door they began to growl and chitter, but then they saw the big male,
and they hushed.
Vance dragged the coyote into the pen, and it reared back, trying to
shake the noose, slinging foamy drool into the dust, but then it calmed,
and Vance released the catchpole and exited the pen and latched the
The coyote stood in the center of the enclosure. It was panting, with
its legs spread and braced in the dirt. Blood leaked from its forepaw
where the trap had held it, and it lapped at the wound and then lifted
its head again. It looked at the pack gathered under the lean-to, and its
nostrils flared and it stopped panting, and then it looked at the men who
had trapped it. It looked at them for a long time and finally sat on its
“I don’t believe he’s gonna do anything,” said Philip.
“Hush,” said Waldreve. “Hush and be still.”
His hands had begun to tremble when Philip and Vance first led the
coyote into the yard, and now they were still shaking, and he hid them in
his pockets. He felt something flame inside him, an old, strong fire gust-
ing up, though he knew it had always been old and strong, even before it
took in him, and he felt its heat rise beneath his ribs the way it had long
ago when he ran his traps on the little fork of the Gasping River.
Inside the pen, the coyote remained motionless as it stared at him.
His eyes were black and rimmed with aureate rings, and there burned in
them the same fire Waldreve had felt just now. A smooth, black scar ran
from the tip of the dog’s muzzle up between his eyes nearly to the crown
of his head, where a rival’s tooth had laid him open years ago, and his
hackles were frosted with age. He sat still and calm, and he wasn’t panting anymore.
“I never saw one act that way,” said Philip. “Just sit there like that.
None of the others did that.”
“He’s not like the others,” said Waldreve.
Philip hitched the rifle strap higher onto his shoulder. “Well, he’s big-
ger, that’s for sure.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about.”
Waldreve turned to his sons. Philip had a look of baffled idiocy as he
scratched the whiskers on his chin, and Vance stood quiet next to the
hutch pen, his skin so sallow and pale that he appeared ill.
“You don’t know what I’m talking about, do you?” Waldreve said.
Philip laughed and shook his head. “No, Pop. I don’t.”