Chapter 6 Summary
Del Hardy was thankful to be back at Fort Pitt and away from the savages and the wilderness. After three hundred miles of tramping through forests, he was thankful to see cleared land once again. Everything was familiar, and people rejoiced as the army delivered the white captives.
Now he is on a ferry with the boy, John Cameron Butler, and his father. They are all on horseback for the short crossing. True Son is silent and sullen until he hears his father say they are on the Susquehanna River; then he pours out bitter invective that Hardy wearily translates. Cuyloga, his Indian father, told him the Susquehanna River belongs to the Indians and was stolen from them, along with their ancestors’ graves, by the white people.
They arrive at Paxton Township, a place True Son knows as Peshtank Township. This is where John Butler was born, and he looks at it with panic in his eyes. As soon as the boat touches shore, he spurs his horse and urges it up the steep bank until horse and rider vanish. Butler is not worried and says the boy will be stopped at the fort at the top of the embankment; however, when he and Hardy get there, they find True Son’s riderless horse. Hardy finds the boy hiding in some brambles and drags him back to his horse.
The three riders arrive at a great stone mansion, but the homecoming is grim. Butler introduces True Son to Gordie, a brother whom True Son has never met, and Aunt Kate before resignedly dragging his oldest son upstairs to meet his anxious mother. Through all of this, True Son does and says nothing.
Although Myra Butler is an invalid, she is clearly the mistress of her home and loves her firstborn son; the first thing she tries to do is make him say his name, John, in English. After some silence, Myra says True Son is obviously stubborn, just like his Uncle Wilse. Because the entire family is coming to see him tomorrow, True Son cannot leave this room until he says his name. She refuses to let her son appear “crude and ignorant as a savage in front of them.”
It is clear that True Son understands her, but he answers her in Delaware and Hardy translates that his name is True Son. The boy also says it in English, which temporarily satisfies his mother. She has made him some pants and a jacket from his cousin Alec’s old clothing. To True Son they are symbols of all the horrible things done by the white man, and he does not even want to touch them.
Finally Gordie takes the clothes and asks True Son if he can have his Indian clothes so he can be an Indian. Although True Son does not put on the hateful garments, the brothers share a look of respect and understanding.