Betty had never heard it and though she was brave, when the howl from the forest had
its answer in another howl from the creek thicket, she slipped her little mittened hand
under Wetzel's arm and looked up at him with frightened eyes.
In half an hour the full chorus of yelps, barks and howls swelled hideously on the air,
and the ever increasing pack of wolves could be seen scarcely a hundred yards behind
the sleds. The patter of their swiftly flying feet on the snow could be distinctly heard. The
slender, dark forms came nearer and nearer every moment. Presently the wolves had
approached close enough for the occupants of the sleds to see their shining eyes
looking like little balls of green fire. A gaunt beast bolder than the others, and evidently
the leader of the pack, bounded forward until he was only a few yards from the last sled.
At every jump he opened his great jaws and uttered a quick bark as if to embolden his
Almost simultaneously with the red flame that burst from Wetzel's rifle came a sharp
yelp of agony from the leader. He rolled over and over. Instantly followed a horrible
mingling of snarls and barks, and snapping of jaws as the band fought over the body of
their luckless comrade.
This short delay gave the advantage to the horses. When the wolves again appeared
they were a long way behind. The distance to the fort was now short and the horses
were urged to their utmost. The wolves kept up the chase until they reached the creek
bridge and the mill. Then they slowed up: the howling became desultory, and finally the
dark forms disappeared in the thickets.