Summary of Epilogue, October of 1874
On a late October afternoon in 1874, Ada prepares for a picnic with her “family.” Ruby has married the Georgia boy, Reid, and had three sons. Stobrod has remained with them. And Ada has a nine-year old daughter.
After dark, the group sits around a fire while Stobrod plays his fiddle. Then Ada reads the story of the lovers Baucis and Philemon to them. She has trouble turning the pages because she lost the tip of a finger four years back when she was up on the hill, cutting trees to create a notch for the sun.
The night gets cooler, and the children grow sleepy, and they know it is time to “go inside and cover up the coals and pull in the latch string.”
The novel ends with a reassuring look at life going on. The seasons turn, the sun crosses the sky, children grow, the old songs and stories still have meaning, night falls and dawn follows. Inman lives on, too, in his daughter, and Ada continues to belong to the land, caring for it and observing it. She is a woman without a man, but in contrast to Sara’s doom or the goat woman’s isolation, she is at peace. In Ada and Ruby, the old world survives. They carry the “grandmother knowledge” now.