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Fred Gipson was born to farmers in Mason, Texas on February 7, 1908.  When Gipson was growing up, he greatly enjoyed spending his time hunting and fishing, and he hoped that one day he would become a cowboy.  He worked several jobs once he graduated high school, including as a bookkeeper and a goat herder.  When Gipson was in his mid-twenties he decided to pursue a higher education, and he decided to enroll at the University of Texas at Austin as a journalism major.  Gipson really developed his love for writing during this time, and he published his first short story.  Gipson did not graduate, however, and instead he left higher education to take a job working for a newspaper.  Over time, Gipson got married to a woman named Tommie Wynn, and they had two sons; he also worked at several different newspapers and wrote stories for Western magazines.  Gipson’s big break came when a big-time magazine called Collier’s published one of his stories; after this accomplishment, Gipson began writing novels.

“Old Yeller”, possibly Gipson’s most well-known and publically beloved work, was published in 1956.  Gipson got the idea for “Old Yeller” from a story of his grandfather’s youth, when he was forced to shoot his own dog.  The novel was critically praised for having a storyline that children and animal lovers alike can appreciate, and for giving children a sense of adventure beyond what they may be exposed to in their everyday lives.  Gipson was awarded the William Allen White Children’s Book Award for “Old Yeller” in 1959, as well as the Newberry Award in 1969.  Two sequels to “Old Yeller” were published, “Savage Sam” (1962) and “Little Arliss” (1978), though neither found the same success nor praise as the original novel.

Travis is a fourteen-year-old boy living in the hills of Texas in the 1860s.  Travis’ father must travel back East with some of the other settlers to make some money, and he leaves Travis in charge of the family, as the man of the house, while he is gone.  The day after Papa leaves a stray dog comes to the cabin and begins wreaking havoc right from the get-go; he eats meat that Travis has hung, he plays in the drinking water, and he sticks his nose where it does not belong.  Travis does not like the dog, called Old Yeller, much, but Little Arliss loves him right from the beginning.  It is not until the day that Little Arliss tries to catch a bear cub and Old Yeller saves him from being attacked by the mother bear that Travis begins to appreciate having the dog around.

Old Yeller proves to be a valuable part of the family, and he helps Travis to catch squirrels and herd the hogs, so he can mark them.  Old Yeller helps Travis with all of his daily activities and proves to be a loyal and enjoyable companion.  Even when the family learns that Old Yeller has been stealing food from other settlers’ homes, Travis tries to protect him rather than punish him.  Old Yeller saves Travis and the other family members from harm, and possible death, on numerous occasions, so when one of those occasions results in Old Yeller being bitten by a mad, wolf Travis is devastated that Old Yeller will have to be killed.  Travis misses Old Yeller terribly, but he learns that he must remember the good times rather than dwell on the sadness.

Maturity

Travis has always had some responsibility as the oldest child in the family, but he takes on a whole new level of responsibility when Papa leaves to make some money, and he is forced to take over as man of the house.  Travis must take on most of the chores around the house, and he is the one who must kill animals, so the family has meat, and he must mark the hogs.  Travis runs into his share of problems in taking on the responsibilities of Papa, but Old Yeller helps him to achieve daily tasks.  When Old Yeller gets bitten by a mad wolf, Travis takes the responsibility of shooting his dog, despite his sadness at the situation, rather than allowing Mama to do it.

Survival

Survival is something that all of the settlers are concerned with, though Travis’ family is the only one the reader learns about directly.  Travis’ father has to leave the family in order to make them some money, so they can survive.  Travis is given the responsibility of fending for his mother and younger brother.  As Travis works to keep the family afloat every single day, Old Yeller helps them to survive when they are in dangerous circumstances.  It is ironic that Old Yeller is responsible for keeping the family alive, and Travis ends up having to kill Old Yeller to save them.

Family

Family is very important to Travis, though he seems annoyed with Little Arliss most of the time.  The more responsibility Travis takes on in his family, the closer he feels to them, assuming the role of protector and provider.  Travis understands that it is his duty as the oldest son to take over for Papa when he is gone, and he takes the role of provider very seriously.  Travis mentions in the beginning of the book that he wanted to kill Old Yeller when he met him but later, when he did have to kill Old Yeller, he felt as though he was killing a member of his own family.

Loyalty

Old Yeller shows great loyalty to Travis and his family, and he sticks by them from the moment he arrives at their home, despite Travis’ initial dislike of him.  Old Yeller had no reason to risk his life for the family, but he did whenever the situation arose because he was loyal.  Old Yeller never thought of his own safety, but rather cared only about keeping the family safe.  Because of Old Yeller’s unwavering loyalty to the family, Travis felt especially guilty that he had to shoot the dog; he knew that Old Yeller did nothing to deserve being killed, but he also knew that he had to keep the rest of his family safe.

Love

There is a lot of love within this novel; Travis’ family is all very loving of one another, they are loving of Old Yeller, and Old Yeller is loving of them.  Travis loves his family, and, therefore, protects them and provides for them in any way that he needs to after Papa is gone.  Overtime, he comes to love Old Yeller, as well, to the point that the dog becomes his best friend; Old Yeller saves family members from harm, and he risks his own life to save them.  When Travis has to kill Old Yeller, he is heartbroken, because he has lost his best friend and someone that he loves.

Death

Death is something that Travis must deal with in his daily life, especially when it comes to caring for his family because he has to kill animals in order to feed himself, Mama, and Little Arliss.  He also has to deal with the death of farm animals, the possibility of having to kill an animal which has become rabid, and the death of his first dog by a rattlesnake bite.  The death that Travis is not ready to deal with is the death of Old Yeller because it happens at his own hands.  Old Yeller sacrificed himself many times to protect the family and then Travis is forced to kill him because he is bitten by a mad wolf.

Nature

Nature is something that all of the settlers are very in tune with.  Nature provides a person’s home, many of their luxuries, and their food.  In caring for the family it is important that Travis be very aware of his surroundings in nature because he must know how to understand signs that something is wrong, he must know what situations are safe for himself and his family, and he must know what he can use in nature to feed himself and his family.  Nature also serves as a means of entertainment and play for the family, especially Little Arliss who is just a young boy.

Sacrifice

If sacrifice is considered as a selfless act then Old Yeller makes the biggest sacrifices in the novel.  Old Yeller battles other much larger and powerful animals, such as bears and wolves, to keep them from attacked Travis, Little Arliss, and Mama.  Old Yeller is not hesitant to risk injury if it means saving his family and eventually his willingness to sacrifice costs him his life.  Travis makes a big sacrifice as well, as in the sacrifice of Old Yeller.  Travis does not want to kill his beloved dog, which has done so much for his family, but he must to keep himself, Mama, and Little Arliss safe.

Hardship

The hardships that Travis and his family face are the same hardships that most, if not all, settlers faced during that time.  Travis’ father leaves to help support the family, and Travis is forced into manhood and into supporting a family.  He must deal with the curveballs nature throws at him, such as weather and the hydrophobic plague, and he must deal with loss.  Travis loses his father for a little while and during this time he nearly loses his brother and his mother and would have had it not been for Old Yeller.  He also loses Old Yeller, though he would have lost his whole family had it not been for the dog.

Danger

There is danger everywhere when people are living in nature and are forced to find their own food in nature.  There is danger of not being able to feed one’s family, there is danger of being attacked by an animal, and there is danger of picking up a disease from an animals or being poisoned by an animal or plant.  In a situation where there is so much danger, it is important to be brave as well as cautious; when the family is not as cautious as they should be Old Yeller steps in to be the brave and selfless hero, though the danger of keeping him ultimately leads to his death.

Travis

Travis is a fourteen-year-old boy whose family has settled in the hills of Texas by an area called the Salt Licks.  When his father must travel out of state, Travis becomes the man of the house and is responsible for providing for his mother and brother.  Travis takes in a stray dog called Old Yeller and the two of them hunt and take on chores together.  Travis becomes a man during the time that his father is gone because he is forced to make adult decisions and to put himself into danger for the sake of his family’s well-being.  Travis is likeable, strong, intelligent, and very capable.

