Down at the pond, Tommy spills the beans to Kathy about his conversation with Miss Lucy. She told Tommy, over and over again, that it doesn't matter if he isn't creative. It's not his fault.
Phew! What a load off Tommy's shoulders. Now he doesn't feel as much pressure, and anytime he sees Miss Lucy he feels reassured. Sounds like a pretty good chat with a teacher.
But Tommy also says that two weird things happened during this talk with Miss Lucy:
(1) Miss Lucy was shaking with rage. Tommy says she wasn't angry at him. Instead, she was "furious deep inside" (3.20). So who or what was she angry at?
(2) Miss Lucy kept saying that the students at Hailsham aren't taught enough about their future. Or about their donations.
Tommy and Kathy don't know what to make of all this. It's all so mysterious. They wonder why Miss Lucy would go from talking about being creative to bringing up donations.
Kathy says that she thinks this has something to do with Madame's Gallery. Madame lives outside Hailsham but visits a few times each year. She collects the students' best artwork. And then it goes to this seriously awesome Gallery.
Or so they think. Kathy realizes that the idea of the Gallery was something she grew up with. She and the other students always talked about it, but never actually saw it. So maybe Madame's Gallery is real, or maybe it's just an urban legend Hailsham-style.
Either way, having your artwork there is a huge honor, plus it earns you major cool points among the other students when Madame comes for a visit.
But here's the odd thing about Madame: she never talks to the Hailsham students. And when Ruth was about eight years old, she had a theory about why: "She's scared of us" (3.57).
So during one of Madame's visits, Ruth, Kathy, and their girl group decide to become amateur sociologists and stage an experiment. When Madame gets out of her car and walks toward the school, the girls casually flock to her so she's forced to confront them.
Madame reacts as they expect: she stops suddenly and looks seriously freaked out.
But something happens that the girls don't expect: "she was afraid of us in the same way someone might be afraid of spiders" (3.35). The girls don't really like feeling like spiders, and we can't blame them. Spiders are gross.
When Kathy looks back on this incident as an adult, she realizes how important it was. As kids, they'd realized that they were different from people outside Hailsham and from their guardians. But the episode with Madame made that feeling all too real.