Climb the Highest Mountain

Climb the Highest Mountain by Rosanne Bittner

Book: Climb the Highest Mountain by Rosanne Bittner Read Free Book Online
Authors: Rosanne Bittner
and her anxiety for her husband and son would overwhelm her, plunging her into a painful depression, especially in the wee hours of the morning. Where were they? Were they hurt? Were they warm enough? She refused to believe they were dead. She dared not let herself believe it or she would lose her mind and be useless to the rest of her children. Her emotions were still too tender. She hadn’t recovered from her own ordeal. It was hard enough just to sleep alone, to be unable to turn to Zeke when the terrifying nightmares woke her, but at least if she continued to believe he would be back, she could bear it.
    She rose, holding the bag of vegetables in one hand, and pulling the hood of her heavy robe tighter under her chin with the other, she started back around thehouse to go inside when she saw the movement—a small, dark figure against the bright white of the snow on the distant hill. It was some kind of animal, too small to be a deer, too big to be a skunk or fox or any of the smaller animals found around the ranch. It kept coming, and she kept staring, squinting her eyes against the blinding whiteness. It moved slowly but deliberately toward the house, and her heart pounded harder when it came even closer.
    “Wolf!” she whispered. She scanned the horizon desperately. It was her son’s pet, she was sure of it. Wolves traveled in packs, and seldom ever came this close to the house and barns. This one was alone and seemed to know exactly where he was going. Surely if Wolf was coming, his master would not be far behind, but there was no sign of Wolf’s Blood or of Zeke.
    She hurried to the house and set the sack of vegetables on the table; then she ran back outside. Some of the children bounded out behind her, having noticed the concerned look on her face when she came in and hurried out again.
    “What’s wrong, Mother?” Margaret asked.
    “Wolf is coming,” Abbie replied, going down the steps. “Get back inside and wait where it’s warm. And if Wolf comes into the cabin, don’t go near him. You know how unpredictable he can be. I don’t want the little ones to try to touch him.”
    Margaret herded the others back inside, her own heart racing. She all but worshiped her older brother. Why was his pet wolf here without Wolf’s Blood? Was her brother dead? She fought tears of fear while Abbie ran to the barn calling for Lance. Her brother-in-law came out, young Jeremy at his side and holding a pail of milk.
    “I think Wolf is coming,” Abbie said. She looked at Jeremy. “Get to the house with the milk, Jeremy,” shetold the boy. He hurried to do as she bid, milk splashing from the pail. Jeremy was afraid of his big brother’s “wild animal” pet.
    Lance took Abbie’s arm and they walked to the corner of the house. Wolf was closer now, obviously limping. They stood very still as the silver gray animal stopped and stared at them with steely black eyes. He growled at first, then slunk closer, sniffing Abbie’s winter moccasins. There was dried blood on his left hip, and Abbie wondered if there was a bullet in the animal or if the wound was from a saber. She would probably never know, for she was not about to approach him to find out. Wolf was touchy even when healthy, but in his wounded state it could be dangerous to try to handle him. He had never harmed anyone in the family. He seemed to understand that they were to be trusted because they were people his master loved, but only Wolf’s Blood could actually hold and pet the animal. Now that Wolf was wounded, he would be more distrustful.
    “Lance, why is he here alone like this?” Abbie asked, clinging to his arm.
    “Hard to say. Just stay back from him, Abbie.”
    The animal left her and hobbled up the steps to the door of the cabin, scratching on it. Abbie hurried up behind him and carefully pushed open the door. “All of you children stay back,” she called out. As the wolf entered the cabin, followed by Abbie and Lance, the room was silent. All

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