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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
PART IV: The Mountains
Tom travels to Pagosa. When he goes into a café there, four men stare at him, which makes him self-conscious. He quickly eats and leaves. Outside the café, he spies Luther Spotted Dog, his old roommate. He stops and briefly talks with him. Everywhere Tom goes in Pagosa, he is haunted by memories.
Tom goes to the general store to buy himself some work clothes. He tells the clerk that he used to herd sheep for a living; but the clerk, looking at his costly clothes, thinks Tom is joking.
In the store, Tom spies Jim Woodward, who recognizes him. He asks Tom if he knows anyone who might like to tend sheep for him, for he has lost one of his shepherds. He needs a man to go to Piedra, Horse Mountain, and tend a flock of sheep. On an impulse, Tom offers to be his shepherd. After they agree on the terms, Tom departs.
When Tom returns to Pagosa, he is flooded with memories. He also feels self-conscious, believing that everyone is staring at him.
When he goes to the general store to buy himself some work clothes, he runs into Jim Woodward, who states that he needs a shepherd. On an impulse, Tom volunteers to take the job, which will take him back to Horse Mountain, the place of his youth. It is like he has now come full circle and is returning to the spot where the book really began. On Horse Mountain, Tom will be forced to face the past and his heritage, both of which he has been trying to deny.
Jim, Dave (another shepherd), and Tom depart for Horse Mountain. On the way, Jim asks Tom a few questions, but Tom gives him short answers and says nothing about his being a bronco rider. After they come to the appropriate place on the mountain, Jim and Dave depart, leaving Tom alone in the area of his roots. He thinks about his past and remembers the hand signals that Albert Left Hand had taught him.
Tomís life as a shepherd on the mountain is simple. He eats and sleeps after a day of tending sheep. The next morning, he makes breakfast and begins the routine again. He has a lot of time to reflect on his past and feels like he has peeled off layers of time.
Fate brings Tom back to Horse Mountain to deal with his past and his heritage. His life as a shepherd is simplistic and gives him time to exercise his bad leg and to recall the memories of his childhood. He enjoys his work, for he is out in nature and alone in the area of his roots. He feels like he has come home to a place he knows and loves. When he sees Granite Peak, it makes him smile.
As weeks pass by in the mountains, Tom begins to appreciate nature once again. He enjoys bathing in the icy cold water and feeding the jays and the chipmunks. He also weaves a basket, half the size of his fist, and hangs it in a bush for a field mouseís nest. Before long he realizes that most of the pain in his leg is gone and he has only a slight limp.
Tom occasionally has a visitor. Supplies are delivered to him by a man named Charley. After a delivery, Tom realizes that something about the man reminds him of Red. As a result, Tom dreams of Red and Blue Elk that night. One day Woodward comes to the mountain for a visit. He tells Tom that he has seen his picture in an old magazine. He also offers him a job for the winter, but Tom declines. Before he departs, Woodward says that he will be back to take the flock in about two weeks.
Tom quickly acclimates to his life on the mountain and enjoys the natural world around him. Memories of his youth flood his mind, and he again feeds the wildlife and weave baskets, as he did in the past. Even though he does not consciously exercise his leg, it is healing fast. All of the pain is gone, and he has only a slight limp.
When Charley delivers supplies to Tom, he is reminded of Red and again dreams of him and Blue Elk. In his dreams, both men are trying to boss him around and make plans for him without his knowledge. Tom thinks of it as a nightmare.
When Woodward comes for a visit, he tells Tom that he has seen his rodeo picture in a magazine and now knows who he really is. Tom seems to be pleased that Woodward is impressed with his past. When Woodward offers Tom a job for the winter, he declines the offer. Tom seems to have other plans that he has not yet disclosed.