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 (First published in The Cosmopolitan , June, 1902 as "Diable - A Dog")
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     Batard  was  a  devil.  This was recognized throughout the
Northland. "Hell's Spawn" he was called by many  men,  but  his
master,   Black  Leclere,  chose  for  him  the  shameful  name
"Batard." Now Black Leclere was also a  devil,  and  the  twain
were  well matched. There is a saying that when two devils come
together, hell is to pay. This is  to  be  expected,  and  this
certainly was to be expected when Batard and Black Leclere came
together.  The  first  time  they  met, Batard was a part-grown
puppy, lean and hungry, with bitter eyes;  and  they  met  with
snap and snarl, and wicked looks, for Leclere's upper lip had a
wolfish  way of lifting and showing the white, cruel teeth. And
it lifted then, and his eyes glinted viciously, as  he  reached
for  Batard  and  dragged him out from the squirming litter. It
was certain that they divined each other, for  on  the  instant
Batard  had  buried  his  puppy  fangs  in  Leclere's hand, and
Leclere, thumb and finger, was coolly choking  his  young  life
out of him.
     "Sacredam,"  the Frenchman said softly, flirting the quick
blood from his bitten hand and gazing down on the little  puppy
choking and gasping in the snow.
     Leclere  turned  to  John Hamlin, storekeeper of the Sixty
Mile Post. "Dat fo' w'at  Ah  lak  heem.  'Ow  moch,  eh,  you,
M'sieu'? 'Ow moch? Ah buy heem, now; Ah buy heem queek."
     And  because  he  hated him with an exceeding bitter hate,
Leclere bought Batard and gave him his shameful name.  And  for
five  years the twain adventured across the Northland, from St.
Michael's and the Yukon delta to the head-reaches of the  Pelly
and  even  so  far as the Peace River, Athabasca, and the Great
Slave.  And  they  acquired  a  reputation  for  uncompromising
wickedness,  the  like of which never before attached itself to
man and dog.
     Batard did not know his father, -- hence his name, -- but,
as John Hamlin knew, his father was a great gray  timber  wolf.
But  the  mother  of  Batard,  as  he dimly remembered her, was
snarling, bickering, obscene, husky,  full-fronted  and  heavy-
chested,  with  a  malign  eye,  a cat-like grip on life, and a
genius for trickery and evil. There was neither faith nor trust
in her. Her treachery alone could be relied upon, and her wild-
wood amours attested her general depravity. Much  of  evil  and
much  of  strength  were  there in these, Batard's progenitors,
and, bone and flesh of their bone and flesh, he  had  inherited
it  all.  And then came Black Leclere, to lay his heavy hand on
the bit of pulsating puppy life, to press and  prod  and  mould
till  it  became  a  big  bristling  beast,  acute  in knavery,
overspilling with hate, sinister, malignant, diabolical. With a
proper master  Batard  might  have  made  an  ordinary,  fairly
efficient  sled-dog.  He  never  got  the  chance:  Leclere but
confirmed him in his congenital iniquity.
     The history of Batard and Leclere is a history of  war  --
of  five  cruel, relentless years, of which their first meeting
is fit summary. To begin with, it was Leclere's fault,  for  he
hated  with  understanding  and  intelligence,  while the long-
legged,  ungainly  puppy  hated  only  blindly,  instinctively,
without reason or method. At first there were no refinements of
cruelty  (these  were  to  come later), but simple beatings and
crude brutalities. In one of these Batard had an  ear  injured.
He  never regained control of the riven muscles, and ever after
the ear drooped limply down to keep  keen  the  memory  of  his
tormentor. And he never forgot.
     His  puppyhood  was  a period of foolish rebellion. He was
always worsted, but he fought back because it was his nature to
fight back. And he was unconquerable. Yelping shrilly from  the
pain  of  lash  and  club, he none the less contrived always to
throw in the defiant snarl, the bitter vindictive menace of his
soul which fetched without fail more blows  and  beatings.  But
his was his mother's tenacious grip on life. Nothing could kill
him.  He flourished under misfortune, grew fat with famine, and
out of his terrible struggle for life developed a preternatural
intelligence. His were the stealth and cunning  of  the  husky,
his  mother,  and  the  fierceness  and  valor of the wolf, his
father.