Old Yeller

Old Yeller is the stray dog that Travis’ family takes in.  At first Travis does not like Old Yeller because he is always getting into trouble and stealing meat that Travis hangs in the dog run.  After Old Yeller saves Little Arliss from a black bear, Travis accepts him as a part of the family, and they go everywhere together.  Old Yeller acts as a true protector of the family, and he often puts himself into harm’s way to ensure the safety of Travis, Little Arliss, and Mama.  The family cares for Old Yeller just as much as he does for them, and when Travis is forced to shoot Old Yeller because he is bitten by a mad wolf, the entire family is sad to see him go.

Little Arliss

Little Arliss is the five-year-old brother of Travis.  He is very playful and mischievous; Travis is often annoyed with Little Arliss because of his pesky ways.  Little Arliss loves to collect things in his adventures, including living bugs and reptiles which he stores in his pockets.  Little Arliss likes to tell tall tales and often believes he has abilities beyond what he does, which leads him to try to catch a bear cub.  Little Arliss loved Old Yeller from day one, though his allegiance quickly switches to the spotted puppy because it is more fun for him to play with.

Mama

Mama is the mother of Travis and Little Arliss.  Mama stays home with the boys when Papa goes on the cattle drive.  She is very knowledgeable about the wilderness and is capable of doing many chores and activities that are usually the job of a man.  Mama loves her children very much and loves old Yeller for saving them from danger; Old Yeller even saves Mama from the rapid wolf, though, in turn, he ends up being bitten and probably infected.  When Travis is badly injured Mama takes on his chores without hesitation, only wanting for Travis to recover fully.

Papa

Papa is the father of Travis and Little Arliss.  Papa and the other male settlers of the area leave their families behind to go on a cattle drive and make some money.  Throughout the novel, Travis mentions Papa often, and it is obvious that he looks up to Papa for influence and with pride.  Papa is a strong man who cares deeply for his family.  When Papa arrives back home and finds out about Old Yeller he talks to Travis about it and explains that he must only think about the good things because thinking about the bad things makes all of life bad.

Lisbeth

Lisbeth is the eleven-year-old granddaughter of Bud Searcy.  Lisbeth is someone who Travis likes a lot though he says he has a hard time looking right at her because her eyes seem to bore right through him.  Lisbeth tells Travis that Old Yeller has been stealing food from the other settlers though she will not reveal this information to anyone else because her dog is having Old Yeller’s babies.  When the puppies are born Lisbeth brings one of them to Travis and is disappointed when Travis tells her to give it to Little Arliss.  Lisbeth comes to stay with the family when Travis is injured, and she proves to be a hard and dedicated worker around the house.

Bud Searcy

Bud Searcy is one of the settlers at the Salt Licks.  Bud did not go on the cattle run with Papa and the other men; he says this is because he had to stay back and look after the women and children but Mama says it is because he socializes and eats too much.  Bud is the grandfather of Lisbeth, and he brings her over to visit Travis and his family often, delivering news about the settlers and gossiping a bit, as well.  Bud is the one who tells the family about the hydrophobia plague that is going around.  He also offers Lisbeth to the family to help out with chores after Travis is injured by the hog.

Burn Sanderson

Burn Sanderson is another of the settlers at the Salt Licks, and he comes forward as the original owner of Old Yeller.  Burn Sanderson is a young man who is very polite and rides a fine horse.  He finds out that Travis has Old Yeller from Bud Searcy, and when he comes to retrieve Old Yeller he is kind enough to offer to allow the dog to stay until Papa comes home, though Mama refuses because she thinks it will be difficult on the kids.  However, when Burn sees how attached Little Arliss has become to the dog he offers to let them keep Old Yeller permanently in return for Mama preparing him a home-cooked meal, which she does gladly.

The narrator, Travis, immediately introduces the reader to his dog Old Yeller.  Old Yeller was a stray that had been wandering around Travis’ family’s cabin on Birdsong Creek; Travis foreshadows by saying that at first the dog was so annoying he wanted to kill it, but later when he actually had to kill the dog it was liking killing one of his family members.  The family lives in the hills of Texas during the 1860s, though Travis’ father and some other friends from the Salt Licks travelled to Kansas to get some cash, so they can make all of their dreams come true in Texas.  The men were forced to leave their women and children behind for several months and thus leaving them to fend for themselves in the wild, though it is for the best.  Before Papa leaves he has a loving moment with Mama and Little Arliss, Travis’ five-year-old brother, cries.  Travis is fourteen-years-old and is not going to cry, because as Papa tells him he is the man of the house now.  Travis will be responsible for hunting and feeding the family, as well as tending to the livestock and the corn.  Travis shakes his father’s hand and accepts the responsibility.

Travis tells the reader how important it is to have a good dog to help with hunting and with protection; he had a dog named Bell but Bell was killed by a rattlesnake bite.  Papa wanted to get Travis a new dog, but Travis says all he wants is s horse.  Travis’ mother named Birdsong Creek because when she and Papa stopped to rest on the land she heard mockingbirds singing and then decided to settle there instead of moving on.  After Travis says goodbye to his father, he returns to the home to find Little Arliss playing naked in the drinking water; Travis threatens to spank him and cuts a switch, but Little Arliss runs into the house crying.  Mama takes Travis’ side when she finds out what Little Arliss had been doing and tells him that he must listen to his big brother; Little Arliss is told to sit in the dog run for punishment.  Travis goes about his chores, such as chopping wood, without Mama having to tell him to.  When Travis comes back into the house after finishing his chores he finds that Mama has saved his dinner for him, just like she would do for Papa when he would come in from his chores.  Travis is encouraged in his role as the man of the house, and he thinks that, with Mama’s support of him, he will be able to take Papa’s place as provider.

Old Yeller shows up the day after Papa leaves.  Travis was doing his chores and went to check on meat that was hanging over the dog run when he found that the meat was missing, and there was a very full-looking dog laying there, obviously having eaten the meat.  The dog was ugly, rather large, was missing an ear, and had a stub for a tail.  The dog gets up and walks over to Travis, obviously looking to be petted, but Travis responds by kicking the dog and yelling at it for eating the meat.  The dog ducks his head and falls onto the ground, as though he is in pain, and Mama and Little Arliss come out of the house to see what is going on.  Travis tells Mama what the dog did, but Little Arliss does not care, he runs right over to the dog and pets him enthusiastically.  Little Arliss then turns to Travis, waving a stick at him, and tells him that he should not kick the dog.  Travis is completely taken by surprise when he sees the stick, and his hesitation allows Little Arliss to whack him with the stick one time before Mama intervenes and takes the stick away.

Little Arliss decides that the dog is now his and Mama agrees that the dog is now part of the family; she believes that since the dog is obviously a stray there is no reason that Little Arliss cannot claim the dog as his own.  Travis tries to argue with Mama about the dog, but she says there is no sense in arguing and no reason why Little Arliss should not be able to keep it; to be fair Travis had a dog when he was young and now Little Arliss should have one too.  Travis is angry at Mama’s insistence at keeping the dog, but he does not say anything else on the matter he just decides that he will figure out some way to get rid of it.  Travis is upset about the meat because he had wanted Mama to mix it with the cornmeal mush for breakfast.  Later Mama asks Travis to go out and shoot a doe for them and to think more about Little Arliss keeping the dog.

