The Maupin times. (Maupin, Or.) 1914-1930, January 19, 1922, Image 2

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    The Voice of the Pack
CHAPTER II Continued.
"Father and I are to stay here?"
"What else can you do?" He went
back to his traces and drew the sled
100 yards farther. He didn't seem to
eee the gaunt wolf that backed off
Into the shadows as he approached.
He refused to notice that the pack
seemed to be steadily growing bolder.
Human hunters usually had guns that
could blast and destroy from a dis
tance; but even an animal Intelli
gence could perceive that these three
seemed to be without this means of
Inflicting death.
A wolf Is ever so much more Intelli
gent than a crow yet a crow shows
little fear of an unarmed man and Is
wholly unapproachable by a boy with
a gun. The ugly truth was simply that
In their Increasing madness and ex
citement and hunger, they were becom
ing less and less fearful of these three
strange humans with the sled.
It was not a good place for a camp.
They worked a long time before they
cleared a little patch of ground of Its
snow mantle. Dan cut a number of
saplings laboriously with his ax and
built a tire with the comparatively
dry core of a dead tree. True, It was
feeble and flickering, but as good as
could be hoped for, considering the
dllllcultles under which he worked.
The dead logs under the snow were
soaked with water from the rains and
thaws. The green wood that he cut
smoked without blazing.
! "No more time to be lost," Dan told
Snowbird. "It lies In your hands to
keep the Are burning. And don't leave
the circle of the fire light without
that pistol In your hand."
i "You don't mean," she asked, unbe
lieving, "that you are going to go out
there to fight Cranston unarmed?"
"Of course, Snowbird. You must
keep the pistol."
I "Hut It means death; that's all It
means. What chance would you have
against a man with a rllle? And as
soon as you get away from this fire,
the wolves will tear you to pieces."
"And what would you and your fa
ther do, If I took It? You can't get
him Into a tree. You can't build a
big enough fire to frighten them.
Please don't even talk about this mat
ter, Snowbird. My mind's made up. I
think the pack will stay here. They
usually God knows how know who
Is helpless and who Isn't. Maybe with
the gun, you will be able to save your
"What's the chance of that?"
"You might with one cartridge
kill one of the devils; and the others
but you know how they devour their
own dead. That might break their
famine enough so that they'd hold oft
until I can get back. That's the prize
Pin playing for."
"And what If you don't get back?"
lie took her hand In one of his, and
with the other he caressed, for a sin
gle moment, (he lovely flesh of her
throat. The love he had for her spoke
from his eyes such speech as no hu
man vision could possibly mistake,
lloth of them were tingling and breath
less with a great, sweet wonder.
"Never let those fangs tear that
softness, while you live," he told here
gently. "Never let thnt brave old man
on the sled go to his death with the
pack tearing nt him. Cheat 'etn,
Snowbird I Heat 'em the last minute,
If no other way remains I Show 'em
who's boss, after all of all this for
est." "You mean?" Her eyes widened.
"I mean that you must only spend
one of those three shells In fighting
off the wolves. Save that till the mo
ment you need It most. The other
two must be saved for soniethlug
She nodded, shuddering an Instant
nt a menacing shadow that moved
within 00 feet of the fire.
"Then goodby, Dan I" she told him.
And sho stretched up hor anus. "The
thing I said that day on the hillside
doesn't hold any more.
Ills own anus encircled her, but he
made no effort to claim her lips. Len
nox watched them quietly; In this
moment of crisis not even pretending
to look nwny. Dun shook his head to
her entreating eyes. "It Isn't Just a
kiss, darling," he told her soberly. "It
goes deeper than that. It's a symbol.
It was your word, too, and mine; and
words can't be broken, things being as
they are. Can't I make you under
stand?" She nodded. Ills eyes burned. Per
haps she didn't understand, ns far as
actual functioning of the brain was
concerned. Hut she reached up to
him, as women knowing life In the
concreto rather than the abstract
have always reached up to tuen; and
she dimly caught the gleam of some
eternal principle and right behind his
words. This strong man of the moun
tains had given his word, had been
witness to her own promise to him
and to herself, and a law that goes
down to the roots of life prevented
him from claiming the kiss.
Jinny times, since the world wns
new, comfort happiness life Itself
have been contingent on the breaking
of law. Yet In spite of what seemed
common sense, even though no punish
ment would forthcome If It were
broken, the law has been kept. It was
this way now. It wouldn't have been
Just a kiss such as boys and girls have
always had in the moonlight. It meant
the symbolic renunciation of the debt
that Dan owed Cranston a debt that
In his mind might possibly go unpaid,
which no weight of circumstance could
make hlra renounce.
