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Please, Squant, grant me patience," prays thirteen-year-old Weetamoo, to the Being who watches over girls and women. It is 1653 in southern New England, and Weetamoo, daughter of the sachem (chief) of the Pocassets, has been ordered by her parents to spend some time each day reflecting on what she had said and done. Weetamoo knows she must prepare for the time when she will be sachem of her people, but she would rather be digging clams, snaring rabbits, and running races. Weetamoo looks forward to the harvest gathering when she will see her friend Cedar from the neighboring village as well as Wamsutta and Metacom, sons of Massasoit, the main sachem, although she says, "I do not like those boys." There are days of feasting and storytelling and an archery contest against Wamsutta. Weetamoo is very pleased with herself when she beats him!
As cold weather approaches, the people move inland to their winter village. Weetamoo's father makes a journey to Plimoth, home of the English colonists (Coat-men). Weetamoo, forbidden to accompany him, skulks behind. She spies on the Coat-men's village and is surprised when a Coat-woman greets her and gives her a gift of rosemary. A large winter gathering brings everyone together again. It is a time for celebration and games, but also a time of sadness as Weetamoo's family learns that their frail baby Snowbird is gravely ill and no medicine will cure her.
Not long after, the Powwaw (medicine man) tells Weetamoo that it is time for her and Cedar's learning ceremonies. An intense three days follow, and both girls are changed by this experience. Each sees dreams or visions of what the future might be, and it worries and frightens them. Weetamoo says, "I used to think that this fasting time would be all about becoming splendid hunters and warriors and councillors, but I can see now I was wrong…It seems to be more about us learning sorrow." When Weetamoo asks the Powwaw what it all means, he tells her "It is all about keeping the fire alive." She wonders what he means.
After their ceremonies, Weetamoo and Cedar are included in the next deer hunt. Weetamoo has mixed feelings about it. "I should feel happy, but there is some heaviness in my heart. I cannot say what it is." Returning a week later, after a very successful hunt, Weetamoo learns that her baby sister Snowbird has died. The family is grief-stricken and deeply mourns the loss of "The One Who Went Away."
Spring comes, and all the people gather at the great waterfall, Exploding Rocks, for the annual fish-run. Many salmon are caught. Weetamoo sees Wamsutta, but now she feels quite differently about him. She recalls, "how handsome his uplifted chin, and how his dark eyes flash." Weetamoo realizes she cares for Wamsutta, and expresses her love for him. She says, "I think we both knew we would someday be married. Someday, not just yet."
Weetamoo and her family return to their seaside village and begin to plant their crops. Mother is expecting a new baby in the fall, and Weetamoo looks forward to "our new Forming Person" and a rich corn harvest. She now understands the Powwaw's words, as she says, "Planting corn and giving birth. Ruling our people well... It is about keeping the fire going."