"The Ogress and the Orphans" by Kelly Barnhill, Chapters 25–36

October 24, 2022
After an ogress is accused of abducting the children of Stone-in-the-Glen, a group of orphans try to save her and convince the townspeople of her good nature.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1–8, Chapters 9–16, Chapters 17–24, Chapters 25–36, Chapters 37–54
Everything that little nestling did, the Ogress thought, seemed layered with foresight and portent.
Harold found himself in a bit of a conundrum. Even though she was alone when he found her, it didn’t feel right to leave her alone now. What if a fox came? Or a wolf? Or a swarm of angry bees?
To make matters worse, the more Harold explained the seriousness of the child’s plight, the more skeptical the other crows grew.
Harold oscillated between wanting to praise her for her pronunciation and fervently trying to make her understand.
Harold oscillated between wanting to praise her for her pronunciation and fervently trying to make her understand.
The child was just where Harold had left her, sleeping fitfully.
Anthea implicitly trusted people who not only understood how tools worked but also devised useful places to keep them.
His cleavers and knives, all hanging on the wall, had been sharpened and washed and placed just so, a picture of order and responsibility and moral rectitude.
Her heavy footsteps made no discernible sound on the cobblestones.
She held something in one arm. Something with a head that lolled and an arm and a leg that dangled.
A person is Good if they do not steal the eggs of an unsuspecting grouse!
But if I spend my life doing Good, would it not then mean that I, too, am Good? If not, and if you insist on declaring me Wicked, then you must also accept that the Wicked are capable of Good Deeds, and, conversely, that Wickedness can be committed by the Good. In which case, declaring a person either Wicked or Good is arbitrary. Goodness and Wickedness have no meaning if they are not defined by choices or actions.
There was the bald head and unsteady gait of Myron.
Later, Bartleby would remember that moment as though the whole world rang with Cass’s name. It trilled out of the clouds and the trees and the cobblestones.
Matron fussed and fawned. She set Cass on the couch and tucked her in. She boiled water and brought her tea and porridge.
We have formed search teams, and we are sending a delegation to the Mayor’s speech this very afternoon, to marshal his great wisdom and power to do what we must.
It took some doing—mostly with Myron offering several iterations of “Pardon us” and “Excuse me” and “Oh dear, was that your foot?” but eventually they made it to the center of the shop.
per se
“Like a magic spell. I’ve heard of this. Ogres have special abilities. It’s not magic, per se. But it’s close.”
“We’ve heard quite enough from them. They belong indoors, doing their lessons. There are dangerous ogres about. All children should be kept under lock and key!”
The crowd murmured its assent and looked at the children with narrowed eyes.
“What a ghastly collection of boors and blowhards. They do love hearing themselves speak, don’t they?”
“What a ghastly collection of boors and blowhards. They do love hearing themselves speak, don’t they?”
He adjusted the drape of his cloak and swept his golden hair from his eyes in a decidedly beguiling manner.
It was his very own, very special beauty secret. One that he would never divulge, except to say, “For most people, their beauty is only skin-deep. But I, as you have probably guessed, am not most people.”
Time was, in the days of earlier mayors, the building kept its doors open from sunrise to sunset, when any resident could come to see earlier mayors to express concerns or to offer ideas or to file complaints or to simply have a chat. These mayors held forums and symposiums and concerts and debates.
In truth, his tenure as mayor might not have lasted very long if those feelings had continued.
How pleasurable it was in those days, going from yard to yard, alley to alley, chatting, commiserating, redirecting, convincing.
“Hello, cats,” he said derisively. “I’m not sure if you noticed, but I’m still here.”
He adjusted the flounce of his coat.
“There has been some discussion in town. About how to proceed. About what the community’s concerns are. If it’s all the same to you, sir, we thought it might be best if you heard directly from your constituents.”
Constituents?” the Mayor said, bafflement creasing his face.
“Yes. The people who voted for you would like you to hear them out. If it’s all the same to you. You know. A listening session.”
The man bowed curtly, and the Mayor faced the crowd.
“It is my duty to listen, but it is also my duty to assuage fears. Ogres are low creatures, after all. Dull. Slow. Dreadful conversationalists. Barely worth thinking about. I certainly never do. They are not nearly as interesting as, say, dragons. Which, well, as you know, I defeated a dragon. Several, actually.”
“NO MORE OGRES!” cried out a group sitting on a dilapidated bench.
Discord and division could be beautiful things—and lucrative—but they could also be difficult to control.
Outside, two more volunteers had arrived with tools and supplies, and a third promised to bring his rooster by to help facilitate the arrival of spring chicks.
Normally, the farm next door and the farm across the road would have some amount of activity—someone locking up the plow or bringing in the horses or cajoling the cows into the barn.
“Why didn’t you tell us before?” Anthea said. Bartleby glared at her. He was right: there was too much reproach in her voice.
Crows lounging on the sills and ledges, listening to the hubbub within.
“Humph,” the butcher said, gesticulating in exasperation, and he stomped away.
He had a cough, so she gave him some lozenges she had made from boiling herbs and raspberry seeds in honey until they’d hardened into little nuggets.
I think your leadership is needed here. Cool heads must prevail.

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