Batard was a
devil. This was recognized
throughout the Northland. "Hell's
Spawn" he was called by many
men, but his master, Black Leclere,
chose for him the shameful name "Batard." Now
Black Leclere was also a devil,
and the twain were well matched.
There is a saying that when two
devils come together, hell is
to pay. This is to be expected,
and this certainly was to be
expected when Batard and Black
Leclere came together. The first
time they met, Batard was a part-grown
puppy, lean and hungry, with
bitter eyes; and they met with
snap and snarl, and wicked looks,
for Leclere's upper lip had a
wolfish way of lifting and showing
the white, cruel teeth. And it
lifted then, and his eyes glinted
viciously, as he reached for
Batard and dragged him out from
the squirming litter. It was
certain that they divined each
other, for on the instant Batard
had buried his puppy fangs in
Leclere's hand, and Leclere,
thumb and finger, was coolly
choking his young life out of
Frenchman said softly, flirting
the quick blood
from his bitten hand and gazing
down on the little puppy choking
and gasping in the snow.
to John Hamlin, storekeeper
of the Sixty Mile
Post. "Dat fo' w'at Ah lak heem.
'Ow moch, eh, you, M'sieu'? 'Ow
moch? Ah buy heem, now; Ah buy
And because he hated him with
an exceeding bitter hate, Leclere
bought Batard and gave him his
shameful name. And for five years
the twain adventured across the
Northland, from St. Michael's
and the Yukon delta to the head-reaches
of the Pelly and even so far
as the Peace River, Athabasca,
and the Great Slave. And they
acquired a reputation for uncompromising
wickedness, the like of which
never before attached itself
to man and dog.
Batard did not know his father--hence
his name--but, as John Hamlin
knew, his father was a great
grey timber wolf. But the mother
of Batard, as he dimly remembered
her, was snarling, bickering,
obscene, husky, full-fronted
and heavy-chested, with a malign
eye, a cat-like grip on life,
and a genius for trickery and
evil. There was neither faith
nor trust in her. Her treachery
alone could be relied upon, and
her wild-wood amours attested
her general depravity. Much of
evil and much of strength were
there in these, Batard's progenitors,
and, bone and flesh of their
bone and flesh, he had inherited
it all. And then came Black Leclere,
to lay his heavy hand on the
bit of pulsating puppy life,
to press and prod and mould till
it became a big bristling beast,
acute in knavery, overspilling
with hate, sinister, malignant,
diabolical. With a proper master
Batard might have made an ordinary,
fairly efficient sled-dog. He
never got the chance: Leclere
but confirmed him in his congenital
The history of Batard and Leclere
is a history of war--of five
cruel, relentless years, of which
their first meeting is fit summary.
To begin with, it was Leclere's
fault, for he hated with understanding
and intelligence, while the long-legged,
ungainly puppy hated only blindly,
instinctively, without reason
or method. At first there were
no refinements of cruelty (these
were to come later), but simple
beatings and crude brutalities.
In one of these Batard had an
ear injured. He never regained
control of the riven muscles,
and ever after the ear drooped
limply down to keep keen the
memory of his tormentor. And
he never forgot.
His puppyhood was a period
of foolish rebellion. He was
always worsted, but he fought
back because it was his nature
to fight back. And he was unconquerable.
Yelping shrilly from the pain
of lash and club, he none the
less contrived always to throw
in the defiant snarl, the bitter
vindictive menace of his soul
which fetched without fail more
blows and beatings. But his was
his mother's tenacious grip on
life. Nothing could kill him.
He flourished under misfortune,
grew fat with famine, and out
of his terrible struggle for
life developed a preternatural
intelligence. His were the stealth
and cunning of the husky, his
mother, and the fierceness and
valour of the wolf, his father.
Possibly it was because of
his father that he never wailed.
His puppy yelps passed with his
lanky legs, so that he became
grim and taciturn, quick to strike,
slow to warn. He answered curse
with snarl, and blow with snap,
grinning the while his implacable
hatred; but never again, under
the extremest agony, did Leclere
bring from him the cry of fear
nor of pain. This unconquerableness
but fanned Leclere's wrath and
stirred him to greater deviltries.
