Chapter 19

The Man in the Yellow Suit enters the Tuck home and for a moment just stares at each member of the family. His face is expressionless, but there is something unpleasant behind it even though he tells Winnie she is safe and he is coming to take her home. Jesse is outraged at the way the Man begins to order them around in their own home, but Angus tells him to hush and let the Man speak his piece. So, the Man in the Yellow Suit begins to tell his story.


He explains that when he was growing up, his grandmother told him a story about a dear friend of hers and her family who never seemed to get any older. The wife of one of the sons eventually left him in fear that they were all witches. They recognize that the Man’s mother had played as a child with Miles’ daughter, Anna. This makes Mae call out that the Man has no right bringing such pain into their house. But the Man in the Yellow Suit soothes her by asking her to hear him out. He goes on to say that he decided to devote his life to finding out if the story his grandmother told could be true. He went to school and studied everything he could on the subject, but finally concluded that it was a waste of time. He went home and brought his grandmother a music box. The gift reminded her of the music box that her friend had had, the friend that didn’t grow old. His grandmother taught him the melody of that long ago music box, and at that point, the Man knew it was clue. He set out to find the family, following the route they were said to have taken when they left their farm.

He then tells the Tucks that two evenings before, he had heard the music box, followed Winnie and heard the whole story. The Tucks are outraged, calling him a horse thief, and demanding that he tell them what he plans to do. Therefore, the Man in the Yellow Suit explains that he has traded the wood for Winnie and that he plans to sell the water. Not to everyone, but just to certain people who really deserve it. He even has the gall to recommend that the Tucks join him and perform acts like shooting themselves to encourage people to buy. Jesse says dully that all the Man wants from them is to act like freaks in a patent-medicine show. When the Man tells them he is offering them a way to live like people again instead of like pigs, the whole Tuck family stands up in an attempt to stop him. The Man in the Yellow Suit grabs Winnie by the arm and tries to drag her away. She resists, screaming that she hates him and won’t go with him. Then, everything abruptly goes silent as Mae orders him to let the child go with a shotgun in her hands held like a club. The Man smiles a ghastly smile and calls them selfish for thinking they can keep the water all to themselves. He decides right then that if the Tucks won’t be a part of his scheme, he’ll make Winnie drink the water and be part of his demonstrations. Mae’s face turns dark red, and she warns the Man that he isn’t going to do such a thing to Winnie. Then, she swings the gun around her head like a wheel and smashes it into the back of his skull. He drops like a tree and just at that moment, the Constable rides through the pine trees, a witness to what Mae has done.

Notes

This chapter is the typical good versus evil scenario. The Tucks have come to love Winnie and will protect her against anything. However, they also love mankind and the life cycle that turns like a wheel. They won’t allow anyone to disrupt that cycle.

Chapter 20

The Constable checks the Man in the Yellow Suit and says he’s not yet dead, but implies he will be soon. Mae tells him she hit the Man, because he was going to take Winnie away against her will. Winnie insists also that she wasn’t kidnapped, but had come with them, because she wanted to. She insists that they are her friends. Then, she looks down at the Man in the Yellow Suit and thinks he looks like a marionette, carelessly thrown into the corner, arms and legs every which way amidst its strings. But it is Angus Tuck who is the most fascinating to her as she turns away from the sight of death. He is looking down at the Man almost enviously, like a starving man looking through the window at a banquet. She can’t stand to see him that way and makes him look away.

The Constable insists that both Mae and Winnie come with him. Mae will be locked up and Winnie will be taken home. The family is devastated to learn that Mae will get the gallows if she’s found guilty. Winnie makes sure that Angus knows that everything will be alright, because the whole wide world is no longer about what might happen to her, but what she herself must keep from happening. She must make sure they do not hang Mae, because she will not be able to die.

Notes

It’s ironic that Winnie thinks of the dying Man as a marionette flung carelessly into a corner, because he was the one who was trying to pull their strings. Now he is without anyone to hold him up. Also, the idea of Mae being hung is not just abhorrent because of what she will experience, but it will also reveal the secret of the spring when she doesn’t die.