FICTION

Devil Dog

Two men and a dog—and a feud as grim and relentless as the Arctic itself

MAX BRAND June 15 1938
FICTION

Devil Dog

Two men and a dog—and a feud as grim and relentless as the Arctic itself

MAX BRAND June 15 1938

Devil Dog

Two men and a dog—and a feud as grim and relentless as the Arctic itself

MAX BRAND

SAMUEL CORNWALL GRESHAM was one of those fellows who have the blunt, square jaw of a fighter, and the will power to hold on. As a matter of fact he had a lot of fighting to do, because his habit was not to take advice but to figure out everything for himself. For instance, when he wanted to go through a medical school he decided to make the money for it by digging gold. The place in which he chose to dig gold was Alaska; the particular spot he selected was one of those dreary little forests scattered through a bog frozen over in winter; and the methods he chose were what he found written up in books about ’96.

No one but a convinced old sourdough or a Samuel Cornwall Gresham would have faced the loneliness of that existence singlehanded, but it never occurred to Gresham to look for a partner. He wanted to dig his own money and save it, by himself. He never had asked another human being into his life. He had no friends. He never had been in love, and one look at his grim face, always set toward tomorrow’s purpose, was enough to freeze up all the joy and fun and affection in any girl.

His purpose now was to save $1,600. A four-year medical course, eight months a year. $50 a month, would cost $1,600. In his first Alaskan year he travelled as a stowaway and work-away, then did manual labor at the high Alaskan rates, got together some dogs, discovered that the biggest of the lot was only a six-months-old puppy which he therefore sold, and finally followed a foolish barroom story to the district in which he pegged out his claim. Then, through the dark of the winter, he cut frozen trees to make fires to thaw the frozen ground of the bog. and labored and

mucked and washed until he had $500 out of the soil, at the $35 rate.

This second winter found him at the same toil, a brutal, grinding, blind life. In it he kept no count of days. There was no clock in his existence except the annual set of the sun. the rising of it, the thaw and freezing of the great river. When he had worked to exhaustion, he turned into his sleeping bag; when the w-alls of his stomach clove together with starvation, he warmed frozen beans in a frying pan together with pork grease, and ate. He lived with his face turned to the ground. Even the aurora borealis could not draw up his soul and his eyes to thank God for the beauty of the "merry dancers.’’ He merely found the light a winter convenience; and as the months went by one deep.

black wrinkle was carved deeper and deeper between his

eyes.

When he roused from sleep, his Ixxly begged pitifully for more repose, on this day of the second winter, but as usual he tx)k two or three deep breaths while he summoned that resolution which used his Ixxly as a wretched slave; then he got up. started the fire in the stove which was his chief treasure, and put on the pan of beans; they rattled like marbles into the skillet. His two dogs sat down and watched him with starving eyes. He put two small frozen fish, which he had brought from the shed, into a pot with some snow. When they were thawed, he gave a fish to each dog.

The stove turned red-hot. Above the level of its top the air in the little log cabin was almost tropically warm, but his legs walked around in hoarfrost. There had been a big change in temperature. He could hear the frost gnawing its teeth deeper into the trees outside.

That w'as when the dxr opened and Jarvis stood on the threshold with a rifle. He knew Jarvis because it was to him that he had sold the overgrown puppy a year and a half before. Jarvis was as big as a mountain but he was a beast, not a man. Instead of a beard he had fur on his face, and his breath had sheathed the hair on his chin with ice. Gresham’s two dogs, Midge and Charley, knew that it was not a man but a brute. They came out of their corner with the devil in their eyes and their teeth bared, snarling.

Jarvis said: "Chris, take ’em !”

The biggest thing that Gresham ever had seen in the way of a dog or a wolf slid in past his master. He was covered with a soft grey fluff against the Arctic weather.

He had a white vest and a white mark of wisdom between his eyes.

Then he “took” those two big huskies as a timber wolf would take a pair of lap dogs. Two or three slashes, like sword strokes laid Charley dead ; Midge, horribly wounded, screamed like a woman and died in turn.

