Leaning against the side of the cabin was an ax. Weyman seized it, and his lips smiled silently. He was thrilled by a strange happiness, and a thousand miles away in that city on the Saskatchewan he could feel another spirit rejoicing with him. He moved toward the cage. A dozen blows, and two of the sapling bars were knocked out. Then Weyman drew back. Gray Wolf found the opening first, and she slipped out into the starlight like a shadow. But she did not flee. Out in the open space she waited for Kazan, and for a moment the two stood there, looking at the cabin. Then they set off into freedom, Gray Wolf’s shoulder at Kazan’s flank.
Weyman breathed deeply.
“Two by two—always two by two, until death finds one of them,” he whispered.
THE RED DEATH
Kazan and Gray Wolf wandered northward into the Fond du Lac country, and were there when Jacques, a Hudson Bay Company’s runner, came up to the post from the south with the first authentic news of the dread plague—the smallpox. For weeks there had been rumors on all sides. And rumor grew into rumor. From the east, the south and the west they multiplied, until on all sides the Paul Reveres of the wilderness were carrying word that La Mort Rouge—the Red Death—was at their heels, and the chill of a great fear swept like a shivering wind from the edge of civilization to the bay. Nineteen years before these same rumors had come up from the south, and the Red Terror had followed. The horror of it still remained with the forest people, for a thousand unmarked graves, shunned like a pestilence, and scattered from the lower waters of James Bay to the lake country of the Athabasca, gave evidence of the toll it demanded.
Now and then in their wanderings Kazan and Gray Wolf had come upon the little mounds that covered the dead. Instinct—something that was infinitely beyond the comprehension of man—made them feel the presence of death about them, perhaps smell it in the air. Gray Wolf’s wild blood and her blindness gave her an immense advantage over Kazan when it came to detecting those mysteries of the air and the earth which the eyes were not made to see. Each day that had followed that terrible moonlit night on the Sun Rock, when the lynx had blinded her, had added to the infallibility of her two chief senses—hearing and scent. And it was she who discovered the presence of the plague first, just as she had scented the great forest fire hours before Kazan had found it in the air.