Chapter 16 Summary
There are many other First Days that mark the time Brian has spent alone in the wilderness. There is First Arrow Day, when he discovers how to make an arrow that flies correctly by attaching feathers, and First Rabbit Day, when he finally catches a rabbit with his bow and arrow. It seems to Brian that he is always hungry, but he is confident now in his ability to get food.
One day Brian brings down a foolbird, and when he goes to the lake to wash his hands, he is attacked for no apparent reason by a huge moose. The moose, a female with no horns, hits him “like a runaway truck,” throwing him into the water and using her head to crush him into the mud. Brian’s eyes and ears are inundated with goo, and he feels as if he might drown. Then the moose leaves as quickly as she had appeared.
Gasping as his head breaks the surface of the water, Brian sees the moose “not ten feet away,” munching on a lilypad root. She seems calm, so he begins to swim to shore, but as soon as he moves she charges him again, slamming him onto his back under the water with her head and front hooves. When she leaves again, Brian makes his way, inch by inch, to the shore. As long as he makes no sudden movements, the moose seems not to mind, so he continues his slow crawl until he is out of the water.
The moose eventually wanders out of sight, and Brian stands up carefully. His ribs and right shoulder hurt badly, but, to his great relief, he finds that he can walk. After retrieving his bow and spear from the water, Brian goes back to his shelter, happy to be alive.
In the middle of the night, Brian is awakened by a low, roaring noise. He sits up painfully and listens, but the sound, though clearly made by the wind, is unlike anything he has ever heard before. Sensing danger, Brian takes his spear and bow from their places on the wall then steps outside to try to figure out what the problem is. He can see nothing.
The sound of the wind is like a train bearing down on him, and Brian recognizes with horror that it is a tornado. As he turns to get back through the shelter door, he is seized by “some mad force” and slammed back inside on his face. The wind rips away the wall he built to enclose his dwelling and scatters everything—“his bed, the fire, his tools”—everywhere. Brian himself is “whipped” around...
(The entire section is 655 words.)