The She-Wolf

Breakfasteatenandtheslimcamp-outfitlashedtothesled,thementurnedtheirbacksonthecheeryfireandlaunchedoutintothedarkness.Atoncebegantorisethecriesthatwerefiercelysadcriesthatcalledthroughthedarknessandcoldtooneanotherandansweredback.Conversationceased.Daylightcameatnineo’clock.Atmiddaytheskytothesouthwarmedtorose-colour,andmarkedwherethebulgeoftheearthintervenedbetweenthemeridiansunandthenorthernworld.Buttherose-colourswiftlyfaded.Thegreylightofdaythatremainedlasteduntilthreeo’clock,whenit,too,faded,andthepalloftheArcticnightdescendedupontheloneandsilentland.

Asdarknesscameon,thehunting-criestorightandleftandreardrewclosersoclosethatmorethanoncetheysentsurgesoffearthroughthetoilingdogs,throwingthemintoshort-livedpanics.

Attheconclusionofonesuchpanic,whenheandHenryhadgotthedogsbackinthetraces,Billsaid:

“Iwishtthey’dstrikegamesomewheres,an’goawayan’leaveusalone.”

“Theydogetonthenerveshorrible,”Henrysympathised.

Theyspokenomoreuntilcampwasmade.

Henrywasbendingoverandaddingicetothebabblingpotofbeanswhenhewasstartledbythesoundofablow,anexclamationfromBill,andasharpsnarlingcryofpainfromamongthedogs.Hestraightenedupintimetoseeadimformdisappearingacrossthesnowintotheshelterofthedark.ThenhesawBill,standingamidthedogs,halftriumphant,halfcrestfallen,inonehandastoutclub,intheotherthetailandpartofthebodyofasun-curedsalmon.

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