Gus' family moved to Indian country in 1871, with two Percherons and an ornery but intelligent mule, Thee, whom Gus had ""ridden, pulled, yanked and chased"" all the way from Alabama to Texas. When the Percherons disappear, Gus is sent to look for them and encounters a series of lively adventures, meeting other settlers and General Sherman, who has just been sent to settle the Indians, and then being captured by Kiowas. He witnesses the Salt Creek Massacre of a wagon train carrying army supplies and reports on it to Sherman, making clear the threat of Indians to homesteaders. But Thee is the real hero here, acting as protector of Gus and his newly acquired Kiowa friend, Little Hawk. Thee develops from a playful, peace-loving mule to a sensitive friend who communicates believably with Little Hawk ""in Indian."" Teague convincingly describes the massacre and how Sherman was spared, as well as the details of frontier life from a 13-year-old point of view; he is evenhanded and nonjudgmental in presenting both sides in the struggle between Native American and white. There is a sincere, old-fashioned tone to the writing, which is not unwelcome; but chapter heads are stiff (""Indians!"" or ""Wagon Train Attack""), and the title is misleading: Little Hawk rides away on Thee as Gus' gift; Thee has long been his friend.