Kalik Meets a Frog

Kalik was ten weeks old—old enough to do a little exploring on his own. His parents were away hunting, and his brothers and sisters were playing a game of nip-the-tail. Now a breeze had brought a new scent to Kalik’s nose, one he had never smelled before.

The wolf pup knew the scent of spruce trees and of caribou just over the hill. He knew the way flowers smelled and the way the world smelled when it rained. But his nose had never told him about this new thing. It was a wet smell, like water lilies. But there was a flesh odor also.

What is it? Kalik wondered. He had to find out. His big feet padded softly on the forest floor, and his pointed ears and skinny tail stuck straight up in the air. His ears would bring sounds of friends or foes, but his tail told him nothing. It was just there, like a twig.

Kalik tilted his nose in the air to better catch the strange scent. Following this invisible air trail was not easy. At times, the little wolf lost the scent. Then he circled until he found it again.

Suddenly Kalik saw something by a small pond. It was a strange and unfamiliar creature, and it was crouching and staring at the pup with bulging eyes.

Kalik advanced cautiously. The “thing” continued to stare. Kalik’s nose touched it—and BOING! The creature gave a great leap.

Kalik was so startled, he tumbled backward in a somersault. Scrambling to his feet, he saw that the thing-that-leaped had landed right next to the pond. All at once it went, “Haaa-rumph!” and hopped another foot or two.

In the meantime, a lone wolf was watching both Kalik and the frog. He was a large male from a distant pack, and he was hungry. He wanted that frog and had no intention of letting Kalik frighten it away. He crouched, ready to spring.

Kalik walked up to the frog and stuck out a paw. Does it want to play? he wondered. He touched it ever so lightly, and once again was startled when the frog leaped away. Up-up-up went the frog … and it came down with a plop! into the water.

Kalik was captivated by this new interest in his life. He watched the frog swim to a lily pad and climb on top of it.

Kalik neither heard nor smelled the older wolf. One minute he was observing the creature that leaped and the next, he was sprawled on his back. The great dark figure had pinned him down, snarling fiercely. The stranger snapped at Kalik angrily, and the young wolf fought back as best he could. But he was no match for his opponent. He was fighting a valiant but losing battle.

It might have gone badly for Kalik, had not his parents rushed to the scene. Their keen ears and noses told them of trouble. Without hesitation they raced to the defense of Kalik. There was a short, fierce battle, then the strange wolf realized he couldn’t win and fled. He hadn’t really wanted to fight. All he really wanted was that frog, and there were, after all, other frogs in other ponds.

After Kalik’s parents had sniffed him over to make sure he was all right, the three wolves started back to the den. But Kalik turned once to see if the thing were still there. He spied it resting on the lily pad.

The frog shifted a bit, as if to make himself more comfortable. Then he went, “Haaa-rumph!” again. All seemed to be well in his world too.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Dick Brown