When the sun was just beginning to rise above the treetops surrounding the small farm, when the birds were already a third through their merry morning chorus, when the squirrels decided it was safe to descend from the treetops and the rabbits were eating a generous breakfast of grass or leaves; a thin column of smoke rose lazily from the cabin chimney; the few animals on the farm began to stir, hearing the surrounding noise, and the chorus throughout the forest reached a crescendo pitch, Jacob Baxtar decided to go hunting.
He stood on the porch of his small cabin, shouldering his shotgun and breathing in the woodland air. Jacob had used this shotgun many times before. Every morning he would rise early to go hunting for his mother and himself. Jacob would go into the woods, following the trail of a deer or a sizable rabbit. At the end of the trail, when the animal was in sight, Jacob would raise his shotgun and fire on target. He would never miss. Every day, he would return home with the prize and show his mother and she would prepare it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Jacob did not know that today was going to be different. He headed into the woods, listening carefully to the animals' calls to one another. He walked for a while, studying the ground for prints. Then, he stopped. Ahead on the path was a grey wolf, staring at him. Jacob froze and lowered his gun, preparing himself for when the wolf would strike him. However, nothing happened. The wolf merely stared at Jacob, wagging its tail happily.
Jacob was about to turn and leave when a thought occurred to him. If I were to bring this wolf home to mother she would be so proud of me. And it would give us plenty of food. Grinning with excitement, Jacob raised the shotgun and fired. But the wolf had leapt aside at the last moment and the shot missed. Again, Jacob took aim and fired but the wolf galloped away once more.
This went on until most of Jacob's ammunition was exhausted. He cursed and threw down his gun in defeat. The wolf stared at him. Jacob gritted his teeth then lunged at the animal, desperate to catch it under his hands. He caught the wolf by the throat and pinned it to the ground. It stared up at him, panting happily. Then it wriggled free and pranced out of his reach. Jacob lunged at it again and missed. This continued for the rest of the day, with Jacob never being able to contain the wolf long enough to kill it.
Eventually, he picked up his gun and headed home, empty-handed. He realized the wolf was a free spirit, part of the wind and the land. It could never be captive or killed. He didn't feel much like killing it anyway since it had seemed they had played a game together.
When he reached home and explained this to his mother, she disagreed. "What?! How can you come home empty handed? Now we won't have any food to eat today! Go back into the woods and bring back something! I don't care if you find the wolf again. If you do, kill it."
So Jacob, more angrily this time, turned around and headed back into the woods. While walking, he noticed things he didn't notice before, like the butterfly that had been caught in a spider's web. He saw far above the treetops a lone hawk, soaring high above everyone else. And he saw a beautiful flower that had been picked and then thrown aside on the ground. All of these things made him uneasy.
Jacob kept his eyes open for deer and for rabbits but it so happened that he found himself face to face with the wolf once more. It wagged its tail when it saw him and its tongue lolled out of its mouth. "I'm sorry," Jacob said, taking careful aim this time. "I know you are a free spirit but I am not and I need to eat." The wolf stared at him. Jacob closed one eye. The sound of a gunshot shook the treetops. Jacob leapt back in surprise. He hadn't fired his gun yet so who had? He turned and saw a man with his gun pointing in the air and his eyes fixed on Jacob. He must have fired his gun into the sky to get Jacob's attention before he shot the wolf.
"Are you out of your mind?" the other man burst out.
"Why would you say that?" Jacob asked, confused.
"You're insane! A lunatic!"
"And why am I insane, sir?"
"You were going to shoot my dog!"