Once—twice—twenty times they made that slow circle, and with each turn they made the old bull turned, and his breath grew heavier and his head drooped lower. Noon came, and was followed by the more intense cold of the last half of the day. Twenty circles became a hundred—two hundred—and more. Under Gray Wolf’s and Kazan’s feet the snow grew hard in the path they made. Under the old bull’s widespread hoofs the snow was no longer white—but red. A thousand times before this unseen tragedy of the wilderness had been enacted. It was an epoch of that life where life itself means the survival of the fittest, where to live means to kill, and to die means to perpetuate life. At last, in that steady and deadly circling of Gray Wolf and Kazan, there came a time when the old bull did not turn—then a second, a third and a fourth time, and Gray Wolf seemed to know. With Kazan she drew back from the hard-beaten trail, and they flattened themselves on their bellies under a dwarf spruce—and waited. For many minutes the bull stood motionless, his hamstrung quarter sinking lower and lower. And then with a deep blood-choked gasp he sank down.
For a long time Kazan and Gray Wolf did not move, and when at last they returned to the beaten trail the bull’s heavy head was resting on the snow. Again they began to circle, and now the circle narrowed foot by foot, until only ten yards—then nine—then eight—separated them from their prey. The bull attempted to rise, and failed. Gray Wolf heard the effort. She heard him sink back and suddenly she leaped in swiftly and silently from behind. Her sharp fangs buried themselves in the bull’s nostrils, and with the first instinct of the husky, Kazan sprang for a throat hold. This time he was not flung off. It was Gray Wolf’s terrible hold that gave him time to tear through the half-inch hide, and to bury his teeth deeper and deeper, until at last they reached the jugular. A gush of warm blood spurted into his face. But he did not let go. Just as he had held to the jugular of his first buck on that moonlight night a long time ago, so he held to the old bull now. It was Gray Wolf who unclamped his jaws. She drew back, sniffing the air, listening. Then, slowly, she raised her head, and through the frozen and starving wilderness there went her wailing triumphant cry—the call to meat.
For them the days of famine had passed.
THE RIGHT OF FANG
After the fight Kazan lay down exhausted in the blood-stained snow, while faithful Gray Wolf, still filled with the endurance of her wild wolf breed, tore fiercely at the thick skin on the bull’s neck to lay open the red flesh. When she had done this she did not eat, but ran to Kazan’s side and whined softly as she muzzled him with her nose. After that they feasted, crouching side by side at the bull’s neck and tearing at the warm sweet flesh.