Even though he is surprised to get Mr. Smedley's letter, the music editor of the New York Times prints it anyway. The Bellinis see it in the paper the next morning and call Chester a celebrity. As Chester begins to play, the subway station starts to fill up as people linger by the newsstand to listen to him. Many have read Mr. Smedley's letter already, and others pick up the Times to read it as Mama begins to sell it to the masses.
The crowd listening to Chester grows and grows over the next few days, and other newspapers begin to run articles about Chester as well. The Bellinis set a playing schedule for Chester, deciding he will play early in the morning and late in the afternoon when the station is fullest. His concerts last an hour and a half.
Business booms at the newsstand as well. Sai Fong and his friend come uptown to hear Chester at every performance, and Mr. Smedley is there at least once a day, too, making recordings of all of Chester's new pieces and talking to the audience about music appreciation.
Chester becomes the most famous musician in New York, but he is not particularly happy without the fun and freedom that he used to have. His fame makes him tired, and he is not used to playing on schedule. He also does not like being looked at. Chester gets upset when he notices that it is the first day of September, and the fall is coming to bring about changes. A leaf blows into the subway station, and he realizes that all the leaves are changing back home.
After a concert, someone attempts to steal the bell that Sai Fong gave Mario to keep in Chester's cage. The Bellinis stop him, but Chester is so shaken by the event that they think he is sick. Mario says he can tell that Chester is not happy anymore.
That night, Chester makes a very important decision, and then tells the other animals: he is going to retire. He does not want to miss the trees changing color back in Connecticut, and he is so tired. Tucker is not pleased, but Chester has made up his mind. Harry says that it is Chester's life and he should do what he wants, even though he will miss him. Chester is worried about what will happen to the newsstand if he goes, but Harry assures him that because the Bellinis are famous now, too, they will be fine.
The next night Chester plays his final piece in New York. He plays Papa's favorite, and wants the Bellinis to always remember him by this piece. Chester's music is so powerful that it drifts up to the street through the grate, and even the cars stop to listen to him. For those few minutes, Times Square is "As still as a meadow at evening, with the sun streaming in on the people there and the wind moving among them as if they were only tall blades of grass" (p. 123).
Mama and Papa Bellini leave for the evening after the concert, leaving Mario alone with Chester. They eat and then play games together, like hide and seek and leapfrog. As Mario begins to get tired, Chester gives him a private recital, improvising his own piece as he goes along. As Mario falls asleep, Tucker comes to tell Chester that the next train leaves in an hour. Chester gives Mario one last goodbye chirp.
He decides to take the little silver bell with him back to Connecticut, to remember everything by. Chester is escorted to Grand Central Station on Harry's back with Tucker coming along. Harry suggests that Chester come back for a visit next summer, now that he knows the way. As the train begins to move, Chester chirps goodbye to his friends for as long as he can until he disappears.
Tucker and Harry head back to the station, where Mario is still sleeping. Mama and Papa return from their evening out and notice that the cricket has gone. They wake Mario, who immediately realizes that Chester will not come back since he took the bell with him. He decides he is glad. Mama is upset and does not believe it, but Mario knows it is true. They leave for the night, and as Harry and Tucker fall asleep, Tucker suggests that maybe next summer the two of them can go to Connecticut to experience the country.
Chester's newfound fame, and the money he brings in because of it resolve one of this book's primary conflicts: the Bellini's poor financial situation due to their newsstand's bad business. Chester's concerts attract many people who buy newspapers and magazines, supporting the family. However, it creates an entirely new conflict over Chester's happiness. Helping the Bellinis solve their problem appears to have been a trade-off for Chester's own contentment, and Chester struggles with a new dilemma: do what is best for the Bellinis, or what is best for himself?
Though much of New York life is exciting and glamorous, corruption, particularly in business ventures like this one, is a very real part of life in the big city, and Chester's New York experience would not have been fully accurate until he experienced this side of his temporary home. People are often greedy, as evidenced by the man who attempts to steal his silver bell. Chester must keep himself out of this corruption as much as he possibly can.
At this, Chester succeeds. He is perceptive enough to realize that it is time for him to leave, and does not let fame go to his head. Chester takes the arrival of September and the changing of the seasons as a symbolic cue that he must make a change as well: he must leave the life that is beginning to make him unhappy in favor of the life that always kept him content. This is a very mature decision, and it shows that Chester has not lost himself despite becoming a celebrity.
During Chester's final performance, there is a moment in which Times Square halts and the city becomes like Chester's beloved Connecticut, still and silent, with cool, crisp wind moving through it. Chester has grown used to New York's differences from his home, and has even come to appreciate them; however, this moment, in which New York becomes Connecticut, is a sure sign that Chester has gained all he can from New York and it is time for him to return home.
This is also the closest Chester comes to being Orpheus, the mythological musician that Mr. Smedley compared him to at the beginning of the book. Just like for Orpheus, the world stops for a moment to listen to Chester's beautiful music. In this instant, Chester has achieved something truly special.
Unlike his parents, Mario can sense immediately that Chester is gone and will not return. He does not question the cricket's decision to go away, as he is sure that he is doing it for his own good. Mario could even tell that Chester was unhappy just before he left. Throughout Chester's two months in New York, Mario has shared a connection with the cricket in a way that no other human has. It started from the moment Mario found him in the subway station and continued on through the duration of the story.
Somehow, Mario can understand Chester, even though boy and cricket could not be more different. This is a special kind of friendship that the pair shares, and their final night together, playing games at the newsstand, is a fitting tribute to everything they have been through together.
But Chester has made more friends during his time in New York, too. He has gotten along famously with Harry and Tucker, but the three do not realize how important their friendship is to each other until the moment Chester boards his train away. As true friends should, Harry and Tucker want what is best for Chester, even though they will miss him terribly.
Selden chooses to close the book with a conversation between Harry and Tucker about going to visit Chester the following summer. Since readers typically remember the ending of books even more vividly than any other part, this ensures that readers will close the book with the idea of strong friendship in mind, the kind of friendship that can tie people—or animals—together across long distances.