The next morning, Dicey has to figure out what to do. They only have seven dollars left. But they have some supplies and the bicycles, so she guesses they can go back to Bridgeport to Cousin Eunice. Though Dicey won't let her send away Maybeth or Sammy—not a chance.
It's early when Dicey goes downstairs and she sees her grandmother. Abigail apologizes to her granddaughter and says she has some things to explain.
She doesn't really have the money to raise kids. Sure, Will said she could get assistance from social security, but Tillermans don't take charity, do they?
But that's not the only problem. Abigail was married for thirty-eight years and, even though a lot of it stunk, she kept her promises and listened to her husband and obeyed him, even when she didn't want to. Now that he's dead, Abigail finally has freedom. She doesn't want to give that up to take care of four little kids.
Her daughter, Liza, used to feel sorry for her—that's why she stuck around so long—but when she met the kids' father, Francis, she ran off with him.
Abigail told her daughter that they didn't want to hear from her until she got married. That was what her husband wanted her to say and she was going stand by him, darn it. But Liza told her mother that she would never get married because being married only made people miserable. Once you promise to be someone's wife, there's no getting out of it, and Liza didn't want to live that kind of life—a.k.a. the life her mother had.
Abigail loved her kids, but now they're all gone. She made lots of mistakes, but they're all in the past now.
For a long time, Abigail was angry—that's why her kids left her one by one. She failed them as a mom; she should have been there for them, but she wasn't.
And that's the real reason why she can't take in her grandkids: She doesn't want to fail them, too.
Dicey tells her that she understands why the kids can't stay there, but she also doesn't think her grandma would fail them.
Abigail's all that's nice but then says she has to finish writing a letter to Cousin Eunice. She'll try to put in a good word for the kids, though.
Dicey goes back to bed and cries. It's just not fair. They're like little lost sheep, poor things.
The next morning, Dicey wakes up to see Abigail making bread. And she realizes that she actually likes her grandmother—she's prickly and contrary, but she likes her.
Dicey says she guesses they'll be heading out today, but Abigail says they can stay until she hears back from Cousin Eunice. She needs to make sure the kids can go with her first, and until then, she'll register the kids for school in Crisfield.
That day, Abigail takes the kids to Janes Island; later, Dicey and James work on patching some of the holes in the barn.
For the next few days, the kids hang out with their grandmother and wait to hear back from Cousin Eunice. Dicey tries not to think about the sailboat in the barn. If she could stay, she would have liked to fix it up. But they're not staying. It's not fair, but that's the way life goes sometimes—or all the time, if your last name is Tillerman.