Then Carvel found the first of the early blue flowers.
That night he packed up.
“It’s time to travel,” he announced to Baree. “And I’ve sort of changed my mind. We’re going back—there.” And he pointed south.
A strange humor possessed Carvel as he began the southward journey. He did not believe in omens, good or bad.
Superstition had played a small part in his life, but he possessed both curiosity and a love for adventure, and his years of lonely wandering had developed in him a wonderfully clear mental vision of things, which in other words might be called a singularly active imagination. He knew that some irresistible force was drawing Baree back into the south—that it was pulling him not only along a given line of the compass, but to an exact point in that line.
For no reason in particular the situation began to interest him more and more, and as his time was valueless, and he had no fixed destination in view, he began to experiment. For the first two days he marked the dog’s course by compass. It was due southeast. On the third morning Carvel purposely struck a course straight west. He noted quickly the change in Baree—his restlessness at first, and after that the dejected manner in which he followed at his heels. Toward noon Carvel swung sharply to the south and east again, and almost immediately Baree regained his old eagerness, and ran ahead of his master.
After this, for many days, Carvel followed the trail of the dog.
“Mebby I’m an idiot, old chap,” he apologized one evening. “But it’s a bit of fun, after all—an’ I’ve got to hit the line of rail before I can get over to the mountains, so what’s the difference? I’m game—so long as you don’t take me back to that chap at Lac Bain. Now—what the devil! Are you hitting for his trap line, to get even? If that’s the case—”
He blew out a cloud of smoke from his pipe as he eyed Baree, and Baree, with his head between his forepaws, eyed him back.
A week later Baree answered Carvel’s question by swinging westward to give a wide berth to Post Lac Bain. It was midafternoon when they crossed the trail along which Bush McTaggart’s traps and deadfalls had been set. Baree did not even pause. He headed due south, traveling so fast that at times he was lost to Carvel’s sight. A suppressed but intense excitement possessed him, and he whined whenever Carvel stopped to rest—always with his nose sniffing the wind out of the south. Springtime, the flowers, the earth turning green, the singing of birds, and the sweet breaths in the air were bringing him back to that great yesterday when he had belonged to Nepeese. In his unreasoning mind there existed no longer a winter. The long months of cold and hunger were gone; in the new visionings that filled his brain they were forgotten. The birds and flowers and the blue skies had come back, and with them the Willow must surely have returned, and she was waiting for him now, just over there beyond that rim of green forest.