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“Hrrrrrr! Hrrrrrrr!” and the Warhorse was doing fourteen-foot leaps, not a spy-hop among them.

“Hrrrrr! “wonderful Dogs! how they sailed; but drifting ahead of them, like a white sea-bird or flying scud, was the Warhorse. Away past the Grand Stand. And the Dogs–were they closing the gap of start? Closing! It was lengthening! In less time than it takes to tell it, that black-and-white thistledown had drifted away through the Haven door,–the door so like that good old hen-hole,–and the Grey-hounds pulled up amidst a roar of derision and cheers for the Little Warhorse. How Mickey did laugh! How Dignam did swear! How the newspaper men did scribble–scribble–scribble!

Next day there was a paragraph in all the papers: “WONDERFUL FEAT OF A JACKRABBIT. The Little Warhorse, as he has been styled, completely skunked two of the most famous Dogs on the turf,” etc.

There was a fierce wrangle among the dog-men. This was a tie, since neither had scored, and Minkie and her rival were allowed to run again; but that half-mile had been too hot, and they had no show for the cup.

Mickey met “Diamonds” next day, by chance.

“Have a cigar, Mickey.”

“Oi will thot, sor. Faix, thim’s so foine; I’d loike two–thank ye, sor.”

VIII

From that time the Little Warhorse became the pride of the Irish boy. Slipper Slyman had been honorably reinstated and Mickey reduced to the rank of Jack-starter, but that merely helped to turn his sympathies from the Dogs to the Rabbits, or rather to the Warhorse, for of all the five hundred that were brought in from the drive he alone had won renown. There were several that crossed the Park to run again another day, but he alone had crossed the course without getting even a turn. Twice a week the meets took place; forty or fifty Jacks were killed each time, and the five hundred in the pen had been nearly all eaten of the arena.

The Warhorse had run each day, and as often had made the Haven. Mickey became wildly enthusiastic about his favorite’s powers. He begot a positive affection for the clean-limbed racer, and stoutly maintained against all that it was a positive honor to a Dog to be disgraced by such a Jack.

It is so seldom that a Rabbit crosses the track at all, that when Jack did it six times without having to dodge, the papers took note of it, and after each meet there appeared a notice: “The Little Warhorse crossed again today; old-timers say it shows how our Dogs are deteriorating.”

After the sixth time the rabbit-keepers grew enthusiastic, and Mickey, commander-in-chief of the brigade, became intemperate in his admiration. “Be jabers, he has a right to be torned loose. He has won his freedom loike ivery Amerikin done,” he added, by way of appeal to the patriotism of the Steward of the race, who was, of course, the real owner of the Jacks.

“All right, Mick; if he gets across thirteen times you can ship him back to his native land,” was the reply.

“Shure now, an’ won’t you make it tin, sor?”

“No, no; I need him to take the conceit out of some of the new Dogs that are coming.”

“Thirteen toimes and he is free, sor; it’s a bargain.”

A new lot of Rabbits arrived about this time, and one of these was colored much like Little Warhorse. He had no such speed, but to prevent mistakes Mickey caught his favorite by driving him into one of the padded shipping-boxes, and proceeded with the gate-keeper’s punch to earmark him. The punch was sharp; a clear star was cut out of the thin flap, when Mickey exclaimed: “Faix, an’ Oi’ll punch for ivery toime ye cross the coorse.” So he cut six stars in a row. “Thayer now, Warrhorrse, shure it’s a free Rabbit ye’ll be when ye have yer thirteen stars like our flag of liberty hed when we got free.”

Within a week the Warhorse had vanquished the new Greyhounds and had stars enough to go round the right ear and begin on the left. In a week more the thirteen runs were completed, six stars in the left ear and seven in the right, and the newspapers had new material.

“Whoop!” How Mickey hoorayed! “An’ it’s a free Jack ye are, Warrhorrse! Thirteen always wuz a lucky number. I never knowed it to fail.”

IX

“Yes, I know I did,” said the Steward. “But I want to give him one more run. I have a bet on him against a new Dog here. It won’t hurt him now; he can do it. Oh, well. Here now, Mickey, don’t you get sassy. One run more this afternoon. The Dogs run two or three times a day; why not the Jack?”

“They’re not shtakin’ thayre loives, sor.”

“Oh, you get out.”

Many more Rabbits had been added to the pen,–big and small, peaceful and warlike,–and one big Buck of savage instincts, seeing Jack Warhorse’s hurried dash into the Haven that morning, took advantage of the moment to attack him.

At another time Jack would have thumped his skull, as he once did the Cat’s, and settled the affair in a minute; but now it took several minutes, during which he himself got roughly handled; so when the afternoon came he was suffering from one or two bruises and stiffening wounds; not serious, indeed, but enough to lower his speed.

The start was much like those of previous runs. The Warhorse steaming away low and lightly, his ears up and the breezes whistling through his thirteen stars.

Minkie with Fango, the new Dog, bounded in eager pursuit, but, to the surprise of the starters, the gap grew smaller. The Warhorse was losing ground, and right before the Grand Stand old Minkie turned him, and a cheer went up from the dog-men, for all knew the runners. Within fifty yards Fango scored a turn, and the race was right back to the start. There stood Slyman and Mickey. The Rabbit dodged, the Greyhounds plunged; Jack could not get away, and just as the final snap seemed near, the Warhorse leaped straight for Mickey, and in an instant was hidden in his arms, while the starter’s feet flew out in energetic kicks to repel the furious Dogs. It is not likely that the Jack knew Mickey for a friend; he only yielded to the old instinct to fly from a certain enemy to a neutral or a possible friend, and, as luck would have it, he had wisely leaped and well. A cheer went up from the benches as Mickey hurried back with his favorite. But the dog-men protested “it wasn’t a fair run–they wanted it finished.” They appealed to the Steward. He had backed the Jack against Fango. He was sore now, and ordered a new race.

An hour’s rest was the best Mickey could get for him. Then he went as before, with Fango and Minkie in pursuit. He seemed less stiff now–he ran more like himself; but a little past the Stand he was turned by Fango and again by Minkie, and back and across, and here and there, leaping frantically and barely eluding his foes. For several minutes it lasted. Mickey could see that Jack’s ears were sinking. The new Dog leaped. Jack dodged almost under him to escape, and back only to meet the second Dog; and now both ears were flat on his back. But the Hounds were suffering too. Their tongues were lolling out; their jaws and heaving sides were splashed with foam. The Warhorse’s ears went up again. His courage seemed to revive in their distress. He made a straight dash for the Haven; but the straight dash was just what the Hounds could do, and within a hundred yards he was turned again, to begin another desperate game of zigzag. Then the dog-men saw danger for their Dogs, and two new ones were slipped–two fresh Hounds; surely they could end the race. But they did not. The first two were vanquished–gasping–out of it, but the next two were racing near. The Warhorse put forth all his strength. He left the first two far behind–was nearly to the Haven when the second two came up.

Nothing but dodging could save him now. His ears were sinking, his heart was pattering on his ribs, but his spirit was strong. He flung himself in wildest zigzags. The Hounds tumbled over each other. Again and again they thought they had him. One of them snapped off the end of his long black tail, yet he escaped; but he could not get to the Haven. The luck was against him. He was forced nearer to the Grand Stand. A thousand ladies were watching. The time limit was up. The second Dogs were suffering, when Mickey came running, yelling like a madman–words–imprecations–crazy sounds:

“Ye blackguard hoodlums! Ye dhirty, cowardly bastes!” and he rushed furiously at the Dogs, intent to do them bodily harm.

Officers came running and shouting, and Mickey, shrieking hatred and defiance, was dragged from the field, reviling Dogs and men with every horrid, insulting name he could think of or invent.

“Fair play! Whayer’s yer fair play, ye liars, ye dhirty cheats, ye bloody cowards!” And they drove him from the arena. The last he saw of it was the four foaming Dogs feebly dodging after a weak and worn-out Jack-rabbit, and the judge on his Horse beckoning to the man with the gun.

The gate closed behind him, and Mickey heard a bang-bang, an unusual uproar mixed with yelps of Dogs, and he knew that Little Jack Warhorse had been served with finish No. 4.

All his life he had loved Dogs, but his sense of fair play was outraged. He could not get in, nor see in from where he was. He raced along the lane to the Haven, where he might get a good view, and arrived in time to see–Little Jack Warhorse with his half-masted ears limp into the Haven; and he realized at once that the man with the gun had missed, had hit the wrong runner, for there was the crowd at the Stand watching two men who were carrying a wounded Greyhound, while a veterinary surgeon was ministering to another that was panting on the ground.

Mickey looked about, seized a little shipping-box, put it at the angle of the Haven, carefully drove the tired thing into it, closed the lid, then, with the box under his arm, he scaled the fence unseen in the confusion and was gone.

‘It didn’t matter; he had lost his job anyway.’ He tramped away from the city. He took the train at the nearest station and travelled some hours, and now he was in Rabbit country again. The sun had long gone down; the night with its stars was over the plain when among the farms, the Osage and alfalfa, Mickey Doo opened the box and gently put the Warhorse out.

Grinning as he did so, he said: “Shure an’ it’s ould Oireland thot’s proud to set the thirteen stars at liberty wance moore.”

For a moment the Little Warhorse gazed in doubt, then took three or four long leaps and a spy-hop to get his bearings. Now spreading his national colors and his honor-marked ears, he bounded into his hard-won freedom, strong as ever, and melted into the night of his native plain.

He has been seen many times in Kaskado, and there have been many Rabbit drives in that region, but he seems to know some means of baffling them now, for, in all the thousands that have been trapped and corralled, they have never since seen the star-spangled ears of Little jack Warhorse.