     Possibly it was  because  of  his  father  that  he  never
wailed.  His puppy yelps passed with his lanky legs, so that he
became grim and taciturn, quick to strike,  slow  to  warn.  He
answered  curse  with  snarl,  and blow with snap, grinning the
while  his  implacable  hatred;  but  never  again,  under  the
extremest agony, did Leclere bring from him the cry of fear nor
of  pain. This unconquerableness but fanned Leclere's wrath and
stirred him to greater deviltries.
     Did Leclere give Batard half a fish and to his mates whole
ones, Batard went forth to rob other dogs of their  fish.  Also
he robbed cach s and expressed himself in a thousand rogueries,
till  he  became  a terror to all dogs and masters of dogs. Did
Leclere beat Batard and fondle Babette, -- Babette who was  not
half  the  worker  he was, -- why, Batard threw her down in the
snow and broke her hind leg in his heavy jaws, so that  Leclere
was  forced  to  shoot her. Likewise, in bloody battles, Batard
mastered all his team-mates, set them  the  law  of  trail  and
forage,  and made them live to the law he set. In five years he
heard but one kind word, received but  one  soft  stroke  of  a
hand, and then he did not know what manner of things they were.
He  leaped  like  the  untamed  thing he was, and his jaws were
together in a flash.  It  was  the  missionary  at  Sunrise,  a
newcomer  in  the country, who spoke the kind word and gave the
soft stroke of the hand. And for six months after, he wrote  no
letters  home  to  the  States,  and  the surgeon at McQuestion
travelled two hundred  miles  on  the  ice  to  save  him  from
bloodpoisoning.
     Men and dogs looked askance at Batard when he drifted into
their   camps   and  posts.  The  men  greeted  him  with  feet
threateningly lifted for the  kick,  the  dogs  with  bristling
manes  and bared fangs. Once a man did kick Batard, and Batard,
with quick wolf snap, closed his jaws like a steel trap on  the
man's  calf  and crunched down to the bone. Whereat the man was
determined to have his life, only Black Leclere,  with  ominous
eyes  and  naked hunting-knife, stepped in between. The killing
of Batard -- ah, sacredam, that was a pleasure Leclere reserved
for himself. Some day it would happen, or else -- bah! who  was
to know? Anyway, the problem would be solved.
     For  they  had  become  problems  to  each other. The very
breath each drew was a challenge and a  menace  to  the  other.
Their  hate  bound  them  together  as  love  could never bind.
Leclere was bent on the coming of the day  when  Batard  should
wilt  in  spirit and cringe and whimper at his feet. And Batard
-- Leclere knew what was in Batard's mind, and more  than  once
had  read it in Batard's eyes. And so clearly had he read, that
when Batard was at his back, he made it a point to glance often
over his shoulder.
     Men marvelled when Leclere refused  large  money  for  the
dog. "Some day you'll kill him and be out his price," said John
Hamlin  once, when Batard lay panting in the snow where Leclere
had kicked him, and no one knew whether his ribs  were  broken,
and no one dared look to see.
     "Dat," said Leclere, dryly, "dat is my biz'ness, M'sieu'."
     And  the  men marvelled that Batard did not run away. They
did not understand. But Leclere understood. He was  a  man  who
lived  much  in the open, beyond the sound of human tongue, and
he had learned the voices of wind and storm, the sigh of night,
the whisper of dawn, the clash of day. In a dim  way  he  could
hear  the  green  things  growing,  the running of the sap, the
bursting of the bud. And he  knew  the  subtle  speech  of  the
things  that moved, of the rabbit in the snare, the moody raven
beating the air with hollow wing, the baldface shuffling  under
the  moon,  the  wolf  like  a  gray shadow gliding betwixt the
twilight and the dark.  And  to  him  Batard  spoke  clear  and
direct.  Full  well  he understood why Batard did not run away,
and he looked more often over his shoulder.
