The Valley of the
As they emerged suddenly from the dense forest the
Indian halted, and Grimwood, his employer, stood
beside him, gazing into the beautiful wooded valley that
lay spread below them in the blaze of a golden sunset.
Both men leaned upon their rifles, caught by the enchantment
of the unexpected scene.
“We camp here,” said Tooshalli abruptly, after a careful
survey. “To-morrow we make a plan.”
He spoke excellent English. The note of decision,
almost of authority, in his voice was noticeable, but Grimwood
set it down to the natural excitement of the moment.
Every track they had followed during the last two days,
but one track in particular as well, had headed straight
for this remote and hidden valley, and the sport promised
to be unusual.
“That’s so,” he replied, in the tone of one giving an
order. “You can make camp ready at once.” And he
sat down on a fallen hemlock to take off his moccasin
boots and grease his feet that ached from the arduous
day now drawing to a close. Though under ordinary circumstances
he would have pushed on for another hour or
two, he was not averse to a night here, for exhaustion had
come upon him during the last bit of rough going, his
eye and muscles were no longer steady, and it was doubtful
if he could have shot straight enough to kill. He did
not mean to miss a second time.
With his Canadian friend, Iredale, the latter’s half-breed,
and his own Indian, Tooshalli, the party had set
out three weeks ago to find the “wonderful big moose”
the Indians reported were travelling in the Snow River
country. They soon found that the tale was true; tracks
were abundant; they saw fine animals nearly every day,
but though carrying good heads, the hunters expected
better still and left them alone. Pushing up the river
to a chain of small lakes near its source, they then
separated into two parties, each with its nine-foot bark
canoe, and packed in for three days after the yet bigger
animals the Indians agreed would be found in the deeper
woods beyond. Excitement was keen, expectation keener
still. The day before they separated, Iredale shot the
biggest moose of his life, and its head, bigger even than
the grand Alaskan heads, hangs in his house to-day. Grimwood’s
hunting blood was fairly up. His blood was of the
fiery, not to say ferocious, quality. It almost seemed he
liked killing for its own sake.
Four days after the party broke into two he came
upon a gigantic track, whose measurements and length of
stride keyed every nerve he possessed to its highest tension.
Tooshalli examined the tracks for some minutes with
care. “It is the biggest moose in the world,” he said at
length, a new expression on his inscrutable red visage.
Following it all that day, they yet got no sight of
the big fellow that seemed to be frequenting a little marshy
dip of country, too small to be called valley, where willow
and undergrowth abounded. He had not yet scented
his pursuers. They were after him again at dawn. Towards
the evening of the second day Grimwood caught a
sudden glimpse of the monster among a thick clump of
willows, and the sight of the magnificent head that easily
beat all records set his heart beating like a hammer with
excitement. He aimed and fired. But the moose, instead
of crashing, went thundering away through the further
scrub and disappeared, the sound of his plunging
canter presently dying away. Grimwood had missed, even
if he had wounded.
They camped, and all next day, leaving the canoe
behind, they followed the huge track, but though finding
signs of blood, these were not plentiful, and the shot had
evidently only grazed the animal. The travelling was of
the hardest. Towards evening, utterly exhausted, the spoor
led them to the ridge they now stood upon, gazing down
into the enchanting valley that opened at their feet. The
giant moose had gone down into this valley. He would
consider himself safe there. Grimwood agreed with the
Indian’s judgment. They would camp for the night and
continue at dawn the wild hunt after “the biggest moose
in the world.”
Supper was over, the small fire used for cooking dying
down, with Grimwood became first aware that the Indian
was not behaving quite as usual. What particular detail
drew his attention is hard to say. He was a slow-witted,
heavy man, full-blooded, unobservant; a fact had to hurt
him through his comfort, through his pleasure, before he
noticed it. Yet anyone else must have observed the
changed mood of the Redskin long ago. Tooshalli had
made the fire, fried the bacon, served the tea, and was
arranging the blankets, his own and his employer’s, before
the latter remarked upon his—silence. Tooshalli had not
uttered a word for over an hour and a half, since he had
first set eyes upon the new valley, to be exact. And his
employer now noticed the unaccustomed silence, because
after food he liked to listen to wood talk and hunting
“Tired out, aren’t you?” said big Grimwood, looking
into the dark face across the firelight. He resented the
absence of conversation, now that he noticed it. He was
over-weary himself, he felt more irritable than usual,
though his temper was always vile.
“Lost your tongue, eh?” he went on with a growl, as
the Indian returned his stare with solemn, expressionless
face. That dark inscrutable look got on his nerves a bit.
“Speak up, man!” he exclaimed sharply. “What’s it all
The Englishman had at last realized that there was
something to “speak up” about. The discovery, in his
present state, annoyed him further. Tooshalli stared
gravely, but made no reply. The silence was prolonged
almost into minutes. Presently the head turned sideways,
as though the man listened. The other watched him very
closely, anger growing in him.
