Thomas sees a humongous black horse with a very little girl is sitting on it.
She has on a white bonnet, red pajamas, and no shoes. She doesn't seem to see Thomas.
A big, strong boy about the same age as Thomas (thirteen) is walking behind the horse, pulling its tail.
Thomas wants to push the button, so that the step goes back where it is, but he can't do that without stopping looking at the girl and the boy and the horse.
The boy warns the little girl to stop the horse or it will fall through the hole in the steps.
Now the girl looks at Thomas, and the boy looks at the hole under the raised step.
The boy warns Thomas that he could get lost in the tunnels under the house.
The girl tells him that there is nothing under the house at all but strange noises.
She tells the boy that Mr. Pluto let her walk around down there.
The boy, calling the girl "Pesty," tells her she shouldn't be hanging out with Mr. Pluto. He says Mr. Pluto will make something bad happen to her, and he won't be able to get her home in time to eat the evening meal.
She tells the boy that she'll get Mr. Pluto to "tie [him] up" (4.14) and leave him under the house for the "ghosts to play with" (4.14).
Now the boy asks Thomas if he was going to go down under the house.
Thomas starts to get mad and asks them who they are.
The boy says he is the child of a man named Mr. Darrow. The boy has lots of brothers, but no sisters. The little girl lives with the boy, his brothers, and his mother and father, but she isn't his sister.
He tells Thomas that everybody has a different name for her. His Dad calls her Sarah; his mom calls her Sooky; Mr. Pluto calls her Little Miss Bee; the boy calls her Pesty.
Someone, apparently, left the little girl on the family's doorstep when the boy was five years old, and the girl was a baby. (So, she must be about eight or nine years old.)
The boy asks Thomas what he's "doing on Mr. Pluto's porch" (4.28).
Thomas says that this is his family's house, and that Mr. Pluto is just the hired help.
This makes the boy and Pesty laugh.
Irritated, Thomas says they should get lost. He wants to look under the house for the Underground Railroad.
Pesty says there aren't any train tracks down there.
(The Underground Railroad didn't actually involve any trains, it was just a network of people and places that helped slaves escape to freedom. Check out "Best of the Web" for more on the Underground Railroad.)
The boy offers to go under the house with him.
Roughly, Thomas says he can do it on his own.
The boy says Thomas might need him later. Pesty says they'll return later to see how Thomas is doing. But, the boy tells her she won't be allowed to come back out at night.
When he laughs at Thomas, Thomas threatens to get Mr. Small if the boy doesn't go away.
The boy says they are going, and tells Thomas his name is M.C. Darrow, and that he's the youngest of the Darrow boys.
He asks Thomas if he likes Pesty's red pajamas. He says that she wears red because, "Mr. Pluto likes red because it is the color of fire and he is the keeper of fire" (4.39).
(This comment will make sense later on.)
He tells Thomas he can call him Mac, that everybody calls him Mac.
As they are leaving, Thomas lies on his stomach and hangs into the hole.
All the sudden he falls hard down into the hole and lands on a set of stone steps.
The wind is knocked out of him, but he's OK. He could have fallen down the steps, and he thinks Pesty and Mac are mean not to have warned him.
Thomas pulls out the flashlight he always has.
He walks down the stairs, reminding himself to be more careful.
The ceiling is low, and Thomas imagines the whole house falling down on him. He starts thinking about ghosts, but then makes himself stop.
It's very wet down here, and he can hear running water. He thinks he must be hearing the springs.
Trying not to be scared, he continues walking. He sits on one of several stone slabs attached to the wall, wondering if slaves sat on them.
He feels lonely, and thinks of how awful it must have been for slaves hiding in here in the darkness.
Suddenly, Thomas hears something. Accidentally, he drops the flashlight, and then kicks it.
As he tries to find it, he gets nervous, and thinks of turning back.
He calls his father's name, and thinks there is something waiting for him in front of the stone steps.
He hears a sound like "Ahhh, ahhh, ahh" (4.70). It wasn't crying or laughing. It was something old and sad.
He gets really scared and screams out for his dad.
Turning from the steps, he runs, yelling, and then he hits a wall.
It hurts really badly, and he almost starts to cry.
He touches the wall and can tell it's made out of wood.
Yelling for help, he bangs on the wall.
All of a sudden, the wall rises up, and there is his mom, asking what he's doing inside a wall!