When his father is called to active duty in Vietnam, Cory Alder leaves Florida to live with his adopted Native American uncle, Jasper. Jasper’s Idaho ranch is like a foreign country. Cory is afraid of the cougars, bears, and wolves; he doesn’t like the big mountains and doubts he’ll ever be able to ride a wild horse. Then he meets an old Nez Perce Medicine Man called Black Elk, who catapults Cory into an alternate universe where animals live in tribes, hunt, and go on the warpath. Transformed into a beaver called Yellow Shell, he learns to speak their language and discovers that they all fear the legendary Changer, who plots to reshape the creatures of both the human and animal realms and use them for his own nefarious ends.
With two worlds hanging in the balance, Cory must rely on courage and instinct to defeat this cunning enemy and be restored to his human form. Is he strong enough to stand up to the Changer and overcome his own fear of the unknown?
Fur Magic is the 3rd book in the Magic Sequence, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
About the Author
For well over a half century, Andre Norton was one of the most popular science fiction and fantasy authors in the world. With series such as Time Traders, Solar Queen, Forerunner, Beast Master, Crosstime, and Janus, as well as many standalone novels, her tales of adventure have drawn countless readers to science fiction. Her fantasy novels, including the bestselling Witch World series, her Magic series, and many other unrelated novels, have been popular with readers for decades. Lauded as a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America, she is the recipient of a Life Achievement Award from the World Fantasy Convention. An Ohio native, Norton lived for many years in Winter Park, Florida, and died in March 2005 at her home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Read an Excerpt
By Andre Norton
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1965 the Estate of Andre Norton
All rights reserved.
It was cold and far too dark outside the window to be really day-time yet. Now if he were back home this morning — Cory sat on the edge of the bunk, holding the boot he was sure was going to be too tight, and thought about home. Right now he would be willing to sit out in the full blaze of Florida sun if only all could be just as it had been before Dad went off with the Air Rescue to Vietnam. Aunt Lucy would be downstairs in the kitchen getting breakfast and all would be — right. Only Dad was gone, to a place Cory could not even pronounce, and Aunt Lucy was nursing Grandma in San Francisco. So Florida was not home any more.
"Cory!" It was not a loud call, nor was the rap on the door which accompanied it a loud rap, but Cory was startled sharply out of his daydream.
"Yes, sir, Uncle Jasper, I'm coming!" he answered as quickly as he could, pulling on first one boot, then the other. With speed, though the buttons did not slip very easily into their proper holes this morning, he fastened his shirt and tucked the tails into his jeans.
He longed to roll back beneath the covers on the bunk, maybe even pull them over his head, and forget all about yesterday. Horses —
Cory winced, rubbing aching bruises. Riding — But at least they were going in the jeep today. Only he did not want to face Uncle Jasper this morning, though there was no hope of avoiding that. He stamped down hard on each foot, the unfamiliar height of the heels making him feel as if he tilted forward, so different from Florida sandals.
Horses — Cory had found out something about himself yesterday which made him drag his booted feet now as he opened the door and went reluctantly down the ranch-house hall. He was afraid, not only of the horse Uncle Jasper had said was old, and tame, and good for a beginner to learn to ride on but of — of the country — and perhaps a little — of Uncle Jasper.
Last night he had lain awake and listened to all kinds of disturbing noises. Of course, he had told himself over and over that there was nothing to be afraid of. But he had never lived out in the open before, with not even a paved road, and with all those mountains shooting up to the sky. Here there were just miles and miles of nothing but wild things — tall grass no one ever cut and big trees and — animals — Uncle Jasper had pointed out a coyote track right beside the corral last night.
Corral — Cory's memory switched again to his shameful performance at the corral yesterday afternoon. Maybe it was true, what he had once read in a book, that animals knew when you were afraid of them. Because that tame old horse had bucked him right off. And — and he had not had the real guts to get back up in the saddle again when Uncle Jasper said to.
Even now, though it was so cold in the very early morning, Cory felt hot all over remembering it. Uncle Jasper had not said a thing. In fact he had talked about something else, brought Cory back here to the ranch-house and showed him all the Indian things in the big room.
