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Study Guide for Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns

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COLD SASSY TREE - CHAPTER NOTES / GUIDE

CHAPTER 21

Summary

Clayton McAllister, Love's former fiancé, shows up with a silver studded saddle. He begins kissing her, and at first she submits, but then pushes him away and orders him to get lost. He begs her to come back with him, but she refuses, revealing bits and pieces of information, just enough to tell Will that McAllister had originally broken the engagement himself and had somehow implied that Love wasn't good enough for him. She believes that he must have an ulterior motive for coming back for her now.

At one point, the neighbor, Effie Belle, shows up with a coconut frosted cake. Will notices that she is still wearing her bedroom slippers-meaning she hadn't planned the cake as a welcome gift, but had picked it up as a spur of the moment excuse to find out more about the attractive stranger. Will is unsure whether or not Effie saw the kissing.

Notes

The appearance of McAllister adds a little more foreshadowing to the coming revelation of Love's secret. Effie Belle is simply trying to be the first to find some new bit of gossip. She, like many of the other women, actually has little in common with Mary Willis, so her means of access to this inner circle is with news that they will want to know. Because gossip, i.e. story telling, is a way of life, it works most of the time.


CHAPTER 22

Summary

Mr. Boop, owner of the hotel, hurries to Rucker's store to tell him that a good looking stranger has come to town looking for Miss Love. Grandpa comes home, but surprisingly, treats McAllister like a welcome guest, offering to give him supper and put him up for the night. McAllister declines, but he leaves the saddle, saying it is a gift for Love for being such a good friend of the family. Once he is gone, Love explains that he was her fiancé and that she hates him. Blakeslee shows a sense of astuteness by asking Love if she wants to marry McAllister. He offers to have their wedding annulled so Love can go back to Texas with the man.




Notes

Blakeslee is intuitive enough to see that Love does not hate McAllister, or at least there was a time when she didn't. His courtesy toward the other man is the best possible action he could take as a means of finding out exactly who he is and just how important he is to Love. We will never know whether or not Love's assumption, that he is coming for her as a last resort, is correct. She probably is correct in thinking that sooner or later, her own secret past would come between them.

As for Rucker, he knows that McAllister has never done him any wrong, and that he may not even realize Love is married; thus he has no call to start a fight with the man. Furthermore, he still has no real claim on Love as she has only married him to be his housekeeper and he has kept from her any romantic intentions of his own. However, this chapter sets up some suspense as we have to wonder what Love has in her past and whether it will eventually come between her and Rucker as well.


CHAPTER 23

Summary

Love declares that she wouldn't marry McAllister even if she wasn't married to Blakeslee. She doesn't want the saddle either, but Rucker surmises that it won't be easy to get rid of it. They finally decide to keep it. Grandpa recalls a cousin in another town who has a 3 year-old thoroughbred he had wanted to give away. He decides to send Will and the Predmore boy to get the horse, and even agrees to let the boys make a short camping trip out of the venture.

Notes

Rucker recognizes the value of the saddle as well as the fact that there would be nothing wrong in keeping it. He may think that he is keeping it as an item of memorabilia for Love, although she herself would rather not have it for that. Sending Will and the boys off on a camping trip is a structural devise, creating a change of pace in the story and allowing the tension in town to either take another direction or at least quiet down a bit.

 

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