The cabin was as they had left it. Only the crimson bakneesh had grown up about it, and shrubs and tall grass had sprung up near its walls. Once more it took on life, and day by day the color came deeper into Joan’s cheeks, and her voice was filled with its old wild sweetness of song. Joan’s husband cleared the trails over his old trap-lines, and Joan and the little Joan, who romped and talked now, transformed the cabin into home. One night the man returned to the cabin late, and when he came in there was a glow of excitement in Joan’s blue eyes, and a tremble in her voice when she greeted him.
“Did you hear it?” she asked. “Did you hear—the call?”
He nodded, stroking her soft hair.
“I was a mile back in the creek swamp,” he said. “I heard it!”
Joan’s hands clutched his arms.
“It wasn’t Kazan,” she said. “I would recognize his voice. But it seemed to me it was like the other—the call that came that morning from the sand-bar, his mate?”
The man was thinking. Joan’s fingers tightened. She was breathing a little quickly.
“Will you promise me this?” she asked, “Will you promise me that you will never hunt or trap for wolves?”
“I had thought of that,” he replied. “I thought of it—after I heard the call. Yes, I will promise.”
Joan’s arms stole up about his neck.
“We loved Kazan,” she whispered. “And you might kill him—or her”
Suddenly she stopped. Both listened. The door was a little ajar, and to them there came again the wailing mate-call of the wolf. Joan ran to the door. Her husband followed. Together they stood silent, and with tense breath Joan pointed over the starlit plain.
“Listen! Listen!” she commanded. “It’s her cry, and it came from the Sun Rock!”
She ran out into the night, forgetting that the man was close behind her now, forgetting that little Joan was alone in her bed. And to them, from miles and miles across the plain, there came a wailing cry in answer—a cry that seemed a part of the wind, and that thrilled Joan until her breath broke in a strange sob.
Farther out on the plain she went and then stopped, with the golden glow of the autumn moon and the stars shimmering in her hair and eyes. It was many minutes before the cry came again, and then it was so near that Joan put her hands to her mouth, and her cry rang out over the plain as in the days of old.
“Kazan! Kazan! Kazan!”
At the top of the Sun Rock, Gray Wolf—gaunt and thinned by starvation—heard the woman’s cry, and the call that was in her throat died away in a whine. And to the north a swiftly moving shadow stopped for a moment, and stood like a thing of rock under the starlight. It was Kazan. A strange fire leaped through his body. Every fiber of his brute understanding was afire with the knowledge that here was home. It was here, long ago, that he had lived, and loved, and fought—and all at once the dreams that had grown faded and indistinct in his memory came back to him as real living things. For, coming to him faintly over the plain, he heard Joan’s voice!