Jarvis kicked the door shut. He kept his rifle pointing out Gresham all the time.

“What d’you want?” asked Gresham.

“Chuck,” said Jarvis. “Where’s it kept?”

“In the shed.” said Gresham. He was about to say that he had just enough to last him through the winter, but then he realized that a thing which began with dog-murder would not be settled by any vocal appeal.

Jarvis pointed Gresham out to the great dog and said: “Maybe you know him well enough to understand that he's gotta be watched, so watch!”

Then he turned his back, kicked open the door of the shed, and carried the lantern into the dark of it. There was only a vague light left behind. It came from the red of the stove sides, and from the cracks of the stove door, besides the shifts and wanderings of pale lantern light as Jarvis moved about in the shed. There was not much need of light, however, for Gresham was not tempted to try to escape; he could see too much of Chris by the wild green devil in the eyes of that dog. The husky, or overgrown wolf, or whatever he was, was like a whole tornado ready to go and only restrained by a silken little spiderthread of uncertainty. He seemed to be reaching slowly for the kill as he stuck out his blood-stained muzzle by degrees, with his mane ruffed up and his lip curled back from his fangs. The light dripped down on them, as long as the teeth of a grizzly.

Gresham had no way at all with women, but God had given him a way with dogs. He said very quietly: "Well, boy, do you think you’ve ever smelled this chunk of beef on the hoof before? Steady does it . . Be easy, old son . . .”

He went on talking like that though Chris made a little jump, not away but toward him, and it seemed to Gresham that the green went out of those eyes and the mane fell and the teeth were no longer bared. He made sure, a moment later, that the big brute only a Mackenzie River husky ever could grow to that poundage, surely—was actually sniffing at his bare hand.

That was when it came over him that he might have a chance to pacify the dog long enough to get to his revolver which hung from belt and holster against the wall. He was no man to try conclusions with that overgrown beast, Jarvis, but it was like Gresham to make a man-to-man fight of it if he could; and revolver against rifle would suit him well enough at close quarters.

T_JE TOOK a chance of losing his hand at the wrist by * -*• reaching out a bit and touching the muzzle of that big killer. Chris ducked his head back with a snaky fencing movement like one of those lightning feints which make a wolf entirely too fast for any (log; but an instant later the nose of Chris was sniffing at that same hand, and this time Gresham managed to touch the fur between the eyes. He fell the brute shudder under his fingertip«. Yet what came out of the throat of the husky was not a growl but a whine, very soft true dog conversation that astonished Gresham to the soul. He was so surprised that he »{tent an instant reaching for an explanation. Then he remembered that overgrown fluff of a puppy which he had sold to Jarvis. He remembered also the bad case of distemper through which he had nursed that youngster; and it was reasonably clear that Chris had not forgotten.

By that time his hand was petting the head of the dog and a whine was keeping that massive skull always in a slight tremor. Another moment and Gresham would have been up and reaching for his gun. but just then Jarvis came back with the lantern light swinging his huge shadow in waves and breakings of darkness across the wall. I le carried a tarpaulin like a handkerchief with KX) pounds of stuff inside it. This he dumped on the table and fetched out something which he tossed aside.

“There’s three days rations,” he said. “You can fetch to the cabins up on Willow Creek with that chuck The reason I gotta eat on you is my dogs got at my stuff and ate a week’s grub in ten minutes . . . And besides, Alaska owes me something when I’m goin’ out . Alaska oughta pay to get rid of me. eh?”

He began to laugh as he said this. His voice had a greasy bubbling in it, as though he had just been eating fish. It sounded like a seal barking. Then he was holding the lantern up head high and staring with immense eyes at a nightmare.

“Chris!” he shouted.

The husky bounded clear across the room to the dx)r.

Jarvis came striding to the stool on which Gresham sat.

He roared at him : “What you done to that dog of mine?”

