2. CHAPTER II - THE SHE-WOLF
Breakfast eaten and the slim camp-outfit lashed to the sled, the
men turned their backs on the cheery fire and launched out into the
darkness. At once began to rise the cries that were fiercely sad -
cries that called through the darkness and cold to one another and
answered back. Conversation ceased. Daylight came at nine
o'clock. At midday the sky to the south warmed to rose-colour, and
marked where the bulge of the earth intervened between the meridian
sun and the northern world. But the rose-colour swiftly faded.
The grey light of day that remained lasted until three o'clock,
when it, too, faded, and the pall of the Arctic night descended
upon the lone and silent land.
As darkness came on, the hunting-cries to right and left and rear
drew closer - so close that more than once they sent surges of fear
through the toiling dogs, throwing them into short-lived panics.
At the conclusion of one such panic, when he and Henry had got the
dogs back in the traces, Bill said:
"I wisht they'd strike game somewheres, an' go away an' leave us
"They do get on the nerves horrible," Henry sympathised.
They spoke no more until camp was made.
Henry was bending over and adding ice to the babbling pot of beans
when he was startled by the sound of a blow, an exclamation from
Bill, and a sharp snarling cry of pain from among the dogs. He
straightened up in time to see a dim form disappearing across the
snow into the shelter of the dark. Then he saw Bill, standing amid
the dogs, half triumphant, half crestfallen, in one hand a stout
club, in the other the tail and part of the body of a sun-cured
"It got half of it," he announced; "but I got a whack at it jes'
the same. D'ye hear it squeal?"
"What'd it look like?" Henry asked.
"Couldn't see. But it had four legs an' a mouth an' hair an'
looked like any dog."