“We will go on the hunt,” laughed Nepeese happily, in her soft Cree.
When Pierrot smiled at her like that, and began with “Tomorrow,” it always meant that she might go with him on the adventure he was contemplating.
Still another day later, at the end of the afternoon, Baree crossed the Gray Loon on a bridge of driftwood that had wedged between two trees. This was to the north. Just beyond the driftwood bridge there was a small clearing, and on the edge of it Baree paused to enjoy the last of the setting sun. As he stood motionless and listening, his tail drooping low, his ears alert, his sharp-pointed nose sniffing the new country to the north, there was not a pair of eyes in the forest that would not have taken him for a young wolf.
From behind a clump of young balsams, a hundred yards away, Pierrot and Nepeese had watched him come over the driftwood bridge. Now was the time, and Pierrot leveled his rifle. It was not until then that Nepeese touched his arm softly. Her breath came a little excitedly as she whispered:
“Nootawe, let me shoot. I can kill him!”
With a low chuckle Pierrot gave the gun to her. He counted the whelp as already dead. For Nepeese, at that distance, could send a bullet into an inch square nine times out of ten. And Nepeese, aiming carefully at Baree, pressed steadily with her brown forefinger upon the trigger.
As the Willow pulled the trigger of her rifle, Baree sprang into the air. He felt the force of the bullet before he heard the report of the gun. It lifted him off his feet, and then sent him rolling over and over as if he had been struck a hideous blow with a club. For a flash he did not feel pain. Then it ran through him like a knife of fire, and with that pain the dog in him rose above the wolf, and he let out a wild outcry of puppyish yapping as he rolled and twisted on the ground.
Pierrot and Nepeese had stepped from behind the balsams, the Willow’s beautiful eyes shining with pride at the accuracy of her shot. Instantly she caught her breath. Her brown fingers clutched at the barrel of her rifle. The chuckle of satisfaction died on Pierrot’s lips as Baree’s cries of pain filled the forest.
“Uchi moosis!” gasped Nepeese, in her Cree.
Pierrot caught the rifle from her.
“Diable! A dog—a puppy!” he cried.
He started on a run for Baree. But in their amazement they had lost a few seconds and Baree’s dazed senses were returning. He saw them clearly as they came across the open—a new kind of monster of the forests! With a final wail he darted back into the deep shadows of the trees. It was almost sunset, and he ran for the thick gloom of the heavy spruce near the creek. He had shivered at sight of the bear and the moose, but for the first time he now sensed the real meaning of danger. And it was close after him. He could hear the crashing of the two-legged beasts in pursuit; strange cries were almost at his heels—and then suddenly he plunged without warning into a hole.