White Fang by Jack London

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Page 2

"You counted wrong."

"We've got six dogs," the other reiterated dispassionately. "I took out
six fish. One Ear didn't get no fish. I came back to the bag afterward
an' got 'm his fish."

"We've only got six dogs," Henry said.

"Henry," Bill went on. "I won't say they was all dogs, but there was
seven of 'm that got fish."

Henry stopped eating to glance across the fire and count the dogs.

"There's only six now," he said.

"I saw the other one run off across the snow," Bill announced with cool
positiveness. "I saw seven."

Henry looked at him commiseratingly, and said, "I'll be almighty glad
when this trip's over."

"What d'ye mean by that?" Bill demanded.

"I mean that this load of ourn is gettin' on your nerves, an' that you're
beginnin' to see things."

"I thought of that," Bill answered gravely. "An' so, when I saw it run
off across the snow, I looked in the snow an' saw its tracks. Then I
counted the dogs an' there was still six of 'em. The tracks is there in
the snow now. D'ye want to look at 'em? I'll show 'em to you."

Henry did not reply, but munched on in silence, until, the meal finished,
he topped it with a final cup of coffee. He wiped his mouth with the
back of his hand and said:

"Then you're thinkin' as it was--"

A long wailing cry, fiercely sad, from somewhere in the darkness, had
interrupted him. He stopped to listen to it, then he finished his
sentence with a wave of his hand toward the sound of the cry, "--one of

Bill nodded. "I'd a blame sight sooner think that than anything else.
You noticed yourself the row the dogs made."

Cry after cry, and answering cries, were turning the silence into a
bedlam. From every side the cries arose, and the dogs betrayed their
fear by huddling together and so close to the fire that their hair was
scorched by the heat. Bill threw on more wood, before lighting his pipe.

"I'm thinking you're down in the mouth some," Henry said.

"Henry . . . " He sucked meditatively at his pipe for some time before
he went on. "Henry, I was a-thinkin' what a blame sight luckier he is
than you an' me'll ever be."

He indicated the third person by a downward thrust of the thumb to the
box on which they sat.

"You an' me, Henry, when we die, we'll be lucky if we get enough stones
over our carcases to keep the dogs off of us."

"But we ain't got people an' money an' all the rest, like him," Henry
rejoined. "Long-distance funerals is somethin' you an' me can't exactly

"What gets me, Henry, is what a chap like this, that's a lord or
something in his own country, and that's never had to bother about grub
nor blankets; why he comes a-buttin' round the Godforsaken ends of the
earth--that's what I can't exactly see."

"He might have lived to a ripe old age if he'd stayed at home," Henry

Bill opened his mouth to speak, but changed his mind. Instead, he
pointed towards the wall of darkness that pressed about them from every
side. There was no suggestion of form in the utter blackness; only could
be seen a pair of eyes gleaming like live coals. Henry indicated with
his head a second pair, and a third. A circle of the gleaming eyes had
drawn about their camp. Now and again a pair of eyes moved, or
disappeared to appear again a moment later.

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Books | Photos | Paul Mutton | Fri 28th Feb 2020, 13:32