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Title: Kings in Exile
Author: Roberts, Charles George Douglas, Sir, 1860-1943
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Kings in Exile" ***

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KINGS IN EXILE

      *      *      *      *      *      *


The MacMillan Company
New York · Boston · Chicago
Dallas · San Francisco

MacMillan & Co., Limited
London · Bombay · Calcutta
Melbourne

The MacMillan Co. Of Canada, Ltd.
Toronto

      *      *      *      *      *      *

[Illustration: "The Gray Master."]


KINGS IN EXILE

by

CHARLES G. D. ROBERTS

Author of "The Backwoodsmen," Etc.

Illustrated



New York
The MacMillan Company
1912

All rights reserved

Copyright by Perry, Mason & Co. (1907), The Curtis
Publishing Co. (1908-1909), The Associated Sunday
Magazines (1908), The Red Book Magazine (1908).

Copyright, 1910,
By The MacMillan Company.

Set up and electrotyped. Published February, 1910. Reprinted
June, 1910; July, December, 1912.

Norwood Press

J. S. Cushing Co.--Berwick & Smith Co.
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.



CONTENTS
                                                                  PAGE

 Last Bull                                                           1

 The King of the Flaming Hoops                                      25

 The Monarch of Park Barren                                         70

 The Gray Master                                                   107

 The Sun-Gazer                                                     140

 The Lord of the Glass House                                       177

 Back to the Water World                                           196

 Lone Wolf                                                         243

 The Bear's Face                                                   276

 The Duel on the Trail                                             297



ILLUSTRATIONS
                                                           FACING PAGE

 "The Gray Master."                                     _Frontispiece_

 "Last Bull, standing solitary and morose on a
 little knoll in his pasture."                                       6

 "Only to be hurled back again with a vigor that
 brought him to his knees."                                         10

 "When the grizzly saw her, his wicked little
 dark eyes glowed suddenly red."                                    32

 "Almost over his head, on a limb not six feet
 distant, crouched, ready to spring, the biggest
 puma he had ever seen."                                            64

 "He reached the tree just in time to swing well
 up among the branches."                                            72

 "For perhaps thirty or forty yards the bull was
 able to keep up this almost incredible pace."                      90

 "Then the second puma pounced."                                   134

 "He launched himself on a long, splendid sweep
 over the gulf."                                                   144

 "After this the eagle came regularly every three
 or four hours with food for the prisoner."                        160

 "And the writhing tentacles composed themselves
 once more to stillness upon the bottom, awaiting
 the next careless passer-by."                                     176

 "Without the slightest hesitation he whipped up
 two writhing tentacles and seized him."                           188



LAST BULL



LAST BULL


That was what two grim old sachems of the Dacotahs had dubbed him; and
though his official title, on the lists of the Zoölogical Park, was
"Kaiser," the new and more significant name had promptly supplanted
it. The Park authorities--people of imagination and of sentiment, as
must all be who would deal successfully with wild animals--had felt at
once that the name aptly embodied the tragedies and the romantic
memories of his all-but-vanished race. They had felt, too, that the
two old braves who had been brought East to adorn a city pageant, and
who had stood gazing stoically for hours at the great bull buffalo
through the barrier of the steel-wire fence, were fitted, before all
others, to give him a name. Between him and them there was surely a
tragic bond, as they stood there islanded among the swelling tides of
civilization which had already engulfed their kindreds. "Last Bull"
they had called him, as he answered their gaze with little, sullen,
melancholy eyes from under his ponderous and shaggy front. "Last
Bull"--and the passing of his race was in the name.

Here, in his fenced, protected range, with a space of grassy meadow,
half a dozen clumps of sheltering trees, two hundred yards of the run
of a clear, unfailing brook, and a warm shed for refuge against the
winter storms, the giant buffalo ruled his little herd of three tawny
cows, two yearlings, and one blundering, butting calf of the season.
He was a magnificent specimen of his race--surpassing, it was said,
the finest bull in the Yellowstone preserves or in the guarded
Canadian herd of the North. Little short of twelve feet in length, a
good five foot ten in height at the tip of his humped and huge
fore-shoulders, he seemed to justify the most extravagant tales of
pioneer and huntsman. His hind-quarters were trim and fine-lined,
built apparently for speed, smooth-haired, and of a grayish
lion-color. But his fore-shoulders, mounting to an enormous hump, were
of an elephantine massiveness, and clothed in a dense, curling,
golden-brown growth of matted hair. His mighty head was carried low,
almost to the level of his knees, on a neck of colossal strength,
which was draped, together with the forelegs down to the knees, in a
flowing brown mane tipped with black. His head, too, to the very
muzzle, wore the same luxuriant and sombre drapery, out of which
curved viciously the keen-tipped crescent of his horns. Dark, huge,
and ominous, he looked curiously out of place in the secure and
familiar tranquillity of his green pasture.

For a distance of perhaps fifty yards, at the back of the pasture, the
range of the buffalo herd adjoined that of the moose, divided from it
by that same fence of heavy steel-wire mesh, supported by iron posts,
which surrounded the whole range. One sunny and tingling day in late
October--such a day as makes the blood race full red through all
healthy veins--a magnificent stranger was brought to the Park, and
turned into the moose-range.

The newcomer was a New Brunswick bull moose, captured on the Tobique
during the previous spring when the snow was deep and soft, and
purchased for the Park by one of the big Eastern lumber-merchants. The
moose-herd had consisted, hitherto, of four lonely cows, and the
splendid bull was a prize which the Park had long been coveting. He
took lordly possession, forthwith, of the submissive little herd, and
led them off at once from the curious crowds about the gate to explore
the wild-looking thickets at the back of the pasture. But no sooner
had he fairly entered these thickets than he found his further
progress barred by the steel-meshed fence. This was a bitter
disappointment, for he had expected to go striding through miles of
alder swamp and dark spruce woods, fleeing the hated world of men and
bondage, before setting himself to get acquainted with his new
followers. His high-strung temper was badly jarred. He drew off,
shaking his vast antlers, and went shambling with spacious stride down
along the barrier towards the brook. The four cows, in single file,
hurried after him anxiously, afraid he might be snatched away from
them.

Last Bull, standing solitary and morose on a little knoll in his
pasture, caught sight of the strange, dark figure of the running
moose. A spark leapt into his heavy eyes. He wheeled, pawed the sod,
put his muzzle to the ground, and bellowed a sonorous challenge. The
moose stopped short and stared about him, the stiff hair lifting
angrily along the ridge of his massive neck. Last Bull lowered his
head and tore up the sod with his horns.

[Illustration: "Last Bull, standing solitary and morose on a little knoll
in his pasture."]

This vehement action caught the eyes of the moose. At first he stared
in amazement, for he had never seen any creature that looked like Last
Bull. The two were only about fifty or sixty yards apart, across the
little valley of the bushy swamp. As he stared, his irritation
speedily overcame his amazement. The curious-looking creature over
there on the knoll was defying him, was challenging him. At this time
of year his blood was hot and quick for any challenge. He gave vent to
a short, harsh, explosive cry, more like a grumbling bleat than a
bellow, and as unlike the buffalo's challenge as could well be
imagined. Then he fell to thrashing the nearest bushes violently with
his antlers. This, for some reason unknown to the mere human
chronicler, seemed to be taken by Last Bull as a crowning insolence.
His long, tasselled tail went stiffly up into the air, and he charged
wrathfully down the knoll. The moose, with his heavy-muzzled head
stuck straight out scornfully before him, and his antlers laid flat
along his back, strode down to the encounter with a certain deadly
deliberation. He was going to fight. There was no doubt whatever on
that score. But he had not quite made up his wary mind as to how he
would deal with this unknown and novel adversary.

They looked not so unequally matched, these two, the monarch of the
Western plains, and the monarch of the northeastern forests. Both had
something of the monstrous, the uncouth, about them, as if they
belonged not to this modern day, but to some prehistoric epoch when
Earth moulded her children on more lavish and less graceful lines. The
moose was like the buffalo in having his hind-quarters relatively
slight and low, and his back sloping upwards to a hump over the
immensely developed fore-shoulders. But he had much less length of
body, and much less bulk, though perhaps eight or ten inches more of
height at the tip of the shoulder. His hair was short, and darker than
that of his shaggy rival, being almost black except on legs and belly.
Instead of carrying his head low, like the buffalo, for feeding on the
level prairies, he bore it high, being in the main a tree-feeder. But
the greatest difference between the two champions was in their heads
and horns. The antlers of the moose formed a huge, fantastic, flatly
palmated or leaflike structure, separating into sharp prongs along the
edges, and spreading more than four feet from tip to tip. To compare
them with the short, polished crescent of the horns of Last Bull was
like comparing a two-handed broadsword to a bowie-knife. And his head,
instead of being short, broad, ponderous, and shaggy, like Last
Bull's, was long, close-haired, and massively horse-faced, with a
projecting upper lip heavy and grim.

Had there been no impregnable steel barrier between them, it is hard
to say which would have triumphed in the end, the ponderous weight and
fury of Last Bull, or the ripping prongs and swift wrath of the moose.
The buffalo charged down the knoll at a thundering gallop; but just
before reaching the fence he checked himself violently. More than once
or twice before had those elastic but impenetrable meshes given him
his lesson, hurling him back with humiliating harshness when he dashed
his bulk against them. He had too lively a memory of past
discomfitures to risk a fresh one now in the face of this insolent
foe. His matted front came against the wire with a force so cunningly
moderated that he was not thrown back by the recoil. And the keen
points of his horns went through the meshes with a vehemence which
might indeed have done its work effectively had they come in contact
with the adversary. As it was, however, they but prodded empty air.

The moose, meanwhile, had been in doubt whether to attack with his
antlers, as was his manner when encountering foes of his own kind, or
with his knife-edged fore-hoofs, which were the weapons he used
against bears, wolves, or other alien adversaries. Finally he seemed
to make up his mind that Last Bull, having horns and a most
redoubtable stature, must be some kind of moose. In that case, of
course, it became a question of antlers. Moreover, in his meetings
with rival bulls it had never been his wont to depend upon a blind,
irresistible charge,--thereby leaving it open to an alert opponent to
slip aside and rip him along the flank,--but rather to fence warily
for an advantage in the locking of antlers, and then bear down his foe
by the fury and speed of his pushing. It so happened, therefore, that
he, too, came not too violently against the barrier. Loudly his vast
spread of antlers clashed upon the steel meshes; and one short prong,
jutting low over his brow, pierced through and furrowed deeply the
matted forehead of the buffalo.

As the blood streamed down over his nostrils, obscuring one eye, Last
Bull quite lost his head with rage. Drawing off, he hurled himself
blindly upon the barrier--only to be hurled back again with a vigor
that brought him to his knees. But at the same time the moose, on the
other side of the fence, got a huge surprise. Having his antlers
against the barrier when Last Bull charged, he was forced back
irresistibly upon his haunches, with a rudeness quite unlike anything
that he had ever before experienced. His massive neck felt as if a
pine tree had fallen upon it, and he came back to the charge quite
beside himself with bewilderment and rage.

[Illustration: "Only to be hurled back again with a vigor that brought
him to his knees."]

By this time, however, the keepers and Park attendants were arriving
on the scene, armed with pitchforks and other unpleasant executors of
authority. Snorting, and bellowing, and grunting, the monstrous
duellists were forced apart; and Last Bull, who had been taught
something of man's dominance, was driven off to his stable and
imprisoned. He was not let out again for two whole days. And by that
time another fence, parallel with the first and some five or six feet
distant from it, had been run up between his range and that of the
moose. Over this impassable zone of neutrality, for a few days, the
two rivals flung insult and futile defiance, till suddenly, becoming
tired of it all, they seemed to agree to ignore each other's
existence.

After this, Last Bull's sullenness of temper appeared to grow upon
him. He was fond of drawing apart from the little herd, and taking up
his solitary post on the knoll, where he would stand for an hour at a
time motionless except for the switching of his long tail, and
staring steadily westward as if he knew where the great past of his
race had lain. In that direction a dense grove of chestnuts, maples,
and oaks bounded the range, cutting off the view of the city roofs,
the roar of the city traffic. Beyond the city were mountains and wide
waters which he could not see; but beyond the waters and the mountains
stretched the green, illimitable plains--which perhaps (who knows?) in
some faint vision inherited from the ancestors whose myriads had
possessed them, his sombre eyes, in some strange way, _could_ see.
Among the keepers and attendants generally it was said, with anxious
regret, that perhaps Last Bull was "going bad." But the head-keeper,
Payne, himself a son of the plains, repudiated the idea. _He_ declared
sympathetically that the great bull was merely homesick, pining for
the wind-swept levels of the open country (God's country, Payne called
it!) which his imprisoned hoofs had never trodden.

Be this as it may, the fact could not be gainsaid that Last Bull was
growing more and more morose. The spectators, strolling along the wide
walk which skirted the front of his range, seemed to irritate him, and
sometimes, when a group had gathered to admire him, he would turn his
low-hung head and answer their staring eyes with a kind of heavy fury,
as if he burned to break forth upon them and seek vengeance for
incalculable wrongs. This smouldering indignation against humanity
extended equally, if not more violently, to all creatures who appeared
to him as servants or allies of humanity. The dogs whom he sometimes
saw passing, held in leash by their masters or mistresses, made him
paw the earth scornfully if he happened to be near the fence. The
patient horses who pulled the road-roller or the noisy lawn-mower made
his eyes redden savagely. And he hated with peculiar zest the roguish
little trick elephant, Bong, who would sometimes, his inquisitive
trunk swinging from side to side, go lurching lazily by with a load of
squealing children on his back.

Bong, who was a favored character, amiable and trustworthy, was
allowed the freedom of the Park in the early morning, before visitors
began to arrive who might be alarmed at seeing an elephant at large.
He was addicted to minding his own business, and never paid the
slightest attention to any occupants of cage or enclosure. He was
quite unaware of the hostility which he had aroused in the perverse
and brooding heart of Last Bull.

One crisp morning in late November, when all the grass in the Park had
been blackened by frost, and the pools were edged with silver rims of
ice, and mists were white and saffron about the scarce-risen sun, and
that autumn thrill was in the air which gives one such an appetite,
Bong chanced to be strolling past the front of Last Bull's range. He
did not see Last Bull, who was nothing to him. But, being just as
hungry as he ought to be on so stimulating a morning, he did see, and
note with interest, some bundles of fresh hay on the other side of the
fence.

Now, Bong was no thief. But hay had always seemed to him a free
largess, like grass and water, and this looked like very good hay. So
clear a conscience had he on the subject that he never thought of
glancing around to see if any of the attendants were looking.
Innocently he lurched up to the fence, reached his lithe trunk
through, gathered a neat wisp of the hay, and stuffed it happily into
his curious, narrow, pointed mouth. Yes, he had not been mistaken. It
was good hay. With great satisfaction he reached in for another
mouthful.

Last Bull, as it happened, was standing close by, but a little to one
side. He had been ignoring, so far, his morning ration. He was not
hungry. And, moreover, he rather disapproved of the hay because it had
the hostile man-smell strong upon it. Nevertheless, he recognized it
very clearly as his property, to be eaten when he should feel inclined
to eat it. His wrath, then, was only equalled by his amazement when he
saw the little elephant's presumptuous gray trunk reach in and coolly
help itself. For a moment he forgot to do anything whatever about it.
But when, a few seconds later, that long, curling trunk of Bong's
insinuated itself again and appropriated another bundle of the now
precious hay, the outraged owner bestirred himself. With a curt roar,
that was more of a cough or a grunt than a bellow, he lunged forward
and strove to pin the intruding trunk to the ground.

With startled alacrity Bong withdrew his trunk, but just in time to
save it from being mangled. For an instant he stood with the member
held high in air, bewildered by what seemed to him such a gratuitous
attack. Then his twinkling little eyes began to blaze, and he
trumpeted shrilly with anger. The next moment, reaching over the
fence, he brought down the trunk on Last Bull's hump with such a
terrible flail-like blow that the great buffalo stumbled forward upon
his knees.

He was up again in an instant and hurling himself madly against the
inexorable steel which separated him from his foe. Bong hesitated for
a second, then, reaching over the fence once more, clutched Last Bull
maliciously around the base of his horns and tried to twist his neck.
This enterprise, however, was too much even for the elephant's titanic
powers, for Last Bull's greatest strength lay in the muscles of his
ponderous and corded neck. Raving and bellowing, he plunged this way
and that, striving in vain to wrench himself free from that
incomprehensible, snake-like thing which had fastened upon him. Bong,
trumpeting savagely, braced himself with widespread pillars of legs,
and between them it seemed that the steel fence must go down under
such cataclysmic shocks as it was suffering. But the noisy violence of
the battle presently brought its own ending. An amused but angry squad
of attendants came up and stopped it, and Bong, who seemed plainly the
aggressor, was hustled off to his stall in deep disgrace.

Last Bull was humiliated. In this encounter things had happened which
he could in no way comprehend; and though, beyond an aching in neck
and shoulders, he felt none the worse physically, he had nevertheless
a sense of having been worsted, of having been treated with ignominy,
in spite of the fact that it was his foe, and not he, who had retired
from the field. For several days he wore a subdued air and kept about
meekly with his docile cows. Then his old, bitter moodiness reasserted
itself, and he resumed his solitary broodings on the crest of the
knoll.

When the winter storms came on, it had been Last Bull's custom to let
himself be housed luxuriously at nightfall, with the rest of the herd,
in the warm and ample buffalo-shed. But this winter he made such
difficulty about going in that at last Payne decreed that he should
have his own way and stay out. "It will do him no harm, and may cool
his peppery blood some!" had been the keeper's decision. So the door
was left open, and Last Bull entered or refrained, according to his
whim. It was noticed, however,--and this struck a chord of answering
sympathy in the plainsman's imaginative temperament,--that, though on
ordinary nights he might come in and stay with the herd under shelter,
on nights of driving storm, if the tempest blew from the west or
northwest, Last Bull was sure to be out on the naked knoll to face it.
When the fine sleet or stinging rain drove past him, filling his
nostrils with their cold, drenching his matted mane, and lashing his
narrowed eyes, what visions swept through his troubled,
half-comprehending brain, no one may know. But Payne, with
understanding born of sympathy and a common native soil, catching
sight of his dark bulk under the dark of the low sky, was wont to
declare that _he_ knew. He would say that Last Bull's eyes discerned,
black under the hurricane, but lit strangely with the flash of keen
horns and rolling eyes and frothed nostrils, the endless and
innumerable droves of the buffalo, with the plains wolf skulking on
their flanks, passing, passing, southward into the final dark. In the
roar of the wind, declared Payne, Last Bull, out there in the night,
listened to the trampling of all those vanished droves. And though the
other keepers insisted to each other, quite privately, that their
chief talked a lot of nonsense about "that there mean-tempered old
buffalo," they nevertheless came gradually to look upon Last Bull with
a kind of awe, and to regard his surly whims as privileged.

It chanced that winter that men were driving a railway tunnel beneath
a corner of the Park. The tunnel ran for a short distance under the
front of Last Bull's range, and passed close by the picturesque
cottage occupied by Payne and two of his assistants. At this point the
level of the Park was low, and the shell of earth was thin above the
tunnel roof.

There came a Sunday afternoon, after days of rain and penetrating
January thaw, when sun and air combined to cheat the earth with an
illusion of spring. The buds and the mould breathed of April, and gay
crowds flocked to the Park, to make the most of winter's temporary
repulse. Just when things were at their gayest, with children's voices
clamoring everywhere like starlings, and Bong, the little elephant,
swinging good-naturedly up the broad white track with all the load he
had room for on his back, there came an ominous jar and rumble, like
the first of an earthquake, which ran along the front of Last Bull's
range.

With sure instinct, Bong turned tail and fled with his young charges
away across the grassland. The crowds, hardly knowing what they fled
from, with screams and cries and blanched faces, followed the
elephant's example. A moment later and, with a muffled crash, all
along the front of the range, the earth sank into the tunnel, carrying
with it half a dozen panels of Last Bull's hated fence.

Almost in a moment the panic of the crowd subsided. Every one realized
just what had happened. Moreover, thanks to Bong's timely alarm, every
one had got out of the way in good season. All fear of earthquake
being removed, the crowd flocked back eagerly to stare down into the
wrecked tunnel, which formed now a sort of gaping, chaotic ditch, with
sides at some points precipitous and at others brokenly sloping. The
throng was noisy with excited interest and with relief at having
escaped so cleanly. The break had run just beneath one corner of the
keepers' cottage, tearing away a portion of the foundation and
wrenching the structure slightly aside without overthrowing it. Payne,
who had been in the midst of his Sunday toilet, came out upon his
twisted porch, half undressed and with a shaving-brush covered with
lather in his hand. He gave one look at the damage which had been
wrought, then plunged indoors again to throw his clothes on, at the
same time sounding the hurry call for the attendants in other quarters
of the Park.

Last Bull, who had been standing on his knoll, with his back to the
throngs, had wheeled in astonishment at the heavy sound of the
cave-in. For a few minutes he had stared sullenly, not grasping the
situation. Then very slowly it dawned on him that his prison walls
had fallen. Yes, surely, there at last lay his way to freedom, his
path to the great open spaces for which he dumbly and vaguely
hungered. With stately deliberation he marched down from his knoll to
investigate.

But presently another idea came into his slow mind. He saw the
clamorous crowds flocking back and ranging themselves along the edge
of the chasm. These were his enemies. They were coming to balk him. A
terrible madness surged through all his veins. He bellowed savage
warning and came thundering down the field, nose to earth, dark,
mountainous, irresistible.

The crowd yelled and shrank back. "He can't get across!" shouted some.
But others cried: "He can! He's coming! Save yourselves!" And with
shrieks they scattered wildly across the open, making for the kiosks,
the pavilions, the trees, anything that seemed to promise hiding or
shelter from that onrushing doom.

At the edge of the chasm--at this point forming not an actual drop,
but a broken slide--Last Bull hardly paused. He plunged down, rolled
over in the débris, struggled to his feet again instantly, and went
ploughing and snorting up the opposite steep. As his colossal front,
matted with mud, loomed up over the brink, his little eyes rolling
and flaming, and the froth flying from his red nostrils, he formed a
very nightmare of horror to those fugitives who dared to look behind
them.

Surmounting the brink, he paused. There were so many enemies, he knew
not which to pursue first. But straight ahead, in the very middle of
the open, and far from any shelter, he saw a huddled group of children
and nurses fleeing impotently and aimlessly. Shrill cries came from
the cluster, which danced with colors, scarlet and yellow and blue and
vivid pink. To the mad buffalo, these were the most conspicuous and
the loudest of his foes, and therefore the most dangerous. With a
bellow he flung his tail straight in the air, and charged after them.

An appalling hush fell, for a few heart-beats, all over the field.
Then from different quarters appeared uniformed attendants, racing and
shouting frantically to divert the bull's attention. From fleeing
groups black-coated men leapt forth, armed only with their
walking-sticks, and rushed desperately to defend the flock of
children, who now, in the extremity of their terror, were tumbling as
they ran. Some of the nurses were fleeing far in front, while others,
the faithful ones, with eyes starting from their heads, grabbed up
their little charges and struggled on under the burden.

Already Last Bull was halfway across the space which divided him from
his foes. The ground shook under his ponderous gallop. At this moment
Payne reappeared on the broken porch.

One glance showed him that no one was near enough to intervene. With a
face stern and sorrowful he lifted the deadly .405 Winchester which he
had brought out with him. The spot he covered was just behind Last
Bull's mighty shoulder.

The smokeless powder spoke with a small, venomous report, unlike the
black powder's noisy reverberation. Last Bull stumbled. But recovering
himself instantly, he rushed on. He was hurt, and he felt it was those
fleeing foes who had done it. A shade of perplexity darkened Payne's
face. He fired again. This time his aim was true. The heavy expanding
bullet tore straight through bone and muscle and heart, and Last Bull
lurched forward upon his head, ploughing up the turf for yards. As his
mad eyes softened and filmed, he saw once more, perhaps,--or so the
heavy-hearted keeper who had slain him would have us believe,--the
shadowy plains unrolling under the wild sky, and the hosts of his
vanished kindred drifting past into the dark.



THE KING OF THE FLAMING HOOPS



THE KING OF THE FLAMING HOOPS

CHAPTER I


The white, scarred face of the mountain looked straight east, over a
vast basin of tumbled, lesser hills, dim black forests, and steel-blue
loops of a far-winding water. Here and there long, level strata of
pallid mist seemed to support themselves on the tree-tops, their edges
fading off into the startling transparency that comes upon the air
with the first of dawn. But that was in the lower world. Up on the
solitary summit of White Face the daybreak had arrived. The jagged
crest of the peak shot sudden radiances of flame-crimson, then bathed
itself in a flow of rose-pinks and thin, indescribable reds and
pulsating golds. Swiftly, as the far horizon leapt into blaze, the
aërial flood spread down the mountain-face, revealing and
transforming. It reached the mouth of a cave on a narrow ledge. As the
splendor poured into the dark opening, a tawny shape, long and lithe
and sinewy, came padding forth, noiseless as itself, as if to meet
and challenge it.

Half emerging from the entrance upon the high rock-platform which
formed its threshold, the puma halted, head uplifted and forepaws
planted squarely to the front. With wide, palely bright eyes she
stared out across the tremendous and mysterious landscape. As the
colored glory rushed down the mountain, rolling back the blue-gray
transparency of shadow, those inscrutable eyes swept every suddenly
revealed glade, knoll, and waterside where deer or elk might by chance
be pasturing.

She was a magnificent beast, this puma, massive of head and shoulder
almost as a lioness, and in her calm scrutiny of the spaces unrolling
before her gaze was a certain air of overlordship, as if her supremacy
had gone long unquestioned. Suddenly, however, her attitude changed.
Her eyes narrowed, her mighty muscles drew themselves together like
springs being upcoiled, she half crouched, and her head turned sharply
to the left, listening. Far down the narrow ledge which afforded the
trail to her den she had caught the sound of something approaching.

As she listened, she crouched lower and lower, and her eyes began to
burn with a thin, green flame. Her ears would flatten back savagely,
then lift themselves again to interrogate the approaching sounds. Her
anger at the intrusion upon her private domain was mixed with some
apprehension, for behind her, in a warm corner of the den, curled up
in a soft and furry ball like kittens, were her two sleeping cubs.

Her trail being well marked and with her scent strong upon it, she
knew it could be no ignorant blunderer that drew near. It was plainly
an enemy, and an arrogant enemy, since it made no attempt at stealth.
The steps were not those of any hunter, white man or Indian, of that
she presently assured herself. With this assurance, her anxiety
diminished and her anger increased. Her tail, long and thick, doubled
in thickness and began to jerk sharply from side to side. Crouching to
the belly, she crept all the way out upon the ledge and peered
cautiously around a jutting shoulder of rock.

The intruder was not yet in sight, because the front of White Face,
though apparently a sheer and awful precipice when viewed from the
valley, was in fact wrinkled with gullies and buttresses and bucklings
of the tortured strata. But the sound of his coming was now quite
intelligible to her. That softly ponderous tread, that careless
displacing of stones, those undisguised sniffings and mumblings could
come only from a bear, and a bear frankly looking for trouble. Well,
he was going to find what he was looking for. With an antagonism
handed down to her by a thousand ancestors, the great puma hated
bears.

Many miles north of White Face, on the other side of that ragged
mountain-ridge to which he formed an isolated and towering outpost,
there was a fertile valley which had just been invaded by settlers. On
every hand awoke the sharp barking of the axe. Rifle-shots startled
the echoes. Masterful voices and confident human laughter filled all
the wild inhabitants with wonder and dismay. The undisputed lord of
the range was an old silver-tip grizzly, of great size and evil
temper. Furious at the unexpected trespass on his sovereignty, yet
well aware of his powerlessness against the human creature that could
strike from very far off with lightning and thunder, he had made up
his mind at once to withdraw to some remoter range. Nevertheless, he
had lingered for some days, sullenly expecting he knew not what. These
formless expectations were most unpleasantly fulfilled when he came
upon a man in a canoe paddling close in by the steep shore of the
lake. He had hurled himself blindly down the bank, raging for
vengeance, but when he reached the water's edge, the man was far out
of reach. Then, while he stood there wavering, half minded to swim in
pursuit, the man had spoken with the lightning and the thunder, after
the terrifying fashion of his kind. The bear had felt himself stung
near the tip of the shoulder, as if by a million wasps at once, and
the fiery anguish had brought him to his senses.

It was no use trying to fight man, so he had dashed away into the
thickets, and not halted till he had put miles between himself and the
inexplicable enemy.

For two days, with occasional stops to forage or to sleep, the angry
grizzly had travelled southward, heading towards the lonely peak of
White Face. As the distance from his old haunts increased, his fears
diminished; but his anger grew under the ceaseless fretting of that
wound on his neck just where he could not reach to lick and soothe it.
The flies, however, could reach it very well, and did. As a
consequence, by the time he reached the upper slopes of White Face, he
was in a mood to fight anything. He would have charged a regiment, had
he suddenly found one in his path.

When he turned up a stone for the grubs, beetles, and scorpions which
lurked beneath it, he would send it flying with a savage sweep of his
paw. When he caught a rabbit, he smashed it flat in sheer fury, as if
he cared more to mangle than to eat.

At last he stumbled upon the trail of a puma. As he sniffed at it, he
became, if possible, more angry than ever. Pumas he had always hated.
He had never had a chance to satisfy his grudge, for never had one
dared to face his charge; but they had often snarled down defiance at
him from some limb of oak or pine beyond his reach. He flung himself
forward upon the trail with vengeful ardor. When he realized, from the
fact that it was a much-used trail and led up among the barren rocks,
that it was none other than the trail to the puma's lair, his
satisfaction increased. He would be sure to find either the puma at
home or the puma's young unguarded.

[Illustration: "When the grizzly saw her, his wicked little dark eyes
glowed suddenly red."]

When the puma, at last, saw him emerge around a curve of the trail,
and noted his enormous stature, she gave one longing, wistful look
back over her shoulder to the shadowed nook wherein her cubs lay
sleeping. Had there been any chance to get them both safely away, she
would have shirked the fight, for their sakes. But she could not carry
them both in her mouth at once up the face of the mountain. She would
not desert either one. She hesitated a moment, as if doubtful whether
or not to await attack in the mouth of the cave. Then she crept
farther out, where the ledge was not three feet wide, and crouched
flat, silent, watchful, rigid, in the middle of the trail.

When the grizzly saw her, his wicked little dark eyes glowed suddenly
red, and he came up with a lumbering rush. With his gigantic, furry
bulk, it looked as if he must instantly annihilate the slim, light
creature that opposed him. It was a dreadful place to give battle, on
that straight shelf of rock overhanging a sheer drop of perhaps a
thousand feet. But scorn and rage together blinded the sagacity of the
bear. With a grunt he charged.

Not until he was within ten feet of her did the crouching puma stir.
Then she shot into the air, as if hurled up by the release of a mighty
spring. Quick as a flash the grizzly shrank backward upon his haunches
and swept up a huge black paw to parry the assault. But he was not
quite quick enough. The puma's spring overreached his guard. She
landed fairly upon his back, facing his tail; but in the fraction of
a second she had whirled about and was tearing at his throat with
teeth and claws, while the terrible talons of her hinder paws ripped
at his flanks.

With a roar of pain and amazement the grizzly struggled to shake her
off, clutching and striking at her with paws that at one blow could
smash in the skull of the most powerful bull. But he could not reach
her. Then he reared up, and threw himself backwards against the face
of the rock, striving to crush her under his enormous weight. And in
this he almost succeeded. Just in time, she writhed around and
outward, but not quite far enough, for one paw was caught and ground
to a pulp. But at the next instant, thrust back from the rock by his
own effort, the bear toppled outward over the brink of the shelf.
Grappling madly to save himself, he caught only the bowed loins of the
puma, who now sank her teeth once more into his throat, while her
rending claws seemed to tear him everywhere at once. He crushed her in
his grip; and in a dreadful ball of screeching, roaring, biting,
mangling rage the two plunged downward into the dim abyss. Once, still
locked in the death-grip, they struck upon a jutting rock, and bounded
far out into space. Then, as the ball rolled over in falling, it came
apart; and separated now, though still very close together, the two
bodies fell sprawlingly, and vanished into the blue-shadowed deeps
which the dawn had not yet reached.

Upon this sudden and terrible ending of the fight appeared a bearded
frontiersman who had been trailing the grizzly for half an hour and
waiting for light enough to secure a sure shot. With something like
awe in his face he came, and knelt down, with hands gripping
cautiously, and peered over the dreadful brink. "Gee! But that there
cat was game!" he muttered, drawing back and sweeping a comprehensive
gaze across the stupendous landscape, as if challenging denial of his
statement. Obviously the silences were of the same opinion, for there
came no suggestion of dissent. Carefully he rose to his feet and
pressed on towards the cave.

Without hesitation he entered, for he knew that the puma's mate some
weeks before had been shot, far down in the valley. He found the
kittens asleep and began to fondle them. At his touch, and the smell
of him, they awoke, spitting and clawing with all their mother's
courage. Young as they were, their claws drew blood abundantly.
"Gritty little devils!" growled the man good-naturedly, snatching
back his hand and wiping the blood on his trouser-leg. Then he took
off his coat, threw it over the troublesome youngsters, rolled them in
it securely, so that not one protesting claw could get out, and
started back to the camp with the grumbling and uneasy bundle in his
arms.

Three months later, the two puma cubs, sleek, fat, full of gayety as
two kittens of like age, and convinced by this time that man was the
source and origin of all good things, were sold to a travelling
collector. One, the female, was sent down to a zoölogical garden on
the Pacific coast. The other, the male, much the larger and at the
same time the more even-tempered and amenable to teaching, found its
way to the cages of an animal-trainer in the East.



CHAPTER II


"King's kind of ugly to-night, seems to me; better keep yer eyes
peeled!" said Andy Hansen, the assistant trainer, the big,
yellow-haired Swede who knew not fear. Neither did he know impatience
or irritability; and so all the animals, as a rule, were on their good
behavior under his calm, masterful, blue eye. Yet he was tactful with
the beasts, and given to humoring their moods as far as convenient
without ever letting them guess it.

"Oh, you go chase yourself, Andy!" replied Signor Tomaso, the trainer,
with a strong New England accent. "If I got to look out for King, I'd
better quit the business. Don't you go trying to make trouble between
friends, Andy."

"Of course, Bill, I know he'd never try to maul _you_," explained
Hansen seriously, determined that he should not be misunderstood in
the smallest particular. "But he's acting curious. Look out he don't
get into a scrap with some of the other animals."

