Chapter 4 Summary
True Son dreads the day when Half Arrow and Little Crane will have to turn back and go home. As they travel, the boys discuss which of the white men’s horses they would steal and which of the white guards they would scalp if they had the opportunity.
They also talk about white people’s foolish ways. Indians are an “original people,” so their eyes, skin, and hair are always dark. Whites are a mixed people and therefore are many different types and colors. This is why they are “so foolish and troublesome.” The Great Being even had to give them the Good Book so they will know right from wrong, something Indians know without reading anything. White men must have poor vision because they always stand so close, and their hearing must be poor because they always speak loudly. Even worse, white people all talk at once and have not learned the art of listening.
The white man is “young and heedless like a child,” amassing treasures that they know they cannot take with them when they die. Their houses are not big enough to store all their belongings, so they have to build barns. This accumulation of things is why there are so many thieves among the white men and why they must put locks on their doors. If they shared like the Indians, they would not have to work so much or so hard.
The white men only look at the ground and call the land around them ugly; Indians see the bounty and the beauty of the land. The white men are foolish when they make their decisions about where to set up camp and where to light a fire; the cousins enjoy laughing at all their foolishness.
They reach the large river on which Fort Pitt is located, but the river is too swollen to cross. Little Crane and Half Arrow find a scalped and tomahawked Indian near the camp; they suspect it was a white man trying to blame Indians for the murder.
The next day, Hardy tells Half Arrow he must leave because they are nearing white settlements and some may want to exact some revenge on the Indian. Before leaving, Half Arrow delivers a message from Cuyloga: “It is wiser to be willing and be alive than be defiant and be dead so your father and mother and sisters have to mourn you.”
True Son promises to bear his disgrace and conduct himself like a proud Indian until the time is right for him to strike. At the river’s edge, Half Arrow watches as True Son wades in alone; the boy does not look back until he is across and following the column. He sees his friends and then continues walking.