Part 3, Chapter 11 Summary
After the rain stops, the boat is checked for leaks in the drought-shrunken wood. The duties handed out, Thomas Hudson takes his air mattress and gun and heads to the flying bridge. He wants to lie down and think about nothing, which he is sometimes able to do. He feels clean from the scrubbing down he did in the rain. He knows there is no use in thinking about his ex-wife, Tom’s mother, and his life with her. He knows there is no use thinking about Tom, now killed in the war. He had stopped thinking about it as soon as he received the news. He does not think about the other boys, whom he also lost. He has become good at not thinking. Perhaps he will go to sleep and have good or funny dreams. He knows Ara or Henry will awaken him if Peters receives any messages on the radio.
He quickly falls asleep and dreams he is a boy again. He is riding up a steep canyon that opens out onto a sandbar by a clear river. He watches the trout at the bottom of the river; they jump out of the water to catch flies.
Ara wakes him up. A message has been received: "Continue carefully searching westward." There is also a code name at the end. Thomas Hudson thanks Ara and tells him to give him anything else that comes in. Ara tells him to go back to sleep. Thomas Hudson tells him he was having a fine dream when Ara awakened him, but Ara tells him not to tell him and then maybe it will come true.
Thomas Hudson goes back to sleep. He smiles in his sleep, thinking he is carrying out orders and continuing to search westward. He thinks they probably did not mean this far westward (out in the western United States of his boyhood). He dreams that the cabin burned and that someone killed his pet fawn. He also dreams that someone killed his dog, which he finds by a tree. Thomas Hudson wakes up sweating. He decides that dreams are not the solution. He decides he will go ahead and think it out. He will never have good dreams anymore, so he might as well give up on sleep.
He thinks about the wounded German. They evidently had time to get dressings for his wound; Thomas Hudson wonders if they had time to get other supplies. He speculates as to what they could have done since leaving the key. He decides to switch and think of something cheerful. He goes back to sleep and sleeps until two hours before daylight. This time he sleeps without dreaming.