"I reckon I kin keep 'em all straight," answered the trainer dryly, as
he turned away to get ready for the great performance which the
audience, dimly heard beyond the canvas walls, was breathlessly
awaiting.

The trainer's name was William Sparks, and his birthplace Big
Chebeague, Maine; but his lean, swarthy face and piercing, green-brown
eyes, combined with the craving of his audiences for a touch of the
romantic, had led him to adopt the more sonorous pseudonym of "Signor
Tomaso." He maintained that if he went under his own name, nobody
would ever believe that what he did could be anything wonderful.
Except for this trifling matter of the name, there was no fake about
Signor Tomaso. He was a brilliant animal-trainer, as unacquainted with
fear as the Swede, as dominant of eye, and of immeasurably greater
experience. But being, at the same time, more emotional, more
temperamental than his phlegmatic assistant, his control was sometimes
less steady, and now and again he would have to assert his authority
with violence. He was keenly alive to the varying personalities of his
beasts, naturally, and hence had favorites among them. His especial
favorite, who heartily reciprocated the attachment, was the great
puma, King, the most intelligent and amiable of all the wild animals
that had ever come under his training whip.

As Hansen's success with the animals, during the few months of his
experience as assistant, had been altogether phenomenal, his chief
felt a qualm of pique upon being warned against the big puma. He had
too just an appreciation of Hansen's judgment, however, to quite
disregard the warning, and he turned it over curiously in his mind as
he went to his dressing-room. Emerging a few minutes later in the
black-and-white of faultless evening dress, without a speck on his
varnished shoes, he moved down along the front of the cages,
addressing to the occupant of each, as he passed, a sharp,
authoritative word which brought it to attention.

With the strange, savage smell of the cages in his nostrils, that
bitter, acrid pungency to which his senses never grew blunted, a new
spirit of understanding was wont to enter Tomaso's brain. He would
feel a sudden kinship with the wild creatures, such a direct and
instant comprehension as almost justified his fancy that in some
previous existence he had himself been a wild man of the jungle and
spoken in their tongue. As he looked keenly into each cage, he knew
that the animal whose eyes for that moment met his was in untroubled
mood. This, till he came to the cage containing the latest addition to
his troupe, a large cinnamon bear, which was rocking restlessly to
and fro and grumbling to itself. The bear was one which had been long
in captivity and well trained. Tomaso had found him docile, and clever
enough to be admitted at once to the performing troupe. But to-night
the beast's eyes were red with some ill-humor. Twice the trainer spoke
to him before he heeded; but then he assumed instantly an air of
mildest subservience. The expression of a new-weaned puppy is not more
innocently mild than the look which a bear can assume when it so
desires.

"Ah, ha! old sport! So it's you that's got a grouch on to-night; I'll
keep an eye on you!" he muttered to himself. He snapped his heavy whip
once, and the bear obediently sat up on its haunches, its great paws
hanging meekly. Tomaso looked it sharply in the eye. "Don't forget,
now, and get funny!" he admonished. Then he returned to the first
cage, which contained the puma, and went up close to the bars. The
great cat came and rubbed against him, purring harshly.

"There ain't nothing the matter with _you_, boy, I reckon," said
Tomaso, scratching him affectionately behind the ears. "Andy must have
wheels in his head if he thinks I've got to keep my eyes peeled on
_your_ account."

Out beyond the iron-grilled passage, beyond the lighted canvas walls,
the sharp, metallic noises of the workmen setting up the great
performing-cage came to a stop. There was a burst of music from the
orchestra. That, too, ceased. The restless hum of the unseen masses
around the arena died away into an expectant hush. It was time to go
on. At the farther end of the passage, by the closed door leading to
the performing cage, Hansen appeared. Tomaso opened the puma's cage.
King dropped out with a soft thud of his great paws, and padded
swiftly down the passage, his master following. Hansen slid wide the
door, admitting a glare of light, a vast, intense rustle of
excitement; and King marched majestically out into it, eying calmly
the tier on climbing tier of eager faces. It was his customary
privilege, this, to make the entrance alone, a good half minute ahead
of the rest of the troupe; and he seemed to value it. Halfway around
the big cage he walked, then mounted his pedestal, sat up very
straight, and stared blandly at the audience. A salvo of clapping ran
smartly round the tiers--King's usual tribute, which he had so learned
to expect that any failure of it would have dispirited him for the
whole performance.

Signor Tomaso had taken his stand, whip in hand, just inside the cage,
with Hansen opposite him, to see that the animals, on entry, went each
straight to his own bench or pedestal. Any mistake in this connection
was sure to lead to trouble, each beast being almost childishly
jealous of its rights. Inside the long passage an attendant was
opening one cage after another; and in a second more the animals began
to appear in procession, filing out between the immaculate Signor and
the roughly clad Swede. First came a majestic white Angora goat,
carrying high his horned and bearded head, and stepping most daintily
upon slim, black hoofs. Close behind, and looking just ready to pounce
upon him but for dread of the Signor's eye, came slinking stealthily a
spotted black-and-yellow leopard, ears back and tail twitching. He
seemed ripe for mischief, as he climbed reluctantly on to his pedestal
beside the goat; but he knew better than to even bare a claw. And as
for the white goat, with his big golden eyes superciliously half
closed, he ignored his dangerous neighbor completely, while his jaws
chewed nonchalantly on a bit of brown shoe-lace which he had picked up
in the passage.

Close behind the leopard came a bored-looking lion, who marched with
listless dignity straight to his place. Then another lion, who paused
in the doorway and looked out doubtfully, blinking with distaste at
the strong light. Tomaso spoke sharply, like the snap of his whip,
whereupon the lion ran forward in haste. But he seemed to have
forgotten which was his proper pedestal, for he hopped upon the three
nearest in turn, only to hop down again with apologetic alacrity at
the order of the cracking whip. At last, obviously flustered, he
reached a pedestal on which he was allowed to remain. Here he sat,
blinking from side to side and apparently much mortified.

The lion was followed by a running wolf, who had shown his teeth
savagely when the lion, for a moment, trespassed upon his pedestal.
This beast was intensely interested in the audience, and, as soon as
he was in his place, turned his head and glared with green, narrowed
eyes at the nearest spectators, as if trying to stare them out of
countenance. After the wolf come a beautiful Bengal tiger, its
black-and-golden stripes shining as if they had been oiled. He glided
straight to his stand, sniffed at it superciliously, and then lay down
before it. The whip snapped sharply three times, but the tiger only
shut his eyes tight. The audience grew hushed. Tomaso ran forward,
seized the beast by the back of the neck, and shook him roughly.
Whereupon the tiger half rose, opened his great red mouth like a
cavern, and roared in his master's face. The audience thrilled from
corner to corner, and a few cries came from frightened women.

The trainer paused for an instant, to give full effect to the
situation. Then, stooping suddenly, he lifted the tiger's
hind-quarters and deposited them firmly on the pedestal, and left him
in that awkward position.

"There," he said in a loud voice, "that's all the help you'll get from
me!"

The audience roared with instant and delighted appreciation. The tiger
gathered up the rest of himself upon his pedestal, wiped his face with
his paw, like a cat, and settled down complacently with a pleased
assurance that he had done the trick well.

At this moment the attention of the audience was drawn to the
entrance, where there seemed to be some hitch. Tomaso snapped his whip
sharply, and shouted savage orders, but nothing came forth. Then the
big Swede, with an agitated air, snatched up the trainer's pitchfork,
which stood close at hand in case of emergency, made swift passes at
the empty doorway, and jumped back. The audience was lifted fairly to
its feet with excitement. What monster could it be that was giving so
much trouble? The next moment, while Tomaso's whip hissed in vicious
circles over his head, a plump little drab-colored pug-dog marched
slowly out upon the stage, its head held arrogantly aloft. Volleys of
laughter crackled around the arena, and the delighted spectators
settled, tittering, back into their seats.

The pug glanced searchingly around the cage, then selecting the
biggest of the lions as a worthy antagonist, flew at his pedestal,
barking furious challenge. The lion glanced down at him, looked bored
at the noise, and yawned. Apparently disappointed, the pug turned away
and sought another adversary. He saw King's big tail hanging down
beside his pedestal. Flinging himself upon it, he began to worry it as
if it were a rat. The next moment the tail threshed vigorously, and
the pug went rolling end over end across the stage.

Picking himself up and shaking the sawdust from his coat, the pug
growled savagely and curled his little tail into a tighter screw.
Bristling with wrath, he tiptoed menacingly back toward the puma's
pedestal, determined to wipe out the indignity. This time his
challenge was accepted. Tomaso's whip snapped, but the audience was
too intent to hear it. The great puma slipped down from his pedestal,
ran forward a few steps, and crouched.

With a shrill snarl the pug rushed in. At the same instant the puma
sprang, making a splendid tawny curve through the air, and alighted
ten feet behind his antagonist's tail. There he wheeled like lightning
and crouched. But the pug, enraged at being balked of his vengeance,
had also wheeled, and charged again in the same half second. In the
next, he had the puma by the throat. With a dreadful screech the great
beast rolled over on his side and stiffened out his legs. The pug drew
off, eyed him critically to make sure that he was quite dead, then
ran, barking shrill triumph, to take possession of the victim's place.
Then the whip cracked once more. Whereupon the puma got up, trotted
back to his pedestal, mounted it, and tucked the pug protectingly away
between his great forepaws.

The applause had not quite died away when a towering, sandy-brown bulk
appeared in the entrance to the cage. Erect upon its hind legs, and
with a musket on its shoulder, it marched ponderously and slowly
around the circle, eying each of the sitting beasts--except the
wolf--suspiciously as it passed. The watchful eyes of both Signor
Tomaso and Hansen noted that it gave wider berth to the puma than to
any of the others, and also that the puma's ears, at the moment, were
ominously flattened. Instantly the long whip snapped its terse
admonition to good manners. Nothing happened, except that the pug,
from between the puma's legs, barked insolently. The sandy-brown bulk
reached its allotted pedestal,--which was quite absurdly too small for
it to mount,--dropped the musket with a clatter, fell upon all fours
with a loud _whoof_ of relief, and relapsed into a bear.

The stage now set to his satisfaction, Signor Tomaso advanced to the
centre of it. He snapped his whip, and uttered a sharp cry which the
audience doubtless took for purest Italian. Immediately the animals
all descended from their pedestals, and circled solemnly around him in
a series of more or less intricate evolutions, all except the bear,
who, not having yet been initiated into this beast quadrille, kept his
place and looked scornful. At another signal the evolutions ceased,
and all the beasts, except one of the lions, hurried back to their
places. The lion, with the bashful air of a boy who gets up to "speak
his piece" at a school examination, lingered in the middle of the
stage. A rope was brought. The Swede took one end of it, the
attendant who had brought it took the other, and between them they
began to swing it, very slowly, as a great skipping-rope. At an
energetic command from Signor Tomaso the lion slipped into the
swinging circle, and began to skip in a ponderous and shamefaced
fashion. The house thundered applause. For perhaps half a minute the
strange performance continued, the whip snapping rhythmically with
every descent of the rope. Then all at once, as if he simply could not
endure it for another second, the lion bolted, head down, clambered
upon his pedestal, and shut his eyes hard as if expecting a whipping.
But as nothing happened except a roar of laughter from the seats, he
opened them again and glanced from side to side complacently, as if to
say, "Didn't I get out of that neatly?"

The next act was a feat of teetering. A broad and massive teeter-board
was brought in, and balanced across a support about two feet high. The
sulky leopard, at a sign from Tomaso, slouched up to it, pulled one
end to the ground, and mounted. At the centre he balanced cautiously
for a moment till it tipped, then crept on to the other end, and
crouched there, holding it down as if his very life depended on it.
Immediately the white goat dropped from his pedestal, minced daintily
over, skipped up upon the centre of the board, and mounted to the
elevated end. His weight was not sufficient to lift, or even to
disturb, the leopard, who kept the other end anchored securely. But
the goat seemed to like his high and conspicuous position, for he
maintained it with composure and stared around with great
condescension upon the other beasts.

The goat having been given time to demonstrate his unfitness for the
task he had undertaken, Tomaso's whip cracked again. Instantly King
descended from his pedestal, ran over to the teeter-board, and mounted
it at the centre. The goat, unwilling to be dispossessed of his high
place, stamped and butted at him indignantly, but with one scornful
sweep of his great paw the puma brushed him off to the sawdust, and
took his place at the end of the board. Snarling and clutching at the
cleats, the leopard was hoisted into the air, heavily outweighed. The
crowd applauded; but the performance, obviously, was not yet perfect.
Now came the white goat's opportunity. He hesitated a moment, till he
heard a word from Tomaso. Then he sprang once more upon the centre of
the board, faced King, and backed up inch by inch towards the leopard
till the latter began to descend. At this point of balance the white
goat had one forefoot just on the pivot of the board. With a dainty,
dancing motion, and a proud tossing of his head, he now threw his
weight slowly backward and forward. The great teeter worked to
perfection. Signor Tomaso was kept bowing to round after round of
applause while the leopard, the goat, and King returned proudly to
their places.

After this, four of the red-and-yellow uniformed attendants ran in,
each carrying a large hoop. They stationed themselves at equal
distances around the circumference of the cage, holding the hoops out
before them at a height of about four feet from the ground. At the
command of Tomaso, the animals all formed in procession--though not
without much cracking of the whip and vehement command--and went
leaping one after the other through the hoops--all except the pug, who
tried in vain to jump so high, and the bear, who, not knowing how to
jump at all, simply marched around and pretended not to see that the
hoops were there. Then four other hoops, covered with white paper,
were brought in, and head first through them the puma led the way.
When it came to the bear's turn, the whip cracked a special signal.
Whereupon, instead of ignoring the hoop as he had done before, he
stuck his head through it and marched off with it hanging on his neck.
All four hoops he gathered up in this way, and, retiring with them to
his place, stood shuffling restlessly and grunting with impatience
until he was relieved of the awkward burden.

A moment later four more hoops were handed to the attendants. They
looked like the first lot; but the attendants took them with hooked
handles of iron and held them out at arm's length. Touched with a
match, they burst instantly into leaping yellow flames; whereupon all
the beasts, except King, stirred uneasily on their pedestals. The whip
snapped with emphasis; and all the beasts--except King, who sat eying
the flames tranquilly, and the bear, who whined his disapproval, but
knew that he was not expected to take part in this act--formed again
in procession, and ran at the flaming hoops as if to jump through them
as before. But each, on arriving at a hoop, crouched flat and scurried
under it like a frightened cat--except the white goat, which pranced
aside and capered past derisively. Pretending to be much disappointed
in them, Signor Tomaso ordered them all back to their places, and,
folding his arms, stood with his head lowered as if wondering what to
do about it. Upon this, King descended proudly from his pedestal and
approached the blazing terrors. With easiest grace and nonchalance he
lifted his lithe body, and went bounding lightly through the hoops,
one after the other. The audience stormed its applause. Twice around
this terrifying circuit he went, as indifferent to the writhing flames
as if they had been so much grass waving in the wind. Then he stopped
abruptly, turned his head, and looked at Tomaso in expectation. The
latter came up, fondled his ears, and assured him that he had done
wonders. Then King returned to his place, elation bristling in his
whiskers.

While the flaming hoops were being rushed from the ring and the
audience was settling down again to the quiet of unlimited
expectation, a particularly elaborate act was being prepared. A
massive wooden stand, with shelves and seats at various heights, was
brought in. Signor Tomaso, coiling the lash of his whip and holding
the heavy handle, with its loaded butt, as a sceptre, took his place
on a somewhat raised seat at the centre of the frame. Hansen, with his
pitchfork in one hand and a whip like Tomaso's in the other, drew
nearer; and the audience, with a thrill, realized that something more
than ordinarily dangerous was on the cards. The tiger came and
stretched itself at full length before Tomaso, who at once
appropriated him as a footstool. The bear and the biggest of the lions
posted themselves on either side of their master, rearing up like the
armorial supporters of some illustrious escutcheon, and resting their
mighty forepaws apparently on their master's shoulders, though in
reality on two narrow little shelves placed there for the purpose.
Another lion came and laid his huge head on Tomaso's knees, as if
doing obeisance. By this time all the other animals were prowling
about the stand, peering this way and that, as if trying to remember
their places; and the big Swede was cracking his whip briskly, with
curt, deep-toned commands, to sharpen up their memories. Only King
seemed quite clear as to what he had to do--which was to lay his tawny
body along the shelf immediately over the heads of the lion and the
bear; but as he mounted the stand from the rear, his ears went back
and he showed a curious reluctance to fulfil his part. Hansen's keen
eyes noted this at once, and his whip snapped emphatically in the air
just above the great puma's nose. Still King hesitated. The lion paid
no attention whatever, but the bear glanced up with reddening eyes and
a surly wagging of his head. It was all a slight matter, too slight to
catch the eye or the uncomprehending thoughts of the audience. But a
grave, well-dressed man, with copper-colored face, high cheek-bones
and straight, coal-black hair, who sat close to the front, turned to a
companion and said:--

"Those men are good trainers, but they don't know everything about
pumas. _We_ know that there is a hereditary feud between the pumas and
the bears, and that when they come together there's apt to be
trouble."

The speaker was a full-blooded Sioux, and a graduate of one of the big
Eastern universities. He leaned forward with a curious fire in his
deep-set, piercing eyes, as King, unwillingly obeying the mandates of
the whip, dropped down and stretched out upon his shelf, his nervous
forepaws not more than a foot above the bear's head. His nostrils were
twitching as if they smelled something unutterably distasteful, and
his thick tail looked twice its usual size. The Sioux, who, alone of
all present, understood these signs, laid an involuntary hand of
warning upon his companion's knee.

Just what positions the other animals were about to take will never be
known. King's sinews tightened. "Ha-ow!" grunted the Sioux, reverting
in his excitement to his ancient utterance. There was a lightning
sweep of King's paw, a shout from Hansen, a _wah_ of surprise and
pain from the bear. King leaped back to the top of the stand to avoid
the expected counter-stroke. But not against him did the bear's rage
turn. The maddened beast seemed to conclude that his master had
betrayed him. With a roar he struck at Tomaso with the full force of
his terrible forearm. Tomaso was in the very act of leaping forward
from his seat, when the blow caught him full on the shoulder,
shattering the bones, ripping the whole side out of his coat, and
hurling him senseless to the floor.

The change in the scene was instantaneous and appalling. Most of the
animals, startled, and dreading immediate punishment, darted for their
pedestals,--_any_ pedestals that they found within reach,--and fought
savagely for the possession of the first they came to. The bear fell
furiously upon the body of Tomaso. Cries and shrieks arose from the
spectators. Hansen rushed to the rescue, his fork clutched in both
hands. Attendants, armed with forks or iron bars, seemed to spring up
from nowhere. But before any one could reach the spot, an appalling
screech tore across the uproar, and King's yellow body, launched from
the top of the stand, fell like a thunderbolt upon the bear's back.

The shock rolled the bear clean over. While he was clawing about
wildly, in the effort to grapple with his assailant, Hansen dragged
aside the still unconscious Tomaso, and two attendants carried him
hurriedly from the stage.

Audience and stage alike were now in a sort of frenzy. Animals were
fighting here and there in tangled groups; but for the moment all eyes
were riveted on the deadly struggle which occupied the centre of the
stage.

For all that he had less than a quarter the weight and nothing like a
quarter the bulk of his gigantic adversary, the puma, through the
advantage of his attack, was having much the best of the fight. Hansen
had no time for sentiment, no time to concern himself as to whether
his chief was dead or alive. His business was to save valuable
property by preventing the beasts from destroying each other. It
mattered not to him, now, that King had come so effectively to
Tomaso's rescue. Prodding him mercilessly with his fork, and raining
savage blows upon his head, he strove, in a cold rage, to drive him
off; but in vain. But other keepers, meanwhile, had run in with ropes
and iron bars. A few moments more and both combatants were securely
lassoed. Then they were torn apart by main force, streaming with
blood. Blinded by blankets thrown over their heads, and hammered into
something like subjection, they were dragged off at a rush and slammed
unceremoniously into their dens. With them out of the way, it was a
quick matter to dispose of the other fights, though not till after the
white goat had been killed to satisfy that ancient grudge of the
leopard's, and the wolf had been cruelly mauled for having refused to
give up his pedestal to one of the excited lions. Only the pug had
come off unscathed, having had the presence of mind to dart under the
foundations of the frame at the first sign of trouble, and stay there.
When all the other animals had been brought to their senses and driven
off, one by one, to their cages, he came forth from his hiding and
followed dejectedly, the curl quite taken out of his confident tail.
Then word went round among the spectators that Tomaso was not
dead--that, though badly injured, he would recover; and straightway
they calmed down, with a complacent sense of having got the value of
their money. The great cage was taken apart and carried off. The stage
was speedily transformed. And two trick comedians, with slippers that
flapped a foot beyond their toes, undertook to wipe out the memory of
what had happened.



CHAPTER III


The show was touring the larger towns of the Northwest. On the
following day it started, leaving Tomaso behind in hospital, with a
shattered shoulder and bitter wrath in his heart. At the next town,
Hansen took Tomaso's place, but, for two reasons, with a sadly maimed
performance. He had not yet acquired sufficient control of the animals
to dare all Tomaso's acts; and the troupe was lacking some of its most
important performers. The proud white goat was dead. The bear, the
wolf, and one of the lions were laid up with their wounds. And as for
the great puma, though _he_ had come off with comparatively little
hurt, his temper had apparently been quite transformed. Hansen could
do nothing with him. Whether it was that he was sick for Tomaso, whom
he adored, or that he stewed in a black rage over the blows and
pitchforkings, hitherto unknown to him, no one could surely say. He
would do nothing but crouch, brooding, sullen and dangerous, at the
back of his cage. Hansen noted the green light flickering fitfully
across his pale, wide eyes, and prudently refrained from pressing
matters.

He was right. For, as a matter of fact, it was against the big Swede
exclusively, and not against man in general, that King was nursing his
grudge. In a dim way it had got into his brain that Hansen had taken
sides with the bear against him and Tomaso, and he thirsted for
vengeance. At the same time, he felt that Tomaso had deserted him. Day
by day, as he brooded, the desire for escape--a desire which he had
never known before--grew in his heart. Vaguely, perhaps, he dreamed
that he would go and find Tomaso. At any rate, he would go--somewhere,
anywhere, away from this world which had turned unfriendly to him.
When this feeling grew dominant, he would rise suddenly and go
prowling swiftly up and down behind the bars of his cage like a wild
creature just caught.

Curiously enough--for it is seldom indeed that Fate responds to the
longing of such exiles from the wild--his opportunity came. Late at
night the show reached a little town among the foothills. The train
had been delayed for hours. The night was dark. Everything was in
confusion, and all nerves on edge. The short road from the station to
the field where the tents were to be set up was in bad repair, or had
never been really a road. It ran along the edge of a steep gully. In
the darkness one wheel of the van containing King's cage dropped to
the hub into a yawning rut. Under the violence of the jolt a section
of the edge of the bank gave way and crashed down to the bottom of the
gully, dragging with it the struggling and screaming horses. The cage
roof was completely smashed in.

To King's eyes the darkness was but a twilight, pleasant and
convenient. He saw an opening big enough to squeeze through; and
beyond it, beyond the wild shouting and the flares of swung lanterns,
a thick wood dark beneath the paler sky. Before any one could get down
to the wreck, he was out and free and away. Crouching with belly to
the earth, he ran noiselessly, and gained the woods before any one
knew he had escaped. Straight on he ran, watchful but swift, heading
for the places where the silence lay heaviest. Within five minutes
Hansen had half the men of the show, with ropes, forks, and lanterns,
hot on the trail. Within fifteen minutes, half the male population of
the town was engaged in an enthusiastic puma hunt. But King was
already far away, and making progress that would have been impossible
to an ordinary wild puma. His life among men had taught him nothing
about trees, so he had no unfortunate instinct to climb one and hide
among the branches to see what his pursuers would be up to. His idea
of getting away--and, perhaps, of finding his vanished master--was to
keep right on. And this he did, though of course not at top speed, the
pumas not being a race of long-winded runners like the wolves. In an
hour or two he reached a rocky and precipitous ridge, quite impassable
to men except by day. This he scaled with ease, and at the top, in the
high solitude, felt safe enough to rest a little while. Then he made
his way down the long, ragged western slopes, and at daybreak came
into a wild valley of woods and brooks.

By this time King was hungry. But game was plentiful. After two or
three humiliating failures with rabbits--owing to his inexperience in
stalking anything more elusive than a joint of dead mutton, he caught
a fat wood-chuck, and felt his self-respect return. Here he might have
been tempted to halt, although, to be sure, he saw no sign of Tomaso,
but beyond the valley, still westward, he saw mountains, which drew
him strangely. In particular, one uplifted peak, silver and sapphire
as the clear day, and soaring supreme over the jumble of lesser
summits, attracted him. He knew now that that was where he was going,
and thither he pressed on with singleness of purpose, delaying only
when absolutely necessary, to hunt or to sleep. The cage, the stage,
the whip, Hansen, the bear, even the proud excitement of the flaming
hoops, were swiftly fading to dimness in his mind, overwhelmed by the
inrush of new, wonderful impressions. At last, reaching the lower,
granite-ribbed flanks of old White Face itself, he began to feel
curiously content, and no longer under the imperative need of haste.

Here it was good hunting. Yet, though well satisfied, he made no
effort to find himself a lair to serve as headquarters, but kept
gradually working his way onward up the mountain. The higher he went,
the more content he grew, till even his craving for his master was
forgotten. Latent instincts began to spring into life, and he lapsed
into the movements and customs of the wild puma. Only when he came
upon a long, massive footprint in the damp earth by a spring, or a
wisp of pungent-smelling fur on the rubbed and clawed bark of a tree,
memory would rush back upon him fiercely. His ears would flatten
down, his eyes would gleam green, his tail would twitch, and crouching
to earth he would glare into every near-by thicket for a sight of his
mortal foe. He had not yet learned to discriminate perfectly between
an old scent and a new.

About this time a hunter from the East, who had his camp a little
farther down the valley, was climbing White Face on the trail of a
large grizzly. He was lithe of frame, with a lean, dark, eager face,
and he followed the perilous trail with a lack of prudence which
showed a very inadequate appreciation of grizzlies. The trail ran
along a narrow ledge cresting an abrupt but bushy steep. At the foot
of the steep, crouched along a massive branch and watching for game of
some sort to pass by, lay the big puma. Attracted by a noise above his
head he glanced up, and saw the hunter. It was certainly not Tomaso,
but it looked like him; and the puma's piercing eyes grew almost
benevolent. He had no ill-feeling to any man but the Swede.

Other ears than those of the puma had heard the unwary hunter's
footsteps. The grizzly had caught them and stopped to listen. Yes, he
was being followed. In a rage he wheeled about and ran back
noiselessly to see who it was that could dare such presumption.
Turning a shoulder of rock, he came face to face with the hunter, and
at once, with a deep, throaty grunt, he charged.

The hunter had not even time to get his heavy rifle to his shoulder.
He fired once, point blank, from the hip. The shot took effect
somewhere, but in no vital spot evidently, for it failed to check,
even for one second, that terrific charge. To meet the charge was to
be blasted out of being instantly. There was but one way open. The
hunter sprang straight out from the ledge with a lightning vision of
thick, soft-looking bushes far below him. The slope was steep, but by
no means perpendicular, and he struck in a thicket which broke the
full shock of the fall. His rifle flew far out of his hands. He
rebounded, clutching at the bushes; but he could not check himself.
Rolling over and over, his eyes and mouth choked with dust and leaves,
he bumped on down the slope, and brought up at last, dazed but
conscious, in a swampy hole under the roots of a huge over-leaning
tree.

[Illustration: "Almost over his head, on a limb not six feet distant,
crouched, ready to spring, the biggest puma he had ever
seen."]

Striving to clear his eyes and mouth, his first realization was that
he could not lift his left arm. The next, that he seemed to have
jumped from the frying-pan into the fire. His jaws set themselves
desperately, as he drew the long hunting-knife from his belt and
struggled up to one knee, resolved to at least make his last fight a
good one. Almost over his head, on a limb not six feet distant,
crouched, ready to spring, the biggest puma he had ever seen. At this
new confronting of doom his brain cleared, and his sinews seemed to
stretch with fresh courage. It was hopeless, of course, as he knew,
but his heart refused to recognize the fact. Then he noted with wonder
that not at him at all was the puma looking, but far over his head. He
followed that look, and again his heart sank, this time quite beyond
the reach of hope. There was the grizzly coming headlong down the
slope, foam slavering from his red jaws.

Bewildered, and feeling like a rat in a hole, the hunter tried to slip
around the base of the tree, desperately hoping to gain some post of
vantage whence to get home at least two or three good blows before the
end. But the moment he moved, the grizzly fairly hurled himself
downwards. The hunter jumped aside and wheeled, with his knife lifted,
his disabled left arm against the tree trunk. But in that same
instant, a miracle! Noiselessly the puma's tawny length shot out
overhead and fell upon the bear in the very mid-rush of the charge.

At once it seemed as if some cataclysmic upheaval were in progress.
The air, as it were, went mad with screeches, yells, snarls, and
enormous thick gruntings. The bushes went down on every side. Now the
bear was on top, now the puma. They writhed over and over, and for
some seconds the hunter stared with stupefaction. Then he recovered
his wits. He saw that the puma, for some inexplicable reason, had come
to his help. But he saw, also, that the gigantic grizzly must win.
Instead of slipping off and leaving his ally to destruction, he ran
up, waited a moment for the perfect opportunity, and drove his knife
to the hilt into the very centre of the back of the bear's neck, just
where it joined the skull. Then he sprang aside.

Strangely the noise died away. The huge bulk of the grizzly sank
slowly into a heap, the puma still raking it with the eviscerating
weapons of his hinder claws. A moment more and he seemed to realize
that he had achieved a sudden triumph. Bleeding, hideously mangled,
but still, apparently, full of fighting vigor, he disengaged himself
from the unresisting mass and looked around him proudly. His wild
eyes met those of the hunter, and the hunter had an anxious moment.
But the great beast looked away again at once, and seemed, in fact, to
forget all about the man's existence. He lay down and commenced
licking assiduously at his wounds. Filled with astonishment, and just
now beginning to realize the anguish in his broken arm, the hunter
stole discreetly away.

After an hour or two the puma arose, rather feebly, passed the body of
his slain foe without a glance, and clambered up the slope to the
ledge. He wanted a place of refuge now, a retreat that would be safe
and cool and dark. Up and up he followed the winding of that narrow
trail, and came out at last upon a rocky platform before a
black-mouthed cave. He knew well enough that he had killed the owner
of the cave, so he entered without hesitation.

Here, for two days, he lay in concealment, licking his wounds. He had
no desire to eat; but two or three times, because the wounds fevered
him, he came forth and descended the trail a little way to where he
had seen a cold spring bubbling from the rocks. His clean blood, in
that high, clean air, quickly set itself to the healing of the hurts,
and strength flowed back swiftly into his torn sinews. At dawn of the
third day he felt himself suddenly hungry, and realizing that he must
seek some small game, even though not yet ready for any difficult
hunting, he crept forth, just as the first thin glory of rose light
came washing into the cave. But before he started down the trail he
paused, and stood staring, with some dim half memory, out across the
transparent, hollow spaces, the jumbled hilltops, misty, gray-green
forests, and steel-bright loops of water to which he had at last come
home.



THE MONARCH OF PARK BARREN



THE MONARCH OF PARK BARREN

CHAPTER I


From the cold spring lakes and sombre deeps of spruce forest, over
which the bald granite peak of Old Saugamauk kept endless guard, came
reports of a moose of more than royal stature, whose antlers beggared
all records for symmetry and spread. From a home-coming lumber cruiser
here, a wandering Indian there, the word came straggling in, till the
settlements about the lower reaches of the river began to believe
there might be some truth behind the wild tales. Then--for it was
autumn, the season of gold and crimson falling leaves, and battles on
the lake-shores under the white full moon--there followed stories of
other moose seen fleeing in terror, with torn flanks and bleeding
shoulders; and it was realized that the prowess of the great moose
bull was worthy of his stature and his adornment. Apparently he was
driving all the other bulls off the Saugamauk ranges.

By this time the matter became of interest to the guides. The stories
gathered in from different quarters, so it was hard to guess just
where the gigantic stranger was most likely to be found. To north and
northeast of the mountain went the two Armstrongs, seeking the
stranger's trail; while to south and southeastward explored the
Crimmins boys. If real, the giant bull had to be located; if a myth,
he had to be exploded before raising impossible hopes in the hearts of
visiting sportsmen.

Then suddenly arrived corroboration of all the stories. It came from
Charley Crimmins. He was able to testify with conviction that the
giant bull was no figment of Indian's imagination or lumberman's
inventive humor. For it was he whose search had been successful.

In fact, he might have been content to have it just a shade less
overwhelmingly successful. That there is such a thing as an
embarrassment of success was borne in upon him when he found himself
jumping madly for the nearest tree, with a moose that seemed to have
the stature of an elephant crashing through the thickets close behind
him. He reached the tree just in time to swing well up among its
branches. Then the tree quivered as the furious animal flung his bulk
against it. Crimmins had lost his rifle in the flight. He could do
nothing but sit shivering on his branch, making remarks so
uncomplimentary that the great bull, if he could have appreciated
them, would probably have established himself under that tree till
vengeance was accomplished. But not knowing that he had been insulted,
he presently grew tired of snorting at his captive, and wandered off
through the woods in search of more exciting occupation. Then,
indignant beyond words, Charley descended from his retreat, and took
his authoritative report in to the Settlements.

[Illustration: "He reached the tree just in time to swing well up among
the branches."]

At first it was thought that there would be great hunting around Old
Saugamauk, till those tremendous antlers should fall a prize to some
huntsman not only lucky but rich. For no one who could not pay right
handsomely for the chance might hope to be guided to the range where
such an unequalled trophy was to be won. But when the matter, in all
its authenticated details, came to the ears of Uncle Adam, dean of the
guides of that region, he said "_No_" with an emphasis that left no
room for argument. There should be no hunting around the slopes of
Saugamauk for several seasons. If the great bull was the terror they
made him out to be, then he had driven all the other bulls from his
range, and there was nothing to be hunted but his royal self. "Well,"
decreed the far-seeing old guide, "we'll let him be for a bit, till
his youngsters begin to grow up like him. Then there'll be no heads in
all the rest of New Brunswick like them that comes from Old
Saugamauk." This decree was accepted, the New Brunswick guides being
among those who are wise enough to cherish the golden-egged goose.

