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The Law of Club and Fang
BUCK’S FIRST DAY ON THE Dyea bach was like a nightmare.
Every hour was filled with shock and surprise. He had been
suddenly jerked from the heart of civilisation and flung into the
heart of things primordial. No lazy, sun-kissed life was this, with
nothing to do but loaf and be bored. Here was neither peace, nor
rest, nor a moment’s safety. All was confusion and action, and
every moment life and limb were in peril. There was imperative
need to be constantly alert; for these dogs and men were not town
dogs and men. They were savages, all of them; who knew no law
but the law of club and fang.
He had never seen dogs fight as these wolfish creatures fought,
and his first experience taught him an unforgettable lesson. It is
true, it was a vicarious experience, else he would not have lived to
profit by it. Curly was the victim. They were camped near the log
store, where she, in her friendly way, made advances to a husky
dog the size of a full-grown wolf, though not half so large she.
There was no warning, only a leap in like a flash, a metallic clip of
teeth, a leap out equally swift, and Curly’s face was ripped open
from eye to jaw.
It was the wolf manner of fighting, to strike and leap away; but
there was more to it than this. Thirty or forty huskies ran to the
spot and surrounded the combatants in an intent and silent circle.
Buck did not comprehend that silent intentness, nor the eager way
with which they were licking their chops. Curly rushed her
antagonist, who struck again and leaped aside. He met her next
rush with his chest, in a peculiar fashion that tumbled her off her
feet. She never regained them. This was what the on looking
huskies had waited for. They closed in upon her, snarling and
yelping, and she was buried, screaming with agony, beneath the
bristling mass of bodies.
So sudden was it, and so unexpected, that Buck was taken aback.
He saw Spitz run out his scarlet tongue in a way he had of
laughing; and he saw Francois, swinging an axe, spring into the
mess of dogs. Three men with clubs were helping him to scatter
them. It did not take long. Two minutes from the time Curly went
down, the last of her assailants were clubbed off. But she lay there
limp and lifeless in the bloody, trampled snow, almost literally