One Fourth of July, Nick was driving home late from town with Joe Garner and his family. They passed nine drunken Indians along the road, and Joe dragged one of them out of the wheel rut to prevent him from getting run over. The group discussed the Indians and their behavior, as well as Nick's supposed Indian girlfriend, Prudence Mitchell. Nick felt happy to be teased about Prudence, even though he denied that she was his girlfriend.
When they arrived at the Garner's farmhouse, Nick thanked them for the day and declined their offer to stay for supper. He walked home through the meadow and woods, and found his father waiting for him. They talked about the day's events, and Nick's father mentioned that he had seen Prudence in the woods with Frank Washburn. Nick was upset by this news and went to bed with a broken heart.
I saw your friend, Prudie. She was in the woods with Frank Washburn. I ran onto them. They were having quite a time.
During the night, Nick heard the wind in the trees and the waves on the shore, and eventually fell asleep. In the morning, he woke up to a big wind blowing and the waves running high on the beach. It took him a while to remember that his heart was broken.
My heart's broken, he thought. If I feel this way my heart must be broken.