Travis is not happy that he has to go out hunting for meat again but still he sets out with the mule, Jumper, toward the Salt Licks.  Travis wishes that he had a horse instead of the old mule, but he knows that the mule will have to do for now.  Travis learned from his father that he needs to stay downwind when hunting so the game does not catch his scent, so he ties Jumper up where he will not get spooked and walks until he finds a good tree to sit by; Travis sits very still because the deer will notice any movement.  Travis knows that animals will come to the Salt Licks because they like to lick the salty rocks, but he is disappointed when only a small grouping of hogs shows up rather than a bear or panther.  Travis knows better than to shoot one of the hogs because the whole pack will come after him if he does.  Travis gets distracted when he sees some squirrels jumping around in a tree, and he laughs; this was a mistake because a doe, which happened to be standing directly in front of Travis, now sees him and begins snorting.  The doe runs, and Travis shoots at it; when the doe keeps running Travis is worried that he wounded the deer, and it will suffer, but soon the doe runs into a tree and falls to the ground, dead from a gunshot wound to the heart.

On the way home, Travis wonders if he was too hard on Little Arliss and the dog, but when he arrives he changes his mind; Little Arliss and Old Yeller are playing in the drinking water.  Travis yells at Little Arliss, and when he starts screaming and the dog barking, Travis hits Old Yeller in between the eyes with a rock.  Little Arliss starts throwing rocks as well and hits Travis in the ear with one.  Travis goes to get Mama, who yells at Little Arliss for playing in the water and yells at Travis for being bossy.  Travis cuts up the deer meat and hangs it in the dog run, with the hopes of luring Old Yeller because if he is caught eating the meat Mama will get rid of him.  Travis’ plan does not work, however, and Old Yeller just chews on one of the bones.

Travis tells the reader that it is only a few more days before he is convinced that they should get rid of Old Yeller again.  Travis saw two range bulls near the house looking like they were going to get into a fight with one another; he calls one of them Roany and the other Chongo.  Travis, Mama, and Little Arliss all crawl up on the fence to watch because a bull fight is good entertainment.  The bulls begin to stare one another down and kick up dust when Old Yeller goes running at them and barking, trying to scare them off.  Travis throws a rock at Old Yeller to make him shut up, and Little Arliss, upset with Travis, threatens to throw his own rock at his brother.  Mama calms the boys down, and they all climb back up on the fence to watch the fight.  Travis is sure that Chongo will win and Mama thinks that Roany will; the family is sure that they are safe from harm sitting on the fence.

When the fight begins, the bulls come barreling toward the fence; Mama gets herself and Little Arliss out of harm’s way and then has to lend a hand to Travis who gets pulled beneath the bulls.  All three of them run into the cabin and the bulls, still fighting, crash into the door frame of the cabin but manage to not go through it.  They continue to fight down the length of the cabin, and Travis fears the damage they will do to the house, so he grabs a whip and heads after them.  Mama tells Travis to send Old Yeller after the bulls to scare them off, but Old Yeller thinks that Travis is coming after him with the whip so he runs off into the woods rather than helping.  Travis swings the whip at the bulls, but they keep fighting until Chongo runs Roany into a two wheeled cart, which goes flying down the hill with Roany inside of it.  The cart and bull land in the water and Roany gets up and runs of into the woods.  Chongo sees the spinning wheel of the cart and licks it, hurting his tongue, and then also runs off into the woods.  Travis finds the actions of the bulls funny but is upset that they did so much damage to the fence.

Little Arliss likes to capture everything he can find, both living and nonliving.  At night, Mama makes Little Arliss empty his pockets, never knowing what she will find there; there are often grasshoppers, bugs, or even once a copperhead snake.  Once Old Yeller came to live with the family Little Arliss started bringing home even bigger things, like rabbits, birds, and fish.  Little Arliss would make up a tall tale about catching the game all by himself in some farfetched way though it was obvious that Old Yeller was the hunter; Travis did not think it was good for Little Arliss to be telling such lies, but Mama let him finish his stories.  Travis is sure that Mama’s tolerance of Little Arliss’ stories is what led Little Arliss to try to catch a bear.

One day when Travis is splitting wood to rebuild the fence he hears Little Arliss’ scream coming from the woods; generally Travis would not be concerned because Little Arliss screams all the time but this time he could sense that it was a different kind of scream.  After Little Arliss screamed, there was a whimpering sound and then the unmistakable sound of a charging black bear.  Travis runs toward the sound and is chilled when he sees Little Arliss holding onto the hind leg of a bear cub; Little Arliss is too scared to let go and the bear is too scared to bite.  The mother bear is coming up quickly, intent on rescuing her baby.  Travis knows that neither he nor Mama will get to Little Arliss on time, and he is scared of what will happen when suddenly Old Yeller lunges at the mother bear and grabs onto her throat.  Travis convinces Little Arliss to let go of the cub and Mama grabs Little Arliss and runs back to the house with him.  Travis has his ax trained on the bear but sees that it is not necessary because Old Yeller is doing a good job of holding her off.  Travis runs back to the house then and soon Old Yeller joins them.  Little Arliss is crying and Old Yeller starts jumping and licking all over everyone.  Travis thinks that to Old Yeller the situation with the bear was just a game.

After Old Yeller rescues Little Arliss from the bear, Travis begins to appreciate him and also realizes how much he loves his brother.  To make amends for the way he treated both Old Yeller and Little Arliss, Travis brings them squirrel hunting.  They get into a routine where Little Arliss spooks the squirrels, Old Yeller chases them up the tree, and Travis shoots them; they return home one night with five squirrels for dinner.  Old Yeller also helps Travis to catch and shoot a turkey which had been eating the family’s peas.  When Old Yeller never eats any of the meat he is offered at dinner, Travis and Mama begin to suspect that he is stealing food from somewhere, but they forget about it for a little while.

Bud Searcy comes to visit; he is the only man left behind because according to Mama if he went he would spend too much time socializing and mooching other people’s food.  Bud’s eleven-year-old granddaughter Lisbeth comes with him; Travis likes Lisbeth because she is more laid back than other girls, but he never looks directly at her because he feels her eyes go right through him.  Bud asks Mama how everything is going because he feels it is his responsibility to make sure all of the women and children are doing well.  He makes small talk, about the other families in the area and the weather, and then mentions that someone or thing has been stealing food from the settlement.  The people who live around the Salt Licks are ready to kill the thief if he, she, or it is caught and Travis worries because he knows it must be Old Yeller.  Lisbeth pulls Travis aside and tells him that she has seen Old Yeller stealing ribs and eggs, but she will not tell because her dog is pregnant by Old Yeller, so she does not want him to be killed.  Travis gives her an Indian arrowhead as a thanks, and he worries that someone else might see Old Yeller stealing.  He offers Old Yeller an egg from the henhouse and, when the dog refuses it, Travis tells him he hopes he gets caught.

Travis tells Mama that Lisbeth saw Old Yeller stealing.  Mama tells Travis to tie Old Yeller up at night, but the dog bites free of his restraints.  Mama does not want the dog to sleep in the room with Travis and Little Arliss because she worries they will get fleas or ringworm, but Travis insists and when he catches ringworm he treats it himself without telling Mama about it.  Travis and Old Yeller grow close, and Old Yeller proves to be a big help to Travis and also a good companion.  Travis realizes that his father was right; he does need a good dog by his side.

Mama hopes that the cow named Rose will have a heifer calf which will give as much milk as she does and she is delighted when Rose does birth a heifer calf, which they call Spot.  Spot turns out to be quite wild and one day she comes up missing.  Mama thinks that Spot probably had a calf of her own and has holed herself up somewhere with the baby.  Travis goes looking for Spot, and when they find her, sure enough she has just given birth to a calf.  He throws rocks at Spot to try to get her to come out of hiding but all she does it charge at him with her horns until he runs off.  Travis goes back to the house to get Old Yeller, and when they return the dog runs around the cow, bites her on the nose, and plows into her until she falls over a couple times.  Finally, Travis is able to coax Spot home though she will not allow him to milk her until he places Old Yeller right in her face; she obviously does not want to go against the dog again.  Spot allows Travis to milk her, and, within days, she is broken to be a milking cow; Mama is very impressed.  It is not long before a man shows up at the house claiming that Old Yeller is his dog.

