This chapter introduces us to the Tucks. Mae, the wife and mother, rises early to take the horse and wagon and meet her boys who are coming home. Her husband, Angus, prefers to stay in bed where he was having a wonderful dream where the whole family was in heaven and had never heard of Treegap. Mae overrides her husband’s caution about going into Treegap by saying that she hasn’t been there for ten years and no one will recognize her. She decides to husband, asking if he’ll be alright, which prompts him to ask what in the world could possibly happen to him. She gets dressed and at the last minute tucks a music box into her pocket. It is the one pretty thing she owns, and she takes it with her everywhere. She adds a large straw bonnet at the last minute and puts it on while smoothing her hair at the same time. She doesn’t look at a mirror, because her reflection has ceased to interest her. For Mae Tuck, her husband, and her two sons have looked exactly the same for the last 87 years.
The author uses foreshadowing to gradually lead the reader to the most fantastic of ideas: the Tucks haven’t grown a day older than they were 87 years before. The foreshadowing includes a dream where they are all dead, the realization that Angus isn’t afraid of being harmed, and no desire to look in a mirror. All of these examples would only make sense if we knew that the Tuck family is immortal.
At the same time that Mae Tuck is rising and planning to meet her sons, Winnie Foster is sitting on the grass just inside the fence around her house talking to a Toad who sits across the road. She tells it while throwing stones near it but not at it, that she has had enough - she’s tired of being looked at all the time and bossed around by her parents and her grandmother. She knows that hover over her, because she is an only child, but she desperately wants something that’s all hers and a new name that’s not worn out from being called so much. She also tells the creature that she might decide to have him for a pet, but when he jumps a few more inches away from her, it occurs to her that it shouldn’t be cooped up any more than she wants to be. She decides she should run away.
Just at that moment, her mother calls for her, and Winnie obediently answers the call. The Toad begins to jump clumsily toward the wood, but Winnie calls after it that it should just wait until morning. It will see then that she is good at keeping her promise to run away.
This chapter is the second event that seems unrelated to Mae Tuck or the Man in the Yellow Suit. It introduces Winnie to the reader and presents her great desire to run away from the obedience, the rules, the calling out of her name, the hovering over her, and her lack of freedom. It also introduces the character of the Toad who just happens to be the only one Winnie can talk to. She has no friends and the adults in her life watch her constantly. The Toad, being a creature that begins as a tadpole and changes body and size (metamorphosis), represents the coming change that Winnie will experience. The cycles of life keep moving on.