SNAP

THE STORY OF A BULL-TERRIER

I

It was dusk on Hallowe’en when first I saw him. Early in the morning I had received a telegram from my college chum Jack: “Lest we forget. Am sending you a remarkable pup. Be polite to him; it’s safer.” It would have been just like Jack to have sent an infernal machine or a Skunk rampant and called it a pup, so I awaited the hamper with curiosity. When it arrived I saw it was marked “Dangerous,” and there came from within a high-pitched snarl at every slight provocation. On peering through the wire netting I saw it was not a baby Tiger but a small white Bull-terrier. He snapped at me and at any one or anything that seemed too abrupt or too near for proper respect, and his snarling growl was unpleasantly frequent. Dogs have two growls: one deep-rumbled, and chesty; that is polite warning–the retort courteous; the other mouthy and much higher in pitch: this is the last word before actual onslaught. The Terrier’s growls were all of the latter kind. I was a dog-man and thought I knew all about Dogs, so, dismissing the porter, I got out my all-round jackknife–toothpick–nailhammer-hatchet-toolbox-fire-shovel, a specialty of our firm, and lifted the netting. Oh, yes, I knew all about Dogs. The little fury had been growling out a whole-souled growl for every tap of the tool, and when I turned the box on its side, he made a dash straight for my legs. Had not his foot gone through the wire netting and held him, I might have been hurt, for his heart was evidently in his work; but I stepped on the table out of reach and tried to reason with him. I have always believed in talking to animals. I maintain that they gather something of our intention at least, even if they do not understand our words; but the Dog evidently put me down for a hypocrite and scorned my approaches. At first he took his post under the table and kept up a circular watch for a leg trying to get down. I felt sure I could have controlled him with my eye, but I could not bring it to bear where I was, or rather where he was; thus I was left a prisoner. I am a very cool person, I flatter myself; in fact, I represent a hardware firm, and, in coolness, we are not excelled by any but perhaps the nosy gentlemen that sell wearing-apparel. I got out a cigar and smoked tailor-style on the table, while my little tyrant below kept watch for legs. I got out the telegram and read it: “Remarkable pup. Be polite to him; it’s safer.” I think it was my coolness rather than my politeness that did it, for in half an hour the growling ceased. In an hour he no longer jumped at a newspaper cautiously pushed over the edge to test his humor; possibly the irritation of the cage was wearing off, and by the time I had lit my third cigar, he waddled out to the fire and lay down; not ignoring me, however, I had no reason to complain of that kind of contempt. He kept one eye on me, and I kept both eyes, not on him, but on his stumpy tail. If that tail should swing sidewise once I should feel I was winning; but it did not swing. I got a book and put in time on that table till my legs were cramped and the fire burned low. About 10 P.M. it was chilly, and at half-past ten the fire was out. My Hallowe’en present got up, yawned and stretched, then walked under my bed, where he found a fur rug. By stepping lightly from the table to the dresser, and then on to the mantel-shelf, I also reached bed, and, very quietly undressing, got in without provoking any criticism from my master. I had not yet fallen asleep when I heard a slight scrambling and felt “thump-thump” on the bed, then over my feet and legs; Snap evidently had found it too cool down below, and proposed to have the best my house afforded.

He curled up on my feet in such a way that I was very uncomfortable and tried to readjust matters, but the slightest wriggle of my toe was enough to make him snap at it so fiercely that nothing but thick woollen bedclothes saved me from being maimed for life.

I was an hour moving my feet–a hair’s-breadth at a time–till they were so that I could sleep in comfort; and I was awakened several times during the night by angry snarls from the Dog–I suppose because I dared to move a toe without his approval, though once I believe he did it simply because I was snoring.

In the morning I was ready to get up before Snap was. You see, I call him Snap-Ginger-snap in full. Some Dogs are hard to name, and some do not seem to need it–they name themselves.

I was ready to rise at seven. Snap was not ready till eight, so we rose at eight. He had little to say to the man who made the fire. He allowed me to dress without doing it on the table. As I left the room to get breakfast, I remarked:

“Snap, my friend, some men would whip you into a different way, but I think I know a better plan. The doctors nowadays favor the ‘no-breakfast cure.’ I shall try that.”

It seemed cruel, but I left him without food all day. It cost me something to repaint the door where he scratched it, but at night he was quite ready to accept a little food at my hands.

In a week we were very good friends. He would sleep on my bed now and allow me to move my feet without snapping at them, intent to do me serious bodily harm. The no-breakfast cure had worked wonders; in three months we were–well, simply man and Dog, and he amply justified the telegram he came with.

He seemed to be without fear. If a small Dog came near, he would take not the slightest notice; if a medium-sized Dog, he would stick his stub of a tail rigidly up in the air, then walk around him, scratching contemptuously with his hind feet, and looking at the sky, the distance, the ground, anything but the Dog, and noting his presence only by frequent high-pitched growls. If the stranger did not move on at once, the battle began, and then the stranger usually moved on very rapidly. Snap sometimes got worsted, but no amount of sad experience could ever inspire him with a grain of caution. Once, while riding in a cab during the Dog Show, Snap caught sight of an elephantine St. Bernard taking an airing. Its size aroused such enthusiasm in the Pup’s little breast that he leaped from the cab window to do battle, and broke his leg.

Evidently fear had been left out of his make-up and its place supplied with an extra amount of ginger, which was the reason of his full name. He differed from all other Dogs I have ever known. For example, if a boy threw a stone at him, he ran, not away, but toward the boy, and if the crime was repeated, Snap took the law into his own hands; thus he was at least respected by all. Only myself and the porter at the office seemed to realize his good points, and we only were admitted to the high honor of personal friendship, an honor which I appreciated more as months went on, and by midsummer not Carnegie, Vanderbilt, and Astor together could have raised money enough to buy a quarter of a share in my little Dog Snap.

II

Though not a regular traveller, I was ordered out on the road in the autumn, and then Snap and the landlady were left together, with unfortunate developments. Contempt on his part–fear on hers; and hate on both.

I was placing a lot of barb-wire in the northern tier of States. My letters were forwarded once a week, and I got several complaints from the landlady about Snap.

Arrived at Mendoza, in North Dakota, I found a fine market for wire. Of course my dealings were with the big storekeepers, but I went about among the ranchmen to get their practical views on the different styles, and thus I met the Penroof Brothers’ Cow-outfit.

One cannot be long in Cow country now without hearing a great deal about the depredations of the ever wily and destructive Gray-wolf. The day has gone by when they can be poisoned wholesale, and they are a serious drain on the rancher’s profits. The Penroof Brothers, like most live cattle-men, had given up all attempts at poisoning and trapping, and were trying various breeds of Dogs as Wolf-hunters, hoping to get a little sport out of the necessary work of destroying the pests.

Foxhounds had failed–they were too soft for fighting; Great Danes were too clumsy, and Greyhounds could not follow the game unless they could see it. Each breed had some fatal defect, but the cow-men hoped to succeed with a mixed pack, and the day when I was invited to join in a Mendoza Wolf-hunt, I was amused by the variety of Dogs that followed. There were several mongrels, but there were also a few highly bred Dogs–in particular, some Russian Wolfhounds that must have cost a lot of money.

Hilton Penroof, the oldest boy, “The Master of Hounds,” was unusually proud of them, and expected them to do great things.

“Greyhounds are too thin-skinned to fight a Wolf, Danes are too slow, but you’ll see the fur fly when the Russians take a hand.”

Thus the Greyhounds were there as runners, the Danes as heavy backers, and the Russians to do the important fighting. There were also two or three Foxhounds, whose fine noses were relied on to follow the trail if the game got out of view.

It was a fine sight as we rode away among the Badland Buttes that October day. The air was bright and crisp, and though so late, there was neither snow nor frost. The Horses were fresh, and once or twice showed me how a Cow-pony tries to get rid of his rider.

The Dogs were keen for sport, and we did start one or two gray spots in the plain that Hilton said were Wolves or Coyotes. The Dogs trailed away at full cry, but at night, beyond the fact that one of the Greyhounds had a wound on his shoulder, there was nothing to show that any of them had been on a Wolf-hunt.

It’s my opinion yer fancy Russians is no good, Hilt,” said Garvin, the younger brother. “I’ll back that little black Dane against the lot, mongrel an’ all as he is.”

“I don’t unnerstan’ it,” growled Hilton. “There ain’t a Coyote, let alone a Gray-wolf, kin run away from them Greyhounds; them Foxhounds kin folly a trail three days old, an’ the Danes could lick a Grizzly.”

“I reckon,” said the father, “they kin run, an’ they kin track, an’ they kin lick a Grizzly, maybe, but the fac’ is they don’t want to tackle a Gray-wolf. The hull darn pack is scairt–an’ I wish we had our money out o’ them.”

Thus the men grumbled and discussed as I drove away and left them.

There seemed only one solution of the failure. The Hounds were swift and strong, but a Gray-wolf seems to terrorize all Dogs. They have not the nerve to face him, and so, each time he gets away, and my thoughts flew back to the fearless little Dog that had shared my bed for the last year. How I wished he was out here, then these lubberly giants of Hounds would find a leader whose nerve would not fail at the moment of trial.

At Baroka, my next stop, I got a batch of mail including two letters from the landlady; the first to say that “that beast of a Dog was acting up scandalous in my room,” and the other still more forcible, demanding his immediate removal. “Why not have him expressed to Mendoza?” I thought. “It’s only twenty hours; they’ll be glad to have him. I can take him home with me when I go through.”

III

My next meeting with Gingersnap was not as different from the first as one might have expected. He jumped on me, made much vigorous pretense to bite, and growled frequently, but it was a deep-chested growl and his stump waggled hard.

The Penroofs had had a number of Wolf-hunts since I was with them, and were much disgusted at having no better success than before. The Dogs could find a Wolf nearly every time they went out, but they could not kill him, and the men were not near enough at the finish to learn why.

Old Penroof was satisfied that “thar wasn’t one of the hull miserable gang that had the grit of a Jack-rabbit.”

We were off at dawn the next day–the same procession of fine Horses and superb riders; the big blue Dogs, the yellow Dogs, the spotted Dogs, as before; but there was a new feature, a little white Dog that stayed close by me, and not only any Dogs, but Horses that came too near were apt to get a surprise from his teeth. I think he quarrelled with every man, Horse, and Dog in the country, with the exception of a Bull-terrier belonging to the Mendoza hotel man. She was the only one smaller than himself, and they seemed very good friends.

I shall never forget the view of the hunt I had that day. We were on one of those large, flat-headed buttes that give a kingdom to the eye, when Hilton, who had been scanning the vast country with glasses, exclaimed: “I see him. There he goes, toward Skull Creek. Guess it’s a Coyote.”

Now the first thing is to get the Greyhounds to see the prey–not an easy matter, as they cannot use the glasses, and the ground was covered with sage-brush higher than the Dogs’ heads.

But Hilton called, “Hu, hu, Dander,” and leaned aside from his saddle, holding out his foot at the same time. With one agile bound Dander leaped to the saddle and there stood balancing on the Horse while Hilton kept pointing. “There he is, Dander; sic him–see him down there.” The Dog gazed earnestly where his master pointed, then seeming to see, he sprang to the ground with a slight yelp and sped away. The other Dogs followed after, in an ever-lengthening procession, and we rode as hard as we could behind them, but losing time, for the ground was cut with gullies, spotted with badger-holes, and covered with rocks and sage that made full speed too hazardous.

We all fell behind, and I was last, of course, being least accustomed to the saddle. We got several glimpses of the Dogs flying over the level plain or dropping from sight in gullies to reappear at the other side. Dander, the Greyhound, was the recognized leader, and as we mounted another ridge we got sight of the whole chase–a Coyote at full speed, the Dogs a quarter of a mile behind, but gaining. When next we saw them the Coyote was dead, and the Dogs sitting around panting, all but two of the Foxhounds and Gingersnap.

