Chapter 16

The Man in the Yellow Suit and the Constable set out to find the Tucks’ home. The Constable warns the Man that his horse is not strong enough to keep up the pace the Man wants to set. He is also suspicious as to why the Man is so deep into this situation. He’s also annoyed that the Man fails to keep up his end of any conversation. He learns from him that the Man had bought the wood from the Fosters, which surprises the Constable. However, the Man goes silent after that and the Constable is forced to keep up his own conversation. He mumbles on about how unusual kidnapping is in these parts and how the perpetrators will probably be sent over to Charleyville even though they have a brand new jail right there in Treegap. Finally, the Man in the Yellow Suit tells the Constable that since he can travel faster than the older man, he’ll ride on ahead and keep watch until the Constable arrives. The Man leaves the Constable yawning and talking to his horse about the unusual yellow suit.


The reader immediately feels from this chapter that the Man in the Yellow Suit isn’t going to ride ahead to just watch the Tucks. He has other ideas in mind and they can’t be good. It’s also important to note that the Constable mentions the brand new jail they have in Treegap. It will figure into the plot later.

Chapter 17

Once again Winnie awakens early. She gets up and walks to the window where she sees that the light is still pale. There is mist floating on the water of the tiny lake, making everything seem unreal. Then, through the dewy weeds, she sees a toad hop into view. She doesn’t believe it’s her Toad, but it makes her think that she hasn’t been home in weeks, rather than just a few days.

When Miles sees that Winnie is awake, he takes her with him to find fish for breakfast. Once again, out on the water, a toad plops into the water and it makes her certain that today the Tucks will take her home. She realizes that she’s come to love this peculiar family and that they are her friends alone. She also sees the difference between Jesse and Miles. Miles is as solid as the oar he wields while Jesse is like the water: thin and quick. Miles talks about his little girl, Anna, and how he used to take her fishing, too. It is queer to him to think that she’d be almost 80 years old, and his son would be 82. He explains that by the time they realized the immortality of the water, it was too late to give any to his wife and children. They were too old and would have had a father as close in age as they were. Besides, Angus was dead set against allowing any more people to know the secret.

Winnie sees another bullfrog and observes that it would be nice if nothing had to die. However, Miles points out that it wouldn’t be that nice at all since there would end up being too many people and they all be squeezed up next to each other. Then, she almost catches a fish but is glad when it gets away. She leaves the fishing to Miles while she concludes that the Tucks are right. It is best if no one knows the secret. She asks Miles what he will do with all his time and he says that he wants to find a way to do something important. Winnie nods at this idea, because that’s what she wants, too. They both conclude that people have to do something important if they’re going to take up space in the world. He just doesn’t know what he can do, yet.

Then, Miles catches a fish and throws it into the boat. It seems to be suffering to Winnie, and she begs him to put it back. Miles protests at first, but then sees how Winnie is reacting to the suffering of the fish. He puts it back, assures her it will be all right, and then reminds her that people have to be meat-eaters sometimes and that means killing things. Winnie knows this, but still cannot bear to kill the fish that morning.


Once again the concept of change or metamorphosis is emphasized when Winnie sees toads and bullfrogs wherever she goes. It is Miles’ conversation finally opens her eyes to the truth about what the Tucks have been saying. Nonetheless, she cannot bear to kill the defenseless fish. Miles comment that people are meat eaters and that means killing foreshadows the coming murder committed by Mae.

Chapter 18

And so the family and Winnie eat flapjacks again that morning since she asked that the fish be returned to the lake. Winnie’s heart is fluttering as she waits for Jesse to come down to breakfast. The sight of him is heart wrenching to her. To Mae, all of them together with Winnie added to the family, is just like having a party. However, Angus wakes them all up with his sober mood and his worry about taking Winnie home. Mae won’t allow serious talk until after breakfast so Angus fondly asks Winnie how she slept. As she answers him, for a moment, Winnie wishes she could stay with them forever in the untidy house by the pond. She looks at each one of them and thinks that maybe Jesse is right about drinking the water at seventeen and when she looks at Angus, it occurs to her that he is dearest of them all, though she can’t explain why.

Then, the most alien sound of all occurs – a knock at the door. Mae drops her fork in surprise, because they haven’t had callers in all the years they have been living in the little house. She goes to open it and Winnie recognizes the rich, pleasant voice at once as the Man in the Yellow Suit.


This is a chapter that shows Winnie’s ultimate metamorphosis - she is beginning to think of others before herself. It is only the interruption of the knock at the door that allows reality to intrude.