Chapter 3 Summary
On the third day after True Son’s arrival, the white man’s army camp begins to stir; tomorrow the two thousand soldiers and the returned white captives will leave for Pennsylvania.
True Son spends the day in despair, knowing he will never be able to live as a slouching, undignified white man. He remembers his Indian father’s friend who, after his squaw and children left him, ended his life by eating the poisonous root of the May apple. No one thought of him as a coward, so no one will think True Son is a coward if he kills himself rather than be carried off to Pennsylvania. This way his body will remain here in the land he loves, and his Indian family will mourn for him and visit his burial site.
Three times that day he falls on the ground and tries to gather some of the poisonous root, but he is tethered like a beast and will now have to wait until they begin the march. Then he will find the root and end his life.
True Son struggles violently as the journey begins, but he is forced to keep moving by his guard, Del Hardy. Suddenly True Son hears someone calling him from the cover of some nearby trees. It is his cousin and friend Half Arrow, who is just ahead of True Son as he marches in the column. Half Arrow vows to march the entire way with True Son, and the two boys chatter tirelessly even though they have only been apart for three days. Little Crane, another Indian from near True Son’s village, also walks with the group to be near his white squaw.
Having a friend with him uplifts True Son’s spirits, and he forgets to search for the poisonous root of the May apple. Finally Half Arrow cautiously emerges from the cover of the woods, and True Son shares his bread and meat with his cousin. Both boys find the meat distasteful, and Half Arrow understands why the white people are so “pale and bandy-legged”—because they have to eat such old and stringy meat.
The boys march all day together, but Hardy will not allow them to sleep next to each other, afraid True Son will try to escape. Half Arrow agrees to sleep in the woods like Little Crane, but first he presents True Son with some gifts, including a small bag of parched corn; a richly embroidered pair of moccasins; and the old, worn bearskin that had been on True Son’s bed in the cabin. All of these gifts will help True Son remember his Indian family, and he is moved by them. Half Arrow sleeps in a bed of leaves.