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The Dominant Primordial Beast

under the fierce conditions of trail life it grew and grew. Yet it was
a secret growth. His new-born cunning gave him poise and control.
He was too busy adjusting himself to the new life to feel at ease,
and not only did he not pick fights, but he avoided them whenever
possible. A certain deliberateness characterised his attitude. He
was not prone to rashness and precipitate action; and in the bitter
hatred between him and Spitz he betrayed no impatience, shunned
all offensive acts.

On the other hand, possibly because he divined in Buck a
dangerous rival, Spitz never lost an opportunity of showing his
teeth. He even went out of his way to bully Buck, striving
constantly to start the fight which could end only in the death of
one or the other.

Early in the trip this might have taken place had it not been for an
unwonted accident. At the end of this day they made a bleak and
miserable camp on the shore of Lake Le Barge. Driving snow, a
wind that cut like a white-hot knife, and darkness had forced them
to grope for a camping place. They could hardly have fared worse.
At their backs rose a perpendicular wall of rock, and Perrault and
Francois were compelled to make their fire and spread their
sleeping robes on the ice of the lake itself. The tent they had
discarded at Dyea in order to travel light.

A few sticks of driftwood furnished them with a fire that thawed
down through the ice and left them to eat supper in the dark.

Close in under the sheltering rock Buck made his nest. So snug and
warm was it, that he was loath to leave it when Francois
distributed the fish which he had first thawed over the fire. But
when Buck finished his ration and returned, he found his nest
occupied. A warning snarl told him that his trespasser was Spitz.

Till now Buck had avoided trouble with his enemy, but this was
too much. The beast in him roared. He sprang upon Spitz with a
fury which surprised them both, and Spitz particularly, for his
whole experience with Buck had gone to teach him that his rival
was an unusually timid dog, who managed to hold his own
because of his great weight and size.
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