As the boys keep groping Thomas, helping him stand up and brushing dirt from his clothes, some even poke him in a weird Planet of the Apes-type assessment.
He finally gets a good look at the other boys, and when he does he sees a rag-tag assortment of about 50 kids ranging in age, size, color, and shagginess of hair.
Thomas starts to look around and realizes that he's in a "courtyard several times the size of a football field, surrounded by four enormous walls made of gray stone and covered in spots with thick ivy" (2.3). Set into the middle of each of the walls is a huge doorway that leads to passages and long corridors. In one corner there is a garden that is growing stuff like corn, tomatoes, and fruit, and across from it is a livestock pen with sheep, pigs, and cows.
The boys start teasing Thomas using a weird slang that he's never heard before, like "Look at the Greenbean" and "Gonna break his shuck neck checkin' out the new digs" (2.4). What a jive turkey, man.
One of the things they say is "Which Keeper he gonna get?" (2.9), so we know that there is a specific infrastructure in place, but the author is keeping things vague for the moment.
While they're all circled up staring at each other, Thomas realizes that a tall, dark-skinned boy appears to be the leader. Although he seems pretty grumpy that Thomas is there, he yells at the other boys to stop taunting him.
All along Thomas has been thinking of the boys as his captors, but then wonders where he got that idea from.
A black-haired boy is glaring at Thomas like he hates him, even though all he's done is show up. Well, isn't that special. Understandably, this gives Thomas the heebie-jeebies.
Suddenly, the leader steps forward and Thomas is surprised by the fact that he's dressed like a normal kid: digital watch, sneakers, jeans… but Thomas keeps thinking they should all be wearing prison garb.
Turns out the leader's name is Alby, and he tells Thomas that his presence in the Glade is a long story, so he won't tell him until he takes something called "the Tour" tomorrow. How infuriating.
Thomas gets pissed that no one will answer his questions (he doesn't even know his own age, guys, a little clue would be nice), so he stalks over to a tree and pouts for a bit. He keeps asking them to explain where he is, but Alby is frustratingly insistent that he'll tell him on the Tour, and that for now Thomas needs to take a chill pill.
It becomes clear that Alby isn't the most social dolphin in the tank, and he's fumbling his introductions because the guy that used to greet the new guys, Nick, was killed recently.
In steps a friendlier kid who speaks with a thick accent. The slang is ambiguously British, and the author leaves us guessing as to his origins, but he introduces himself as Newt.
Reluctantly, Alby starts to explain what the Glade is, but Thomas interrupts to ask "Who sent me here?" Alby then overreacts and hoists him up by the shirt, yelling that if he told Thomas the whole truth right now that he'd probably die from the stress. Okay, we get it, the situation is dire.
Alby lays down the basic rules: don't ask questions, do as you're told, and shut up. Nice.
Thomas then gets turned over to Newt, who is supposed to find him a bed and make sure he goes to sleep. But Mooooooom, I'm not tired yet.
The circle disperses when Alby walks away to a slanted wooden building in the corner, and Thomas starts to feel tears welling up in his eyes. He whispers "What did I do—why'd they send me here?" (2.51), and Newt takes pity on him. He explains that everyone feels the same way on their First Day, but soon enough—even though things are really bad—Thomas would feel better and "be fightin' true and good" (2.52).
Newt is explaining that Chuck—a "wee little fat shank, but nice sap when all's said and done" (2.56) would be a good fit for Thomas, when a horrible shriek pierces the air from the wooden building Alby walked into. Newt implies that the "Med-jacks" aren't able to handle the screaming boy without his help, and tells Thomas to find Chuck and runs off toward the building.
Thomas collapses again against his tree, and wishes that he could wake up from this terrible dream.