Chapters 19-21 Summary

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Chapter 19

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Two days later, Attean invites Matt to come visit at his village. His grandmother had been very surprised that a white boy would put so much effort into saving an Indian dog, and she welcomes him now. When Attean shows him around the encampment, Matt is fascinated by the work the squaws are doing, and he watches carefully as they pound corn kernels and spread berries out on strips of bark to dry. Attean, who scorns "squaw work," humors Matt for a while, then takes him over to play a game, similar to dice, with a noisy cluster of boys.

Matt is soon the loser in the game of chance and must forfeit his shirt in payment. Afterwards, Attean initiates another game, which is played with a ball and sticks. The game is rough, and the Indian boys are "bewildering quick and skillful." Matt, however, holds his own, earning the respect of the others by showing surprising skill even as he uncomplainingly absorbs vicious blows and jabs. The boys end the day by swimming in the river, and before they leave, Attean's grandmother makes her grandson retrieve his guest's shirt.

As they cross the river on the way back, the Indian dog sits close to Matt for the first time, and Attean notes that the creature remembers his kindness in saving him from the trap. At the opposite bank, Attean leaves Matt to find his way home alone. Matt is hesitant, but appreciates the vote of confidence. That night, as he lies in bed, Matt is content. He has gained the acceptance of Attean and the Indians, and for the first time since his father left, he does not feel alone.

Chapter 20

When Attean returns to Matt's cabin a week later, he is solemn and distracted. He tells Matt that he might not come again for a long time, because it is time for him to go out to find his manitou. The Indian boy likens a manitou to a spirit and explains that every man in his tribe must have one. After making special preparations, Attean will go out into the forest alone, where he will wait for many days, not eating or drinking, until his manitou comes to him. Matt recognizes sadness and an uncharacteristic fear in his friend's eyes; if he is not able to find his manitou, Attean will never be a hunter among his people.

Attean promises that he will come back when his quest is over, but Matt understands that no matter what happens, things will never be the same between them. Even so, Matt sincerely hopes that his friend finds his...

(The entire section contains 671 words.)

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