“Too late for the fracas,” remarked Hilton, glancing at these last Foxhounds. Then he proudly petted Dander. “Didn’t need yer purp after all, ye see.”

“Takes a heap of nerve for ten big Dogs to face one little Coyote,” remarked the father, sarcastically. “Wait till we run onto a Gray.”

Next day we were out again, for I made up my mind to see it to a finish.

From a high point we caught sight of a moving speck of gray. A moving white speck stands for Antelope, a red speck for Fox, a gray speck for either Gray-wolf or Coyote, and which of these is determined by its tail. If the glass shows the tail down, it is a Coyote; if up, it is the hated Gray-wolf.

Dander was shown the game as before and led the motley mixed procession–as he had before–Greyhounds, Wolfhounds, Foxhounds, Danes, Bull-terrier, horsemen. We got a momentary view of the pursuit; a Gray-wolf it surely was, loping away ahead of the Dogs. Somehow I thought the first Dogs were not running so fast now as they had after the Coyote. But no one knew the finish of the hunt. The Dogs came back to us one by one, and we saw no more of that Wolf.

Sarcastic remarks and recrimination were now freely indulged in by the hunters.

“Pah–scairt, plumb scairt,” was the father’s disgusted comment on the pack.
“They could catch up easy enough, but when he turned on them, they lighted out for home–pah!”

“Where’s that thar onsurpassable, fearless, scaired-o’-nort Tarrier?” asked Hilton, scornfully.

“I don’t know,” said I. “I am inclined to think he never saw the Wolf; but if he ever does, I’ll bet he sails in for death or glory.”

That night several Cows were killed close to the ranch, and we were spurred on to another hunt.

It opened much like the last. Late in the afternoon we sighted a gray fellow with tail up, not half a mile off. Hilton called Dander up on the saddle. I acted on the idea and called Snap to mine. His legs were so short that he had to leap several times before he made it, scrambling up at last with my foot as a half-way station. I pointed and “sic-ed” for a minute before he saw the game, and then he started out after the Greyhounds, already gone, with energy that was full of promise.

The chase this time led us, not to the rough brakes along the river, but toward the high open country, for reasons that appeared later. We were close together as we rose to the upland and sighted the chase half a mile off, just as Dander came up with the Wolf and snapped at his haunch. The Gray-wolf turned round to fight, and we had a fine view. The Dogs came up by twos and threes, barking at him in a ring, till last the little white one rushed up. He wasted no time barking, but rushed straight at the Wolf’s throat and missed it, yet seemed to get him by the nose; then the ten big Dogs closed in, and in two minutes the Wolf was dead. We had ridden hard to be in at the finish, and though our view was distant, we saw at least that Snap had lived up to the telegram, as well as to my promises for him.

Now it was my turn to crow, and I did not lose the chance. Snap had shown them how, and at last the Mendoza pack had killed a Gray-wolf without help from the men.

There were two things to mar the victory somewhat: first, it was a young Wolf, a mere Cub, hence his foolish choice of country; second, Snap was wounded–the Wolf had given him a bad cut in the shoulder.

As we rode in proud procession home, I saw he limped a little. “Here,” I cried, “come up, Snap.” He tried once or twice to jump to the saddle, but could not. “Here, Hilton, lift him up to me.”

“Thanks; I’ll let you handle your own rattlesnakes,” was the reply, for all knew now that it was not safe to meddle with his person. “Here, Snap, take hold,” I said, and held my quirt to him. He seized it, and by that I lifted him to the front of my saddle and so carried him home. I cared for him as though he had been a baby. He had shown those Cattle-men how to fill the weak place in their pack; the Foxhounds may be good and the Greyhounds swift and the Russians and Danes fighters, but they are no use at all without the crowning moral force of grit, that none can supply so well as a Bull-terrier. On that day the Cattlemen learned how to manage the Wolf question, as you will find if ever you are at Mendoza; for every successful Wolf pack there has with it a Bull-terrier, preferably of the Snap-Mendoza breed.

IV

Next day was Hallowe’en, the anniversary of Snap’s advent. The weather was clear, bright, not too cold, and there was no snow on the ground. The men usually celebrated the day with a hunt of some sort, and now, of course, Wolves were the one object. To the disappointment of all, Snap was in bad shape with his wound. He slept, as usual, at my feet, and bloody stains now marked the place. He was not in condition to fight, but we were bound to have a Wolf-hunt, so he was beguiled to an outhouse and locked up, while we went off, I, at least, with a sense of impending disaster. I knew we should fail without my Dog, but I did not realize how bad a failure it was to be.

Afar among the buttes of Skull Creek we had roamed when a white ball appeared bounding through the sage-brush, and in a minute more Snap came, growling and stump-waggling, up to my Horse’s side. I could not send him back; he would take no such orders, not even from me. His wound was looking bad, so I called him, held down the quirt, and jumped him to my saddle.

“There,” I thought, “I’ll keep you safe till we get home.” ‘Yes, I thought; but I reckoned not with Snap. The voice of Hilton, “Hu, hu,” announced that he had sighted a Wolf. Dander and Riley, his rival, both sprang to the point of observation, with the result that they collided and fell together, sprawling, in the sage. But Snap, gazing hard, had sighted the Wolf, not so very far off, and before I knew it, he leaped from the saddle and bounded zigzag, high, low, in and under the sage, straight for the enemy, leading the whole pack for a few minutes. Not far, of course. The great Greyhounds sighted the moving speck, and the usual procession strung out on the plain. It promised to be a fine hunt, for the Wolf had less than half a mile start and all the Dogs were fully interested.

“They ‘ye turned up Grizzly Gully,” cried Garvin. “This way, and we can head them off.”

So we turned and rode hard around the north side of Hulmer’s Butte, while the chase seemed to go round the south.

We galloped to the top of Cedar Ridge and were about to ride down, when Hilton shouted, “By George, here he is! We’re right onto him.” He leaped from his Horse, dropped the bridle, and ran forward. I did the same. A great Gray-wolf came lumbering across an open plain toward us. His head was low, his tail out level, and fifty yards behind him was Dander, sailing like a Hawk over the ground, going twice as fast as the Wolf. In a minute the Hound was alongside and snapped, but bounded back, as the Wolf turned on him. They were just below us now and not fifty feet away. Garvin drew his revolver, but in a fateful moment Hilton interfered: ” No; no; let’s see it out.” In a few seconds the next Greyhound arrived, then the rest in order of swiftness. Each came up full of fight and fury, determined to go right in and tear the Gray-wolf to pieces; but each in turn swerved aside, and leaped and barked around at a safe distance. After a minute or so the Russians appeared–fine big Dogs they were. Their distant intention no doubt was to dash right at the old Wolf; but his fearless front, his sinewy frame and death-dealing jaws, awed them long before they were near him, and they also joined the ring, while the desperado in the middle faced this way and that, ready for any or all.

Now the Danes came up, huge-limbed creatures, any one of them as heavy as the Wolf. I heard their heavy breathing tighten into a threatening sound as they plunged ahead; eager to tear the foe to pieces; but when they saw him there, grim fearless, mighty of jaw, tireless of limb, ready to die if need be, but sure of this, he would not die alone–well, those great Danes–all three of them–were stricken, as the rest had been, with a sudden bashfulness: Yes, they would go right in presently–not now, but as soon as they had got their breath; they were not afraid of a Wolf, oh, no. I could read their courage in their voices. They knew perfectly well that the first Dog to go in was going to get hurt, but never mind that–presently; they would bark a little more to get up enthusiasm.

And as the ten big Dogs were leaping round the silent Wolf at bay, there was a rustling in the sage at the far side of place; then a snow-white rubber ball, it seemed, came bounding, but grew into a little Bull-terrier, and Snap, slowest of the pack, and last, came panting hard, so hard he seemed gasping. Over the level open he made, straight to the changing ring around the Cattle-killer whom none dared face. Did he hesitate? Not for an instant; through the ring of the yelping pack, straight for the old despot of range, right for his throat he sprang; and the Gray-wolf struck with his twenty scimitars. But the little one, if fooled at all, sprang again, and then what came I hardly knew. There was a whirling mass of Dogs. I thought I saw the little White One clinched on the Gray-wolf’s nose. The pack was all around; we could not help them now. But they did not need us; they had a leader of dauntless mettle, and when in a little while the final scene was done, there on the ground lay the Gray-wolf, a giant of his kind, and clinched on his nose was the little white Dog.

We were standing around within fifteen feet, ready to help, but had no chance till were not needed.

The Wolf was dead, and I hallooed to Snap, but he did not move. I bent over him. “Snap–Snap, it’s all over; you’ve killed him.” But the Dog was very still, and now I saw two deep wounds in his body. I tried to lift him. “Let go, old fellow; it’s all over.” He growled feebly, and at last go of the Wolf. The rough cattle-men were kneeling around him now; old Penroof’s voice was trembling as he muttered, “I wouldn’t had him hurt for twenty steers.” I lifted him in my arms, called to him and stroked his head. He snarled a little, a farewell as it proved, for he licked my hand as he did so, then never snarled again.

That was a sad ride home for me. There was the skin of a monstrous Wolf, but no other hint of triumph. We buried the fearless one on a butte back of the
Ranch-house. Penroof, as he stood by, was heard to grumble: “By jingo, that was grit–cl’ar grit! Ye can’t raise Cattle without grit.”

THE WINNIPEG WOLF

I

It was during the great blizzard of 1882 that I first met the Winnipeg Wolf. I had left St. Paul in the middle of March to cross the prairies to Winnipeg, expecting to be there in twenty-four hours, but the Storm King had planned it otherwise and sent a heavy-laden eastern blast. The snow came down in a furious, steady torrent, hour after hour. Never before had I seen such a storm. All the world was lost in snow–snow, snow, snow–whirling, biting, stinging, drifting snow–and the puffing, monstrous engine was compelled to stop at the command of those tiny feathery crystals of spotless purity.

Many strong hands with shovels came to the delicately curled snowdrifts that barred our way, and in an hour the engine could pass–only to stick in another drift yet farther on. It was dreary work–day after day, night after night, sticking in the drifts, digging ourselves out, and still the snow went whirling and playing about us.

“Twenty-two hours to Emerson,” said the official; but nearly two weeks of digging passed before we did reach Emerson, and the poplar country where the thickets stop all drifting of the snow. Thenceforth the train went swiftly, the poplar woods grew more thickly–we passed for miles through solid forests, then perhaps through an open space. As we neared St. Boniface, the eastern outskirts of Winnipeg, we dashed across a little glade fifty yards wide, and there in the middle was a group that stirred me to the very soul.