     When in anger, Batard was not nice to look upon, and  more
than  once  had  he leapt for Leclere's throat, to be stretched
quivering and senseless in the snow, by the butt  of  the  ever
ready  dogwhip. And so Batard learned to bide his time. When he
reached his full strength and prime of youth,  he  thought  the
time had come. He was broad-chested, powerfully muscled, of far
more  than  ordinary  size, and his neck from head to shoulders
was a mass of bristling hair --  to  all  appearances  a  full-
blooded  wolf. Leclere was lying asleep in his furs when Batard
deemed the time to be ripe. He crept upon him stealthily,  head
low  to earth and lone ear laid back, with a feline softness of
tread. Batard breathed gently, very gently, and not till he was
close at hand did he raise his head. He paused  for  a  moment,
and  looked  at  the bronzed bull throat, naked and knotty, and
swelling to a deep and steady pulse. The  slaver  dripped  down
his  fangs  and  slid  off his tongue at the sight, and in that
moment he remembered his drooping ear, his uncounted blows  and
prodigious  wrongs,  and without a sound sprang on the sleeping
man.
     Leclere awoke to the pang of the fangs in his throat, and,
perfect animal that he was, he awoke clear-headed and with full
comprehension. He closed on Batard's  windpipe  with  both  his
hands,  and rolled out of his furs to get his weight uppermost.
But the thousands  of  Batard's  ancestors  had  clung  at  the
throats  of unnumbered moose and caribou and dragged them down,
and the wisdom of  those  ancestors  was  his.  When  Leclere's
weight  came  on  top of him, he drove his hind legs upward and
in, and clawed down chest  and  abdomen,  ripping  and  tearing
through  skin and muscle. And when he felt the man's body wince
above him and lift, he worried and shook at the  man's  throat.
His  team-mates closed around in a snarling circle, and Batard,
with failing breath and fading sense, knew that their jaws were
hungry for him. But that did not matter -- it was the man,  the
man above him, and he ripped and clawed, and shook and worried,
to  the last ounce of his strength. But Leclere choked him with
both his hands, till Batard's chest heaved and writhed for  the
air  denied,  and  his eyes glazed and set, and his jaws slowly
loosened, and his tongue protruded black and swollen.
     "Eh? Bon, you devil!" Leclere gurgled,  mouth  and  throat
clogged  with  his  own  blood, as he shoved the dizzy dog from
him.
     And then Leclere cursed the other dogs off  as  they  fell
upon  Batard.  They  drew  back  into a wider circle, squatting
alertly on their haunches and licking their chops, the hair  on
every neck bristling and erect.
     Batard recovered quickly, and at sound of Leclere's voice,
tottered to his feet and swayed weakly back and forth.
     "A-h-ah! You beeg devil!" Leclere spluttered. "Ah fix you;
Ah fix you plentee, by Gar!"
     Batard, the air biting into his exhausted lungs like wine,
flashed  full  into the man's face, his jaws missing and coming
together with a metallic clip. They rolled over and over on the
snow,  Leclere  striking  madly  with  his  fists.  Then   they
separated, face to face, and circled back and forth before each
other. Leclere could have drawn his knife. His rifle was at his
feet.  But  the beast in him was up and raging. He would do the
thing with his hands -- and his teeth. Batard  sprang  in,  but
Leclere  knocked  him  over  with a blow of the fist, fell upon
him, and buried his teeth to the bone in the dog's shoulder.
     It was a primordial setting and a primordial  scene,  such
as  might  have  been in the savage youth of the world. An open
space in a dark forest, a ring of grinning  wolf-dogs,  and  in
the centre two beasts, locked in combat, snapping and snarling,
raging  madly about, panting, sobbing, cursing, straining, wild
with passion, in a fury of  murder,  ripping  and  tearing  and
clawing in elemental brutishness.