But it was the way the Redskin turned his head, keeping
his body rigid, that gave the jerk to Grimwood’s
nerves, providing him with a sensation he had never known
in his life before—it gave him what is generally called
“the goose-flesh.” It seemed to jangle his entire system,
yet at the same time made him cautious. He did not
like it, this combination of emotions puzzled him.
“Say something, I tell you,” he repeated in a harsher
tone, raising his voice. He sat up, drawing his great body
closer to the fire. “Say something, damn it!”
His voice fell dead against the surrounding trees, making
the silence of the forest unpleasantly noticeable. Very
still the great woods stood about them; there was no wind,
no stir of branches; only the crackle of a snapping twig
was audible from time to time, as the night-life moved
unwarily sometimes watching the humans round their
little fire. The October air had a frosty touch that nipped.
The Redskin did not answer. No muscle of his neck
nor of his stiffened body moved. He seemed all ears.
“Well?” repeated the Englishman, lowering his voice
this time instinctively. “What d’you hear, God damn it!”
The touch of odd nervousness that made his anger grow
betrayed itself in his language.
Tooshalli slowly turned his head back again to its
normal position, the body rigid as before.
“I hear nothing, Mr. Grimwood,” he said, gazing with
quiet dignity into his employer’s eyes.
This was too much for the other, a man of savage
temper at the best of times. He was the type of Englishman
who held strong views as to the right way of treating
“That’s a lie, Tooshalli, and I won’t have you lie to
me. Now what was it? Tell me at once!”
“I hear nothing,” repeated the other. “I only think.”
“And what is it you’re pleased to think?” Impatience
made a nasty expression round the mouth.
“I go not,” was the abrupt reply, unalterable decision
in the voice.
The man’s rejoinder was so unexpected that Grimwood
found nothing to say at first. For a moment he
did not take its meaning; his mind, always slow, was confused
by impatience, also by what he considered the foolishness
of the little scene. Then in a flash he understood;
but he also understood the immovable obstinacy of the race
he had to deal with. Tooshalli was informing him that
he refused to go into the valley where the big moose had
vanished. And his astonishment was so great at first that
he merely sat and stared. No words came to him.
“It is——” said the Indian, but used a native term.
“What’s that mean?” Grimwood found his tongue,
but his quiet tone was ominous.
“Mr. Grimwood, it mean the ‘Valley of the Beasts,’”
was the reply in a tone quieter still.
The Englishman made a great, a genuine effort at self-control.
He was dealing, he forced himself to remember,
with a superstitious Redskin. He knew the stubbornness
of the type. If the man left him his sport was irretrievably
spoilt, for he could not hunt in this wilderness alone, and
even if he got the coveted head, he could never, never get
it out alone. His native selfishness seconded his effort.
Persuasion, if only he could keep back his rising anger,
was his rôle to play.
“The Valley of the Beasts,” he said, a smile on his lips
rather than in his darkening eyes; “but that’s just what
we want. It’s beasts we’re after, isn’t it?” His voice
had a false cheery ring that could not have deceived a
child. “But what d’you mean, anyhow—the Valley of the
Beasts?” He asked it with a dull attempt at sympathy.
“It belong to Ishtot, Mr. Grimwood.” The man looked
him full in the face, no flinching in the eyes.
“My—our—big moose is there,” said the other, who
recognized the name of the Indian Hunting God, and
understanding better, felt confident he would soon persuade
his man. Tooshalli, he remembered, too, was
nominally a Christian. “We’ll follow him at dawn and
get the biggest head the world has ever seen. You will
be famous,” he added, his temper better in hand again.
“Your tribe will honour you. And the white hunters will
pay you much money.”
“He go there to save himself. I go not.”
The other’s anger revived with a leap at this stupid
obstinacy. But, in spite of it, he noticed the odd choice
of words. He began to realize that nothing now would
move the man. At the same time he also realized that
violence on his part must prove worse than useless. Yet
violence was natural to his “dominant” type. “That brute
Grimwood” was the way most men spoke of him.
“Back at the settlement you’re a Christian, remember,”
he tried, in his clumsy way, another line. “And
disobedience means hell-fire. You know that!”
“I a Christian—at the post,” was the reply, “but out
here the Red God rule. Ishtot keep that valley for himself.
No Indian hunt there.” It was as though a granite
The savage temper of the Englishman, enforced by the
long difficult suppression, rose wickedly into sudden flame.
He stood up, kicking his blankets aside. He strode across
the dying fire to the Indian’s side. Tooshalli also rose.
They faced each other, two humans alone in the wilderness,
watched by countless invisible forest eyes.
Tooshalli stood motionless, yet as though he expected
violence from the foolish, ignorant white-face. “You go
alone, Mr. Grimwood.” There was no fear in him.
Grimwood choked with rage. His words came forth
with difficulty, though he roared them into the silence of
“I pay you, don’t I? You’ll do what I say, not what
you say!” His voice woke the echoes.