In plain view was a great rabble of Dogs, large and small, black, white, and yellow, wriggling and heaving this way and that way in a rude ring; to one side was a little yellow Dog stretched and quiet in the snow; on the outer part of the ring was a huge black Dog bounding about and barking, but keeping ever behind the moving mob. And in the midst, the centre and cause of it all, was a great, grim, Wolf.

Wolf? He looked like a Lion. There he stood, all alone–resolute-calm- with bristling mane, and legs braced firmly, glancing this way and that, to be ready for an attack in any direction. There was a curl on his lips–it looked like scorn, but I suppose it was really the fighting snarl of tooth display. Led by a wolfish-looking Dog that should have been ashamed, the pack dashed in, for the twentieth time no doubt. But the great gray form leaped here and there, and chop, chop, chop went those fearful jaws, no other sound from the lonely warrior; but a death yelp from more than one of his foes, as those that were able again sprang back, and left him statuesque as before, untamed, unmaimed, and contemptuous of them all.

How I wished for the train to stick in a snowdrift now, as so often before, for all my heart went out to that Gray-wolf; I longed to go and help him. But the snow-deep glade flashed by, the poplar trunks shut out the view, and we went on to our journey’s end.

This was all I saw, and it seemed little; but before many days had passed I knew surely that I had been favored with a view, in broad daylight, of a rare and wonderful creature, none less than the Winnipeg Wolf.

His was a strange history–a Wolf that preferred the city to the country, that passed by the Sheep to kill the Dogs, and that always hunted alone.

In telling the story of le Garou, as he was called by some, although I speak of these things as locally familiar, it is very sure that to many citizens of the town they were quite unknown. The smug shopkeeper on the main street had scarcely heard of him until the day after the final scene at the slaughter-house, when his great carcass was carried to Hine’s taxidermist shop and there mounted, to be exhibited later at the Chicago World’s Fair, and to be destroyed, alas! in the fire that reduced the Mulvey Grammar School to ashes in 1896.

II

It seems that Fiddler Paul, the handsome ne’er-do-well of the half-breed world, readier to hunt than to work, was prowling with his gun along the wooded banks of the Red River by Kildonan, one day in the June of 1880. He saw a Gray-wo1f come out of a hole in a bank and fired a chance shot that killed it. Having made sure, by sending in his Dog, that no other large Wolf was there, he crawled into the den, and found, to his utter amazement and delight, eight young Wolves –nine bounties of ten dollars each. How much is that? A fortune surely. He used a stick vigorously, and with the assistance of the yellow Cur, all the little ones were killed but one. There is a superstition about the last of a brood–it is not lucky to kill it. So Paul set out for town with the scalp of the old Wolf, the scalps of the seven young, and the last Cub alive.

The saloon-keeper, who got the dollars for which the scalps were exchanged, soon got the living Cub. He grew up at the end of a chain, but developed a chest and jaws that no Hound in town could match. He was kept in the yard for the amusement of customers, and this amusement usually took the form of baiting the captive with Dogs. The young Wolf was bitten and mauled nearly to death on several occasions, but he recovered, and each month there were fewer Dogs willing to face him. His life was as hard as it could be. There was but one gleam of gentleness in it all, and that was the friendship that grew up between himself and Little Jim, the son of the saloonkeeper.

Jim was a wilful little rascal with a mind of his own. He took to the Wolf because it had killed a Dog that had bitten him. He thenceforth fed the Wolf and made a pet of it, and the Wolf responded by allowing him to take liberties which no one else dared venture.

Jim’s father was not a model parent. He usually spoiled his son, but at times would get in a rage and beat him cruelly for some trifle. The child was quick to learn that he was beaten, not because he had done wrong, but because he had made his father angry. If, therefore, he could keep out of the way until that anger had cooled, he had no further cause for worry. One day, seeking safety in flight with his father behind him, he dashed into the Wolf’s kennel, and his grizzly chum thus unceremoniously awakened turned to the door, displayed a double row of ivories, and plainly said to the father: “Don’t you dare to touch him.”

If Hogan could have shot the Wolf then and there he would have done so, but the chances were about equal of killing his son, so he let them alone and, half an hour later, laughed at the whole affair. Thenceforth Little Jim made for the Wolf’s den whenever he was in danger, and sometimes the only notice any one had that the boy had been in mischief was seeing him sneak in behind the savage captive.

Economy in hired help was a first principle with Hogan. Therefore his “barkeep” was a Chinaman. He was a timid, harmless creature, so Paul des Roches did not hesitate to bully him. One day, finding Hogan out, and the Chinaman alone in charge, Paul, already tipsy, demanded a drink on credit, and Tung Ling, acting on standing orders, refused. His artless explanation, “No good, neber pay,” so far from clearing up the difficulty, brought Paul staggering back of the bar to avenge the insult. The Celestial might have suffered grievous bodily hurt, but that Little Jim was at hand and had a long stick, with which he adroitly tripped up the Fiddler and sent him sprawling. He staggered to his feet swearing he would have Jim’s life. But the child was near the back door and soon found refuge in the Wolf’s kennel.

Seeing that the boy had a protector, Paul got the long stick, and from a safe distance began to belabor the Wolf, The grizzly creature raged at the end of the chain, but, though he parried many cruel blows by seizing the stick in his teeth, he was suffering severely, when Paul realized that Jim, whose tongue had not been idle, was fumbling away with nervous fingers to set the Wolf loose, and soon would succeed. Indeed, it would have been done already but for the strain that the Wolf kept on the chain.

The thought of being in the yard at the mercy of the huge animal that he had so enraged, gave the brave Paul a thrill of terror.

Jim’s wheedling voice was heard -“Hold on now, Wolfie; back up just a little, and you shall have him. Now do; there’s a good Wolfie”–that was enough; the Fiddler fled and carefully closed all doors behind him.

Thus the friendship between Jim and his pet grew stronger, and the Wolf, as he developed his splendid natural powers, gave daily evidence also of the mortal hatred he bore to men that smelt of whiskey and to all Dogs, the causes of his sufferings. This peculiarity, coupled with his love for the child–and all children seemed to be included to some extent–grew with his growth and seemed to prove the ruling force of his life.

III

At this time–that is, the fall of 1881–there were great complaints among the Qu’Appelle ranchmen that the Wolves were increasing in their country and committing great depredations among the stock. Poisoning and trapping had proved failures, and when a distinguished German visitor appeared at the Club in Winnipeg and announced that he was bringing some Dogs that could easily rid the country of Wolves, he was listened to with unusual interest. For the cattle-men are fond of sport, and the idea of helping their business by establishing a kennel of Wolfhounds was very alluring.

The German soon produced as samples of his Dogs, two magnificent Danes, one white, the other blue with black spots and a singular white eye that completed an expression of unusual ferocity. Each of these great creatures weighed nearly two hundred pounds. They were muscled like Tigers, and the German was readily believed when he claimed that these two alone were more than a match for the biggest Wolf. He thus described their method of hunting: “All you have to do is show them the trail and, even if it is a day old, away they go on it. They cannot be shaken off. They will soon find that Wolf, no matter how he doubles and hides. Then they close on him. He turns to run, the blue Dog takes him by the haunch and throws him like this,” and the German jerked a roll of bread into the air; “then before he touches the ground the white Dog has his head, the other his tail, and they pull him apart like that.”

It sounded all right; at any rate every one was eager to put it to the proof. Several of the residents said there was a fair chance of finding a Gray-wolf along the Assiniboine, so a hunt was organized. But they searched in vain for three days and were giving it up when some one suggested that down at Hogan’s saloon was a Wolf chained up, that they could get for the value of the bounty, and though little more than a year old he would serve to show what the Dogs could do.

The value of Hogan’s Wolf went up at once when he knew the importance of the occasion; besides, “he had conscientious scruples.” All his scruples vanished, however, when his views as to price were met. His first care was to get Little Jim out of the way by sending him on an errand to his grandma’s; then the Wolf was driven into his box and nailed in. The box was put in a wagon and taken to the open prairie along the Portage trail.

The Dogs could scarcely be held back, they were so eager for the fray, as soon as they smelt the Wolf. But several strong men held their leash, the wagon was drawn half a mile farther, and the Wolf was turned out with some difficulty. At first he looked scared and sullen. He tried to get out of sight, but made no attempt to bite. However, on finding himself free, as well as hissed and hooted at, he started off at a slinking trot toward the south, where the land seemed broken. The Dogs were released at that moment, and, baying furiously, they bounded away after the young Wolf. The men cheered loudly and rode behind them. From the very first it was clear that he had no chance. The Dogs were much swifter; the white one could run like a Greyhound. The German was wildly enthusiastic as she flew across the prairie, gaining visibly on the Wolf at every second. Many bets were offered on the Dogs, but there were no takers. The only bets accepted were Dog against Dog. The young Wolf went at speed now, but within a mile the white Dog was right behind him–was closing in.

The German shouted: “Now watch and see that Wolf go up in the air.”

In a moment the runners were together. Both recoiled, neither went up in the air, but the white Dog rolled over with a fearful gash in her shoulder–out of the fight, if not killed. Ten seconds later the Blue-spot arrived, open-mouthed. This meeting was as quick and almost as mysterious as the first. The animals barely touched each other. The gray one bounded aside, his head out of sight for a moment in the flash of quick movement. Spot reeled and showed a bleeding flank. Urged on by the men, he assaulted again, but only to get another wound that taught him to keep off.

Now came the keeper with four more huge Dogs. They turned these loose, and the men armed with clubs and lassos were closing to help in finishing the Wolf, when a small boy came charging over the plain on a Pony. He leaped to the ground and wriggling through the ring flung his arms around the Wolf’s neck. He called him his “Wolfie pet,” his “dear Wolfie”–the Wolf licked his face and wagged its tail–then the child turned on the crowd and through his streaming tears, he–Well it would not do to print what he said. He was only nine, but he was very old-fashioned, as well as a rude little boy. He had been brought up in a low saloon, and had been an apt pupil at picking up the vile talk of the place. He cursed them one and all and for generations back; he did not spare even his own father.

If a man had used such shocking and insulting language he might have been lynched, but coming from a baby, the hunters did not know what to do, so finally did the best thing. They laughed aloud–not at themselves, that is not considered good form–but they all laughed at the German whose wonderful Dogs had been worsted by a half-grown Wolf.

Jimmie now thrust his dirty, tear-stained little fist down into his very-much-of-a-boy’s pocket, and from among marbles and chewing-gum, as well as tobacco, matches, pistol cartridges, and other contraband, he fished out a flimsy bit of grocer’s twine and fastened it around the Wolf’s neck. Then, still blubbering a little, he set out for home on the Pony, leading the Wolf and hurling a final threat and anathema at the German nobleman: “Fur two cents I’d sic him on you, gol darn ye.”