Did Leclere give Batard half
a fish and to his mates whole
ones, Batard went forth to rob
other dogs of their fish. Also
he robbed caches and expressed
himself in a thousand rogueries,
till he became a terror to all
dogs and masters of dogs. Did
Leclere beat Batard and fondle
Babette--Babette who was not
half the worker he was--why,
Batard threw her down in the
snow and broke her hind leg in
his heavy jaws, so that Leclere
was forced to shoot her. Likewise,
in bloody battles, Batard mastered
all his team-mates, set them
the law of trail and forage,
and made them live to the law
In five years he heard but
one kind word, received but one
soft stroke of a hand, and then
he did not know what manner of
things they were. He leaped like
the untamed thing he was, and
his jaws were together in a flash.
It was the missionary at Sunrise,
a newcomer in the country, who
spoke the kind word and gave
the soft stroke of the hand.
And for six months after, he
wrote no letters home to the
States, and the surgeon at McQuestion
travelled two hundred miles on
the ice to save him from blood-poisoning.
Men and dogs looked askance
at Batard when he drifted into
their camps and posts. The men
greeted him with feet threateningly
lifted for the kick, the dogs
with bristling manes and bared
fangs. Once a man did kick Batard,
and Batard, with quick wolf snap,
closed his jaws like a steel
trap on the man's calf and crunched
down to the bone. Whereat the
man was determined to have his
life, only Black Leclere, with
ominous eyes and naked hunting-knife,
stepped in between. The killing
of Batard--ah, SACREDAM, THAT
was a pleasure Leclere reserved
for himself. Some day it would
happen, or else--bah! who was
to know? Anyway, the problem
would be solved.
For they had become problems
to each other. The very breath
each drew was a challenge and
a menace to the other. Their
hate bound them together as love
could never bind. Leclere was
bent on the coming of the day
when Batard should wilt in spirit
and cringe and whimper at his
feet. And Batard--Leclere knew
what was in Batard's mind, and
more than once had read it in
Batard's eyes. And so clearly
had he read, that when Batard
was at his back, he made it a
point to glance often over his
when Leclere refused large
money for the dog. "Some
day you'll kill him and be out
his price," said John Hamlin
once, when Batard lay panting
in the snow where Leclere had
kicked him, and no one knew whether
his ribs were broken, and no
one dared look to see.
"Dat," said Leclere, dryly, "dat
is my biz'ness, M'sieu'."
And the men marvelled that
Batard did not run away. They
did not understand. But Leclere
understood. He was a man who
lived much in the open, beyond
the sound of human tongue, and
he had learned the voices of
wind and storm, the sigh of night,
the whisper of dawn, the clash
of day. In a dim way he could
hear the green things growing,
the running of the sap, the bursting
of the bud. And he knew the subtle
speech of the things that moved,
of the rabbit in the snare, the
moody raven beating the air with
hollow wing, the baldface shuffling
under the moon, the wolf like
a grey shadow gliding betwixt
the twilight and the dark. And
to him Batard spoke clear and
direct. Full well he understood
why Batard did not run away,
and he looked more often over
When in anger, Batard was not
nice to look upon, and more than
once had he leapt for Leclere's
throat, to be stretched quivering
and senseless in the snow, by
the butt of the ever ready dogwhip.
And so Batard learned to bide
his time. When he reached his
full strength and prime of youth,
he thought the time had come.
He was broad-chested, powerfully
muscled, of far more than ordinary
size, and his neck from head
to shoulders was a mass of bristling
hair-- to all appearances a full-blooded
wolf. Leclere was lying asleep
in his furs when Batard deemed
the time to be ripe. He crept
upon him stealthily, head low
to earth and lone ear laid back,
with a feline softness of tread.
Batard breathed gently, very
gently, and not till he was close
at hand did he raise his head.
He paused for a moment and looked
at the bronzed bull throat, naked
and knotty, and swelling to a
deep steady pulse. The slaver
dripped down his fangs and slid
off his tongue at the sight,
and in that moment he remembered
his drooping ear, his uncounted
blows and prodigious wrongs,
and without a sound sprang on
the sleeping man.
