Two weeks later over that same knoll walked an old man. Shepherd could tell he was old by his gait and stoop. Something was strapped to his back. As he drew closer he looked familiar to Shepherd.
“How are you doing? I am Ivan, head of the council. We met last winter.”
“Yes,” Shepherd said, “I remember you.”
“I wanted to speak to you about something,” Ivan said.
“Sure,” Shepherd said. “You have walked a long way. Have you eaten?”
Ivan said nothing.
“Come inside and let me feed you,” Shepherd said.
“It is not necessary,” Ivan said.
“Please come in,” Shepherd said.
Ivan placed his back pack on the porch as Shepherd showed him in. Shepherd quickly warmed elk and sliced potatoes.
“We will eat together,” Shepherd said as he placed the food on the table.
Ivan was quiet.
They began eating. Shepherd was curious.
“Tell me what happened between you and Dennis,” Ivan said.
“What ever he told you is the truth,” Shepherd said.
“Dennis and truth are strangers,” Ivan said.
“If Dennis killed my dog I would kill Dennis,” Ivan said. “And it is said you grieved heavily over your dog. He was a gift from a friend and the dog became a friend.”
“Yes,” Shepherd said. “The wolf stopped me.”
“The wolf stopped you?” Ivan said.
“Yes,” Shepherd said. “He pulled the rifle away.”
“Smart wolf,” Ivan said. “I have come to tell you that no one will ever bother you again. There will be no more Amarok.”
“That’s good to hear,” Shepherd said. “I hold nothing against anyone. I’m a stranger. I understand.”
“That is good you understand our ways,” Ivan said. “Our ways are changing.”
“And I’m not here to change them,” Shepherd said.
“But, Daniel told me about an idea you had for a radio station,” Ivan said.
“Maybe not such a good idea,” Shepherd said.
“I was hoping you would go though with it,” Ivan said. “It would be a good thing. It would be one way to tell the valley about who we are and our culture. It would be a good thing.”
Shepherd smiled. “To tell you the truth I have it all worked out.”
Ivan stood. “This has been a most enjoyable meal.”
“You are invited back anytime,” Shepherd said.
“And you to my home as well,” Ivan said.
They passed through the door. Ivan stooped down and opened his pack back. He pulled out a husky pump. “A gift from the council, my friend.” He handed the pup to Shepherd.
Shepherd held him up. “He looks like a good dog. Thank you and thank the council.”
Ivan smiled and strapped the back pack on. He walked a few steps away and turned. “A strange thing happened to Dennis a few days ago. He was killed by what appeared to be a wolf.”
“That is strange,” Shepherd said.
“It really uncomplicates things, doesn’t it,” Ivan said.
“I guess he wanted him for himself,” Shepherd said.
Ivan smiled, waved, and walked away.