In the course of that season the giant moose was seen several times by
guides and woodsmen--but usually from a distance, as the inconsiderate
impetuosity of his temper was not favorable to close or calm
observation. The only people who really knew him were those who, like
Charley Crimmins, had looked down upon his grunting wrath from the
branches of a substantial tree.

Upon certain important details, however, all observers agreed. The
stranger (for it was held that, driven by some southward wandering
instinct, he had come down from the wild solitudes of the Gaspé
Peninsula) was reckoned to be a good eight inches taller at the
shoulders than any other moose of New Brunswick record, and several
hundredweight heavier. His antlers, whose symmetry and palmation
seemed perfect, were estimated to have a spread of sixty inches at
least. That was the conservative estimate of Uncle Adam, who had made
his observations with remarkable composure from a tree somewhat less
lofty and sturdy than he would have chosen had he had the time for
choice.

In color the giant was so dark that his back and flanks looked black
except in the strongest sunlight. His mighty head, with long, deeply
overhanging muzzle, was of a rich brown; while the under parts of his
body, and the inner surfaces of his long, straight legs, were of a
rusty fawn color. His "bell"--as the shaggy appendix that hangs from
the neck of a bull moose, a little below the throat, is called--was of
unusual development, and the coarse hair adorning it peculiarly
glossy. To bring down such a magnificent prize, and to carry off such
a trophy as that unmatched head and antlers, the greatest sportsmen of
America would have begrudged no effort or expense. But though the fame
of the wonderful animal was cunningly allowed to spread to the ears of
all sportsmen, its habitat seemed miraculously elusive. It was heard
of on the Upsalquitch, the Nipisiguit, the Dungarvan, the Little
Sou'west, but never, by some strange chance, in the country around Old
Saugamauk. Visiting sportsmen hunted, spent money, dreamed dreams,
followed great trails and brought down splendid heads, all over the
Province; but no stranger with a rifle was allowed to see the proud
antlers of the monarch of Saugamauk.

The right of the splendid moose to be called the Monarch of Saugamauk
was settled beyond all question one moonlight night when the surly old
bear who lived in a crevasse far up under the stony crest of the
mountain came down and attempted to dispute it. The wild kindreds, as
a rule, are most averse to unnecessary quarrels. Unless their food or
their mates are at stake, they will fight only under extreme
provocation, or when driven to bay. They are not ashamed to run away,
rather than press matters too far and towards a doubtful issue. A bull
moose and a bear are apt to give each other a wide berth, respecting
each other's prowess. But there are exceptions to all rules,
especially where bears, the most individual of our wild cousins, are
concerned. And this bear was in a particularly savage mood. Just in
the mating season he had lost his mate, who had been shot by an
Indian. The old bear did not know what had happened to her, but he was
ready to avenge her upon any one who might cross his path.

Unluckily for him, it was the great moose who crossed his path; and
the luck was all Charley Crimmins's, who chanced to be the spectator
of what happened there beside the moonlit lake.

Charley was on his way over to the head of the Nipisiguit, when it
occurred to him that he would like to get another glimpse of the great
beast who had so ignominiously discomfited him. Peeling a sheet of
bark from the nearest white birch, he twisted himself a "moose-call,"
then climbed into the branches of a willow which spread out over the
edge of the shining lake. From this concealment he began to utter
persuasively the long, uncouth, melancholy call by which the moose cow
summons her mate.

Sometimes these vast northern solitudes seem, for hours together, as
if they were empty of all life. It is as if a wave of distrust had
passed simultaneously over all the creatures of the wild. At other
times the lightest occasion suffices to call life out of the
stillness. Crimmins had not sounded more than twice his deceptive
call, when the bushes behind the strip of beech crackled sharply. But
it was not the great bull that stepped forth into the moonlight. It
was a cow moose. She came out with no effort at concealment, and
walked up and down the beach, angrily looking for her imagined rival.

When the uneasy animal's back was towards him, Crimmins called again,
a short, soft call. The cow jumped around as if she had been struck,
and the stiff hair along her neck stood up with jealous rage. But
there was no rival anywhere in sight, and she stood completely
mystified, shaking her ungainly head, peering into the dark
undergrowth, and snorting tempestuously as if challenging the
invisible rival to appear. Then suddenly her angry ridge of hair sank
down, she seemed to shrink together upon herself, and with a
convulsive bound she sprang away from the dark undergrowth, landing
with a splash in the shallow water along shore. At the same instant
the black branches were burst apart, and a huge bear, forepaws
upraised and jaws wide open, launched himself forth into the open.

Disappointed at missing his first spring, the bear rushed furiously
upon his intended victim, but the cow, for all her apparent
awkwardness, was as agile as a deer. Barely eluding his rush, she went
shambling up the shore at a terrific pace, plunged into the woods, and
vanished. The bear checked himself at the water's edge, and turned,
holding his nose high in the air, as if disdaining to acknowledge that
he had been foiled.

Crimmins hesitatingly raised his rifle. Should he bag this bear, or
should he wait and sound his call again a little later, in the hope of
yet summoning the great bull? As he hesitated, and the burly black
shape in the moonlight also stood hesitating, the thickets rustled and
parted almost beneath him, and the mysterious bull strode forth with
his head held high.

He had come in answer to what he thought was the summons of his mate;
but when he saw the bear, his rage broke all bounds. He doubtless
concluded that the bear had driven his mate away. With a bawling roar
he thundered down upon the intruder.

The bear, as we have seen, was in no mood to give way. His small eyes
glowed suddenly red with vengeful fury, as he wheeled and gathered
himself, half crouching upon his haunches, to meet the tremendous
attack. In this attitude all his vast strength was perfectly poised,
ready for use in any direction. The moose, had he been attacking a
rival of his own kind, would have charged with antlers down, but
against all other enemies the weapons he relied upon were his gigantic
hoofs, edged like chisels. As he reached his sullenly waiting
antagonist he reared on his hind-legs, towering like a black rock
about to fall and crush whatever was in its path. Like pile-drivers
his fore-hoofs struck downwards, one closely following the other.

The bear swung aside as lightly as a weasel, and eluded, but only by a
hair's breadth, that destructive stroke. As he wheeled he delivered a
terrific, swinging blow, with his armed forepaw, upon his assailant's
shoulder.

The blow was a fair one. Any ordinary moose bull would have gone down
beneath it, with his shoulder-joint shattered to splinters. But this
great bull merely staggered, and stood for a second in amazement. Then
he whipped about and darted upon the bear with a sort of hoarse
scream, his eyes flashing with a veritable madness. He neither reared
to strike, nor lowered his antlers to gore, but seemed intent upon
tearing the foe with his teeth, as a mad horse might. At the sight of
such resistless fury Crimmins involuntarily tightened his grip on his
branch and muttered: "That ain't no _moose_! It's a--" But before he
could finish his comparison, astonishment stopped him. The bear,
unable with all his strength and weight to withstand the shock of that
straight and incredibly swift charge, had been rolled over and over
down the gentle slope of the beach. At the same moment the moose,
blinded by his rage and unable to check himself, had tripped over a
log that lay hidden in the bushes, and fallen headlong on his nose.

Utterly cowed by the overwhelming completeness of this overthrow, the
bear was on his feet again before his conqueror, and scurrying to
refuge like a frightened rat. He made for the nearest tree, and that
nearest tree, to Crimmins's dismay, was Crimmins's. The startled guide
swung himself hastily to a higher branch which stretched well out over
the water.

Before the great bull could recover his footing, the fugitive had
gained a good start. But desperately swift though he was, the doom
that thundered behind him was swifter, and caught him just as he was
scrambling into the tree. Those implacable antlers ploughed his
hind-quarters remorselessly, till he squealed with pain and terror.
His convulsive scrambling raised him, the next instant, beyond reach
of that punishment; but immediately the great bull reared, and struck
him again and again with his terrible hoofs, almost crushing the
victim's maimed haunches. The bear bawled again, but maintained his
clutch of desperation, and finally drew himself up to a safe height,
where he crouched on a branch, whimpering pitifully, while the victor
raged below.

At this moment the bear caught sight of Crimmins eying him steadily.
To the cowed beast this was a new peril menacing him. With a
frightened glance he crawled out on another branch, as far as it could
be trusted to support his weight. And there he clung, huddled and
shivering like a beaten puppy, looking from the man to the moose, from
the moose to the man, as if he feared they might both jump at him
together.

But the sympathies of Crimmins were now entirely with the unfortunate
bear, his fellow-prisoner, and he looked down at the arrogant tyrant
below with a sincere desire to humble his pride with a rifle-bullet.
But he was too far-seeing a guide for that. He contented himself with
climbing a little lower till he attracted the giant's attention to
himself, and then dropping half a handful of tobacco, dry and powdery,
into those snorting red nostrils.

It was done with nice precision, just as the giant drew in his breath.
He got the fullest benefit of the pungent dose; and such trivial
matters as bears and men were instantly forgotten in the paroxysms
which seized him. His roaring sneezes seemed as if they would rend
his mighty bulk asunder. He fairly stood upon his head, burrowing his
muzzle into the moist leafage, as he strove to purge the exasperating
torment from his nostrils. Crimmins laughed till he nearly fell out of
the tree, while the bear forgot to whimper as he stared in terrified
bewilderment. At last the moose stuck his muzzle up in the air and
began backing blindly over stones and bushes, as if trying to get away
from his own nose. Plump into four or five feet of icy water he
backed. The shock seemed to give him an idea. He plunged his head
under, and fell to wallowing and snorting and raising such a
prodigious disturbance that all the lake shores rang with it. Then he
bounced out upon the beach again, and dashed off through the woods as
if a million hornets were at his ears.

Weak with laughter, Crimmins climbed down out of his refuge, waved an
amiable farewell to the stupefied bear, and resumed the trail for the
Nipisiguit.



CHAPTER II


For the next two years the fame of the great moose kept growing,
adding to itself various wonders and extravagances till it assumed
almost the dimensions of a myth. Sportsmen came from all over the
world in the hope of bagging those unparalleled antlers. They shot
moose, caribou, deer, and bear, and went away disappointed only in one
regard. But at last they began to swear that the giant was a mere
fiction of the New Brunswick guides, designed to lure the hunters. The
guides, therefore, began to think it was time to make good and show
their proofs. Even Uncle Adam was coming around to this view, when
suddenly word came from the Crown Land Department at Fredericton that
the renowned moose must not be allowed to fall to any rifle. A special
permit had been issued for his capture and shipment out of the
country, that he might be the ornament of a famous Zoölogical Park and
a lively proclamation of what the New Brunswick forests could
produce.

The idea of taking the King of Saugamauk alive seemed amusing to the
guides, and to Crimmins particularly. But Uncle Adam, whose colossal
frame and giant strength seemed to put him peculiarly in sympathy with
the great moose bull, declared that it could and should be done, for
he would do it. Upon this, scepticism vanished, even from the smile of
Charley Crimmins, who voiced the general sentiment when he said,--

"Uncle Adam ain't the man to bite off any more than he can chew!"

But Uncle Adam was in no hurry. He had such a respect for his
adversary that he would not risk losing a single point in the
approaching contest. He waited till the mating season and the hunting
season were long past, and the great bull's pride and temper somewhat
cooled. He waited, moreover, for the day to come--along towards
midwinter--when those titanic antlers should loosen at their roots,
and fall off at the touch of the first light branch that might brush
against them. This, the wise old woodsman knew, would be the hour of
the King's least arrogance. Then, too, the northern snows would be
lying deep and soft and encumbering, over all the upland slopes
whereon the moose loved to browse.

Along toward mid-February word came to Uncle Adam that the Monarch had
"yarded up," as the phrase goes, on the southerly slope of Old
Saugamauk, with three cows and their calves of the previous spring
under his protection. This meant that, when the snow had grown too
deep to permit the little herd to roam at will, he had chosen a
sheltered area where the birch, poplar, and cherry, his favorite
forage, were abundant, and there had trodden out a maze of deep paths
which led to all the choicest browsing, and centred about a cluster of
ancient firs so thick as to afford covert from the fiercest storms.
The news was what the wise old woodsman had been waiting for. With
three of his men, a pair of horses, a logging-sled, axes, and an
unlimited supply of rope, he went to capture the King.

It was a clear, still morning, so cold that the great trees snapped
sharply under the grip of the bitter frost. The men went on snowshoes,
leaving the teams hitched in a thicket on the edge of a logging road
some three or four hundred yards from the "moose-yard." The sun
glittered keenly on the long white alleys which led this way and that
at random through the forest. The snow, undisturbed and accumulating
for months, was heaped in strange shapes over hidden bushes, stumps,
and rocks. The tread of the snowshoes made a furtive crunching sound
as it rhythmically broke the crisp surface.

Far off through the stillness the great moose, lying with the rest of
the herd in their shadowy covert, caught the ominous sound. He lurched
to his feet and stood listening, while the herd watched him anxiously,
awaiting his verdict as to whether that strange sound meant peril or
no.

For reasons which we have seen, the giant bull knew little of man, and
that little not of a nature to command any great respect.
Nevertheless, at this season of the year, his blood cool, his august
front shorn of its ornament and defence, he was seized with an
incomprehensible apprehension. After all, as he felt vaguely, there
was an unknown menace about man; and his ear told him that there were
several approaching. A few months earlier he would have stamped his
huge hoofs, thrashed the bushes with his colossal antlers, and stormed
forth to chastise the intruders. But now, he sniffed the sharp air,
snorted uneasily, drooped his big ears, and led a rapid but dignified
retreat down one of the deep alleys of his maze.

This was exactly what Uncle Adam had looked for. His object was to
force the herd out of the maze of alleys, wherein they could move
swiftly, and drive them floundering through the deep, soft snow, which
would wear them out before they could go half a mile. Spreading his
men so widely that they commanded all trails by which the fugitives
might return, he followed up the flight at a run. And he accompanied
the pursuit with a riot of shouts and yells and laughter, designed to
shake his quarry's heart with the fear of the unusual. Wise in all
woodcraft, Uncle Adam knew that one of the most daunting of all
sounds, to the creatures of the wild, was that of human laughter, so
inexplicable and seemingly so idle.

At other times the great bull would merely have been enraged at this
blatant clamor and taken it as a challenge. But now he retreated to
the farthest corner of his maze. From this point there were but two
paths of return, and along both the uproar was closing in upon him.
Over the edge of the snow--which was almost breast-high to him, and
deep enough to bury the calves, hopelessly deep, indeed, for any of
the herd but himself to venture through--he gave a wistful look
towards the depths of the cedar swamps in the valley, where he
believed he could baffle all pursuers. Then his courage--but without
his autumnal fighting rage--came back to him. His herd was his care.
He crowded the cows and calves between himself and the snow, and
turned to face his pursuers as they came running and shouting through
the trees.

When Uncle Adam saw that the King was going to live up to his kingly
reputation and fight rather than be driven off into the deep snow, he
led the advance more cautiously till his forces were within
twenty-five or thirty paces of the huddling herd. Here he paused, for
the guardian of the herd was beginning to stamp ominously with his
great, clacking hoofs, and the reddening light in his eyes showed that
he might charge at any instant.

He did not charge, however, because his attention was diverted by the
strange action of the men, who had stopped their shouting and begun to
chop trees. It amazed him to see the flashing axes bite savagely into
the great trunks and send the white chips flying. The whole herd
watched with wide eyes, curious and apprehensive; till suddenly a tree
toppled, swept the hard blue sky, and came down with a crashing roar
across one of the runways. The cows and calves bounded wildly, clear
out into the snow. But the King, though his eyes dilated with
amazement, stood his ground and grunted angrily.

A moment more and another tree, huge-limbed and dense, came down
across the other runway. Two more followed, and the herd was cut off
from its retreat. The giant bull, of course, with his vast stride and
colossal strength, could have smashed his way through and over the
barrier; but the others, to regain the safe mazes of the "yard," would
have had to make a detour through the engulfing snow.

Though the King was now fairly cornered, Uncle Adam was puzzled to
know what to do next. In his hesitation, he felled some more trees,
dropping the last one so close that the herd was obliged to crowd back
to avoid being struck by the falling top. This, at last, was too much
for the King, who had never before known what it was to be crowded.
While his followers plunged away in terror, burying themselves
helplessly before they had gone a dozen yards, he bawled with fury and
charged upon his tormentors.

[Illustration: "For perhaps thirty or forty yards the bull was able to
keep up this almost incredible pace."]

Though the snow, as we have seen, came up to his chest, the giant's
strength and swiftness were such that the woodsmen were taken by
surprise, and Uncle Adam, who was in front, was almost caught. In
spite of his bulk, he turned and sprang away with the agility of a
wildcat; but if his snowshoes had turned and hindered him for one half
second, he would have been struck down and trodden to a jelly in the
smother of snow. Seeing the imminence of his peril, the other woodsmen
threw up their rifles; but Uncle Adam, though extremely busy for the
moment, saw them out of the corner of his eye as he ran, and angrily
ordered them not to shoot. He knew what he was about, and felt quite
sure of himself, though the enemy was snorting at his very heels.

For perhaps thirty or forty yards the bull was able to keep up this
almost incredible pace. Then the inexorable pull of the snow began to
tell, even upon such thews as his, and his pace slackened. But his
rage showed no sign of cooling. So, being very accommodating, Uncle
Adam slackened his own pace correspondingly, that his pursuer might
not be discouraged. And the chase went on. But it went slower, and
slower, and slower, till at last it stopped with Uncle Adam still just
about six feet in the lead, and the great moose still blind-mad, but
too exhausted to go one foot farther. Then Uncle Adam chuckled softly
and called for the ropes. There was kicking, of course, and furious
lunging and wild snorting, but the woodsmen were skilful and patient,
and the King of Old Saugamauk was conquered. In a little while he lay
upon his side, trussed up as securely and helplessly as a papoose in
its birch-bark carrying-cradle. There was nothing left of his kingship
but to snort regal defiance, to which his captors offered not the
slightest retort. In his bonds he was carried off to the settlements,
on the big logging-sled, drawn by the patient horses whom he scorned.



CHAPTER III


After this ignominy, for days the King was submissive, with the sullen
numbness of despair. Life for him became a succession of stunning
shocks and roaring change. He would be put into strange box-prisons,
which would straightway begin to rush terribly through the world with
a voice of thunder. Through the cracks in the box he would watch trees
and fields and hills race by in madness of flight. He would be taken
out of the box, and murmuring crowds would gape at him till the black
mane along his neck would begin to rise in something of his old anger.
Then some one would drive the crowd away, and he would slip back into
his stupor. He did not know which he hated most,--the roaring boxes,
the fleeing landscapes, or the staring crowds. At last he came to a
loud region where there were no trees, but only what seemed to him
vast, towering, naked rocks, red, gray, yellow, brown, full of holes
from which issued men in swarms. These terrible rocks ran in endless
rows, and through them he came at last to a wide field, thinly
scattered with trees. There was no seclusion in it, no deep, dark,
shadowy hemlock covert to lie down in; but it was green, and it was
spacious, and it was more or less quiet. So when he was turned loose
in it, he was almost glad. He lifted his head, with a spark of the old
arrogance returning to his eyes. And through dilating nostrils he
drank the free air till his vast lungs thrilled with almost forgotten
life.

The men who had brought him to the park--this bleak barren he would
have called it, had he had the faculty of thinking in terms of human
speech, this range more fitted for the frugal caribou than for a
ranger of the deep forests like himself--these men stood watching him
curiously after they had loosed him from his bonds. For a few minutes
he forgot all about them. Then his eyes fell on them, and a heat crept
slowly into his veins as he looked. Slowly he began to resume his
kingship. His eyes changed curiously, and a light, fiery and fearless,
flamed in their depths. His mane began to bristle.

"It's time for us to get out of this. That fellow's beginning to
remember he has some old scores to settle up!" remarked the Director
coolly to the head-keeper and his assistants; and they all stepped
backwards, with a casual air, towards the big gate, which stood ajar
to receive them. Just as they reached it, the old fire and fury surged
back into the exile's veins, but heated seven fold by the ignominies
which he had undergone. With a hoarse and bawling roar, such as had
never before been heard in those guarded precincts, he launched
himself upon his gaolers. But they nimbly slipped through the gate and
dropped the massive bars into their sockets.

They were just in time. The next instant the King had hurled himself
with all his weight upon the barrier. The sturdy ironwork and the
panels on either side of the posts clanged, groaned, and even yielded
a fraction of an inch beneath the shock. But in the rebound they
thrust their assailant backward with startling violence. Bewildered,
he glared at the obstacle, which looked so slender, yet was so strong
to balk him of his vengeance. Then, jarred and aching, he withdrew
haughtily to explore his new domain. The Director, gazing after him,
nodded with supreme satisfaction.

"Those fellows up in New Brunswick told no lies!" said he.

"He certainly is a peach!" assented the head-keeper heartily. "When
he grows his new antlers, I reckon we will have to enlarge the park."

The great exile found his new range interesting to explore, and began
to forget his indignation. Privacy it had not, for the trees at this
season were all leafless, and there were no dense fir or spruce
thickets into which he could withdraw, to look forth unseen upon this
alien landscape. But there were certain rough boulders behind which he
could lurk. And there were films of ice, and wraiths of thin snow in
the hollows, the chill touch of which helped him to feel more or less
at home. In the distance he caught sight of a range of those high,
square rocks wherein the men dwelt; and hating them deeply, he turned
and pressed on in the opposite direction over a gentle rise and across
a little valley; till suddenly, among the trees, he came upon a
curious barrier of meshed stuff, something like a gigantic cobweb.
Through the meshes he could distinctly see the country beyond, and it
seemed to be just the country he desired, more wooded and inviting
than what he had traversed. Confidently he pushed upon the woven
obstacle; but to his amazement it did not give way before him. He eyed
it resentfully. How absurd that so frail a thing should venture to
forbid him passage! He thrust upon it again, more brusquely, to be
just as brusquely denied. The hot blood blazed to his head, and he
dashed himself upon it with all his strength. The impenetrable but
elastic netting yielded for a space, then sprang back with an
impetuosity that flung him clear off his feet. He fell with a loud
grunt, lay for a moment dismayed, then got up and eyed his
incomprehensible adversary with a blank stare. He was learning so many
strange lessons that it was difficult to assimilate them all at once.

The following morning, when he was feasting on a pile of the willow
and poplar forage which he loved, and which had appeared as if by
magic close beside the mysterious barrier, he saw some men, perhaps a
hundred yards away, throw open a section of the barrier. Forgetting to
be angry at their intrusion on his range, he watched them curiously. A
moment more, and a little herd of his own kind, apparently quite
indifferent to the men, followed them into the range. He was not
surprised at their appearance, for his nose had already told him there
were moose about. But he was surprised to see them on friendly terms
with man.

There were several cows in the herd, with a couple of awkward
yearlings; and the King, much gratified, ambled forward with huge
strides to meet them and take them under his gracious protection. But
a moment later two fine young bulls came into his view, following the
rest of the herd at a more dignified pace. The King stopped, lowered
his mighty front, laid back his ears like an angry stallion, and
grunted a hoarse warning. The stiff black hair along his neck slowly
arose and stood straight up.

The two young bulls stared in stupid astonishment at this tremendous
apparition. It was not the fighting season, so they had no jealousy,
and felt nothing but a cold indifference toward the stranger. But as
he came striding down the field his attitude was so menacing, his
stature so formidable, that they could not but realize there was
trouble brewing. It was contrary to all traditions that they should
take the trouble to fight in midwinter, when they had no antlers and
their blood was sluggish. Nevertheless, they could not brook to be so
affronted, as it were, in their own citadel.

Their eyes began to gleam angrily, and they advanced, shaking their
heads, to meet the insolent stranger. The keepers, surprised, drew
together close by the gate; while one of them left hurriedly and ran
towards a building which stood a little way off among the trees.

As the King swept down upon the herd, bigger and blacker than any bull
they had ever seen before, the cows shrank away and stood staring
placidly. They were well fed, and for the time indifferent to all else
in their sheltered world. Still, a fight is a fight, and if there was
going to be one, they were ready enough to look on.

Alas for the right of possession when it runs counter to the right of
might! The two young bulls were at home and in the right, and their
courage was sound. But when that black whirlwind from the fastnesses
of Old Saugamauk fell upon them, it seemed that they had no more
rights at all.

Side by side they confronted the onrushing doom. At the moment of
impact, they reared and struck savagely with their sharp hoofs. But
the gigantic stranger troubled himself with no such details. He merely
fell upon them, like a blind but raging force, irresistible as a
falling hillside and almost as disastrous. They both went down before
him like calves, and rolled over and over, stunned and sprawling.

The completeness of this victory, establishing his supremacy beyond
cavil, should have satisfied the King, especially as this was not the
mating season and there could be no question of rivalry. But his heart
was bursting with injury, and his thirst for vengeance was raging to
be glutted. As the vanquished bulls struggled to recover their feet,
he bounded upon the nearest and trod him down again mercilessly. The
other, meanwhile, fled for his life, stricken with shameless terror;
and the exile, leaving his victim, went thundering in pursuit,
determined that both should be annihilated. It was a terrifying sight,
the black giant, mane erect, neck out-thrust, mouth open, eyes glaring
with implacable fury, sweeping down upon the fugitive with his
terrific strides.

But just then, when another stride would have sufficed, a strange
thing happened! A flying noose settled over the pursuer's head,
tightened, jerked his neck aside, and threw him with a violence that
knocked the wind clean out of his raging body. While his vast lungs
sobbed and gasped to recover the vital air, other nooses whipped about
his legs; and before he could recover himself even enough to struggle,
he was once more trussed up as he had been by Uncle Adam amid the
snows of Saugamauk.

In this ignominious position, his heart bursting with shame and
impotence, he was left lying while his two battered victims were
lassoed and led away. Since it was plain that the King would not
suffer them to live in his kingdom, even as humble subjects, they were
to be removed to some more modest domain; for the King, whether he
deserved it or not, was to have the best reserved for him.

It was little kingly he felt, the fettered giant, as he lay there
panting on his side. The cows came up and gazed at him with a kind of
placid scorn, till his furious snortings and the undaunted rage that
flamed in his eyes made them draw back apprehensively. Then, the men
who had overthrown him returned. They dragged him unceremoniously up
to the gate, slipped his bonds, and discreetly put themselves on the
other side of the barrier before he could get to his feet. With a
grunt he wheeled and faced them with such hate in his eyes that they
thought he would once more hurl himself upon the bars. But he had
learned his lesson. For a few moments he stood quivering. Then, as if
recognizing at last a mastery too absolute even for him to challenge,
he shook himself violently, turned away, and stalked off to join the
herd.

That evening, about sundown, it turned colder. Clouds gathered
heavily, and there was the sense of coming snow in the air. A great
wind, rising fitfully, drew down out of the north. Seeing no covert to
his liking, the King led his little herd to the top of a naked knoll,
where he could look about and choose a shelter. But that great wind
out of the north, thrilling in his nostrils, got into his heart and
made him forget what he had come for. Out across the alien gloom he
stared, across the huddled, unknown masses of the dark, till he
thought he saw the bald summit of Old Saugamauk rising out of its
forests, till he thought he heard the wind roar in the spruce tops,
the dead branches clash and crack. The cows, for a time, huddled close
to his massive flanks, expecting some new thing from his vast
strength. Then, as the storm gathered, they remembered the shelter
which man had provided for them, and the abundant forage it contained.
One after the other they turned and filed away slowly down the slopes,
through the dim trees, towards the corner where they knew a gate would
stand open for them, and then a door into a warm-smelling shed. The
King, lost in his dream, did not notice their going. But suddenly,
feeling himself alone, he started and looked about. The last of the
yearlings, at its mother's heels, was just vanishing through the windy
gloom. He hesitated, started to follow, then stopped abruptly. Let
them go! They would return to him probably. Turning back to his
station on the knoll, he stood with his head held high, his nostrils
drinking the cold, while the winter night closed in upon him, and the
wind out of his own north rushed and roared solemnly in his face.



THE GRAY MASTER



THE GRAY MASTER

CHAPTER I


Why he was so much bigger, more powerful, and more implacably savage
than the other members of the gray, spectral pack, which had appeared
suddenly from the north to terrorize their lone and scattered
clearings, the settlers of the lower Quah-Davic Valley could not
guess. Those who were of French descent among them, and full of the
old Acadian superstitions, explained it simply enough by saying he was
a _loup-garou_, or "wer-wolf," and resigned themselves to the
impossibility of contending against a creature of such supernatural
malignity and power. But their fellows of English speech, having no
such tradition to fall back upon, were mystified and indignant. The
ordinary gray, or "cloudy," wolf of the East they knew, though he was
so rare south of Labrador that few of them had ever seen one. They
dismissed them all, indifferently, as "varmin." But this unaccountable
gray ravager was bigger than any two such wolves, fiercer and more
dauntless than any ten. Though the pack he led numbered no more than
half a dozen, he made it respected and dreaded through all the wild
leagues of the Quah-Davic. To make things worse, this long-flanked,
long-jawed marauder was no less cunning than fierce. When the
settlers, seeking vengeance for sheep, pigs, and cattle slaughtered by
his pack, went forth to hunt him with dogs and guns, it seemed that
there was never a wolf in the country. Nevertheless, either that same
night or the next, it was long odds that one or more of those same
dogs who had been officious in the hunt would disappear. As for traps
and poisoned meat, they proved equally futile. They were always
visited, to be sure, by the pack, at some unexpected and
indeterminable moment, but treated always with a contumelious scorn
which was doubtless all that such clumsy tactics merited. Meanwhile
the ravages went on, and the children were kept close housed at night,
and cool-eyed old woodsmen went armed and vigilant along the lonely
roads. The French _habitant_ crossed himself, and the Saxon cursed his
luck; and no one solved the mystery.

Yet, after all, as Arthur Kane, the young schoolmaster at Burnt Brook
Cross-Roads, began dimly to surmise, the solution was quite simple. A
lucky gold-miner, returning from the Klondike, had brought with him
not only gold and an appetite, but also a lank, implacable, tameless
whelp from the packs that haunt the sweeps of northern timber. The
whelp had gnawed his way to freedom. He had found, fought, thrashed,
and finally adopted, a little pack of his small, Eastern kin. He had
thriven, and grown to the strength and stature that were his rightful
heritage. And "the Gray Master of the Quah-Davic," as Kane had dubbed
him, was no _loup-garou_, no outcast human soul incarcerate in wolf
form, but simply a great Alaskan timber-wolf.

But this, when all is said, is quite enough. A wolf that can break the
back of a full-grown collie at one snap of his jaws, and gallop off
with the carcass as if it were a chipmunk, is about as undesirable a
neighbor, in the night woods, as any _loup-garou_ ever devised by the
_habitant's_ excitable imagination.

All up and down the Quah-Davic Valley the dark spruce woods were full
of game,--moose, deer, hares, and wild birds innumerable,--with roving
caribou herds on the wide barren beyond the hill-ridge. Nevertheless,
the great gray wolf would not spare the possessions of the settlers.
His pack haunted the fringes of the settlements with a needless
tenacity which seemed to hold a challenge in it, a direct and insolent
defiance. And the feeling of resentment throughout the Valley was on
the point of crystallizing into a concerted campaign of vengeance
which would have left even so cunning a strategist as the Gray Master
no choice but to flee or fall, when something took place which quite
changed the course of public sentiment. Folk so disagreed about it
that all concerted action became impossible, and each one was left to
deal with the elusive adversary in his own way.

This was what happened.

In a cabin about three miles from the nearest neighbor lived the Widow
Baisley, alone with her son Paddy, a lad under ten years old, and
little for his age. One midwinter night she was taken desperately ill,
and Paddy, reckless of the terrors of the midnight solitudes, ran
wildly to get help. The moon was high and full, and the lifeless
backwoods road was a narrow, bright, white thread between the silent
black masses of the spruce forest. Now and then, as he remembered
afterwards, his ear caught a sound of light feet following him in the
dark beyond the roadside. But his plucky little heart was too full of
panic grief about his mother to have any room for fear as to himself.
Only the excited amazement of his neighbors, over the fact that he had
made the journey in safety, opened his eyes to the hideous peril he
had come through. Willing helpers hurried back with him to his
mother's bedside. And on the way one of them, a keen huntsman who had
more than once pitted his woodcraft in vain against that of the Gray
Master, had the curiosity to step off the road and examine the snow
under the thick spruces. Perhaps imagination misled him, when he
thought he caught a glimpse of savage eyes, points of green flame,
fading off into the black depths. But there could be no doubt as to
the fresh tracks he found in the snow. There they were,--the
footprints of the pack, like those of so many big dogs,--and among
them the huge trail of the great, far-striding leader. All the way,
almost from his threshold, these sinister steps had paralleled those
of the hurrying child. Close to the edge of the darkness they
ran,--close, within the distance of one swift leap,--yet never any
closer!

Why had the great gray wolf, who faced and pulled down the bull moose,
and from whose voice the biggest dogs in the settlements ran like
whipped curs--why had he and his stealthy pack spared this easy prey?
It was inexplicable, though many had theories good enough to be
laughed to scorn by those who had none. The _habitants_, of course,
had all their superstitions confirmed, and with a certain respect and
refinement of horror added: Here was a _loup-garou_ so crafty as to
spare, on occasion! He must be conciliated, at all costs. They would
hunt him no more, his motives being so inexplicable. Let him take a
few sheep, or a steer, now and then, and remember that _they_, at
least, were not troubling him. As for the English-speaking settlers,
their enmity cooled down to the point where they could no longer get
together any concentrated bitterness. It was only a big rascal of a
wolf, anyway, scared to touch a white man's child, and certainly
nothing for a lot of grown men to organize about. Some of the women
jumped to the conclusion that a certain delicacy of sentiment had
governed the wolves in their strange forbearance, while others
honestly believed that the pack had been specially sent by Providence
to guard the child through the forest on his sacred errand. But all,
whatever their views, agreed in flouting the young schoolteacher's
uninteresting suggestion that perhaps the wolves had not happened, at
the moment, to be hungry.

As it chanced, however, even this very rational explanation of Kane's
was far from the truth. The truth was that the great wolf had profited
by his period of captivity in the hands of a masterful man. Into his
fine sagacity had penetrated the conception--hazy, perhaps, but none
the less effective--that man's vengeance would be irresistible and
inescapable if once fairly aroused. This conception he had enforced
upon the pack. It was enough. For, of course, even to the most
elementary intelligence among the hunting, fighting kindreds of the
wild, it was patent that the surest way to arouse man's vengeance
would be to attack man's young. The intelligence lying behind the
wide-arched skull of the Gray Master was equal to more intricate and
less obvious conclusions than that.

