As she warmed the tiny reindeer, she thought back to the terrible day when her mother, father, brothers, and sisters had been killed. Her family was chasing rabbits across the tundra one bright spring day. Millions upon millions of wildflowers were in bloom and it was a glorious day to be alive.

At first, the wolves did not hear the sound of the airplane approaching. Then, without warning, the crack of rifle shots rang out from above. The airplane was circling above the wolf family. More shots and her mother lay dying at her side. Just as her father ran over to help her mother, more shots were fired; and soon, her whole family lay dead or dying in the field of flowers.

She could hear the laughter of the men in the airplane above the roar of the engine, and then the plane was gone. She had felt a sharp pain in her side but had forgotten it due to the shock of seeing her entire family killed before her eyes. She looked at her side, and blood was coming from an ugly wound. She, too, had been shot; but, fortunately, the bullet had gone through her body without hitting any vital organs.

As she was too young to hunt on her own and too weak from loss of blood to search for another wolf family, she found a patch of the softest and most beautiful wildflowers and made herself a bed in which to lie.

Soon vultures appeared in the sky and swooped down to feast upon her dead family. As darkness fell, the vultures crouched in a circle around their dinner to spend the night. The little wolf cub was afraid and alone for the first time in her life. Finally, she fell into a troubled sleep.

The next morning she awakened to the sound of whistling. She had never heard a sound like that before; and, there was a strange smell, a smell her mother and father had warned her about -- the smell of humans!!!

She quivered in fear in her little bed of flowers and closed her eyes. Then she heard voices. She didn't understand what they were saying, for she only understood the language of wolves. She raised her head above the flowers to take a peek. She saw twelve tiny men weeping at the sight of her dead family, and she could sense that they meant her no harm.

She began to whimper, and one of the men heard her cries and went to her. He picked her up and placed her in a wicker basket he was carrying. For several hours, she rocked and swayed in the basket, while peering through the little cracks between the reeds from which the basket had been fashioned. She could see that the little men were carrying heavy baskets full of strange objects. Later she would learn that these were the parts needed for the assembly of toys such as doll heads, little wheels, computer parts, and thousands of other bits and pieces of toys.

Then to her further surprise, she heard cheerful voices calling out. When she dared to poke her head above the top of the basket in which she had been riding along with a hundred soft teddy bear bellies, she saw a large, jolly woman and a fat, jolly man in a red suit waving and smiling.
(c) 2000 George H. Russell

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