From the distance there came over the frozen world a wolf’s howl, followed by another and another. The wolves were giving the cry of pursuit. There must be many of them and they were after caribou or game of some sort. This was the only impression the sound made upon his numbed senses.
Daylight was coming. He was very sleepy—very, very sleepy. Why not go to sleep? There was no reason for walking when it was so nice and warm here—and he was so weary and sleepy. There were trees all around and a nice white bed spread under them. He stumbled and fell and did not try to get up. Why should he? There was plenty of time to go home. It was so comfortable and soft here and he was so sleepy.
Then he imagined that he was in the warm tilt with the fire crackling in the stove. He cuddled down in the snow, and said the little prayer that he never forgot at night.
The wolves were clamouring in the distance. They had caught the game that they were chasing. He could just hear them as he fell asleep.
The sun broke with the glory of a new world over the white wilderness. The wolf howls ceased—and all was still.
For some reason Micmac John could not sleep. A little while he lay awake voluntarily, trying to contrive a plan to follow should he be found out. If, after he returned to the tilt for the pelts, there should not be sufficient snow to cover his trail, for instance, before the searching party came to look for Bob—and it surely would come, headed by Dick Blake—he would be in grave danger of being discovered. Why had he not thought of all this before? He was afraid of Dick Blake, and Dick was the one man in the world, perhaps, that he was afraid of. Would Dick shoot him? he asked himself. Probably. If he were found he would have to die.
Life is sweet to a strong, healthy man brought face to face with the reality of death. In his more than half savage existence Micmac John had faced death frequently, and sometimes daily, and had never shrunk from it or felt a tremour of fear. He had held neither his own nor the life of other men as a thing of much value. The fact was that never before had he given one serious thought to what it meant to die. Like the foxes and the wolves, he had been an animal of prey and had looked upon life and death with hardly more consideration than they, and with the stoical indifference of his savage Indian ancestors.