But Kazan was hungry. He began to hunt in the face of the wind, traveling toward the burned plain. He nosed about every windfall that he came to, and investigated the thickets. A thin shot-like snow had fallen, and in this—from the windfall to the burn—he found but a single trail, and that was the trail of an ermine. Under a windfall he caught the warm scent of a rabbit, but the rabbit was as safe from him there as were the partridges in the trees, and after an hour of futile digging and gnawing he gave up his effort to reach it. For three hours he had hunted when he returned to Gray Wolf. He was exhausted. While Gray Wolf, with the instinct of the wild, had saved her own strength and energy, Kazan had been burning up his reserve forces, and was hungrier than ever.
The moon rose clear and brilliant in the sky again that night, and Kazan set out once more on the hunt. He urged Gray Wolf to accompany him, whining for her outside the windfall—returning for her twice—but Gray Wolf laid her ears aslant and refused to move. The temperature had now fallen to sixty-five or seventy degrees below zero, and with it there came from the north an increasing wind, making the night one in which human life could not have existed for an hour. By midnight Kazan was back under the windfall. The wind grew stronger. It began to wail in mournful dirges over the swamp, and then it burst in fierce shrieking volleys, with intervals of quiet between. These were the first warnings from the great barrens that lay between the last lines of timber and the Arctic. With morning the storm burst in all its fury from out of the north, and Gray Wolf and Kazan lay close together and shivered as they listened to the roar of it over the windfall. Once Kazan thrust his head and shoulders out from the shelter of the fallen trees, but the storm drove him back. Everything that possessed life had sought shelter, according to its way and instinct. The furred creatures like the mink and the ermine were safest, for during the warmer hunting days they were of the kind that cached meat. The wolves and the foxes had sought out the windfalls, and the rocks. Winged things, with the exception of the owls, who were a tenth part body and nine-tenths feathers, burrowed under snow-drifts or found shelter in thick spruce. To the hoofed and horned animals the storm meant greatest havoc. The deer, the caribou and the moose could not crawl under windfalls or creep between rocks. The best they could do was to lie down in the lee of a drift, and allow themselves to be covered deep with the protecting snow. Even then they could not keep their shelter long, for they had to eat. For eighteen hours out of the twenty-four the moose had to feed to keep himself alive during the winter. His big stomach demanded quantity, and it took him most of his time to nibble from the tops of bushes the two or three bushels he needed a day. The caribou required almost as much—the deer least of the three.