Burn Sanderson is the man who claims that Old Yeller belongs to him; he had told Bud Searcy that his dog was missing, and Bud had told him that Travis had the dog.  Mama tells Travis to go get Old Yeller and Travis is upset that Bud Searcy told Burn where the dog was.  Travis goes to get Old Yeller from down by the creek where he is playing with Little Arliss, and when he returns with the dog Burn Sanderson looks genuinely upset that he is taking the dog from the boys.  He offers to allow the family to keep the dog until Papa returns but Mama refuses because she believes the longer they have Old Yeller the harder it will be to let him go.  Burn Sanderson ties Old Yeller up and gets on the horse to leave when Little Arliss, finally catching on to what is happening, begins to yell and throw rocks at the man.  Rather than being upset Burn Sanderson smiles and goes to talk to Little Arliss; he tells the boy that they can keep the dog if Mama will make him a nice home-cooked meal.  Travis is very happy, and Mama makes a grand meal for Burn, which he is very appreciative of.  Burn Sanderson pulls Travis aside and tells him to watch out for hydrophobia, which is going around.  If Travis sees any animal that is acting strangely he must shoot it right away, rather than giving them any time to bite or scratch because then it will be too late.  Travis is fearful of this news, but he vows to protect his family at all costs.  The man places his hand on Travis’ shoulder before he leaves, just as Papa would do, and Travis is so scared of the hydrophobia that he forgets to thank Burn Sanderson for allowing them to keep Old Yeller.

The night that Burn Sanderson tells Travis about the plague of hydrophobia Travis has trouble sleeping, but when he wakes in the morning he has forgotten about the plague and is ready to take care of the hogs.  The hogs are all out on the range, and Travis needs to catch them, mark them, and castrate them one by one.  The hogs are wild and must fend for themselves. Therefore, they will eat other animals if they need to, or they will attack and eat people if they can.  Mama is nervous that Travis is going to be around the hogs, but Travis tells her that he will have Old Yeller with him so he will be fine, though she still worries.  Travis is not worried about the job because he and Papa had developed a method that worked pretty well and he hopes to stick with it as well as he can with Old Yeller; he needs Old Yeller to distract the hogs and chase them to the place where Travis needs them to be.  Travis picks an old oak tree as the place where he will mark the hogs, and he climbs up it.  Old Yeller’s job is to chase the hogs over to the tree, so Travis can rope them one at a time and hoist them up to him.  Travis marks the hogs on their ear with the marking that was assigned to his family; the markings help all of the settlers to know which hogs belong to which families.  The squealing of the pigs and the blood that drips from them after the castration angers the other pigs so when Travis is done he has to remain in the tree for another hour waiting for them to disperse.

When Travis marks the hogs, he keeps a piece each one’s ear, so he can be sure that he has marked all of them.  He thinks that he has marked them all but then Bud Searcy comes by and says there are hogs wandering around in bat cave country that Travis missed.  Travis knows where the caves are though he has never been there and decides to head out with Old Yeller in the morning.  The next morning, Travis and Old Yeller follow the hogs from the watering hole to the prickly-pear flats, where they are feeding, and Travis sees that there are five little pigs to mark.  Travis wants Old Yeller to get the pigs over to the mesquite tree, but the pigs hide under a dirt bank instead.  Travis must improvise so he uses the dirt bank above the cave as he would use a tree and lies on it to rope the pigs below him.  He gets one pig, but when he goes for a second one the bank breaks under his weight, and he falls onto a group of angry hogs.  Travis gets up and tries to run, but the hogs are too quick for him, and he is slashed in the back of the calf by a tusk.  Travis is overcome with pain and knows he cannot move fast enough to get away.  Suddenly Old Yeller jumps in between Travis and the angry hogs and he is tossed around and injured while ensuring that Travis has time to get to safety.  Travis gets far enough away that he can wrap his leg and then he comes back to find Old Yeller.  The hogs have left, and Old Yeller is hiding under a slab of rock, badly injured.  When Travis finally coaxes the dog out of hiding, he becomes teary-eyed at Old Yeller’s condition; he has dozens of open wounds, and his belly is torn so badly that his intestines are showing.  Travis puts Old Yeller back beneath the rock and blocks off the opening with a piece of wood to keep Old Yeller from trying to follow him home and to keep the dog safe until he can bring Mama back to try to help the dog.  Travis limps away, and Old Yeller howls after him.

Travis is incredibly weak by the time that he gets home, and he is trembling with fever.  Mama tends to Travis’ wound with turpentine and wraps it in new bandages.  When Travis tells Mama they need to go get Old Yeller, Mama tells Travis that he cannot move anywhere on his leg for a week, but Travis will not stay home; he gets Jumper the mule ready to go and by the time he is ready to set out Mama has come outside ready to go and wearing her bonnet.  Mama does not want Travis to have to hold onto Old Yeller on the way home so she rigs a sort of sled out of cowhide for Jumper to drag the dog on.  When they reach bat country, there are buzzards swarming and Travis fears that Old Yeller may be dead.  Suddenly the buzzards seem to be spooked by something and Travis hears Old Yeller’s weak barking sounds.  Travis gets to the dog and sees his eye shining crazily but then when the dog recognizes his owner he calms down.  Travis and Mama examine Old Yeller’s wounds without allowing a very scared Little Arliss to see that he is hurt; Mama sends him off to catch a lizard to distract him.  Mama uses a hair from Jumper’s tail to sew up Old Yeller’s stomach and they place him gently on the cowhide, wrapped in clean rags.  On the way home, Mama tells Little Arliss to hold onto Old Yeller on the cowhide, pretending that he is sick and needs to be cared for.  The dog whimpers in pain on the way home and Travis’ leg swells but eventually they all make it.  Travis is happy to have brought Old Yeller home alive and is amazed that the dog is in good enough spirits to lick Little Arliss’ face.

It is a few weeks that Travis and Old Yeller are laid up, and both of them are in incredible pain and suffering from fevers.  Mama mixes up several antidotes for Travis and tries to feed him and Old Yeller whenever they will eat.  Mama ends up taking over all of the chores with Travis laid-up and Little Arliss is not much help to her because he is so young and gets bored easily.  Bud Searcy comes by one day with Lisbeth and a puppy.  Lisbeth asks Travis how he is feeling and, wanting to sound tough, Travis tells her that he is doing alright.  Lisbeth tells Travis she has a surprise for him, and she presents him with a speckled puppy.  Travis seems to hurt Lisbeth’s feelings when he tells her that the puppy will be perfect for Little Arliss, because she leaves him alone afterward.  Travis feels bad he just believes he already has a dog and once Old Yeller is better they will not want to wait around for a puppy to keep up with them; the puppy would be better for Little Arliss because it would entertain him.  Lisbeth gives the puppy to Little Arliss, and Travis sees her look in at him as she and Bud Searcy are leaving.  Bud Searcy then tells Mama that since her husband is gone and Travis cannot help with chores he will leave Lisbeth to help out.  Mama wonders if the little girl will be of much help, but Bud Searcy assures her that Lisbeth is very tough and willing to help out.  As he leaves he tells Lisbeth to behave herself.

Travis and Mama both believe that Lisbeth is too little to help out much around the house, but she proves the two of them wrong.  Lisbeth works hard at her chores without being asked and is always looking for more ways to help out.  Lisbeth and Little Arliss both help Mama to gather corn and though gathering corn is not usually a job that Travis likes to do he finds that he wishes he could be outside helping them.  Travis feels as though his pride is bruised when this little girl can come in and do all of his chores for him, but he takes some solace in knowing that she cannot mark the hogs or kill animals for meat.  One day, Spot does not show up for her milking and when she returns in the morning Travis calls to Mama that she is back; Mama goes out to see Spot, but quickly yells and runs back into the house.  Spot had turned on Mama and tried to attack her so Mama wonders if she ate a poisonous pea-vine and went crazy, but Travis thinks that she probably has hydrophobia.  Everyone watches Spot carefully over the next few days while she walks around in circles and ignores her calf.  The bull called Roany wanders into the yard also, acting just as strangely as Spot though seemingly weaker.  Old Yeller knows the family is danger when he sees the bull, and he growls because the bull is heading toward Little Arliss and Lisbeth.  Travis calls for Mama to get his gun, but Mama runs after the children instead.  The bull tries to run for Mama but falls over, giving Travis the opportunity to shoot him.

