Kazan watched him as he entered the tent. He laid his weight against the end of his chain until the collar shut off his wind. His legs and back twitched. In that tent where Radisson had gone were Joan and the baby. He knew that Pierre would not hurt them, but he knew also that with Pierre Radisson something terrible and impending was hovering very near to them. He wanted the man outside—by the fire—where he could lie still, and watch him.
In the tent there was silence. Nearer to him than before came Gray Wolf’s cry. Each night she was calling earlier, and coming closer to the camp. He wanted her very near to him to-night, but he did not even whine in response. He dared not break that strange silence in the tent. He lay still for a long time, tired and lame from the day’s journey, but sleepless. The fire burned lower; the wind in the tree-tops died away; and the thick gray clouds rolled like a massive curtain from under the skies. The stars began to glow white and metallic, and from far in the North there came faintly a crisping moaning sound, like steel sleigh-runners running over frosty snow—the mysterious monotone of the Northern Lights. After that it grew steadily and swiftly colder.
To-night Gray Wolf did not compass herself by the direction of the wind. She followed like a sneaking shadow over the trail Pierre Radisson had made, and when Kazan heard her again, long after midnight, he lay with, his head erect, and his body rigid, save for a curious twitching of his muscles. There was a new note in Gray Wolf’s voice, a wailing note in which there was more than the mate-call. It was The Message. And at the sound of it Kazan rose from out of his silence and his fear, and with his head turned straight up to the sky he howled as the wild dogs of the North howl before the tepees of masters who are newly dead.
Pierre Radisson was dead.
OUT OF THE BLIZZARD
It was dawn when the baby snuggled close to Joan’s warm breast and awakened her with its cry of hunger. She opened her eyes, brushed back the thick hair from her face, and could see where the shadowy form of her father was lying at the other side of the tent. He was very quiet, and she was pleased that he was still sleeping. She knew that the day before he had been very near to exhaustion, and so for half an hour longer she lay quiet, cooing softly to the baby Joan. Then she arose cautiously, tucked the baby in the warm blankets and furs, put on her heavier garments, and went outside.
By this time it was broad day, and she breathed a sigh of relief when she saw that the storm had passed. It was bitterly cold. It seemed to her that she had never known it to be so cold in all her life. The fire was completely out. Kazan was huddled in a round ball, his nose tucked under his body. He raised his head, shivering, as Joan came out. With her heavily moccasined foot Joan scattered the ashes and charred sticks where the fire had been. There was not a spark left. In returning to the tent she stopped for a moment beside Kazan, and patted his shaggy head.