IV

Early that winter Jimmie was taken down with a fever. The Wolf howled miserably in the yard when he missed his little friend, and finally on the boy’s demand was admitted to the sick-room, and there this great wild Dog–for that is all a Wolf is–continued faithfully watching by his friend’s bedside.

The fever had seemed slight at first, so that every one was shocked when there came suddenly a turn for the worse, and three days before Christmas Jimmie died. He had no more sincere mourner than his “Wolfie.” The great gray creature howled in miserable answer to the church-bell tolling when he followed the body on Christmas Eve to the graveyard at St. Boniface. He soon came back to the premises behind the saloon, but when an attempt was made to chain him again, he leaped a board fence and was finally lost sight of.

Later that same winter old Renaud, the trapper, with his pretty half-breed daughter, Ninette, came to live in a little log-cabin on the river bank. He knew nothing about Jimmie Hogan, and he was not a little puzzled to find Wolf tracks and signs along the river on both sides between St. Boniface and Fort Garry. He listened with interest and doubt to tales that the Hudson Bay Company’s men told of a great Gray-wolf that had come to live in the region about, and even to enter the town at night, and that was in particular attached to the woods about St. Boniface Church.

On Christmas Eve of that year when the bell tolled again as it had done for Jimmie, a lone and melancholy howling from the woods almost convinced Renaud that the stories were true. He knew the wolf-cries–the howl for help, the love song, the lonely wail, and the sharp defiance of the Wolves. This was the lonely wail.

The trapper went to the riverside and gave an answering howl. A shadowy form left the far woods and crossed on the ice to where the man sat, log-still, on a log. It came up near him, circled past and sniffed, then its eye glowed; it growled like a Dog that is a little angry, and glided back into the night.

Thus Renaud knew, and before long many townfolk began to learn, that a huge Gray-wolf was living in their streets, “a Wolf three times as big as the one that used to be chained at Hogan’s gin-mill.” He was the terror of Dogs, killing them on all possible occasions, and some said, though it was never proven, that he had devoured more than one half-breed who was out on a spree.

And this was the Winnipeg Wolf that I had seen that day in the wintry woods. I had longed to go to his help, thinking the odds so hopelessly against him, but later knowledge changed the thought. I do not know how that fight ended, but I do know that he was seen many times afterward and some of the Dogs were not.

Thus his was the strangest life that ever his kind had known. Free of all the woods and plains, he elected rather to lead a life of daily hazard in the town–each week at least some close escape, and every day a day of daring deeds; finding momentary shelter at times under the very boardwalk crossings. Hating the men and despising the Dogs, he fought his daily way and held the hordes of Curs at bay or slew them when he found them few or single; harried the drunkard, evaded men with guns, learned traps–learned poison, too–just how, we cannot tell, but learn it he did, for he passed it again and again, or served it only with a Wolf’s contempt.

Not a street in Winnipeg that he did not know; not a policeman in Winnipeg that had not seen his swift and shadowy form in the gray dawn as he passed where he would; not a Dog in Winnipeg that did not cower and bristle when the telltale wind brought proof that old Garou was crouching near. His only path was the warpath, and all the world his foes. But throughout this lurid, semi-mythic record there was one recurring pleasant thought–Garou never was known to harm a child.

V

Ninette was a desert-born beauty like her Indian mother, but gray-eyed like her Normandy father, a sweet girl of sixteen, the belle of her set. She might have married any one of the richest and steadiest young men of the country, but of course, in feminine perversity her heart was set on that ne’er-do-well, Paul des Roches. A handsome fellow, a good dancer and a fair violinist, Fiddler Paul was in demand at all festivities, but he was a shiftless drunkard and it was even whispered that he had a wife already in Lower Canada. Renaud very properly dismissed him when he came to urge his suit, but dismissed him in vain. Ninette, obedient in all else, would not give up her lover. The very day after her father had ordered him away she promised to meet him in the woods just across the river. It was easy to arrange this, for she was a good Catholic, and across the ice to the church was shorter than going around by the bridge. As she went through the snowy wood to the tryst she noticed that a large gray Dog was following. It seemed quite friendly, and the child (for she was still that) had no fear, but when she came to the place where Paul was waiting, the gray Dog went forward rumbling in its chest. Paul gave one look, knew it for a huge Wolf, then fled like the coward he was. He afterward said he ran for his gun. He must have forgotten where it was, as he climbed the nearest tree to find it. Meanwhile Ninette ran home across the ice to tell Paul’s friends of his danger. Not finding any firearms up the tree, the valiant lover made a spear by fastening his knife to a branch and succeeded in giving Garou a painful wound on the head. The savage, creature growled horribly but thenceforth kept at a safe distance, though plainly showing his intention to wait till the man came down. But the approach of a band of rescuers changed his mind, and he went away.

Fiddler Paul found it easier to explain matters to Ninette than he would to any one else. He still stood first in her affections, but so hopelessly ill with her father that they decided on an elopement, as soon as he should return from Fort Alexander, whither he was to go for the Company, as dog-driver. The Factor was very proud of his train Dogs–three great Huskies with curly, bushy tails, big and strong as Calves, but fierce and lawless as pirates. With these the Fiddler Paul was to drive to Fort Alexander from Fort Garry–the bearer of several important packets. He was an expert Dog-driver, which usually means relentlessly cruel. He set off blithely down the river in the morning, after the several necessary drinks of whiskey. He expected to be gone a week, and would then come back with twenty dollars in his pocket, and having thus provided the sinews of war, would carry out the plan of elopement. Away they went down the river on the ice. The big Dogs pulled swiftly but sulkily as he cracked the long whip and shouted, “Allez, allez, marchez.” They passed at speed by Renaud’s shanty on the bank, and Paul, cracking his whip and running behind the train, waved his hand to Ninette as she stood by the door. Speedily the cariole with the sulky Dogs and drunken driver disappeared around the bend–and that was the last ever seen of Fiddler Paul.

That evening the Huskies came back singly to Fort Garry. They were spattered with frozen blood, and were gashed in several places. But strange to tell they were quite “unhungry.”

Runners went on the back trail and recovered the packages. They were lying on the ice unharmed. Fragments of the sled were strewn for a mile or more up the river; not far from the packages were shreds of clothing that had belonged to the Fiddler.

It was quite clear, the Dogs had murdered and eaten their driver.

The Factor was terribly wrought up over the matter. It might cost him his Dogs. He refused to believe the report and set off to sift the evidence for himself. Renaud was chosen to go with him, and before they were within three miles of the fatal place Renaud pointed to a very large track crossing from the east to the west bank of the river, just after the Dog sled. He ran it backward for a mile or more on the eastern bank, noted how it had walked when the Dogs walked and run when they ran, before he turned to the Factor and said: “A beeg Voolf–he come after ze cariole all ze time.”

Now they followed the track where it had crossed to the west shore. Two miles above Kildonan woods the Wolf had stopped his gallop to walk over to the sled trail, had followed it a few yards, then had returned to the woods.

“Paul he drop somesin’ here, ze packet maybe; ze Voolf he come for smell. He follow so–now he know zat eez ze drunken Paul vot slash heem on ze head.”

A mile farther the Wolf track came galloping on the ice behind the cariole. The man track disappeared now, for the driver had leaped on the sled and lashed the Dogs. Here is where he cut adrift the bundles. That is why things were scattered over the ice. See how the Dogs were bounding under the lash. Here was the Fiddler’s knife in the snow. He must have dropped it in trying to use it on the Wolf. And here-what! the Wolf track disappears, but the sled track speeds along. The Wolf has leaped on the sled. The Dogs, in terror, added to their speed; but on the sleigh behind them there is a deed of vengeance done. In a moment it is over; both roll off the sled; the Wolf track reappears on the east side to seek the woods. The sled swerves to the west bank, where, after half a mile, it is caught and wrecked on a root.

The snow also told Renaud how the Dogs, entangled in the harness, had fought with each other, had cut themselves loose, and trotting homeward by various ways up the river, had gathered at the body of their late tyrant and devoured him at a meal.

Bad enough for the Dogs, still they were cleared of the murder. That certainly was done by the Wolf, and Renaud, after the shock of horror was past, gave a sigh of relief and added, “Eet is le Garou. He hab save my leel girl from zat Paul. He always was good to children.”

VI

This was the cause of the great final hunt that they fixed for Christmas Day just two years after the scene at the grave of Little Jim. It seemed as though all the Dogs in the country were brought together. The three Huskies were there–the Factor considered them essential–there were Danes and trailers and a rabble of farm Dogs and nondescripts. They spent the morning beating all the woods east of St. Boniface and had no success. But a telephone message came that the trail they sought had been seen near the Assiniboine woods west of the city, and an hour later the hunt was yelling on the hot scent of the Winnipeg Wolf.

Away they went, a rabble of Dogs, a motley rout of horsemen, a mob of men and boys on foot. Garou had no fear of the Dogs, but men he knew had guns and were dangerous. He led off for the dark timber line of the Assiniboine, but the horsemen had open country and they headed him back. He coursed along the Colony Creek hollow and so eluded the bullets already flying. He made for a barb-wire fence, and passing that he got rid of the horsemen for a time, but still must keep the hollow that baffled the bullets. The Dogs were now closing on him. All he might have asked would probably have been to be left alone with them–forty or fifty to one as they were–he would have taken the odds. The Dogs were all around him now, but none dared to close in, A lanky Hound, trusting to his speed, ran alongside at length and got a side chop from Garou that laid him low. The horsemen were forced to take a distant way around, but now the chase was toward the town, and more men and Dogs came running out to join the fray.

The Wolf turned toward the slaughter-house, a familiar resort, and the shooting ceased on account of the houses, as well as the Dogs, being so near. These were indeed now close enough to encircle him and hinder all further flight. He looked for a place to guard his rear for a final stand, and seeing a wooden foot-bridge over a gutter he sprang in, there faced about and held the pack at bay. The men got bars and demolished the bridge. He leaped out, knowing now that he had to die, but ready, wishing only to make a worthy fight, and then for the first time in broad day view of all his foes he stood–the shadowy Dog-killer, the disembodied voice of St. Boniface woods, the wonderful Winnipeg Wolf.

VII

At last after three long years of fight he stood before them alone, confronting twoscore Dogs, and men with guns to back them–but facing them just as resolutely as I saw him that day in the wintry woods. The same old curl was on his lips–the hard-knit flanks heaved just a little, but his green and yellow eye glowed steadily. The Dogs closed in, led not by the huge Huskies from the woods–they evidently knew too much for that–but by a Bulldog from the town; there was scuffling of many feet; a low rumbling for a time replaced the yapping of the pack; a flashing of those red and grizzled jaws, a momentary hurl back of the onset, and again he stood alone and braced, the grim and grand old bandit that he was. Three times they tried and suffered. Their boldest were lying about him. The first to go down was the Bulldog. Learning wisdom now, the Dogs held back, less sure; but his square-built chest showed never a sign of weakness yet, and after waiting impatiently he advanced a few steps, and thus, alas! gave to the gunners their long-expected chance. Three rifles rang, and in the snow Garou went down at last, his life of combat done.