The Indian, arms hanging by his side, gave the old
“I go not,” he repeated firmly.
It stung the other into uncontrollable fury.
The beast then came uppermost; it came out. “You’ve
said that once too often, Tooshalli!” and he struck him
brutally in the face. The Indian fell, rose to his knees
again, collapsed sideways beside the fire, then struggled
back into a sitting position. He never once took his eyes
from the white man’s face.
Beside himself with anger, Grimwood stood over him.
“Is that enough? Will you obey me now?” he shouted.
“I go not,” came the thick reply, blood streaming
from his mouth. The eyes had no flinching in them.
“That valley Ishtot keep. Ishtot see us now. He see you.”
The last words he uttered with strange, almost uncanny
Grimwood, arm raised, fist clenched, about to repeat
his terrible assault, paused suddenly. His arm sank to
his side. What exactly stopped him he could never say.
For one thing, he feared his own anger, feared that if
he let himself go he would not stop till he had killed—committed
murder. He knew his own fearful temper and
stood afraid of it. Yet it was not only that. The calm
firmness of the Redskin, his courage under pain, and
something in the fixed and burning eyes arrested him.
Was it also something in the words he had used—“Ishtot
see you”—that stung him into a queer caution midway
in his violence?
He could not say. He only knew that a momentary
sense of awe came over him. He became unpleasantly
aware of the enveloping forest, so still, listening in a
kind of impenetrable, remorseless silence. This lonely
wilderness, looking silently upon what might easily prove
murder, laid a faint, inexplicable chill upon his raging
blood. The hand dropped slowly to his side again, the
fist unclenched itself, his breath came more evenly.
“Look you here,” he said, adopting without knowing
it the local way of speech. “I ain’t a bad man, though
your going-on do make a man damned tired. I’ll give
you another chance.” His voice was sullen, but a new
note in it surprised even himself. “I’ll do that. You
can have the night to think it over, Tooshalli—see? Talk
it over with your——”
He did not finish the sentence. Somehow the name
of the Redskin God refused to pass his lips. He turned
away, flung himself into his blankets, and in less than
ten minutes, exhausted as much by his anger as by the
day’s hard going, he was sound asleep.
The Indian, crouching beside the dying fire, had said
Night held the woods, the sky was thick with stars,
the life of the forest went about its business quietly, with
that wondrous skill which millions of years have perfected.
The Redskin, so close to this skill that he instinctively
used and borrowed from it, was silent, alert and wise, his
outline as inconspicuous as though he merged, like his
four-footed teachers, into the mass of the surrounding
He moved perhaps, yet nothing knew he moved. His
wisdom, derived from that eternal, ancient mother who
from infinite experience makes no mistakes, did not fail
him. His soft tread made no sound; his breathing, as
his weight, was calculated. The stars observed him, but
they did not tell; the light air knew his whereabouts, yet
The chill dawn gleamed at length between the trees,
lighting the pale ashes of an extinguished fire, also of a
bulky, obvious form beneath a blanket. The form moved
clumsily. The cold was penetrating.
And that bulky form now moved because a dream had
come to trouble it. A dark figure stole across its confused
field of vision. The form started, but it did not wake.
The figure spoke: “Take this,” it whispered, handing
a little stick, curiously carved. “It is the totem of great
Ishtot. In the valley all memory of the White Gods will
leave you. Call upon Ishtot.... Call on Him if you dare”;
and the dark figure glided away out of the dream and out
of all remembrance....
The first thing Grimwood noticed when he woke was
that Tooshalli was not there. No fire burned, no tea was
ready. He felt exceedingly annoyed. He glared about
him, then got up with a curse to make the fire. His
mind seemed confused and troubled. At first he only
realized one thing clearly—his guide had left him in the
It was very cold. He lit the wood with difficulty and
made his tea, and the actual world came gradually back
to him. The Red Indian had gone; perhaps the blow,
perhaps the superstitious terror, perhaps both, had driven
him away. He was alone, that was the outstanding fact.
For anything beyond outstanding facts, Grimwood felt
little interest. Imaginative speculation was beyond his
compass. Close to the brute creation, it seemed, his nature
It was while packing his blankets—he did it automatically,
a dull, vicious resentment in him—that his
fingers struck a bit of wood that he was about to throw
away when its unusual shape caught his attention suddenly.
His odd dream came back then. But was it a
dream? The bit of wood was undoubtedly a totem stick.
He examined it. He paid it more attention than he meant
to, wished to. Yes, it was unquestionably a totem stick.
The dream, then, was not a dream. Tooshalli had quit,
but, following with Redskin faithfulness some code of his
own, had left him the means of safety. He chuckled
sourly, but thrust the stick inside his belt. “One never
knows,” he mumbled to himself.
