After severely injuring Peter Driscal in an empty parking lot, mischief-maker Cole Matthews is in major trouble. But instead of jail time, Cole is given another option: attend Circle Justice, an alternative program that sends juvenile offenders to a remote Alaskan Island to focus on changing their ways. Desperate to avoid prison, Cole fakes humility and agrees to go.
While there, Cole is mauled by a mysterious white bear and left for dead. Thoughts of his abusive parents, helpless Peter, and his own anger cause him to examine his actions and seek redemption—from the spirit bear that attacked him, from his victims, and from himself.
year the nut crop was a failure. This was the off-year for the red oaks; they
bear only every other season. The white oaks had been nipped by a late frost.
The beech-trees were very scarce, and the chestnuts were gone—the blight had
taken them all. Pignut hickories were not plentiful, and the very best of all,
the sweet shag-hickory, had suffered like the white oaks.
the time of the nut harvest, came. Dry leaves were drifting to the ground, and
occasional "thumps" told of big fat nuts that also were falling,
sometimes of themselves and sometimes cut by harvesters; for, although no other
Graysquirrel was to be seen, Bannertail was not alone. A pair of Redsquirrels
was there and half a dozen Chipmunks searching about for the scattering
methods were very different from those of the Graysquirrel race. The Chipmunks
were carrying off the prizes in their cheek-pouches to underground storehouses.
The Redsquirrels were hurrying away with their loads to distant hollow trees, a
day's gathering in one tree. The Graysquirrels' way is different. With them
each nut is buried in the ground, three or four inches deep, one nut at each
place. A very precise essential instinct it is that regulates this plan. It is
inwrought with the very making of the Graysquirrel race. Yet in Bannertail it
was scarcely functioning at all. Even the strongest inherited habit needs a
does a young chicken learn to peck? It has a strong inborn readiness to do it,
but we know that that impulse must be stimulated at first by seeing the mother
peck, or it will not function. In an incubator it is necessary to have a
sophisticated chicken as a leader, or the chickens of the machine foster-mother
will die, not knowing how to feed. Nevertheless, the instinct is so strong that
a trifle will arouse it to take control. Yes, so small a trifle as tapping on
the incubator floor with a pencil-point will tear the flimsy veil, break the
restraining bond and set the life-preserving instinct free.
this chicken, robbed of its birthright by interfering man, was Bannertail in
his blind yielding to a vague desire to hide the nuts. He had never seen it
done, the example of the other nut-gatherers was not helpful—was bewildering,
between the inborn impulse and the outside stimulus of example, Bannertail
would seize a nut, strip off the husk, and hide it quickly anywhere. Some nuts
he would thrust under bits of brush or tufts of grass; some he buried by
dropping leaves and rubbish over them, and a few, toward the end, he hid by
digging a shallow hole. But the real, well-directed, energetic instinct to hide
nut after nut, burying them three good inches, an arm's length, underground,
was far from being aroused, was even hindered by seeing the Redsquirrels and
the Chipmunks about him bearing away their stores, without attempting to bury
them at all.
the poor, skimpy harvest was gathered. What was not carried off was hidden by
the trees themselves under a layer of dead and fallen leaves.
above, in an old red oak, Bannertail found a place where a broken limb had
let the weather in, so the tree was rotted. Digging out the soft wood left an
ample cave, which he gnawed and garnished into a warm and weather-proof home.
bright, sharp days of autumn passed. The leaves were on the ground throughout
the woods in noisy dryness and lavish superabundance. The summer birds had
gone, and the Chipmunk, oversensitive to the crispness of the mornings, had
bowed sedately on November 1, had said his last "good-by," and had
gone to sleep. Thus one more voice was hushed, the feeling of the woods was
"Hush, be still!"—was all-expectant of some new event, that the
tentacles of high-strung wood-folk sensed and appraised as sinister. Backward
they shrank, to hide away and wait.