Among all the scattered inhabitants of the Quah-Davic Valley there was
no one who devoted quite so much attention to the wonderful gray wolf
as did the young school-teacher. His life at the Burnt Brook
Cross-Roads, his labors at the little Burnt Brook School, were neither
so exacting nor so exciting but that he had time on his hands. His
preferred expedients for spending that time were hunting, and
studying the life of the wild kindreds. He was a good shot with both
rifle and camera, and would serve himself with one weapon or the other
as the mood seized him. When life, or his dinner, went ill with him,
or he found himself fretting hopelessly for the metropolitan
excitement of the little college city where he had been educated, he
would choose his rifle. And so wide-reaching, so mysterious, are the
ties which enmesh all created beings, that it would seem to even
matters up and relieve his feelings wonderfully just to kill
something, if only a rabbit or a weasel.

But at other times he preferred the camera.

Naturally Kane was interested in the mysterious gray wolf more than in
all the other prowlers of the Quah-Davic put together. He was quite
unreasonably glad when the plans for a concerted campaign against the
marauder so suddenly fell through. That so individual a beast should
have its career cut short by an angry settler's bullet, to avenge a
few ordinary pigs or sheep, was a thing he could hardly contemplate
with patience. To scatter the pack would be to rob the Quah-Davic
solitudes of half their romance. He determined to devote himself to a
study of the great wolf's personality and characteristics, and to
foil, as far as this could be done without making himself unpopular,
such plots as might be laid for the beast's undoing.

Recognizing, however, that this friendly interest might not be
reciprocated, Kane chose his rifle rather than his camera as a weapon,
on those stinging, blue-white nights when he went forth to seek
knowledge of the gray wolf's ways. His rifle was a well-tried
repeating Winchester, and he carried a light, short-handled axe in his
belt besides the regulation knife; so he had no serious misgivings as
he trod the crackling, moonlit snow beneath the moose-hide webbing of
his snowshoes. But not being utterly foolhardy, he kept to the open
stretches of meadow, or river-bed, or snow-buried lake, rather than in
the close shadows of the forest.

But now, when he was so expectant, the wolf-pack seemed to find
business elsewhere. For nights not a howl had been heard, not a fresh
track found, within miles of Burnt Brook Cross-Roads. Then,
remembering that a watched pot takes long to boil, Kane took
fishing-lines and bait, and went up the wide, white brook-bed to the
deep lake in the hills, whence it launches its shallow flood towards
the Quah-Davic. He took with him also for companionship, since this
time he was not wolf-hunting, a neighbor's dog that was forever after
him--a useless, yellow lump of mongrel dog-flesh, but friendly and
silent. After building a hasty shelter of spruce boughs some distance
out from shore in the flooding light, he chopped holes through the ice
and fell to fishing for the big lake trout that inhabited those deep
waters. He had luck. And soon, absorbed in the new excitement, he had
forgotten all about the great gray wolf.

It was late, for Kane had slept the early part of the night, waiting
for moonrise before starting on his expedition. The air was tingling
with windless cold, and ghostly white with the light of a crooked,
waning moon. Suddenly, without a sound, the dog crept close against
Kane's legs. Kane felt him tremble. Looking up sharply, his eyes fell
on a tall, gray form, sitting erect on the tip of a naked point, not a
hundred yards away, and staring, not at him, but at the moon.

In spite of himself, Kane felt a pricking in his cheeks, a creeping of
the skin under his hair. The apparition was so sudden, and, above all,
the cool ignoring of his presence was so disconcerting. Moreover,
through that half-sinister light, his long muzzle upstretched towards
the moon, and raised as he was a little above the level on which Kane
was standing, the wolf looked unnaturally and impossibly tall. Kane
had never heard of a wolf acting in this cool, self-possessed,
arrogantly confident fashion, and his mind reverted obstinately to the
outworn superstitions of his _habitants_ friends. But, after all, it
was this wolf, not an ordinary brush-fence wolf, that he was so
anxious to study; and the unexpected was just what he had most reason
to expect! He was getting what he came for.

Kane knew that the way to study the wild creatures was to keep still
and make no noise. So be stiffened into instant immobility, and
regretted that he had brought the dog with him. But he need not have
worried about the dog, for that intelligent animal showed no desire to
attract the Gray Master's notice. He was crouched behind Kane's legs,
and motionless except for his shuddering.

For several minutes no one stirred--nothing stirred in all that frozen
world. Then, feeling the cold begin to creep in upon him in the
stillness, Kane had to lift his thick-gloved hands to chafe his ears.
He did it cautiously, but the caution was superfluous. The great wolf
apparently had no objection to his moving as much as he liked. Once,
indeed, those green, lambent eyes flamed over him, but casually, in
making a swift circuit of the shores of the lake and the black fringe
of the firs; but for all the interest which their owner vouchsafed
him, Kane might as well have been a juniper bush.

Knowing very well, however, that this elaborate indifference could not
be other than feigned, Kane was patient, determined to find out what
the game was. At the same time, he could not help the strain beginning
to tell on him. Where was the rest of the pack? From time to time he
glanced searchingly over his shoulder towards the all-concealing fir
woods.

At last, as if considering himself utterly alone, the great wolf
opened his jaws, stretched back his neck, and began howling his
shrill, terrible serenade to the moon. As soon as he paused, came
far-off nervous barkings and yelpings from dogs who hated and trembled
in the scattered clearings. But no wolf-howl made reply. The pack, for
all the sign they gave, might have vanished off the earth. And Kane
wondered what strong command from their leader could have kept them
silent when all their ancient instincts bade them answer.

As if well satisfied with his music, the great wolf continued to
beseech the moon so persistently that at last Kane lost patience. He
wanted more variety in the programme. Muttering, "I'll see if I can't
rattle your fine composure a bit, my friend!" he raised his rifle and
sent a bullet whining over the wolf's head. The wolf cocked his ears
slightly and looked about carelessly, as if to say, "What's that?"
then coolly resumed his serenade.

Nettled by such ostentatious nonchalance, Kane drove another bullet
into the snow within a few inches of the wolf's forefeet. This proved
more effective. The great beast looked down at the place where the
ball had struck, sniffed at it curiously, got up on all fours, and
turned and stared steadily at Kane for perhaps half a minute. Kane
braced himself for a possible onslaught. But it never came. Whirling
lightly, the Gray Master turned his back on the disturber of his song,
and trotted away slowly, without once looking back. He did not make
directly for the cover, but kept in full view and easy gunshot for
several hundred yards. Then he disappeared into the blackness of the
spruce woods. Thereupon the yellow mongrel, emerging from his shelter
behind Kane's legs, pranced about on the snow before him with every
sign of admiration and relief.

But Kane was too puzzled to be altogether relieved. It was not
according to the books for any wolf, great or small, to conduct
himself in this supercilious fashion. Looking back along the white
bed of the brook, the path by which he must return, he saw that the
sinking of the moon would very soon involve it in thick shadow. This
was not as he wished it. He had had enough of fishing. Gathering up
his now frozen prizes, and strapping the bag that contained them over
his shoulder, so as to leave both hands free, he set out for home at
the long, deliberate, yet rapid lope of the experienced snowshoer; and
the yellow dog, confidence in his companion's prowess now thoroughly
established, trotted on heedlessly three or four paces ahead.

Already the shadow of the woods lay halfway across the bed of the
brook, but down the middle of the strip of brightness, still some five
or six paces in breadth, Kane swung steadily. As he went, he kept a
sharp eye on the shadowed edge of his path. He had gone perhaps a
mile, when all at once he felt a tingling at the roots of his hair,
which seemed to tell him he was being watched from the darkness. Peer
as he would, however, he could catch no hint of moving forms; strain
his ears as he might, he could hear no whisper of following feet.
Moreover, he trusted to the keener senses, keener instincts, of the
dog, to give him warning of any furtive approach; and the dog was
obviously at ease.

He was just beginning to execrate himself for letting his nerves get
too much on edge, when suddenly out from the black branches just ahead
shot a long, spectral shape and fell upon the dog. There was one
choked yelp--and the dog and the terrible shape vanished together,
back into the blackness.

It was all so instantaneous that before Kane could get his rifle up
they were gone. Startled and furious, he fired at random, three times,
into cover. Then he steadied himself, remembering that the number of
cartridges in his chamber was not unlimited. Seeing to it that his axe
and knife were both loose for instant action, he stopped and
replenished his Winchester. Then he hurried on as fast as he could
without betraying haste.

As he went, he was soon vividly conscious that the wolves--not the
Gray Master alone, but the whole pack also--were keeping pace with him
through the soundless dark beyond the rim of the spruces. But not a
hint of their grim companioning could he see or hear. He felt it
merely in the creeping of his skin, the elemental stirring of the hair
at the back of his neck. From moment to moment he expected the swift
attack, the battle for his life. But he was keyed up to it. It was not
fear that made his nerves tingle, but the tense, trembling excitement
of the situation. Even against these strange, hidden forces of the
forest, his spirit felt sure of victory. He felt as if his rifle would
go up and speak, almost of itself, unerringly at the first instant of
attack, even before the adversary broke into view. But through all the
drawn-out length of those last three miles his hidden adversaries gave
no sign, save that once a dead branch, concealed under the snow,
snapped sharply. His rifle was at his shoulder, it seemed to him,
almost before the sound reached his ear. But nothing came of it. Then
a panic-mad rabbit, stretched straight out in flight, darted across
the fast narrowing brightness of his path. But nothing followed. And
at last, after what seemed to him hours, he came out upon the open
pastures overlooking Burnt Brook Settlement. Here he ran on a little
way; and then, because the strain had been great, he sat down suddenly
upon a convenient stump and burst into a peal of laughter which must
have puzzled the wolves beyond measure.

After this, though well aware that the Gray Master's inexplicable
forbearance had saved him a battle which, for all his confidence,
might quite conceivably have gone against him, Kane's interest in the
mysterious beast was uncompromisingly hostile. He was bitter on
account of the dog. He felt that the great wolf had put a dishonor
upon him; and for a few days he was no longer the impartial student of
natural history, but the keen, primitive hunter with the blood-lust
hot in his veins. Then this mood passed, or, rather, underwent a
change. He decided that the Gray Master was, indeed, too individual a
beast to be just snuffed out, but, at the same time, far too dangerous
to be left at liberty.

And now all the thought and effort that could be spared from his daily
duties at the Cross-Roads were bent to the problem of capturing the
great wolf alive. He would be doing a service to the whole Quah-Davic
Valley. And he would have the pleasure of presenting the splendid
captive to his college town, at that time greatly interested in the
modest beginnings of a zoölogical garden which its citizens were
striving to inaugurate. It thrilled his fancy to imagine a tin placard
on the front of a cage in the little park, bearing the inscription--

                         CANIS OCCIDENTALIS.
                        EASTERN NORTH AMERICA.
                    PRESENTED BY ARTHUR KANE, ESQ.

After a few weeks of assiduous trapping, however, Kane felt bound to
acknowledge that this modest ambition of his seemed remote from
fulfilment. Every kind of trap he could think of, that would take a
beast alive, he tried in every kind of way. And having run the whole
insidious gamut, he would turn patiently to run it all over again. Of
course, the result was inevitable, for no beast, not even such a one
as the Gray Master, is a match, in the long run, for a man who is in
earnest. Yet Kane's triumph, when it blazed upon his startled eyes at
last, was indirect. In avoiding, and at the same time uncovering and
making mock of, Kane's traps, the great wolf put his foot into
another, a powerful bear-trap, which a cunning old trapper had hidden
near by, without bait. The trap was secured to a tree by a stout
chain--and rage, strain, tear as he might, the Gray Master found
himself snared. In his silent fury he would probably have gnawed off
the captive foot, for the sake of freedom. But before he came to that,
Kane arrived and occupied his attention fully.

Kane's disappointment, at finding the splendid prize in another trap
than his own, was but momentary. He knew his successful rival would
readily part with his claims, for due consideration. But he was
puzzled as to what should be done in the immediate emergency. He
wanted to go back home for help, for ropes, straps, and a muzzle with
which he had provided himself; but he was afraid lest, in his absence,
the trapper might arrive and shoot the captive, for the sake of the
pelt and the bounty. In his uncertainty he waited, hoping that the
trapper might come soon; and by way of practice for the serious
enterprise that would come later, as well as to direct the prisoner's
mind a little from his painful predicament, Kane began trying to lasso
him with a coil of heavy cord which he carried.

His efforts in this direction were not altogether successful, but the
still fury which they aroused in the great wolf's breast doubtless
obscured the mordant anguish in his foot. One terrific leap at his
enemy, resulting in an ignominious overthrow as the chain stopped him
in mid-air, had convinced the subtle beast of the vanity of such
tactics. Crouching back, he eyed his adversary in silence, with eyes
whose hatred seemed to excoriate. But whenever the running noose at
the end of the cord came coiling swiftly at his head, with one
lightning snap of his long teeth he would sever it as with a knife. By
the time Kane had grown tired of this diversion the cord was so full
of knots that no noose would any longer run.

But at this point the old trapper came slouching up on his snowshoes,
a twinkle of elation in his shrewd, frosty, blue eyes.

"I reckon we'll show the varmint now as how he ain't no _loup-garou_!"
he remarked, lightly swinging his axe.

But Kane hastily intervened.

"_Please_ don't kill him, Dave!" he begged. "_I_ want him, bad!
What'll you take for him?"

"Just as he stands?" demanded the old trapper, with a chuckle. "I
ain't a-goin' to deliver the goods to yer door, ye know!"

"No," laughed Kane, "just as he stands, right here!"

"Well, seein' as it's you, I don't want no more'n what his pelt'ld
fetch, an' the bounty on his nose," answered the trapper.

"All right," said Kane. "You wait here a bit, will you, an' keep him
amused so's he won't gnaw his paw off; an' I'll run back to the
Cross-Roads and get some rope and things I guess I'll be needing."

When he got back with rope, straps, a big mastiff-muzzle, and a
toboggan, he found Dave in a very bad humor, and calling the
watchful, silent, crouching beast hard names. In his efforts to amuse
himself by stirring that imperturbable and sinister quiet into action,
he had come just within the range of the Gray Master's spring. Swift
as that spring was, that of the alert backwoodsman was just swift
enough to elude it--in part. Dave's own hide had escaped, but his
heavy jacket of homespun had had the back ripped clean out of it.

But now, for all his matchless strength, courage, and craft, the Gray
Master's game was played out. The fickle Fates of the wild had
pronounced against him. He could not parry two flying nooses at once.
And presently, having been choked for a few moments into
unconsciousness, he awoke to find himself bound so that he could not
move a leg, and his mighty jaws imprisoned in a strange cage of straps
and steel. He was tied upon the toboggan, and being dragged swiftly
through the forest--that free forest of which he had so long felt
himself master--at the heels of his two conquerors. His only poor
consolation was that the hideous, crunching thing had been removed
from his bleeding paw, which, however, anguished cruelly for the
soothing of his tongue.



CHAPTER II


During the strenuous and dangerous weeks while Kane was gaoler to his
dreaded captive, his respect for the grim beast's tameless spirit by
no means diminished; but he had no shadow of misgiving as to the
future to which he destined his victim. He felt that in sending the
incomparable wolf to the gardens, where he would be well cared for,
and at the same time an educative influence, he was being both just
and kind. And it was with feelings of unmixed delight that he received
a formal resolution of gratitude from the zoölogical society for his
valued and in some respects unique donation.

It was about a year and a half later that Kane had occasion to revisit
the city of his Alma Mater. As soon as possible he hurried to inspect
the little gardens, which had already marched so far towards success
as to be familiarly styled "The Zoo." There were two or three paddocks
of deer, of different North American species--for the society was
inclined to specialize on the wild kindreds of native origin. There
were moose, caribou, a couple of bears, raccoons, foxes, porcupines,
two splendid pumas, a rather flea-bitten and toothless tiger, and the
Gray Master, solitary in his cage!

A sure instinct led Kane straight to that cage, which immediately
adjoined the big double cage of the pumas. As he approached, he caught
sight of a tall, gray shape pacing, pacing, pacing, pacing to and fro
behind the bars with a sort of measured restlessness that spoke an
immeasurable monotony. When he reached the front of the cage, Kane saw
that the great wolf's eyes were noting nothing of what was about him,
but dim with some far-off vision. As he marked the look in them, and
thought of what they must be remembering and aching for, his heart
began to smite him. He felt his first pang of self-reproach, for
having doomed to ignominious exile and imprisonment this splendid
creature who had deserved, at least, to die free. As he mused over
this point, half angrily, the Gray Master suddenly paused, and his
thin nostrils wrinkled. Perhaps there still clung about Kane's clothes
some scent of the spruce woods, some pungent breath of the cedar
swamps. He turned and looked Kane straight in the eyes.

There was unmistakable recognition in that deep stare. There was
also, to Kane's sensitive imagination, a tameless hate and an
unspeakable but dauntless despair. Convicted in his own mind of a
gross and merciless misunderstanding of his wild kindreds, whom he
professed to know so well, he glanced up and saw the painted placard
staring down at him, exactly as he had anticipated----

                         CANIS OCCIDENTALIS.
                        EASTERN NORTH AMERICA.
                    PRESENTED BY ARTHUR KANE, ESQ.

The sight sickened him. He had a foolish impulse to tear it down and
to abase himself with a plea for pardon before the silent beast behind
the bars. But when he looked again, the Gray Master had turned away,
and was once more, with indrawn, far-off vision in his eyes, pacing,
pacing, pacing to and fro. Kane felt overwhelmed with the intolerable
weariness of it, as if it had been going on, just like that, ever
since he had pronounced this doom upon his vanquished adversary, and
as if it would go on like that forever. In vain by coaxing word, by
sharp, sudden whistle, by imitations of owl, loon, and deer calls,
which brought all the boys in the place admiringly about him, did he
strive to catch again the attention of the captive. But not once
more, even for the fleeting fraction of a second, would the Gray
Master turn his eyes. And presently, angry and self-reproachful, Kane
turned on his heel and went home, pursued by the enthusiasm of the
small boys.

After this, Kane went nearly every day to the little "Zoo"; but never
again did he win the smallest hint of notice from the Gray Master. And
ever that tireless pacing smote him with bitterest self-reproach. Half
unconsciously he made it a sort of penance to go and watch his victim,
till at last he found himself indulging in sentimental, idiotic
notions of trying to ransom the prisoner. Realizing that any such
attempt would make him supremely ridiculous, and that such a dangerous
and powerful creature could not be set free anywhere, he consoled
himself with a resolve that never again would he take captive any of
the freedom-loving, tameless kindreds of the wilderness. He would kill
them and have cleanly done with it, or leave them alone.

One morning, thinking to break the spell of that eternal, hopeless
pacing by catching the Gray Master at his meals, Kane went up to the
gardens very early, before any of the usual visitors had arrived. He
found that the animals had already been fed. The cages were being
cleaned. He congratulated himself on his opportune arrival, for this
would give him a new insight into the ways of the beasts with their
keepers.

The head-keeper, as it chanced, was a man of long experience with wild
animals, in one of the chief zoölogical parks of the country. Long
familiarity, however, had given him that most dangerous gift,
contempt. And he had lost his position through that fault most
unforgivable in an animal keeper, drunkenness. Owing to this fact, the
inexperienced authorities of this little "Zoo" had been able to obtain
his services at a comparatively moderate wage--and were congratulating
themselves on the possession of a treasure.

On this particular morning, Biddell was not by any means himself. He
was cleaning the cage of the two pumas, and making at the same time
desperate efforts to keep his faculties clear and avoid betraying his
condition. The two big cats seemed to observe nothing peculiar in his
manner, and obeyed him, sulkily, as usual; but Kane noticed that the
great wolf, though pacing up and down according to his custom, had his
eyes on the man in the next cage, instead of upon his own secret
visions. Biddell had driven the two pumas back through the door which
led from the open cage to the room which served them for a den, and
closed the door on them. Then, having finished his duties there, he
unfastened the strong door between this cage and that of the Gray
Master, and stepped through, leaving the door slightly ajar.

Biddell was armed, of course, with a heavy-pronged fork, but he
carried it carelessly as he went about his work, as if he had long
since taught the sombre wolf to keep at a distance. But to-day the
wolf acted curiously. He backed away in silence, as usual, but eyed
the man fixedly with a look which, as it seemed to Kane, showed
anything rather than fear. The stiff hair rose slightly along his neck
and massive shoulders. Kane could not help congratulating himself that
he was not in the keeper's place. But he felt sure everything was all
right, as Biddell was supposed to know his business.

When Biddell came to the place where the wolf was standing, the latter
made way reluctantly, still backing, and staring with that sinister
fixity which Kane found so impressive. He wondered if Biddell noticed.
He was just on the point of speaking to him about it, through the
bars, when he chanced to glance aside to the cage of the pumas.
Biddell, in his foggy state of mind, had forgotten to close an inner
door connecting the two rooms in the rear. The pumas had quietly
passed through, and emerged again into their cage by the farther
entrance. Catching sight of the door into the wolf's cage standing
ajar, they had crept up to it; and now, with one great noiseless paw,
the leader of the two was softly pushing it open.

Kane gave an inarticulate yell of warning. No words were needed to
translate that warning to the keeper, who was sobered completely as he
flashed round and saw what was happening. With a sharp command he
rushed to drive the pumas back and close the gate. But one was already
through, and the other blocked the way.

At this tense instant, while Kane glanced swiftly aside to see if any
help were in sight, the Gray Master launched himself across the cage.
Kane could not see distinctly, so swiftly did it happen, whether the
man or the intruding puma was the object of that mad rush. But in the
next second the man was down, on his face, with the silent wolf and
the screeching puma locked in a death grapple on top of him.

[Illustration: "Then the second puma pounced."]

Horrified, and yelling for help, Kane tore at the bars, but there was
no way of getting in, the door being locked. He saw that the wolf had
secured a hold upon the puma's throat, but that the great cat's claws
were doing deadly work. Then the second puma pounced, with a screech,
upon the Gray Master's back, bearing him down.

At this moment Biddell rolled out from under the raving, writhing
heap, and staggered to his feet, bleeding, but apparently uninjured.
With his fork and his booted foot he threw himself upon the combatants
furiously, striving to separate them. After what seemed to Kane an age
he succeeded in forcing off the second puma and driving it through the
gate, which he shut. Then he returned to the fight.

But he had little more to do now, for the fight was over. Though no
wolf is supposed to be a fair match for a puma, the Gray Master, with
his enormous strength and subtle craft, might perhaps have held his
own against his first antagonist alone. But against the two he was
powerless. The puma, badly torn, now crouched snarling upon his
unresisting body. Biddell forced the victor off and drove him into a
corner, where he lay lashing his sides with heavy, twitching tail.

The keeper was sober enough now. One long look at the great wolf's
body satisfied him it was all over. He turned and saw Kane's white
face pressed against the bars. With a short laugh he shook himself,
to make sure he was all sound, then pushed the body of the Gray Master
gently with his foot. Yet there was respect, not disrespect, in the
gesture.

"I wouldn't have had that happen for a thousand dollars, Mr. Kane!"
said he in a voice of keen regret. "That was a great beast, an' we'll
never get another wolf to match him."

Kane was on the point of saying that it would _not_ have happened but
for certain circumstances which it was unnecessary for him to specify.
He realized, however, that he was glad it had happened, glad the long
pacing, pacing, pacing was at an end, glad the load of his
self-reproach was lifted off. So he said something quite different.

"Well, Biddell, he's _free_! And maybe, when all's said, that was just
what he was after!"

Then he turned and strode hurriedly away, more content in his heart
than he had felt for days.



THE SUN-GAZER



THE SUN-GAZER

CHAPTER I


To Jim Horner it seemed as if the great, white-headed eagle was in
some way the uttered word of the mountain and the lake--of the lofty,
solitary, granite-crested peak, and of the deep, solitary water at its
base. As his canoe raced down the last mad rapid, and seemed to snatch
breath again as it floated out upon the still water of the lake, Jim
would rest his paddle across the gunwales and look upward expectantly.
First his keen, far-sighted, gray eyes would sweep the blue arc of
sky, in search of the slow circling of wide, motionless wings. Then,
if the blue was empty of this far shape, his glance would range at
once to a dead pine standing sole on a naked and splintered shoulder
of the mountain which he knew as "Old Baldy." There he was almost sure
to see the great bird sitting, motionless and majestic, staring at the
sun. Floating idly and smoking, resting after his long battle with
the rapids, he would watch, till the immensity and the solitude would
creep in upon his spirit and oppress him. Then, at last, a shrill
yelp, far off and faint, but sinister, would come from the pine-top;
and the eagle, launching himself on open wings from his perch, would
either wheel upward into the blue, or flap away over the serried
fir-tops to some ravine in the cliffs that hid his nest.

One day, when Jim came down the river and stopped, as usual, to look
for the great bird, he scanned in vain both sky and cliff-side. At
last he gave up the search and paddled on down the lake with a sense
of loss. Something had vanished from the splendor of the solitude. But
presently he heard, close overhead, the beat and whistle of vast
wings, and looking up, he saw the eagle passing above him, flying so
low that he could catch the hard, unwinking, tameless stare of its
black and golden eyes as they looked down upon him with a sort of
inscrutable challenge. He noted also a peculiarity which he had never
seen in any other eagle. This one had a streak of almost black
feathers immediately over its left eye, giving it a heavy and sinister
eyebrow. The bird carried in the clutch of its talons a big,
glistening lake trout, probably snatched from the fish-hawk; and Jim
was able to take note of the very set of its pinion-feathers as the
wind hummed in their tense webs. Flying with a massive power quite
unlike the ease of his soaring, the eagle mounted gradually up the
steep, passed the rocky shoulder with its watch-tower pine, and
disappeared over the edge of a ledge which looked to Horner like a
mere scratch across the face of the mountain.

"There's where his nest is, sure!" muttered Horner to himself. And
remembering that cold challenge in the bird's yellow stare, he
suddenly decided that he wanted to see an eagle's nest. He had plenty
of time. He was in no particular hurry to get back to the settlement
and the gossip of the cross-roads store. He turned his canoe to land,
lifted her out and hid her in the bushes, and struck back straight for
the face of "Old Baldy."

The lower slope was difficult to climb, a tangle of tumbled boulders
and fallen trunks, mantled in the soundless gloom of the fir-forest.
Skilled woodsman though he was, Horner's progress was so slow, and the
windless heat became so oppressive to his impatience, that he was
beginning to think of giving up the idle venture, when suddenly he
came face to face with a perpendicular and impassable wall of cliff.
This curt arrest to his progress was just what was needed to stiffen
his wavering resolution. He understood the defiance which his ready
fancy had found in the stare of the eagle. Well, he had accepted the
challenge. He would not be baffled by a rock. If he could not climb
over it, he would go round it; but he would find the nest.

With an obstinate look in his eyes, Horner began to work his way along
the foot of the cliff towards the right. Taking advantage of every
inch of ascent that he could gain, he at last found, to his
satisfaction, that he had made sufficient height to clear the gloom of
the woods. As he looked out over their tops, a light breeze cooled his
wet forehead, and he pressed on with fresh vigor. Presently the slope
grew a trifle easier, the foothold surer, and he mounted more rapidly.
The steely lake, and the rough-ridged, black-green sea of the fir-tops
began to unroll below him. At last he rounded an elbow of the steep,
and there before him, upthrust perhaps a hundred feet above his head,
stood the outlying shoulder of rock, crowned with its dead pine, on
which he was accustomed to see the eagle sitting. Even as he looked,
motionless, there came a rushing of great wings; and suddenly there
was the eagle himself, erect on his high perch, and staring, as it
seemed to Horner, straight into the sun.

When Horner resumed his climbing, the great bird turned his head and
gazed down upon him with an ironic fixity which betrayed neither dread
nor wonder. Concluding that the nest would be lying somewhere within
view of its owner's watch-tower, Horner now turned his efforts towards
reaching the dead pine. With infinite difficulty, and with a few
bruises to arm and leg, he managed to cross the jagged crevice which
partly separated the jutting rock-pier from the main face of the
cliff. Then, laboriously and doggedly, he dragged himself up the
splintered slope, still being forced around to the right, till there
fell away below him a gulf into which it was not good for the nervous
to look. Feeling that a fate very different from that of Lot's wife
might be his if he should let himself look back too indiscreetly, he
kept his eyes upon the lofty goal and pressed on upwards with a haste
that now grew a trifle feverish. It began to seem to him that the
irony of the eagle's changeless stare might perhaps not be
unjustified.

Not till Horner had conquered the steep and, panting but elated,
gained the very foot of the pine, did the eagle stir. Then, spreading
his wings with a slow disdain, as if not dread but aversion to this
unbidden visitor bade him go, he launched himself on a long, splendid
sweep over the gulf, and then mounted on a spacious spiral to his
inaccessible outlook in the blue. Leaning against the bleached and
scarred trunk of the pine, Horner watched this majestic departure for
some minutes, recovering his breath and drinking deep the cool and
vibrant air. Then he turned and scanned the face of the mountain.

[Illustration: "He launched himself on a long, splendid sweep over the
gulf."]

There it lay, in full view--the nest which he had climbed so far to
find. It was not more than a hundred yards away. Yet, at first sight,
it seemed hopelessly out of reach. The chasm separating the ledge on
which it clung from the outlying rock of the pine was not more than
twenty feet across; but its bottom was apparently somewhere in the
roots of the mountain. There was no way of passing it at this point.
But Horner had a faith that there was a way to be found over or around
every obstacle in the world, if only one kept on looking for it
resolutely enough. To keep on looking for a path to the eagle's nest,
he struggled forward, around the outer slope of the buttress, down a
ragged incline, and across a narrow and dizzy "saddle-back," which
brought him presently upon another angle of the steep, facing
southeast. Clinging with his toes and one hand, while he wiped his
dripping forehead with his sleeve, he looked up--and saw the whole
height of the mountain, unbroken and daunting, stretched skyward above
him.

But to Horner the solemn sight was not daunting in the least.

"Gee!" he exclaimed, grinning with satisfaction. "I _hev_ circumvented
that there cervice, sure's death!"

Of the world below he had now a view that was almost overpoweringly
unrestricted; but of the mountain, and his scene of operations, he
could see only the stretch directly above him. A little calculation
convinced him, however, that all he had to do was to keep straight on
up for perhaps a hundred and fifty feet, then, as soon as the slope
would permit, work around to his left, and descend upon the nest from
above. Incidentally, he made up his mind that his return journey
should be made by another face of the mountain--any other, rather than
that by which he had rashly elected to come.

It seemed to Horner like a mile, that last hundred and fifty feet; but
at last he calculated that he had gained enough in height. At the same
time he felt the slope grow easier. Making his way towards the left,
he came upon a narrow ledge, along which he could move easily
side-wise, by clinging to the rock. Presently it widened to a path by
which he could walk almost at ease, with the wide, wild solitude, dark
green laced with silver watercourses, spread like a stupendous
amphitheatre far below him. It was the wilderness which he knew so
well in detail, yet had never before seen as a whole; and the sight,
for a few moments, held him in a kind of awed surprise. When, at last,
he tore his gaze free from the majestic spectacle, there, some ten or
twelve yards below his feet, he saw the object of his quest.

It was nothing much to boast of in the way of architecture, this nest
of the Kings of the Air--a mere cart-load of sticks and bark and
coarse grass, apparently tumbled at haphazard upon the narrow ledge.
But in fact its foundations were so skilfully wedged into the crevices
of the rock, its structure was so cunningly interwoven, that the
fiercest winds which scourged that lofty seat were powerless against
it. It was a secure throne, no matter what tempests might rage around
it.

Sitting half erect on the nest were two eaglets, almost full grown,
and so nearly full feathered that Horner wondered why they did not
take wing at his approach. He did not know that the period of
helplessness with these younglings of royal birth lasted even after
they looked as big and well able to take care of themselves as their
parents. It was a surprise to him, also, to see that they were quite
unlike their parents in color, being black all over from head to tail,
instead of a rich brown with snow-white head, neck, and tail. As he
stared, he slowly realized that the mystery of the rare "black eagle"
was explained. He had seen one once, flying heavily just above the
tree-tops, and imagined it a discovery of his own. But now he reached
the just conclusion that it had been merely a youngster in its first
plumage.

As he stared, the two young birds returned his gaze with interest,
watching him with steady, yellow, undaunted eyes from under their
flat, fierce brows; with high-shouldered wings half raised, they
appeared quite ready to resent any familiarity which the strange
intruder might be contemplating.

Horner lay face downward on his ledge, and studied the perpendicular
rock below him for a way to reach the next. He had no very definite
idea what he wanted to do when he got there; possibly, if the
undertaking seemed feasible, he might carry off one of the royal brood
and amuse himself with trying to domesticate it. But, at any rate, he
hoped to add something, by a closer inspection, to his rather
inadequate knowledge of eagles.

And this hope, indeed, as he learned the next moment, was not
unjustified. Cautiously he was lowering himself over the edge, feeling
for the scanty and elusive foothold, when all at once the air was
filled with a rush of mighty wings, which seemed about to overwhelm
him. A rigid wing-tip buffeted him so sharply that he lost his hold on
the ledge. With a yell of consternation, which caused his assailant to
veer off, startled, he fell backwards, and plunged down straight upon
the nest.

It was the nest only that saved him from instant death. Tough and
elastic, it broke his fall; but at the same time its elasticity threw
him off, and on the rebound he went rolling and bumping on down the
steep slopes below the ledge, with the screaming of the eagles in his
ears, and a sickening sense in his heart that the sunlit world
tumbling and turning somersaults before his blurred sight was his last
view of life. Then, to his dim surprise, he was brought up with a
thump; and clutching desperately at a bush which scraped his face, he
lay still. At the same moment a flapping mass of feathers and fierce
claws landed on top of him, but only to scramble off again as swiftly
as possible with a hoarse squawk. He had struck one of the young
eagles in his fall, hurled it from the nest, and brought it down with
him to this lower ledge which had given him so timely a refuge.

For several minutes, perhaps, he lay clutching the bush desperately
and staring straight upwards. There he saw both parent eagles whirling
excitedly, screaming, and staring down at him; and then the edge of
the nest, somewhat dilapidated by his strange assault, overhanging the
ledge about thirty feet above. At length his wits came back to him,
and he cautiously turned his head to see if he was in danger of
falling if he should relax his hold on the bush. He was in bewildering
pain, which seemed distributed all over him; but in spite of it he
laughed aloud, to find that the bush, to which he hung so desperately,
was in a little hollow on a spacious platform, from which he could not
have fallen by any chance. At that strange, uncomprehended sound of
human laughter the eagles ceased their screaming for a few moments and
wheeled farther aloof.

