When Kira returns to the village from the Field of Leaving after her mother has died, she sees Matt, a boy of about eight or nine years old, who has always been friendly toward her. She knows she will need to rebuild her cott, which was burned down to prevent the spread of her mother's sickness. Matt is busy gathering kindling for his fire at home, and she asks him if he'd be willing to help her gather the materials she needs and construct the cott. Because of her disability, it will be hard for her to complete the project herself, and she has no one else to assist her. She can't pay Matt, but she offers to tell him stories.
Matt says he can't help her, saying he'll get whipped by his mother if he doesn't get back with the firewood. But he then confides to Kira what his real reason for saying no probably is. He tells her that the other women don't want Kira to rebuild. They want her location for a pen to keep their children and chickens in. Since Kira's mother, who had advocated for her during her life, is no longer there to defend her, the women want to drive Kira away from the community. In fact, they want to euthanize her, leaving her in the Field for the beasts to eat--a fate that normally would have been hers at infancy when she was born with a deformed leg.