He faced the situation squarely. He was alone in the
wilderness. His capable, experienced woodsman had deserted
him. The situation was serious. What should he
do? A weakling would certainly retrace his steps, following
the track they had made, afraid to be left alone in this
vast hinterland of pathless forest. But Grimwood was
of another build. Alarmed he might be, but he would
not give in. He had the defects of his own qualities. The
brutality of his nature argued force. He was determined
and a sportsman. He would go on. And ten minutes
after breakfast, having first made a cache of what provisions
were left over, he was on his way—down across the
ridge and into the mysterious valley, the Valley of the
It looked, in the morning sunlight, entrancing. The
trees closed in behind him, but he did not notice. It led
He followed the track of the gigantic moose he meant
to kill, and the sweet, delicious sunshine helped him. The
air was like wine, the seductive spoor of the great beast,
with here and there a faint splash of blood on leaves or
ground, lay forever just before his eyes. He found the
valley, though the actual word did not occur to him, enticing;
more and more he noticed the beauty, the desolate
grandeur of the mighty spruce and hemlock, the splendour
of the granite bluffs which in places rose above the
forest and caught the sun.... The valley was deeper,
vaster than he had imagined. He felt safe, at home in it,
though, again these actual terms did not occur to him.... Here
he could hide for ever and find peace.... He became
aware of a new quality in the deep loneliness. The
scenery for the first time in his life appealed to him, and
the form of the appeal was curious—he felt the comfort
For a man of his habit, this was odd, yet the new
sensations stole over him so gently, their approach so
gradual, that they were first recognized by his consciousness
indirectly. They had already established themselves
in him before he noticed them; and the indirectness took
this form—that the passion of the chase gave place to
an interest in the valley itself. The lust of the hunt, the
fierce desire to find and kill, the keen wish, in a word,
to see his quarry within range, to aim, to fire, to witness
the natural consummation of the long expedition—these
had all become measurably less, while the effect of the
valley upon him had increased in strength. There was a
welcome about it that he did not understand.
The change was singular, yet, oddly enough, it did
not occur to him as singular; it was unnatural, yet it
did not strike him so. To a dull mind of his unobservant,
unanalytical type, a change had to be marked and dramatic
before he noticed it; something in the nature of a shock
must accompany it for him to recognize it had happened.
And there had been no shock. The spoor of the great
moose was much cleaner, now that he caught up with the
animal that made it; the blood more frequent; he had
noticed the spot where it had rested, its huge body leaving
a marked imprint on the soft ground; where it had
reached up to eat the leaves of saplings here and there
was also visible; he had come undoubtedly very near to it,
and any minute now might see its great bulk within range
of an easy shot. Yet his ardour had somehow lessened.
He first realized this change in himself when it suddenly
occurred to him that the animal itself had grown
less cautious. It must scent him easily now, since a moose,
its sight being indifferent, depends chiefly for its safety
upon its unusually keen sense of smell, and the wind came
from behind him. This now struck him as decidedly uncommon:
the moose itself was obviously careless of his
close approach. It felt no fear.
It was this inexplicable alteration in the animal’s behaviour
that made him recognize, at last, the alteration
in his own. He had followed it now for a couple of hours
and had descended some eight hundred to a thousand feet;
the trees were thinner and more sparsely placed; there
were open, park-like places where silver birch, sumach
and maple splashed their blazing colours; and a crystal
stream, broken by many waterfalls, foamed past towards
the bed of the great valley, yet another thousand feet
below. By a quiet pool against some over-arching rocks,
the moose had evidently paused to drink, paused at its
leisure, moreover. Grimwood, rising from a close examination
of the direction the creature had taken after drinking—the
hoof-marks were fresh and very distinct in the
marshy ground about the pool—looked suddenly straight
into the great creature’s eyes. It was not twenty yards
from where he stood, yet he had been standing on that
spot for at least ten minutes, caught by the wonder and
loneliness of the scene. The moose, therefore, had been
close beside him all this time. It had been calmly drinking,
undisturbed by his presence, unafraid.
The shock came now, the shock that woke his heavy
nature into realization. For some seconds, probably for
minutes, he stood rooted to the ground, motionless, hardly
breathing. He stared as though he saw a vision. The
animal’s head was lowered, but turned obliquely somewhat,
so that the eyes, placed sideways in its great head,
could see him properly; its immense proboscis hung as
though stuffed upon an English wall; he saw the fore-feet
planted wide apart, the slope of the enormous
shoulders dropping back towards the fine hind-quarters
and lean flanks. It was a magnificent bull. The horns
and head justified his wildest expectations, they were
superb, a record specimen, and a phrase—where had he
heard it?—ran vaguely, as from far distance, through his
mind: “the biggest moose in the world.”
There was the extraordinary fact, however, that he
did not shoot; nor feel the wish to shoot. The familiar
instinct, so strong hitherto in his blood, made no sign;
the desire to kill apparently had left him. To raise his
rifle, aim and fire had become suddenly an absolute impossibility.