With great difficulty and anguish Horner raised himself to a sitting
position and tried to find out how seriously he was hurt. One leg was
quite helpless. He felt it all over, and came to the conclusion that
it was not actually broken; but for all the uses of a leg, for the
present at least, it might as well have been putty, except for the
fact that it pained him abominably. His left arm and shoulder, too,
seemed to be little more than useless encumbrances, and he wondered
how so many bruises and sprains could find place on one human body of
no more than average size. However, having assured himself, with
infinite relief, that there were no bones broken, he set his teeth
grimly and looked about to take account of the situation.



CHAPTER II


The ledge on which he had found refuge was apparently an isolated one,
about fifty or sixty feet in length, and vanishing into the face of
the sheer cliff at either end. It had a width of perhaps twenty-five
feet; and its surface, fairly level, held some soil in its rocky
hollows. Two or three dark-green seedling firs, a slim young silver
birch, a patch or two of wind-beaten grass, and some clumps of
harebells, azure as the clear sky overhead, softened the bareness of
this tiny, high-flung terrace. In one spot, at the back, a spread of
intense green and a handbreadth of moisture on the rock showed where a
tiny spring oozed from a crevice to keep this lonely oasis in the
granite alive and fresh.

At the farthest edge of the shelf, and eying him with savage dread,
sat the young eagle which had fallen with him. Horner noticed, with a
kind of sympathy, that even the bird, for all his wings, had not come
out of the affair without some damage; for one of its black wings was
not held up so snugly as the other. He hoped it was not broken. As he
mused vaguely upon this unimportant question, his pain so exhausted
him that he sank back and lay once more staring up at the eagles, who
were still wheeling excitedly over the nest. In an exhaustion that was
partly sleep and partly coma, his eyes closed. When he opened them
again, the sun was hours lower and far advanced towards the west, so
that the ledge was in shadow. His head was now perfectly clear; and
his first thought was of getting himself back to the canoe. With
excruciating effort he dragged himself to the edge of the terrace and
looked down. The descent, at this point, was all but perpendicular for
perhaps a hundred feet. In full possession of his powers, he would
find it difficult enough. In his present state he saw clearly that he
might just as well throw himself over as attempt it.

Not yet disheartened, however, he dragged himself slowly towards the
other end of the terrace, where the young eagle sat watching him. As
he approached, the bird lifted his wings, as if about to launch
himself over and dare the element which he had not yet learned to
master. But one wing drooped as if injured, and he knew the attempt
would be fatal. Opening his beak angrily, he hopped away to the other
end of the terrace. But Horner was paying no heed to birds at that
moment. He was staring down the steep, and realizing that this ledge
which had proved his refuge was now his prison, and not unlikely to
become also his tomb.

Sinking back against a rock, and grinding his teeth with pain, he
strove to concentrate his attention upon the problem that confronted
him. Was he to die of thirst and hunger on this high solitude before
he could recover sufficiently to climb down? The thought stirred all
his dogged determination. He _would_ keep alive, and that was all
there was about it. He _would_ get well, and then the climbing down
would be no great matter. This point settled, he dismissed it from his
consideration and turned his thoughts to ways and means. After all,
there was that little thread of a spring trickling from the rock! He
would have enough to drink. And as for food--how much worse it would
have been had the ledge been a bare piece of rock! Here he had some
grass, and the roots of the herbs and bushes. A man could keep himself
alive on such things if he had will enough. And, as a last resource,
there was the young eagle! This idea, however, was anything but
attractive to him; and it was with eyes of good-will rather than of
appetite that he glanced at his fellow-prisoner sitting motionless at
the other extremity of the ledge.

"It'ld be hard lines, pardner, ef I should hev to eat you, after all!"
he muttered, with a twisted kind of grin. "We're both of us in a hole,
sure enough, an' I'll play fair as long as I kin!"

As he mused, a great shadow passed over his head, and looking up, he
saw one of the eagles hovering low above the ledge. It was the male,
his old acquaintance, staring down at him from under that strange,
black brow. He carried a large fish in his talons, and was plainly
anxious to feed his captive young, but not quite ready to approach
this mysterious man-creature who had been able to invade his eyrie as
if with wings. Horner lay as still as a stone, watching through
half-closed lids. The young eagle, seeing food so near, opened its
beak wide and croaked eagerly; while the mother bird, larger but
wilder and less resolute than her mate, circled aloof with sharp cries
of warning. At last, unable any longer to resist the appeals of his
hungry youngster, the great bird swooped down over him, dropped the
fish fairly into his clutches, and slanted away with a hurried
flapping which betrayed his nervousness.

As the youngster fell ravenously upon his meal, tearing it and
gulping the fragments, Horner drew a deep breath.

"There's where I come in, pardner," he explained. "When I kin git up
an appetite for that sort of vittles, I'll go shares with you, ef
y'ain't got no objection!"

Having conceived this idea, Horner was seized with a fear that the
captive might presently gain the power of flight and get away. This
was a thought under which he could not lie still. In his pocket he
always carried a bunch of stout salmon-twine and a bit of copper
rabbit-wire, apt to be needed in a hundred forest emergencies. He
resolved to catch the young eagle and tether it securely to a bush.

His first impulse was to set about this enterprise at once. With
excruciating effort he managed to pull off his heavy woollen
hunting-shirt, intending to use it as the toreador uses his mantle, to
entangle the dangerous weapons of his adversary. Then he dragged
himself across to the other end of the ledge and attempted to corner
the captive. For this he was not quite quick enough, however. With a
flop and a squawk the bird eluded him, and he realized that he had
better postpone the undertaking till the morrow. Crawling back to his
hollow by the bush, he sank down, utterly exhausted. Not till the
sharp chill which comes with sunset warned him of its necessity, was
he able to grapple with the long, painful problem of getting his shirt
on again.

Through the night he got some broken sleep, though the hardness of his
bed aggravated every hurt he had suffered. On the edge of dawn he saw
the male eagle come again--this time more confidently and
deliberately--to feed the captive. After he was gone, Horner tried to
move, but found himself now, from the night's chill and the austerity
of his bed, altogether helpless. Not till the sun was high enough to
warm him through and through, and not till he had manipulated his legs
and arms assiduously for more than an hour, did his body feel as if it
could ever again be of any service to him. Then he once more got off
his shirt and addressed himself to the catching of the indignant bird
whom he had elected to be his preserver.

Though the anguish caused by every movement was no less intense than
it had been the afternoon before, he was stronger now and more in
possession of his faculties. Before starting the chase, he cut a strip
from his shirt to wind around the leg of the young eagle, in order
that he might be able to tether it tightly without cutting the flesh.
The bird had suddenly become most precious to him!

Very warily he made his approaches, sidling down the ledge so as to
give his quarry the least possible room for escape. As he drew near,
the bird turned and faced him, with its one uninjured wing lifted
menacingly and its formidable beak wide open. Holding the heavy shirt
ready to throw, Horner crept up cautiously, so intent now upon the
game that the anguish in the leg which he dragged stiffly behind him
was almost forgotten. The young bird, meanwhile, waited, motionless
and vigilant, its savage eyes hard as glass.

At last a faint quiver and shrinking in the bird's form, an
involuntary contracting of the feathers, gave warning to Horner's
experienced eye that it was about to spring aside. On the instant he
flung the shirt, keeping hold of it by the sleeve. By a singular piece
of luck, upon which he had not counted at all, it opened as he threw
it, and settled right over the bird's neck and disabled wing, blinding
and baffling it completely. With a muffled squawk it bounced into the
air, both talons outspread and clawing madly; but in a second Horner
had it by the other wing, pulling it down, and rolling himself over
upon it so as to smother those dangerous claws. He felt them sink
once into his injured leg, but that was already anguishing so
vehemently that a little more or less did not matter. In a few moments
he had his captive bundled up with helplessness, and was dragging it
to a sturdy bush near the middle of the terrace. Here, without much
further trouble, he wrapped one of its legs with the strip of flannel
from his shirt, twisted on a hand-length of wire, and then tethered it
safely with a couple of yards of his doubled and twisted cord.

Just as he had accomplished this to his satisfaction, and was about to
undo the imprisoning shirt, it flashed across his mind that it was
lucky the old eagles had not been on hand to interfere. He glanced
upward--and saw the dark form dropping like a thunderbolt out of the
blue. He had just time to fling himself over on his back, lifting his
arm to shield his face, and his foot to receive the attack, when the
hiss of that lightning descent filled his ears. Involuntarily he half
closed his eyes. But no shock came, except a great buffet of air on
his face. Not quite daring to grapple with that ready defence, the
eagle had opened its wings when within a few feet of the ledge, and
swerved upward again, where it hung hovering and screaming. Horner saw
that it was the female, and shook his fist at her in defiance. Had it
been his old acquaintance and challenger, the male, he felt sure that
he would not have got off so easily.

Puzzled and alarmed, the mother now perched herself beside the other
eaglet, on the edge of the nest. Then, keeping a careful eye upon her,
lest she should return to the attack, Horner dexterously unrolled the
shirt, and drew back just in time to avoid a vicious slash from the
talons of his indignant prisoner. The latter, after some violent
tugging and flopping at his tether and fierce biting at the wire,
suddenly seemed to conclude that such futile efforts were undignified.
He settled himself like a rock and stared unwinkingly at his captor.

It was perhaps an hour after this, when the sun had grown hot, and
Horner, having slaked his thirst at the spring in the rock, had tried
rather ineffectually to satisfy his hunger on grass roots, that the
male eagle reappeared, winging heavily from the farthest end of the
lake. From his talons dangled a limp form, which Horner presently made
out to be a duck.

"Good!" he muttered to himself. "I always did like fowl better'n
fish."

When the eagle arrived, he seemed to notice something different in
the situation, for he wheeled slowly overhead for some minutes,
uttering sharp yelps of interrogation. But the appeals of the
youngster at last brought him down, and he delivered up the prize. The
moment he was gone, Horner crept up to where the youngster was already
tearing the warm body to pieces. Angry and hungry, the bird made a
show of fighting for his rights; but his late experience with his
invincible conqueror had daunted him. Suddenly he hopped away, the
full length of his tether; and Horner picked up the mangled victim.
But his appetite was gone by this time; he was not yet equal to a diet
of raw flesh. Tossing the prize back to its rightful owner, he
withdrew painfully to grub for some more grass roots.

[Illustration: "After this the eagle came regularly every three or four
hours with food for the prisoner."]

After this the eagle came regularly every three or four hours with
food for the prisoner. Sometimes it was a fish--trout, or brown
sucker, or silvery chub--sometimes a duck or a grouse, sometimes a
rabbit or a muskrat. Always it was the male, with that grim black
streak across the side of his white face, who came. Always Horner made
a point of taking the prize at once from the angry youngster, and then
throwing it back to him, unable to stomach the idea of the raw flesh.
At last, on the afternoon of the third day of his imprisonment, he
suddenly found that it was not the raw flesh, but the grass roots,
which he loathed. While examining a fine lake-trout, he remembered
that he had read of raw fish being excellent food under the right
conditions. This was surely one of those right conditions. Picking
somewhat fastidiously, he nevertheless managed to make so good a meal
off that big trout that there was little but head and tail to toss
back to his captor.

"Never mind, pardner!" he said seriously. "I'll divide fair nex' time.
But you know you've been havin' more'n your share lately."

But the bird was so outraged that for a long time he would not look at
these remnants, and only consented to devour them, at last, when
Horner was not looking.

After this Horner found it easy enough to partake of his prisoner's
meals, whether they were of fish, flesh, or fowl; and with the
ice-cold water from the little spring, and an occasional mouthful of
leaves and roots, he fared well enough to make progress towards
recovery. The male eagle grew so accustomed to his presence that he
would alight beside the prisoner, and threatened Horner with that old,
cold stare of challenge, and frequently Horner had to drive him off
in order to save his share of the feast from the rapacity of the
eaglet. But as for the female, she remained incurably suspicious and
protesting. From the upper ledge, where she devoted her care to the
other nestling, she would yelp down her threats and execrations, but
she never ventured any nearer approach.

For a whole week the naked hours of day and dark had rolled over the
peak before Horner began to think himself well enough to try the
descent. His arm and shoulder were almost well, but his leg, in spite
of ceaseless rubbing and applications of moist earth, remained
practically helpless. He could not bear his weight on it for a second.
His first attempt at lowering himself showed him that he must not be
in too great haste. It was nearly a week more before he could feel
assured, after experiments at scaling the steep above him, that he was
fit to face the terrible steep below. Then he thought of the eaglet,
his unwilling and outraged preserver! After a sharp struggle, of which
both his arms and legs bore the marks for months, he caught the bird
once more and examined the injured wing. It was not broken; and he saw
that its owner would be able to fly all right in time, perhaps as
soon as his more fortunate brother in the nest above. Satisfied on
this point, he loosed all the bonds and jumped back to avoid the
indomitable youngster's retort of beak and claws. Unamazed by his
sudden freedom, the young eagle flopped angrily away to the farther
end of the ledge; and Horner, having resumed his useful shirt, started
to climb down the mountain, whose ascent he had so heedlessly
adventured nearly two weeks before. As he lowered himself over the
dizzy brink, he glanced up, to see the male eagle circling slowly
above him, gazing down at him with the old challenge in his unwinking,
golden eyes.

"I reckon you win!" said Horner, waving the imperturbable bird a grave
salutation. "But you're a gentleman, an' I thank you fer your kind
hospitality."

It was still early morning when Horner started to descend the
mountain. It was dusk when he reached the lake and flung himself down,
prostrated with fatigue and pain and strain of nerve, beside his
canoe. From moment to moment, through spells of reeling faintness and
spasmodic exhaustion, the silent gulfs of space had clutched at him,
as if the powers of the solitude and the peak had but spared him so
long to crush him inexorably in the end. At last, more through the
sheer indomitableness of the human spirit than anything else, he had
won. But never afterwards could he think of that awful descent without
a sinking of the heart. For three days more he made his camp by the
lake, recovering strength and nerve before resuming his journey down
the wild river to the settlements. And many times a day his
salutations would be waved upward to that great, snowy-headed,
indifferent bird, wheeling in the far blue, or gazing at the sun from
his high-set watch-tower of the pine.



CHAPTER III


Two or three years later, it fell in Horner's way to visit a great
city, many hundreds of miles from the gray peak of "Old Baldy." He was
in charge of an exhibit of canoes, snowshoes, and other typical
products of his forest-loving countrymen. In his first morning of
leisure, his feet turned almost instinctively to the wooded gardens
wherein the city kept strange captives, untamed exiles of the
wilderness, irreconcilable aliens of fur and hide and feather, for the
crowds to gape at through their iron bars.

He wandered aimlessly past some grotesque, goatish-looking deer which
did not interest him, and came suddenly upon a paddock containing a
bull moose, two cows, and a yearling calf. The calf looked ungainly
and quite content with his surroundings. The cows were faded and
moth-eaten, but well fed. He had no concern for them at all. But the
bull, a splendid, black-shouldered, heavy-muffled fellow, with the new
antlers just beginning to knob out from his massive forehead, appealed
to him strongly. The splendid, sullen-looking beast stood among his
family, but towered over and seemed unconscious of them. His long,
sensitive muzzle was held high to catch a breeze which drew coolly
down from the north, and his half-shut eyes, in Horner's fancy, saw
not the wires of his fence, but the cool, black-green fir thickets of
the north, the gray rampikes of the windy barrens, the broad lily
leaves afloat in the sheltered cove, the wide, low-shored lake water
gleaming rose-red in the sunset.

"It's a shame," growled Horner, "to keep a critter like that shut up
in a seven-by-nine chicken-pen!" And he moved on, feeling as if he
were himself a prisoner, and suddenly homesick for a smell of the
spruce woods.

It was in this mood that he came upon the great dome-roofed cage
containing the hawks and eagles. It was a dishevelled, dirty place,
with a few uncanny-looking dead trees stuck up in it to persuade the
prisoners that they were free. Horner gave a hasty glance and then
hurried past, enraged at the sight of these strong-winged adventurers
of the sky doomed to so tame a monotony of days. But just as he got
abreast of the farther extremity of the cage, he stopped, with a queer
little tug at his heart-strings. He had caught sight of a great,
white-headed eagle, sitting erect and still on a dead limb close to
the bars, and gazing through them steadily, not at him, but straight
into the eye of the sun.

"Shucks! It ain't possible! There's millions o' bald eagles in the
world!" muttered Horner discontentedly.

It was the right side of the bird's head that was turned towards him,
and that, of course, was snowy white. Equally, of course, it was as,
Horner told himself, the height of absurdity to think that this grave,
immobile prisoner gazing out through the bars at the sun could be his
old friend of the naked peak. Nevertheless, something within his heart
insisted it was so. If only the bird would turn his head! At last
Horner put two fingers between his mouth, and blew a whistle so
piercing that every one stared rebukingly, and a policeman came
strolling along casually to see if any one had signalled for help. But
Horner was all unconscious of the interest which he had excited. In
response to his shrill summons the eagle had slowly, very
deliberately, turned his head, and looked him steadily in the eyes.
Yes, there was the strange black bar above the left eye, and there,
unbroken by defeat and captivity, was the old look of imperturbable
challenge!

Horner could almost have cried, from pity and homesick sympathy. Those
long days on the peak, fierce with pain, blinding bright with sun,
wind-swept and solitary, through which this great, still bird had kept
him alive, seemed to rush over his spirit all together.

"Gee, old pardner!" he murmured, leaning as far over the railing as he
could. "But ain't you got the grit! I'd like to know who it was served
this trick on you. But don't you fret. I'll get you out o' this, ef it
takes a year's arnings to do it! You wait an' see!" And with his jaws
set resolutely he turned and strode from the gardens. That bird should
not stay in there another night if he could help it.

Horner's will was set, but he did not understand the difficulties he
had to face. At first he was confronted, as by a stone wall, by the
simple and unanswerable fact that the bird was not for sale at any
price. And he went to bed that night raging with disappointment and
baffled purpose. But in the course of his efforts and angry
protestations he had let out a portion of his story--and this, as a
matter of interest, was carried to the president of the society which
controlled the gardens. To this man, who was a true naturalist and not
a mere dry-as-dust cataloguer of bones and teeth, the story made a
strong appeal, and before Horner had quite made up his mind whether to
get out a writ of _habeas corpus_ for his imprisoned friend, or commit
a burglary on the cage, there came a note inviting him to an interview
at the president's office. The result of this interview was that
Horner came away radiant, convinced at last that there was heart and
understanding in the city as well as in the country. He had agreed to
pay the society simply what it might cost to replace the captive by
another specimen of his kind; and he carried in his pocket an order
for the immediate delivery of the eagle into his hands.

To the practical backwoodsman there was no fuss or ceremony now to be
gone through. He admired the expeditious fashion in which the keeper
of the bird-house handled his dangerous charge, coming out of the
brief tussle without a scratch. Trussed up as ignominiously as a
turkey--proud head hooded, savage talons muffled, and skyey wings
bound fast, the splendid bird was given up to his rescuer, who rolled
him in a blanket without regard to his dignity, and carried him off
under his arm like a bundle of old clothes.

Beyond the outskirts of the city Horner had observed a high, rocky,
desolate hill which seemed suited to his purpose. He took a street
car and travelled for an hour with the bundle on his knees. Little his
fellow-passengers guessed of the wealth of romance, loyalty, freedom,
and spacious memory hidden in that common-looking bundle on the knees
of the gaunt-faced, gray-eyed man. At the foot of the hill, at a space
of bare and ragged common, Horner got off. By rough paths, frequented
by goats, he made his way up the rocky slope, through bare ravines and
over broken ridges, and came at last to a steep rock in a solitude,
whence only far-off roofs could be seen, and masts, and bridges, and
the sharp gleam of the sea in the distance.

This place satisfied him. On the highest point of the rock he
carefully unfastened the bonds of his prisoner, loosed him, and jumped
back with respect and discretion. The great bird sat up very straight,
half raised and lowered his wings as if to regain his poise, looked
Horner dauntlessly in the eye, then stared slowly about him and above,
as if to make sure that there were really no bars for him to beat his
wings against. For perhaps a full minute he sat there. Then, having
betrayed no unkingly haste, he spread his wings to their full splendid
width and launched himself from the brink. For a few seconds he
flapped heavily, as if his wings had grown unused to their function.
Then he got his rhythm, and swung into a wide, mounting spiral, which
Horner watched with sympathetic joy. At last, when he was but a
wheeling speck in the pale blue dome, he suddenly turned and sailed
off straight towards the northeast, with a speed which carried him out
of sight in a moment.

Horner drew a long breath, half wistful, half glad.

"Them golden eyes of yourn kin see a thunderin' long ways off,
pardner," he muttered, "but I reckon even you can't make out the top
of 'Old Baldy' at this distance. It's the eyes o' your heart ye must
have seen it with, to make for it so straight!"



THE LORD OF THE GLASS HOUSE



THE LORD OF THE GLASS HOUSE

CHAPTER I


In the sheltered Caribbean cove the water was warm as milk, green and
clear as liquid beryl, and shot through with shimmering sun. Under
that stimulating yet mitigated radiance the bottom of the cove was
astir with strange life, grotesque in form, but brilliant as jewels or
flowers. Long, shining weeds, red, yellow, amber, purple, and olive,
waved sinuously among the weed-like sea-anemones which outshone them
in colored sheen. Fantastic pink-and-orange crabs sidled awkwardly but
nimbly this way and that. Tiny sea-horses, yet more fantastic, slipped
shyly from one weed-covert to another, aware of a possible peril in
every gay but menacing bloom. And just above this eccentric life of
the shoal sea-floor small fishes of curious form shot hither and
thither, live, darting gleams of gold and azure and amethyst. Now and
again a long, black shadow would sail slowly over the scene of
freakish life--the shadow of a passing albacore or barracouta.
Instantly the shining fish would hide themselves among the shining
shells, and every movement, save that of the unconsciously waving
weeds, would be stilled. But the sinister shadow would go by, and
straightway the sea-floor would be alive again, busy with its affairs
of pursuit and flight.

The floor of the cove was uneven, by reason of small, shell-covered
rocks and stones being strewn over it at haphazard. From under the
slightly overhanging base of one of these stones sprouted what seemed
a cluster of yellowish gray, pink-mottled weed-stems, which sprawled
out inertly upon the mottled bottom. Over the edge of the stone came
swimming slowly one of the gold-and-azure fish, its jewelled,
impassive eyes on the watch for some small prey. Up from the bottom,
swift as a whip-lash, darted one of those inert-looking weed-stems,
and fastened about the bright fish just behind the gills.

Fiercely the shining one struggled, lashing with tail and fins till
the water swirled to a boil over the shell-covered rock, and the
sea-anemones all about shut their gorgeous, greedy flower-cups in a
panic. But the struggle was a vain one. Slowly, inexorably, that
mottled tentacle curled downward with its prey, and a portion of the
under side of the rock became alive! Two ink-black eyes appeared,
bulging, oval, implacable; and between them opened a great, hooked
beak, like a giant parrot's. There was no separate head behind this
gaping beak, but eyes and beak merely marked the blunt end of a
mottled, oblong, sac-like body.

[Illustration: "And the writhing tentacles composed themselves once more
to stillness upon the bottom, awaiting the next careless
passer-by."]

As the victim was drawn down to the waiting beak, among the bases of
the tentacles, all the tentacles awoke to dreadful life, writhing in
aimless excitement, although there was no work for them to do. In a
few seconds the fish was torn asunder and engulfed--those inky eyes
the while unwinking and unmoved. A darker, livid hue passed fleetingly
over the pallid body of the octopus. Then it slipped back under the
shelter of the rock; and the writhing tentacles composed themselves
once more to stillness upon the bottom, awaiting the next careless
passer-by. Once more they seemed mere inert trailers of weed, not
worth the notice of fish or crab. And soon the anemones near by
reopened their treacherous blooms of yellow and crimson.

Whether because there was something in the gold-and-azure fish that
disturbed his inward content, or because his place of ambush had
somehow grown distasteful to his soft, unarmored body, the octopus
presently bestirred himself and crawled forth into the open, walking
awkwardly on the incurled tips of his tentacles. It looked about as
comfortable a method of progression as for a baby to creep on the back
of its hands. The traveller himself did not seem to find it altogether
satisfactory, for all at once he sprang upward nimbly, clear of the
bottom, and gathered his eight tentacles into a compact parallel bunch
extending straight out past his eyes. In this attitude he was no
longer clumsy, but trim and swift-looking. Beneath the bases of the
tentacles, on the under side of the body, a sort of valve opened
spasmodically and took in a huge gulp of water, which was at once
ejected with great force through a tube among the tentacles. Driven by
the strange propulsion of this pulsating stream, the elongated shape
shot swiftly on its way, but travelling backward instead of forward.
The traveller had apparently taken his direction with care before he
started, however, for he made his way straight to another rock,
weedier and more overhanging than the first. Here he stopped, settled
downward, and let his tentacles once more sprawl wide, preparatory to
backing his spotted body-sac into its new quarters.

This was the moment when he was least ready for attack or defence;
and just at this moment a foraging dolphin, big-jawed and hungry, shot
down upon him through the lucent green, mistaking him, perhaps, for an
overgrown but unretaliating squid. The assailant aimed at the big,
succulent-looking body, but missed his aim, and caught instead one of
the tentacles which had reared themselves instantly to ward off the
attack. Before he realized what was happening, another tentacle had
curled about his head, clamping his jaws firmly together so that he
could not open them to release his hold; while yet others had wrapped
themselves securely about his body.

The dolphin was a small one; and such a situation as this had never
come within range of his experience. In utter panic he lashed out with
his powerful tail and darted forward, carrying the octopus with him.
But the weight upon his head, the crushing encumbrance about his body,
were too much for him, and bore him slowly downward. Suddenly two
tentacles, which had been trailing for an anchorage, got grip upon the
bottom--and the dolphin's frantic flight came to a stop abruptly. He
lashed, plunged, whirled in a circle, but all to no purpose. His
struggles grew weaker. He was drawn down, inexorably, till he lay
quivering on the sand. Then the great beak of the octopus made an end
of the matter, and the prey was dragged back to the lair beneath the
weed-covered rock.

A long time after this, a shadow bigger and blacker than that of any
albacore--bigger than that of any shark or saw-fish--drifted over the
cove. There was a splash, and a heavy object came down upon the
bottom, spreading the swift stillness of terror for yards about. The
shadow ceased drifting, for the boat had come to anchor. Then in a
very few minutes, because the creatures of the sea seem unable to fear
what does not move, the life of the sea-floor again bestirred itself,
and small, misshapen forms that did not love the sunlight began to
convene in the shadow of the boat.

Presently, from over the side of the boat descended a dark tube, with
a bright tip that seemed like a kind of eye. The tube moved very
slowly this way and that, as if to let the eye scan every hiding-place
on the many-colored bottom. As it swept over the rock that sheltered
the octopus, it came to a stop. Those inert, sprawling things that
looked like weeds appeared to interest it. Then it was softly
withdrawn.

A few moments later, a large and tempting fish appeared at the surface
of the water, and began slowly sinking straight downward in a most
curious fashion. The still eyes of the octopus took note at once. They
had never seen a fish behave that way before; but it plainly was a
fish. A quiver of eagerness passed through the sprawling tentacles,
for their owner was already hungry again. But the prize was still too
far away, and the tentacles did not move. The curious fish, however,
seemed determined to come no nearer, and at last the waiting tentacles
came stealthily to life. Almost imperceptibly they drew themselves
forward, writhing over the bottom as casually as weeds adrift in a
light current. And behind them those two great, inky, impassive eyes,
and then the fat, mottled, sac-like body, emerged furtively from under
the rock.

The bottom, just at this point, was covered with a close brown weed,
and almost at once the body of the octopus and his tentacles began to
change to the same hue. When the change was complete, the gliding
monster was almost invisible. He was now directly beneath that
incomprehensible fish; but the fish had gently risen, so that it was
still out of reach.

For a few seconds the octopus crouched, staring upward with motionless
orbs, and gathering himself together. Then he sprang straight up, like
a leaping spider. He fixed two tentacles upon the tantalizing prey;
then the other tentacles straightened out, and with a sharp jet of
water from his propulsion tube he essayed to dart back to his lair.

To his amazement, the prey refused to come. In some mysterious way it
managed to hold itself--or was held--just where it was. Amazement gave
way to rage. The monster wrapped his prize in three more tentacles,
and then plunged his beak into it savagely. The next instant he was
jerked to the surface of the water. A blaze of fierce sun blinded him,
and strong meshes enclosed him, binding and entangling his tentacles.

In such an appalling crisis most creatures of sea or land would have
been utterly demoralized by terror. Not so the octopus. Maintaining
undaunted the clutch of one tentacle upon his prize, he turned the
others, along with the effectual menace of his great beak, to the
business of battle. The meshes fettered him in a way that drove him
frantic with rage, but two of his tentacles managed to find their way
through, and writhed madly this way and that in search of some
tangible antagonist on which to fasten themselves. While they were yet
groping vainly for a grip, he felt himself lifted bodily forth into
the strangling air, and crowded--net, prey, and all--into a dark and
narrow receptacle full of water.

This fate, of course, was not to be tamely endured. Though he was
suffocating in the unnatural medium, and though his great, unwinking
eyes could see but vaguely outside their native element, he was all
fight. One tentacle clutched the rim of the metal vessel; and one
fixed its deadly suckers upon the bare black arm of a half-seen
adversary who was trying to crowd him down into the dark prison. There
was a strident yell. A sharp, authoritative voice exclaimed: "Look
out! Don't hurt him! _I'll_ make him let go!" But the next instant the
frightened darky had whipped out a knife and sliced off a good foot of
the clutching tentacle. As the injured stump shrank back upon its
fellows like a spade-cut worm, the other tentacle was deftly twisted
loose from its hold on the rim, and the captive felt himself forced
down into the narrow prison. A cover was clapped on, and he found
himself in darkness, with his prey still gripped securely. Upset and
raging though he was, there was nothing to be done about it, so he
fell to feasting indignantly upon the prize for which he had paid so
dear.



CHAPTER II


Left to himself, the furious prisoner by and by disentangled himself
from the meshes of the net, and composed himself as well as he could
in his straitened quarters. Then for days and days thereafter there
was nothing but tossing and tumbling, blind feeding, and
uncomprehended distress; till at last his prison was turned upside
down and he was dropped unceremoniously into a great tank of glass and
enamel that glowed with soft light. Bewildered though he was, he took
in his surroundings in an instant, straightened his tentacles out
before him, and darted backwards to the shelter of an overhanging rock
which he had marked on the floor of the tank. Having backed his
defenceless body under that shield, he flattened his tentacles
anxiously among the stones and weeds that covered the tank-bottom, and
impassively stared about.

It was certainly an improvement on the black hole from which he had
just escaped. Light came down through the clear water, but a cold,
white light, little like the green and gold glimmer that illumined
the slow tide in his Caribbean home. The floor about him was not
wholly unfamiliar. The stones, the sand, the colored weeds, the
shells,--they were like, yet unlike, those from which he had been
snatched away. But on three sides there were white, opaque walls, so
near that he could have touched them by stretching out a tentacle.
Only on the fourth side was there space--but a space of gloom and
inexplicable moving confusion from which he shrank. In this direction
the floor of sand and stones and weeds ended with a mysterious
abruptness; and the vague openness beyond filled him with uneasiness.
Pale-colored shapes, with eyes, would drift up, sometimes in crowds,
and stare in at him fixedly. It daunted him as nothing else had ever
done, this drift of peering faces. It was long before he could teach
himself to ignore them. When food came to him,--small fish and crabs,
descending suddenly from the top of the water,--at such times the
faces would throng tumultuously in that open space, and for a long
time the many peering eyes would so disconcert him as almost to spoil
his appetite. But at last he grew accustomed even to the faces and the
eyes, and disregarded them as if they were so much passing seaweed,
borne by the tide. His investigating tentacles had shown him that
between him and the space of confusion there was an incomprehensible
barrier fixed, which he could see through but not pass; and that if he
could not get out, neither could the faces get in to trouble him.

Thus, well fed and undisturbed, the octopus grew fairly content in his
glass house, and never guessed the stormy life of the great city
beyond his walls. For all he knew, his comfortable prison might have
been on the shore of one of his own Bahaman Keys. He was undisputed
lord of his domain, narrow though it was; and the homage he received
from the visitors who came to pay him court was untiring.

His lordship had been long unthreatened, when one day, had he not been
too indifferent to notice them, he might have seen that the faces in
the outer gloom were unusually numerous, the eyes unusually intent.
Suddenly there was the accustomed splash in the water above him. That
splash had come to him to mean just food, unresisting victims, and his
tentacles were instantly alert to seize whatever should come within
reach.

This time the splash was unusually heavy, and he was surprised to see
a massive, roundish creature, with a little, pointed tail sticking
out behind, a small, snake-like head stretched out in front, and two
little flippers outspread on each side. With these four flippers the
stranger came swimming down calmly towards him. He had never seen
anything at all like this daring stranger; but without the slightest
hesitation he whipped up two writhing tentacles and seized him. The
faces beyond the glass surged with excitement.

When that abrupt and uncompromising clutch laid hold upon the turtle,
his tail, head, and flippers vanished as if they had never been, and
his upper and lower shells closed tight together till he seemed
nothing more than a lifeless box of horn. Absolutely unresisting, he
was drawn down to the impassive eyes and gaping beak of his captor.
The tentacles writhed all over him, stealthily but eagerly
investigating. Then the great parrot-beak laid hold on the shell,
expecting to crush it. Making no impression, however, it slid
tentatively all over the exasperating prize, seeking, but in vain, for
a weak point.

[Illustration: "Without the slightest hesitation he whipped up two
writhing tentacles and seized him."]

This went on for several minutes, while the watching faces outside the
glass gazed in tense expectancy. Then at last the patience of the
octopus gave way. In a sudden fury he threw himself upon the
exasperating shell, tumbling it over and over, biting at it madly,
wrenching it insanely with all his tentacles. And the faces beyond the
glass surged thrillingly, wondering how long the turtle would stand
such treatment.

