Chapters 4-6 Summary
Without his rifle, Matt is unable to hunt. Fish, however, are plentiful, and he is able to supplement his diet with the provisions in the cabin. Things are going well, and Matt becomes complacent. One day, after a productive morning of fishing, he returns home to find the cabin door swinging open and a trail of flour dribbling off into the woods.
The inside of Matt's dwelling is a shambles. Somehow, he had neglected to bar the door securely, and a bear had gotten in, decimating his small store of food supplies and emptying his precious keg of molasses. Matt is furious at his own carelessness. He will not starve, but now he will have to rely solely on the creek to sustain himself.
Before long, Matt feels that he simply cannot endure another meal of plain fish. There is a bee tree at the swampy edge of a nearby pond, and he decides to risk a few stings to secure a bit of honey. At first, the bees do not seem to mind the intrusion, but when Matt breaks off a large piece of honeycomb, they attack with fury.
With angry bees swarming around his head and arms, Matt rushes blindly toward the water. His foot becomes entangled in the weeds covering the boggy ground, and when he tries to jerk free, a fierce pain shoots up his leg and he falls headlong into the pond. Thrashing desperately to get back to the surface, Matt feels strong arms around him. Half-conscious, he imagines that his father is carrying him. Through eyelids almost swollen shut from bee venom, he sees two dark-skinned Indians ministering to him—an old man and a boy.
Matt lies helplessly as the man gently removes stingers from his face, neck, and body. He then feels himself being lifted, and finds himself back in his own bed in the cabin. The Indian man makes him drink some bitter medicine from a wooden spoon, then he is gone, and Matt sleeps.
(The entire section is 694 words.)