Chapters 10-12 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 641

Chapter 10

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Matt is a surprised and very much relieved when Attean returns to the cabin the next day. Having thought the matter over carefully the night before, he picks up Robinson Crusoe and quickly explains to the Indian boy that the story "is different from now on." Friday is not Crusoe's slave but becomes more of a companion. Matt reads aloud, tweaking the narrative so that the relationship between the two men reflects this quality, and Attean is appeased. When the reading is over, he asks Matt if he would like to go fishing.

Attean strides off into the forest, expecting Matt to follow. When they reach a part of the creek that Matt has not seen before, Attean demonstrates the Indian way of fishing, first with a spear, then with a hook. His manner is imperious, and though Matt appreciates what he is learning, he is a little resentful at his young mentor's attitude. Shared hunger brings the boys together, however, and after they cook and enjoy the fish they have caught, the mood is lightened. For the first time, Matt sees the Attean smile.

Chapter 11

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Seven weeks have passed, and Matt expects his family to arrive very soon. Attean has continued to come by every day. Occasionally, after the reading lessons they both loathe, he hangs around and watches Matt work. Sometimes, he brings an old, sorry-looking hound with him. Attean says that the dog is "good for nothing," but it is clear that he loves him.

One day, Attean takes Matt far out into the forest. As they venture into the thick wilderness, a part of Matt is uneasy because he knows that if Attean should decide to leave him there, he would most likely not be able to find his way back to the cabin. Despite his misgivings, however, Matt does not really think that this would happen. For some reason that he cannot explain, he feels that he can trust his Indian companion.

Attean takes Matt to a beaver dam, which belongs to his tribe. The area is marked with the "sign of the beaver," and any other Indian who sees it will respect its meaning and refrain from hunting there. Matt wonders if his own people would show the same regard for the property of another. He worriedly remembers Ben and resolves to explain the custom to his father.

When it is time to go back, Attean tells Matt that he must learn to find his way in the forest. He takes the lead, pointing out the small signs he has been leaving so that they will know the way back. It occurs to Matt that their situation is the opposite of the one described in Robinson Crusoe. In his relationship with Attean, it is the "savage" who is the teacher, and the white boy who must follow. Matt is a little disgruntled because he feels that Attean scorns him, and he wishes there were some way of winning his respect. Sensing his companion's frustration, Attean cuts a piece of sap from a nearby spruce and shares it, and the boys continue on in comfortable camaraderie.

Chapter 12

Matt decides that he would like to have a bow and arrows, and he attempts to make one for himself. His effort is clumsy and ineffective, so Attean helps him make one like the Indians use. Attean is "very exacting" about the wood he chooses for the bow. He demonstrates how to scrape the bark off meticulously with a stone. Using long strands of spruce root and grease, he then shows Matt how to fashion a bowstring. The process is painstaking. It takes many days to complete, but the result is amazing. Matt is delighted with his new bow, which is their "joint handiwork," and practices long and hard to learn to use the carefully wrought weapon correctly.

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