As the S.S. Massanabie prepares to embark, Robert is placed in a stateroom with Clifford Purchas, Captain Ord, and a young soldier named Harris. A storm appears to be brewing, and there is a commotion on deck when horses are unexpectedly crane-lifted onto the ship as cargo.
The horses on board are taken out of their natural habitat and forced into the dangerous role of being military animals, demonstrating how the trauma of war has life-altering effects on all living creatures, not just human beings.
Robert writes one last letter to Tom. He tells his father that he had been surprised and comforted to see him in Montreal when Tom came to see him off, but that the automatic Colt revolver Tom had gotten him was the wrong one. Clifford suggests that Robert should “send his love” to Peggy, but Robert feels that this would be “unmanly.” Instead, he describes the toughness of his fellow soldiers to his father and expresses excitement to be leaving for war.
Robert’s letter to his father indicates that he is eager to make a clean break from his childhood and is likely underestimating the horrors he will witness in the war. His desire to make himself and his fellow soldiers sound formidable shows that he (like many other young men in his era) believes that going to war is his only means of attaining honor in the eyes of his family.