Travis and Mama know that they must bring the dead roan bull somewhere to burn the body because being so close to the house it may contaminate the drinking water.  However, they find that Jumper cannot drag the carcass, so they must gather wood to burn the body where it lies.  The fire is huge but still takes two and a half days to completely burn the body; when wolves smell the meat they are drawn to the area but stay away from the fire and from Old Yeller, who is acting as a guard.  Travis remembers that Bud Searcy’s brother contracted hydrophobia, and he wishes that Papa would return home soon.  Mama tells Travis that he must kill Spot as well, and they will have to burn the heifer’s body to be sure that the other cows are not infected.  Travis follows Spot until she is in a place where it will be safe to burn her body without the danger of lighting the woods on fire, and he kills her.  Travis’ leg is in pain when he returns to Mama tells him to rest, and she and Lisbeth go out to gather wood and burn Spot’s carcass.  Travis tells the reader that had he known what was going to happen next he would have tried harder to keep them at home that day.  Travis falls asleep and when he wakes he see Little Arliss playing with the puppy though Mama and Lisbeth have still not returned; he realizes that it probably took a long time to gather wood.  Travis knows that Papa should be coming home soon, and he wonders if Papa will be bringing him a horse.  He mostly wants Papa to come home because of the hydrophobic plague.

As darkness begins to set in, Travis gets worried about Mama and Lisbeth, but he realizes that the task at hand may have taken a while and he cannot think of anything that would be a danger to them.  Travis brings Little Arliss and the puppy inside, and they eat a couple bowls of cornmeal and milk together.  When Travis is putting Little Arliss to bed, he hears dogs fighting outside and hears Mama yell for him to make a light and come outside with his gun.  Travis makes a light out of bear grass and heads outside with his gun where he is horrified to see Old Yeller fighting with a large wolf which Mama says is mad.  Travis does not want to fire at the wolf right away because he fears hitting Old Yeller, but when the wolf gets on top of the dog Travis gets his chance, and he shoots.  The wolf is dead, and Old Yeller licks Travis’ hand; the two of them collapse onto the ground together, and Mama sits with them.  Mama tells Travis that they stopped for water at Birdsong Creek and the wolf almost got her, but she hit it in the head with a stick and then Old Yeller kept it distracted while Mama and Lisbeth got away on Jumper.  Mama tells Travis that they got lucky, but Old Yeller is not so lucky; Travis realizes that Mama is telling him that Old Yeller is probably going to be mad now, and he needs to be killed.  Mama offers to do the job for Travis, but once he realizes that she is right, he reluctantly and sadly calls Old Yeller to him and then shoots him in the head.

Travis is so sad about Old Yeller that he cannot eat, sleep, or cry and feels empty inside.  Travis spends a lot of time thinking about how Old Yeller helped his family and Mama tries to talk with Travis about it to make him feel better, but it does not work.  Lisbeth reminds Travis that the puppy is part of Old Yeller, but Travis only thinks that the puppy has not helped to keep his family alive like Old Yeller did; he feels bad for shooting his dog when he did not even do anything to deserve it.  Soon the rain comes, and the hydrophobic plague is washed away from the land.  Papa comes home in the morning, thinner than he was when he left but happy to have money and a horse for Travis.  Travis appreciates the horse, but Papa can tell something is wrong with him.  Papa gets the story from Mama, and after dinner, he walks down to the creek with Travis and tells him that he knows about Old Yeller.  He tells Travis that he did exactly the right thing, just as a grown man would do, and he is proud of him.  Papa tells Travis to think about the good parts of each situation because if he dwells on the bad then all of life will be bad.  Travis understands what his father is saying, but he is still sad.  A week later, Travis hears Mama yelling at the puppy for stealing cornbread, Little Arliss crying because Mama hit the puppy, and Papa laughing at the whole situation; Travis feels a little better.  When Travis returns from riding his horse he sees Little Arliss playing naked in the water with the puppy and Travis starts laughing uncontrollably.  He decides that he will bring Little Arliss and the puppy squirrel hunting because if the puppy is going to act like Old Yeller he may as well be of use.

Vin is in her room, piles of paper all around her on the floor. She continues to sort through the pages, rearranging them as she rereads different parts. She even starts to take notes of some quotes that she wants to remember. OreSeur watches her, commenting that she should use the desk instead of the floor. Elend walks in, and he is amazed that she is researching. He is also impressed with her penmanship, based on the pretty letters in her notes. Elend takes Vin with him to meet the messenger that has come from his father’s army. Vin   is shocked to find that this messenger is also the man that was following her, the watcher. The messenger’s name is Zane, and he acts like an ambassador. Later, Vin and OreSeur wait outside for Zane. The two Mistborn spar, jumping from one rooftop to another. Zane says that Vin is different from the rest. She shouldn’t allow herself to be used by them. Vin doesn’t know what he means. When Zane leaves, Vin is sure she wants to spar with him more.

Zane comes back to his camp, or his father’s camp. He has a guard summon is father to the strategy tent. While waiting, he gives one of the soldiers strategic positions of the forces in Luthadel. Straff comes in and Zane tells him about the day’s activities, including what was said between Zane and Elend. They talk over a cup of tea. Straff, being a tineye, burns tin and smells poison in the tea he’s drinking. He knows Zane is always trying to poison him. He defiantly drinks the tea anyway and dismisses Zane. After, Straff summons one of his mistresses, a woman named Amaranta, who prepares a concoction of medicines in a special tea for Straff. He drinks the new tea, hoping he’ll live again this time.

Sazed has traveled six weeks worth of distance in six days, using his metalminds from time to time. Whenever a metalmind runs out, he leaves it on the ground, trying to lessen the amount of weight he has to carry. He notices several pillars of smoke ahead, sure sign that there is an army or camp of some kind. He is surprised to see that the army camp is made up of koloss, a dark blue kind of monster barbarian, once controlled by the Lord Ruler. Sazed is found by a koloss patrol. They force him to come down from the tree he was hiding in and follow them into the camp. Sazed is surprised once again to see that the man controlling these koloss is Jastes Lekal, a one-time friend of Elend Venture. Jastes says that he plans to conquer Luthadel as his own. He ends up letting Sazed go, under the condition that Sazed tell Elend about what he has seen. Sazed leaves, feeling even more urgency about getting to Luthadel.

Elends meets with his advisors–Ham, Breeze, Dockson, and Vin. Tindwyl is there, too. They try to talk Elend out of this plan he has to go into his father’s camp and trick him into fighting Cett. They don’t think Elend can con someone like that, but Elend is insistent that he can manipulate his father any time he wants. Plus, Elend argues, he’ll have Vin with him, in case Straff tries to take his own son hostage. Vin, listening in to the conversation, discovers through bronze that Breeze is soothing Elend to make him more confident. After the meeting, Tindwyl chastises Elend for not acting more like a king. Kings cannot doubt themselves. They must always feel that they are the right man for the job and convince others of the same through sheer confidence. The discussion is interrupted when Elend gets word that Cett’s daughter has arrived in Luthadel, looking for Breeze.

Cetts daughter, Allrianne, has left her father’s camp and come to Luthadel to see Breeze, whom she affectionately calls Breezy. Breeze is completely embarrassed by this, but the rest of the group gets a good laugh at his expense. Allrianne says she hated staying in her father’s camp; she needs comforts only a city can bring, like fresh water and a bed. After Allrianne leaves to freshen up, the group decides it may be beneficial to keep her. It may prevent her father from attacking too soon.