Indian things — Cory sighed. All his life he had been so proud of knowing Uncle Jasper, boasting about it at school and in the Scouts, bragging that he had a real live Indian foster uncle, who had served with Dad in Korea and now lived in Idaho and raised Appaloosa horses for rodeos. Then Uncle Jasper had come to Florida just about the time Dad got his orders to ship out and Aunt Lucy was called to Grandma's. And he had offered to take Cory to his ranch for the whole summer! It had been such a wonderful, exciting time, getting ready to go, and reading about the West — all he could read — though it had been tough to say goodbye to Dad, too.
He stood in the doorway looking out into the early morning, shivering, pulling on his sweater. Now he could hear men's voices out by the jeep and the moving of horses in the big corral.
Horses. When you watched the cowboys on TV, riding looked so easy. And when Dad and Uncle Jasper had taken him to the rodeo — well, the riders had taken a lot of spills — but that had been watching, not trying to do it yourself. Now when he thought of horses all he could really see were big hoofs in the air, aiming straight at him.
"Coming, Uncle Jasper!" He shivered again and began to run to the jeep, resolutely not looking towards the corral. There had been a couple of stories he had read about devil horses and cougars and —
The hills were very dark against the greying sky as he reached the jeep. Uncle Jasper was talking to Mr. Baynes.
"This is Cory Alder," Uncle Jasper said.
Cory remembered his manners. "How do you do, sir." He held out his hand as Dad had taught him. Mr. Baynes looked a little surprised, as if he did not expect this.
"Hi, kid," he answered. "Want to see the herd, eh? Well, hop in."
Cory scrambled into the back of the jeep where two saddles and other riding gear were already piled, leaving only a sliver of room for him. Two saddles — not three — one for Uncle Jasper, one for Mr. Baynes — He felt a surge of relief. Then Uncle Jasper did not expect him to ride! They would be at the line camp, and maybe he could stay there.
He tried to find something to hold on to, for Uncle Jasper did not turn into the ranch road, but pointed the jeep towards a very dark range of hills, and cut off across country.
They bounced and jumped, whipping through sage-brush, around rocks, until they half fell into the dried bed of a vanished stream, and used that for a road. Once they heard a drumming even louder than the sound of the motor. Uncle Jasper slowed to a stop, his head turning as he listened so that the silver disks on his hatband glinted in the strengthening light. Then he got to his feet, steadying himself with one hand on the frame of the windscreen, his face up almost as if he were sniffing the wind to catch some scent as well as listening so intently.
Cory studied him. Uncle Jasper was even taller than Dad. And, though he wore a rancher's work clothes, the silver-studded band on his wide-brimmed Stetson, and the fact that he had a broad archer's guard on his wrist, made him look different from Mr. Baynes. The latter was tanned almost as dark as Uncle Jasper and had black hair, too.
Then Cory forgot the men in the front seat as he saw what they watched for, a herd of horses moving at a gallop. But the wildly running band passed well beyond the stream bed and Cory sighed with relief.
"Cougar started 'em maybe," Mr. Baynes commented. His hand dropped to the rifle caught in the clips on the jeep side as men had once carried such weapons in saddle scabbards.
"Could be," Uncle Jasper agreed. "Take a look when we come back — though cougar is more interested in deer."
The jeep ground on. Now Cory thought of cougar, of a big snarling cat lying along a tree limb, or flattened on top of a rock such as that one right over there, ready to jump its prey. He had read about cougars, and bears, and wolves, and all the other animals of this country when he was all excited about coming here.
But that had been only reading, and now that he was truly living on a ranch — he was afraid. One could easily look at the picture of a cougar, but it was another thing to see shadows and think of what might be hiding in them.
Cory stared at the rocky ridge they were now nearing, really coming much too close. Was that a suspicious hump there, a hump that could be a cougar ready to launch at the jeep? Cougars did not attack men, he knew, but what if a very hungry cougar decided that the jeep was a new kind of animal, maybe a bigger species of deer?
