Last Reviewed on February 4, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1190
Spring, 1923. A feeling of hope comes with the spring. Belle Graycloud performs the corn ceremony in the old way; few young people still plant corn, but those who do scoff at the ceremony until Belle's corn begins to grow and theirs does not, at which point they ask for her help. Lettie, however, does not share the feeling of renewal, still devastated over the death of Benoit.
The Indians are returning to the old ways. Afraid of the white world, they are becoming "peyote men" again. Joe Billy resigns from the Baptist church and takes his wife, Martha, to live in a cave. Belle is encouraged, until one day a white man who works for Hale arrives and begins putting up a buffalo fence on her land. Belle protests but is told that she should have "improved" her land. Hale brings a herd of buffalo to graze on the land.
In April, a white man in a convertible brings Lionel Tall to Ona Neck's house. He is seeking Stace Red Hawk because he has heard the Indians are in trouble, and he has brought sacred stones and other items to perform a ceremony of healing. Ona sends for Lettie, telling her that spirits might come forward with information about the deaths of Grace and Sara. The ceremony is attended by many, including Deputy Sheriff Willis, Michael Horse, Floyd, and Cal. Ona's unmarried son, Jim, sits next to Lettie.
A voice speaks to Lettie, telling her to "dig deep in the center of the field of corn." Michael Horse sees an image of where his horse, Redshirt, has gone: a place near Sorrow Cave. Lionel Tall also tells Lettie to dig in the cornfield but does not know what is there.
In the hotel, Lionel Tall tells Stace the news of his people at home and asks when he will return from Washington. Stace says he will return soon. He explains that because none of the murders have happened on Indian land, his hands are slightly tied. He stays at the hotel in Lionel's room, and Lionel reminisces about the day when his family were massacred by cavalry and left to freeze in the snow.
Belle wakes to the drone of bees and finds that her bees, distressed by the buffalo, have attacked her chickens. She has to move them to a new position near the river.
Stace tells his boss, Ballard, that he needs time to think. Levee does not want to take sides when Ballard suggests that this is ridiculous. Eventually Ballard concedes and gives Stace his paycheck to buy a horse. Stace worries that Ballard will pin the case on anyone simply to close it. He buys a horse and rides into the bluffs.
Someone steals the clothes from Belle's scarecrow, and three holes appear in the cornfield, which worries Belle. Nola arrives with Will, and Belle intuits that she is pregnant. Rena is happy to see her friend and has the same thought that she is pregnant. As such, she is distressed when Nola falls on her stomach in the creek; her foot becomes stuck, and when she is pulled out, there is oil in the river. Floyd and Moses, not wanting anyone to know about the oil, stem its flow with stones.
Stace encounters Horse in the wilderness, trying to capture Redshirt again. The pair eat together in the cave; Horse shows him the notes he has been making. The "hog priest," Father Dunne, appears to shelter from the rain, and they all sleep in the cave together. Horse explains about the explosion at Benoit's house and notes that Sara would have received Grace's money, followed by Benoit, and that Nola will inherit when she reaches her majority.
Stace's own horse, startled by Redshirt, has run off, and Stace considers how to recapture it. In the morning when he wakes, he finds that the priest has written in the dirt: "One man was not in jail the night another man was killed." Stace leaves. Meanwhile, Horse finds an extra room in the cave, which contains a medicine bag that had belonged to Joe Billy's father. There is also a bag...
(The entire section contains 1190 words.)
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