Later, the young men huddle together near Woman Don’t Walk Butte. They have secured over one hundred and fifty Crow horses, but Cold Maker has made travel difficult. White Man’s Dog has again dreamt of the white-faced girl, and he is growing concerned because Yellow Kidney and Fast Horse have not yet returned. Eagle Ribs has found the young men near Elk River—he was able to get in and out of the Crow camp quickly with a strong buffalo-runner.
Cold Maker unleashes a winter storm because Fast Horse did not make good on his promise to him. Fast Horse failed to find the ice spring and remove the rock, and he has no intention of making the offerings to Cold Maker’s daughters. Thus, instead of a light snow to cover the warriors’ retreat, he has made a blizzard to complicate their travel.
Eagle Ribs hopes that Yellow Kidney and Fast Horse are simply waiting out the weather, but he tells the other men about a disturbing dream he had the night before. In his dream, he saw a small white horse covered with sores and split hooves. He saw a face in the sky behind the horse, along with some hair and two owl feathers. Eagle Ribs and the other men fear that this dream means that Yellow Kidney is dead.
Later that night, Fast Horse arrives and tells the other men that he has not seen Yellow Kidney since the raid. After stealing his own buffalo-runner, Fast Horse and taken refuge in a cave to wait out the snow. Then Cold Maker appeared and took him to his home in Always Winter Land. Cold Maker was angry that Fast Horse did find the ice spring, but he has given the men one more chance. To appease Cold Maker, Fast Horse had to promise to bring his daughters two prime robes during the helping-to-eat moon along with red coals for their eyes—Cold Maker’s daughters have no eyes, only holes where their eyes should be.
As eyes are often viewed as the window to the soul, the fact that Cold Maker’s daughters do not have eyes suggests that they are soulless—and relying on Fast Horse to make them complete. Of course, their faith in Fast Horse is misguided, and while he promises to bring them eyes, his promises are empty. Fast Horse cares only about himself, and he will agree to anything to ensure that the raid is successful for him.
Eight sleeps later, the men return home to the camp of the Lone Eaters. Eagle Ribs divides the horses up between the men, giving Yellow Kidney (or his widow) the most. White Man’s Dog returns home to his family. His mother, Double Strike Woman, is thankful for his return, and Rides-at-the-door asks his son about Yellow Kidney. White Man’s Dog tells his father about Eagle Ribs’s dream, but he does not believe that Yellow Kidney is dead. His father agrees.
As Yellow Kidney’s only wife, Heavy Shield Woman gets all Yellow Kidney’s share. Yellow Kidney has many horses and a many-shots gun—he is a wealthy man—yet he has only one wife. This is a testament to the closeness of their relationship, which makes it all the more significant when their relationship falls apart near the end of the novel.
Three days later, Heavy Shield Woman, Yellow Kidney’s wife, emerges from her lodge having cut her hair, slashed her arms and legs, and painted her face white with ash. That night, she makes Yellow Kidney’s favorite soup of dried sarvisberries and meat, and sets out five bowls; one for herself, one for her daughter, Red Paint, two for her sons, Good Young Man and One Spot, and one for Yellow Kidney. Heavy Shield Woman tells her children that their father is still alive. He had come to her in a dream, wearing old skins and rags, and told her that he will return once she performs a virtuous task.
Heavy Shield Woman cuts her hair and slashes her flesh as a sign of mourning. To the Pikuni people, the hair is an extension of the spirit, or soul, and when it is cut after the death of a loved one, it signifies a break within one’s spirit. The slashes are likewise an outward reflection of Heavy Shield Woman’s inner pain. Even though she wants to believe her dream that Yellow Kidney is still alive, Heavy Shield Woman continues to mourn her husband in the traditional way.
Later, Heavy Shield Woman goes to visit Three Bears, the chief of the Lone Eaters, and requests that, should her husband return safely to her, she be allowed to be the Medicine Woman at the Sun Dance ceremony in the summer. The men agree, much to Three Bears’ surprise. Usually, the tribe does not like a woman to declare this role—if she fails, it will bring dishonor to them all. Rides-at-the-door silently voices his support as well, although he does not speak, much to the disappointment of Three Bears and the others.
A woman is only considered for the role of Sacred Vow Woman if her prayers have been answered. Having one’s prayers answered is considered proof of one’s virtue, and since the success of the vow relies on the woman’s virtue, the Sacred Vow Woman must be above reproach. Heavy Shield Woman’s prayer has not yet been answered, so her virtue remains questionable to the tribe.