The one-year old Smoke Dog was actually a wolf. His best friend was the old Lakota Indian, Wankan Tehoa, who'd found and raised Smoke from a wee pup. But now, this man who meant the world to Smoke might be taken from him.
They were returning from the woods, where they'd been gathering mushrooms to sell at the market. The two were now engaged in one of their favorite games; stalking each other. Smoke would initiate the fun by slipping quietly into the brush, slinking away. Somewhere ahead on the trail, Smoke would be crouched and waiting to pounce upon his mock prey with a full ninety pounds. This always ended in a joyous wrestling match between the two love-struck partners, involving much laughter.
Smoke was waiting, poised in puppy like eagerness. But it was taking far too long for Wankan to appear around the bend. If Smoke could only see Wankan leaned against the trunk of that balsam poplar, both hands clutching his chest, his face scrunched in pain...
The wolf's keen hearing picked up a firm, "THUMP!"
Smoke's legs uncoiled like steel springs, launching him down the trail, only to find his best friend crumpled into a heap on the path, unconscious.
A wet tongue furiously lapped at Wankan's face, as mournful sounds emanated from the gentle beast's belly. He had to do something, but what? Smoke suddenly recalled the kind man who, last winter had come to Wankan's cabin, when he'd been sick. Pivoting, he sped down the trail.
By now the town's people were familiar with the sight of a wolf in their midst. Some were growing to love and trust Smoke Dog. But there were several whose prejudice and hatred burned hot.
Several folks pointed to the streaking fur sprinting down the street. The question was on many lips. Where is Wankan? The two had been inseparable since their first meeting.
One rotund rancher seized the moment. "He's finally done it! I bet that crazed wolf done killed Wankan!"
The strong voice of Spearville's Sunday school teacher, Alicia answered.
"Oh Brian! That's nonsense! Smoke Dog is as gentle as a lamb."
"And why does he call him Dog? Everyone knows he's a dangerous, wild wolf! He shouldn't be allowed in town!"
Meanwhile, Smoke had made his way up the steps of Doc Mc Shane's little downtown cottage and barged through the front door.
Brian sounded off again. "He's attacking the doctor!"
Alicia scowled at the portly man. "Mister Adams—SHUT UP!" Throwing her head back and taking her skirt up in both hands, she scurried stiff backed after Smoke into the Doctor's foyer.
Smoke had Doc Mc Shane's flannel shirt sleeve between his jaws, pulling the man from his seat onto his feet.
"What the devil's gotten into ya boy? Whar's Wankan?"
Smoke made it clear that Doc was to accompany him.
"Alright laddie, I'm-a comin. Lemme git me bag. Miss Alicia, sumthin be wrong. Wankan must needs mah help. Run an git Sheriff Dobbs, will ya lass?
A curious group streamed out of town, past Wankan's cabin, into the forest, with Smoke leading the procession, all the while demanding more haste.
Two hours later, Wankan lay on the examining table with the doctor bent over, pressing a cold stethoscope to the patient's chest. Opposite of Doc Mc Shane, Smoke stood with both paws on the table staring intently into his friend's face. The scene from the rear began to tell the verdict. As Wankan's eyelids fluttered open a big bushy wolf's tail slowly started fanning back and forth until it was in full swing.
"It be yer heart Wankan. I tole ya a-fore, ya needs ta carry dese nitro pills with ya. If'n Smoke had not'a fetched me when he did, you jus might not'a be heah now.
The Indian grinned up at his tongue lolling companion, his eyes filling with tears. "Sorry we didn't get to finish our game Smoke."
Upon hearing the voice, that cooed him to sleep as a pup, Smoke's entire body wagged. With each swing, his tail struck a table leg. "Thump, thump, thump."
Back at their isolated cabin, Wankan stretched out on his cot gazing up at the rough hewn ceiling, a contemplative look on his face. Smoke's big head lay across the old man's chest, feeling and hearing the rhythmic thumps pulsing there. This so called, dangerous killer, would make a daily habit of insuring those thumps kept sounding.
Wankan prayed. "Thank you Lord, for this miracle you've sent into my life."
This will make a fantastic children's book. I will buy it for sure. My granddaughters will love it. I really like that is is a story of a wolf, and I will look forward to reading all the next chapters. Excellence in writing!