Baree, Son of Kazan by James Oliver Curwood


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Page 2

And then came that wonderful day when the greenish balls of fire that
were Kazan's eyes came nearer and nearer, a little at a time, and very
cautiously. Heretofore Gray Wolf had warned him back. To be alone was
the first law of her wild breed during mothering time. A low snarl from
her throat, and Kazan had always stopped. But on this day the snarl did
not come. In Gray Wolf's throat it died away in a low, whimpering
sound. A note of loneliness, of gladness, of a great yearning. "It is
all right now," she was saying to Kazan; and Kazan--pausing for a
moment to make sure--replied with an answering note deep in his throat.

Still slowly, as if not quite sure of what he would find, Kazan came to
them, and Baree snuggled closer to his mother. He heard Kazan as he
dropped down heavily on his belly close to Gray Wolf. He was
unafraid--and mightily curious. And Kazan, too, was curious. He
sniffed. In the gloom his ears were alert. After a little Baree began
to move. An inch at a time he dragged himself away from Gray Wolf's
side. Every muscle in her lithe body tensed. Again her wolf blood was
warning her. There was danger for Baree. Her lips drew back, baring her
fangs. Her throat trembled, but the note in it never came. Out of the
darkness two yards away came a soft, puppyish whine, and the caressing
sound of Kazan's tongue.

Baree had felt the thrill of his first great adventure. He had
discovered his father.

This all happened in the third week of Baree's life. He was just
eighteen days old when Gray Wolf allowed Kazan to make the acquaintance
of his son. If it had not been for Gray Wolf's blindness and the memory
of that day on the Sun Rock when the lynx had destroyed her eyes, she
would have given birth to Baree in the open, and his legs would have
been quite strong. He would have known the sun and the moon and the
stars; he would have realized what the thunder meant, and would have
seen the lightning flashing in the sky. But as it was, there had been
nothing for him to do in that black cavern under the windfall but
stumble about a little in the darkness, and lick with his tiny red
tongue the raw bones that were strewn about them. Many times he had
been left alone. He had heard his mother come and go, and nearly always
it had been in response to a yelp from Kazan that came to them like a
distant echo. He had never felt a very strong desire to follow until
this day when Kazan's big, cool tongue caressed his face. In those
wonderful seconds nature was at work. His instinct was not quite born
until then. And when Kazan went away, leaving them alone in darkness,
Baree whimpered for him to come back, just as he had cried for his
mother when now and then she had left him in response to her mate's
call.

The sun was straight above the forest when, an hour or two after
Kazan's visit, Gray Wolf slipped away. Between Baree's nest and the top
of the windfall were forty feet of jammed and broken timber through
which not a ray of light could break. This blackness did not frighten
him, for he had yet to learn the meaning of light. Day, and not night,
was to fill him with his first great terror. So quite fearlessly, with
a yelp for his mother to wait for him, he began to follow. If Gray Wolf
heard him, she paid no attention to his call, and the sound of the
scraping of her claws on the dead timber died swiftly away.

This time Baree did not stop at the eight-inch log which had always
shut in his world in that particular direction. He clambered to the top
of it and rolled over on the other side. Beyond this was vast
adventure, and he plunged into it courageously.

It took him a long time to make the first twenty yards. Then he came to
a log worn smooth by the feet of Gray Wolf and Kazan, and stopping
every few feet to send out a whimpering call for his mother, he made
his way farther and farther along it. As he went, there grew slowly a
curious change in this world of his. He had known nothing but
blackness. And now this blackness seemed breaking itself up into
strange shapes and shadows. Once he caught the flash of a fiery streak
above him--a gleam of sunshine--and it startled him so that he
flattened himself down upon the log and did not move for half a minute.
Then he went on. An ermine squeaked under him. He heard the swift
rustling of a squirrel's feet, and a curious whut-whut-whut that was
not at all like any sound his mother had ever made. He was off the
trail.

The log was no longer smooth, and it was leading him upward higher and
higher into the tangle of the windfall, and was growing narrower every
foot he progressed. He whined. His soft little nose sought vainly for
the warm scent of his mother. The end came suddenly when he lost his
balance and fell. He let out a piercing cry of terror as he felt
himself slipping, and then plunged downward. He must have been high up
in the windfall, for to Baree it seemed a tremendous fall. His soft
little body thumped from log to log as he shot this way and that, and
when at last he stopped, there was scarcely a breath left in him. But
he stood up quickly on his four trembling legs--and blinked.

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Sun 15th Dec 2019, 20:56