Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
In 1830, Boone Caudill sets out alone for St. Louis and the West after a fight with his father. Taking his father’s rifle with him, he heads for Louisville to get out of the state before his father can catch him. On the road, he meets Jim Deakins, an easygoing redhead, and the two decide to go west together. At Louisville, where the sheriff and Boone’s father are waiting for the runaway, he and Jim are separated. Boone escapes by swimming the Ohio River to the Indiana shore.
When Boone is falsely accused of attempted theft and jailed, Jim, who followed him after their separation, steals the sheriff’s keys and releases him. Together the boys continue west.
In St. Louis, they sign on as part of the crew of the keelboat Mandan. Most of the crew are French, as is the leader, Jourdonnais. The boat is headed for the country of the Blackfeet with a store of whiskey and other goods to trade for furs. Teal Eye, the young daughter of a Blackfoot chief, is also on board the ship. She was separated from her tribe for some time; Jourdonnais hopes to gain the friendship of the Indians by returning the young woman to them.
The keelboat moves slowly upstream by means of poles, a tow rope, and oars. Boone and Jim find a friend in Dick Summers, the hunter for the Mandan, whose job is to scout for Indians and keep the crew supplied with meat. He makes Boone and Jim his assistants. Jourdonnais is worried about getting to...
(The entire section is 1218 words.)
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