“I’ve talked to him,” said Gresham. He studied the face of Jarvis. The man was in a sweat that could not be accounted for by the heat of the room.

“You lie.” said Jarvis. “You lie. you got something in your hand. Leave me see what’s in your hands!”

Gresham opened his empty palms.

“Nothing!” whispered Jarvis. Then his voice exploded

through the room like a bomb. “You mean to say he remembers you? You stinking little half-breed runt, you mean he remembers you?”

There was six feet and a bit over of Gresham; at that he was a runt compared to this bit of Norse mythology.

A bit of silence followed this; the breathing of Jarvis made the only noise. At last he said: “Call him. Call him and see will he come to anybody but me.”

He stood back another long stride.

“Hai. Chris. Come here, boy,” said Gresham.

That big fellow turned his head first, lxked squarely at his master, and then sneaked across the room to Gresham. He put his head on Gresham’s knee and closed his eyes under the hand that was laid on him. The heart of Gresham swelled with a novel emotion. He heard Jarvis muttering over and over again: “What's he gone and done to Chris?” Then the big man broke into a roaring tantrum.

“You do without grub from here to Willow Creek!” he shouted, scooping up what he had left on the table and dropping it back in the tarpaulin. “You done something to Chris. I oughta take and pull the wishbone outa you. You Chris, you cursed fool ...”

He took a mighty kick at the dog, but Chris was out of the cabin and into the night like a grey streak of lightning; and Jarvis rushed after him, still cursing.

It tcx)k Gresham a breath to come back to himself and the realization that he had been cleaned out of food. It was fifty miles to Willow Creek and in the Arctic night if a blizzard blew up while he was attempting the march . . .

Then something else startled him. He ran into the shed with the lantern and stretched out his hand toward the little buckskin sack that contained the gold. It was gone. It was more than gold. It was nearly two years of his life.

He ran back into the cabin, snatched out the revolver, and plunged into the open. The darkness was laid like a hand across his eyes, but he blundered on until he was deep in the trees. Then the cold knifed him down the back and brought him back to his senses.

He went back into the cabin. The opening of the door had allowed the outer air to fill the place with ice-water again.

He stood in the centre of the room for a moment, looking around at the blank walls which had framed those many months. -They were empty, now. Because he had patted the head of a dog the fruit of his labor was snatched away from him. He looked down at his right hand curiously, as though the magic that had been in its touch might be visible.

FIFTY MILES of rough ground, snow, and a side-cutting wind is enough to kill most men, but it did not bother Gresham at all. He had read more than the books of ’96, by this time; he knew something about the methods of that genius who has opened the doors of the Arctic wider than all other men, the great Stefansson. So he walked till he was tired and then lay down in the snow to sleep. Most mushers are afraid to do that. The legend is that the traveller who lies down must surely die in his sleep, but unless the brain of a man is drugged by exhaustion the cold will rouse him after fifteen or twenty minutes of repose that is almost more than food to the weary body. So Gresham slogged on and rested and slogged on again; and the aurora borealis grew up out of the dark to set the landscape trembling and light his way. When, actually, he reached Willow Creek, he told himself that he could have gone twice as far.

They had a good, big cabin up there that almost could be called a house. When he pushed open the door and stepped in, the heat, the taste of tobacco and the sweet fumes of tea in the air, made him a little dizzy. He made out the faces of the men one by one. There were half a dozen of them in the room taking their ease. They had the wherewithal to take it, too. There were even magazines; there was even a book or two. His mouth watered so that he could not speak at once. That was because of the smell of food and tea that was in the room.

A big man with a beard as blotchy as though it had been trimmed with a sheep-shears stood up and said; “It’s that Gresham . . . What you want first? A drink or a smoke? . . . Jimmy, go and look out for his dogs before our mob gets the wind of them and tucks them away for supper.”

“I didn’t come up with dogs,” said Gresham.

Nobody said anything to that, but they looked at one another a bit.

Gresham took a place over by the stove where he could face them all.

