Summary: Part XXV: Wakeup
Aunt Lydia records the fallout from Agnes and Daisy’s escape. Rumors have spread in Ardua Hall that Aunt Vidala’s stroke resulted from an attack. Speculation has also arisen about the authenticity of Daisy’s elopement note. Unlike the other major figures in Gilead’s government, Commander Judd knew that Daisy was really Baby Nicole, and he summoned Aunt Lydia to his office in a fit of anxiety. Aunt Lydia secretly enjoyed his discomfort and made up excuses to buy more time. As she explains: “One is always buying something.”
Meanwhile, the Works Department, which had investigated the water shortage in one of the dormitories, found Becka drowned in the rooftop water cistern. Other Aunts immediately condemned Becka, and many said they’d always thought the young woman was a fraud. Saddened by the loss, Aunt Lydia spoke at her funeral, hypothesizing that Becka must have slipped or fainted while trying to fix the faulty cistern.
Tensions continued to grow at Ardua Hall with new speculations about the two Pearl Girls who had reportedly left early that morning. Later, news came that Agnes and Daisy had been spotted at a bus station in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Commander Judd reasoned that Daisy was a plant who had infiltrated Gilead under false pretenses, and he ordered a search operation. Aunt Lydia fake an apology to him for failing to see Daisy for who she really was. He warned that both their reputations—and their lives—were at stake. Aunt Lydia had a flashback to the moment in the stadium when she raised her gun and shot another woman. She asks herself, “A bullet, or no bullet?” She confirms, “A bullet.”
Aunt Lydia visited Aunt Vidala. Aunt Elizabeth was there on duty and said that Aunt Vidala hadn’t spoken yet. Aunt Lydia dismissed Aunt Elizabeth, and once her colleague left, she spoke loudly in the patient’s ear, ordering her to wake up. Aunt Vidala responded instantly, telling Aunt Lydia she would hang for what she’d done.
Just as Aunt Lydia reached into her pocket to retrieve the vial of morphine, Aunt Elizabeth reentered the room to fetch her forgotten knitting. Aunt Lydia said Aunt Vidala had just spoken and that she had accused Aunt Elizabeth of hitting her and of being in league with Mayday. Frightened, Aunt Elizabeth denied the accusation. Aunt Lydia comforted Aunt Elizabeth then got up to leave. On her way out, she implied that Aunt Elizabeth should smother Aunt Vidala with a pillow, making her death look like an asthmatic attack and protecting herself from Vidala’s accusations. Aunt Lydia felt inwardly pleased to be taking care of both colleagues at once.
Summary: Part XXVI: Landfall
Agnes and Daisy successfully rowed themselves to shore, where Ada and Garth were waiting for them. Exhausted from fever and intense effort, Daisy collapsed. A helicopter airlifted them to a medical center for refugees, where Daisy received life-saving antibiotics.