But in the meanwhile, we have another chapter to cover.
Given up? Picking up with Leo again at the beginning of this chapter, it’s hard not to think that he’s given up on finding Rose Red. Other than that one escapade out into the forest (initiated by Daylily), he doesn’t seem to be making any other effort. He’s happy to sit playing cards and chess with Daylily instead.
Is he truly falling for Daylily, her pretty face and her cold manner? Has he forgotten about the close friendship he shared with Rosie? Granted, that friendship lasted only for a summer, and that summer is now many years gone. But surely they shared a deeper connection than this behavior of his would imply!
I wonder if—as this scene seems to imply—Leo is actually a little bit afraid of finding Rose Red again. Because if he finds her, he will have to face all over again what he glimpsed in the pool inside the Wolf’s Head cave. Rose Red represents both things he loves and things he fears. And sometimes it’s easier not to love so that there’s no need to fear . . .
The specter: Leo is certainly not alone. Something is always near him, always watching him. Something he cannot see. Something that is, for the moment at least, keeping very quiet.
Something that wants him to choose his dream.
Play little girl: I think it’s kind of sweet that Daylily sees this summer at Hill House as an opportunity to be . . . well, honestly, to be her own age. Because she’s only sixteen. And in that culture, sixteen is an age to be courted and married, but it doesn’t mean she’s really grown up.
This time with Leo allows her to be herself a little bit more than she usually is. She still wears her dignified masks, but I bet she lets down her guard a little while playing chess and cards and relaxing at Hill House. And perhaps she continues to view Leo as nothing more than a prize to catch . . . but perhaps he’s starting to mean something more to her as well.
Perhaps he’s starting to mean a sort of freedom she never before considered possible. And that is an appealing prospect.
Daylily’s veils: Just as Daylily is not one to reveal her feelings, neither does the narrative give us too much on which to base our opinions of her. Nothing is told straight-out. Is she jealous of Rose Red? Is she merely irritated at Leo? Is she starting to form stronger feelings for him, or does she view him as a young idiot whom she must snare? Or possibly all at once!
But Daylily wears her veils and does not tell us. And the narrative refuses to tell us either, urging us to engage with the text and come to our own conclusions.
Foxbrush’s love letters: Oh, dear. Our poor, oil-haired, squint-eyed Foxbrush has gone and fallen in love with beautiful Lady Daylily . . . and he’s even writing her love letters! What a hopeless match that would be, particularly since Daylily completely scorns Leo’s foolish cousin.
Again, Foxbrush does not shine at all through Daylily’s eyes, no more than he does through Leo’s. Is it possible that there might ever be a perspective on Foxbrush that is more forgiving? Is it possible that there might be something worthwhile in this unprepossessing boy?
I say anything is possible . . .
“I saw her myself.” Again, I wonder if Rose Red wasn’t wearing her veil in that scene a few chapters back. I honestly don’t remember what I’d intended, but it never mentions that she is wearing the veil, so it’s quite possible that she wasn’t.
Which means Leo also knows exactly what Rose Red is hiding, even though we readers don’t.
Bebo’s crown: That’s a new little slang phrase that Leo mutters there! I think Bebo was first mentioned at the beginning of Heartless, though I might be mistaken. I know her Flowing Gold was mentioned, so that’s an indirect reference to Queen Bebo anyway. It’s fun to see all the various mythologies I’d been developing for years before this novel too shape coming into play and giving the world just a little bit more depth and interest.
And, considering what happens to Leo in the next book, it’s fun to see him muttering phrases like this here. Heheheh.
Thrush Song: So many of you might not know what a wood thrush sounds like. In case you’re curious, here’s a link you can click to hear. When I drafted Heartless, there was a wood thrush that lived outside of my window, and I used to hear it sing every morning and afternoon. I had not planned to include a wood thrush in my story . . . not specifically. But the song of that bird wound its way into that novel and became one of the most important themes, not only in that book, but in the series as a whole.
A ghostly figure in the moonlight: And so Leo, compelled by some force he does not know or recognize, wanders into the graveyard one moonlit night and sees a strange apparition. Or, not so strange after all. Frightening, yes, but familiar.
Good Leo: I find myself warming to Leo in this scene. As frightening as Rose Red is, he puts out a hand and takes hers. He may be weak and he maybe immature. But he does love her, he does care about her. He shows more courage in this scene perhaps than we’ve ever before seen in him. Deep down inside, Leo does have a good heart.
“Then you didn’t see—” Again, the narrative doesn’t give us specifics. Is Rose Red referring to her Dream here? Or to herself?
One way or the other, Leo insists that there is no monster. (But we don’t know the importance of this insistence until his revelation at the very end of the book.)
Questions on the text:
1. So, Daylily’s perspective on Leo . . . is she jealous of Rose Red, the “goat girl”? Or is she simply frustrated that Leo isn’t giving her the proper attention? Depending on your perspective, your view of Daylily should be drastically altered one way or the other.
2. When Rose Red wonders if Leo saw something in the pool, do you think she was referring to the Dream or to herself? Or to something else entirely?
3. What were your favorite lines in this chapter?