His longing for her lips pulled at
the roots of hlra. But by the laws of
his being he couldn't claim them until
the debt Incurred on the hillside,
months ago, had been paid; to take
them now meant to dull the fine edge
of his resolve to carry the Issue
through to the end, to dim the star
that led him, to weaken him, by bend
ing now, for the test to come. He
didn't know why. It had its fount In
the deep wells of the spirit. Common
sense can't reveal how the holy man
keeps strong the spirit by denying the
flesh. It goes too deep for that. Dan
kept to his consecrntion.
He did, however, kiss her hands.
and he kissed the tears out of her
eyes. Then he turned Into the dark
ness and broke through the ring of
the wolves.
Dan Falling was never more thank
ful for his unerring sense of direction.
He struck off at a forty-five-degree
angle between their late course and a
direct road to the river, and he kept
It as If by a surveyor's line. All the
old devices of the wilderness the
ridge on ridge that looked Just alike.
Inclines that to the casual eye looked
like downward slopes, streams that
vanished beneath the snow, and the
snow-mist blowing across the face of
the landmarks could not avail
against him.
A half dozen of the wolves followed
him at first. Hut perhaps their fierce
eyes marked his long stride and his
powerful body, and decided that their
better chance was with the helpless
man and the girl beside the flickering
fire. They turned bnck, one by one.
Dan kept straight on and In two hours
"Keep the Fire Burning."
crossed Cranston's trail. He didn't
doubt but that he would find Cran
ston In his camp, If he found tha camp
at all. The man had certainly re
turned to It Immediately after setting
fire to the buildings. If for no other
reason than for food. It Isn't well
to be abroad on the wintry mountains
without a supply of food; and Cran
ston would certainly know this fact.
Dan didn't know when a rllle bullet
from some camp In tlio thickets would
put an abrupt end to his advance. The
brush grew high by the river, the ele
vation wns considerably lower, and
there might be one hundred camps out
of the sight of the casual wayfarer.
If Cranston should see him, mushing
ncrnss the moonlit snow, It would give
him the most savage Joy to open fire
upon him with his rllle.
Dan's keen eyes searched the thick
ets, and particularly they watched the
sky line for a faint glare that might
mean a camp fire. He tried to walk
silently. It wasn't nn easy thing to
do with awkward snowshoes; but the
river drowned the little noise that he
made. Ho tried to take advantage of
tho shelter of the thickets and the
trees. Then, at the base of a little
ridge, he came to a sudden halt.
Ho hnd estimated Just right. Not
two hundred yards distant, a camp
fire flickered and glowed In the shel
ter of a great log. Ho saw It, by the
most astounding good fortune, through
a little rift In the trees. Ten feet on
either side, and It wns obscured.
He lost nn time. He did not know
when the wolves about Snowbird's
cump would lose the last of their
Copyright, 1920, by Little, Brown A Co.
cowardice. Tet he knew he must keep
a tight grip on his self-control and
not let the necessity of haste cost him
his victory. He crept forward, step
by step, placing his snowshoes with
consummate care. When he was one
hundred yards distant he saw that
Cranston's camp was situated beside
a little stream that flowed into the
river and that like the mountaineer
he was he had built a large lean-to
reinforced with snowbanks. The fire
burned at Its opening. Cranston was
not In sight; either he was absent
from camp or asleep In his lean-to.
The latter seemed the more likely.
Dan made a wide detour, coming In
about thirty yards behind the construc
tion. Still he moved with incredible
caution. Never in his life had he pos
sessed a greater mastery over his own
nerves. His heart leaped somewhat
fast In his own breast; but this was
the only wasted motion. It isn't easy
to advance through such thickets with
out ever a misstep, without the rustle
of a branch or the crack of a twig.
Certain of the wild creatures find It
easy; but men have forgotten how In
too many centuries of cities and farms.
It Is hardly a human quality, and a
spectator would have found a rather
ghastly fascination In watching the
lithe motions, the passionless face, the
hands that didn't shake at all. But
there were no spectators unless the
little band of wolves, stragglers from
the pack that had gathered on the hills
behind watched with lighted eyes.
Dan went down at full length upon
the snow and softly removed ills snow
shoes. They would be only an Impedi
ment In the close work that was sure
to follow. He slid along the snow
crust, clear to the mouth of the lean-to.
