This time Kazan was caught fairly on the broad palmate leaf of the bull’s antler, and he was flung back again, half stunned. In that same moment Gray Wolf’s long white teeth cut like knives through one of the bull’s rope-like hamstrings. For thirty seconds she kept the hold, while the bull plunged wildly in his efforts to trample her underfoot. Kazan was quick to learn, still quicker to be guided by Gray Wolf, and he leaped in again, snapping for a hold on the bulging cord just above the knee. He missed, and as he lunged forward on his shoulders Gray Wolf was flung off. But she had accomplished her purpose. Beaten in open battle with one of his kind, and now attacked by a still deadlier foe, the old bull began to retreat. As he went, one hip sank under him at every step. The tendon of his left leg was bitten half through.
Without being able to see, Gray Wolf seemed to realize what had happened. Again she was the pack-wolf—with all the old wolf strategy. Twice flung back by the old bull’s horn, Kazan knew better than to attack openly again. Gray Wolf trotted after the bull, but he remained behind for a moment to lick up hungrily mouthfuls of the blood-soaked snow. Then he followed, and ran close against Gray Wolf’s side, fifty yards behind the bull. There was more blood in the trail now—a thin red ribbon of it. Fifteen minutes later the bull stopped again, and faced about, his great head lowered. His eyes were red. There was a droop to his neck and shoulders that spoke no longer of the unconquerable fighting spirit that had been a part of him for nearly a score of years. No longer was he lord of the wilderness about him; no longer was there defiance in the poise of his splendid head, or the flash of eager fire in his bloodshot eyes. His breath came with a gasping sound that was growing more and more distinct. A hunter would have known what it meant. The stiletto-point of the younger bull’s antler had gone home, and the old bull’s lungs were failing him. More than once Gray Wolf had heard that sound in the early days of her hunting with the pack, and she understood. Slowly she began to circle about the wounded monarch at a distance of about twenty yards. Kazan kept at her side.