The Grizzly King


To Muskwa the whole world seemed changing. He wondered in these chill and dark days why Thor kept to the windswept slopes when he might have found shelter in the bottoms.

And Thor, if he explained to him at all, told him that winter was very near, and that these slopes were their last feeding grounds. In the valleys the berries were gone; grass and roots alone were no longer nourishing enough for their bodies; they could no longer waste time in seeking ants and grubs; the fish were in deep water. It was the season when the caribou were keen-scented as foxes and swift as the wind. Only along the slopes lay the dinners they were sure of—famine-day dinners of whistlers and gophers.

Thor dug for them now, and in this digging Muskwa helped as much as he could. More than once they turned out wagonloads of earth to get at the cozy winter sleeping quarters of a whistler family, and sometimes they dug for hours to capture three or four little gophers no larger than red squirrels, but lusciously fat.

Thus they lived through the last days of October into November. And now the snow and the cold winds and the fierce blizzards from the north came in earnest, and the ponds and lakes began to freeze over. Still Thor hung to the slopes, and Muskwa shivered with the cold at night and wondered if the sun was never going to shine again…..

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