12 year old Matt sits lonely in his log cabin, now aware that he is the only person left in the house. He wonders about his father, his mother, and Sarah, his little sister. And then he wonders about Attean. His Native American student.
A treaty had arranged Matt to teach Attean the language of the white men. Attean is a member of the beaver tribe. At first, Attean does not like Matt at all and refuses to do what Saknis says. But as they go on, Attean teaches Matt many things about the forest. In this story, Matt is invited to one of their feasts. At this point, Attean's grandmother loathes the white men, and does not trust them at all, especially Matt. Attean has a dog who adores him. Attean calles him 'pizwat' for hunting. Useless. When the dog gets caught in a trap, Matt is anxious to save him, but the dog does not understand and he refuses to be taken out by a stranger, and he scratches hisself on the trap's teeth. Hurriedly Matt runs to the Indian's village for help. When he gets there, he meets Attean's sister, Mary. mary has been baptized and she knows a lot of English. She takes Matt to her grandmother and surprisingly, the grandmother nurses the cut. It seems that the grandmother is concerned for him because she thinks the trap may have poison on it. Why is it surprising? The grandmother has never trusted white men. The grandmother is appreciating that Matt is trying to save Attean's dog. After Matt saves the dog with Mary's help, the dog and Matt are soon friends.
Attean soon has to go to find his Manatou, or his spirit. It is a rule that every indian must find his manatou to become a real man. His father and family, who is soon to come back with the new baby, has not come yet, as he had promised. The snows were soon to come and he was in danger of being alone during the winter. Attean and Saknis come, saying that Attean has found his Manatou and they have to leave. They suggest Matt come with them, as they think he will not survive the harsh weather. Matt refuses, as he believes that his family will return soon. Days after, Attean comes with a second offer. Matt refuses again, and Attean gives him many gifts from his tribe. Attean says that Matt is now his white brother. Then the Beaver tribe leaves for new land.
Soon Matt's father appears out of the snow. The baby is not there, for it only lived five days after birth. But Matt is happy, and after the family gets settled down, Matt tells them the story of his indian brother.