The trouble was that Cory kept thinking about such things all the time. He knew, and tried to keep reminding himself, of what he had read in all the books, of stories Dad had told him of the times he himself had stayed here with Uncle Jasper — that there was nothing to be afraid of. Only now that he was here, the shadows were too real, and he was shivering inside every time he looked at them. Yet he had to be careful not to let Uncle Jasper know — not after what had happened yesterday in the corral.
They bounced safely past the suspicious rock, and the jeep pulled up the bank to settle down again in a very rough and rutted way. Uncle Jasper guided the wheels into the ruts and their ride, while still very bumpy, was no longer so shaky. The sky was much lighter now and those big, dark shadows, so able to hide anything, were disappearing.
Save for the ruts, they might have been passing through a country where they were the first men ever to travel that way. Cory saw a high-flying bird and thought, with a thrill not born from fear this time, that it must be an eagle. It was the animals possibly lurking on the ground that scared him, not birds.
The rutted way swung around the curve of a hill and they came to a halt before a cabin. Cory was surprised to see that it looked so very much like those he was familiar with in the TV Westerns. There were log walls, with the chinks between the logs filled with clay. A roof jutted forward to shelter the plank door, and there were two windows, their shutters thrown open. To one side was a pole corral holding several horses. And a stone wall, about knee-high, guarded a basin into which a pipe fed a steady flow of water from a spring.
In a circle of old ashes and fire-blackened stones burned a campfire. There was a smoke-stained coffee-pot resting on three stones, with the flames licking not too far away.
Cory sniffed. He was now very hungry. And the smell from a frying pan, also braced on stones, was enough to make one want breakfast right away. The man who squatted on his heels tending the cooking stood up. Cory recognized Ned Redhawk, Uncle Jasper's foreman, whom he had seen only at a distance a couple of days before.
"Grub's waitin'. Light an' eat," was his greeting. He stooped again to set out a pile of aluminium plates, and then waved one hand at some logs rolled up at a comfortable distance from the fire.
"Smells good, Ned." Uncle Jasper uncoiled his long length from behind the steering wheel of the jeep. He stood for a moment breathing deeply. "Good mornin' to hit the high country, too. Baynes is ready to pick him out some prime breedin' stock."
"White-top herds most likely," Ned returned. "Saul says they're movin' down from Kinsaw now at grazin' speed. You should be able to take your look 'bout noon, everythin' bein' equal."
"Been huntin', Ned?" Uncle Jasper nodded towards the still-barked tree log that formed one support for the porch roof of the cabin. Cory was surprised to see what hung there — an unstrung bow, beneath it a quiver of arrows. Of course, he knew that that big bracelet Uncle Jasper wore was a bow guard, and he had seen bows in a rack at the ranch. But he thought they were only for target shooting. Did Uncle Jasper and Ned still use them for real hunting?
"Cougar out there has got him a taste for colt. Plenty of deer 'bout, no need for him to use his fangs on the herds," Ned said. "He's a big one, front forepaw missin' one toe, so he marks an easy trail. Found three or four kills this past month, all his doin'— two of them colt."
"Should take a rifle," Mr. Baynes cut in. He pulled the one from the jeep clips as if ready to set off hunting the big cat at once.
Uncle Jasper laughed. "You know what folks say about us, Jim. That we're too tight with pennies to buy shells. Fact is, we like to use bows, makes things a little more equal somehow. Killin' the People goes against the grain, unless we have to. Anyway — this is our way —"
What did he mean by "the People," Cory wondered. Did he mean that he and Ned hunted men? No, that could not be true. He wished he dared to go over and examine the bow. And the quiver — he could see it was old, covered with a bead-and-quill pattern just like the very old one back at the ranch. And there was a fringe of coarse, tattered stuff along the carrying strap. He had seen something like that in a picture in a book — scalps! That was what it had said under that picture — scalps! Cory jerked his eyes from the quiver and sat down beside Uncle Jasper on one of the logs, determined not to imagine any more things.
"Here you are, son." A plate of bacon and beans, a mixture he would not ordinarily consider breakfast, was offered him.
"Thank you, sir. It sure smells good!"
Ned looked at him with some of the surprise Mr. Baynes had shown. "Cliff Alder's boy, ain't you?"
"Yes, sir. Dad's in Vietnam now."
"So I heard." But there was something in that bare statement of fact which was better than any open concern.
"This all new to you, eh?" Ned made a sweeping gesture which seemed to include the hills and the beginning of the valley in which the cabin stood.
Before Cory could answer, there was a sharp yelp from farther up in the heights, which was echoed hollowly. Cory did not have a chance to conceal his start, the quick betraying jerk of his head. Then he waited, tense, for Uncle Jasper, someone, to comment on his show of unease.
But instead, Uncle Jasper set down his coffee cup and looked up the slope as if he could see who or what had yelped. "The Changer is impatient this mornin'."
Ned chuckled. "Takes a likin' for some plate scrapin's, he does. Wants us to move out and let him do some nosin' 'bout."
"The Changer?" Cory asked, his shame in betraying his alarm lost for a moment in curiosity.
It was Uncle Jasper who answered, his voice serious as if he were telling something that was a proven fact. "Coyote — he's the Changer. For our tribe, the Nez Percé, he wears that form, for some other tribes he is the Raven. Before the coming of the white men there were my own people here. But before them the Old People, the animals. Only they were not as they are today. No, they lived in tribes, and were the rulers of the world. They had their hunting grounds, their warpaths, their peace fires."
"But the Changer," Ned was rolling a cigarette with loose tobacco and paper, and now he cut in as Uncle Jasper paused to drink more coffee, "he never wanted things to be the same. It was in him to change them around. Some say he made the Indian because he wanted to see a new kind of animal."
"Only he tried a last change," Uncle Jasper took up the story again, "and it was the Great Spirit who defeated him. So then, some way, he was sent out to live on an island in the sea. When enough time passes and the white man puts an end to the world through his muddlin', then the Changer shall return and turn the world over so the People, the animals, will rule again."
"Could be that story has somethin'," commented Mr. Baynes, "considerin' all we keep hearin' of world news. Most animals I've seen run their lives with a lot more sense than we seem to be showin' lately." He raised his own cup of coffee to the direction from which the coyote yelp had sounded. "Good mornin' to you, Changer. Only I don't think you'll get a chance to try turnin' the world yet a while."
"When," Cory asked, "is he supposed to turn the world over?"
Uncle Jasper smiled. "Well, you may just be alive to see it, son. I think the legend collectors have it figured out for about the year 2000, white man's time. But that's a good way off yet, and now we have some horses to look at."
Cory's fork scraped on his plate. Horses — but there were only two saddles in the jeep. He glanced — unnoticed, he hoped — at the rail beside the corral. One there — that would be Ned's. Maybe — maybe Uncle Jasper would not force him to say right out what he had been trying to get up courage enough to say all morning — that he could not, just could not, ride today.
But Uncle Jasper was talking to Ned. "Seen any more smoke?"
"Not yet. But it's time. Sometimes he just rides in without warnin' — you know how he does."
Uncle Jasper looked down now at Cory. "You can help me, Cory."
"How?" the boy asked warily. Was Uncle Jasper just making up some job around here to cover up for him? He felt a little sick — after all his big plans and wanting to make Uncle Jasper glad he had asked him — and Dad proud of him —
"Black Elk is due about now. He is an important man, Cory, and he generally stops here before goin' on to the ranch. There's a line phone in there." Uncle Jasper nodded at the cabin. "But Black Elk keeps to the old ways, he won't ever use it. If he comes, you can phone in and they'll send the other jeep up to drive him down. He does like a jeep ride."
"You mean the old man still travels around by himself?" demanded Mr. Baynes. "Why, he must be near a hundred!"
Excerpted from Fur Magic by Andre Norton. Copyright © 1965 the Estate of Andre Norton. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. WILD COUNTRY,
2. STRONG MEDICINE,
3. WAR PARTY CAPTIVE,
4. BROKEN CLAW,
5. BEARERS OF THE PIPE,
6. EAGLES' BARGAIN,
7. RAVEN'S SING,
8. A FOREST OF STONE,
9. A SHAPING OF SHAPES,
10. THE CHANGER CHALLENGED,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR,