Then—suddenly—they heard a sound, and with a whining cry Kazan set out in its direction, with Gray Wolf at his flank. The scent grew stronger and stronger in Gray Wolf’s nostrils, and soon it came to Kazan. It was not the scent of a rabbit or a partridge. It was big game. They approached cautiously, keeping full in the wind. The swamp grew thicker, the spruce more dense, and now—from a hundred yards ahead of them—there came a crashing of locked and battling horns. Ten seconds more they climbed over a snowdrift, and Kazan stopped and dropped flat on his belly. Gray Wolf crouched close at his side, her blind eyes turned to what she could smell but could not see.
Fifty yards from them a number of moose had gathered for shelter in the thick spruce. They had eaten clear a space an acre in extent. The trees were cropped bare as high as they could reach, and the snow was beaten hard under their feet. There were six animals in the acre, two of them bulls—and these bulls were fighting, while three cows and a yearling were huddled in a group watching the mighty duel. Just before the storm a young bull, sleek, three-quarters grown, and with the small compact antlers of a four-year-old, had led the three cows and the yearling to this sheltered spot among the spruce. Until last night he had been master of the herd. During the night the older bull had invaded his dominion. The invader was four times as old as the young bull. He was half again as heavy. His huge palmate horns, knotted and irregular—but massive—spoke of age. A warrior of a hundred fights, he had not hesitated to give battle in his effort to rob the younger bull of his home and family. Three times they had fought since dawn, and the hard-trodden snow was red with blood. The smell of it came to Kazan’s and Gray Wolf’s nostrils. Kazan sniffed hungrily. Queer sounds rolled up and down in Gray Wolf’s throat, and she licked her jaws.
For a moment the two fighters drew a few yards apart, and stood with lowered heads. The old bull had not yet won victory. The younger bull represented youth and endurance; in the older bull those things were pitted against craft, greater weight, maturer strength—and a head and horns that were like a battering ram. But in that great hulk of the older bull there was one other thing—age. His huge sides were panting. His nostrils were as wide as bells. Then, as if some invisible spirit of the arena had given the signal, the animals came