Benjamin sets off back toward the forest with mutton for Barta and ostrich feathers from Kicker for the sailor Book. It was difficult to Benjamin to leave Wolwekraal, but Fiela understood. Benjamin makes it to Barnard’s Island and finds that things are unusually quiet around Elias and Barta’s house. Benjamin walks inside and finds Barta, who mistakes him for Kristoffel at first. She calls out to Elias at once, happy to see “Lukas.”
Just as Benjamin returned to his old home of Wolwekraal to come to terms with that part of his life, he now comes back to the Forest to close a different chapter of his life. Barta’s confusion between “Lukas” and Kristoffel suggests that perhaps as her sons age, they are becoming more distant from her and harder to recognize.
Benjamin and Barta go to see Elias, who is seriously injured from wounds he got from an elephant. Elias isn’t happy to see Benjamin, calling him a “skunk.” Benjamin wants to get Elias to a doctor, but Elias refuses to let anyone touch him.
Elias’s injuries from the elephants are the predictable outcome of yet another failed attempt to outsmart nature. Elias’s refusal to be touched is a physical representation of how he emotionally keeps people at a distance.
Benjamin tells Barta he’s been back to Long Kloof. Barta seems surprised but doesn’t say anything. As Benjamin spends more time in the house, he worries that they will need him to help make wood beams while Kristoffel is away. But around dusk, Kristoffel shows up. Together, they agree they have to get Elias outside to see the sun.
Benjamin stayed with Barta and Elias for so long in part because he seemed to feel a sense of guilt and a need to please his news parents (even if they weren’t really his parents). Just returning back to the Forest puts Benjamin in this mindset again.
Against Elias’s protests, Benjamin and Kristoffel carry him outside into the sun. Elias says Benjamin ran away like a disobedient dog. Benjamin stays with them for a while and helps with the wood beams, waiting for a chance to ask Barta an important question.
For Elias, the worst thing a child can do is be disobedient. His comparison of Benjamin to a dog provides yet another example of how he fails to see his children as fully human and instead expects an unreasonable level of obedience from them.
At last, Benjamin gets the opportunity to talk to Barta alone. He asks if he is truly Lukas. She seems frightened and says of course he is—she testified this to the magistrate and would do it again. Disappointed, Benjamin feels like he has to accept that he’s Lukas. He goes to see Nina.
Barta’s fear suggests that she isn’t as sure of her answer as she says she is. She shows reverence for the magistrate’s authority, unwilling to question his judgment. This recalls earlier, when Benjamin noted that the magistrate’s courthouse looked like a church—the reverence it inspires from Barta is like religious faith.