In this tardy sequel to 1971's Incident at Hawk's Hill, seven-year-old Ben MacDonald is again lost, this time on huge Lake Winnipeg, then rescued by Metis Indians, into whose uniformly noble hearts he strikes awe with his amazing ability to communicate with animals. After recapping the events leading to the death of the beloved female badger, Eckert starts the new story with its burial, then advances nine months where a chance encounter with brutal trader George Burton sends Ben scrambling for cover. Only too late does he discover that the boat he borrows is oarless; helplessly, he drifts down the Red River into open water. Fortunately, a young hunter spots him, and soon Ben is lodged with the Metis, settlers of mixed Cree and French descent, studying long lists of multisyllabic Cree words. Meanwhile, Ben's family searches for him frantically. Eckert is not one for complex characterization, either personal or cultural; Burton is dirty, violent, and cowardly, while Ben is so saintly that he is adopted into a family as Ka Kakekinit, the ""Chosen One."" The point of view switches often, allowing for only rare glimpses of the lyrical descriptions of the natural world for which Eckert is known. In the end, the MacDonalds are reunited, Burton is decisively run off, and Ben's father apologizes for his previously expressed prejudice against ""half-breeds."" This bland and simplistic wilderness adventure responds to--without satisfying--readers who wanted to know ""What happened next?