With the sun in full view Daniel and his family boarded their snow machines and buzzed north and disappeared into the stream bed that led to the river that would lead them to their home.
Loneliness descended on Shepherd as if an angel of death swooping from the mountains to the north carrying abandonment and foreboding. Angry clouds like galloping grey steeds wielding frozen swords of pain invaded the wilderness around Shepherd’s cabin.
Shepherd split wood at a furious and fearful pace and stacked it on the porch.
He stood before the fire to warm himself and listened to the radio. The barometric pressure plummeted.
He split and stacked more wood. Pal and Trap looked on as if lending moral support. Shepherd puffed and blew vapor from his lungs like a steam locomotive.
Above him he heard the wind pass through the pines like a bow over the stings of violins. It was the hideous sound of a mad and demented composer. In moments a coldness swept by him as if somebody suddenly opened the door. He split feverishly like bailing water from a sinking boat.
His instincts alerted weather coming like nothing he had ever experienced. He began to doubt his survival. It was like watching a wave advancing in which there was no hope, only the inevitability of being swallowed.
He closed the shutters and secured them.
Shepherd stood at the front of the cabin a short distance away facing the wind in defiance. His thoughts drifted to Daniel and his family, but assured that he was wise of the ways of the wilderness and home safe. Suddenly without warning a warmth came over him. It was like embers laying deep in his chest and radiated to his entire body. His muscles relaxed. It was Nan; sweet, pure, strong, vibrant, and comely – a jewel of the north.
Shepherd turned to the cabin as if in a trance and it was a trance. He stumbled on the first step. He sat on the steps as the cold rushed around him. He thought, “I have instincts for everything, but emotions and love.” A thousand frames sped though his mind; the smiles, the glances, the tears, the expressions, the words; all the signs that
Nan was falling in love with him… and he with her.”