Shut up within his safe armor, the turtle all at once grew tired of
being tumbled about, and his wise discretion forsook him. He did not
mind being shut up, but he objected to being knocked about. Some
prudence he had, to be sure, but not enough to control his short
temper. Out shot his narrow, vicious-looking head, with its dull eyes
and punishing jaws, and fastened with the grip of a bulldog upon the
nearest of the tentacles, close to its base. A murmur arose outside
the glass.

The rage of the octopus swelled to a frenzy, and in his contortions
the locked fighters bumped heavily against the glass, making the faces
shrink back. The small stones on the bottom were scattered this way
and that, and the fine silt rose in a cloud that presently obscured
the battle.

Had the turtle had cunning to match his courage, the lordship of the
glass house might have changed holders in that fight. Had he fixed his
unbreakable grip in the head of his foe, just above the beak, he
would have conquered in the end. But as it was, he had now a
vulnerable point, and at last the octopus found it. His beak closed
upon the exposed half of the turtle's head, and slowly, inexorably,
sheared it clean off just behind the eyes. The stump shrank instantly
back into the shell; and the shell became again the unresisting
plaything of the tentacles, which presently, as if realizing that it
had no more power to retaliate, flung it aside. In a few minutes the
silt settled. Then the eager faces beyond the glass saw the lord of
the tank crouching motionless before his lair, his ink-like eyes as
impassive and implacable as ever, while the turtle lay bottom side up
against the glass, no more to be taken account of than a stone.



BACK TO THE WATER WORLD



BACK TO THE WATER WORLD

CHAPTER I


An iron coast, bleak, black, and desolate, without harborage for so
much as a catboat for leagues to north or south. A coast so pitiless,
so lashed forever by the long, sullen rollers of the North Atlantic,
so tormented by the shifting and treacherous currents of the tide
between its chains of outlying rocky islets, that no ship ever
ventured willingly within miles of its uncompromising menace. A coast
so little favored by summer that even in glowing August the sun could
reach it seldom through its cold and drenching fogs.

Perhaps half a mile off shore lay the islands--some of them, indeed,
mere ledges, deathtraps for ships, invisible except at low tide, but
others naked hills of upthrust rock, which the highest tides and
wildest hurricanes could not overwhelm. Even on the loftiest of them
there was neither grass, bush, nor tree to break the jagged outlines,
but day and night, summer and winter long, the sea-birds clamored
over them, and brooded by the myriad on their upper ledges.

These islands were fretted, on both their landward and their seaward
sides, by innumerable caves. In one of these caves, above the reach of
the highest tide, and facing landward, so that even in the wildest
storms no waves could invade it, the pup of the seal first opened his
mild eyes upon the misty northern daylight.

Of all the younglings of the wild, he was perhaps the most winsome,
with his soft, whitish, shadowy-toned, close, woolly coat, his round,
babyish head, his dark, gentle eyes wide with wonder at everything to
be seen from the cave mouth. He lay usually very near the entrance,
but partly hidden from view by a ragged horn of rock. While
alone--which was a good part of the time, indeed, like most
fishermen's children--he would lie so still that his woolly little
form was hardly to be distinguished from the rock that formed his
couch. He had no desire to attract public attention--for the only
public that might have been attracted to attend consisted of the pair
of great sea eagles whose shadows sometimes swooped aross the ledge,
or of an occasional southward-wandering white bear. As for the
innumerable gulls, and gannets, and terns, and lesser auks, which
made the air forever loud about these lonely islets, nothing could
have induced them to pay him any attention whatever. They knew him,
and his people, to be harmless; and that was all their winged and
garrulous companies were concerned to know.

But to the little seal, on the other hand, the noisy birds were
incessantly interesting. Filled with insatiable curiosity, his mild
eyes gazed out upon the world. The sea just below the cave was, of
course, below his line of vision; but at a distance of some hundred
yards or so--a distance which varied hugely with the rising and
falling of the tide--he caught sight of the waves, and felt himself
strangely drawn to them. Whether leaden and menacing under the drift
of rain and the brooding of gray clouds, or green-glinting under the
sheen of too rare sunshine, he loved them and found them always
absorbing. The sky, too, was worth watching, especially when white
fleeces chased each other across a patch of blue, or wonderful colors,
pallid yet intense, shot up into it at dawn from behind a far-off line
of saw-toothed rocks.

The absences of the mother seal were sometimes long, for it required
many fish to satisfy her appetite and keep warm her red blood in
those ice-cold arctic currents. Fish were abundant, to be sure, along
that coast, where the invisible fruitfulness of the sea made
compensation for the blank barrenness of the land; but they were swift
and wary, and had to be caught, one at a time, outwitted and
outspeeded in their own element. The woolly cub, therefore, was often
hungry before his mother returned. But when, at last, she came,
flopping awkwardly up the rocky slope, and pausing for an instant to
reconnoitre, as her round, glistening head appeared over the brink of
the ledge, the youngster's delight was not all in the satisfying of
his hunger and in the mothering of his loneliness. As he snuggled
under her caress, the salty drip from her wet, sleek sides thrilled
him with a dim sense of anticipation. He connected it vaguely with
that endless, alluring dance of the waves beyond his threshold.

When he had grown a few days older, the little seal began to turn his
attention from the brighter world outside to the shadows that
surrounded him in his cave. His interest was caught at once by a
woolly gray creature like himself, only somewhat smaller, which lay
perhaps seven or eight feet away, at the other side of the cave, and
farther back. He had not realized before that his narrow retreat was
the home of two families. Being of a companionable disposition, he
eyed his newly discovered neighbor with immense good-will. Finding no
discouragement in the mild gaze that answered his, he presently raised
himself on his flippers, and with laborious, ungainly effort flopped
himself over to make acquaintance. Both youngsters were too
unsophisticated for ceremony, too trusting for shyness, so in a very
few minutes they were sprawling over each other in great content.

In this baby comradeship the stranger's mother, returning to her
household duties, found them. She was smaller and younger than our
Pup's dam, but with the same kindly eyes and the same salty-dripping
coat. So, when her own baby fell to nursing, the Pup insisted
confidently on sharing the entertainment. The young mother protested,
and drew herself away uneasily, with little threatening grunts; but
the Pup, refusing to believe she was in earnest, pressed his point so
pertinaciously that at length he got his way. When, half an hour
later, the other mother returned to her charge, well filled with fish
and well disposed toward all the world, she showed no discontent at
the situation. She belonged to the tribe of the "Harbor Seals," and,
unlike her pugnacious cousins, the big "Hoods," she was always
inclined towards peace and a good understanding. There was probably
nothing that could have brought the flame of wrath into her confiding
eyes, except an attack upon her young, on whose behalf she would have
faced the sea-serpent himself. Without a moment's question, she joined
the group; and henceforth the cave was the seat of a convenient
partnership in mothers.

It was perhaps a week or two later, when the islands were visited by a
wonderful spell of sun and calm. It was what would have been called,
farther south, Indian summer. All along the ledges, just above the
mark of the diminished surf, the seals lay basking in the glow. The
gulls and mews clamored rapturously, and squabbled with gay zest over
the choicer prizes of their fishing. It appeared to be generally known
that the bears, displeased at the warmth, had withdrawn farther north.
The sea took on strange hues of opal and lilac and thrice-diluted
sapphire. Even the high black cliffs across the charmed water veiled
their harshness in a skyey haze. It was a time for delicious
indolence, for the slackening of vigilance, for the forgetfulness of
peril. And it was just at this very time that it came the young
seal's way to get his first lesson in fear.

He was lying beside his mother, about a dozen feet out from the mouth
of the cave. A few steps away basked his little cave-mate--alone for
the moment, because its mother had flung herself vehemently down the
slope to capture a wounded fish which had just been washed ashore. As
she reached the water's edge, a wide shadow floated across the rocks.
She wheeled like a flash and scrambled frantically up the steep. But
she was too late. She saw the other mothers near by throw their bodies
over those of their young, and lift their faces skyward with bared,
defiant fangs. She saw her own little one, alone in the bright open,
gaze around in helpless bewilderment and alarm. He saw her coming, and
lifting himself on his weak flippers, started towards her with a
little cry. Then came a terrible hissing of wings in the air above,
and he cowered, trembling. The next instant, with a huge buffet of
wind in all the upturned faces, a pair of vast, dark pinions were
outspread above the trembler; great clutching talons reached down and
seized him by neck and back; and his tiny life went out in a throttled
whimper. The nearest seal, the mother of the Pup, reared on her
flippers and lunged savagely at the marauder. But all she got was a
blinding slash of rigid wing-tips across her face. Then, launching
himself from the brink of the slope, the eagle flapped scornfully away
across the water toward the black cliffs, his victim hanging limply
from his claws. And all along the ledges the seals barked furiously
after him.

The Pup, whom death had brushed so closely, could not be persuaded for
hours to leave the shelter of his mother's side, even after she had
led him back to the cave. But now he found himself the exclusive
proprietor of two mothers; for the bereaved dam, thenceforth, was no
less assiduously devoted to him than his own parent. With such care,
and with so abundant nourishment, he throve amazingly, outstripping in
growth all the other youngsters of his age along the ledges. His
terror quickly passed away from him; but the results of the lesson
long remained, in the vigilance with which his glance would sweep the
sky, and question every approach of wings more wide than those of gull
or gannet.

It was not long after this grim chance that the Pup's woolly coat
began to change. A straight, close-lying under-fur pushed swiftly into
view, and the wool dropped out--a process which a certain sense of
irritation in his skin led him to hasten by rubbing his back and
sides against the rock. In an astonishingly short time his coat grew
like his mother's--a yellowish gray, dotted irregularly with blackish
spots, and running to a creamy tone under the belly. As soon as this
change was completed to his mother's satisfaction, he was led down
close to the water's edge, where he had never been allowed before.

Eagerly as he loved the sight of the waves, and the salty savor of
them, when the first thin crest splashed up and soused him he shrank
back daunted. It was colder, too, that first slap in his face, than he
had expected. He turned, intending to retreat a little way up the
rocks and consider the question, in spite of the fact that there was
his little mother in the water, swimming gayly a few feet out from
shore and coaxing him with soft cries. He was anxious to join her--but
not just yet. Then, all at once the question was decided for him. His
real mother, who was just behind him, suddenly thrust her muzzle under
his flank, and sent him rolling into deep water.

He came up at once, much startled. Straightway he found that he could
move in the water much more easily and naturally than on shore--and he
applied the discovery to getting ashore again with all possible
haste. But his mother, awaiting him at the edge, shoved him off
relentlessly.

Feeling much injured, he turned and swam out to his other mother. Here
the first one joined him; and in a few minutes amazement and
resentment alike were lost in delight, as he began to realize that
this, at last, was life. Here, and not sprawling half helplessly on
the rocks, was where he belonged. He swam, and dived, and darted like
a fish, and went wild with childish ecstasy. He had come to his own
element. After this, he hardly ever returned to the cave, but slept
close at the side of one or the other of his mothers, on the open
rocks just a few feet above the edge of tide.

A little later came a period of mad weather, ushering in the autumn
storms. Snow and sleet drove down out of the north, and lay in great
patches over the more level portions of the islets above tide. The
wind seemed as if it would lift the islets bodily and sweep them away.
The vast seas, green and black and lead-color, thundered down upon the
rocks as if they would batter them to fragments. The ledges shuddered
under the incessant crashing. When the snow stopped, on its heels came
the vanguard of the arctic cold. The ice formed instantly in all the
pools left by the tide. Along the edges of the tide it was ground to a
bitter slush by the perpetual churning of the waves.

After a week or two of this violence, the seals--who, unlike their
polar cousins, the "Harps" and the "Hoods," were no great lovers of
storm and the fiercer cold--began to feel discontented. Presently a
little party of them, not more than a score in all, with a few of the
stronger youngsters of that season, on a sudden impulse left their
stormy ledges and started southward. The Pup, who, thanks to his
double mothering, was far bigger and more capable than any of his
mates, went with his partner-mothers in the very forefront of the
migration.

Straight down along the roaring coast they kept, usually at a distance
of not more than half a mile from shore. They had, of course, no
objection to going farther out, but neither had they any object in
doing so, since the fish-life on which they fed as they journeyed was
the more abundant where the sea began to shoal. With their slim,
sleek, rounded bodies, thickest at the fore flippers and tapering
finely to tail and muzzle, each a lithe and close-knit structure of
muscle and nerve-energy, they could swim with astounding speed; and
therefore, although there was no hurry whatever, they went along at
the pace of a motor-boat.

All this time the gale was lashing the coast, but it gave them little
concern. Down in the black troughs of the gigantic rollers there was
always peace from the yelling of the wind--a tranquillity wherein the
gulls and mews would snatch their rest after being buffeted too long
about the sky. Near the tops of the waves, of course, it was not good
to be, for the gale would rip the crests off bodily and tear them into
shreds of whipping spray. But the seals could always dive and slip
smoothly under these tormented regions. Moreover, if weary of the
tossing surfaces and the tumult of the gale, they had only to sink
themselves down, down, into the untroubled gloom beneath the
wave-bases, where greenish lights gleamed or faded with the passing of
the rollers overhead, and where strange, phosphorescent shapes of life
crawled or clung among the silent rocks. Longer than any other
red-blooded animal, except the whale, could their lungs go without
fresh oxygen; so, though they knew nothing of those great depths where
the whales sometimes frequent, it was easy for them to go deep enough
to get below the storm.

Sometimes a break in the coast-line, revealing the mouth of an inlet,
would tempt the little band of migrants. Hastening shoreward, they
would push their way inland between the narrowing banks, often as far
as the head of tide, gambolling in the quiet water, and chasing the
salmon fairly out upon the shoals. Like most discriminating creatures,
they were very fond of salmon, but it was rarely, except on such
occasions as this, that they had a chance to gratify their taste.

After perhaps a week of this southward journeying, the travellers
found themselves one night at the head of a little creek where the
tide lapped pleasantly on a smooth, sandy beach. They were already
getting into milder weather, and here, a half mile inland, there was
no wind. The sky was overcast, and the seals lay in contented security
along the edge of the water. The blacker darkness of a fir forest came
down to within perhaps fifty paces of their resting-place. But they
had no anxieties. The only creatures that they had learned to fear on
shore besides man were the polar bears; and they knew they were now
well south of that deadly hunter's range. As for eagles, they did not
hunt at night; and, moreover, they were a terror only in the
woolly-coated, baby stage of a seal's existence.

But it often enough happens that wild animals, no less than human
beings, may be ignorant of something which their health requires them
to know. There was another bear in Labrador--a smallish, rusty-coated,
broad-headed, crafty cousin of the ordinary American black bear. And
one of these, who had acquired a taste for seal, along with some
cleverness in gratifying that taste, had his headquarters, as it
chanced, in that near-neighboring fir wood.

The Pup lay crowded in snugly between his two mothers. He liked the
warmth of being crowded; for the light breeze, drawing up from the
water, was sharp with frost. There is such a thing, however, as being
just a little too crowded, and presently, waking up with a protest, he
pushed and wriggled to get more space. As he did so, he raised his
head. His keen young eyes fell upon a black something a little blacker
than the surrounding gloom.

The black something was up the slope halfway between the water and the
wood. It looked like a mass of rock. But the Pup had a vague feeling
that there had been no rock thereabouts when he went to sleep. A
thrill of apprehension went up and down his spine, raising the
stiffish hairs along his neck. Staring with all his eyes through the
dimness, he presently saw the black shape move. Yes, it was drawing
nearer. With a shrill little bark of terror he gave the alarm, at the
same time struggling free and hurling himself toward the water.

In that same instant the bear rushed, coming down the slope as it were
in one plunging jump. The seals, light sleepers all, were already
awake and floundering madly back to the water. But for one of them,
and that one the Pup's assistant mother, the alarm came too late. Just
as she was turning, bewildered with terror of she knew not what, the
dark bulk of the bear landed upon her, crushing her down. A terrific
blow on the muzzle broke her skull, and she collapsed into a quivering
mass. The rest of the band, after a moment of loud splashing, swam off
noiselessly for the safe retreat of the outer ledges. And the bear,
after shaking the body of his victim to make sure it was quite dead,
dragged it away with a grunt of satisfaction into the fir wood.

After this tragedy, though the travellers continued to ascend the
creeks and inlets when the whim so moved them, they took care to
choose for sleep the ruder security of outlying rocks and islands,
and cherished, by night and by day, a wholesome distrust of
dark fir woods. But for all their watchfulness their journeying was
care-free and joyous, and from time to time, as they went, their
light-heartedness would break out into aimless gambols, or something
very like a children's game of tag. Nothing, however, checked their
progress southward, and presently, turning into the Belle Isle
Straits, they came to summer skies and softer weather. At this point,
under the guidance of an old male who had followed the southward track
before, they forsook the Labrador shore-line and headed fearlessly out
across the strait till they reached the coast of Newfoundland. This
coast they followed westward till they gained the Gulf of St.
Lawrence, then, turning south, worked their way down the southwest
coast of the great Island Province, past shores still basking in the
amethystine light of Indian summer, through seas so teeming with fish
that they began to grow lazy with fatness. Here the Pup and other
younger members of the company felt inclined to stay. But their elders
knew that winter, with the long cold, and the scanty sun, and the
perilous grinding of tortured ice-floes around the shore-rocks, would
soon be upon them; so the journey was continued. On they pressed,
across the wide gateway of the Gulf, from Cape Ray to North Cape, the
eastern point of Nova Scotia. Good weather still waited upon their
wayfaring, and they loitered onward gayly, till, arriving at the
myriad-islanded bay of the Tuskets, near the westernmost tip of the
peninsula, they could not, for sheer satisfaction, go farther. Here
was safe seclusion, with countless inaccessible retreats. Here was
food in exhaustless plenty; and here was weather benignant enough for
any reasonable needs.

It was just here, off the Tuskets, that the Pup got another lesson.
Hitherto his ideas of danger had been altogether associated with the
land where eagles swooped out of a clear sky and bears skulked in the
darkness, and where, moreover, he himself was incapable of swift
escape. But now he found that the sea, too, held its menace for the
gentle kindred of the seals. It was a still, autumnal morning, blue
and clear, with a sunny sparkle on sea and air. The seals were most of
them basking luxuriously on the seaward ledges of one of the outermost
islands, while half a dozen of the more energetic were amusing
themselves with their game of tag in the deep water. Pausing for a
moment to take breath, after a sharp wrestling-match far down among
the seaweeds, the Pup's observant eyes caught sight of a small, black
triangular object cutting swiftly the smooth surface of the swells.
He stared at it curiously. It was coming towards him, but it did not,
to his uninitiated eyes, look dangerous. Then he became conscious of a
scurrying of alarm all about him; and cries of sharp warning reached
him from the sentinels on the ledge. Like a flash he dived, at an
acute angle to the line of approach of the mysterious black object.
Even in the instant, it was close upon him, and he caught sight of a
long, terrible, gray shape, thrice as long as a seal, which turned on
one side in its rush, showing a whitish belly, and a gaping,
saw-toothed mouth big enough to take him in at one gulp. Only by a
hair's-breadth did he avoid that awful rush, carrying with him as he
passed the sound of the snapping jaws and the cold gleam of the
shark's small, malignant eye.

Hideously frightened, he doubled this way and that, with a nimbleness
that his huge pursuer could not hope to match. It took the shark but a
few seconds to realize that this was a vain chase. An easier quarry
caught his eye. He darted straight shoreward, where the deep water ran
in abruptly to the very lip of the ledge. The Pup came to the surface
to watch. One of the younger seals, losing its wits utterly with
fright, and forgetting that its safety lay in the deep water where it
could twist and dodge, was struggling frantically to clamber out upon
the rocks. It had almost succeeded, indeed. It was just drawing up its
narrow, tail-like hind flippers, when the great, rounded snout of the
shark shot into the air above it. The monstrous shape descended upon
it, and fell back with it into the water, leaving only a splash and
trickle of blood upon the lip of the ledge. The other seals tossed
their heads wildly, jumped about on their fore-flippers, and barked in
lively dismay; and in a few moments, as if the matter had been put to
vote and carried unanimously, they betook themselves in haste to one
of the inner islands, where they knew that the shark, who hates shoal
water, would not venture to follow them.

In this sheltered archipelago the little herd might well have passed
the winter. But after a few weeks of content the southing spirit again
seized upon the old male who had hitherto been the unquestioned
leader. At this point, however, his authority went to pieces. When he
resumed the southward wandering, less than half the herd accompanied
him. But among those faithful were the Pup and his mild-eyed mother.

Rounding the extremity of Nova Scotia, the travellers crossed the
wide mouth of the Bay of Fundy, and lingered a few days about the
lofty headlands of Grand Manan. By this time they had grown so
accustomed to ships of all kinds, from the white-sailed fishing-smack
to the long, black, churning bulk of the ocean liner, that they no
longer heeded them any more than enough to give them a wide berth. One
and all, these strange apparitions appeared quite indifferent to
seals, so very soon the seals became almost indifferent to them. Off
the island of Campobello, however, something mysterious occurred which
put an end to this indifference, although none of the band could
comprehend it.

A beautiful, swift, white craft, with yellow gleams flashing here and
there from her deck as the sun caught her polished brasswork, was
cleaving the light waves northward. The seals, their round, dark heads
bobbing above the water at a distance of perhaps three hundred yards
from her port-quarter, gazed at the spectacle with childlike interest.
They saw a group of men eying them from the deck of the swift monster.
All at once from this group spurted two thin jets of flame. The Pup
heard some tiny vicious thing go close over his head with a cruel
whine, and _zip_ sharply through a wave-crest just beyond. On the
instant, even before the sharp clatter of the two reports came to
their ears, all the seals dived, and swam desperately to get as far
away as possible from the terrifying bright monster. When they came to
the surface again, they were far out of range. But the restless old
male, their leader, was not among them. The white yacht was steaming
away into the distance, with its so-called sportsmen congratulating
themselves that they had almost certainly killed something. The little
band of seals waited about the spot for an hour or two, expecting the
return of their chief; and then, puzzled and apprehensive, swam away
toward the green-crested shore-line of Maine.

Here, lacking a leader, their migration came to an end. There seemed
no reason to go farther, since here was everything they wanted. The
Pup, by this time an expert pursuer of all but the swiftest fish, was
less careful now to keep always within his mother's reach, though the
affection between the two was still ardent. One day, while he was
swimming some little distance apart from the herd, he noticed a
black-hulled boat rocking idly on the swells near by. It was too near
for his comfort, so he dived at once, intending to seek a safer
neighborhood. But as luck would have it, he had hardly plunged below
the surface when he encountered an enormous school of young herring.
What throngs of them there were! And how crowded together! Never had
he seen anything like it. They were darting this way and that in
terrific excitement. He himself went wild at once, dashing hither and
thither among them with snapping jaws, destroying many more than he
could eat. And still they seemed to throng about him ever the more
closely. At last he got tired of it, and dashed straight ahead to
clear the shoal. The next moment, to his immeasurable astonishment, he
was checked and flung back by a fine, invisible barrier. No, it was
not quite invisible. He could see a network of meshes before him.
Puzzled and alarmed, he shot up to the surface to reconnoitre.

As his head rose above the water, his heart fairly stopped for a
second with dismay. The black side of the fishing boat was just above
him, and the terrifying eyes of men looked straight down into his.
Instantly he dived again, through the ever thickening masses of the
herring. But straightway again he met the fine, invincible barrier of
the net. Frantically he struggled to break through it, but only
succeeded in coiling it about him till he could not move a flipper.
And while he wriggled there impotently, under the squirming myriads of
the fish, he was lifted out into the air and dragged into the boat.

Seeing the damage he had wrought in their catch, the fishermen were
for knocking their captive straightway on the nose. But as he lay
there, looking up with innocent eyes of wonder and appeal through the
meshes, something in his baby helplessness softened the captain's
heart.

"Hold hard, Jim," he ordered, staying a big sailor's hand. "Blamed if
the little varmint ain't got eyes most as soft as my Libby's. I reckon
he'll make a right purty pet fer the kid, an' kind of keep her from
frettin' after her canary what died last Sunday."

"He don't much resemble a canary, Ephraim," laughed Jim, dropping the
belaying-pin.

"I reckon he'll fill the bill fine, all the same," said the captain.

So the Pup was carried prisoner to Eastport.



CHAPTER II


As it happened, Miss Libby was a child of decided views. One of the
most decided of her views proved to be that a seal pup, with very
little voice and that little by no means melodious, was no substitute
for a canary. She refused to look at the Pup at all, until her father,
much disappointed, assured her that she should have a canary also
without further delay. And even then, though she could not remain
quite indifferent to the Pup's soft eyes and confiding friendliness,
she never developed any real enthusiasm for him. She would minister
amiably to his wants, and laugh at his antics, and praise his good
temper, and stroke his sleek, round head, but she stuck resolutely to
her first notion, that he was quite too "queer" for her to really
love. She could never approve of his having flippers instead of fore
paws, and of his lying down all the time even when he walked. As for
his hind feet, which stuck out always straight behind him and close
together, like a sort of double-barrelled tail, she was quite sure
they had been fixed that way by mistake, and she could not, in spite
of all her father's explanations as to the advantages, for a seal, of
that arrangement, ever bring herself to accept them as normal.

Miss Libby's mother proved even less cordial. Her notions of natural
history being of the most primitive, at first view she had jumped to
the conclusion that the Pup was a species of fish; and in this opinion
nothing could ever shake her.

"Well, I never!" she had exclaimed. "If that ain't just like you, Eph
Barnes. As if it wa'n't enough to have to eat fish, an' talk fish, an'
smell fish, year in an' year out, but you must go an' bring a live
fish home to flop aroun' the house an' keep gittin' under a body's
feet every way they turn! An' what's he goin' to eat, anyways, I'd
like to know?"

"He eats _fish_, but he ain't no manner of fish himself, mother, no
more than you nor I be!" explained Captain Ephraim, with a grin. "An'
he won't be in your way a mite, for he'll live out in the yard, an'
I'll sink the half of a molasses hogshead out there an' fill it with
salt water for him to play in. He's an amusin' little beggar, an'
gentle as a kitten."

"Well, I'd have you know that _I_ wash my hands of him, Ephraim!"
declared Mrs. Barnes, with emphasis. And so it came about that the
Pup presently found himself, not Libby's special pet, but Captain
Ephraim's.

Two important members of the Barnes family were a large yellow cat and
a small, tangle-haired, blue-gray mop of a Skye terrier. At the first
glimpse of the Pup, the yellow cat had fled, with tail as big as a
bottle-brush, to the top of the kitchen dresser, where she crouched
growling, with eyes like green full moons. The terrier, on the other
hand, whose name was Toby, had shown himself rather hospitable to the
mild-eyed stranger. Unacquainted with fear, and always inclined to be
scornful of whatever conduct the yellow cat might indulge in, he had
approached the newcomer with a friendly wagging of his long-haired
stump of a tail, and sniffed at him with pleased curiosity. The Pup,
his lonely heart hungering for comradeship, had met this civil advance
with effusion; and thenceforward the two were fast friends.

By the time the yellow cat and Mrs. Barnes had both got over regarding
the Pup as a stranger, he had become an object of rather distant
interest to them. When he played at wrestling matches with Toby in the
yard,--which always ended by the Pup rolling indulgently on his back,
while Toby, with yelps of excitement, mounted triumphantly between
his fanning flippers,--the yellow cat would crouch upon the woodpile
close by and regard the proceedings with intent but non-committal eye.
Mrs. Barnes, for her part, would open the kitchen door and
surreptitiously coax the Pup in, with the lure of a dish of warm milk,
which he loved extravagantly. Then--this being while Libby was at
school and Captain Ephraim away on the water--she would seat herself
in the rocking-chair by the window with her knitting and watch the Pup
and Toby at their play. The young seal was an endless source of
speculation to her.

"To think, now," she would mutter to herself, "that I'd be a-settin'
here day after day a-studyin' out a critter like that, what's no
more'n jest plain _fish_ says I, if he _do_ flop roun' the house an'
drink milk like a cat. He's right uncanny; but there ain't no denyin'
but what he's as good as a circus when he gits to playin' with Toby."

As Mrs. Barnes had a very good opinion of Toby's intelligence,
declaring him to be the smartest dog in Maine, she gradually imbibed a
certain degree of respect for Toby's friend. And so it came about that
the Pup acquired a taste which no seal was ever intended to
acquire--a taste for the luxurious glow of the kitchen fire.

When at last the real Atlantic winter had settled down upon the coast,
binding it with bitter frost and scourging it with storm, then Captain
Ephraim spent most of his time at home in his snug cottage. He had
once, on a flying visit to New York, seen a troupe of performing
seals, which had opened his eyes to the marvellous intelligence of
these amphibians. It now became his chief occupation, in the long
winter evenings, to teach tricks to the Pup. And stimulated by
abundant prizes in the shape of fresh herrings and warm milk, right
generously did the Pup respond. He learned so fast that before spring
the accomplished Toby was outstripped; and as for the canary,--an
aristocratic golden fellow who had come all the way from Boston,--Miss
Libby was constrained to admit that, except when it came to a question
of singing, her pet was "not in it" with her father's. Mrs. Barnes'
verdict was that "canaries seemed more natural-like, but couldn't
rightly be called so interestin'."

Between Libby and her father there was always a lot of gay banter
going on, and now Captain Ephraim declared that he would teach the Pup
to sing as well as the canary. The obliging animal had already
acquired a repertoire of tricks that would have made him something of
a star in any troupe. The new demand upon his wits did not disturb
him, so long as it meant more fish, more milk, and more petting.
Captain Ephraim took a large tin bucket, turned it upside down on the
floor, and made the Pup rest his chest upon the bottom. Then, tying a
tin plate to each flipper, he taught the animal to pound the plates
vigorously against the sides of the bucket, with a noise that put the
shrill canary to shamefaced silence and drove the yellow cat in
frantic amazement from the kitchen. This lesson it took weeks to
perfect, because the Pup himself always seemed mortified at the
blatant discords which he made. When it was all achieved, however, it
was not singing, but mere instrumental music, as Libby triumphantly
proclaimed. Her father straightway swore that he was not to be downed
by any canary. A few weeks more, and he had taught the Pup to point
his muzzle skyward and emit long, agonizing groans, the while he kept
flapping the two tin plates against the bucket. It was a wonderful
achievement, which made Toby retreat behind the kitchen stove and gaze
forth upon his friend with grieved surprise. But it obliged Libby, who
was a fair-minded child, to confess to her father that she and her
pet were vanquished.

All this while the Pup was growing, as perhaps no harbor seal of his
months had grown before. When spring came, he saw less of Captain
Ephraim, but he had compensation, for the good captain now diverted
into his modest grounds a no-account little brook which was going
begging, and dug a snug little basin at the foot of the garden for the
Pup to disport himself therein. All through the summer he continued to
grow and was happy, playing with Toby, offending the yellow cat,
amusing Miss Libby, and affording food for speculation to Mrs. Barnes
over her knitting. In the winter Captain Ephraim polished him up in
his old tricks, and taught him some new ones. But by this time he had
grown so big that Mrs. Barnes began to grumble at him for taking up
too much room. He was, as ever, a model of confiding amiability, in
spite of his ample jaws and formidable teeth. But one day toward
spring he showed that this good nature of his would not stand the test
of seeing a friend ill-used.

It happened in this way. Toby, who was an impudent little dog, had
managed to incur the enmity of a vicious half-breed mastiff, which
lived on a farm some distance out of Eastport. The brute was known to
have killed several smaller dogs; so whenever he passed the Barnes'
gate, and snarled his threats at Toby, Toby would content himself with
a scornful growl from the doorstep.

But one morning, as the big mongrel went by at the tail of his
master's sled, Toby chanced to be very busy in the snow near the gate
digging up a precious buried bone. The big dog crept up on tiptoe, and
went over the gate with a scrambling bound. Toby had just time to lift
his shaggy little head out of the snow and turn to face the assault.
His heart was great, and there was no terror in the growl with which
he darted under the foe's huge body and sank his teeth strategically
into the nearest hind paw. But the life would have been crushed out of
him in half a minute, had not the Pup, at this critical juncture, come
flopping up awkwardly to see how his little friend was faring.

Now the Pup, as we have seen, was simply overflowing with good-will
towards dogs, and cats, and every one. But that was because he thought
they were all friendly. He was amazed to find here a dog that seemed
unfriendly. Then all at once he realized that something very serious
was happening to his playmate. His eyes reddened and blazed; and with
one mighty lunge he flung himself forward upon the enemy. With that
terrific speed of action which could snap up a darting mackerel, he
caught the mastiff in the neck, close behind the jaw. His teeth were
built to hold the writhings of the biggest salmon, and his grip was
that of a bulldog--except that it cut far deeper.

The mastiff yelped, snapped wildly at his strange antagonist, and
then, finding himself held so that he could not by any possibility get
a grip, strove to leap into the air and shake his assailant off. But
the Pup held him down inexorably, his long teeth cutting deeper and
deeper with every struggle. For perhaps half a minute the fight
continued, the mad contortions of the entangled three (for Toby still
clung to his grip on the foe's hind paw) tearing up the snow for a
dozen feet in every direction. The snow was flecked with crimson,--but
suddenly, with a throbbing gush, it was flooded scarlet. The Pup's
teeth had torn through the great artery of his opponent's neck. With a
cough the brute fell over, limp and unresisting as a half-filled bran
sack.

At this moment the mastiff's owner, belatedly aware that the tables
were being turned on his vicious favorite, came yelling and cursing
over the gate, brandishing a sled stake in his hands. But at the same
time arrived Captain Ephraim, rushing bareheaded from the kitchen, and
stepped in front of the new arrival. One glance had shown him that the
fight was over.

"Hold hard there, Baiseley!" he ordered in curt tones. Then he
continued more slowly--"It ain't no use makin' a fuss. That murderin'
brute of yourn begun it, an' come into my yard to kill my own little
tike here. He's got just what he deserved. An' if the Pup here hadn't
'a' done it, I'd 'a' done it myself. See?"

Baiseley, like his mongrel follower, was a bully. But he had
discretion. He calmed down.

"That there dog o' mine, Captain Ephraim, was a good dog, an' worth
money. I reckon ye'll hev to pay me ten dollars for that dog, an'
we'll call it square."

"Reckon I'll have to owe it to ye, Hank! Mebbe I'll pay it some day
when you git han'somer 'n you are now!" laughed Captain Ephraim dryly.
He gave a piercing whistle through his teeth. Straightway Toby, sadly
bedraggled, came limping up to him. The Pup let go of his dead enemy,
and lifted his head to eye his master inquiringly. His whole front was
streaming with blood.

"Go wash yerself!" ordered the captain picking up a chip and hurling
it into the pond, which was now half empty of ice.

