Yellow Kidney strikes a flint to steal in an effort to light some moss. He has been gone for six days and he has been waiting out a blizzard in an old war lodge for the last two nights. Despite his missing fingers, he is getting along. He can shoot, albeit slowly, with his trigger-puller, and he no longer feels useless. He has found he can do most things if he works slowly. Yellow Kidney begins to consider going home to his family.
The fact that Yellow Kidney is able to get along despite his disability is a testament to the resilience and perseverance of the Pikuni people to continue their way of life in the face of adversity. Yellow Kidney’s missing fingers are certainly not as bad as the invading Napikwans, but they are still something that he has to overcome.
Meanwhile, a rider and his son make their way down the Missouri River. A friend in Fort Benton had told the man about the rancher’s murder, and he is growing uneasy out in the snowstorm thinking about hostile Indians. He hopes to reach his destination soon, but he must get out of the storm. He sees the war lodge in the distance and signals his son to stop. Smoke is coming from the lodge, which he worries is coming from an Indian. As the man sneaks closer to the lodge, he thinks that he would like to kill an Indian.
The Napikwan’s eagerness to kill a random Indian is evidence of the widespread hate and racism common during early western expansion and beyond. Yellow Kidney does not pose a threat to the man or his son, and the rider must go out of his way to find him. He is anticipating a sort of sick pleasure in killing the Indian, and his actions mirror the widescale actions of the Napikwans and the seizers.
Yellow Kidney sits in the war lodge roasting a rabbit he killed earlier that day. He has decided to return home to his family. He wants to watch his sons grow, and even though his relationship with his wife is strained, he still wants to grow old with Heavy Shield Woman. He thinks about meeting his grandson and name him during his naming ceremony. He is so deep in thought that he doesn’t see the rider’s gun barrel enter the door of the lodge, nor does he feel a thing as the slug rips through his chest. The rider fires twice more but it doesn’t matter—Yellow Kidney’s “heart had already exploded.”
Ironically, it is in Yellow Kidney’s final moments that he finally achieves peace, which suggests that his untimely death is another part of his punishment. Old Man has destined Yellow Kidney to a fate worse than death, and his revelation is not in keeping with this punishment. The image of Yellow Kidney’s exploding heart as he dies implies that he was finally able to feel love again for a brief moment before it was snatched away by the Napikwan.