Summary (Masterplots, Definitive Revised Edition)
Arthur Bridges, dreaming that he was caught in a blizzard in the Sierra Nevadas, could hear a loved one cry out to him, but he could not recognize the voice. He was afraid to move for fear he would fall off an icy cliff. He realized dimly that his left hand was bare and cold. As he put it in the pocket of his red and white cowhide parka, he felt the half-finished carving of a mountain lion that he was making for Joe Sam. Every year, he carved a cat for Joe Sam because the old Indian believed a black cat brought death with the first snow unless he could make medicine against it. This year the first snow had come early in October, and the carved cat was not finished. The black cat must be stalking some prey through the stormy night. As Arthur heard the scream again, he tried to get off the cliff. Falling, he screamed and woke himself up.
Finding himself in the bunk room of the ranch house, Arthur listened for a sound in the wind. When he heard it, he awoke his brothers, Curt and Harold. Curt thought Arthur was only dreaming until he also heard the scream of cattle being attacked somewhere in the storm. He rushed into his clothes to go out to the cattle.
The mother, having heard the screams, was making breakfast by the time the boys were dressed. Since it was dark and they could not see what was attacking, they ate while they made plans. Harold, the youngest, was to stay at home. Curt, always the boss, would take charge, but he would take Arthur...
(The entire section is 1215 words.)
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