The Pup floundered off obediently to get the chip, and Baiseley,
muttering inarticulate abuse, slouched away to his sled.



CHAPTER III


Toward the end of April there came a great change in the Pup's
affairs. Primarily, the change was in Captain Ephraim's. Promoted to
the command of a smart schooner engaged in cod-fishing on the Grand
Banks, he sold his cottage at Eastport and removed his family to
Gloucester, Massachusetts. At the same time, recognizing with many a
pang that a city like Gloucester was no place for him to keep a seal
in, he sold the Pup, at a most consoling price indeed, to the agent of
an English animal trainer. With the prospect of shortly becoming the
cynosure of all eyes at Shepherd's Bush or Earl's Court, the Pup was
shipped on a freighter for Liverpool.

With his pervasive friendliness, and seeking solace for the absence of
Toby and Captain Ephraim, the Pup proved a most privileged and popular
passenger. All went well till the ship came off Cape Race,
Newfoundland. Then that treacherous and implacable promontory made
haste to justify its reputation; and in a blind sou'wester the ship
was driven on the ledges. While she was pounding to pieces, the crew
got away in their boats, and presently the Pup found himself reviving
half-forgotten memories amid the buffeting of the huge Atlantic
rollers.

He felt amazingly at home, but very lonely. Bobbing his head as high
as he could above the water, he stared about him in every direction,
dimly hoping to catch sight of Captain Ephraim or Toby--or even of the
unsociable yellow cat. They were nowhere to be seen. Well, company he
must have. After fish, of which there was no lack in those teeming
waters, company was his urgent demand. He headed impatiently for the
coast, which he could not see indeed, but which he felt clearly in the
distance.

The first land he encountered was a high hogback of rock which proved
to be an island. Swimming around under its lea, he ran into a little
herd of seals of his own kind, and hastened confidently to fraternize
with them.

The strangers, mostly females and young males, met his advances with a
good-natured indifference. One of the herd, however, a big dog-seal
who seemed to consider himself the chief, would have none of him, but
grumbled and showed his teeth in a most unpleasant manner. The Pup
avoided him politely, and crawled out upon the rocks, about twenty
feet away, beside two friendly females. He wanted to get acquainted,
that was all. But the old male, after grumbling for several minutes,
got himself worked up into a rage, and came floundering over the rocks
to do up the visitor. Roughly he pushed the two complaisant females
off into the water, and then, with a savage lunge, he fell upon the
Pup.

But in this last step the old male was ill-advised. Hitherto the Pup
had felt diffident in the face of such a reception, but now a sudden
red rage flared into his eyes. Young as he was, he was as big as his
antagonist, and, here on land, a dozen times more nimble. Here came in
the advantage of Captain Ephraim's training. When the old male lunged
upon him, he simply wasn't there. He had shot aside, and wheeled like
a flash, and secured a hold at the root of his assailant's flipper. Of
course in this position he too received some sharp punishment. But he
held on like a bulldog, worrying, worrying mercilessly, till all at
once the other squealed, and threw up his muzzle, and struggled to get
away. The Pup, satisfied with this sign of submission, let him go at
once, and he flounced off furiously into the water.

As a prompt result of this victory, the Pup found himself undisputed
leader of the little herd, his late antagonist, after a vain effort to
effect a division, having slipped indolently into a subordinate place.
This suited the Pup exactly, who was happy himself, and wanted
everybody else to be so likewise.

As spring advanced, the herd worked their way northward along the
Newfoundland coast, sometimes journeying hurriedly, sometimes
lingering for days in the uninhabited inlets and creek mouths. The Pup
was in a kind of ecstasy over his return to the water world, and
indulged in antics that seemed perhaps frivolous in the head of so
important a family. But once in a while a qualm of homesickness would
come over him, for Toby, and the Captain, and a big tin basin of warm
milk. And in one of these moods he was suddenly confronted by men.

The herd was loitering off a point which marked the entrance to a
shallow cove, when round the jutting rocks slid a row-boat, with two
fishermen coming out to set lines. They had no guns with them,
fortunately. They saw the seals dive and vanish at the first glimpse
of them, as was natural. But to their amazement, one seal--the
biggest, to their astonished eyes, in the whole North Atlantic--did
not vanish with the rest. Instead of that, after eying them
fearlessly at a distance of some fifty feet, he swam deliberately
straight toward them.

Now there is nothing very terrifying, except to a fish, in the aspect
of even the biggest harbor seal; but to these fishermen, who knew the
shyness of the seals, it was terrifying to the last degree that one
should conduct himself in this unheard-of way. They stopped rowing,
and stared with superstitious eyes.

"Howly Mother!" gasped one, "that b'ain't no seal, Mike!"

"What d'ye s'pose he wants wid us, Barney, annyhow?" demanded Mike, in
an awed voice.

"Sure, an' it's a _sign_ for the one or t'other of us. It's gittin'
back to shore we'd better be," suggested Barney, pulling round hard on
the bow oar.

As the mysterious visitor was still advancing, this counsel highly
commended itself to Mike, who would have faced a polar bear with no
weapon but his oar, but had no stomach for a parley with the
supernatural. In another moment the boat was rushing back up the cove
with all the speed their practised muscles could impart. But still,
swimming leisurely in their wake, with what seemed to them a dreadful
deliberation, the Pup came after them.

"Don't ye be comin' nigh _me_!" cried Mike, somewhat hysterically, "or
I'll bash yer face wid the oar, mind!"

"Whisht!" said Barney, "don't ye be after talkin' that way to a
sperrit, or maybe he'll blast ye!"

"I'm thinkin', now," said Mike, presently, in a hushed voice, "as
maybe it be Dan Sheedy's sperrit, comin' back to ha'nt me coz I didn't
give up them boots o' his to his b'y, accordin' to me promise."

"Shure an' why not that?" agreed Barney, cheered by the hope that the
visitation was not meant for him.

A moment more and the boat reached the beach with an abruptness that
hurled both rowers from their seats. Scrambling out upon the shingle,
they tugged wildly at the boat to draw her up. But the Pup, his eyes
beaming affection, was almost on their heels. With a yell of dismay
Mike dashed up the shore toward their shack; but Barney, having less
on his conscience, delayed to snatch out of the bow the precious tin
pail in which they carried their bait. Then he followed Mike. But
looking back over his shoulder, he saw his mysterious pursuer ascend
from the water and come flopping up the shore at a pace which
assuredly no _mortal_ seal could ever accomplish on dry land. At that
he fell over a boulder, dropped the pail of bait, picked himself up
with a startled yell, and made a dash for the shack as if all the
fiends were chasing him.

Slamming the door behind them, the two stared fearfully out of the
window. Their guns, loaded with slugs, leaned against the wall, but
they would never be guilty of such perilous impiety as to use them.

When he came to the tin pail and the spilled bait the Pup was pleased.
He knew very well what the pail was for, and what the men expected of
him. He had no objection to being paid in advance, so he gobbled the
bait at once. It was not much, but he had great hopes that, if he
acquitted himself well, he might get a pan of warm milk. Cheerfully he
hoisted his massive chest upon the pail, and then, pounding jerkily
with his flippers as hard as he could, he lifted his muzzle heavenward
and delivered himself of a series of prolonged and anguished groans.

This was too much for his audience.

"Howly Mother, save us!" sobbed Barney, dropping upon his knees, and
scrabbling desperately in his untidy memory for some fragments of his
childhood's prayers.

"Don't, Dan, don't!" pleaded Mike, gazing out with wild eyes at the
Pup's mystical performance. "I'll give back them boots to the b'y.
I'll give 'em back, Dan! Let me be now, won't 'ee, old mate?"

Thus adjured, the Pup presently stopped, and stared expectantly at the
shack, awaiting the pan of warm milk. When it did not come, he was
disgusted. He had never been kept waiting this way before. These men
were not like Captain Ephraim. In a minute or two he rolled off the
pail, flopped heavily down the beach, and plunged back indignantly
into the sea. As his dark head grew smaller and smaller in the
distance, the men in the shack threw open the door, and came out as if
they needed fresh air.

"I always _said_ as how Dan had a good heart," muttered Mike, in a
shaken voice. "An' shure, now, ye see, Barney, he ain't after bearin'
no grudge."

"But ye'll be takin' back them boots to young Dan, this very day of
our lives," urged Barney. "An' ye'll be after makin' it all right wid
the Widdy Sheedy, afore ye're a day older, now."

"Shure, an' to wanst ain't none too quick for me, an' me receavin' a
hint loike that!" agreed Mike.

As for the Pup, after this shock to his faith in man, he began to
forget the days of his comfortable captivity. His own kind proved
vastly interesting to him, and in a few weeks his reversion was
complete. By that time his journeyings had led him, with his little
herd, far up the coast of Labrador. At last he came to a chain of
rocky islands, lying off a black and desolate coast. The islands were
full of caves, and clamorous with sea-birds, and trodden forever by a
white and shuddering surf. Here old memories stirred dimly but sweetly
within him--and here he brought his wanderers to rest.



LONE WOLF



LONE WOLF

CHAPTER I


Not, like his grim ancestors for a thousand generations, in some dark
cave of the hills was he whelped, but in a narrow iron cage littered
with straw. Two brothers and a sister made at the same time a like
inauspicious entrance upon an alien and fettered existence. And
because their silent, untamable mother loved too savagely the
hereditary freedom of her race to endure the thought of bearing her
young into a life of bondage, she would have killed them mercifully,
even while their blind baby mouths were groping for her breasts. But
the watchful keeper forestalled her. Whelps of the great gray timber
wolf, born in captivity, and therefore likely to be docile, were rare
and precious. The four little sprawlers, helpless and hungrily
whimpering, were given into the care of a foster-mother, a sorrowing
brown spaniel bitch who had just been robbed of her own puppies.

When old enough to be weaned, the two brothers and the sister, sturdy
and sleek as any wolf cubs of the hills, were sold to a dealer in wild
animals, who carried them off to Hamburg. But "Lone Wolf," as Toomey,
the trainer, had already named him, stayed with the circus. He was the
biggest, the most intelligent, and the most teachable cub of the whole
litter, and Toomey, who had an unerring eye for quality in a beast,
expected to make of him a star performer among wolves.

Job Toomey had been a hunter and a trapper in the backwoods of New
Brunswick, where his instinctive knowledge of the wild kindreds had
won him a success which presently sickened him. His heart revolted
against the slaughter of the creatures which he found so interesting,
and for a time, his occupation gone, he had drifted aimlessly about
the settlements. Then, at the performance of a travelling circus,
which boasted two trained bears and a little trick elephant, he had
got his cue. It was borne in upon him that he was meant to be an
animal trainer. Then and there he joined the circus at a nominal wage,
and within six months found himself an acknowledged indispensable. In
less than a year he had become a well-known trainer, employed in one
of the biggest menageries of America. Not only for his wonderful
comprehension and command of animals was he noted, but also for his
pose, to which he clung obstinately, of giving his performances always
in the homespun garb of a backwoodsman, instead of in the conventional
evening dress.

"Lone Wolf!" It seemed a somewhat imaginative name for the prison-born
whelp, but as he grew out of cub-hood his character and his stature
alike seemed to justify it. Influenced by the example of his gentle
foster-mother, he was docility itself toward his tamer, whom he came
to love well after the reticent fashion of his race. But toward all
others, man and beast alike, his reserve was cold and dangerous.
Toomey, apparently, absorbed all the affection which his lonely nature
had to spare. In return for this singleness of regard, Toomey trained
him with a firm patience which never forgot to be kind, and made him,
by the time he was three years old, quite the cleverest and most
distinguished performing wolf who had ever adorned a show.

He was now as tall as the very tallest Great Dane, but with a depth of
shoulder and chest, a punishing length and strength of jaw, that no
dog ever could boast. When he looked at Toomey, his eyes wore the
expression of a faithful and understanding follower; but when he
answered the stares of the crowd through the bars of his cage, the
greenish fire that flamed in their inscrutable depths was ominous and
untamed. In all save his willing subjection to Toomey's mastery, he
was a true wolf, of the savage and gigantic breed of the Northwestern
timber. To the spectators this was aggressively obvious; and therefore
the marvel of seeing this sinister gray beast, with the murderous
fangs, so submissive to Toomey's gentlest bidding, never grew stale.
In every audience there were always some spectators hopefully
pessimistic, who vowed that the great wolf would some day turn upon
his master and tear his throat. To be sure, Lone Wolf was not by any
means the only beast whom the backwoodsman had performing for the
delectation of his audiences. But all the others--the lions, the
leopards, the tiger, the elephant, the two zebras, and the white
bear--seemed really subdued, as it were hypnotized into harmlessness.
It was Lone Wolf only who kept the air of having never yielded up his
spirit, of being always, in some way, not the slave but the free
collaborator.

Ordinarily, in spite of the wild fire smouldering in his veins, Lone
Wolf was well enough content. The show was so big and so important
that it was accustomed to visit only the great centres, and to make
long stops at each place. At such times his life contained some
measure of freedom. He would be given a frequent chance of exercise,
in some secure enclosure where he could run, and jump, and stretch his
mighty muscles, and breathe deep. And not infrequently--after dark as
a rule--his master would snap a massive chain upon his collar, and
lead him out, on leash like a dog, into the verdurous freshness of
park or country lane. But when the show was on tour, then it was very
different. Lone Wolf hated fiercely the narrow cage in which he had to
travel. He hated the harsh, incessant noise of the grinding rails, the
swaying and lurching of the trucks, the dizzying procession of the
landscape past the barred slits which served as windows to his car.
Moreover, sometimes the unwieldy length of the circus train would be
halted for an hour or two on some forest siding, to let the regular
traffic of the line go by. Then, as his wondering eyes caught glimpses
of shadowed glades, and mysterious wooded aisles, and far-off hills
and horizons, or wild, pungent smells of fir thicket and cedar swamp
drew in upon the wind to his uplifted nostrils, his veins would run
hot with an uncomprehended but savage longing for delights which he
had never known, for a freedom of which he had never learned or
guessed. At such times his muscles would ache and quiver, till he felt
like dashing himself blindly against his bars. And if the halt
happened to take place at night, with perhaps a white moon staring in
upon him from over a naked hill-top, he would lift his lean muzzle
straight up toward the roof of his cage and give utterance to a
terrible sound of which he knew not the meaning, the long, shrill
gathering cry of the pack. This would rouse all the other beasts to a
frenzy of wails and screeches and growls and roars; till Toomey would
have to come and stop his performance by darkening the cage with a
tarpaulin. At the sound of Toomey's voice, soothing yet overmastering,
the great wolf would lie down quietly, and the ghostly summons of his
far-ravaging fathers would haunt his spirit no more.

After one of these long journeys, the show was halted at an inland
city for a stop of many weeks; and to house the show a cluster of
wooden shanties was run up on the outskirts of the city, forming a
sort of mushroom village flanked by the great white exhibition tents.
In one of these shanties, near the centre of the cluster, Lone Wolf's
cage was sheltered, along with the cages of the puma, the leopard,
and the little black Himalayan bear. Immediately adjoining this shanty
was the spacious open shed where the elephants were tethered.

That same night, a little before dawn, when the wearied attendants
were sleeping heavily, Lone Wolf's nostrils caught a strange smell
which made him spring to his feet and sniff anxiously at the suddenly
acrid air. A strange reddish glow was dispersing the dark outside his
window. From the other cages came uneasy mutterings and movements, and
the little black bear, who was very wise, began to whine. The dull
glow leaped into a glare and then the elephants trumpeted the alarm.
Instantly the night was loud with shoutings, and tramplings, and
howlings, and rushings to and fro. A cloud of choking smoke blew into
Lone Wolf's cage, making him cough and wonder anxiously why Toomey
didn't come. The next moment Toomey came, with one of the keepers, and
an elephant. Frantically they began pushing and dragging out the
cages. But there was a wind; and before the first cage, that of the
puma, was more than clear of the door, the flames were on top of them
like a leaping tiger. Panic-stricken, the elephant screamed and
bolted. The keeper, shouting, "We can't save any more in this house.
Let's git the lions out!" made off with one arm over his eyes,
doggedly dragging the heavy cage of the puma. The keeper was right. He
had his work cut out for him, as it was, to save the screeching puma.
As for Toomey, his escape was already almost cut off. But he could not
endure to save himself without giving the imprisoned beasts a chance
for their lives. Dashing at the three remaining cages, he tore them
open; and then, with a summons to Lone Wolf to follow him, he threw
his arms over his face and dashed through the flames.

The three animals sprang out at once into the middle of the floor, but
their position seemed already hopeless. The leopard, thoroughly cowed,
leaped back into his cage and curled up in the farthest corner,
spitting insanely. Lone Wolf dashed at the door by which Toomey had
fled, but a whirl of flame in his face drove him back to the middle of
the floor, where the little bear stood whimpering. Just at this moment
a massive torrent of water from a fire engine crashed through the
window, drenching Lone Wolf, and knocking the bear clean over. The
beneficent stream was whisked away again in an instant, having work to
do elsewhere than on this already doomed and hopeless shed. But to the
wise little bear it had shown a way of escape. Out through the window
he scurried, and Lone Wolf went after him in one tremendous leap just
as the flames swooped in and licked the floor clean, and slew the
huddled leopard in its cage.

Outside, in the awful heat, the alternations of dazzling glare and
blinding smoke, the tumult of the shouting and the engines, the roar
of the flames, the ripping crash of the streams, and the cries of the
beasts, Lone Wolf found himself utterly confused. But he trusted, for
some reason, to the sagacity of the bear, and followed his shaggy
form, bearing diagonally up and across the wind. Presently a cyclone
of suffocating smoke enveloped him, and he lost his guide. But
straight ahead he darted, stretched out at top speed, belly to the
ground, and in another moment he emerged into the clear air. His eyes
smarting savagely, his nose and lips scorched, his wet fur singed, he
hardly realized at first his escape, but raced straight on across the
fields for several hundred yards. Then, at the edge of a wood, he
stopped and looked back. The little bear was nowhere to be seen. The
night wind here blew deliciously cool upon his face. But there was the
mad red monster, roaring and raging still as if it would eat up the
world. The terror of it was in his veins. He sprang into the covert
of the wood, and ran wildly, with the one impulse to get as far away
as possible.

Before he had gone two miles, he came out upon an open country of
fields, and pastures, and farmyards, and little thickets. Straight on
he galloped, through the gardens and the farmyards as well as the open
fields. In the pastures the cattle, roused by the glare in the sky,
stamped and snorted at him as he passed, and now and then a man's
voice yelled at him angrily as his long form tore through flowerbeds
or trellised vines. He had no idea of avoiding the farmhouses, for he
had at first no fear of men; but at length an alert farmer got a long
shot at him with a fowling-piece, and two or three small leaden
pellets caught him in the hind quarters. They did not go deep enough
to do him serious harm, but they hurt enough to teach him that men
were dangerous. Thereupon he swerved from the uncompromising straight
line of his flight, and made for the waste places. When the light of
the fire had quite died out behind him, the first of the dawn was
creeping up the sky; and by this time he had come to a barren region
of low thickets, ragged woods, and rocks thrusting up through a
meagre, whitish soil.

Till the sun was some hours high Lone Wolf pressed on, his terror of
the fire now lost in a sense of delighted freedom. By this time he was
growing hungry, and for an instant the impulse seized him to turn back
and seek his master. But no, that way lay the scorching of the flames.
Instead of turning, he ran on all the faster. Suddenly a rabbit
bounded up, almost beneath his nose. Hitherto he had never tasted
living prey, but with a sure instinct he sprang after the rabbit. To
his fierce disappointment, however, the nimble little beast was so
inconsiderate as to take refuge in a dense bramble thicket which he
could not penetrate. His muzzle, smarting and tender from the fire,
could not endure the harsh prickles, so after prowling about the
thicket for a half-hour in the wistful hope that the rabbit might come
out, he resumed his journey. He had no idea, of course, where he
wanted to go, but he felt that there must be a place somewhere where
there were plenty of rabbits and no bramble thickets.

Late in the afternoon he came upon the fringes of a settlement, which
he skirted with caution. In a remote pasture field, among rough
hillocks and gnarled, fire-scarred stumps, he ran suddenly into a
flock of sheep. For a moment he was puzzled at the sight, but the
prompt flight of the startled animals suggested pursuit. In a moment
he had borne down the hindermost. To reach for its throat was a sure
instinct, and he feasted, with a growing zest of savagery, upon the
hot flesh. Before he realized it, he was dragging the substantial
remnant of his meal to a place of hiding under an overhanging rock.
Then, well content with himself, he crept into a dark thicket and
slept for several hours.

When he awoke, a new-risen moon was shining, with something in her
light which half bewildered him, half stung him to uncomprehended
desires. Skulking to the crest of a naked knoll, he saw the landscape
spread out all around him, with the few twinkling lights of the
straggling village below the slopes of the pasture. But not for
lights, or for villages, or for men was his concern. Sitting up very
straight on his gaunt haunches, he stretched his muzzle toward the
taunting moon, and began to sound that long, dreadful gathering cry of
his race.

It was an unknown or a long-forgotten voice in those neighborhoods,
but none who heard it needed to have it explained. In half a minute
every dog in the settlement was howling, barking, or yelping, in rage
or fear. To Lone Wolf all this clamor was as nothing. He paid no more
attention to it than as if it had been the twittering of sparrows.
Then doors opened, and lights flashed as men came out to see what was
the matter. Clearly visible, silhouetted against the low moon, Lone
Wolf kept up his sinister chant to the unseen. But presently, out of
the corner of his eye, he noted half a dozen men approaching up the
pasture, with the noisy dogs at their heels. Men! That was different!
Could it be that they wanted him? All at once he experienced a qualm
of conscience, so to speak, about the sheep he had killed. It occurred
to him that if sheep belonged to men, there might be trouble ahead.
Abruptly he stopped his serenading of the moon, slipped over the crest
of the knoll, and made off at a long, tireless gallop which before
morning had put leagues between himself and the angry villagers.

After this he gave a wide berth to settlements; and having made his
first kill, he suddenly found himself an accomplished hunter. It was
as if long-buried memories had sprung all at once to life,--memories,
indeed, not of his own but of his ancestors',--and he knew, all at
once, how to stalk the shy wild rabbits, to run down and kill the red
deer. The country through which he journeyed was well stocked with
game, and he fed abundantly as he went, with no more effort than just
enough to give zest to his freedom. In this fashion he kept on for
many days, working ever northward just because the wild lands
stretched in that direction; and at last he came upon the skirts of a
cone-shaped mountain, ragged with ancient forest, rising solitary and
supreme out of a measureless expanse of wooded plain. From a jutting
shoulder of rock his keen eyes noted but one straggling settlement,
groups of scattered clearings, wide apart on the skirts of the great
hill. They were too far off to mar the vast seclusion of the height;
and Lone Wolf, finding a cave in the rocks that seemed exactly
designed for his retreat, went no farther. He felt that he had come
into his own domain.



CHAPTER II


The settlers around the skirts of Lost Mountain were puzzled and
indignant. For six weeks their indignation had been growing, and the
mystery seemed no nearer a solution. Something was slaughtering their
sheep--something that knew its business and slaughtered with dreadful
efficiency. Several honest dogs fell under suspicion, not because
there was anything whatever against their reputations, but simply
because they had the misfortune to be big enough and strong enough to
kill a sheep if they wanted to, and the brooding backwoods mind, when
troubled, will go far on the flimsiest evidence.

Of all the wrathful settlers the most furious was Brace Timmins. Not
only had he lost in those six weeks six sheep, but now his dog, a
splendid animal, half deerhound and half collie, had been shot on
suspicion by a neighbor, on no better grounds, apparently, than his
long legs and long killing jaws. Still the slaughtering of the flocks
went on with undiminished vigor. And a few days later Brace Timmins
avenged his favorite by publicly thrashing his too hasty neighbor in
front of the cross-roads store. The neighbor, pounded into exemplary
penitence, apologized, and as far as the murdered dog was concerned,
the score was wiped clean. But the problem of the sheep killing was no
nearer solution. If not Brace Timmins' dog, as every one made prudent
haste to acknowledge, then whose dog was it? The life of every dog in
the settlement, if bigger than a wood-chuck, hung by a thread, which
might, it seemed, at any moment turn into a halter. Brace Timmins
loved dogs; and not wishing that others should suffer the unjust fate
which had overtaken his own, he set his whole woodcraft to the
discovery of the true culprit.

Before he had made any great progress, however, on this trail, a new
thing happened, and suspicion was lifted from the heads of all the
dogs. Joe Anderson's dog, a powerful beast, part sheep-dog and part
Newfoundland, with a far-off streak of bull, and the champion fighter
of the settlements, was found dead in the middle of Anderson's sheep
pasture, his whole throat fairly ripped out. He had died in defence of
his charges, and it was plainly no dog's jaws that had done such
mangling. What dog indeed could have mastered Anderson's "Dan"?

"It's a bear, gone mad on mutton," pronounced certain of the wise
ones, idling at the cross-roads store. "Ye see as how he hain't _et_
the dawg, noways, but jest bit him to teach him not to go interferin'
as regards sheep."

"Ye're all off," contradicted Timmins, with authority. "A bear'd hev'
tore him an' batted him an' mauled him more'n he'd hev' bit him. A
bear thinks more o' usin' his fore paws than what he does his jaws, if
he gits into any kind of an onpleasantness. No, boys, our unknown
friend up yonder's a _wolf_, take my word for it."

Joe Anderson snorted, and spat accurately out through the door.

"A _wolf_!" he sneered. "Go chase yerself, Brace Timmins. I'd like to
see any wolf as could 'a' done up my Dan that way!"

"Well, keep yer hair on, Joe," retorted Timmins, easily. "I'm a-goin'
after him, an' I'll show him to you in a day or two, as like as not!"

"I reckon, Joe," interposed the storekeeper, leaning forward across
the counter, "as how there be other breeds of wolf besides the
sneakin' little gray varmint of the East here, what's been cleaned out
of these parts fifty year ago. If Brace is right,--an' I reckon he
be,--then it must sure be one of them big timber wolves we read about,
what the Lord's took it into His head to plank down here in our safe
old woods to make us set up an' take notice. You better watch out,
Brace. If ye don't git the brute first lick, he'll git you!"

"_I'll_ watch out!" drawled Timmins, confidently; and selecting a
strong, steel trap-chain from a box beside the counter, he sauntered
off to put his plans in execution.

These plans were simple enough. He knew that he had a wide-ranging
adversary to deal with. But he himself was a wide ranger, and
acquainted with every cleft and crevice of Lost Mountain. He would
find the great wolf's lair, and set his traps accordingly, one in the
runway, to be avoided if the wolf was as clever as he ought to be, and
a couple of others a little aside to really do the work. Of course, he
would carry his rifle, in case of need, but he wanted to take his
enemy alive.

For several arduous but exciting days Timmins searched in vain alike
the dark cedar swamps and the high, broken spurs of the mountain.
Then, one windless afternoon, when the forest scents came rising to
him on the clear air, far up the steep he found a climbing trail
between gray, shelving ledges. Stealthy as a lynx he followed,
expecting at the next turn to come upon the lair of the enemy. It was
a just expectation, but as luck would have it, that next turn, which
would have led him straight to his goal, lay around a shoulder of rock
whose foundations had been loosened by the rains. With a kind of long
growl, rending and sickening, the rock gave way, and sank beneath
Timmins' feet.

Moved by the alert and unerring instinct of the woodsman, Timmins
leaped into the air. Both high and wide he sprang, and so escaped
being engulfed in the mass which he had dislodged. On the top of the
ruin he fell, but he fell far and hard; and for some fifteen or twenty
minutes after that fall he lay very still, while the dust and débris
settled into silence under the quiet flooding of the sun.

At last he opened his eyes. For a moment he made no effort to move,
but lay wondering where he was. A weight was on his legs, and glancing
downward, he saw that he was half covered with earth and rubbish. Then
he remembered. Was he badly hurt? He was half afraid, now, to make
the effort to move, lest he should find himself incapable of it.
Still, he felt no serious pain. His head ached, to be sure; and he saw
that his left hand was bleeding from a gash at the base of the thumb.
That hand still clutched one of the heavy traps which he had been
carrying, and it was plainly the trap that had cut him, as if in a
frantic effort to escape. But where was his rifle? Cautiously turning
his head, he peered around for it, but in vain, for during the fall it
had flown far aside into the thickets. As he stared solicitously, all
at once his dazed and sluggish senses sprang to life again with a
scorching throb, which left a chill behind it. There, not ten paces
away, sitting up on its haunches and eying him contemplatively, was a
gigantic wolf, much bigger, it seemed to him, than any wolf had any
right to be.

Timmins' first instinct was to spring to his feet, with a yell that
would give the dreadful stranger to understand that he was a fellow it
would not be well to tamper with. But his woodcraft stayed him. He was
not by any means sure that he _could_ spring to his feet. Still less
was he sure that such an action would properly impress the great wolf,
who, for the moment at least, seemed not actively hostile. Stillness,
absolute immobility, was the trump-card to be always played in the
wilderness when in doubt. So Timmins kept quite still, looking
inquiringly at Lone Wolf. And Lone Wolf looked inquiringly at him.

For several minutes this waiting game went on. Then, with easy
nonchalance, Lone Wolf lifted one huge hind paw and vigorously
scratched his ear. This very simple action was a profound relief to
Timmins.

"Sartain," he thought, "the crittur must be in an easy mood, or he'd
never think to scratch his ear like that. Or mebbe he thinks I'm so
well buried I kin wait, like an old bone!"

Just then Lone Wolf got up, stretched himself, yawned prodigiously,
came a couple of steps nearer, and sat down again, with his head
cocked to one side, and a polite air of asking, "Do I intrude?"

"Sartain sure, I'll never ketch him in a better humor!" thought
Timmins. "I'll try the human voice on him."

"Git to H---- out of that!" he commanded in a sharp voice.

Lone Wolf cocked his head to the other side interrogatively. He had
been spoken to by Toomey in that voice of authority, but the words
were new to him. He felt that he was expected to do something, but he
knew not what. He liked the voice--it was something like Toomey's. He
liked the smell of Timmins' homespun shirt--it, too, was something
like Toomey's. He became suddenly anxious to please this stranger. But
what was wanted of him? He half arose to his feet, and glanced around
to see if, perchance, the inexplicable order had been addressed to
some one else. As he turned, Timmins saw, half hidden in the heavy fur
of the neck, a stout leather collar.

"I swear!" he muttered, "if tain't a _tame_ wolf what's got away!"
With that he sat up; and pulling his legs, without any very serious
hurt, from their covering of earth and sticks he got stiffly to his
feet. For a moment the bright landscape reeled and swam before him,
and he had a vague sense of having been hammered all over his body.
Then he steadied himself. He saw that the wolf was watching him with
the expression of a diffident but friendly dog who would like to make
acquaintance. As he stood puzzling his wits, he remembered having read
about the great fire which had recently done such damage to Sillaby
and Hopkins' Circus, and he concluded that the stranger was one of the
fugitives from that disaster.

"Come here, sir! Come here, big wolf!" said he, holding out a
confident hand.

"Wolf"--that was a familiar sound to Lone Wolf's ears! it was at least
a part of his name! And the command was one he well understood.
Wagging his tail gravely, he came at once, and thrust his great head
under Timmins' hand for a caress. He had enjoyed his liberty, to be
sure, but he was beginning to find it lonely.

Timmins understood animals. His voice, as he talked to the redoubtable
brute beside him, was full of kindness, but at the same time vibrant
with authority. His touch was gentle, but very firm and unhesitating.
Both touch and voice conveyed very clearly to Lone Wolf's disciplined
instinct the impression that this man, like Toomey, was a being who
had to be obeyed, whose mastery was inevitable and beyond the reach of
question. When Timmins told him to lie down, he did so at once, and
stayed there obediently while Timmins gathered himself together, shook
the dirt out of his hair and boots, recovered his cap, wiped his
bleeding hand with leaves, and hunted up his scattered traps and
rifle. At last Timmins took two bedraggled but massive pork
sandwiches, wrapped in newspaper, from his pocket, and offered one to
his strange associate. Lone Wolf was not hungry, being full of
perfectly good mutton, but being too polite to refuse, he gulped down
the sandwich. Timmins took out the steel chain, snapped it on to Lone
Wolf's collar, said, "Come on!" and started homeward. And Lone Wolf,
trained to a short leash, followed close at his heels.

Timmins' breast swelled with exultation. What was the loss of one dog
and half a dozen no-account sheep to the possession of this
magnificent captive and the prestige of such a naked-handed capture?
He easily inferred, of course, that his triumph must be due, in part
at least, to some resemblance to the wolf's former master, whose
dominance had plainly been supreme. His only anxiety was as to how the
great wolf might conduct himself toward Settlement Society in general.
Assuredly nothing could be more lamb-like than the animal's present
demeanor, but Timmins remembered the fate of Joe Anderson's powerful
dog, and had his doubts. He examined Lone Wolf's collar, and
congratulated himself that both collar and chain were strong.

It was getting well along in the afternoon when Timmins and Lone Wolf
emerged from the thick woods into the stumpy pastures and rough burnt
lands that spread back irregularly from the outlying farms. And here,
while crossing a wide pasture known as Smith's Lots, an amazing thing
befell. Of course Timmins was not particularly surprised, because his
backwoods philosophizing had long ago led him to the conclusion that
when things get started happening, they have a way of keeping it up.
Days, weeks, months, glide by without event enough to ripple the most
sensitive memory. Then the whimsical Fates do something different,
find it interesting, and proceed to do something else. So, though
Timmins had been accustomed all his life to managing bulls,
good-tempered and bad-tempered alike, and had never had the ugliest of
them presume to turn upon him, he was not astonished now by the
apparition of Smith's bull, a wide-horned, carrot-red, white-faced
Hereford, charging down upon him in thunderous fury from behind a
poplar thicket. In a flash he remembered that the bull, which was
notoriously murderous in temper, had been turned out into that pasture
to act as guardian to Smith's flocks. There was not a tree near big
enough for refuge. There was not a stick big enough for a weapon. And
he could not bring himself to shoot so valuable a beast as this fine
thoroughbred. "Shucks!" he muttered in deep disgust. "I might 'a'
knowed it!" Dropping Lone Wolf's chain, he ran forward, waving his
arms and shouting angrily. But that red onrushing bulk was quite too
dull-witted to understand that it ought to obey. It was in the mood to
charge an avalanche. Deeply humiliated, Timmins hopped aside, and
reluctantly ran for the woods, trusting to elude his pursuer by timely
dodging.

