
- He picks up their conversation from the day before and points out that Rose never would have gotten onto the swings willingly, but Briony brushes his comment aside.
- They joke about her punching him yesterday, and Eldric tells Briony that he has cut things off with Leanne for good.
- When he asks her to take off her mask she fears being vulnerable with him, but she does.
- When she takes off her mask, he apologizes for the other day, tells her the letter he burnt the day before was for her, mentions being upset when she said she would never get married, and confesses to loving her. Finally.
- The clock strikes twelve just as she looks into his eyes… and Briony says she must go.
- Eldric asks what to do with the gun she asked him to bring, and she tells him to make sure she isn't hanged and runs away.
- Briony goes to the cemetery and summons the children who died of the swamp cough—slowly, one by one, twenty-nine ghost hands reached out to hold hers.
- As she walks toward Hangman's Square, Briony tells the children a story of the swamp cough that killed them, a story where the adults don't know about Boggy Mun and the cause of their deaths. In her story, however, the ghost children follow Briony to tell the Swampfolk the truth.
- When they arrive at Hangman's Square Briony climbs onto the gallows to get everyone's attention.
- And everyone's attention is what she gets. Briony stands atop the gallows with the ghost children surrounding her, and everyone stops and stares.
A Crumpled Page
- Imagine the reactions of a town of people who keep losing their children to a deadly disease, and are now seeing their children back from the dead. Instead of reacting to the ghosts in horror or disgust, the townspeople begin reaching and crying for their dead children.
- The ghost children begin telling their parents and all who are listening about Boggy Mun, the draining of the swamp, and how it all caused their death.
- In the middle of this creepily touching moment, the scream of a woman catches Briony's attention.
- Enter Stepmother—not as a ghost, but as a rotting, flesh dripping, maggot filled corpse headed for Briony. Didn't she die months ago? What type of human survives being buried all this time?
- She calls for Briony to come closer and thanks her for calling her from her grave. When Briony responds with confusion, she says she is not an Unquiet Spirit and that she has been waiting all this time. She also mentions some other confusing bits about Briony's burnt hand, Rose, and their father.
- Finally the other shoe drops. Stepmother says she has been murdered, that "'Even we Old Ones—yes, even we are unable to depart this world without business unfinished'"(29.39). She accuses Briony of her murder then crumbles into dust.
- The crowd begins calling Briony a murderess and a witch, closing in on her and demanding she be hung. Cecil is the first to come to her defense, then Eldric, who threatens to shoot anyone who moves toward her, and finally her father joins in with a feeble shout of "'No!'" when someone accuses her of being a witch.
- Eldric shoots the gun as the constable goes after Briony and threatens to shoot again, but someone from the crowd points out that he only has five bullets.
- Eldric tells Briony to run, so she turns and runs away from the crowd into the night.
Eels in Eel Broth
- Running through the swamp to escape, Briony has a flashback of herself preparing eel soup for her stepmother. If you like gross stuff, this is the chapter for you—if not, hold your nose.
- Briony's thoughts of eels and murdering her stepmother are interrupted when Mucky Face tells her that Eldric is chasing after her in the swamp and the Dead Hand is after him.
- Briony hears him calling for her, so she calls back to him while following his voice.
- She finds him in the clutch of the Dead Hand and attacks it to get it off of him.
- There are lots of descriptions of flesh and blood and oozing and cracks and other unpleasant things, and all the while Briony is trying to save Eldric's hand. She realizes, however, that she cannot save his hand and chooses instead to save him. Using the fabric from her dress, Briony wraps his mangled arm and helps him up.
- Eldric is now terribly weak, and his weight makes it hard for Briony to walk quickly. Slowly, Briony walks with him toward town to find Dr. Rannigan.
- When Eldric asks her to talk to him, she doesn't know what exactly to talk about, so she decides to tell him everything. Finally, after literally spilling blood for her, Eldric gets to know all the secrets he's been asking her about for months.
- Realizing Briony is headed toward her possible death, Eldric tells her to run, but she doesn't abandon him. Instead she continues walking with him while having a flashback of her Stepmother's death.
- When she finally snaps out of the flashback, Eldric passes out.
- Briony uses strips of fabric and a coat to make a way to drag Eldric's body through the swamp. All the while she is thinking of Eldric, how to survive, and the way her stepmother died.
- Finally she hears the sounds of bloodhounds and knows that she and Eldric will be found; she sits down with Eldric's head in her lap and waits.
- Her father is the first to find her.
- Enough time has passed that snow is on the ground now. Briony has been in jail and on trial for this time.
- She is sick and Dr. Rannigan said she should be in a warm bed instead of a cold jail cell, so the judge gave her permission to stay at home with her father under the condition that he take responsibility for bringing her to court engagements. But Briony refused.
- Briony is certain she will be hanged because she has confessed to everything openly.
- As the trial begins, Judge Trumpington and the Chime Child both speak on how candid Briony has been. The Chime Child speaks of her failure with Nelly, and she also says that after hearing Briony's story she has more questions than answers.
- The Chime Child's first question is about how Briony would judge herself, which Briony answers by saying she would hang herself.
- The Chime Child responds by asking Briony why she thinks she should hang. Briony points out the obvious here—that she murdered her stepmother—but the Chime Child points out that Stepmother was an Old One.
- Judge Trumpington points out that Old Ones can be killed only after a trial; people are not to take matters into their own hands. The Chime Child agrees, and points out that they are at a trial now, suggesting that they put Briony's stepmother on trial.
- This suggestion causes a long discussion about whether or not this unorthodox request should be allowed, but the Chime Child convinces them to give it a try so as to avoid unnecessarily hanging another girl.
