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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
By the next summer, Tom has grown into a stocky young Indian. Bessie is very proud of his abilities, for he has fully mastered the Ute ways in the wilderness. She knows that he belongs on Bald Mountain with her, not in school in Pagosa, as Blue Elk has suggested.
Bessie again travels alone to Pagosa. As she enters the town, she asks some women about the whereabouts of Blue Elk and is relieved to learn that he is not in town. She goes to the store and trades more baskets with Jim Thatcher. She also tells him how Blue Elk treated her the last time she was in town. Thatcher is angry that he claimed to have helped clear her husbandís name; he assures Bessie that Blue Elk had no hand in settling Black Bullís matter. After her business in the store is finished, Bessie returns home to Bald Mountain and proudly gives Tom the new red blanket she has gotten him at the store.
The next winter is a very harsh one, and there is hardly anything to eat. Tom and Bessie travel together to the lower valley, but they find little food there. As they return to the lodge, Bessie is so weak that she can barely stand up. Realizing that she is close to death, Tom feeds her what he can and sings songs to soothe her. They talk about their past, including memories of Pagosa and Blue Elk. When she dies, Tom buries Bessie next to his father. After singing Ute funeral songs and mourning over her death, Tom returns alone to the lodge.
Bessie decides to again visit Pagosa alone the next summer. In the store, she tells Thatcher what Blue Elk had told her the previous year and how he had treated her. Thatcher is angry over Blue Elkís behavior and assures Bessie that the man had no hand in clearing Black Bullís name. She returns home to the lodge with a peaceful heart and proudly gives Tom a new red blanket she has purchased for him.
The next winter is very harsh, and food is hard to come by. When Tom says he is going to the lower valley to try and find a deer, Bessie remembers what happened to her husband and insists upon going with him. The trip is difficult for her, and by their return, she is sick and weak. Tom nurses her and does his best to save her, feeding her the little bit of food available. In the end, he does not succeed. When Bessie dies, he buries her next to his father.
Before she passes away, Bessie tells Tom all about their life in Pagosa and warns him about Blue Elk and his trickery. She seems to sense that Blue Elk will try and cause trouble for her son, and she wants him to be prepared.
In spring, Tom, feeling lonely, spends time with the female bear that has become his friend. He watches her as she plays with her two young cubs. He also befriends the squirrels, the chipmunks, and the bluejays. One day, while fishing, Tom spots a man panning for gold in the river. The next day he hears a gunshot. When he goes out to see what has happened, he finds that the man has been wounded by the bear; as a result, the she-bear and one cub are dead. Tom sings a mournful song to grieve for the dead bears. He then locates the remaining bear cub and promises to care for it. Before long, Tom and the cub are fast friends, almost as close as brothers. When Tom tells the cub to come or to follow, it always obeys. Because of the cub and the time they spend together, Tom feels less lonely.
Living alone on Bald Mountain, Tom befriends the animals, including bears, squirrels, chipmunks, and birds. He is particularly fascinated by a friendly she-bear and her cubs and often watches them playing together.
One day Tom spies a man panning for gold in the river. The next day he hears a gunshot. The she-bear had smelled food and entered the manís camp; when he tried to shoo her away, she charged and injured him. In turn, the man shoots the she-bear and her female cub. When Tom discovers what has happened, he grieves for the bears and sings a mournful song. He also finds the remaining male bear cub and promises to care for it. Tom becomes close friends with the cub; it is almost like the two of them are brothers, for both have recently lost their mothers and are all alone in the world. Because of the cub, Tom becomes less lonely.