He did not move. The animal and the human stared
into each other’s eyes for a length of time whose interval
he could not measure. Then came a soft noise close beside
him: the rifle had slipped from his grasp and fallen
with a thud into the mossy earth at his feet. And the
moose, for the first time now, was moving. With slow,
easy stride, its great weight causing a squelching sound
as the feet drew out of the moist ground, it came towards
him, the bulk of the shoulders giving it an appearance
of swaying like a ship at sea. It reached his side, it
almost touched him, the magnificent head bent low, the
spread of the gigantic horns lay beneath his very eyes.
He could have patted, stroked it. He saw, with a touch
of pity, that blood trickled from a sore in its left shoulder,
matting the thick hair. It sniffed the fallen rifle.
Then, lifting its head and shoulders again, it sniffed
the air, this time with an audible sound that shook from
Grimwood’s mind the last possibility that he witnessed a
vision or dreamed a dream. One moment it gazed into
his face, its big brown eyes shining and unafraid, then
turned abruptly, and swung away at a speed ever rapidly
increasing across the park-like spaces till it was lost finally
among the dark tangle of undergrowth beyond. And the
Englishman’s muscles turned to paper, his paralysis passed,
his legs refused to support his weight, and he sank heavily
to the ground....
It seems he slept, slept long and heavily; he sat up,
stretched himself, yawned and rubbed his eyes. The sun
had moved across the sky, for the shadows, he saw, now
ran from west to east, and they were long shadows. He
had slept evidently for hours, and evening was drawing
in. He was aware that he felt hungry. In his pouchlike
pockets, he had dried meat, sugar, matches, tea, and
the little billy that never left him. He would make a fire,
boil some tea and eat.
But he took no steps to carry out his purpose, he felt
disinclined to move, he sat thinking, thinking.... What
was he thinking about? He did not know, he could not
say exactly; it was more like fugitive pictures that passed
across his mind. Who, and where, was he? This was
the Valley of the Beasts, that he knew; he felt sure of
nothing else. How long had he been here, and where had
he come from, and why? The questions did not linger for
their answers, almost as though his interest in them was
merely automatic. He felt happy, peaceful, unafraid.
He looked about him, and the spell of this virgin forest
came upon him like a charm; only the sound of falling
water, the murmur of wind sighing among innumerable
branches, broke the enveloping silence. Overhead, beyond
the crests of the towering trees, a cloudless evening sky
was paling into transparent orange, opal, mother of pearl.
He saw buzzards soaring lazily. A scarlet tanager flashed
by. Soon would the owls begin to call and the darkness
fall like a sweet black veil and hide all detail, while the
stars sparkled in their countless thousands....
A glint of something that shone upon the ground caught
his eye—a smooth, polished strip of rounded metal: his
rifle. And he started to his feet impulsively, yet not
knowing exactly what he meant to do. At the sight of
the weapon, something had leaped to life in him, then
faded out, died down, and was gone again.
“I’m—I’m——” he began muttering to himself, but
could not finish what he was about to say. His name had
disappeared completely. “I’m in the Valley of the Beasts,”
he repeated in place of what he sought but could not find.
This fact, that he was in the Valley of the Beasts,
seemed the only positive item of knowledge that he had.
About the name something known and familiar clung,
though the sequence that led up to it he could not trace.
Presently, nevertheless, he rose to his feet, advanced a
few steps, stooped and picked up the shining metal thing,
his rifle. He examined it a moment, a feeling of dread
and loathing rising in him, a sensation of almost horror
that made him tremble, then, with a convulsive movement
that betrayed an intense reaction of some sort he could not
comprehend, he flung the thing far from him into the
foaming torrent. He saw the splash it made, he also saw
that same instant a large grizzly bear swing heavily along
the bank not a dozen yards from where he stood. It, too,
heard the splash, for it started, turned, paused a second,
then changed its direction and came towards him. It
came up close. Its fur brushed his body. It examined
him leisurely, as the moose had done, sniffed, half rose
upon its terrible hind legs, opened its mouth so that red
tongue and gleaming teeth were plainly visible, then
flopped back upon all fours again with a deep growling
that yet had no anger in it, and swung off at a quick trot
back to the bank of the torrent. He had felt its hot
breath upon his face, but he had felt no fear. The monster
was puzzled but not hostile. It disappeared.
“They know not——” he sought for the word “man,”
but could not find it. “They have never been hunted.”
The words ran through his mind, if perhaps he was not
entirely certain of their meaning; they rose, as it were,
automatically; a familiar sound lay in them somewhere.
At the same time there rose feelings in him that were
equally, though in another way, familiar and quite natural,
feelings he had once known intimately but long since laid
What were they? What was their origin? They
seemed distant as the stars, yet were actually in his body,
in his blood and nerves, part and parcel of his flesh. Long,
long ago.... Oh, how long, how long?
Thinking was difficult; feeling was what he most easily
and naturally managed. He could not think for long; feeling
rose up and drowned the effort quickly.
