Theyre after us, Bill, said the man at the front.
His voice sounded hoarse and unreal, and he had spoken with apparent effort.
Meat is scarce, answered his comrade. I aint seen a rabbit sign for days.
Thereafter they spoke no more, though their ears were keen for the hunting-cries that continued to rise behind them.
At the fall of darkness they swung the dogs into a cluster of spruce trees on the edge of the waterway and made a camp. The coffin, at the side of the fire, served for seat and table. The wolf-dogs, clustered on the far side of the fire, snarled and bickered among themselves, but evinced no inclination to stray off into the darkness.
Seems to me, Henry, theyre stayin remarkable close to camp, Bill commented.
Henry, squatting over the fire and settling the pot of coffee with a piece of ice, nodded. Nor did he speak till he had taken his seat on the coffin and begun to eat.
They know where their hides is safe, he said. Theyd sooner eat grub than be grub. Theyre pretty wise, them dogs.
Bill shook his head. Oh, I dont know.
His comrade looked at him curiously. First time I ever heard you say anythin about their not bein wise.
Henry, said the other, munching with deliberation the beans he was eating, did you happen to notice the way them dogs kicked up when I was a-feedin em?
They did cut up moren usual, Henry acknowledged.
How many dogs ve we got, Henry?
Well, Henry Bill stopped for a moment, in order that his words might gain greater significance. As I was sayin, Henry, weve got six dogs. I took six fish out of the bag. I gave one fish to each dog, an, Henry, I was one fish short.
You counted wrong.
Weve got six dogs, the other reiterated dispassionately. I took out six fish. One Ear didnt get no fish. I come back to the bag afterward an got im his fish.
Weve only got six dogs, Henry said.
Henry, Bill went on, I wont say they was all dogs, but there was seven of m that got fish.
Henry stopped eating to glance across the fire and counted the dogs.
Theres only six now, he said.
I saw the other one run off across the snow, Bill announced with cool positiveness. I saw seven.
His comrade looked at him commiseratingly, and said, Ill be almighty glad when this trips over.
What dye mean by that? Bill demanded.
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|