He had made his choice. His days were short and crammed with quick events. His tale of many peaceful years was spent in three of daily brunt. He picked his trail, a new trail, high and short. He chose to drink his cup at a single gulp, and break the glass-but he left a deathless name.

Who can look into the mind of the Wolf? Who can show us his wellspring of motive? Why should he still cling to a place of endless tribulation? It could not be because he knew no other country, for the region is limitless, food is everywhere, and he was known at least as far as Selkirk. Nor could his motive be revenge. No animal will give up its whole life to seeking revenge; that evil kind of mind is found in man alone. The brute creation seeks for peace.

There is then but one remaining bond to chain him, and that the strongest claim that anything can own–the mightiest force on earth.

The Wolf is gone. The last relic of him was lost in the burning Grammar School, but to this day the sexton of St. Boniface Church avers that the tolling bell on Christmas Eve never fails to provoke that weird and melancholy Wolf-cry from the wooded graveyard a hundred steps away, where they laid his Little Jim, the only being on earth that ever met him with the touch of love.

THE LEGEND OF THE WHITE REINDEER

Skoal! Skoal! For Norway Skoal!
Sing ye the song of the Vand-dam troll. When I am hiding
Norway’s luck
On a White Storbuk
Comes riding, riding.

Bleak, black, deep, and cold is Utrovand, a long pocket of glacial water, a crack in the globe, a wrinkle in the high Norwegian mountains, blocked with another mountain, and flooded with a frigid flood, three thousand feet above its Mother Sea, and yet no closer to its Father Sun.

Around its cheerless shore is a belt of stunted trees, that sends a long tail up the high valley, till it dwindles away to sticks and moss, as it also does some half-way up the granite hills that rise a thousand feet, encompassing the lake. This is the limit of trees, the end of the growth of wood. The birch and willow are the last to drop out of the long fight with frost. Their miniature thickets are noisy with the cries of Fieldfare, Pipit, and Ptarmigan, but these are left behind on nearing the upper plateau, where shade of rock and sough of wind are all that take their place. The chilly Hoifjeld rolls away, a rugged, rocky plain, with great patches of snow in all the deeper hollows, and the distance blocked by snowy peaks that rise and roll and whiter gleam, till, dim and dazzling in the north, uplifts the Jotunheim, the home of spirits, of glaciers, and of the lasting snow.

The treeless stretch is one vast attest to the force of heat. Each failure of the sun by one degree is marked by a lower realm of life. The northern slope of each hollow is less boreal than its southern side. The pine and spruce have given out long ago; the mountain-ash went next; the birch and willow climbed up half the slope. Here, nothing grows but creeping plants and moss. The plain itself is pale grayish green, one vast expanse of reindeer-moss, but warmed at spots into orange by great beds of polytrichum, and, in sunnier nooks, deepened to a herbal green. The rocks that are scattered everywhere are of a delicate lilac, but each is variegated with spreading frill-edged plasters of gray-green lichen or orange powder-streaks and beauty-spots of black. These rocks have great power to hold the heat, so that each of them is surrounded by a little belt of heat-loving plants that could not otherwise live so high. Dwarfed representatives of the birch and willow both are here, hugging the genial rock, as an old French habitant hugs his stove in winter-time, spreading their branches over it, instead of in the frigid air. A foot away is seen a chillier belt of heath, and farther off, colder, where none else can grow, is the omnipresent gray-green reindeer-moss that gives its color to the upland. The hollows are still filled with snow, though now it is June. But each of these white expanses is shrinking, spending itself in ice-cold streams that somehow reach the lake. These snö-flaks show no sign of life, not even the ‘red-snow’ tinge, and around each is a belt of barren earth, to testify that life and warmth can never be divorced.

Birdless and lifeless, the gray-green snow-pied waste extends over all the stretch that is here between the timber-line and the snow-line, above which winter never quits its hold. Farther north both come lower, till the timber-line is at the level of the sea; and all the land is in that treeless belt called Tundra in the Old World, and Barrens in the New, and that everywhere is the Home of the Reindeer–the Realm of the Reindeer-moss.

I

In and out it flew, in and out, over the water and under, as the Varsimle’, the leader doe of the Reindeer herd, walked past on the vernal banks, and it sang:–

“Skoal! Skoal! Gamle Norge Skoal!” and more about “a White Reindeer and Norway’s good luck,” as though the singer were gifted with special insight.

When old Sveggum built the Vand-dam on the Lower Hoifjeld, just above the Utrovand, and set his ribesten a-going, he supposed that he was the owner of it all. But some one was there before him. And in and out of the spouting stream this some one dashed, and sang songs that he made up to fit the place and the time. He skipped from skjaeke to skjaeke of the wheel, and did many things which Sveggum could set down only to luck–whatever that is; and some said that Sveggum’s luck was a Wheel-troll, a Water-fairy, with a brown coat and a white beard, one that lived on land or in water, as he pleased.

But most of Sveggum’s neighbors saw only a Fossekal, the little Waterfall Bird that came each year and danced in the stream, or dived where the pool is deep. And maybe both were right, for some of the very oldest peasants will tell you that a Fairy-troll may take the form of a man or the form of a bird. Only this bird lived a life no bird can live, and sang songs that men never had sung in Norway. Wonderful vision had he, and sights he saw that man never saw. For the Fieldfare would build before him, and the Lemming fed its brood under his very eyes. Eyes were they to see; for the dark speck on Suletind that man could barely glimpse was a Reindeer, with half-shed coat, to him and the green slime on the Vandren was beautiful green pasture with a banquet spread.

Oh, Man is so blind, and makes himself so hated! But Fossekal harmed none, so none were afraid of him. Only he sang, and his songs were sometimes mixed with fun and prophecy, or perhaps a little scorn.

From the top of the tassel-birch he could mark the course of the Vand-dam stream past the Nystuen hamlet to lose itself in the gloomy waters of Utrovand or by a higher flight he could see across the barren upland that rolled to Jotunheim in the north.

The great awakening was on now. The springtime had already reached the woods; the valleys were a-throb with life; new birds coming from the south, winter sleepers reappearing, and the Reindeer that had wintered in the lower woods should soon again be seen on the uplands.

Not without a fight do the Frost Giants give up the place so long their own; a great battle was in progress; but the Sun was slowly, surely winning, and driving them back to their Jotunheim. At every hollow and shady place they made another stand, or sneaked back by night, only to suffer another defeat. Hard hitters these, as they are stubborn fighters; many a granite rock was split and shattered by their blows in reckless fight, so that its inner fleshy tints were shown and warmly gleamed among the gray-green rocks that dotted the plain, like the countless flocks of Thor. More or less of these may be found at every place of battle-brunt, and straggled along the slope of Suletind was a host that reached for half a mile. But stay! these moved. Not rocks were they, but living creatures.

They drifted along erratically, yet one way, all up the wind. They swept out of sight in a hollow, to reappear on a ridge much nearer, and serried there against the sky, we marked their branching horns, and knew them for the Reindeer in their home.

The band came drifting our way, feeding like Sheep, grunting like only themselves. Each one found a grazing-spot, stood there till it was cleared off, then trotted on crackling hoofs to the front in search of another. So the band was ever changing in rank and form. But one there was that was always at or near the van–a large and well-favored Simle’, or Hind. However much the band might change and spread, she was in the forefront, and the observant would soon have seen signs that she had an influence over the general movement–that she, indeed, was the leader. Even the big Bucks, in their huge velvet-clad antlers, admitted this untitular control; and if one, in a spirit of independence, evinced a disposition to lead elsewhere, he soon found himself uncomfortably alone.

The Varsimle’, or leading Hind, had kept the band hovering, for the last week or two, along the timber-line, going higher each day to the baring uplands, where the snow was clearing and the deer-flies were blown away. As the pasture zone had climbed she had followed in her daily foraging, returning to the sheltered woods at sundown, for the wild things fear the cold night wind even as man does. But now the deer-flies were rife in the woods, and the rocky hillside nooks warm enough for the nightly bivouac, so the woodland was deserted.

Probably the leader of a band of animals does not consciously pride itself on leadership, yet has an uncomfortable sensation when not followed. But there are times with all when solitude is sought. The Varsimle’ had been fat and well through the winter, yet now was listless, and lingered with drooping head as the grazing herd moved past her.

Sometimes she stood gazing blankly while the unchewed bunch of moss hung from her mouth, then roused to go on to the front as before; but the spells of vacant stare and the hankering to be alone grew stronger. She turned downward to seek the birch woods, but the whole band turned with her. She stood stock-still, with head down. They grazed and grunted past, leaving her like a statue against the hillside. When all had gone on, she slunk quietly away; walked a few steps, looked about, made a pretense of grazing, snuffed the ground, looked after the herd, and scanned the hills; then downward fared toward the sheltering woods.

Once as she peered over a bank she sighted another Simle’, a doe Reindeer, uneasily wandering by itself. But the Varsimle’ wished not for company. She did not know why, but she felt that she must hide away somewhere.

She stood still until the other had passed on, then turned aside, and went with faster steps and less wavering, till she came in view of Utrovand, away down by the little stream that turns old Sveggum’s ribesten. Up above the dam she waded across the limpid stream, for deep-laid and sure is the instinct of a wild animal to put running water between itself and those it shuns. Then, on the farther bank, now bare and slightly green, she turned, and passing in and out among the twisted trunks, she left the noisy Vand-dam. On the higher ground beyond she paused, looked this way and that, went on a little, but returned; and here, completely shut in by softly painted rocks, and birches wearing little springtime hangers, she seemed inclined to rest; yet not to rest, for she stood uneasily this way and that, driving away the flies that settled on her legs, heeding not at all the growing grass, and thinking she was hid from all the world.

But nothing escapes the Fossekal. He had seen her leave the herd, and now he sat on a gorgeous rock that overhung, and sang as though he had waited for this and knew that the fate of the nation might turn on what passed in this far glen. He sang:

Skoal! Skoal! For Norway Skoal!
Sing ye the song of the Vand-dam troll. When I am hiding
Norway’s luck
On a White Storbuk
Comes riding, riding.

There are no Storks in Norway, and yet an hour later there was a wonderful little Reindeer lying beside the Varsimle’. She was brushing his coat, licking and mothering him, proud and happy as though this was the first little Renskalv ever born. There might be hundreds born in the herd that month, but probably no more like this one, for he was snowy white, and the song of the singer on the painted rock was about

Good luck, good luck,
And a White Storbuk,

as though he foresaw clearly the part that the White Calf was to play when he grew to be a Storbuk.

