The house is dark and quiet as Rill slips out as quietly as she can to meet Silas at the fence. On the way, she worries that Briny and Queenie won’t want her when they find out she lost her four siblings. When Silas sees her, he whispers excitedly for her to come over because he’s cut a bar on the fence that they can pull out so Rill can climb through and they can get away. Rill tells him that she must stay because Fern is coming—their escape will have to wait a night or two. She also wants to bring Stevie with them. Silas argues with her but agrees to come back the next night for her and Fern.
Rill’s fear that her parents might not want her if she shows up without any of the little kids is part of her motivation for waiting until she can bring Fern with her. It’s also clear that the abuse and horrors at the orphanage have not been enough to stunt Rill’s sense of loyalty and compassion, as shown by her decision to bring the helpless and friendless Stevie instead of leaving him behind.
When Rill slips back into the house, she runs into Mr. Riggs on the stairs and he tries to force her down another staircase. A worker sees him, but Riggs blocks her view of Rill. The worker wants to know why Riggs is upstairs since he shouldn’t be there. Rill slips away unnoticed while Riggs tries to convince the worker he was just checking on the windows, and he tells the worker that if she’s not nice he’ll tell his cousin Ida.
Mr. Riggs openly uses his relationship to Mrs. Murphy (his cousin Ida) to get away with hurting people. He knows that as long as he works for Murphy, she won’t let anyone bring attention to his crimes, thus enabling him to continue committing them.
The next day Mrs. Murphy lines the kids up because she found muddy footprints in the kitchen that indicate someone snuck out during the night. Rill is nervous because she knows her feet made the prints. Before Murphy can check her feet, though, the phone rings—Georgia Tann is on the line and tells Murphy to get Rill cleaned up, dressed, and ready to meet a client. Mrs. Murphy protests, but Tann insists. Mrs. Pulnik gets Rill ready for wherever she is going with Mrs. Murphy. They take a car downtown and Murphy tells Rill she has to behave and do exactly as she’s asked without crying or saying no; if she doesn’t follow these rules, Stevie will be punished. They get out of the car at a hotel. Rill wants to call for help but is afraid of what’ll happen to Stevie if she does.
Mrs. Murphy’s threats indicate that she thinks someone is paying to do something to Rill at the hotel, not to adopt her. This adds a new layer to Murphy and Tann’s villainy—they are willing to let adults pay to do whatever they want to the children’s bodies, in addition to outright selling kids to adoptive parents. Even Rill senses that something especially unpleasant is about to happen, which is why she wants to call for help even though she’s looking forward to seeing Fern back at the orphanage that night.
Mrs. Murphy brings Rill into one of the rooms. Tann is there already, and they leave Rill alone in one room while they talk in another. Rill hears a knock on the door and a man’s voice talking to Tann, who says he’s welcome to take Rill if he wants her but says they have better girls available. However, the man says he wants Rill in particular. Rill listens to this in horror as the man explains that he’s taking Rill for good. Mrs. Murphy is surprised and mentions that she thought he wanted Rill for something else. Tann says it will take a year for the adoption process to be finalized and the man says he just wants Victoria to be happy. The man walks into the room Rill is in—it’s the man whose wife read books to Fern at the viewing party.
The man, Darren, made Rill uncomfortable at the viewing party with the way he set his hand on her back, so she is terrified when she realizes that he just adopted her. However, the memory also brings with it one of his wife reading to Fern, which tells Rill that she may be kind and nurturing. Meanwhile, Rill still thinks Fern will be back at the orphanage soon—she’s desperate to be there to meet her.