The Wolves

Roland Haight had lost his farm. He only worked the same on shares, and the shares were not enough for so large a family and an invalid wife, for Hannah Haight had developed consumption.

Walter worked for the farmers in summer but the winter after he was 16, they sent him into a lumber camp. Here he drove the tote team. I cannot recall how many miles back from any settlement they were, but a number, and far enough from town so that it wasn’t advisable to go and return the same day. They would go to town—buy their provisions, and next day return. They would have flour, molasses, syrup, sugar, tea, pork, etc. and blankets and axes for use in the camp.

Well, a bunch of the old boys in the camp bet Walter he dare not return the same day. That he would be afraid. Well, what did the foolish boy do but load up his load and prepare to return. The merchant said, “Why, boy, you are not going back today. The wolves will sure get you if you do.”

Well, back he started. The sleighing was excellent. The afternoon was delightful. He whistled and sang and felt very comfortable for a time. Then the sun sank about the time he reached tall timber. Things seemed hushed and waiting and he sang and whistled no more. Finally, to his right he heard the lonely cry of a wolf. Now to his left came an answer, dreary and weird. Now ahead came the same dread cry, and behind came the same terrible answer. He whipped his horses. They were snorting with fear anyway and trotting a lively gait for such a load. Now he reached an open space called the marshes. And here met his gaze a sight to make any stout heart quake. Wolves in droves like sheep coming from every direction. He cracked his long black snake whip and shouted to his horses, “Get out of this! Get out of this!”

Now just as they enter the timber again the packs gather around him. They leap for the throats of the horses, but the noble beasts plunge on. One big wolf jumps right on to the sleigh, but Walter strikes with his heavy mittened fist and knocks it off the sleigh. They are nearing camp but the horses are becoming winded. John Haight, Father’s oldest brother, is working in the same camp with Walter. He takes his lantern and goes for a last look to see if his horses are all right. He hears the wolves madly howling and another sound catches his ear. He listens and he catches it in muffled far away sound, “Get out of this. Get out of this.”

He calls aloud, “Men, boys, that young fool is coming in camp tonight if the wolves don’t get him.” They grab guns and axes and light lanterns, and run shouting and hollering down the tote road, and are only just in time to save the foolish youngster who couldn’t be dared. Walter quite realized he should have dared to do right.