Study Guide

The Ear, the Eye, the Arm Chapter 3

By Nancy Farmer

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Chapter 3

  • Rita and Kuda know that the pantry is automatically programmed to make them a healthy (read: boring) lunch. On today's menu? Soy burgers, stewed parsnips, and brown rice.
  • They'd rather not eat brown mush, so they convince the Mellower to help them reprogram the pantry, getting it to make them ice cream sundaes and sausages and potato chips. Mmm…
  • Tendai asks the Mellower how he can tell stories so well, and the guy explains that he has a shave for it.
  • Um… what's a shave, you ask? That's when a wandering spirit possesses someone and gives them a special skill. You don't have a choice about which spirit it will be, but the Mellower's helps him tell stories.
  • Rita has one to help her become a great mathematician, and Kuda is too young for a shave. Tendai is old enough, but he's not sure any spirit wants to make him their home. He's just not that interesting or good at anything.
  • Suddenly, Rita and Kuda get in a food fight with the Mellower. Everyone is having a fun time throwing tomatoes when Tendai ruins it by telling them not to waste food. Think of all the poor people who can't afford it, he tells them.
  • Way to be a buzz kill, Tendai.
  • After everyone gets changed (except for Tendai, who didn't get any food on his clothes), they talk about how Tendai can get his explorer badge.
  • Rita thinks they should sneak out, but Tendai doesn't want to go without their dad's permission.
  • That's when the Mellower suggests that he be the one to ask the general if Tendai can go. If he does it during praise, the general will be all sleepy and unaware of what he's agreeing to.
  • Tendai thinks that's dishonest, but Rita doesn't see a problem with it. With that, the matter is settled.
  • The next morning, the kids are on their best behavior before launching their escape plan.
  • Mom asks them why the floor is sticky, but Rita tells her a white lie about the mop being out of soap.
  • They are waiting for the Mellower—who is late again—and Tendai begins to worry whether this permission thing will work. Maybe the Mellower will forget about it.
  • When he finally arrives, the Mellower sings their praises and asks the parents for permission for the kids to explore the city. To Tendai's surprise, they say yes. Yippee.
  • His parents leave, and Tendai is more excited than ever. He finally gets to leave the estate. He's not sure it's the best idea for Kuda to come, though, in case it's dangerous.
  • Kuda reminds Tendai that his brother promised, so Tendai reluctantly agrees to let his little bro tag along. After all, it'll only be a couple hours. They'll be back before anyone realizes they're gone.

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