That huge and awful bear—not a nerve, not a muscle
quivered in him as its acrid smell rose to his nostrils, its
fur brushed down his legs. Yet he was aware that somewhere
there was danger, though not here. Somewhere
there was attack, hostility, wicked and calculated plans
against him—as against that splendid, roaming animal
that had sniffed, examined, then gone its own way, satisfied.
Yes, active attack, hostility and careful, cruel plans
against his safety, but—not here. Here he was safe,
secure, at peace; here he was happy; here he could roam
at will, no eye cast sideways into forest depths, no ear
pricked high to catch sounds not explained, no nostrils
quivering to scent alarm. He felt this, but he did not
think it. He felt hungry, thirsty too.
Something prompted him now at last to act. His billy
lay at his feet, and he picked it up; the matches—he
carried them in a metal case whose screw top kept out all
moisture—were in his hand. Gathering a few dry twigs,
he stooped to light them, then suddenly drew back with
the first touch of fear he had yet known.
Fire! What was fire? The idea was repugnant to
him, it was impossible, he was afraid of fire. He flung
the metal case after the rifle and saw it gleam in the last
rays of sunset, then sink with a little splash beneath the
water. Glancing down at his billy, he realized next that
he could not make use of it either, nor of the dark dry
dusty stuff he had meant to boil in water. He felt no
repugnance, certainly no fear, in connexion with these
things, only he could not handle them, he did not need
them, he had forgotten, yes, “forgotten,” what they meant
exactly. This strange forgetfulness was increasing in him
rapidly, becoming more and more complete with every
minute. Yet his thirst must be quenched.
The next moment he found himself at the water’s edge;
he stooped to fill his billy; paused, hesitated, examined
the rushing water, then abruptly moved a few feet higher
up the stream, leaving the metal can behind him. His
handling of it had been oddly clumsy, his gestures awkward,
even unnatural. He now flung himself down with
an easy, simple motion of his entire body, lowered his
face to a quiet pool he had found, and drank his fill of the
cool, refreshing liquid. But, though unaware of the fact,
he did not drink. He lapped.
Then, crouching where he was, he ate the meat and
sugar from his pockets, lapped more water, moved back a
short distance again into the dry ground beneath the trees,
but moved this time without rising to his feet, curled his
body into a comfortable position and closed his eyes again
to sleep.... No single question now raised its head in
him. He felt contentment, satisfaction only....
He stirred, shook himself, opened half an eye and saw,
as he had felt already in slumber, that he was not alone.
In the park-like spaces in front of him, as in the shadowed
fringe of the trees at his back, there was sound and movement,
the sound of stealthy feet, the movement of innumerable
dark bodies. There was the pad and tread of animals,
the stir of backs, of smooth and shaggy beasts, in countless
numbers. Upon this host fell the light of a half
moon sailing high in a cloudless sky; the gleam of stars,
sparkling in the clear night air like diamonds, shone
reflected in hundreds of ever-shifting eyes, most of them
but a few feet above the ground. The whole valley was
He sat upon his haunches, staring, staring, but staring
in wonder, not in fear, though the foremost of the great
host were so near that he could have stretched an arm and
touched them. It was an ever-moving, ever-shifting
throng he gazed at, spell-bound, in the pale light of moon
and stars, now fading slowly towards the approaching
dawn. And the smell of the forest itself was not sweeter
to him in that moment than the mingled perfume, raw,
pungent, acrid, of this furry host of beautiful wild animals
that moved like a sea, with a strange murmuring, too,
like sea, as the myriad feet and bodies passed to and fro
together. Nor was the gleam of the starry, phosphorescent
eyes less pleasantly friendly than those happy lamps that
light home-lost wanderers to cosy rooms and safety.
Through the wild army, in a word, poured to him the deep
comfort of the entire valley, a comfort which held both the
sweetness of invitation and the welcome of some magical
No thoughts came to him, but feeling rose in a tide of
wonder and acceptance. He was in his rightful place.
His nature had come home. There was this dim, vague
consciousness in him that after long, futile straying in
another place where uncongenial conditions had forced him
to be unnatural and therefore terrible, he had returned
at last where he belonged. Here, in the Valley of the
Beasts, he had found peace, security and happiness. He
would be—he was at last—himself.
It was a marvellous, even a magical, scene he watched,
his nerves at highest tension yet quite steady, his senses
exquisitely alert, yet no uneasiness in the full, accurate
reports they furnished. Strong as some deep flood-tide,
yet dim, as with untold time and distance, rose over him
the spell of long-forgotten memory of a state where he
was content and happy, where he was natural. The outlines,
as it were, of mighty, primitive pictures, flashed
before him, yet were gone again before the detail was
He watched the great army of the animals, they were
all about him now; he crouched upon his haunches in the
centre of an ever-moving circle of wild forest life. Great
timber wolves he saw pass to and fro, loping past him
with long stride and graceful swing; their red tongues
lolling out; they swarmed in hundreds. Behind, yet
mingling freely with them, rolled the huge grizzlies, not
clumsy as their uncouth bodies promised, but swiftly,
lightly, easily, their half tumbling gait masking agility
and speed. They gambolled, sometimes they rose and stood
half upright, they were comely in their mass and power,
they rolled past him so close that he could touch them.