Hitherto Lone Wolf had left all cattle severely alone, having got it
somehow into his head that they were more peculiarly under man's
protection than the sheep. Now, however, he saw his duty, and duty is
often a very well-developed concept in the brain of dog and wolf. His
ears flattened, his eyes narrowed to flaming green slits, his lips
wrinkled back till his long white fangs were clean bared, and without
a sound he hurled himself upon the red bull's flank. Looking back over
his shoulder, Timmins saw it all. It was as if all his life Lone Wolf
had been killing bulls, so unerring was that terrible chopping snap at
the great beast's throat. Far forward, just behind the bull's jaws,
the slashing fangs caught. And Timmins was astounded to see the bull,
checked in mid-rush, plunge staggering forward upon his knees. From
this position he abruptly rolled over upon his side, thrown by his
own impetus combined with a dexterous twist of his opponent's body.
Then Lone Wolf bounded backward, and stood expectant, ready to repeat
the attack if necessary. But it was not necessary. Slowly the great
red bull arose to his feet, and stared about him stupidly, the blood
gushing from his throat. Then he swayed and collapsed. And Lone Wolf,
wagging his tail like a dog, went back to Timmins' side for
congratulations.

The woodsman gazed ruefully at his slain foe. Then he patted his
defender's head, recovered the chain with a secure grip, and said
slowly:--

"I reckon, partner, ye did yer dooty as ye seen it, an' mebbe I'm
beholden to ye fer a hul' skin, fer that there crittur was sartinly
amazin' ugly an' spry on his pins. But ye're goin' to be a
responsibility some. Ye ain't no suckin' lamb to hev aroun' the house,
I'm thinkin'."

To these remarks, which he judged from their tone to be approving,
Lone Wolf wagged assent, and the homeward journey was continued.
Timmins went with his head down, buried in thought. All at once,
coming to a convenient log, he seated himself, and made Lone Wolf lie
down at his feet. Then he took out the remaining sandwich,--which he
himself, still shaken from his fall, had no desire to eat,--and
contemplatively, in small fragments, he fed it to the wolf's great
blood-stained jaws. At last he spoke, with the finality of one whose
mind is quite made up.

"Partner," said he, "there ain't no help for it. Bill Smith's a-goin'
to hold _me_ responsible for the killin' o' that there crittur o'
his'n, an' that means a pretty penny, it bein' a thoroughbred, an'
imported at that. He ain't never a-goin' to believe but what I let you
loose on to him a purpose, jest to save _my_ hide! Shucks! Moreover,
ye may's well realize y'ain't _popular_ 'round these parts; an' first
thing, when I wasn't lookin', somebody'd be a-puttin' somethin'
onhealthy into yer vittles, partner! We've kind o' took to each other,
you an' me; an' I reckon _we'd_ git on together _fine_, me always
havin' me own way, of course. But there ain't no help fer it. Ye're
too hefty a proposition, by long odds, fer a community like Lost
Mountain Settlement. I'm a-goin' to write right off to Sillaby an'
Hopkins, an' let them have ye back, partner. An' I reckon the price
they'll pay'll be enough to let me square myself with Bill Smith."

And thus it came about that, within a couple of weeks, Lone Wolf and
Toomey were once more entertaining delighted audiences, while the
settlement of Lost Mountain, with Timmins' prestige established beyond
assault, relapsed into its uneventful quiet.



THE BEAR'S FACE



THE BEAR'S FACE

CHAPTER I


"There ain't no denying but what you give us a great show, Job," said
the barkeeper, with that air of patronage which befits the man who
presides over and autocratically controls the varied activities of a
saloon in a Canadian lumber town.

"It _is_ a good show!" assented Job Toomey, modestly. He leaned up
against the bar in orthodox fashion, just as if his order had been
"whiskey fer mine!" but being a really great animal trainer, whose eye
must be always clear and his nerve always steady as a rock, his glass
contained nothing stronger than milk and Vichy.

Fifteen years before, Job Toomey had gone away with a little
travelling menagerie because he loved wild animals. He had come back
famous, and the town of Grantham Mills, metropolis of his native
county, was proud of him. He was head of the menagerie of the Sillaby
and Hopkins' Circus, and trainer of one of the finest troupes of
performing beasts in all America. It was a great thing for Grantham
Mills to have had a visit from the Sillaby and Hopkins' Circus on its
way from one important centre to another. There had been two great
performances, afternoon and evening. And now, after the last
performance, some of Toomey's old-time acquaintances were making
things pleasant for him in the bar of the Continental.

"I don't see how ye do it, Job!" said Sanderson, an old river-man who
had formerly trapped and hunted with Toomey. "I mind ye was always
kind o' slick an' understandin' with the wild critters; but the way
them lions an' painters an' bears an' wolves jest folly yer eye an'
yer nod, willin' as so many poodle dogs, beats me. They seem to like
it, too."

"They _do_," said Toomey. "Secret of it is, _I_ like _them_; so by an'
by they learn to like me well enough, an' try to please me. I make it
worth their while, too. Also, they know I'll stand no fooling. Fear
an' love, rightly mixed, boys--plenty of love, an' jest enough fear to
keep it from spilin'--that's a mixture'll carry a man far--leastways
with animals!"

The barkeeper smiled, and was about to say the obvious thing, but he
was interrupted by a long, lean-jawed, leather-faced man, captain of
one of the river tugs, whose eyes had grown sharp as gimlets with
looking out for snags and sandbanks.

"The finest beast in the whole menagerie, that big grizzly," said he,
spitting accurately into a spacious box of sawdust, "I noticed as how
ye didn't have _him_ in your performance, Mr. Toomey. Now, I kind o'
thought as how I'd like to see you put _him_ through his stunts."

Toomey was silent for a moment. Then, with a certain reserve in his
voice, he answered--

"Oh, he ain't exactly strong on stunts."

The leather-faced captain grinned quizzically.

"Which does he go shy on, Mr. Toomey, the love or the fear?" he
asked.

"Both," said Toomey, shortly. Then his stern face relaxed, and he
laughed good-humoredly. "Fact is, I think we'll have to be sellin'
that there grizzly to some zoölogical park. He's kind of bad fer my
prestige."

"How's that, Job?" asked Sanderson, expectant of a story.

"Well," replied Toomey, "to tell you the truth, boys,--an' I only say
it because I'm here at home, among friends,--it's _me_ that's afraid
of _him_! An' he knows it. He's the only beast that's ever been able
to make me feel fear--the real, deep-down fear. An' I've never been
able to git quit of that ugly notion. I go an' stand in front o' his
cage; an' he jest puts that great face of his up agin the bars an'
stares at me. An' I look straight into his eyes, an' remember what has
passed between us, an' I feel afraid still. Yes, it wouldn't be much
use me tryin' to train _that_ bear, boys, an' I'm free to acknowledge
it to you all."

"Tell us about it, Job!" suggested the barkeeper, settling his large
frame precariously on the top of a small, high stool.

An urgent chorus of approval came from all about the bar. Toomey took
out his watch and considered.

"We start away at 5.40 A.M.," said he. "An' I must make out to get a
wink o' sleep. But I reckon I've got time enough. As you'll see,
however, before I git through, the drinks are on me, so name yer
pison, boys. Meanwhile, you'll excuse me if I don't join you this
time. A man kin hold jest about so much Vichy an' milk, an' I've got
my load aboard.

"It was kind of this way," he continued, when the barkeeper had
performed his functions. "You see, for nigh ten years after I left
Grantham Mills, I'd stuck closer'n a burr to my business, till I began
to feel I knew 'most all there was to know about trainin' animals.
Men do git that kind of a fool feelin' sometimes about lots of things
harder than animal-trainin'. Well, nothin' would do me but I should go
back to my old business of _trappin'_ the beasts, only with one big
difference. I wanted to go in fer takin' them alive, so as to sell
them to menageries an' all that sort of thing. An' it was no pipe
dream, fer I done well at it from the first. But that's not here nor
there. I was gittin' tired of it, after a lot o' travellin' an' some
lively kind of scrapes; so I made up my mind to finish up with a
grizzly, an' then git back to trainin', which was what I was cut out
fer, after all.

"Well, I wanted a grizzly; an' it wasn't long before I found one. We
were campin' among the foothills of the upper end of the Sierra Nevada
range, in northern California. It was a good prospectin' ground fer
grizzly, an' we found lots o' signs. I wanted one not too big fer
convenience, an' not so old as to be too set in his ways an' too proud
to larn. I had three good men with me, an' we scattered ourselves over
a big bit o' ground, lookin' fer a likely trail. When I stumbled on to
that chap in the cage yonder, what Captain Bird admires so, I knew
right off _he_ wasn't what I was after. But the queer thing was that
_he_ didn't seem to feel that way about _me_. He was after me before I
had time to think of anything jest suitable to the occasion."

"Where in thunder was yer gun?" demanded the river-man.

"That was jest the trouble!" answered Toomey. "Ye see, I'd stood the
gun agin a tree, in a dry place, while I stepped over a bit o' boggy
ground, intendin' to lay down an' drink out of a leetle spring. Well,
the bear was handier to that gun than I was. When he come fer me, I
tell ye I didn't go back fer the gun. I ran straight up the hill, an'
him too close at my heels fer convenience. Then I remembered that a
grizzly don't run his best when he goes up hill on a slant, so on the
slant I went. It worked, I reckon, fer though I couldn't say I gained
on him much, it was soothin' to observe that he didn't seem to gain on
me.

"Fer maybe well on to three hundred yards it was a fine race, and I
was beginnin' to wonder if the bear was gittin' as near winded as I
was, when slap, I come right out on the crest of the ridge, which jest
ahead o' me jutted out in a sort of elbow. What there was on the other
side I couldn't see, and couldn't take time to inquire. I jest had to
chance it, hopin' it might be somethin' less than a thousand foot
drop. I ran straight to the edge, and jest managed to throw myself
flat on my face an' clutch at the grasses like mad to keep from
pitchin' clean out into space. It _was_ a drop, all right,--two
hundred foot or more o' sheer cliff.

"An' the bear was not thirty yards behind me.

"I looked at the bear, as I laid there clutchin' the grass-roots. Then
I looked down over the edge. I didn't feel frightened exactly, so fur;
didn't _know_ enough, maybe, to be _frightened_ of _any_ animal. But
jest at this point I was mighty anxious. You'll believe, then, it was
kind o' good to me to see, right below, maybe twenty foot down, a
little pocket of a ledge full o' grass an' blossomin' weeds. There was
no time to calculate. I could let myself drop, an' maybe, if I had
luck, I could stop where I fell, in the pocket, instead of bouncin'
out an' down, to be smashed into flinders. Or, on the other hand, I
could stay where I was, an' be ripped into leetle frayed ravellin's by
the bear; an' that would be in about three seconds, at the rate he was
comin'. Well, I let myself over the edge till I jest hung by the
fingers, an' then dropped, smooth as I could, down the rock face, kind
of clutchin' at every leetle knob as I went to check the fall. I lit
true in the pocket, an' I lit pretty hard, as ye might know, but not
hard enough to knock the wits out o' me, the grass an' weeds bein'
fairly soft. An' clawin' out desperate with both hands, I caught, an'
stayed put. Some dirt an' stones come down, kind o' smart, on my head,
an' when they'd stopped I looked up. There was the bear, his big head
stuck down, with one ugly paw hangin' over beside it, starin' at me. I
was so tickled at havin' fooled him, I didn't think o' the hole I was
in, but sez to him, saucy as you please, 'Thou art so near, an' yet so
far.' At this he give a grunt, which might have meant anything, an'
disappeared.

"'Ye know enough to know when you're euchred,' says I. An' then I
turned to considerin' the place I was in, an' how I was to git out of
it.

"To git out of it, indeed! The more I considered, the more I wondered
how I'd ever managed to stay in it. It wasn't bigger than three foot
by two, or two an' a half, maybe, in width, out from the cliff-face.
On my left, as I sat with my back agin the cliff, a wall o' rock ran
out straight, closin' off the pocket to that side clean an' sharp,
though with a leetle kind of a roughness, so to speak--nothin' more
than a roughness--which I calculated _might_ do, on a pinch, fer me
to hang on to if I wanted to try to climb round to the other side. I
_didn't_ want to jest yet, bein' still shaky from the drop, which, as
things turned out, was just as well for me.

"To my right a bit of a ledge, maybe six or eight inches wide, ran off
along the cliff-face for a matter of ten or a dozen feet, then slanted
up, an' widened out agin to another little pocket, or shelf like, of
bare rock, about level with the top o' my head. From this shelf a
narrow crack, not more than two or three inches wide, kind o'
zigzagged away till it reached the top o' the cliff, perhaps forty
foot off. It wasn't much, but it looked like somethin' I could git a
good finger-hold into, if only I could work my way along to that
leetle shelf. I was figurin' hard on this, an' had about made up my
mind to try it, an' was reachin' out, in fact, to start, when I
stopped sudden.

"A good, healthy-lookin' rattler, his diamond-pattern back bright in
the sun, come out of the crevice an' stopped on the shelf to take a
look at the weather.

"It struck me right off that he was on his way down to this pocket o'
mine, which was maybe his favorite country residence. I didn't like
one bit the idee o' his comin' an' findin' me there, when I'd never
been invited. I felt right bad about it, you bet; and I'd have got
away if I could. But not bein' able to, there was nothin' fer me to do
but try an' make myself onpleasant. I grabbed up a handful o' dirt an'
threw it at the rattler. It scattered all 'round him, of course, an'
some of it hit him. Whereupon he coiled himself like a flash, with
head an' tail both lifted, an' rattled indignantly. There was nothin'
big enough to do him any damage with, an' I was mighty oneasy lest he
might insist on comin' home to see who his impident caller was. But I
kept on flingin' dirt as long as there was any handy, while he kept on
rattlin', madder an' madder. Then I stopped, to think what I'd better
do next. I was jest startin' to take off my boot, to hit him with as
he come along the narrow ledge, when suddenly he uncoiled an' slipped
back into the crevice.

"Either it was very hot, or I'd been a bit more anxious than I'd
realized, for I felt my forehead wet with sweat; I drew my sleeve
across it, all the time keeping my eyes glued on the spot where the
rattler'd disappeared. Jest then, seemed to me, I felt a breath on the
back o' my neck. A kind o' cold chill crinkled down my backbone, an' I
turned my face 'round sharp.

"Will you believe it, boys? I was nigh jumpin' straight off that there
ledge, right into the landscape an' eternity! There, starin' 'round
the wall o' rock, not one inch more than a foot away from mine, was
the face o' the bear.

"Well, I was scared. There's no gittin' round that fact. There was
something so onnatural about that big, wicked face hangin' there over
that awful height, an' starin' so close into mine. I jest naturally
scrooged away as fur as I could git, an' hung on tight to the rock
so's not to go over. An' _then_ my face wasn't more'n two feet away,
do the best I could; an' that was the time I found what it felt like
to be right down scared. I believe if that face had come much closer,
I'd have _bit_ at it, that minute, like a rat in a hole.

"For maybe thirty seconds we jest stared. Then, I kind o' got a holt
of myself, an' cursed myself good fer bein' such a fool; an' my blood
got to runnin' agin. I fell to studyin' how the bear could have got
there; an' pretty soon I reckoned it out as how there must be a big
ledge runnin' down the cliff face, jest the other side o' the wall o'
the pocket. An' I hugged myself to think I hadn't managed to climb
'round on to that ledge jest before the bear arrived. I got this all
figgered out, an' it took some time. But still that face, hangin' out
there over the height, kept starin' at me; an' I never saw a wickeder
look than it had on to it, steady an' unwinkin' as a nightmare. It is
curious how long a beast _kin_ look at one without winkin'. At last,
it got on to my nerves so I jest couldn't stand it; an' snatching a
bunch of weeds (I'd already flung away all the loose dirt, flingin' it
at the rattler), I whipped 'em across them devilish leetle eyes as
hard as I could. It was a kind of a child's trick, or a woman's, but
it worked all right, fer it made the eyes blink. That proved they were
real eyes, an' I felt easier. After all, it _was_ only a bear; an' he
couldn't git any closer than he was. But that was a mite too close,
an' I wished he'd move. An' jest then, not to be gittin' _too_ easy in
my mind, I remembered the rattler.

"Another cold chill down my backbone! I looked 'round right smart. But
the rattler wasn't anywhere in sight. That, however, put me in mind of
what I'd been goin' to do to _him_. A boot wasn't much of a weapon
agin a bear, but it was the only thing handy, so I reckoned I'd have
to make it do. I yanked it off, took it by the toe, an' let that
wicked face have the heel of it as hard as I could. I hadn't any room
to swing, so I couldn't hit very hard. But a bear's nose is tender,
on the tip; an' it was jest there, of course, I took care to land.
There was a big snort, kind o' surprised like, an' the face
disappeared.

"I felt a sight better.

"Fer maybe five minutes nothin' else happened. I sat there figgerin'
how I was goin' to git out o' that hole; an' my figgerin' wasn't
anyways satisfactory. I knew the bear was a stayer, all right. There'd
be no such a thing as tryin' to crawl 'round that shoulder o' rock
till I was blame sure _he_ wasn't on t'other side; an' how I was goin'
to find _that_ out was more than I could git at. There was no such a
thing as climbin' _up_. There was no such a thing as climbin' _down_.
An' as fer that leetle ledge an' crevice leadin' off to the
right,--well, boys, when there's a rattler layin' low fer ye in a
crevice, ye're goin' to keep clear o' that crevice. It wanted a good
three hours of sundown, an' I knew my chaps wouldn't be missin' me
before night. When I didn't turn up for dinner, of course they'd begin
to suspicion somethin', because they knew I was takin' things rather
easy an' not followin' up any long trails. It looked like I was there
fer the night; an' I didn't like it, I tell you. There wasn't room to
lay down, and if I fell asleep settin' up, like as not I'd roll off
the ledge. There was nothing fer it but to set up a whoop an' a yell
every once in a while, in hopes that one or other of the boys _might_
be cruisin' 'round near enough to hear me. So I yelled some half a
dozen times, stoppin' between each yell to listen. Gittin' no answer,
at last I decided to save my throat a bit an try agin after a spell o'
restin' an' worryin'. Jest then I turned my head; an' I forgot, right
off, to worry about fallin' off the ledge. There, pokin' his ugly head
out o' the crevice, was the rattler. I chucked a bunch o' weeds at
him, an' he drew back in agin. But the thing that jarred me now was,
how would I keep him off when it got too dark fer me to see him. He'd
be slippin' home quiet like, thinkin' maybe I was gone, an' mad when
he found I wasn't, fer, ye see, _he_ hadn't no means of knowin' that I
couldn't go _up_ the rock jest as easy as I come down. I feared there
was goin' to be trouble after dark. An' while I was figgerin' on that
till the sweat come out on my forehead, I turned agin, an' there agin
was the bear's face starin' round the rock not more'n a foot away.

"You'll understand how my nerves was on the jumps, when I tell you,
boys, that I was scared an' startled all over again, like the first
time I'd seen it. With a yell, I fetched a swipe at it with my boot;
but it was gone, like a shadow, before I hit it; an' the boot flew out
o' my hand an' went over the cliff, an' me pretty nigh after it. I
jest caught myself, an' hung on, kind o' shaky, fer a minute. Next
thing, I heard a great scratchin' at the other side o' the rock, as if
the brute was tryin' to git a better toehold an' work some new dodge
on me. Then the face appeared agin, an' maybe, though perhaps that was
jest my excited imagination, it was some two or three inches closer
this time.

"I lit out at it with my fist, not havin' my other boot handy. But
Lord, a bear kin dodge the sharpest boxer. That face jest wasn't
there, before I could hit it. Then, five seconds more, an' it was back
agin starin' at me. I wouldn't give it the satisfaction o' tryin' to
swipe it agin, so I jest kept still, pretendin' to ignore it; an' in a
minute or two it disappeared. But then, a minute or two more an' it
was back agin. An' so it went on, disappearin', comin' back, goin'
away, comin' back, an' always jest when I _wasn't_ expectin' it, an'
always sudden an' quick as a shadow, till _that_ kind o' got on to my
nerves too, an' I wished he'd stay one way or t'other, so as I could
know what I was up against. At last, settlin' down as small as I
could, I made up my mind I jest wouldn't look that way at all, face or
no face, but give all my attention to watchin' for the rattler, an'
yellin' fer the boys. Judgin' by the sun,--which went mighty slow that
day,--I kept that game up for an hour or more; an' then, as the
rattler didn't come any more than the boys, I got tired of it, an'
looked 'round for the bear's face. Well, that time it wasn't there.
But in place of it was a big brown paw, reachin' round the edge of the
rock all by itself, an' clawin' quietly within about a foot o' my ear.
That was all the farthest it would reach, however, so I tried jest to
keep my mind off it. In a minute or two it disappeared; an' then back
come the face.

"I didn't like it. I preferred the paw. But then, it kept the
situation from gittin' monotonous.

"I suppose it was about this time the bear remembered somethin' that
wanted seein' to down the valley. The face disappeared once more, and
this time it didn't come back. After I hadn't seen it fer a half-hour,
I began to think maybe it had _really_ gone away; but I knew how foxy
a bear could be, an' thought jest as like as not he was waitin',
patient as a cat, on the other side o' the rock fer me to look round
so's he could git a swipe at me that would jest wipe my face clean
off. I didn't try to look round. But I kept yellin' every little
while; an' all at once a voice answered right over my head. I tell you
it sounded good, if _'twasn't_ much of a voice. It was Steevens, my
packer, lookin' down at me.

"'Hello, what in h---- are ye doin' down there, Job?' he demanded.

"'Waiting fer you to git a rope an' hoist me up!' says I. 'But look
out fer the bear!'

"'Bear nothin'!' says he.

"'Chuck an eye down the other side,' says I.

"He disappeared, but came right back. 'Bear nothin',' says he agin,
havin' no originality.

"'Well, he _was_ there, 'an' he stayed all the afternoon,' says I.

"'Reckon he must 'a' heard ye was an animal trainer, an' got skeered!'
says Steevens. But I wasn't jokin' jest then.

"'You cut fer camp, an' bring a rope, an' git me out o' this, _quick_,
d'ye hear?' says I. 'There's a rattler lives here, an' he's comin'
back presently, an' I don't want to meet him. Slide!'

"Well, boys, that's all. That bear _wasn't_ jest what I'd wanted; but
feelin' ugly about him, I decided to take him an' break him in. We
trailed him, an' after a lot o' trouble we trapped him. He was a sight
more trouble after we'd got him, I tell you. But afterwards, when I
set myself to tryin' to train him, why, I might jest as well have
tried to train an earthquake. Do you suppose that grizzly was goin' to
be afraid o' _me?_ He'd seen me afraid o' _him_, all right. He'd seen
it in my eyes! An' what's more, _I_ couldn't forgit it; but when I'd
look at him I'd _feel_, every time, the nightmare o' that great wicked
face hangin' there over the cliff, close to mine. So, he don't
perform. What'll ye take, boys? It's hot milk, this time, fer mine."



THE DUEL ON THE TRAIL



THE DUEL ON THE TRAIL


White and soft over the wide, sloping upland lay the snow, marked
across with the zigzag gray lines of the fences, and spotted here and
there with little clumps of woods or patches of bushy pasture. The sky
above was white as the earth below, being mantled with snow-laden
cloud not yet ready to spill its feathery burden on the world. One
little farm-house, far down the valley, served but to emphasize the
spacious emptiness of the silent winter landscape.

Out from one of the snow-streaked thickets jumped a white rabbit, its
long ears waving nervously, and paused for a second to look back with
a frightened air. It had realized that some enemy was on its trail,
but what that enemy was, it did not know. After this moment of
perilous hesitation, it went leaping forward across the open, leaving
a vivid track in the soft surface snow. The little animal's discreet
alarm, however, was dangerously corrupted by its curiosity; and at the
lower edge of the field, before going through a snake fence and
entering another thicket, it stopped, stood up as erect as possible on
its strong hind quarters, and again looked back. As it did so, the
unknown enemy again revealed himself, just emerging, a slender and
sinister black shape, from the upper thicket. A quiver of fear passed
over the rabbit's nerves. Its curiosity all effaced, it went through
the fence with an elongated leap and plunged into the bushes in a
panic. Here it doubled upon itself twice in a short circle, trusting
by this well-worn device to confuse the unswerving pursuer. Then,
breaking out upon the lower side of the thicket, it resumed its
headlong flight across the fields.

Meanwhile the enemy, a large mink, was following on the trail with the
dogged persistence of a sleuth-hound. Sure of his methods, he did not
pause to see what the quarry was doing, but kept his eyes and nose
occupied with the fresh tracks. His speed was not less than that of
the rabbit, and his endurance was vastly greater. Being very long in
the body, and extremely short in the legs, he ran in a most peculiar
fashion, arching his lithe back almost like a measuring-worm and
straightening out like a steel spring suddenly released. These sinuous
bounds were grotesque enough in appearance, but singularly effective.
The trail they made, overlapping that of the rabbit, but quite
distinct from it, varied according to the depth of the surface snow.
Where the snow lay thin, just deep enough to receive an imprint, the
mink's small feet left a series of delicate, innocent-looking marks,
much less formidable in appearance than those of the pad-footed
fugitive. But where the loose snow had gathered deeper the mink's long
body and sinewy tail from time to time stamped themselves
unmistakably.

When the mink reached the second thicket, his keen and experienced
craft penetrated at once the poor ruses of the fugitive. Cutting
across the circlings of the trail, he picked it up again with
implacable precision, making almost a straight line through the
underbrush. When he emerged again into the open, the rabbit was in
full view ahead.

The next strip of woodland in the fugitive's path was narrow and
dense. Below it, in a patch of hillocky pasture ground, sloping to a
pond of steel-bright ice, a red fox was diligently hunting. He ran
hither and thither, furtive, but seemingly erratic, poking his nose
into half-covered moss-tufts and under the roots of dead stumps,
looking for mice or shrews. He found a couple of the latter, but
these were small satisfaction to his vigorous winter appetite.
Presently he paused, lifted his narrow, cunning nose toward the woods,
and appeared to ponder the advisability of going on a rabbit hunt. His
fine, tawny, ample brush of a tail gently swept the light snow behind
him as he stood undecided.

All at once he crouched flat upon the snow, quivering with excitement,
like a puppy about to jump at a wind-blown leaf. He had seen the
rabbit emerging from the woods. Absolutely motionless he lay, so still
that, in spite of his warm coloring, he might have been taken for a
fragment of dead wood. And as he watched, tense with anticipation, he
saw the rabbit run into a long, hollow log, which lay half-veiled in a
cluster of dead weeds. Instantly he darted forward, ran at top speed,
and crouched before the lower end of the log, where he knew the rabbit
must come out.

Within a dozen seconds the mink arrived, and followed the fugitive
straight into his ineffectual retreat. Such narrow quarters were just
what the mink loved. The next instant the rabbit shot forth--to be
caught in mid-air by the waiting fox, and die before it had time to
realize in what shape doom had come upon it.

All unconscious that he was trespassing upon another's hunt, the fox,
with a skilful jerk of his head, flung the limp and sprawling victim
across his shoulder, holding it by one leg, and started away down the
slope toward his lair on the other side of the pond.

As the mink's long body darted out from the hollow log he stopped
short, crouched flat upon the snow with twitching tail, and stared at
the triumphant intruder with eyes that suddenly blazed red. The
trespass was no less an insult than an injury; and many of the wild
kindreds show themselves possessed of a nice sensitiveness on the
point of their personal dignity. For an animal of the mink's size the
fox was an overwhelmingly powerful antagonist, to be avoided with care
under all ordinary circumstances. But to the disappointed hunter, his
blood hot from the long, exciting chase, this present circumstance
seemed by no means ordinary. Noiseless as a shadow, and swift and
stealthy as a snake, he sped after the leisurely fox, and with one
snap bit through the great tendon of his right hind leg, permanently
laming him.

As the pang went through him, and the maimed leg gave way beneath his
weight, the fox dropped his burden and turned savagely upon his
unexpected assailant. The mink, however, had sprung away, and lay
crouched in readiness on the snow, eying his enemy malignantly. With a
fierce snap of his long, punishing jaws the fox rushed upon him.
But--the mink was not there. With a movement so quick as fairly to
elude the sight, he was now crouching several yards away, watchful,
vindictive, menacing. The fox made two more short rushes, in vain;
then he, too, crouched, considering the situation, and glaring at his
slender black antagonist. The mink's small eyes were lit with a
smouldering, ruddy glow, sinister and implacable; while rage and pain
had cast over the eyes of the fox a peculiar green opalescence.

For perhaps half a minute the two lay motionless, though quivering
with the intensity of restraint and expectation. Then, with lightning
suddenness, the fox repeated his dangerous rush. But again the mink
was not there. As composed as if he had never moved a hair, he was
lying about three yards to one side, glaring with that same immutable
hate.

At this the fox seemed to realize that it was no use trying to catch
so elusive a foe. The realization came to him slowly--and slowly,
sullenly, he arose and turned away, ignoring the prize which he could
not carry off. With an awkward limp, he started across the ice,
seeming to scorn his small but troublesome antagonist.

Having thus recovered the spoils, and succeeded in scoring his point
over so mighty an adversary, the mink might have been expected to let
the matter rest and quietly reap the profit of his triumph. But all
the vindictiveness of his ferocious and implacable tribe was now
aroused. Vengeance, not victory, was his craving. When the fox had
gone about a dozen feet, all at once the place where the mink had been
crouching was empty. Almost in the same instant, as it seemed, the fox
was again, and mercilessly, bitten through the leg.

This time, although the fox had seemed to be ignoring the foe, he
turned like a flash to meet the assault. Again, however, he was just
too late. His mad rush, the snapping of his long jaws, availed him
nothing. The mink crouched, eying him, ever just beyond his reach. A
gleam of something very close to fear came into his furious eyes as he
turned again to continue his reluctant retreat.

Again, and again, and yet again, the mink repeated his elusive attack,
each time inflicting a deep and disastrous wound, and each time
successfully escaping the counter-assault. The trail of the fox was
now streaked and flecked with scarlet, and both his hind legs dragged
heavily. He reached the edge of the smooth ice and turned at bay. The
mink drew back, cautious for all his hate. Then the fox started across
the steel-gray glair, picking his steps that he might have a firm
foothold.

A few seconds later the mink once more delivered his thrust. Feinting
towards the enemy's right, he swerved with that snake-like celerity of
his, and bit deep into the tender upper edge of the fox's thigh, where
it plays over the groin.

It was a cunning and deadly stroke. But in recovering from it, to dart
away again to safe distance, his feet slipped, ever so little, on the
shining surface of the ice. The delay was only for the minutest
fraction of a second. But in that minutest fraction lay the fox's
opportunity. His wheel and spring were this time not too late. His
jaws closed about the mink's slim backbone and crunched it to
fragments. The lean, black shape straightened out with a sharp
convulsion and lay still on the ice.

Though fully aware of the efficacy and finality of that bite, the fox
set his teeth, again and again, with curious deliberation of movement,
into the limp and unresisting form. Then, with his tongue hanging a
little from his bloody jaws, he lifted his head and stared, with a
curious, wavering, anxiously doubtful look, over the white familiar
fields. The world, somehow, looked strange and blurry to him. He
turned, leaving the dead mink on the ice, and painfully retraced his
deeply crimsoned trail. Just ahead was the opening in the log, the way
to that privacy which he desperately craved. The code of all the
aristocrats of the wild kindred, subtly binding even in that supreme
hour, forbade that he should consent to yield himself to death in the
garish publicity of the open. With the last of his strength he crawled
into the log, till just the bushy tip of his tail protruded to betray
him. There he lay down with one paw over his nose, and sank into the
long sleep. For an hour the frost bit hard upon the fields, stiffening
to stone the bodies but now so hot with eager life. Then the snow came
thick and silent, filling the emptiness with a moving blur, and buried
away all witness of the fight.


      *      *      *      *      *      *


Charles G. D. Roberts'

  THE BACKWOODSMEN

                                        _Illustrated Cloth 12mo $1.50_

    "'The Backwoodsmen' shows that the writer knows the backwoods as
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L. W. Brownell's

  PHOTOGRAPHY FOR THE SPORTSMAN NATURALIST

                                     _Illustrated Cloth 8vo $2.00 net_

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Photography for the Sportsman Naturalist is in

                THE AMERICAN SPORTSMAN LIBRARY SERIES

The other volumes in the series are _The American Thoroughbred_,
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The price of each volume is $2.00 net.

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  LIFE OF ANIMALS: THE MAMMALS

           _Colored Plates and Photographic Illustrations_

                                                 _Cloth 8vo $2.00 net_

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  IN THE GRIP OF THE NYIKA

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Edwyn Sandys'

  SPORTING SKETCHES

                                                _Cloth 12mo $1.75 net_

    "Mr. Sandys is a real sportsman with a wide experience, and he
    writes agreeably and without effort to make his work unusual or
    picturesque. It is just the sort of description you would expect
    from a man who had really done the things narrated.... He
    describes in such manner that even one who has never held gun or
    rod cannot but partake of something of the writer's
    enthusiasm."--_Chicago Tribune._

PUBLISHED BY

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

64-66 Fifth Avenue, New York



OUTDOOR STORIES FOR BOYS AND GIRLS

 By J. W. Fortescue
   THE STORY OF A RED DEER
   Cloth, 16mo, $.80; Leather, $1.25

 By Jack London
   TALES OF THE FISH PATROL
   Illustrated by G. Varian, Cloth, 12mo, $1.50

 By Charles Major
   THE BEARS OF BLUE RIVER
   Illustrated by A. B. Frost, Cloth, 12mo, $1.50

   UNCLE TOM ANDY BILL
   Illustrated. Cloth, 12mo, $1.50

 By Edwyn Sandys
   SPORTSMAN JOE
   Illustrated. 12mo, $1.50

   TRAPPER JIM
   Illustrated. 12mo, $1.50

 By Ernest Ingersoll
   AN ISLAND IN THE AIR
   Illustrated by William McCullough, Cloth, 12mo $1.50

 By Stewart Edward White
   THE MAGIC FOREST
   Colored Illustrations by Joseph Gleeson, Cloth, 12mo, $1.20 net

 By Mabel Osgood Wright
   DOGTOWN
   Illustrated with Photographs, Cloth, 12mo, $1.50 net

   GRAY LADY AND THE BIRDS
   Colored Illustrations, Cloth, 12mo, $1.75 net

PUBLISHED BY

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY

64-66 Fifth Avenue, New York





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