Vin, hides, suspended in the mists, just above Keep Venture. She spies on Ham as he walks across a courtyard. As she follows him, as a predetermined time, OreSeur jumps from behind some boxes and howls, scaring Ham. Ham reacts by flaring pewter. This confirms to Vin that he is not the kandra imposter. Vin admits to Ham that she is out of atium, meaning she’ll die the next time she fights a Mistborn with atium. She wonders is there is a secret to killing someone with atium. Ham doesn’t think so, although there have been some theories about how to do so. It may be possible, for example, to surprise them somehow. After that, Vin has a heart-to-heart with OreSeur. They talk about the way kandra are often treated, beaten by their own masters. They spot someone approaching the keep’s walls. It turns out to be Sazed, who has returned with, as he puts it, “problems and troubles.

Sazed is telling the group in the kitchens late at night, what he saw in the Koloss camp. They are not happy to know that a third army is on its way to Luthadel. Sazed does not know how Lekal is controlling the creatures, but the group does know that 20,000 koloss could beat an army of at least four times that many humans, meaning there is nothing stopping them from reaching and taking Luthadel. Finally, Sazed also share his fear regarding the mist killing people. He thinks something was released when the Lord Ruler was killed, although he never personally saw the mist kill anyone. Cett’s daughter comes walking in, half disheveled, asking what’s going on. They dismiss her and the group breaks apart, everyone either going to bed or to some corner to thin. Vin takes OreSeur outside to patrol. Back in his room, Sazed meets Tindwyl, an old friend of his. She criticizes him for returning and having strange theories about the mist.

Vin is outside, thinking about the beating she hears to the north, just like the writer of the log book, the supposed Hero of Ages. Zane finds her, and again he tries to convince her to leave Elend and Luthadel, claiming that she is being used by them and that she can do much better on her own, free to do as she pleases. Vin insists that she is very happy doing what she is doing and that no one is forcing her to do anything.

Vin is woken by a quiet bark of warning from OreSeur. She reacts by jumping out of bed, reaching for a dagger, and downing a vile of metals. She does all this before she realizes that the person that was “sneaking up on her” is actually Tindwyl the Terriswoman. Tindwyl obligates her to go shopping with herself and Allrianne, something Vin knows she will detest. They take a carriage to the market, the three women and OreSeur, who everything still assumes is just an ordinary wolfhound, along with Spook, who is forced to go to carry the girls’ bags. Vin manages to find a dress that she likes, and Tindwyl arranges for the dress to be made special for a Mistborn. Meanwhile, a someone has identifies Vin and a large crowd has gathered outside the storefront. Vin reluctantly goes outside to talk to them. They obviously worship her, calling her the Heir to the Survivor–Kelsier. She tries to say something that will inspire hope, but she feels that she is really just lying to them. Meanwhile, Elend is at the wall when Straff’s men attack. The guards and archers on the wall are in a total panic, and they barely kill a few of the invading wave before it retreats to the Venture camp. This was a test, just to try out Luthadel’s defenses, it is explained to Elend. Straff is sending a message, just before Elend is supposed to go out to the camp and talk to his father.

Vin opens the box sent from the dress maker, happy to find that the new dress is very well designed for a Mistborn, allowing her to move and fight freely. It even has secret hiding places for her daggers and some vials of metal. OreSeur does not think going is a good idea, since Vin and Elend would be alone in Straff’s army camp. Vin knows she must go anyway. Elend and Vin ride into the camp. Over the meal, Elend tries to manipulate Straff, but the man seems to catch on too quickly. Then he sends Vin out of the tent, so they can talk alone, father and son.

Straff and Elend talk inside, and things don’t seem to be going very well for Elend. Straff says he’ll just have Elend killed and demand Luthadel to open the gates to him. Elend says that if he is killed, Vin will kill Straff. Vin is outside, listening. She begins to manipulate Straff’s emotions, making him feel afraid. Finally, she smoothes away everything–every emotion he has, leaving him feeling empty and dead inside. The trick works, and Elend and Vin get out of the camp safe. Meanwhile, Zane has a little chat with Vin outside the tent, telling her that she is nothing but a knife to Elend. After they are gone, Straff commands Zane to kill Vin. Back in Luthadel, Elend learns that the assembly has voted to remove him as king.

The group meets together to see what they’re going to do about the assembly’s vote. They try to figure out if the assembly already has someone else in mind to put on the thrown, or if they simple want to send a warning to Elend because he has been ignoring them of late. The discussion leads to an argument between Breeze and Ham, as always, and Vin gets a taste of kandra humor when OreSeur whispers that he could always eat one of them and solve the argument. Later, Elend gets another lesson from Tindwyl about how a proper kind should act.

At night, Vin and OreSeur have a talk. OreSeur doesn’t think it’s healthy for Vin to keep herself awake for long periods of time, burning pewter to stay strong. He also doesn’t like the way Vin treats Zane, who should be her enemy. In the middle of the conversation, Vin realizes that she’s figured out what the Deepness is.

Sazed is in his room, studying and transcribing the rubbings he found. He knows that these few pages of transcribed text could keep him busy for months or even years. Vin enters through his window and wants to talk to him about the deepness. Sazed talks about if the deepness is even real or if it’s just a made-up story, some propaganda spun by the Lord Ruler. Vin says she thinks it’s real and tells Sazed that she thinks it’s actually the mist itself. The log book and the rubbings don’t say the mist actually killed people but that people died because of the mist. That could be because a permenant mist that covered the ground would kill crops and live stalk, leaving people to die of starvation. Vin also tells Sazed about the mist spirit that has been following her.

The assembly gathers, and Elend gets an opportunity to explain what he has done with his father. He uses twenty minutes to tell of the situation with the two armies and how his meeting with Straff went. He tells them that he used Vin’s power to threaten Straff, a move that may protect the city for some time yet. Meanwhile, Vin tries to pay attention to Elend’s meeting. She sees Zane in the crowd, and he smiles at her. They then have nominations for who should run for king. Elend and Lord Penrod are nominated, and, lastly, Cett is nominated. The man reveals himself to be in the crowd.

Vin watches in shock as Cett reveals himself to the crowd and to the assembly. He uses his army outside the gates to threaten the people into voting for him. He also tells the crowd about the koloss army not too far away, a fact that Elend hasn’t told anyone.

Vin sits in her room, studying the stacks of papers she has there. OreSeur is there with her, and they talk about the religious beliefs of the kandra. They practically worship the Contract above all else, the agreement they have with their human masters. Meanwhile, Elend discovers that some of the wells in Luthadel are being poisoned by someone, probably one of the armies outside. Vin talks to Dockson, and in the conversation, she determines that he can’t be the spy. She and OreSeur turn their attentions toward a new option: Demoux, a captain of the guard.

Elend works to find a way to convince the assembly to name him king again, while Vin wants to tell him her theory about Demoux. Tindwyle gets upset with Sazed when she finds out that he helped write part of the laws Elend put into place a year ago. Vin leaves the group and finds Zane, who immediately attacks her. She thinks he wants to spar, like before, but the fight becomes aggressive and Vin must fight him to survive. Zane tells her that he was ordered to kill her and that this attack was a warning. There are also many refugees coming from the koloss army, on their way to seek refuge in Luthadel. After giving his two warnings, Zane leaves.

Vin tries on another custom-made dress. Tindwyl tells her that Elend has nearly learned as much as he can from her; he’ll now have to learn to be a good leader through experience. Elend prepares his armored escort and carriage to go and see Cett. Breeze decides not to go, since he and Cett have history, which would only make the situation worse. When Elend and Vin actually enter the keep Cett is staying in and talk to the man, they discover just how sincere he is. He doesn’t want his daughter back, trusting that Elend will take good care of her. Cett wants Elend to step down from the election for king, and in return he won’t have Elend killed when he is made king. They also talk about the fact that no atium was found in all of Luthadel. Finally, Cett dismisses the two.

