Posted by: Megan | August 16, 2010

Comings and…mostly goings

Ruby gets home from Louis’ and decides against telling Abby the terrible story she’s just heard, showing actual restraint for once. Instead, she tells her roommate that Louis wanted to apologize for the way he’d behaved at the last visit and that his life is darker than anything she’d ever seen in the BAYOU.  Abby wishes that her parents would stop lying about their background, saying that she’s a quadroon and there’s nothing that can change that, so everyone would be happier just accepting and being who they are. Ruby agrees, and they go to sleep. Louis doesn’t call Ruby the next day, but he does send her a letter, thanking her for coming to visit. He doesn’t remember what he said or did prior to her leaving, (!), but he hopes that it didn’t upset her. ALSO, he wants her to know that something exciting has happened. The morning after that whole debacle, he woke up and was able to see a faint hazy light!

Yes, that’s right ladies and gentlemen, RUBY HAS CURED HIS BLINDNESS.

So he hopes that Ruby will come and see him again soon, and TTFN. Ruby writes him a polite but vague response, not making any promises as to when she’ll come and visit. The dorms are all abuzz with excitement over the upcoming Halloween dance, even though costumes aren’t permitted as some Greenwood girls have gone a little too far with them in the past. There are strict dress codes for the dance, and girls must have their outfits checked by Mrs. Ironwood before they can enter, so some girls just wear their uniforms and have done with it. Abby and Ruby are disappointed by the dress code, but eager to go none the less. Gisselle, of course, is in her glory, giving out advice for the suitemates about how to dress and behave with the boys (yes, BOYS) at the dance, and telling grandious stories about dances she’d attended in New Orleans.

The day of the dance, Gisselle offers Abby some advice on how to do her hair, and gives her a white silk ribbon to wear. She also mentions that Abby is the prettiest of the roommates, and the most likely to be named Queen of the Dance. Abby and Ruby are taken aback by Gisselle’s niceness, but Abby agrees to wear the ribbon. Gisselle also wants to wear the same dress as Ruby, so that they can be “real twins”, and for the group to walk into the dance as a unified quad. Another student, Susan Peck, has a famously handsome brother (Jonathan) who will be at the dance, and he’s eager to meet Abby. Uh oh. Pierre calls during the afternoon, telling Ruby that he’ll be up the following Wednesday to visit, and when Ruby notes that he sounds tired, he passes it off as a lingering chest cold. Uh oh.

So. The dance. The boys from the Rosewood School are there, in their little blazers, and it’s all very school dance, though Ruby and Abby notice that people seem to be deliberately avoiding Abby, and none of the boys will dance with her. After a few hours of this, Ruby confronts Gisselle, asking what’s going on. Gisselle claims ignorance, though she whines that Ruby’s made Abby into her replacement sister since she’s not in a wheelchair. Ruby tells her that’s ridiculous, but Gisselle has boys to tease and tells her sister to go back and sit with “poor Abby”. Uh oh. The time comes to crown the Queen of the dance. Gisselle has, naturally, wrangled her way into the announcer position. With much fanfare and eyelash batting, Gisselle announces that Abby is the winner, and “the first quadroon ever to have been chosen”.  Ruby and Abby realize that this is what caused the behavior at the dance, and is why Gisselle offered Abby the hair ribbon–to identify her to the boys. While Gisselle screams at Abby to come and get her trophy, Ruby denies having told Abby’s secret, and Abby believes her, but is tired of hiding who she is. With a parting “I relish each and every part of my heritage and never again will I hide any part of it”, Abby turns around and walks out of the dance and off of campus.

Amen, Abby. Amen.

Ruby tries to go after her, but is stopped by Mrs. Ironwood. She goes back into the dance and confronts Gisselle, who, naturally, feels no remorse. The rest of the students seem to be on Gisselle’s side, and when Ruby asks how Gisselle found out, namely if she listened with her ear at the door, Gisselle immediately begins insinuating that Abby and Ruby were sleeping together. What is fast becoming a really ugly argument is ended by Mrs. Ironwood sending the boys home and the girls back to their dorms. Ruby finds Rachel, who offers to drive around and look for Abby. She doesn’t find her. The next day, however, Ruby hears from Mrs. Penny that Abby made it to a phone and called her parents, who will be arriving later that day to get Abby’s things. Ruby volunteers to pack them, and while she’s doing so, Samantha comes in on an errand for Gisselle. Ruby demands to know how Gisselle found out Abby’s secret, and learns that when Gisselle was still storing her things in Abby’s single room, she read some of Abby’s letters.
Now. Okay. What in the world did these letters say?

Dear Abby,

We hope you’re doing well at Greenwood. We miss you terribly, but we’re confident that you’re getting a wonderful education, and making lovely new friends. Your friend Ruby sounds like a nice girl. Your mother and I will be up to see you in November, and hopefully we’ll be able to meet your roommate.

Love always,

Dad.

PS: Don’t forget that the fact of our racially mixed heritage is a big, big secret. Don’t tell anyone you’re a quadroon, okay?

It’s all so “Desiree’s Baby“. Abby’s parents come, and Ruby is able to say goodbye to Abby, who has come along, but waits in the car. Abby tells Ruby not to get too involved with Louis, and to give Gisselle and her Mean Girls hell for her. Bye Abby. Ruby is very upset, and writes a sad letter to Paul about everything, which serves to make her more depressed when she gets a letter from him that crossed hers, and is happy and full of pretty descriptions of the BAYOU and whatnot. She meets with Rachel, who encourages her to release her emotions in her art. This inspires Ruby, and she starts to make plans and be optimistic again. Naturally this cannot last. In the middle of an English exam, Ruby is called to Mrs. Ironwood’s office, where she finds Gisselle, distraught, waiting for her. Mrs. Ironwood starts to give her a prepared statement, but Gisselle cuts her off screaming. Pierre is dead.

RIP, Pierre Dumas. You were…nice a lot of the time. (?)

All right. I am totally back, y’all, I have a PLAN and a SCHEDULE and a MISSING SWAMP THING, it’s all on the move. Coming up: Daphne is terrible, Beau is annoying, Gisselle schemes.

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Responses

  1. I seem to recall that there was a lot of screaming in this series. Nobody shouted in excitement, they just screamed.

  2. Yeah, nice. Except back when he was taking advantage of the affections of a swamp girl, then paying off her abusive father so he and his real wife could have a child. And he was even nice enough to write to her about how happy he was with their baby while never once bothering to find out if she really was okay. Of course, most backwoods hillbilly women just sell off the children they have with the man they love and hop back to running the loom, no harm done. And sure, he regretted mentally handicapping his brother, but that Pierre…well, he was kind of a prick. And I was glad when he was dead. Moody bastard.

    • Amen. No, seriously, I totally agree with you. He also completely tossed over the daughter he’d raised and spoiled for the daughter who showed up all sparkly and new, let his wife institutionalize said daughter with nary a word (I mean, do we really think that he even raised his voice at Daphne for that long?) and let the brother he’d severely injured live alone in a mental hospital. GDI, Pierre.

  3. For some reason, this is the sole plot I remembered from when I read this book as a kid. Poor Abby.


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