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The Light in the Forest

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The Light in the Forest

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When John Cameron Butler was a child, he was captured in a raid on the Pennsylvania frontier and adopted by the great warrrior Cuyloga. Renamed True Son, he came to think of himself as fully Indian....
When John Cameron Butler was a child, he was captured in a raid on the Pennsylvania frontier and adopted by the great warrrior Cuyloga. Renamed True Son, he came to think of himself as fully Indian....
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Description-
  • When John Cameron Butler was a child, he was captured in a raid on the Pennsylvania frontier and adopted by the great warrrior Cuyloga. Renamed True Son, he came to think of himself as fully Indian. But eleven years later his tribe, the Lenni Lenape, has signed a treaty with the white men and agreed to return their captives, including fifteen-year-old True Son. Now he must go back to the family he has forgotten, whose language is no longer his, and whose ways of dress and behavior are as strange to him as the ways of the forest are to them. A beautifully written, sensitively told story of a white boy brought up by Indians, The Light in the Forest is a beloved American classic.

Excerpts-
  • Chapter 1

    The boy was about fifteen years old. He tried to stand very straight and still when he heard the news, but inside of him everything had gone black. It wasn't that he couldn't endure pain. In summer he would put a stone hot from the fire on his flesh to see how long he could stand it. In winter he would sit in the icy river until his Indian father smoking on the bank said he could come out. It made him strong against any hardship that would come to him, his father said. But if it had any effect on this thing that had come to him now, the boy couldn't tell what it was.

    For days word had been reaching the Indian village that the Lenni Lenape and Shawanose must give up their white prisoners. Never for a moment did the boy dream that it meant him. Why, he had been one of them since he could remember! Cuyloga was his father. Eleven years past he had been adopted to take the place of a son dead from the yellow vomit. More than once he had been told how, when he was only four years old, his father had said words that took out his white blood and put Indian blood in its place. His white thoughts and meanness had been wiped away and the brave thoughts of the Indian put in their stead. Ever since, he had been True Son, the blood of Cuyloga and flesh of his flesh. For eleven years he had lived here, a native of this village on the Tuscarawas, a full member of the family. Then how could he be torn from his home like a sapling from the ground and given to the alien whites who were his enemy!

    The day his father told him, the boy made up his mind. Never would he give up his Indian life. Never! When no one saw him, he crept away from the village. From an old campfire, he blackened his face. Up above Pockhapockink, which means the stream between two hills, he had once found a hollow tree. Now he hid himself in it. He thought only he knew the existence of that tree and was dismayed when his father tracked him to it. It was humiliating to be taken back with his blackened face and tied up in his father's cabin like some prisoner to be burned at the stake. When his father led him out next morning, he knew everybody watched: his mother and sisters, the townspeople, his uncle and aunt, his cousins and his favorite cousin, Half Arrow, with whom he had ever fished, hunted and played. Seldom had they been separated even for a single day.

    All morning on the path with his father, crazy thoughts ran like squirrels in the boy's head. Never before had he know his father to be in the wrong. Could it be that he was in the right now? Had he unknowingly left a little white blood in the boy's veins and was it for this that he must be returned? Then they came in sight of the ugly log redoubts and pale tents of the white army, and the boy felt sure there was in his body not a drop of blood that knew these things. At the sight and smells of the white man, strong aversion and loathing came over him. He tried with all his young strength to get away. His father had to hold him hard. In the end he dragged him twisting and yelling over the ground to the council house of the whites and threw him on the leaves that had been spread around.

    "I gave talking paper that I bring him," he told the white guards. "Now he belong to you."

    It was all over then, the boy knew. He was as good as dead and lay among the other captives with his face down. He was sure that his father had stayed. He could feel his presence and smell the sweet inner bark of the red willow mixed with the dried sumach leaves of his pipe. When dusk fell, a white guard came up. The other soldiers called him Del, perhaps because he could talk Delaware, the strange name the whites gave the Lenni Lenape and their languages. True...

About the Author-
  • Conrad Richter was born in Pennsylvania, the son, grandson, nephew, and great-nephew of clergymen. He was intended for the ministry, but at thirteen he declines a scholarship and left preperatory school for high school, from which he graduated at fifteen. After graduation, he went to work. His family on his mother's side was identified with the early American scene, and from boyhood on he was saturated with tales and the color of Eastern pioneer days. In 1928 he and his small family moved to New Mexico, where his heart and mind were soon caputred by the Southwest. From this time on he devoted himself to fiction. The Sea of Grass and The Trees were awarded the gold medal of the Societies of Libraries of New York University in 1942. The Town received the Pulitzer Prize in 1951, and The Waters of Kronos won the 1960 National Book Award for fiction. His other novels included The Fields (1946), The Lady (1957), A Simple Honorable Man (1962), The Grandfathers (1964), A Country of Strangers (1966; a companion to The Light in the Forest), and The Aristocrat, published just before his death in 1968.

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    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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