Sazed wanders through warehouse full of refugees from the koloss attacks, trying to help and health where he can. Tindwyl comes in and talks to him. She wants to see what he’s found–the rubbings he’s been transcribing. Meanwhile, Breeze has been listening in on the conversation, soothing both people in a way that would make them more friendly to each other. He walks among the refugees, trying to sooth away bad emotions and make them feel better. Elend and Ham come in, and Elend wants to make sure all the people have the clothes they need. Later, Breeze goes into the keep and has a secret meeting with Clubs. Though they always seem to hate each other, they drink together and talk; they’ve struck up a strange companionship. Allrianne walks in and tries to steal Breeze away. Vin, watching from outside, discovers that Allrianne is a rioter, since she was rioting Breeze’s emotions. She and OreSeur then go to find Demoux, still certain that he is the kandra spy. They find him in a little meeting of the church of the Survivor. He can’t be a spy, Vin decides. Then who is?

Sazed and Tindwyl sit together in the study, pouring over the rubbings, searching their metalminds for any references to the deepness or Hero of Ages. It’s morning, meaning they’ve been at it all night long. Tindwyl knows the course of actions Sazed takes is different from what the keepers want, but she is willing to stay with him and study these things further. Meanwhile, Elend and Ham walk along the wall. Ham comments that Elend looks more kingly than ever. As they walk, Elend announces that he has an idea to help Luthadel’s situation.

Vin, Elend, and the rest of the crew arrive early for the day of the election for king. Before the voting begins, Vin, trying to figure out what Elend has up his sleeve, discovers that he has joined the church of the Savior, in an effort to curry votes from the skaa members of the assembly. Suddenly, a groups of allomancers attack Elend and Cett. Vin manages to fight off the men, getting badly hurt in the process. After the fighting, the vote is moved to a more secure location, and the assembly members each announce their vote. Surprisingly, Penrod, a nobleman from the assembly is chosen the new king. Elend hands over his crown and leaves.

Straff Venture is angry that Zane sent a group of his allomancers to their deaths while Vin still lives. Zane promises that he has a plan to take care of her. Meanwhile, Straff meets with Penrod, the new king of Luthadel. Penrod is planning to give Luthadel to Straff, opening the gates to him and handing over the kingship.  Straff, on the other hand, doesn’t want to enter the city while Vin still lives. Later, Zane tells Straff that he has been poisoned again. Zane leaves, and Straff is forced to ride hard back into the camp so his mistress can make him another antidote tea.

Vin awakes to see that Elend is with her. He tells her that he is not king, and he reports that OreSeur, who was badly hurt in the fight, is currently digesting a new set of bones. Vin feels that Elend is now scared of her somehow because of the way she fought those allomancers. Vin goes back to sleep, and awakes to find Zane there. He accuses her, saying that she could have killed those attackers easily had she not been so distracted with protecting Elend and other innocents. Later, OreSeur visits Vin, in another dog’s body. They talk more about the Contract that binds all kandra. Vin uses brass and duralumin to push strongly on OreSeur’s emotions. Even though he at first does not react at all, with enough force, Vin hurts him very badly, and she felt like she were controlling him for a moment. She apologizes for hurting OreSeur, and he leaves to get some rest. Vin promise to never tell anyone what she’s discovered about kandra.

Sazed and Tindwyl continue to talk about the things they are learning. Something doesn’t make sense about the rubbings, written by Kwaan. It seems that Kwaan did not trust Alendi, but he also knew Alendi was a good man. But if Kwaan knew Alendi was good, why did he have his nephew, Rashek, to mislead or even kill Alendi? Elend comes in and asks for advice. After a discussion, he decides that being king isn’t about a title, but about doing something to help others. He returns to his closet and retrieves the white suite, the one made for a king.

Elend is hard at work, helping the people. He’s sending men out to dismantle the wooden parts of keeps and houses to use as firewood. The many refugees are cold and hungry, and he wants to help them. Someone comes with news that one of the gates under the river has been broken. That is how someone has been getting into the city and poisoning the wells. Also, other reports say that an Inquisitor is lurking about the city. Elend decides to go out and talk to Jastes, with the koloss army, himself. He rides out and meets Jastes, unable to make any kind of deal. On the way out, Elend manages to fight and kill one smaller koloss, earning the sword and pouch as his own. He looks into the pouch and discovers how Jastes is controlling the koloss. He’s paying them.

Vin sees Elend, now returned from his meet with the koloss army, inured and resting. Zanes comes and says that Cett was the one that planed the attack at the voting ceremony. Vin gets angry and decides to attack Cett. Zane and Vin attack the keep that Cett has been staying at in Luthadel. Together, they kill guards and hazekillers. Fueled by rage, Vin kills quickly, working her way to Cett’s room. She realizes that Zane is using atium, while she has none, and yet she’s killing just as easily as he is. They finally get to Cett’s room, where he is with his son. Vin fights them at first, but when she discovers that neither of them is an allomancer and that Cett doesn’t have a single allomancer with him, she leaves them behind, injured and scared.

The crew sees that Cett’s army is now leaving, a result of Vin’s attack on his keep the night before. Elend does not know why Vin attacked Cett like that. Some in the crew think she’s crazy, but Elend just sees her as determined. They also discover that the “coins” Jastes has been using to control   the koloss are fake, wooden coins painted gold. Elend goes to find Vin, who is hiding in the city. He finds her with OreSeur’s help. She says she must leave Luthadel and go north, to Terris. Elend says he trust her to do the right thing. They have one large bead of atium, and Vin gives it to OreSeur to hold for her.

Sazed and Tindwyl compare notes, studying the rubbing and other references they’ve managed to find. Tindwyl admits that she doesn’t believe in these prophecies, her interest in them being purely academic. Sazed, on the other hand, thinks Vin might actually be the next Hero of the Ages. While they talk, they discover that someone–or something–has torn a piece from one of the transcription pages. Vin comes in, while they try to figure out at what point were they both gone or occupied to not have seen an intruder going through their things. Vin asks Sazed how she can know if she’s in love. They talk about trust. After Vin leaves, Elend comes in and starts asking similar questions. Elend thinks he and Vin are too different to make a couple, but Sazed says that, to him, they are more alike than they think. After Elend leaves, Sazed realizes that Luthadel is going to fall soon; he needs to get both Elend and Vin out of the city before that happens.

Sazed calls a meeting with the members of the crew: Dockson, Breeze, Ham, and Clubs. He doesn’t invite Elend, Vin, or Spook. They talk about how the city is sure to fall. Straff apparently is in no hurry to take Luthadel. Instead, he’ll back off and let the koloss attack the city first. The koloss will win and enter the city, pillaging as they go. Then, with the koloss weakened and tired from the fight, Venture will ride in like a hero and save the city, defeating the koloss and taking Luthadel for himself. Sazed says that Elend and Vin need to get out of the city before these things happen. He wants Spook and Tindwyl to go with them. The rest of the group will have to stay and fight and die. Meanwhile, Vin feels she must follow the drumming she hears all the time. In Straff’s camp, Zane is attacked by his father’s men. He defeats them, but spares his father. He leaves, saying that tonight he will take Vin with him and leave Luthadel. He tells Straff that he should wait for the koloss to attack and then take the city.

