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Free Study Guide-When The Legends Die by Hal Borland- Free Book Notes
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CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES

CHAPTER 6

Summary

Winter passes and the woods grow green with spring. Tom is also growing in size and knowledge. Soon he is as tall as Bessie; he is also able to manage for himself in the wilderness, having learned the Ute ways.

When the next winter arrives, it is very harsh. Black Bull has to go down to the lower valley to find any deer. As he hunts, he is killed by an avalanche. When he does not return to the lodge, Bessie and Tom follow his tracks and find him covered in snow and ice. They bury him in the old-fashioned Ute manner, placing his dressed body in a cave with food for his journey to the next world. They also sing funeral songs for him. After the burial, Bessie reminds Tom that he is now the man of the family.

Notes

This chapter spans several years. As time passes, Tom grows up to be a helpful young man, learning the Ute ways and helping with the chores. When his father is killed in an avalanche, while hunting deer in the lower valley, Tom becomes the head of the family. He helps his mother with Black Bullís burial in traditional Ute fashion. Fortunately, his father has taught him well so that he and his mother can survive in the wilderness without him.


CHAPTER 7

Summary

Feeling that he is a man, Tom chooses the name of Bear Brother for himself. Through hard work, he and his mother are able to survive the harsh winter after Black Bullís death, even though they are sometimes hungry. They are delighted when spring arrives and life grows easier. During the summer, Bessie breaks their axe while chopping wood. She knows she must have a new one before the advent of winter. As a result, she decides that she and Tom must go into Pagosa to purchase one.

When Bessie and Tom arrive in town, the people stare at them. Not bothered by the looks, Bessie goes straight to the store. When she enters, Jim Thatcher recognizes her and asks about the whereabouts of Black Bull. He also tells her that his name has been cleared in the murder, for it was decided he acted in self- defense. He suggests that the family return to Pagosa to live. Bessie does not answer Jim, pretending not to understand. Instead, she busies herself with trading two of her hand-made baskets for a box of ammunition, an axe, a knife for Tom, and some candy. When their business is complete, Bessie and Tom return to their lodge.

Notes

Bessie and Tom manage to survive the difficult winter after Black Bullís death, but they are delighted when spring arrives. Through the spring and summer, both of them work very hard to make certain that they have adequate provisions. When Bessie breaks the axe while chopping wood, she knows she and Tom must go into Pagosa to purchase another. While she is in the store, Jim Thatcher tells her that Black Bullís name has been cleared in the murder and that the family can return to town to live. Bessie does not answer him; instead, she simply trades her baskets for the needed supplies and some candy. When the purchases are made, she and Tom head back to the lodge. Even though she is bewildered by the news she has heard, it is clear that Bessie has no interest in returning to live in civilization. Pagosa has no appeal for her.

CHAPTER 8

Summary

After returning to Bald Mountain, Bessie repeatedly thinks about what Jim Thatcher has told her. The next summer, she decides she wants to return to Pagosa to confirm what she has been told. She tells Tom that she must go on a journey alone. When she departs, she takes another two baskets to trade with Jim Thatcher. In the store, Bessie chooses calico for a skirt, cloth for a blouse and a blue coat with brass buttons for Tom; she pays for the purchases with her baskets. She also confirms what Jim Thatcher had told her about Black Bull last year.

As she is departing Pagosa, Bessie encounters Blue Elk in the street. He asks her for money, saying he was responsible for settling the matter of her husband. She tells him that her husband is dead and refuses to give him anything. Even though Blue Elk asks her many questions, she does not answer them. Blue Elk then brings up Tom and says he should be in school in Pagosa. When Bessie disagrees with him, he snatches her purchases, claiming that she certainly owes him that much. She manages to grab the coat away from him and then turns and runs away.

Notes

Bessie wants to clarify what Jim Thatcher has told her about her husband. As a result, she travels into Pagosa alone the next summer. When she questions him, Thatcher confirms that the matter with Black Bull and Frank No Deer is settled and that Georgeís name has been cleared. After trading her baskets for some cloth for herself and a coat for Tom, Bessie departs with a lighter heart.

As she leaves Pagosa, Bessie encounters the unscrupulous Blue Elk. Surprised to see her, he hassles her about the fact that Tom should be attending school in Pagosa. He tries to get her to say where she and the boy are living, but she wisely gives him no indication. Blue Elk also boasts to her that he is responsible for settling the matter of her husband and asks her to pay a fee for his service. When she tells him that Black Bull is dead and that she has no money to pay him, Blue Elk cruelly grabs her purchases, saying he will take them as payment. Bessie manages to snatch away Tomís coat. She then turns and runs out of town. She arrives back at the lodge in three days.

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