And the black bear and the brown went with them, bears
beyond counting, monsters and little ones, a splendid multitude.
Beyond them, yet only a little further back, where
the park-like spaces made free movement easier, rose a
sea of horns and antlers like a miniature forest in the
silvery moonlight. The immense tribe of deer gathered in
vast throngs beneath the starlit sky. Moose and caribou,
he saw, the mighty wapiti, and the smaller deer in their
crowding thousands. He heard the sound of meeting
horns, the tread of innumerable hoofs, the occasional pawing
of the ground as the bigger creatures manœuvred for
more space about them. A wolf, he saw, was licking gently
at the shoulder of a great bull-moose that had been injured.
And the tide receded, advanced again, once more
receded, rising and falling like a living sea whose waves
were animal shapes, the inhabitants of the Valley of the
Beneath the quiet moonlight they swayed to and fro
before him. They watched him, knew him, recognized
him. They made him welcome.
He was aware, moreover, of a world of smaller life that
formed an under-sea, as it were, numerous under-currents
rather, running in and out between the great upright legs
of the larger creatures. These, though he could not see
them clearly, covered the earth, he was aware, in enormous
numbers, darting hither and thither, now hiding, now reappearing,
too intent upon their busy purposes to pay him
attention like their huger comrades, yet ever and anon
tumbling against his back, cannoning from his sides,
scampering across his legs even, then gone again with a
scuttering sound of rapid little feet, and rushing back into
the general host beyond. And with this smaller world also
he felt at home.
How long he sat gazing, happy in himself, secure, satisfied,
contented, natural, he could not say, but it was long
enough for the desire to mingle with what he saw, to know
closer contact, to become one with them all—long enough
for this deep blind desire to assert itself, so that at length
he began to move from his mossy seat towards them, to
move, moreover, as they moved, and not upright on two
The moon was lower now, just sinking behind a towering
cedar whose ragged crest broke its light into silvery
spray. The stars were a little paler too. A line of faint
red was visible beyond the heights at the valley’s eastern
He paused and looked about him, as he advanced
slowly, aware that the host already made an opening in
their ranks and that the bear even nosed the earth in front,
as though to show the way that was easiest for him to
follow. Then, suddenly, a lynx leaped past him into the
low branches of a hemlock, and he lifted his head to admire
its perfect poise. He saw in the same instant the arrival
of the birds, the army of the eagles, hawks and buzzards,
birds of prey—the awakening flight that just precedes the
dawn. He saw the flocks and streaming lines, hiding the
whitening stars a moment as they passed with a prodigious
whirr of wings. There came the hooting of an owl
from the tree immediately overhead where the lynx now
crouched, but not maliciously, along its branch.
He started. He half rose to an upright position. He
knew not why he did so, knew not exactly why he started.
But in the attempt to find his new, and, as it now seemed,
his unaccustomed balance, one hand fell against his side
and came in contact with a hard straight thing that projected
awkwardly from his clothing. He pulled it out,
feeling it all over with his fingers. It was a little stick.
He raised it nearer to his eyes, examined it in the light
of dawn now growing swiftly, remembered, or half remembered
what it was—and stood stock still.
“The totem stick,” he mumbled to himself, yet audibly,
finding his speech, and finding another thing—a glint of
peering memory—for the first time since entering the
A shock like fire ran through his body; he straightened
himself, aware that a moment before he had been crawling
upon his hands and knees; it seemed that something broke
in his brain, lifting a veil, flinging a shutter free. And
Memory peered dreadfully through the widening gap.
“I’m—I’m Grimwood,” his voice uttered, though below
his breath. “Tooshalli’s left me. I’m alone...!”
He was aware of a sudden change in the animals surrounding
him. A big, grey wolf sat three feet away, glaring
into his face; at its side an enormous grizzly swayed
itself from one foot to the other; behind it, as if looking
over its shoulder, loomed a gigantic wapiti, its horns
merged in the shadows of the drooping cedar boughs. But
the northern dawn was nearer, the sun already close to the
horizon. He saw details with sharp distinctness now.
The great bear rose, balancing a moment on its massive
hind-quarters, then took a step towards him, its front
paws spread like arms. Its wicked head lolled horribly,
as a huge bull-moose, lowering its horns as if about to
charge, came up with a couple of long strides and joined
it. A sudden excitement ran quivering over the entire
host; the distant ranks moved in a new, unpleasant way;
a thousand heads were lifted, ears were pricked, a forest
of ugly muzzles pointed up to the wind.
