Chapter 23 Summary

The first heavy frost happens at the end of November. The Baxters spend their evening in front of the fire; Flag is with them, and Ora does not even seem to care. Starvation seems unlikely to visit them now.

Suddenly the terrified calf bleats and Baxter goes for his gun. A pack of starving wolves has attacked the calf. Baxter shoots and the wolves disperse, all but the one Julia has killed. The incident has Baxter shaken, and he plans to go to the Forresters because a pack of starving wolves is more than either of them can fight alone. He leaves the next morning, leaving Jody to protect the farm. Flag stays inside all day, and Baxter returns in time for dinner.

There is only one pack of marauding wolves left. The Forresters want to poison them, but Baxter wants to hunt or trap them. Ora says he is too soft-hearted, but Baxter does not want innocent creatures to be poisoned. For once, Jody thinks his father is wrong; he thinks the wolves will attack Flag. Both Ora and the Forresters call Baxter a coward, but Jody knows his father is a better man than the Forresters.

The Forresters come and set out the poison, telling Baxter exactly where it is so he can keep his dogs away from it. He will keep his dogs tied up for a week. That night, Jody hears his father load his gun, just in case, and then tell Ora that Twink Weatherby has joined Oliver in Boston. Lem is furious, threatening to kill both of them. Jody is angry because he has lost Oliver to a girl; Ora suggests that the girl must be “one o’ them leetle ol’ chipperdales” or Oliver would have married her by now.