He said: “Jarvis stopped at my place with a gun. My two dogs are dead, now. And my dust is gone. I had thirty ounces. Jarvis took that. He killed my dogs; he cleaned me out of chuck; and he took my dust.”

After this speech, he sat down on one of the bunks. Again, no one spoke. Then someone got out some jerked beef and somebody else began to mix a flapjack with flour, salt and lard. No one would look at Gresham.

At last the man with the chipped-off beard stood up and kicked at a burned match on the floor.

“All right,” he said. “We gotta do something. We gotta do something.”

Gresham always paid his way. He suggested: “I'll pay half the dust he stole.”

Here the man of the beard looked across at him sharply, frowning.

“We won’t be needing your dust, brother,” he said coldly.

So Gresham knew that he had done something wrong again. He always was doing the wrong thing. Men were creatures of mysterious delicacies. For him it was easier to understand beasts like Jarvis, and Jarvis’ dog. He looked down at his right hand and smiled faintly at it.

A moment later an uproar of dogs exploded near the house. When the door was flung open, Gresham saw just in front of it a snarling, worrying heap of huskies. That heap now burst apart, the savage dogs scattering off to the sides. From under them rose a grey monster with one dead

husky laid at his feet. He looked after the retreat with a lolling, red laughter.

“Shoot that wolf! Hand me that gun,” said the man nearest the door.

“Hai! Don’t shoot!” shouted Gresham. “Hai! Hai! Chris!”

HE CALLED out, though his logical brain kept telling him that it was like summoning something out of a dream; the real Chris was far away with the team of his master. But now the dream materialized in actual fact, for the great brute that walked through the doorway was Chris beyond a doubt. He gave a green look out of his eye to the other men, right and left; then he went up to Gresham and sat down at his feet.

“He’s killed that good dog. Tommy !” said a voice. “Look here, Gresham. I thought you said you didn’t come up here with a dog?”

“Shut up, Barry,” directed the man of the beard. “That’s Jarvis’ new leader. He leads Jarvis’ team and he leads Jarvis. He’s all the soul that Jarvis has How come, Gresham? Could that brute Jarvis be on your trail here?”

The hand of Gresham was wandering idly over the head of the husky, and that strange, new emotion was wakening again in his heart as he answered : “No, he must have trailed me here. When he was a puppy. I sold him to Jarvis. That’s all. He thinks he belongs to me.” He found himself laughing. “Chris thinks he still belongs to me!” he explained.

“That makes you laugh, does it?” asked the man with the beard.

Everybody else was silent; they seemed to lean their silence like a shoulder behind the opinion of their chief. And Gresham knew that he was more of an outcast among his fellows than ever before. Yet he had not meant laughter at all. That had been to cover up something of unspeakable importance; something within him of which he was not exactly ashamed but which unnerved him.

Then he was eating a meal, while three of the men went out to harness a dog-team to a sled. He knew that he was making much trouble for them, and this filled him with shame. Thirty ounces of gold had seemed something infinitely worth while. The indifference of these people made it appear no more than thirty ounces of stone. It was plain that they were not setting forth to do justice on Jarvis so much because they wanted to get the gold back as because they wanted to see justice done; that impersonal and fleshless ghost which men call justice.

Once he put down his hand with a bit of bacon in it. The great teeth of the dog closed over bone and flesh, discovered its identity, then found and extracted the bacon by use of the tongue alone, delicately; an operation as precise as the threading of a needle.

After that he was out with the dogs and three other men and the long sled.

“Get on the sled,” said the man with the black beard, whose name was Avery.

“I’ll mush with the rest of you. I’m all right,” said Gresham.

“Get on the sled, please,” directed Avery. “We

know that you’re done in. Don’t be a ruddy hero.”

So Gresham got on the sled. “Do you know how to hit his trail?” he asked.

“If he’s going ‘out,’ we can find him,” said Avery.