- Eldric rises from the crowd of spectators and says he can help. Displaying a trust and willingness to bend rules, Judge Trumpington and the Chime Child allow it without question.
- Eldric explains to Briony that he wants to do what she did for him with Leanne—he wants to write her story to help uncover the hidden truth.
- They start with Briony's illness from back in the time when Stepmother was still alive. Briony describes feeling worn down more day-by-day, and Stepmother suggesting that writing would be healing for her. The writing made her feel more worn down, however, but she continued to do it for her stepmother.
- When Eldric asks Briony to talk about the library fire, she thinks about two different sets of memories in her mind. Eldric, somehow knowing this is the case, tells her to tell the first memory that comes to mind.
- Though she thinks this is untrue, she tells a memory of bringing paraffin to the library and covering the piano and books in it. She lit a match and watched the stories burn. When she heard her stepmother coming, she pushed her own hand in the flame; Stepmother told Briony she wouldn't tell on her.
- Briony mentions that her stepmother didn't tell many of the evil things Briony did, and Eldric asks her what evil she's talking about. When Briony refuses to tell, he says he will. She insults him and tries to punch him, but she fails so she resorts to putting her fingers in her ears and not listening as Eldric tells her secrets.
- After he is done telling, Briony's father stands to reveal two important truths. First, Rose has been the way she is since birth, no injury caused her mental state. (Briony thinks that her father is lying, of course.) Second, he found out that his second wife was a Dark Muse a year into their marriage, which is why he stopped coming home. He did not know that a Dark Muse could feed on girls as well.
- Eldric now suggests that Briony misunderstands her powers, and that she is not a witch at all.
- Briony, predictably, objects to this and yells for everyone to hear that she is a witch because she has second sight.
- This time, Rose comes to Briony's defense. She reveals to the court the secret she has been keeping (and teasing us with) all this time. Briony is not a witch—she is a Chime Child, born between the midnight chimes and so not on either day. When Rose found the records book that showed this, Stepmother made her promise not to tell anyone or she would hurt Briony. This last bit of evidence frees Briony from guilt, but leaves her feeling more confused and surprised than ever.
- Briony walks out of the courtroom in a daze, past Leanne who is desperately pleading to get to Mr. Clayborne—as she passes Leanne, she thinks that Leanne is near death and continues walking into a cold alley.
- She looks up and Eldric is calling for her.
- After all of the revelations about her stepmother and the lies she told her, Briony is working on rewiring her memory and her sense of self. She tries to remind herself often that she is not wicked, and to say nice things to herself. This all would be easier, she thinks, if Eldric would tell her he loves her again, but he's been distant since she's come home.
- Briony has been very ill since her time in jail and is still recovering.
- Together, Briony and Eldric work on making one of his tiny fidgets—Briony worries about Eldric's feelings about himself since losing his hand.
- They need Rose's help choosing a color to paint the fidget, and argue over who will go get her. Eldric ultimately goes, concerned about Briony needing rest.
- Briony thinks about a time when the Swampfolk used to go outside to the fields looking for a green mist that signals spring.
- Rose comes with Eldric, says Briony's been ill too much, and picks the right color for the motorcar.
- Briony thinks about wanting Eldric to care for her while she is sick. Instead her father has been—he was very upset after discovering that he left his daughters to be fed on by a Dark Muse.
- Briony falls asleep wishing Eldric would tell her loving things to help her rebuild her sense of self.
- When she awakes, Briony sees that Eldric is having trouble painting the fidget, so she helps.
- Rose has left, presumably to visit Robert.
- Eldric and Briony call Tiddy Rex to the porch when he runs by to give him the tiny motorcar and initiate him into the Fearsome Four. Are we to understand that their fraternity has grown?
- After dinner, Briony sneaks out hoping to see the green mist.
- Briony remembers figuring out Stepmother's true identity as a Dark Muse—she did so by writing a story about it, just the way she did with Eldric.
- The Old Ones in the swamp welcome Briony back and ask her to write them stories. She promises to return and write more stories when she is better.
- When Briony discovers that there is no green mist yet, she sits down to rest. Eldric comes by motorcar to find her as he always does, and she mentions that she doesn't feel she knows him anymore. Eldric tells her that she does know him very well, and they begin to talk about his missing hand and whether or not either of them misses it.
- The conversation turns to Eldric's feelings that Briony no longer cares for him now that he doesn't have a hand—he says he feels emasculated and then physically overpowers Briony while talking about undoing a girl's buttons and lace. What happened to the polite Eldric from before?
- Just as confused as we are with this new aggressive Eldric, and thinking back to her horrible experience with Cecil, Briony fights back and then looks away from him in fear.
- Suddenly coming to his senses, Eldric puts his face in his hand to cry. When he lets her go, Briony walks away. He calls to her and chases after her—Briony tells him not to touch her, and makes a comment about him coming to rape and pillage, but he insists he came to show her something. She agrees he can show her if he leaves her alone after.
- He gives her a gold and pearl fidget and tells her he came to tell her he loves her—but sometimes he feels like she doesn't like him anymore because of his hand. Briony says she doesn't care about his hand, they say some flirtatious things about Blackberry Night, and then she tells him all the reasons why she loves him.
- When she points out that he just acted like Cecil on Blackberry Night, he begins to cry again; then he opens his arms to hug her and she accepts as he sobs.
- Eldric slips the fidget onto her finger—it's a ring. He tells her that is made of moonstones and diamonds.
- He holds her and tells her he doesn't want another girl; he says they will make new memory paths for her together.
- As he leads her to the motorcar, he says again that he loves her—and Briony finally believes that she is lovable.