Study Guide

The House of Dies Drear Chapter 7

By Virginia Hamilton

Chapter 7

  • This is the first time Mrs. Small has seen Pluto, and her stance shows she is protective of her family.
  • Pluto steps into the house, respectfully.
  • He is extremely tall, and he has a curly white beard, white hair, and droopy shoulders.
  • His eyes are bright green, and his skin is dark brown.
  • Something about his clothes seems out of time, and out of place, but Mrs. Small can't quite decide what it is.
  • One thing is that he's very "well-groomed," more like a man from the city.
  • She apologizes for staring at him.
  • In a nice way, he takes her hand. He has on gloves! Then he steps back.
  • Mrs. Small introduces Thomas to him. She says she knows he's already met Mr. Small.
  • Pluto says he's happy to meet Mrs. Small.
  • He tells her he thought that Thomas was one of the bad people who sometimes come around to bother him.
  • Thomas notices that Mr. Pluto's eyes are darting around in a "shifty" (7.14) way, and he wonders why.
  • When Thomas looks at his father, he's in for a shock. Mr. Small is looking at Mr. Pluto so intensely his face looks like it's caught in a "spasm" (7.16).
  • Mr. Pluto doesn't seem to notice, and when Thomas looks back at his father, his father's face is calm and normal.
  • Thomas wonders if he imagined it.
  • Mr. Small greets Mr. Pluto, and thanks him for unpacking and arranging the furniture.
  • Pluto says he hopes the family likes the way he arranged things. Thomas notices that Pluto won't look Mr. Small in the eye.
  • Suddenly, Mr. Small changes the subject, asking Mr. Pluto how the horses are doing.
  • Mr. Pluto seems startled, but says the horses are fine. To Thomas's surprise, his dad keeps grilling Pluto about the horses.
  • Apparently, the black one has been sick.
  • Mr. Small doesn't seem satisfied with Mr. Pluto's answers.
  • Mr. Pluto gets theatrical and says that the horses have been scared by "haunted things" (7.31).
  • Thomas gets excited now, but Mr. Small shushes him.
  • He thinks Pluto looks like he might be laughing just a little bit, but Mr. Small doesn't see it.
  • Now Mr. Small asks Mr. Pluto about Pesty, and why she was riding his horse today.
  • Mr. Pluto says that Pesty is really good with animals.
  • Then he says that when it's nighttime, the black horse gets so spooked that Mr. Pluto has "to hobble him so he won't burst his heart with running" (7.41).
  • ("Hobble" means to "impair". Mr. Pluto does something to keep the horse from being able to run at night.)
  • At this point, Mr. Small gets excited. He says Pluto isn't making any "sense" (7.41).
  • Mr. Pluto repeats the word "sense" (7.42) a few times and looks sad.
  • Then he says:

    "When hoot owl screeching, westward flies,
    Gauge the sun…
    Look to Dies,
    And Run."

  • As Mr. Small moves toward Pluto, the man disappears into the darkness.