But another wonder now came to pass. Before an hour, there was a second little Calf–a brown one this time. Strange things happen, and hard things are done when they needs must. Two hours later, when the Varsimle’ led the White Calf away from the place, there was no Brown Calf, only some flattened rags with calf-hair on them.

The mother was wise: better one strongling than two weaklings. Within a few days the Simle’ once more led the band, and running by her side was the White Calf. The Varsimle’ considered him in all things, so that he really set the pace for the band, which suited very well all the mothers that now had Calves with them. Big, strong, and wise was the Varsimle’, in the pride of her strength, and this White Calf was the flower of her prime. He often ran ahead of his mother as she led the herd, and Rol, coming on them one day, laughed aloud at the sight as they passed, old and young, fat Simle’ and antlered Storbuk, a great brown herd, all led, as it seemed, by a little White Calf.

So they drifted away to the high mountains, to be gone all summer. “Gone to be taught by the spirits who dwell where the Black Loon laughs on the ice,” said Lief of the Lower Dale; but Sveggum, who had always been among the Reindeer, said: “Their mothers are the teachers, even as ours are.”

When the autumn came, old Sveggum saw a moving sno-flack far off on the brown moor-land; but the Troll saw a white yearling, a Nekbuk; and when they ranged alongside of Utrovand to drink, the still sheet seemed fully to reflect the White One, though it barely sketched in the others, with the dark hills behind.

Many a little Calf had come that spring, and had drifted away on the moss-barrens, to come back no more; for some were weaklings and some were fools; some fell by the way, for that is law; and some would not learn the rules, and so died. But the White Calf was strongest of them all, and he was wise, so he learned of his mother, who was wisest of them all. He learned that the grass on the sun side of a rock is sweet, and though it looks the same in the dark hollows, it is there worthless. He learned that when his mother’s hoofs crackled he must be up and moving, and when all the herd’s hoofs crackled there was danger, and he must keep by his mother’s side. For this crackling is like the whistling of a Whistler Duck’s wings: it is to keep the kinds together. He learned that where the little Bomuldblomster hangs its Cotton tufts is dangerous bog; that the harsh cackle of the Ptarmigan means that close at hand are Eagles, as dangerous for Fawn as for Bird. He learned that the little troll-berries are deadly, that when the verra-flies come stinging he must take refuge on a snow-patch, and that of all animal smells only that of his mother was to be fully trusted. He learned that he was growing. His flat calf sides and big joints were changing to the full barrel and clean limbs of the Yearling, and the little bumps which began to show on his head when he was only a fortnight old were now sharp, hard spikes that could win in fight.

More than once they had smelt that dreaded destroyer of the north that men call the Gjerv or Wolverene; and one day, as this danger-scent came suddenly and in great strength, a huge blot of dark brown sprang rumbling from a rocky ledge, and straight for the foremost–the White Calf. His eye caught the flash of a whirling, shaggy mass, with gleaming teeth and eyes, hot-breathed and ferocious. Blank horror set his hair on end; his nostrils flared in fear: but before he fled there rose within another feeling–one of anger at the breaker of his peace, a sense that swept all fear away, braced his legs, and set his horns at charge. The brown brute landed with a deep-chested growl, to be received on the young one’s spikes. They pierced him deeply, but the shock was overmuch; it bore the White One down, and he might yet have been killed but that his mother, alert and ever near, now charged the attacking monster, and heavier, better armed, she hurled and speared him to the ground. And the White Calf, with a very demon glare in his once mild eyes, charged too; and even after the Wolverene was a mere hairy mass, and his mother had retired to feed, he came, snorting out his rage, to drive his spikes into the hateful thing, till his snowy head was stained with his adversary’s blood.

Thus he showed that below the ox-like calm exterior was the fighting beast; that he was like the men of the north, rugged, square-built, calm, slow to wrath, but when aroused “seeing red.”

When they ranked together by the lake that fall, the Fossekal sang his old song:

When I am hiding
Norway’s luck
On a White Storbuk
Comes riding, riding,

as though this was something he had awaited, then disappeared no one knew where. Old Sveggum had seen it flying through the stream, as birds fly through the air, walking in the bottom of a deep pond as a Ptarmigan walks on the rocks, living as no bird can live; and now the old man said it had simply gone southward for the winter. But old Sveggum could neither read nor write: how should he know?

II

Each springtime when the Reindeer passed over Sveggum’s mill-run, as they moved from the lowland woods to the bleaker shore of Utrovand, the Fossekal was there to sing about the White Storbuk, which each year became more truly the leader.

That first spring he stood little higher than a Hare. When he came to drink in the autumn, his back was above the rock where Sveggum’s stream enters Utrovand. Next year he barely passed under the stunted birch, and the third year the Fossekal on the painted rock was looking up, not down, at him as he passed. This was the autumn when Rol and Sveggum sought the Hoifjeld to round up their half-wild herd and select some of the strongest for the sled. There was but one opinion about the Storbuk. Higher than the others, heavier, white as snow, with a mane that swept the shallow drifts, breasted like a Horse and with horns like a storm-grown oak, he was king of the herd, and might easily be king of the road.

There are two kinds of deer-breakers, as there are two kinds of horse-breakers: one that tames and teaches the animal, and gets a spirited, friendly helper; one that aims to break its spirit, and gets only a sullen slave, ever ready to rebel and wreak its hate. Many a Lapp and many a Norsk has paid with his life for brutality to his Reindeer, and Rol’s days were shortened by his own pulk-Ren. But Sveggum was of gentler sort. To him fell the training of the White Storbuk. It was slow, for the Buck resented all liberties from man, as he did from his brothers; but kindness, not fear, was the power that tamed him, and when he had learned to obey and glory in the sled race, it was a noble sight to see the great white mild-eyed beast striding down the long snow-stretch of Utrovand, the steam jetting from his nostrils, the snow swirling up before like the curling waves on a steamer’s bow, sled, driver, and Deer all dim in flying white.

Then came the Yule-tide Fair, with the races on the ice, and Utrovand for once was gay. The sullen hills about reechoed with merry shouting. The Reindeer races were first, with many a mad mischance for laughter. Rol himself was there with his swiftest sled Deer, a tall, dark, five-year-old, in his primest prime. But over-eager, over-brutal, he harried the sullen, splendid slave till in mid-race–just when in a way to win–it turned at a cruel blow, and Rol took refuge under the upturned sled until it had vented its rage against the wood; and so he lost the race, and the winner was the young White Storbuk. Then he won the five-mile race around the lake; and for each triumph Sveggum hung a little silver bell on his harness, so that now he ran and won to merry music.

Then came the Horse races,–running races these; the Reindeer only trots,–and when Balder, the victor Horse, received his ribbon and his owner the purse, came Sveggum with all his winnings in his hand, and said: “Ho, Lars, thine is a fine Horse, but mine is a better Storbuk; let us put our winnings together and race, each his beast, for all.”

A Ren against a Race-horse–such a race was never seen till now. Off at the pistol-crack they flew. “Ho, Balder! (cluck!) Ho, hi, Balder!” Away shot the beautiful Racer, and the Storbuk, striding at a slower trot, was left behind.

“Ho, Balder!” “Hi, Storbuk!” How the people cheered as the Horse went bounding and gaining! But he had left the line at his top speed; the Storbuk’s rose as he flew–faster–faster. The Pony ceased to gain. A mile whirled by; the gap began to close. The Pony had over-spurted at the start, but the Storbuk was warming to his work–striding evenly, swiftly, faster yet, as Sveggum cried in encouragement: “Ho, Storbuk! good Storbuk!” or talked to him only with a gentle rein. At the turning-point the pair were neck and neck; then the Pony–though well driven and well shod-slipped on the ice, and thenceforth held back as though in fear, so the Storbuk steamed away. The Pony and his driver were far behind when a roar from every human throat in Filefjeld told that the Storbuk had passed the wire and won the race. And yet all this was before the White Ren had reached the years of his full strength and speed.

Once that day Rol essayed to drive the Storbuk. They set off at a good pace, the White Buk ready, responsive to the single rein, and his mild eyes veiled by his drooping lashes. But, without any reason other than the habit of brutality, Rol struck him. In a moment there was a change. The Racer’s speed was checked, all four legs braced forward till he stood; the drooping lids were raised, the eyes rolled–there was a green light in them now. Three puffs of steam were jetted from each nostril. Rol shouted, then, scenting danger, quickly upset the sled and hid beneath. The Storbuk turned to charge the sled, sniffing and tossing the snow with his foot; but little Knute, Sveggum’s son, ran forward and put his arms around the Storbuk’s neck; then the fierce look left the Reindeer’s eye, and he suffered the child to lead him quietly back to the starting-point. Beware, O driver! the Reindeer, too, “sees red.”

This was the coming of the White Storbuk for the folk of Filefjeld.

In the two years that followed he became famous throughout that country as Sveggum’s Storbuk, and many a strange exploit was told of him. In twenty minutes he could carry old Sveggum round the six-mile rim of Utrovand. When the snow-slide buried all the village of Holaker, it was the Storbuk that brought the word for help to Opdalstole and returned again over the forty miles of deep snow in seven hours, to carry brandy, food, and promise of speedy aid.

When over-venturesome young Knute Sveggumsen broke through the new thin ice of Utrovand, his cry for help brought the Storbuk to the rescue; for he was the gentlest of his kind and always ready to come at call.

He brought the drowning boy in triumph to the shore, and as they crossed the Vand-dam stream, there was the Troll-bird to sing:

Good luck, good luck,
With the White Storbuk.

After which he disappeared for months–doubtless dived into some subaqueous cave to feast and revel all winter; although Sveggum did not believe it was so.

III

How often is the fate of kingdoms given into child hands, or even committed to the care of Bird or Beast! A She-wolf nursed the Roman Empire. A Wren pecking crumbs on a drum-head aroused the Orange army, it is said, and ended the Stuart reign in Britain. Little wonder, then, that to a noble Reindeer Buk should be committed the fate of Norway: that the Troll on the wheel should have reason in his rhyme.

These were troublous times in Scandinavia. Evil men, traitors at heart, were sowing dissension between the brothers Norway and Sweden. “Down with the Union!” was becoming the popular cry.

Oh, unwise peoples! If only you could have been by Sveggum’s wheel to hear the
Troll when he sang:

The Raven and the Lion
They held the Bear at bay;
But he picked the bones of both
When they quarrelled by the way.