Vin is in her room with OreSeur when Zane visits. He wants her to come with him, but she says she can’t because she doesn’t want to leave Elend. When Zane sees that she won’t go, he attacks her. They fight. When Zane starts to burn atium, Vin asks OreSeur for the large bead, a bead Zan had given her before. OreSeur doesn’t respond to her command. Vin discovers that OreSeur is not OreSeur. He is TenSoon, Zane’s kandra. Of course! There was no other spy. The bones they found were TenSoon’s and he had killed OreSeur! Zane corners Vin, but Vin uses a massive soothing to take control of OreSeur/TenSoon and attack Zane from behind. She then cuts the bead of atium fro TenSoon. But this is another trick. The bead is lead, with only a thin layer of atium. Soon, Vin is left helpless against a Mistborn killer with atium. Vin decides that Zane can see what she’s about to do, or, rather, what she plans on doing. If she attacks without thinking, though, she can, see in Zane’s reaction what she is going to do, only to change it at the last possible second. The trick works, and Vin defeats Zane. After Zane dies, she thanks OreSeur/TenSoon for helping her win. His contract is void, and he must return to his people. Vin goes to find Elend.

Elend is in his study when Vin comes in, bloody from her fight with Zane. She tells him that she killed him. He calls for Sazed, who comes to help with the wounds. While she is there, on the ground, she asks Sazed if he knows any wedding ceremonies. Of course, he knows hundreds. Vin asks which one is the shortest, and Sazed recalls one that only requires a declaration of love between the bride and groom before an ordained witness. Vin and Elend both say that they love each other, and Sazed declares them married. The wounds are clean, and Sazed sends Vin to get some rest. He also gives them a fake map to find the Well of Ascension. If the couple follows the map, they’ll be gone from Luthadel for a long time.

Elend and Vin prepare to ride out of the city. Tindwyl decides to stay in Luthadel. Spooks gets ready to go, and Allrianne will ride out, at Breeze’s insistence. So the four of them ride out, Vin quickly having to fight pursuers from Straff’s army. Once they are free, Allrianne breaks off to find her father’s army. Meanwhile, some of the crew watch as the escape, now sure of their own coming doom. Straff Venture hears of the escapes, but he has problems of his own now. He’s getting sick, which he knows is the result of poisoning from his son, Zane. He sends for his mistress, Amaranta, to fix him an antidote, but he discovers that she isn’t preparing what she normally does. She is actually killing, as she has for a long time. There never was any poison. Zane never tried to kill his father. But Amaranta, in her constant fixing of teas for Straff, has been causing him to become addicted to a rare drug. Without that drug, Straff will die. Straff, in a rage, kills Amaranta and then swallows as much powder from her medicine cabnet as he can, hoping to accidentally swallow some of the drug he needs before he loses consciousness.

Allrianne has made her way to her father’s camp, with the help of some bandits she’s tamed with her rioting. Her father, Cett, is not happy to see her. She convinces him to go back and join the winning party in the battle that is to come, although Cett promises that will likely be Straff. Meanwhile, Elend wakes up on the third morning out of Luthadel. He and Vin share a tent now, and he finds himself surprisingly comfortable on the hard ground, with Vin next to him. They get up and prepare the fire. It’s just the three of them: Elend, Vin, and Spook. Meanwhile Straff wakes up in bed. His men have taken care of him, and they’ve isolated the plant he needs to stay alive. When he hears that Vin and Elend have left the city, the men ask if they should attack now. Straff says no; they should pull back and wait for the koloss. Sazed meets with the others to plan a strategy for when the koloss attack. They plan to have a group of men at each gate. Saze and Tindwyl get a little time together, but then the warning drums begin to beat.

Vin is thinking about how the mist is staying later and later every day, instead of just disappearing with dawn, when she feels the pulsing of the mist spirit coming from Elend’s tent. She runs in, just in time to see the outline of that spirit lift some kind of knife to attack Elend, who is sleeping on the ground. She attacks the spirit and it disappears. Elend wakes up and never knows what was happening. She leaves Elend to sleep a little more and goes out to speak with Spook. He thinks someone is following them. Meanwhile, Sazed and the crew get ready, since it looks like the Koloss are about to attack. Men are at each gate, with one crewmember there to help. Straff sees that the koloss are attacking, but he tells his men to wait. Vin and Elend attack the camp of people that have been following them. It turns out to be Jastes. He’s lost control of the koloss, so he just left them. Elend kills Jastes because of his crimes against Luthadel. Vin discovers that the drumming sounds are getting softer, meaning the well is to the south, in Luthadel, and not in the Terris mountains.

Breeze works at his assigned gate, soothing soldiers by the dozen, helping them to be brave and fight well. The koloss pound at the door, while men atop the wall rain arrows down on the attackers. The koloss throw rocks up in return, smashing archers. Meanwhile, Vin runs towards Luthadel, burning pewter. She knows she will run out of pewter long before reaching Luthadel, and she wonders if the effect will kill her. But still she keeps running. Breeze and Clubs talk while the koloss continue to beat the gate. They blame themselves for being stupid enough to be in this mess, and they blame Kelsier for getting them into such responsibilities. Just then, the gates burst open. Meanwhile, Sazed gets word that Breeze’s gate had fallen. He doesn’t think he can really help. He notices that there is a crowd of skaa standing behind the defense force. When Sazed confronts them, telling them that they should flee to safety inside the city, the skaa answer that they are there to witness the fall of the koloss at the hands of Vin, who they are sure will return and make her appearance at Sazed’s gate. Then the gate breaks. Sazed musters his stored strength, growing in size, and faces the lead koloss, shouting for the men to fight. Vin, half collapsing and out of pewter, reaching a small village. At first she thinks to ask for pewter, but then she remembers how she used to travel with Kelsier on a path of metal bars in the ground. She asks for horseshoes, using them to “walk” by leaping, placing horseshoes ahead of her and pulling the ones behind to place further. In this way, she uses the horseshoes like stilts to help her travel in the air.

Outside Luthadel, Straff Venture sees that the koloss have now broken into the city gates. His men are ready to attack the koloss from the rear, but Straff decides to wait longer. Sazed, fighting the koloss, realizes that they need to get the gate closed again in order to survive. Using strength and weight, he manages to fight off the koloss and get the gate closed again. While getting a little break, a messenger comes and says that Tindwyl’s gate fell over an hour ago. Meanwhile, Clubs and Breeze are attacked and forced to run. Clubs is killed, while Breeze hides in a building. Dockson contemplates the root of their failure. He attacks a koloss, only to be cut down. Straff decides not to swoop in a save the city while the koloss are weak. Instead, he’d rather wait for the koloss to kill everyone and burn the city. Then Straff will move in. Meanwhile, Sazed fights on, wondering what happened to Tindwyl. He feels he is going to die, but then Vin arrives and starts killing koloss. Breeze is found by Ham and some others. They want to try to escape.

Vin continues killing koloss, several at a time. Sazed, outside Lord Penrod’s keep, begs the newly appointed king to go with them as they try to escape. Penrod insists on staying inside his keep. Vin continues to fight the koloss, but now she is almost completely out of pewter, steel, and almost every other metal. In desperation, to save some skaa from certain death, she super-soothes them, like she’d done to TenSoon, controlling the koloss with her mind. Sazed is standing outside Penrod’s keep when Vin walks up with koloss in tow. She orders Penrod to gather his men and put out the fires in Luthadel. Vin will take care of the koloss throughout the city. Later, Sazed finds Tindwyl’s dead body among the slain soldiers. He feels that all the faith, all the religions, he has always treasured is now useless. His life, he believes, has been a sham.

Straff wakes up and takes a sample of the drug he needs to stay alive. He gathers his men, expecting to be able to take the city now. But the koloss come out with the remaining soldiers of Luthadel. Vin jumps from among the koloss, sailing through the sky with a giant sword, cleaving Straff and his horse in half on impact. Allrianne watches these events from her father’s camp. She charges after them to help Luthadel’s army, forcing her father and his men to ride after her. Straff’s army surrenders, and Janarle, Straff’s general, is named the new Lord of the Venture army. Janarle, Penrod, and Cett all swear loyalty to Elend as their Emperor. Vin, needing rest, leaves Sazed in charge of the Empire until Elend can return to Luthadel.

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