And the Englishman, beside himself suddenly with a
sense of ultimate terror that saw no possible escape, stiffened
and stood rigid. The horror of his position petrified
him. Motionless and silent he faced the awful army of
his enemies, while the white light of breaking day added
fresh ghastliness to the scene which was the setting for his
cruel death in the Valley of the Beasts.
Above him crouched the hideous lynx, ready to spring
the instant he sought safety in the tree; above it again,
he was aware of a thousand talons of steel, fierce hooked
beaks of iron, and the angry beating of prodigious wings.
He reeled, for the grizzly touched his body with its
outstretched paw; the wolf crouched just before its deadly
spring; in another second he would have been torn to
pieces, crushed, devoured, when terror, operating naturally
as ever, released the muscles of his throat and tongue.
He shouted with what he believed was his last breath on
earth. He called aloud in his frenzy. It was a prayer to
whatever gods there be, it was an anguished cry for help
“Ishtot! Great Ishtot, help me!” his voice rang out,
while his hand still clutched the forgotten totem stick.
And the Red Heaven heard him.
Grimwood that same instant was aware of a presence
that, but for his terror of the beasts, must have frightened
him into sheer unconsciousness. A gigantic Red Indian
stood before him. Yet, while the figure rose close in front
of him, causing the birds to settle and the wild animals
to crouch quietly where they stood, it rose also from a
great distance, for it seemed to fill the entire valley with
its influence, its power, its amazing majesty. In some
way, moreover, that he could not understand, its vast
appearance included the actual valley itself with all its
trees, its running streams, its open spaces and its rocky
bluffs. These marked its outline, as it were, the outline
of a superhuman shape. There was a mighty bow, there
was a quiver of enormous arrows, there was this Redskin
figure to whom they belonged.
Yet the appearance, the outline, the face and figure too—these
were the valley; and when the voice became audible,
it was the valley itself that uttered the appalling words.
It was the voice of trees and wind, and of running, falling
water that woke the echoes in the Valley of the Beasts,
as, in that same moment, the sun topped the ridge and
filled the scene, the outline of the majestic figure too, with
a flood of dazzling light:
“You have shed blood in this my valley.... I will
The figure melted away into the sunlit forest, merging
with the new-born day. But Grimwood saw close against
his face the shining teeth, hot fetid breath passed over
his cheeks, a power enveloped his whole body as though
a mountain crushed him. He closed his eyes. He fell.
A sharp, crackling sound passed through his brain, but
already unconscious, he did not hear it.
His eyes opened again, and the first thing they took
in was—fire. He shrank back instinctively.
“It’s all right, old man. We’ll bring you round.
Nothing to be frightened about.” He saw the face of Iredale
looking down into his own. Behind Iredale stood
Tooshalli. His face was swollen. Grimwood remembered
the blow. The big man began to cry.
“Painful still, is it?” Iredale said sympathetically.
“Here, swallow a little more of this. It’ll set you right
in no time.”
Grimwood gulped down the spirit. He made a violent
effort to control himself, but was unable to keep the tears
back. He felt no pain. It was his heart that ached,
though why or wherefore, he had no idea.
“I’m all to pieces,” he mumbled, ashamed yet somehow
not ashamed. “My nerves are rotten. What’s happened?”
There was as yet no memory in him.
“You’ve been hugged by a bear, old man. But no
bones broken. Tooshalli saved you. He fired in the nick
of time—a brave shot, for he might easily have hit you
instead of the brute.”
“The other brute,” whispered Grimwood, as the whisky
worked in him and memory came slowly back.
“Where are we?” he asked presently, looking about
He saw a lake, canoes drawn up on the shore, two
tents, and figures moving. Iredale explained matters
briefly, then left him to sleep a bit. Tooshalli, it appeared,
travelling without rest, had reached Iredale’s camping
ground twenty-four hours after leaving his employer. He
found it deserted, Iredale and his Indian being on the
hunt. When they returned at nightfall, he had explained
his presence in his brief native fashion: “He struck me
and I quit. He hunt now alone in Ishtot’s Valley of the
Beasts. He is dead, I think. I come to tell you.”
Iredale and his guide, with Tooshalli as leader, started
off then and there, but Grimwood had covered a considerable
distance, though leaving an easy track to follow. It
was the moose tracks and the blood that chiefly guided
them. They came up with him suddenly enough—in the
grip of an enormous bear.
It was Tooshalli that fired.
The Indian lives now in easy circumstances, all his
needs cared for, while Grimwood, his benefactor but no
longer his employer, has given up hunting. He is a quiet,
easy-tempered, almost gentle sort of fellow, and people
wonder rather why he hasn’t married. “Just the fellow
to make a good father,” is what they say; “so kind, good-natured
and affectionate.” Among his pipes, in a glass
case over the mantlepiece, hangs a totem stick. He declares
it saved his soul, but what he means by the expression
he has never quite explained.