THE WOLF PACK
In seasons when caribou were plentiful along the coast, wolves were also plentiful, for it is the habit of wolves in this land to follow the trail of the caribou herds and prey upon the stragglers. And so it was that sometimes of a winter’s night the silence of the hills was startled by the distant howl of wolves. And always Skipper Ed’s dogs and Abel’s dogs would answer the wild, weird cries of their untamed kin of the hills with equally weird cries, their muzzles in the air and the long-drawn notes rising and falling in woful and dismal cadence.
Perhaps the dogs were possessed of an uninterpreted longing to join their brothers of the wilderness in their care-free wanderings, and be forever free themselves from the yoke of sledge and whip and the toil and drudgery of the trail. But so like men were the beasts that they never had the courage to cast themselves free from the shackles of their man-master, though it required but a resolution and a plunge into the hills.
“So it is with many a man,” said Skipper Ed one evening when Bobby was stopping for the night with him and Jimmy, and a wolf howl was followed by the answering howl of dogs. “Many and many a man that has the power and strength within him, and the brains too, if he but knew it, to go out into the broad world of endeavor and do great things, simmers his life away in the little narrow world into which he has grown, expending his energies as a servant when he might be a master. He keeps his eyes to the ground and never looks out or up, and so he never knows how big the world is or how much it holds for him.
“It takes courage sometimes to break loose from old things. But it’s the man that dares to break loose, and hit a new trail, and try his hand at new things, that wins. The man that never takes a chance, never gets anywhere, and then he says that luck has been against him. I speak of luck sometimes, but I don’t mean it in that way. There is no such thing as luck. What we call luck is the Almighty’s reward when we’ve done the best we can.”
“Did you ever try new things?” asked Bobby.
“Yes, yes, lad! Long ago,” and a shadow fell upon Skipper Ed’s face, to pass in a moment, however, as he added, “I think I did what the Lord Almighty intended me to do.”
“What was it?” asked Bobby, ever curious.
“To come here, and be Jimmy’s partner, and to be a friend to both of you young scalawags, I think,” and Skipper Ed smiled.
“Didn’t you ever ask the Lord to let you do some big, big things?” insisted Bobby.
“Partner does big things all the time,” protested Jimmy. “He’s a fine shot, and there isn’t a better hunter on The Labrador.”
“Yes,” said Skipper Ed, “I’ve asked the Lord, and I think the big thing He’s given me to do is to teach you chaps the best I can, and maybe my teaching will help one of you to do the big, big thing.”