Threats of civil war, of a fight for independence, were heard throughout Norway. Meetings were held more or less secretly, and at each of them was some one with well-filled pockets and glib tongue, to enlarge on the country’s wrongs, and promise assistance from an outside irresistible power as soon as they showed that they meant to strike for freedom. No one openly named the power. That was not necessary; it was everywhere felt and understood. Men who were real patriots began to believe in it. Their country was wronged. Here was one to set her right. Men whose honor was beyond question became secret agents of this power. The state was honeycombed and mined; society was a tangle of plots. The king was helpless, though his only wish was for the people’s welfare. Honest and straightforward, what could he do against this far-reaching machination? The very advisers by his side were corrupted through mistaken patriotism. The idea that they were playing into the hands of the foreigner certainly never entered into the minds of these dupes–at least, not those of the rank and file. One or two, tried, selected, and bought by the arch-enemy, knew the real object in view, and the chief of these was Borgrevinck, a former lansman of Nordlands. A man of unusual gifts, a member of the Storthing, a born leader, he might have been prime minister long ago, but for the distrust inspired by several unprincipled dealings. Soured by what he considered want of appreciation, balked in his ambition, he was a ready tool when the foreign agent sounded him. At first his patriotism had to be sopped, but that necessity disappeared as the game went on, and perhaps he alone, of the whole far-reaching conspiracy, was prepared to strike at the Union for the benefit of the foreigner.

Plans were being perfected,–army officers being secretly misled and won over by the specious talk of “their country’s wrongs,” and each move made Borgrevinck more surely the head of it all,–when a quarrel between himself and the “deliverer” occurred over the question of recompense. Wealth untold they were willing to furnish; but regal power, never. The quarrel became more acute. Borgrevinck continued to attend all meetings, but was ever more careful to centre all power in himself, and even prepared to turn round to the king’s party if necessary to further his ambition. The betrayal of his followers would purchase his own safety. But proofs he must have, and he set about getting signatures to a declaration of rights which was simply a veiled confession of treason. Many of the leaders he had deluded into signing this before the meeting at Laersdalsoren. Here they met in the early winter, some twenty of the patriots, some of them men of position, all of them men of brains and power. Here, in the close and stifling parlor, they planned, discussed, and questioned. Great hopes were expressed, great deeds were forecast, in that stove-hot room.

Outside, against the fence, in the winter night, was a Great White Reindeer, harnessed to a sled, but lying down with his head doubled back on his side as he slept, calm, unthoughtful, ox-like. Which seemed likelier to decide the nation’s fate, the earnest thinkers indoors, or the ox-like sleeper without? Which seemed more vital to Israel, the bearded council in King Saul’s tent, or the light-hearted shepherd-boy hurling stones across the brook at Bethlehem? At Laersdalsoren it was as before: deluded by Borgrevinck’s eloquent plausibility, all put their heads in the noose, their lives and country in his hands, seeing in this treacherous monster a very angel of self-sacrificing patriotism. All? No, not all. Old Sveggum was there. He could neither read nor write. That was his excuse for not signing. He could not read a letter in a book, but he could read something of the hearts of men. As the meeting broke up he whispered to Axel Tanberg: “Is his own name on that paper?” And Axel, starting at the thought, said: “No.” Then said Sveggum: “I don’t trust that man. They ought to know of this at Nystuen.” For there was to be the really important meeting. But how to let them know was the riddle. Borgrevinck was going there at once with his fast Horses.

Sveggum’s eye twinkled as he nodded toward the Storbuk, standing tied to the fence. Borgrevinck leaped into his sleigh and went off at speed, for he was a man of energy. Sveggum took the bells from the harness, untied the Reindeer, stepped into the pulk. He swung the single rein, clucked to the Storbuk, and also turned his head toward Nystuen. The fast Horses had a long start, but before they had climbed the eastward hill Sveggum needs must slack, so as not to overtake them. He held back till they came to the turn above the woods at Maristuen; then he quit the road, and up the river flat he sped the Buk, a farther way, but the only way to bring them there ahead.

Squeak, crack-squeak, crack-squeak, crack–at regular intervals from the great spreading snow-shoes of the Storbuk, and the steady sough of his breath was like the Nordland as she passes up the Hardanger Fjord. High up, on the smooth road to the left, they could hear the jingle of the horse-bells and the shouting of Borgrevinck’s driver, who, under orders, was speeding hard for Nystuen.

The highway was a short road and smooth, and the river valley was long and rough; but when, in four hours, Borgrevinck got to Nystuen, there in the throng was a face that he had just left at Laersdalsoren. He appeared not to notice, though nothing ever escaped him.

At Nystuen none of the men would sign. Some one had warned them. This was serious; might be fatal at such a critical point. As he thought it over, his suspicions turned more and more to Sveggum, the old fool that could not write his name at Laersdalsoren. But how did he get there before himself with his speedy Horses?

There was a dance at Nystuen that night; the dance was necessary to mask the meeting; and during that Borgrevinck learned of the swift White Ren.

The Nystuen trip had failed, thanks to the speed of the White Buk. Borgrevinck must get to Bergen before word of this, or all would be lost. There was only one way, to be sure of getting there before any one else. Possibly word had already gone from Laersdalsoren. But even at that, Borgrevinck could get there and save himself, at the price of all Norway, if need be, provided he went with the White Storbuk. He would not be denied. He was not the man to give up a point, though it took all the influence he could bring to bear, this time, to get old Sveggum’s leave.

The Storbuk was quietly sleeping in the corral when Sveggum came to bring him. He rose leisurely, hind legs first, stretched one, then the other, curling his tail tight on his back as he did so, shook the hay from the great antlers as though they were a bunch of twigs, and slowly followed Sveggum at the end of the tight halter. He was so sleepy and slow that Borgrevinck impatiently gave him a kick, and got for response a short snort from the Buk, and from Sveggum an earnest warning, both of which were somewhat scornfully received. The tinkling bells on the harness had been replaced, but Borgrevinck wanted them removed. He wished to go in silence. Sveggum would not be left behind when his favorite Ren went forth, so he was given a seat in the horse-sleigh which was to follow, and the driver thereof received from his master a secret hint to delay.

Then, with papers on his person to death-doom a multitude of misguided men, with fiendish intentions in his heart as well as the power to carry them out, and with the fate of Norway in his hands, Borgrevinck was made secure in the sled, behind the White Storbuk, and sped at dawn on his errand of desolation.

At the word from Sveggum the White Ren set off with a couple of bounds that threw Borgrevinck back in the pulk. This angered him, but he swallowed his wrath on seeing that it left the horse-sleigh behind. He shook the line, shouted, and the Buk settled down to a long, swinging trot. His broad hoofs clicked double at every stride. His nostrils, out level, puffed steady blasts of steam in the frosty morning as he settled to his pace. The pulk’s prow cut two long shears of snow, that swirled up over man and sled till all were white. And the great ox-eyes of the King Ren blazed joyously in the delight of motion, and of conquest too, as the sound of the horse-bells faded far behind.

Even masterful Borgrevinck could not but mark with pleasure the noble creature that had balked him last night and now was lending its speed to his purpose; for it was his intention to arrive hours before the horse-sleigh, if possible.

Up the rising road they sped as though downhill, and the driver’s spirits rose with the exhilarating speed. The snow groaned ceaselessly under the prow of the pulk, and the frosty creaking under the hoofs of the flying Ren was like the gritting of mighty teeth. Then came the level stretch from Nystuen’s hill to Dalecarl’s, and as they whirled by in the early day, little Carl chanced to peep from a window, and got sight of the Great White Ren in a white pulk with a white driver, just as it is in the stories of the Giants, and clapped his hands, and cried, “Good, good!”

But his grandfather, when he caught a glimpse of the white wonder that went without even sound of bells, felt a cold chill in his scalp, and went back to light a candle that he kept at the window till the sun was high, for surely this was the Storbuk of Jotunheim.

But the Ren whirled on, and the driver shook the reins and thought only of Bergen. He struck the White Steed with the loose end of the rope. The Buk gave three great snorts and three great bounds, then faster went, and as they passed by Dyrskaur, where the Giant sits on the edge, his head was muffled in scud, which means that a storm is coming. The Storbuk knew it. He sniffed, and eyed the sky with anxious look, and even slacked a little; but Borgrevinck yelled at the speeding beast, though going yet as none but he could go, and struck him once, twice, and thrice, and harder yet. So the pulk was whirled along like a skiff in a steamer’s wake; but there was blood in the Storbuk’s eye now; and Borgrevinck was hard put to balance the sled. The miles flashed by like roods till Sveggum’s bridge appeared. The storm-wind now was blowing, but there was the Troll. Whence came he now, none knew, but there he was, hopping on the keystone and singing of

Norway’s fate and Norway’s luck,
Of the hiding Troll and the riding Buk.

Down the winding highway they came, curving inward as they swung around the corner. At the voice on the bridge the Deer threw back his ears and slackened his pace. Borgrevinck, not knowing whence it came, struck savagely at the Ren. The red light gleamed in those ox-like eyes. He snorted in anger and shook the great horns, but he did not stop to avenge the blow. For him was a vaster vengeance still. He onward sped as before, but from that time Borgrevinck had lost all control. The one voice that the Ren would hear had been left behind. They whirled aside, off the road, before the bridge was reached. The pulk turned over, but righted itself, and Borgrevinck would have been thrown out and killed but for the straps. It was not to be so; it seemed rather as though the every curse of Norway had been gathered into the sled for a purpose. Bruised and battered, he reappeared. The Troll from the bridge leaped lightly to the Storbuk’s head, and held on to the horns as he danced and sang his ancient song, and a new song, too:

Ha! at last! Oh, lucky day,
Norway’s curse to wipe away!

Borgrevinck was terrified and furious. He struck harder at the Storbuk as he bounded over the rougher snow, and vainly tried to control him. He lost his head in fear. He got out his knife, at last, to strike at the wild Buk’s hamstrings, but a blow from the hoof sent it flying from his hand. Their speed on the road was slow to that they now made: no longer striding at the trot, but bounding madly, great five-stride bounds, the wretched Borgrevinck strapped in the sled, alone and helpless through his own contriving, screaming, cursing, and praying. The Storbuk with bloodshot eyes, madly steaming, careered up the rugged ascent, up to the broken, stormy Hoifjeld; mounting the hills as a Petrel mounts the rollers, skimming the flats as a Fulmar skims the shore, he followed the trail where his mother had first led his tottering steps, up from the Vand-dam nook. He followed the old familiar route that he had followed for five years, where the white-winged Rype flies aside, where the black rock mountains, shining white, come near and block the sky, “where the Reindeer find their mysterie.”

On like the little snow-wreath that the storm-wind sends dancing before the storm, on like a whirlwind over the shoulder of Suletind, over the knees of Torholmenbrae–the Giants that sit at the gateway. Faster than man or beast could follow, up–up–up–and on; and no one saw them go, but a Raven that swooped behind, and flew as Raven never flew, and the Troll, the same old Troll that sang by the Vand-dam, and now danced and sang between the antlers: