Chapter 22 Summary
By November, the Baxters and Forresters know the extent of the plague and understand game will be scarce for the winter. They are more concerned than ever about their farm animals and do what they can to protect them. One night a pig squeals and they discover a large bear took it. When Baxter and Jody find the tracks, they know it was Old Slewfoot. They are not surprised that this bear has survived the plague. The old bear will not be fooled by his trap since he lost his toe to one, so they will have to track him down. The next day Baxter is sick and stays in bed for three days, and he will not let Jody track the bear alone.
After he recovers, Baxter and Jody slaughter eight of their hogs, leaving just a few “to begin the cycle all over again.” This winter there will be meat, and the sugar cane and corn have survived. Jody does his thinking while he grinds his corn. There will be no tutor for Jody this winter, but Jody does not mind, as “he knows a heap now.” Jody will have to settle for his father as his teacher.
Flag is growing and is never out of the hearing of Jody’s call. He “gets himself in serious disgrace” by ruining or eating many of the dried sweet potatoes; both of Jody’s parents are distraught about the loss. Jody must keep better track of Flag from now on, and he builds Flag a pen in the corner of the yard. Neither fawn nor boy is happy with the arrangement, and Baxter relents. Jody must build something to protect the sweet potatoes instead. It is essential that Jody learn to protect food, for it is the most important thing.