     But Leclere caught Batard behind the ear, with a blow from
his fist,  knocking  him  over,  and, for the instant, stunning
him. Then Leclere leaped upon him with his feet, and sprang  up
and  down,  striving to grind him into the earth. Both Batard's
hind legs were broken ere Leclere ceased that  he  might  catch
breath.
     "A-a-ah!   A-a-ah!"  he  screamed,  incapable  of  speech,
shaking his fist, through sheer impotence of throat and larynx.
     But Batard was indomitable. He lay  there  in  a  helpless
welter, his lip feebly lifting and writhing to the snarl he had
not  the  strength  to utter. Leclere kicked him, and the tired
jaws closed on the ankle, but could not break  the  skin.  Then
Leclere  picked  up the whip and proceeded almost to cut him to
pieces, at each stroke of the lash crying: "Dis taim  Ah  break
you! Eh? By Gar! Ah break you!"
     In  the  end,  exhausted,  fainting from loss of blood, he
crumpled up and fell by his  victim,  and  when  the  wolf-dogs
closed  in to take their vengeance, with his last consciousness
dragged his body on top Batard to shield him from their fangs.
     This occurred not far from Sunrise,  and  the  missionary,
opening the door to Leclere a few hours later, was surprised to
note  the absence of Batard from the team. Nor did his surprise
lessen when  Leclere  threw  back  the  robes  from  the  sled,
gathered  Batard  into  his  arms,  and  staggered  across  the
threshold. It happened that the surgeon of McQuestion, who  was
something  of  a gadabout, was up on a gossip, and between them
they proceeded to repair Leclere.
     "Merci, non," said he. "Do you fix firs' de dog.  To  die?
Non.  Eet  is  not good. Becos' heem Ah mus' yet break. Dat fo'
w'at he mus' not die."
     The surgeon called it a marvel, the missionary a  miracle,
that  Leclere  pulled  through  at all; and so weakened was he,
that in the spring the fever got him, and he went on  his  back
again.  Batard  had  been in even worse plight, but his grip on
life prevailed, and the bones of his hind legs  knit,  and  his
organs  righted  themselves,  during  the  several weeks he lay
strapped to  the  floor.  And  by  the  time  Leclere,  finally
convalescent, sallow and shaky, took the sun by the cabin door,
Batard had reasserted his supremacy among his kind, and brought
not  only  his  own  team-mates  but the missionary's dogs into
subjection.
     He moved never a muscle, nor twitched a  hair,  when,  for
the  first  time, Leclere tottered out on the missionary's arm,
and sank down slowly and with infinite caution  on  the  three-
legged stool.
     "Bon!  --"  he  said. "Bon! De good sun!" And he stretched
out his wasted hands and washed them in the warmth.
     Then his gaze fell on the dog, and the  old  light  blazed
back in his eyes. He touched the missionary lightly on the arm.
"Mon p re, dat is one beeg devil, dat Batard. You will bring me
one pistol, so, dat Ah drink de sun in peace."
     And thenceforth for many days he sat in the sun before the
cabin  door.  He  never dozed, and the pistol lay always across
his knees. Batard had a way,  the  first  thing  each  day,  of
looking  for  the weapon in its wonted place. At sight of it he
would lift his lip faintly in token  that  he  understood,  and
Leclere  would  lift  his own lip in an answering grin. One day
the missionary took note of the trick.
     "Bless  me!"  he  said.  "I  really  believe   the   brute
comprehends."
     Leclere  laughed  softly. "Look you, mon p re. Dat w'at Ah
now spik, to dat does he lissen."
     As if in confirmation, Batard  just  perceptibly  wriggled
his lone ear up to catch the sound.
     "Ah say `keel.'"
     Batard  growled deep down in his throat, the hair bristled
along his neck, and every muscle went tense and expectant.
     "Ah lift de gun, so, like  dat."  And  suiting  action  to
word, he sighted the pistol at Batard.
     Batard,  with  a  single leap, sideways, landed around the
corner of the cabin out of sight.
     "Bless me!" he repeated at intervals.
     Leclere grinned proudly.
     "But why does he not run away?"
     The Frenchman's shoulders went up in the racial shrug that
means   all   things   from   total   ignorance   to   infinite
understanding.
     "Then why do you not kill him?"
     Again the shoulders went up.
     "Mon p re," he said after a pause, "de taim is not yet. He
is one  beeg devil. Some taim Ah break heem, so, an' so, all to
leetle bits. Hey? Some taim. Bon! --"
     A day came when Leclere gathered  his  dogs  together  and
floated  down  in  a  bateau  to  Forty  Mile,  and  on  to the
Porcupine, where he took a commission from the P.  C.  Company,
and went exploring for the better part of a year. After that he
poled  up  the  Koyokuk to deserted Arctic City, and later came
drifting back, from camp to camp, along the Yukon.  And  during
the  long  months  Batard  was  well  lessoned. He learned many
tortures, and, notably, the torture of hunger, the  torture  of
thirst,  the torture of fire, and, worst of all, the torture of
music.
     Like the rest of his kind, he did not enjoy music. It gave
him exquisite anguish, racking him nerve by nerve, and  ripping
apart  every  fibre  of  his  being. It made him howl, long and
wolf-like, as when the wolves bay the stars on  frosty  nights.
He  could  not  help  howling.  It  was his one weakness in the
contest with Leclere, and it was his  shame.  Leclere,  on  the
other  hand,  passionately loved music -- as passionately as he
loved strong drink. And when his soul clamored for  expression,
it  usually uttered itself in one or the other of the two ways,
and more usually in both ways. And when he had drunk, his brain
a-lilt with unsung song  and  the  devil  in  him  aroused  and
rampant,  his  soul  found  its  supreme utterance in torturing
Batard.
     "Now we will haf a leetle museek," he would say. "Eh? W'at
you t'ink, Batard?"
     It was  only  an  old  and  battered  harmonica,  tenderly
treasured  and  patiently  repaired;  but  it was the best that
money could buy, and out of its  silver  reeds  he  drew  weird
vagrant airs that men had never heard before. Then Batard, dumb
of  throat, with teeth tight clenched, would back away, inch by
inch, to the  farthest  cabin  corner.  And  Leclere,  playing,
playing, a stout club tucked under his arm, followed the animal
up,  inch  by  inch,  step  by  step, till there was no further
retreat.
     At first Batard would  crowd  himself  into  the  smallest
possible space, grovelling close to the floor; but as the music
came  nearer  and  nearer,  he  was  forced to uprear, his back
jammed into the logs, his fore legs fanning the air  as  though
to  beat  off  the  rippling  waves of sound. He still kept his
teeth together, but severe muscular contractions  attacked  his
body, strange twitchings and jerkings, till he was all a-quiver
and  writhing  in  silent torment. As he lost control, his jaws
spasmodically  wrenched  apart,  and  deep  throaty  vibrations
issued forth, too low in the register of sound for human ear to
catch.   And  then,  nostrils  distended,  eyes  dilated,  hair
bristling in helpless rage, arose the long wolf howl.  It  came
with  a slurring rush upward, swelling to a great heartbreaking
burst of sound, and dying away in sadly cadenced  woe  --  then
the  next  rush upward, octave upon octave; the bursting heart;
and the infinite sorrow and misery, fainting, fading,  falling,
and dying slowly away.
     It  was  fit  for  hell.  And  Leclere, with fiendish ken,
seemed to divine each particular  nerve  and  heartstring,  and
with  long  wails  and tremblings and sobbing minors to make it
yield up its last shred of grief. It  was  frightful,  and  for
twenty-four  hours  after,  Batard  was  nervous  and unstrung,
starting at common sounds, tripping over his own  shadow,  but,
withal,  vicious  and masterful with his team-mates. Nor did he
show signs of a breaking spirit. Rather did he grow  more  grim
and taciturn, biding his time with an inscrutable patience that
began  to  puzzle  and weigh upon Leclere. The dog would lie in
the firelight, motionless, for hours,  gazing  straight  before
him at Leclere, and hating him with his bitter eyes.
     Often  the  man  felt  that he had bucked against the very
essence of life -the unconquerable essence that swept the  hawk
down  out  of  the sky like a feathered thunderbolt, that drove
the great gray goose across the zones, that hurled the spawning
salmon through two thousand miles of boiling  Yukon  flood.  At
such  times  he  felt impelled to express his own unconquerable
essence; and with strong drink,  wild  music,  and  Batard,  he
indulged in vast orgies, wherein he pitted his puny strength in
the  face of things, and challenged all that was, and had been,
and was yet to be.
     "Dere is somet'ing dere," he affirmed, when  the  rhythmed
vagaries  of  his  mind  touched  the secret chords of Batard's
being and brought forth the long lugubrious howl. "Ah pool  eet
out wid bot' my han's, so, an' so. Ha! Ha! Eet is fonee! Eet is
ver'  fonee! De priest chant, de womans pray, de mans swear, de
leetle bird go peep-peep, Batard, heem go yow-yow -- an' eet is
all de ver' same t'ing. Ha! Ha!"
     Father Gautier, a worthy priest, once  reproved  him  with
instances of concrete perdition. He never reproved him again.
     "Eet  may  be so, mon p re," he made answer. "An' Ah t'ink
Ah go troo hell asnappin', lak de hemlock troo de fire. Eh, mon
p re?"
     But all bad things come to an end as well as good, and  so
with  Black Leclere. On the summer low water, in a poling boat,
he left McDougall for Sunrise. He  left  McDougall  in  company
with Timothy Brown, and arrived at Sunrise by himself. Further,
it  was known that they had quarrelled just previous to pulling
out; for the Lizzie, a wheezy ten-ton sternwheeler, twenty-four
hours behind, beat Leclere in by three days. And  when  he  did
get  in,  it  was  with a clean-drilled bullet-hole through his
shoulder muscle, and a tale of ambush and murder.
     A strike had been made at Sunrise, and things had  changed
considerably.  With  the  infusion  of  several  hundred  gold-
seekers, a deal of whiskey, and half a dozen equipped gamblers,
the missionary had seen the page of his years of labor with the
Indians wiped clean. When the squaws  became  preoccupied  with
cooking  beans  and  keeping  the  fire  going for the wifeless
miners, and the bucks with swapping their warm furs  for  black
bottles  and broken timepieces, he took to his bed, said "bless
me" several times, and departed to his final  accounting  in  a
rough-hewn,  oblong  box.  Whereupon  the  gamblers moved their
roulette and faro tables into the mission house, and the  click
of  chips  and clink of glasses went up from dawn till dark and
to dawn again.
     Now Timothy Brown was well beloved among these adventurers
of the north. The one thing against him was  his  quick  temper
and ready fist, -- a little thing, for which his kind heart and
forgiving  hand  more than atoned. On the other hand, there was
nothing to atone for Black Leclere. He  was  "black,"  as  more
than  one  remembered  deed  bore witness, while he was as well
hated as the other was beloved. So the men of  Sunrise  put  an
antiseptic  dressing on his shoulder and haled him before Judge
Lynch.
     It was a simple affair. He  had  quarrelled  with  Timothy
Brown  at  McDougall. With Timothy Brown he had left McDougall.
Without Timothy Brown he had arrived at Sunrise. Considered  in
the light of his evilness, the unanimous conclusion was that he
had   killed   Timothy   Brown.  On  the  other  hand,  Leclere
acknowledged their facts, but challenged their conclusion,  and
gave  his  own  explanation. Twenty miles out of Sunrise he and
Timothy Brown were poling the boat along the rocky shore.  From
that  shore two rifle-shots rang out. Timothy Brown pitched out
of the boat and went down bubbling red, and that was  the  last
of  Timothy  Brown. He, Leclere, pitched into the bottom of the
boat with a stinging shoulder. He lay very  quiet,  peeping  at
the  shore.  After  a time two Indians stuck up their heads and
came out to the water's edge, carrying between  them  a  birch-
bark  canoe.  As  they  launched it, Leclere let fly. He potted
one, who went over the side after the manner of Timothy  Brown.
The  other dropped into the bottom of the canoe, and then canoe
and poling boat went down the  stream  in  a  drifting  battle.
After  that  they  hung  up  on  a split current, and the canoe
passed on one side of an island, the poling boat on the  other.
That  was  the  last of the canoe, and he came on into Sunrise.
Yes, from the way the Indian in the canoe jumped, he  was  sure
he had potted him. That was all.
     This  explanation  was  not deemed adequate. They gave him
ten hours' grace while the Lizzie steamed down to  investigate.
Ten  hours  later  she came wheezing back to Sunrise. There had
been nothing to investigate. No evidence had been found to back
up his statements. They told him  to  make  his  will,  for  he
possessed  a fifty-thousand-dollar Sunrise claim, and they were
a law-abiding as well as a law-giving breed.
     Leclere shrugged his shoulders. "Bot one t'ing," he  said;
"a  leetle, w'at you call, favor -- a leetle favor, dat is eet.
I gif my feefty t'ousan' dollair to de church. I gif  my  husky
dog, Batard, to de devil. De leetle favor? Firs' you hang heem,
an' den you hang me. Eet is good, eh?"
     Good  it  was, they agreed, that Hell's Spawn should break
trail for his master across the last divide, and the court  was
adjourned down to the river bank, where a big spruce tree stood
by  itself.  Slackwater Charley put a hangman's knot in the end
of a hauling-line, and the noose  was  slipped  over  Leclere's
head  and  pulled  tight  around  his neck. His hands were tied
behind his back, and he was assisted to the top  of  a  cracker
box.  Then  the  running  end  of  the  line was passed over an
overhanging branch, drawn taut, and made fast. To kick the  box
out from under would leave him dancing on the air.
     "Now  for  the  dog,"  said  Webster Shaw, sometime mining
engineer. "You'll have to rope him, Slackwater."
     Leclere grinned. Slackwater took a chew of tobacco, rove a
running noose, and proceeded leisurely to coil a few  turns  in
his  hand.  He  paused  once  or  twice  to  brush particularly
offensive mosquitoes from off his face. Everybody was  brushing
mosquitoes,  except Leclere, about whose head a small cloud was
visible. Even Batard, lying full-stretched on the ground,  with
his fore paws rubbed the pests away from eyes and mouth.
     But while Slackwater waited for Batard to lift his head, a
faint  call  came down the quiet air, and a man was seen waving
his arms and running across the flat from Sunrise. It  was  the
storekeeper.
     "C-call  'er  off,  boys,"  he panted, as he came in among
them.
     "Little Sandy and Bernadotte's jes' got in," he  explained
with  returning  breath.  "Landed down below an' come up by the
short cut. Got the Beaver with 'm. Picked 'm up in  his  canoe,
stuck  in  a back channel, with a couple of bullet holes in 'm.
Other buck was Klok-Kutz, the one that knocked spots out of his
squaw and dusted."
     "Eh? W'at Ah say? Eh?" Leclere cried exultantly.  "Dat  de
one fo' sure! Ah know. Ah spik true."
     "The  thing  to do is teach these damned Siwashes a little
manners," spoke Webster Shaw. "They're getting fat  and  sassy,
and we'll have to bring them down a peg. Round in all the bucks
and  string  up  the  Beaver  for  an object lesson. That's the
programme. Come on and let's see  what  he's  got  to  say  for
himself."
     "Heh, M'sieu'!" Leclere called, as the crowd began to melt
away  through the twilight in the direction of Sunrise. "Ah lak
ver' moch to see de fon."
     "Oh, we'll turn you loose when we come back," Webster Shaw
shouted over his shoulder. "In the meantime  meditate  on  your
sins  and  the  ways  of providence. It will do you good, so be
grateful."
     As is the  way  with  men  who  are  accustomed  to  great
hazards,  whose  nerves are healthy and trained to patience, so
it was with Leclere, who settled himself to the  long  wait  --
which is to say that he reconciled his mind to it. There was no
settling  of  the  body,  for the taut rope forced him to stand
rigidly erect. The least relaxation of the leg muscles  pressed
the  rough-fibred  noose  into  his  neck,  while  the  upright
position caused him much  pain  in  his  wounded  shoulder.  He
projected  his  under  lip and expelled his breath upward along
his face to blow the mosquitoes away from  his  eyes.  But  the
situation  had its compensation. To be snatched from the maw of
death was well worth a little bodily  suffering,  only  it  was
unfortunate that he should miss the hanging of the Beaver.
     And  so  he  mused,  till  his  eyes  chanced to fall upon
Batard, head between fore paws  and  stretched  on  the  ground
asleep.  And then Leclere ceased to muse. He studied the animal
closely, striving to sense if the sleep were real  or  feigned.
Batard's  sides  were  heaving regularly, but Leclere felt that
the breath came and went a shade too quickly; also he felt that
there was a vigilance or alertness to every  hair  that  belied
unshackling  sleep. He would have given his Sunrise claim to be
assured that the dog was not awake, and once, when one  of  his
joints cracked, he looked quickly and guiltily at Batard to see
if he roused. He did not rouse then, but a few minutes later he
got up slowly and lazily, stretched, and looked carefully about
him.
     "Sacredam," said Leclere, under his breath.
     Assured  that  no  one was in sight or hearing, Batard sat
down, curled his upper lip almost into a smile,  looked  up  at
Leclere, and licked his chops.
     "Ah   see   my   feenish,"   the  man  said,  and  laughed
sardonically aloud.
     Batard came nearer, the useless ear wabbling, the good ear
cocked forward with devilish comprehension. He thrust his  head
on  one  side  quizzically,  and advanced with mincing, playful
steps. He rubbed his body gently against the box till it  shook
and  shook  again.  Leclere  teetered carefully to maintain his
equilibrium.
     "Batard," he said calmly, "look out. Ah keel you."  Batard
snarled at the word, and shook the box with greater force. Then
he upreared, and with his fore paws threw his weight against it
higher  up.  Leclere kicked out with one foot, but the rope bit
into his neck and checked so abruptly as nearly to  overbalance
him.
     "Hi, ya! Chook! Mush-on! --" he screamed.
     Batard  retreated,  for twenty feet or so, with a fiendish
levity in his  bearing  that  Leclere  could  not  mistake.  He
remembered  the dog often breaking the scum of ice on the water
hole, by lifting up and  throwing  his  weight  upon  it;  and,
remembering,  he  understood  what  he  now had in mind. Batard
faced about and paused. He showed his white teeth  in  a  grin,
which  Leclere  answered;  and then hurled his body through the
air, in full charge, straight for the box.
     Fifteen minutes  later,  Slackwater  Charley  and  Webster
Shaw,  returning,  caught  a  glimpse  of  a  ghostly  pendulum
swinging back and forth in the dim  light.  As  they  hurriedly
drew  in closer, they made out the man's inert body, and a live
thing that clung to it, and shook and worried, and gave  to  it
the swaying motion.
     "Hi, ya! Chook! you Spawn of Hell," yelled Webster Shaw.
     But  Batard  glared  at  him,  and  snarled threateningly,
without loosing his jaws.
     Slackwater Charley got out his revolver, but his hand  was
shaking, as with a chill, and he fumbled.
     "Here, you take it," he said, passing the weapon over.
     Webster  Shaw  laughed  shortly,  drew a sight between the
gleaming eyes, and pressed the trigger. Batard's body  twitched
with the shock, threshed the ground spasmodically for a moment,
and went suddenly limp. But his teeth still held fast locked.

Популярность: 15, Last-modified: Thu, 14 Jan 1999 07:46:57 GMT