The moonlight poured through and
showed the Interior with rather re
markable plainness. Cranston was
sprawled, half-sitting, half-lying on a
tree-bough pallet near the rear wall.
There was not the slightest doubt of
the man's wakefulness. Dan heard
him stir, and once as if at the mem
ory of his deed of the day before he
cursed In a savage whisper. Although
he was facing the opening of the lean
to, he was wholly unaware of Dan's
presence. The latter had thrust his
head at the side of the opening, and
It was In shadow. Cranston seemed
to be watching the great, white snow
fields that lay In front, and for a mo
ment Dan was at loss to explain tills
seeming vigil. Then he understood.
The white field before him was part
of the long ridge that the three of
them would pass on their way to the
valleys. Cranston had evidently an
ticipated that the girl, and the man
would attempt to march out een If
he hadn't guessed they would try to
take the helpless Lennox with them
and he wished to be prepared for
emergencies. There might be sport to
have with Dan, unarmed as he was.
And his eye? were full of strange con
jectures In regard to Snowbird. Both
would be exhausted now and helpless
Dan's eyes encompassed the room;
the piles of provisions heaped against
the wall, the snow shoes beside the
pallet, but most of all he wished to
locate Cranston's rifle. Success or
fullure hung on that. He couldn't
find It at first Then he saw the glit
ter of Its barrel In the moonlight
leaning against a grub box possibly
six feet from Cranston and 10 from
His heart leaped. The best he had
hoped for for the sake of Snowbird,
not himself was that he would be
nearer to the gun than Cranston and
would be able to seize It first. But
conditions could be greatly worse than
they were. If Cranston had actually
had the weapon In his hands, the odds
of battle would have been frightfully
against Dan. It takes a certain length
of time to seize, swing, and aim a ri
fle ; and Dan felt that while he would
be unable to reach It himself, Cran
ston could not procure It either, with
out giving Dan an opportunity to lenp
upon him. In all his dreams, through
the months of preparation, he had pic
tured It thus. It was the test at last.
The gun might be loaded, and still
In these days of safety devices un
ready to fire; and the loss of a frac
tion of a second might enable Cran
ston to reach his knife. Thus Dan
felt Justified In Ignoring the gun alto
gether and trusting as he had most
desired to a battle of hands. And he
wanted both hauds free when he made
his attack.
If Dan had been erect upon his feet,
his course would have been an Imme
diate toap on the shoulders of his ad
versary, running the risk of Cranston
reaching his hunting knife In time.
But the second that he would require
to get to his feet would entirely offset
this advantage. Cranston could spring
ap, too. So he did the next most dis
arming thing.
He sprang up and strode Into the
Falls Excavate 30-Mlls Chasm.
The waters of the grand falls of
Labrador have excavated a chasm SO
miles long.
When Satan needs a good man In
the business he picks out t loafer.
Ill if, j QyJSDTiSQJW ' ' II 1
nmn,.3wiii.iwmpjini iisa mum m imi jthwwip 1 im
CHAPTER 111 Continued.
"Good evening, Crans'ton," he said
Cranston was also upon his feet the
same instant. His instincts were en
tirely true. He knew if he leaped for
his rifle, Dan would be upon his back
In nn instant, and he would have no
chance to use It. The rifle was now
out of the running, as they were at
about equal distances from it, and
neither-would have time to swing or
aim It
Dan's sudden appearance had been
so utterly unlooked for, that for a mo
ment Cranston could find no answer.
His eyes moved to the rifle, then to
his belt where hung his hunting knife,
that still lay on the pallet. "Good
evening, Fniling," he replied,' trying
his hardest to fall, into that strange
spirit of nonchalance with which
brave men have so often met their ad
versaries, and which Dan had now.
"I'm surprised to see you here. What
do you want?"
Dan's voice when lie replied was no
more warm than the snow banks that
reinforced the lean to. "I want your
rifle also your saow shoes and your
supplies of food. And I think I'll take
your blankets, too."
"And I suppose you mean to fight
for them?" Cranston asked. His lips
drew up in a smile, but there was no
smile In the tone of his words.
"You're right," Dan told him, and
he stepped nearer. "Not only for
that, Cranston. We're face to face at
last hands to hands. I've got a knife
In my pocket, but I'm not even going
to bring It out. It's hands to hands
you and I until everything's square
between us."
"Perhaps you've forgotten that day
on the ridge?" Cranston asked. "You
haven't any woman to save you this
"I remember the day, and that's part
of the debt The tiling you did yester
day Is part of It, too. It's all to be set
tled at last Cranston, and I don't be
lieve I could spare you If you went to
your knees before me. You've got a
clearing out by the fire big as a prize
ring. We'll go out there side by side.
And hands to hands we'll settle all
these debts we have between us with
no rules of fighting and no mercy In
the end 1"
They measured each other with their
eyes. Once more Cranstop's gaze stole
to his rifle, but lunging out, Dnn
kicked It three feet farther Into the
shadows of the lean-to. Dan saw the
dark face drawn with passion, the
hands clenching, the shoulder muscles
growing Into hard knots. And Cran
ston looked and knew that merciless
vengeance thnt age old sin and
Chrlstless creed by which he lived
had followed hlra down and was
clutching him at last
He saw It In the position of the stal
wart form before him, the clear level
eyes that the moon light made bright
as steel, the hard lines, the slim, pow-
"Good Evening, Cranston."
erful hands. He could read It In the
tones of the voice tones that he him
self could not Imitate or pretend. The
hour had come for the settling of old
He tried to curse his adversary as a
weakling and a degenerate, but the ob
scene words he sought for would not
come to his lips. Here was his fate,
and because the darkness always fades
before the light and the courage of
wickedness always creaks before the
courage of righteousness, Cranston was
afraid to look It In the face. The fear
of defeat of death, of heaven knows
what remorselessness with which this
grave giant would administer Justice
was upon him, and his heart seemed
to freeze In his breast. Cravenly he
leaped for his knife on the blankets
below him.
Dan was upon him before he ever
reached It He sprang as a cougar
splngs, Incredibly fast and with shat
tering power. Both went down, and
for a long time they writhed and strug
gled in each other's arms. The pine
boughs rustled strangely.
The dark, gaunt, hand reached in
vain for the knife. Some resistless
power seemed to be holding his wrist
and was bending Its bone as an Indian
bends a bow. Pain lashed through him.
And then tills dark-hearted man, who
had never known the meaning of mer
cy, opened his lips to scream that this
terrible enemy be merciful to him.
But the words wouldn't come. A
ghastly weight had come at his throat,
and his tortured lungs sobbed for
breath. Then, for a long time, there
was a curious pounuing, lashing sound
In the, evergreen boughs. It seemed
merciless and endless.
But Dan got up at last, in a strange,
heavy silence, and swiftly went to
work. He took the rifle and tilled it
with cartridges from Cranston's belt.
Then he put the remaining two boxes
of shells Into his shirt pocket. The
supplies of food the sack of nutri
tious Jerked venison like dried bark,
the little package of cheese, the boxes
of hard tack and one of the small
sacks of prepared flour he tied, with
a single kettle, Into his heavy blan
kets and flung them with the rifle upon
his back. Finally he took the pair of
snow shoes from the floor. He worked
coldly, swiftly, all the time munching
at a piece of Jerked venison. When he
hnd finished he walked to the door of
the lean-to.
It seemed to Dan that Cranston whis
pered faintly, from his unconscious
ness, as he passed ; but the victor did
not turn to look. The snow shoes
crunched away Into the darkness. On
the hill behind a half dozen wolves
stragglers from the pack frisked and
leaped about In a curious way. A
strange smell had reached them on the
wind, and when the loud, fearful steps
were out of hearing, It might pay them
to creep down, one by one, and investi
gate Its cause.
The gray circle about the fire was
growing impatient Snowbird waited to
the last Instant before she admitted
this fact. But It Is possible only so
long to deny the truth of a thing that
all the senses verify, and that moment
for her was past.
She noticed that when she went to
her hands and knes, laboriously to
cut a piece of the drier wood from the
rnln-soaked, rotted snag that was her
principal supply of fuel, every wolf
would leap forward, only to draw back
when she stood straight again. She
worked desperately to keep the fire
burning bright. She dared not neglect
It for a moment Kxcept for the single
pistol ball that she could afford to ex
pend on the wolves of the three she
had the fire was her Inst defense.
But It was a losing fight The rain
soaked wood smoked without flame,
the comparatively dry core with which
Dan had started the fire had burned
down, and the green wood, hacked with
such heart-breaking difficulty from the
saplings thnt Dan had cut, needed the
most tireless attention to burn at all.
Her nervous vitality was flowing
from her In a frightful stream. Too
long she had tolled without food In
tho constant presence of danger, and
she was very near Indeed to utter ex
haustion. But at the seme time she
knew she must not faint That was
one thing she could not do to fall un
conscious before the last of her three
cartridges was expended In the right
Again she went forth to the sapling,
and this time It seemed to her thnt If
she simply tossed the ax through the
air, she could fell one of the gray
crowd. But when she stooped to pick
It up she didn't finish the thought
She turned to coax the Are. And then
she leaned sobbing over the sled.
"What's the use?" she cried. "He
won't come back. What's the use of
fighting any more?"
"There's always use of fighting," her
father told her. He seemed to speak
with difficulty, and his face looked
strange and white. The cold and the
exposure were having their effect on
his weakened system, and unconscious
ness was a neur shadow indeed. "But,
dearest If I could only make you do
what I want you to"
"You're able to climb a tree, and If
you'd take these coats, you wouldn't
freeze by morning. If you'd only have
the strength"
"And see you torn to pieces 1"
"I'm old, dear and very tired and
I'd crawl away Into the shadows, where
you couldn't see. There's do use minc
ing words, Snowbird. You're a brave
girl alwavs have been since a little
thing, as God Is my Judge nd yi.u
know we must face the truth, b ter
one of ns die than both. And I prom
ise I'll never feel their fangs. And I
won't take your pistol with me either."
Her thought flashed to the clasp
hunting knife that he carried in his
pocket. But her eyes lighted, and she
bent and kissed him. And the wolves
leaped forward even at this.
'We'll stay It nut," she told him.
"We'll fight It to the last just as Dan
would want us to do. Besides it
would only mean the same fate for
me, In a little while. I couldn't cling
up there forever and Dnn won't come
She was wholly unable to gain on
the fire. Only by dint of the most
heart-breaking toil was she able to se
cure any dry fuel for It at all. F.very
length of wood she cut had to be
scraped of bark, and half the time the
fire was only a sickly column of white
smoke. It became Increasingly diffi
cult to swing the ax. The trail was
almost at Its end.
The after-mldnlght hours drew one
by one across the face of the wilder
ness, and she thought that the deep
ening cold presaged dawn. Her fin
gers were numb.
Once more she went to one of the
saplings, but she stumbled and almost
went to her face at the first blow. It
was the instant that her gray watch
ers had been waiting for. The wolf
that stood nearest leaped a gray
streak out of the shadow and every
wolf in the pack shot forward with a
yell. It was a short, expectant cry;
but It chopped off short. For with a
half-sob, and seemingly without men
tal process, she aimed her pistol and
A fast-leaping wolf is one of the
most difficult pistol targets that can be
imagined. It bordered on the miracu-
Some Resistless Power Seemed to Be
Holding His Wrist.
Ions that she did not miss li I in alto
gether. Her nerves were torn, their
control over her muscles lurgely gone.
Yet the bullet coursed down through
the lungs, Inflicting a mortal wound.
The wolf hnd leaped for her throat;
but he fell short. She staggered from
a blow, and she heard a curious sound
in the region of her hip. Hut she
didn't know that the fangs had gone
home In her soft flesh. The wolf
rolled on the ground ; and if her pistol
had possessed the shocking power of
a rllle, he would have never got up
again. As It was, he shrieked once,
then sped off In the darkness to die.
Five or six of the nearest wolves,
catching the smell of his blood, bayed
and sped nfter him.
But the remainder of the great pack
fully 15 of the gray, gaunt creatures
came stealing across the snow to
ward her. White fangs hnd gone
home; and a new madness was In the
Strnlnlng Into the silence, a perfect
ly straight line between Cranston's
camp and Snowbird's, Dan Falling
came mushing across the snow. Ills
sense of direction had never been
obliged lo stand such a test as this
before. Snowbird's fire was a single
dot on a vast plateau; yet he had gone
Btralgbt toward It.
Device Overcomes Sleeplessness.
No one need suffer from sleepless
ness any longer. A device has heen
Invented which, It Is claimed, will
send the worst ense of Insomnia to
the Innd of nod In a few minutes.
The machine, which In appearance Is
rather complicated, consists of a num
ber of discs which, when the starting
handle Is moved, rotate In opposite
directions. All that the sufferer has
to do Is to keep his eyes on the discs
as they turn, until ofter a short spell
of watching he gradually sinks Into
a sound sleep.
Hadn't Wseted Any Time.
A younf couple rushed Into a mar
riage license bureau recently and an
nounced to the clerk that they wished
to be married at once. Dan Cupid's
executive officer surveyed the couple
from under grizzled brows and said
severely: "I'm afraid this Is a run
away match." "Well, your bono"
returned the prospective groom, "I
can't exactly say we ran, but w
walked pretty fast."