So Gresham lay back on the sled, and as the dogs started up Chris ran beside him with a tireless lope. Gresham lay back and looked at the “merry dancers" in the sky. The aurora borealis was like a standing circle of tules with big heads of light and incredibly slight, trembling stems that seemed to bow and bend with the arch of the sky. After that he went to sleep.

HE WAKENED to the tune of a howling wolf. It proved to lx* Chris, who stubbornly remained off to one side though the sled was going on.

Gresham jumped off the sled, exclaiming: “Don’t you understand? He’s found the trail of his man. He’s found Jarvis!”

Avery looked at him, said nothing, and then swung the team around. They headed in the direction of Chris. When they came closer, he started on ahead. At every small distance he was found waiting for them and then loping on ahead.

They kept that up for two days; and though snow often covered the trail deep, Chris still detected it. He would plunge his head deep into the white smother, take a long whiff, and run on.

Gresham, who refused to ride the sled any longer in spite of fatigue, explained this to the others.

“He thinks lie’s going to bring about a happy reunion between me and Jarvis,” he said, and he laughed.

They were silent.

“Because lie’s split up between Jarvis and me,” explained Gresham, “he thinks that lie’s got to bring us together.” “Perhaps,” said Avery dryly.

On the second day they found a sled loaded with bales of fine furs. There were silver fox that made the brain spin, guessing at values. There were mink and sable, too. Good sable, almost as dark as the best Russian quality.

“We’re worrying him,” pronounced Avery. “He’s dropped his trail sled. He knows we’re after him and he’s dropped his trail sled. But it’s a funny thing. There are only four of us. Knowing what Jarvis is, why doesn’t he turn back and take a crack at us? What are four men to Jarvis?”

The third day they found a patch of trouble. The lead dog fell, biting at the bullet wound in his breast; and then the clang of a rifle flew out at them from a cloudy patch of trees.

In silence they cut the dead dog Uxse.

“If he can shoot like that with only the aurora to give him light,” said Avery, "why didn’t he shoot Chris, instead? I le knows that Chris is the only reason we’re able to hound him up the trail "

"Don't you see?” explained Gresham. “He's fond of Chris. 1 le’s too fond of him to slxxit at him. Queer, isn’t it? A beast like that, I mean. But he won’t shxt Chris; and Chris is running him down.”

Avery looked darkly at this explanation.

“How do you happen to know Jarvis so well?” he asked. "Ever a bunkie of his?”

"I don’t know. I only guess.” said Gresham weakly.

That was the day he suggested that they try Chris in place of the dead leader. They tried, and the thing worked perfectly so long as Gresham ran at the gee pole, singing out orders. But he had to stay there or else Chris turned into a devil and wanted to murder the lazy members of the team. So Gresham stayed, all of that march.

He did his share of the work when they put up camp, also. As he was working down into a sleeping bag for the night, Avery came and sat by him for a moment.

"Look,” said Avery. “You’re dead on your feet, but you’re mushing farther and better than all the rest of us. What keeps you going?”

Gresham put out his hand, found the head of Chris, and worried it with his labor-hardened fingertips.

“Ever have dead years in your life? Ever want to bring them to life?” he asked.

“You mean the gold you worked for?" asked Avery. “You mean you want that back? es. of course.

“Well, there's the law. too,” said Gresham uncertainly. Avery pointed. “The dog doesn't play any part in it?” he asked.

Chris, jerking his head around, snarled at the pointing hand. Gresham took hold of the muzzle, absently. The big teeth closed on his fingers and gnawed at them softly.

“A dog?” said Gresham. “I thought we were talking about robbery and that sort of thing.”

“I mean,” said Avery, “that you’re not wanting to wipe out the man who really owns that dog?”

“I?” gasped Gresham. “No!”

"All right.” murmured Avery, and went away to his sleeping bag.

BUT Gresham lay awake for some time, thinking. Thirty ounces of gold meant over $1,000, which meant over twenty months of the medical school, which meant two years and a half. How could a dog enter among considera-

Continued on page 41

Devil Dog

Continued from page 9—Starts on page 7

tions of this importance? And yet the wise man, Avery, seemed to think that a husky dog was more important to him than the gold ! There was no understanding among men. That was clear.

The next day they found various articles by the trail. Jarvis, hard-pressed, was lightening his main sled. He was making a sprint now for the mountains that loomed in the west, when the northern lights played in the sky.

They found queer things among his luggage. They found a “Robinson Crusoe” with grease-marked pages. “He knows how to read! Is he human, after all?” commented Avery.

Then they found some cooking utensils; even some beans and a sack of flour.

“He’s going to live on his fat part of the way,” said Avery.

Before the end of that march they got into the rise of land toward the mountains, and they found on the way the trail of a sled cutting deep in soft snow which still crumbled into the ruts. They could hardly be an hour behind their quarry. Then they came to a branch of an evergreen laid on the snow and on it buckskin sacks were piled.

“There’s a thousand ounces here!” said Avery. “The man’s going to have nothing but his naked soul with him before he leaves the country.”

Gresham, staring at the little sacks, picked one up with an exclamation. It was his own gold. He held it in his arms, close to him.

“All right, then.” said Avery, “you have your property. We can turn back, then, I suppose? The rest of us are ready to quit. We haven’t more than enough grub to see us to the camp again.”

Gresham threw his gold-sack aside.

“We’ll get him tomorrow,” he said. “When he tries to get up those slopes, that’s where the strength of Chris will count double. Lighten the sled of everything we don’t absolutely need for one day’s march. We’ll make a last stab at him. If we miss—then it’s easy coasting all the way back; and we start home.”

So they made that last day’s effort with Gresham at the gee pole yelling orders, and Chris straining like a mad dog in his harness. They got so close that three times they saw the sled and string ahead of them and big Jarvis herding his dogs on. But they reached exhaustion without overtaking their quarry.

When they sat around the primus stove, Avery sat down beside Gresham with the curious eyes of a doctor making a diagnosis.

“You’ve had all you want, haven’t you?” he asked. “We’ve made the last try, for you. Is it all right if we turn back tomorrow?”

“You’ve done all I asked,” answered Gresham.

But his heart gave a hollow echo to those words, and a fear that had been in him all the way now became a conscious thing. He had known from the start, somehow, that he would have to meet Jarvis and fight it out with him for Chris. This use of numbers did not count. They had to square off man to man.

Chris got up, slunk to the mitten, and brought it back. He sat before his new master and loved him with patiently enquiring eyes.

Avery said: “What do you want, man? A bill of sale? You have the dog, haven’t you?”

Everyone was watching and listening. Gresham vaguely was aware of that as he answered: “It’s this way—I haven’t

worked it out, but it’s this way—he belongs to Jarvis. Jarvis is a beast who couldn't own anything, you may say. But Jarvis was fond of Chris. He taught Chris everything Chris knows. How to go and fetch that mitten, for instance.”

“Well?” asked Avery, after an expectant pause.

“I don’t know,” said Gresham. “I'm going out by myself to think it over.”

He took his revolver and went.

THE AURORA was in big arched bands across the sky; the shrubbery quivered, or seemed to quiver, with electric fire. Chris instantly took the trail, where the snow still was falling into the ruts. Gresham walked behind him.

But after a time he called the dog back to him. Chris came and stood before him with his head canted to one side, questioning.

“Look,” said Gresham. “This Jarvis you want to bring me to so badly is no good. He’s a rotten sort. You like me pretty well; you like him almost as well. But you’re wrong. If you bring us together, there’s only going to be a fight. Suppose you don’t bring us together, are you going to keep hankering for him in your heart of hearts? Listen, is that what you’re going to do?”

Chris, as though he wished to give the most patient consideration to this important question, sat down and waited for the next remark. It came from the rear, out of a patch of small, crowded trees, all leaning to one side from the prevailing winds.

It was the greasy voice of Jarvis, saying: “All right. I guess I got you now, Gresham . . . Chris, come here, you old fool !”

Chris neither stayed with his new master nor went to the old. Instead, he fled off to the side.

Jarvis, who had the butt of his rifle almost at his shoulder, still eyed Gresham.

He said: “I'd kind of like to linger it out. I’ve thrown away twenty years of work to get rid of you off my trail. And now I’d kind of like to linger it out a little. I’d like to get the taste of killing you all the way down the back of my tongue. Understand, you?”

“I understand,” said Gresham, speaking without fear because, he felt, he was too tired to know' anything but fatigue.

“What I'm wondering,” said Jarvis, “is will he how’l when you flop down in the snow'? Will I have to drag him off howling because he w'ants to stay here with a dead man?”

“He’ll want to stay here.” answered Gresham.

“You got my gold,” said Jarvis. “Why’d

you keep coming after me, when you had that?”

Gresham looked at the face of the man, enchanted. The only light they had threw strange, trembling shadows that seemed to be a natural darkness of the skin. The thick-jowled face of Jarvis had grown wonderfully lean, with a pucker in the cheeks behind the corners of the mouth. After all, he had worked up the trail as one man against four, and will) the four was the majestic power of Chris working against him all the time.

“I don’t knowr why I came after you, but I’m here,” said Gresham.

“Go for your gun,” commanded Jarvis. “Go and fill your hand before I sock it into you.”

“I’ll go for my gun pretty soon,” said Gresham.

"You wouldn’t tell me,” declared Jarvis, “but it kind of eats me, wanting to know what you did to him.”

GRESHAM, looking at him still W'ith a curious calm, wondered why the man still seemed superior to him, beast though Jarvis might be. Perhaps that was why it had been so frightfully important for him to meet Jarvis face to face.

“I’ll tell you about it,” said Gresham. “When he was a pup he w’as sick with distemper, and during his fever I used to set out cold water for him. I didn’t know, but he loved me for it. That’s the queer thing. He loved me for it. And I didn’t know.”

It was a word he seldom used, and it troubled him strangely.

“He’s gunna forget you; he’s gunna forget you!” shouted Jarvis.

“Take a mitten of mine after I’m dead,” answered Gresham, with a strange surety, “and he’ll think more of that than he’ll ever think of you. Is there room in anybody to love two things at once?”

“You lie!” shouted Jarvis, and jammed the butt of the rifle against his shoulder.

That was when a shadow ran in behind him with a snarl. Gresham could not see whether the teeth of the dog actually touched his master or not, but Jarvis

swerved suddenly, firing blindly into the air, and crying out in a terrible voice, “Chris!”

Gresham had his gun out by that time. He held it with both hands and fired. It seemed to him that he hardly had aimed it when Jarvis fell flat on his back.

He lay there with his huge feet sticking up in the snow'shoes as Gresham went up and bent over him. The bullet had gone home through the left side of the body.

But that w’as not the important matter. The question was whether or not Chris had put his teeth into his old master. It would be simple to find out. It meant merely turning the body to one side; but somehow Gresham preferred to keep the question unanswered.

The shadow of the dog was falling across his feet and across the dead man.

He held out his left arm.

“Chris!” he commanded, and the big husky came instantly under his hand. Gresham dropjxid to his knees.

Then, without looking, using the sense of touch alone, he picked up handful after handful of the snow and scrubbed the muzzle of the dog. After that he stixxj up and walked slowly down the back trail. The others could salvage what was left of Jarvis’ team and sled.

The dog, as soon as he understood the intention of the master, trotted quietly behind him, his nose never more than an inch behind the hand of Gresham.

Those softly following footfalls seemed to Gresham the only reality in this Northern world. The rest, and even his time of labor in the mine, was as dreamlike as the trembling of the aurora through the sky.

He began, as he walked, to dream of a Southern land where men labored little or not at all, where the sun gave to every soul a blessing greater than gold, and where the women were beautiful forever. He could hear their voices, and that imagined sound set him smiling, for they seemed to be hurrying toward him, laughing among themselves, and kxiking at him with eyes of eternal understanding.