Leclere awoke to the pang of
the fangs in his throat, and,
perfect animal that he was, he
awoke clear-headed and with full
comprehension. He closed on Batard's
windpipe with both his hands,
and rolled out of his furs to
get his weight uppermost. But
the thousands of Batard's ancestors
had clung at the throats of unnumbered
moose and caribou and dragged
them down, and the wisdom of
those ancestors was his. When
Leclere's weight came on top
of him, he drove his hind legs
upwards and in, and clawed down
chest and abdomen, ripping and
tearing through skin and muscle.
And when he felt the man's body
wince above him and lift, he
worried and shook at the man's
throat. His team-mates closed
around in a snarling circle,
and Batard, with failing breath
and fading sense, knew that their
jaws were hungry for him. But
that did not matter- -it was
the man, the man above him, and
he ripped and clawed, and shook
and worried, to the last ounce
of his strength. But Leclere
choked him with both his hands,
till Batard's chest heaved and
writhed for the air denied, and
his eyes glazed and set, and
his jaws slowly loosened, and
his tongue protruded black and
"Eh? Bon, you devil!" Leclere
gurgled mouth and throat clogged
with his own blood, as he shoved
the dizzy dog from him.
And then Leclere cursed the
other dogs off as they fell upon
Batard. They drew back into a
wider circle, squatting alertly
on their haunches and licking
their chops, the hair on every
neck bristling and erect.
Batard recovered quickly, and
at sound of Leclere's voice,
tottered to his feet and swayed
weakly back and forth.
"A-h-ah! You beeg devil!" Leclere
spluttered. "Ah fix you; Ah fix
you plentee, by GAR!"
Batard, the air biting into
his exhausted lungs like wine,
flashed full into the man's face,
his jaws missing and coming together
with a metallic clip. They rolled
over and over on the snow, Leclere
striking madly with his fists.
Then they separated, face to
face, and circled back and forth
before each other. Leclere could
have drawn his knife. His rifle
was at his feet. But the beast
in him was up and raging. He
would do the thing with his hands--and
his teeth. Batard sprang in,
but Leclere knocked him over
with a blow of the fist, fell
upon him, and buried his teeth
to the bone in the dog's shoulder.
It was a primordial setting
and a primordial scene, such
as might have been in the savage
youth of the world. An open space
in a dark forest, a ring of grinning
wolf-dogs, and in the centre
two beasts, locked in combat,
snapping and snarling raging
madly about panting, sobbing,
cursing, straining, wild with
passion, in a fury of murder,
ripping and tearing and clawing
in elemental brutishness.
But Leclere caught Batard behind
the ear with a blow from his
fist, knocking him over, and,
for the instant, stunning him.
Then Leclere leaped upon him
with his feet, and sprang up
and down, striving to grind him
into the earth. Both Batard's
hind legs were broken ere Leclere
ceased that he might catch breath.
"A-a-ah! A-a-ah!" he
screamed, incapable of speech,
his fist, through sheer impotence
of throat and larynx.
But Batard was indomitable.
He lay there in a helpless welter,
his lip feebly lifting and writhing
to the snarl he had not the strength
to utter. Leclere kicked him,
and the tired jaws closed on
the ankle, but could not break
picked up the whip and proceeded
cut him to pieces, at each stroke
of the lash crying: "Dis taim
Ah break you! Eh? By GAR! Ah
In the end, exhausted, fainting
from loss of blood, he crumpled
up and fell by his victim, and
when the wolf-dogs closed in
to take their vengeance, with
his last consciousness dragged
his body on top of Batard to
shield him from their fangs.
This occurred not far from
Sunrise, and the missionary,
opening the door to Leclere a
few hours later, was surprised
to note the absence of Batard
from the team. Nor did his surprise
lessen when Leclere threw back
the robes from the sled, gathered
Batard into his arms and staggered
across the threshold. It happened
that the surgeon of McQuestion,
who was something of a gadabout,
was up on a gossip, and between
them they proceeded to repair
"Merci, non," said he. "Do
you fix firs' de dog. To die?
NON. Eet is not good. Becos'
heem Ah mus' yet break. Dat fo'
w'at he mus' not die."
The surgeon called it a marvel,
the missionary a miracle, that
Leclere pulled through at all;
and so weakened was he, that
in the spring the fever got him,
and he went on his back again.
Batard had been in even worse
plight, but his grip on life
prevailed, and the bones of his
hind legs knit, and his organs
righted themselves, during the
several weeks he lay strapped
to the floor. And by the time
Leclere, finally convalescent,
sallow and shaky, took the sun
by the cabin door, Batard had
reasserted his supremacy among
his kind, and brought not only
his own team-mates but the missionary's
dogs into subjection.
He moved never a muscle, nor
twitched a hair, when, for the
first time, Leclere tottered
out on the missionary's arm,
and sank down slowly and with
infinite caution on the three-legged
"BON!" he said. "BON! De good
sun!" And he stretched out his
wasted hands and washed them
in the warmth.
Then his gaze
fell on the dog, and the old
light blazed back
in his eyes. He touched the missionary
lightly on the arm. "Mon pere,
dat is one beeg devil, dat Batard.
You will bring me one pistol,
so, dat Ah drink de sun in peace."
And thenceforth for many days
he sat in the sun before the
cabin door. He never dozed, and
the pistol lay always across
his knees. Batard had a way,
the first thing each day, of
looking for the weapon in its
wonted place. At sight of it
he would lift his lip faintly
in token that he understood,
and Leclere would lift his own
lip in an answering grin. One
day the missionary took note
of the trick.
"Bless me!" he said. "I
really believe the brute comprehends."
you, mon pere. Dat w'at Ah now
spik, to dat does he lissen."
As if in confirmation, Batard
just perceptibly wriggled his
lone ear up to catch the sound.
"Ah say 'keel'."
Batard growled deep down in
his throat, the hair bristled
along his neck, and every muscle
went tense and expectant.
"Ah lift de gun, so, like dat." And
suiting action to word, he sighted
the pistol at Batard. Batard,
with a single leap, sideways,
landed around the corner of the
cabin out of sight.
"Bless me!" he
repeated at intervals. Leclere
"But why does
he not run away?"
The Frenchman's shoulders went
up in the racial shrug that means
all things from total ignorance
to infinite understanding.
"Then why do
you not kill him?"
Again the shoulders went up.
"Mon pere," he said after a
pause, "de taim is not yet. He
is one beeg devil. Some taim
Ah break heem, so an' so, all
to leetle bits. Hey? some taim.
A day came when Leclere gathered
his dogs together and floated
down in a bateau to Forty Mile,
and on to the Porcupine, where
he took a commission from the
P. C. Company, and went exploring
for the better part of a year.
After that he poled up the Koyokuk
to deserted Arctic City, and
later came drifting back, from
camp to camp, along the Yukon.
And during the long months Batard
was well lessoned. He learned
many tortures, and, notably,
the torture of hunger, the torture
of thirst, the torture of fire,
and, worst of all, the torture
Like the rest of his kind,
he did not enjoy music. It gave
him exquisite anguish, racking
him nerve by nerve, and ripping
apart every fibre of his being.
It made him howl, long and wolf-life,
as when the wolves bay the stars
on frosty nights. He could not
help howling. It was his one
weakness in the contest with
Leclere, and it was his shame.
Leclere, on the other hand, passionately
loved music--as passionately
as he loved strong drink. And
when his soul clamoured for expression,
it usually uttered itself in
one or the other of the two ways,
and more usually in both ways.
And when he had drunk, his brain
a-lilt with unsung song and the
devil in him aroused and rampant,
his soul found its supreme utterance
in torturing Batard.
"Now we will haf a leetle museek," he
would say. "Eh? W'at you t'ink,
It was only an old and battered
harmonica, tenderly treasured
and patiently repaired; but it
was the best that money could
buy, and out of its silver reeds
he drew weird vagrant airs that
men had never heard before. Then
Batard, dumb of throat, with
teeth tight clenched, would back
away, inch by inch, to the farthest
cabin corner. And Leclere, playing,
playing, a stout club tucked
under his arm, followed the animal
up, inch by inch, step by step,
till there was no further retreat.
At first Batard would crowd
himself into the smallest possible
space, grovelling close to the
floor; but as the music came
nearer and nearer, he was forced
to uprear, his back jammed into
the logs, his fore legs fanning
the air as though to beat off
the rippling waves of sound.
He still kept his teeth together,
but severe muscular contractions
attacked his body, strange twitchings
and jerkings, till he was all
a-quiver and writhing in silent
torment. As he lost control,
his jaws spasmodically wrenched
apart, and deep throaty vibrations
issued forth, too low in the
register of sound for human ear
to catch. And then, nostrils
distended, eyes dilated, hair
bristling in helpless rage, arose
the long wolf howl. It came with
a slurring rush upwards, swelling
to a great heart- breaking burst
of sound, and dying away in sadly
cadenced woe--then the next rush
upward, octave upon octave; the
bursting heart; and the infinite
sorrow and misery, fainting,
fading, falling, and dying slowly
It was fit for hell. And Leclere,
with fiendish ken, seemed to
divine each particular nerve
and heartstring, and with long
wails and tremblings and sobbing
minors to make it yield up its
last shred of grief. It was frightful,
and for twenty-four hours after,
Batard was nervous and unstrung,
starting at common sounds, tripping
over his own shadow, but, withal,
vicious and masterful with his
team-mates. Nor did he show signs
of a breaking spirit. Rather
did he grow more grim and taciturn,
biding his time with an inscrutable
patience that began to puzzle
and weigh upon Leclere. The dog
would lie in the firelight, motionless,
for hours, gazing straight before
him at Leclere, and hating him
with his bitter eyes.
Often the man felt that he
had bucked against the very essence
of life--the unconquerable essence
that swept the hawk down out
of the sky like a feathered thunderbolt,
that drove the great grey goose
across the zones, that hurled
the spawning salmon through two
thousand miles of boiling Yukon
flood. At such times he felt
impelled to--express his own
unconquerable essence; and with
strong drink, wild music, and
Batard, he indulged in vast orgies,
wherein he pitted his puny strength
in the face of things, and challenged
all that was, and had been, and
was yet to be.
"Dere is somet'ing dere," he
affirmed, when the rhythmed vagaries
of his mind touched the secret
chords of Batard's being and
brought forth the long lugubrious
howl. "Ah pool eet out wid bot'
my han's, so, an' so. Ha! ha!
Eet is fonee! Eet is ver' fonee!
De priest chant, de womans pray,
de mans swear, de leetle bird
go peep-peep, Batard, heem go
yow-yow--an' eet is all de ver'
same t'ing. Ha! ha!"
Father Gautier, a worthy priest,
one reproved him with instances
of concrete perdition. He never
reproved him again.
"Eet may be so, mon pere," he
made answer. "An' Ah t'ink Ah
go troo hell a-snappin', lak
de hemlock troo de fire. Eh,
But all bad things come to
an end as well as good, and so
with Black Leclere. On the summer
low water, in a poling boat,
he left McDougall for Sunrise.
He left McDougall in company
with Timothy Brown, and arrived
at Sunrise by himself. Further,
it was known that they had quarrelled
just previous to pulling out;
for the Lizzie, a wheezy ten-ton
stern-wheeler, twenty-four hours
behind, beat Leclere in by three
days. And when he did get in,
it was with a clean-drilled bullet-hole
through his shoulder muscle,
and a tale of ambush and murder.
A strike had
been made at Sunrise, and things
had changed considerably.
With the infusion of several
hundred gold-seekers, a deal
of whisky, and half-a-dozen equipped
gamblers, the missionary had
seen the page of his years of
labour with the Indians wiped
clean. When the squaws became
preoccupied with cooking beans
and keeping the fire going for
the wifeless miners, and the
bucks with swapping their warm
furs for black bottles and broken
time-pieces, he took to his bed,
said "Bless me" several times,
and departed to his final accounting
in a rough-hewn, oblong box.
Whereupon the gamblers moved
their roulette and faro tables
into the mission house, and the
click of chips and clink of glasses
went up from dawn till dark and
to dawn again.
Brown was well beloved among
of the North. The one thing against
him was his quick temper and
ready fist--a little thing, for
which his kind heart and forgiving
hand more than atoned. On the
other hand, there was nothing
to atone for Black Leclere. He
was "black," as more than one
remembered deed bore witness,
while he was as well hated as
the other was beloved. So the
men of Sunrise put an antiseptic
dressing on his shoulder and
haled him before Judge Lynch.
It was a simple affair. He
had quarrelled with Timothy Brown
at McDougall. With Timothy Brown
he had left McDougall. Without
Timothy Brown he had arrived
at Sunrise. Considered in the
light of his evilness, the unanimous
conclusion was that he had killed
Timothy Brown. On the other hand,
Leclere acknowledged their facts,
but challenged their conclusion,
and gave his own explanation.
Twenty miles out of Sunrise he
and Timothy Brown were poling
the boat along the rocky shore.
From that shore two rifle- shots
rang out. Timothy Brown pitched
out of the boat and went down
bubbling red, and that was the
last of Timothy Brown. He, Leclere,
pitched into the bottom of the
boat with a stinging shoulder.
He lay very quiet, peeping at
the shore. After a time two Indians
stuck up their heads and came
out to the water's edge, carrying
between them a birch-bark canoe.
As they launched it, Leclere
let fly. He potted one, who went
over the side after the manner
of Timothy Brown. The other dropped
into the bottom of the canoe,
and then canoe and poling boat
went down the stream in a drifting
battle. After that they hung
up on a split current, and the
canoe passed on one side of an
island, the poling boat on the
other. That was the last of the
canoe, and he came on into Sunrise.
Yes, from the way the Indian
in the canoe jumped, he was sure
he had potted him. That was all.
This explanation was not deemed
adequate. They gave him ten hours'
grace while the Lizzie steamed
down to investigate. Ten hours
later she came wheezing back
to Sunrise. There had been nothing
to investigate. No evidence had
been found to back up his statements.
They told him to make his will,
for he possessed a fifty-thousand
dollar Sunrise claim, and they
were a law-abiding as well as
a law-giving breed.
his shoulders. "Bot
one t'ing," he said; "a leetle,
w'at you call, favour--a leetle
favour, dat is eet. I gif my
feefty t'ousan' dollair to de
church. I gif my husky dog, Batard,
to de devil. De leetle favour?
Firs' you hang heem, an' den
you hang me. Eet is good, eh?"
Good it was, they agreed, that
Hell's Spawn should break trail
for his master across the last
divide, and the court was adjourned
down to the river bank, where
a big spruce tree stood by itself.
Slackwater Charley put a hangman's
knot in the end of a hauling-
line, and the noose was slipped
over Leclere's head and pulled
tight around his neck. His hands
were tied behind his back, and
he was assisted to the top of
a cracker box. Then the running
end of the line was passed over
an over-hanging branch, drawn
taut, and made fast. To kick
the box out from under would
leave him dancing on the air.
"Now for the dog," said Webster
Shaw, sometime mining engineer. "You'll
have to rope him, Slackwater."
Leclere grinned. Slackwater
took a chew of tobacco, rove
a running noose, and proceeded
leisurely to coil a few turns
in his hand. He paused once or
twice to brush particularly offensive
mosquitoes from off his face.
Everybody was brushing mosquitoes,
except Leclere, about whose head
a small cloud was visible. Even
Batard, lying full-stretched
on the ground with his fore paws
rubbed the pests away from eyes
But while Slackwater waited
for Batard to lift his head,
a faint call came from the quiet
air, and a man was seen waving
his arms and running across the
flat from Sunrise. It was the
"C-call 'er off, boys," he
panted, as he came in among them.
"Little Sandy and Bernadotte's
jes' got in," he explained with
returning breath. "Landed down
below an' come up by the short
cut. Got the Beaver with 'm.
Picked 'm up in his canoe, stuck
in a back channel, with a couple
of bullet-holes in 'm. Other
buck was Klok Kutz, the one that
knocked spots out of his squaw
"Eh? W'at Ah say? Eh?" Leclere
cried exultantly. "Dat de one
fo' sure! Ah know. Ah spik true."
"The thing to do is to teach
these damned Siwashes a little
manners," spoke Webster Shaw. "They're
getting fat and sassy, and we'll
have to bring them down a peg.
Round in all the bucks and string
up the Beaver for an object lesson.
That's the programme. Come on
and let's see what he's got to
say for himself."
"Heh, M'sieu!" Leclere called,
as the crowd began to melt away
through the twilight in the direction
of Sunrise. "Ah lak ver' moch
to see de fon."
"Oh, we'll turn you loose when
we come back," Webster Shaw shouted
over his shoulder. "In the meantime
meditate on your sins and the
ways of Providence. It will do
you good, so be grateful."
As is the way with men who
are accustomed to great hazards,
whose nerves are healthy and
trained in patience, so it was
with Leclere who settled himself
to the long wait--which is to
say that he reconciled his mind
to it. There was no settling
of the body, for the taut rope
forced him to stand rigidly erect.
The least relaxation of the leg
muscles pressed the rough-fibred
noose into his neck, while the
upright position caused him much
pain in his wounded shoulder.
He projected his under lip and
expelled his breath upwards along
his face to blow the mosquitoes
away from his eyes. But the situation
had its compensation. To be snatched
from the maw of death was well
worth a little bodily suffering,
only it was unfortunate that
he should miss the hanging of
And so he mused, till his eyes
chanced to fall upon Batard,
head between fore paws and stretched
on the ground asleep. And their
Leclere ceased to muse. He studied
the animal closely, striving
to sense if the sleep were real
or feigned. Batard's sides were
heaving regularly, but Leclere
felt that the breath came and
went a shade too quickly; also
he felt that there was a vigilance
or alertness to every hair that
belied unshackling sleep. He
would have given his Sunrise
claim to be assured that the
dog was not awake, and once,
when one of his joints cracked,
he looked quickly and guiltily
at Batard to see if he roused.
He did not rouse then but a few
minutes later he got up slowly
and lazily, stretched, and looked
carefully about him.
Leclere under his breath.
Assured that no one was in
sight or hearing, Batard sat
down, curled his upper lip almost
into a smile, looked up at Leclere,
and licked his chops.
"Ah see my feenish," the
man said, and laughed sardonically
Batard came nearer, the useless
ear wabbling, the good ear cocked
forward with devilish comprehension.
He thrust his head on one side
quizzically, and advanced with
mincing, playful steps. He rubbed
his body gently against the box
till it shook and shook again.
Leclere teetered carefully to
maintain his equilibrium.
"Batard," he said calmly, "look
out. Ah keel you."
Batard snarled at the word
and shook the box with greater
force. Then he upreared, and
with his fore paws threw his
weight against it higher up.
Leclere kicked out with one foot,
but the rope bit into his neck
and checked so abruptly as nearly
to overbalance him.
"Hi, ya! Chook! Mush-on!" he
Batard retreated, for twenty
feet or so, with a fiendish levity
in his bearing that Leclere could
not mistake. He remembered the
dog often breaking the scum of
ice on the water hole by lifting
up and throwing his weight upon
it; and remembering, he understood
what he now had in mind. Batard
faced about and paused. He showed
his white teeth in a grin, which
Leclere answered; and then hurled
his body through the air, in
full charge, straight for the
Fifteen minutes later, Slackwater
Charley and Webster Shaw returning,
caught a glimpse of a ghostly
pendulum swinging back and forth
in the dim light. As they hurriedly
drew in closer, they made out
the man's inert body, and a live
thing that clung to it, and shook
and worried, and gave to it the
"Hi, ya! Chook! you Spawn of
Hell!" yelled Webster Shaw.
But Batard glared at him, and
snarled threateningly, without
loosing his jaws.
Slackwater Charley got out
his revolver, but his hand was
shaking, as with a chill, and
"Here you take it," he
said, passing the weapon over.
Webster Shaw laughed shortly,
drew a sight between the gleaming
eyes, and pressed the trigger.
Batard's body twitched with the
shock, threshed the ground spasmodically
for a moment, and went suddenly
limp. But his teeth still held