Ana untied the sticks and branches from the travois and brought them inside. It hadn't taken them long to find their way back to Ana's house once it became light out. Snorri and Rupret were a bit surprised to discover that there were no worried parents waiting for Ana when she returned. Ana still hadn't told them her parents were dead. Snow makes lying hard though. No tracks lead out from the house and no one was in it. Rupret hadn't noticed, but Snorri had. He could smell something was up. Literally. The only scent he found inside the house was Ana's. If any other humans lived there he should have smelled them, too. But he didn't.
The house was a regular woodsman's house. The rough hewn logs were stacked to form the walls and held together with wooden pins. The shingles of the roof were visible in the loft above the main floor. The loft had been where Ana slept. When her father died she started sleeping by the fireplace bundled in blankets. It was warmer there curled up on the floor. Above the mantle there was a poem:
"So when do you expect your parents to return?" Snorri asked the nine-year-old girl. "I like that poem above the mantle. It's the woodsman's poem, isn't it?"
"Yes. My father carved it there," said Ana, ignoring the first question, "He was a woodsman. He cut trees for the men in town. He always knew the best places to find the wood the carpenters needed."
"You speak of him in the past tense," said Snorri, "is your father still alive?" Ana knew it was pointless to lie any longer and all her emotions burst out in a stream of tears. She cried and cried and cried. Dogs don't cry, so at first Snorri and Rupret where a bit confused. When Rupret heard whimpers between the sobs, then he knew she was sad. Rupret went up to Ana and nuzzled her paw. Human paws didn't have very much fur at all, which Rupret thought was odd. She petted him a bit on the head and then smiled.
"Oh Rupret," she said.
Snorri was still confused, but he was glad she had stopped sobbing. Ana sat down by the pile of branches she had brought inside and Rupret licked off her tears. My, they were salty! Ana gave Rupret a hug and then began to recount the whole awful tale of how she lost her mother and then her father.
The larder in the cabin was also empty. Ana did not know how the food had gone as quickly as it had, but gone it was and there were still many months of winter.
"We can help you," Snorri offered. He and Rupret knew how to hunt the snow otters and had lived on them most of the winter. There was also that elk carcass they found last month. It had succumbed to hunger and cold and Snorri and Rupret had feasted on it for a whole week!