The main hero (later called Horse) is of a rather rich family, and had all the conveniences in life one could dream of, but he was discontent with this life and wanted to live among equals. He decided to go to the West, which at that time had not been conquered yet. There he was captured by Indians of the tribe Crow.
The Indians brought him to their camp. On the road they were very rude, tied a robe on his neck and made him walk among the captured horses, later they let him ride a spare horse, as it took them less time to get home.
The Indian who captured him was called Yellow Robe, and he presented his old mother with this white man. At their tepee he lived like a dog. They threw him meat in grass, and he had to drink water from the paddle like a dog. At that moment he considered that being a horse is of more benefit than being a dog.
There were four of them in this tepee: Yellow Robe, his mother who was called Old Greasy Hand, his sister Pretty Calf, and his wife, but the hero could not understand what her name was. Days passed and he got used to the environment and even began to understand their language. One day he asked the Old Greasy Hand what his name was, and proposed himself to call him Horse, she did not mind, because she did not care.
The Indians got used to the white man as well, and even took them on hunting. One day he managed to kill an Indian from a hostile tribe, thus having won respect and some property – two horses, that belonged to that Indian.
Horse got attached to Pretty Calf, and soon she became his wife. He called her Freedom. But he still dreamed of returning home, and telling his acquaintances of his adventures. Pretty Calf told him a lot of different customs and traditions that they had. Some of them he considered silly and meaningless. He could not understand them. For example, as it turned out her brother, Yellow Robe, had one more wife, but another Indian just took her away, and he, Yellow Robe, had no right to fight for her, or take her home with force, or even show that he was hurt. No emotions were permitted in this case.
But Yellow Robe was really hurt. He was much respected in the camp, and was honored to wear the bearskin belt, meaning that in every next battle he had to be the first one without a right to step back. At the end of the summer he died. The old woman cut her hair and one of her fingers showing her sorrow. Now Horse understood why she had no fingers – she had already lost three sons, and now she lost the fourth one.
Horse learnt out that his wife was pregnant, and he decided to put aside his escape for some time. When delivering his son, she did. Neither survived the baby. Old Greasy Hand cut off the last of her fingers, thus she could not work at all. He knew that after wife’s death he had no responsibilities for her family, but he could not leave this old woman.
He returned Boston three years later, but told nothing of what he has experienced, just that he was a captive in Crow tribe. Now he was the equal of any man on earth.