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|Part IV||Jack London|
|Page 2 of 4||
He did not know what to make of it. Perhaps some new devilry of the gods was about to be perpetrated on him. He walked slowly and cautiously, prepared to be assailed at any moment. He did not know what to do, it was all so unprecedented. He took the precaution to sheer off from the two watching gods, and walked carefully to the corner of the cabin. Nothing happened. He was plainly perplexed, and he came back again, pausing a dozen feet away and regarding the two men intently.
"Won't he run away?" his new owner asked.
Matt shrugged his shoulders. "Got to take a gamble. Only way to find out is to find out."
"Poor devil," Scott murmured pityingly. "What he needs is some show of human kindness," he added, turning and going into the cabin.
He came out with a piece of meat, which he tossed to White Fang. He sprang away from it, and from a distance studied it suspiciously.
"Hi-yu, Major!" Matt shouted warningly, but too late.
Major had made a spring for the meat. At the instant his jaws closed on it, White Fang struck him. He was overthrown. Matt rushed in, but quicker than he was White Fang. Major staggered to his feet, but the blood spouting from his throat reddened the snow in a widening path.
"It's too bad, but it served him right," Scott said hastily.
But Matt's foot had already started on its way to kick White Fang. There was a leap, a flash of teeth, a sharp exclamation. White Fang, snarling fiercely, scrambled backward for several yards, while Matt stooped and investigated his leg.
"He got me all right," he announced, pointing to the torn trousers and undercloths, and the growing stain of red.
"I told you it was hopeless, Matt," Scott said in a discouraged voice. "I've thought about it off and on, while not wanting to think of it. But we've come to it now. It's the only thing to do."
As he talked, with reluctant movements he drew his revolver, threw open the cylinder, and assured himself of its contents.
"Look here, Mr. Scott," Matt objected; "that dog's ben through hell. You can't expect 'm to come out a white an' shinin' angel. Give 'm time."
"Look at Major," the other rejoined.
The dog-musher surveyed the stricken dog. He had sunk down on the snow in the circle of his blood and was plainly in the last gasp.
"Served 'm right. You said so yourself, Mr. Scott. He tried to take White Fang's meat, an' he's dead-O. That was to be expected. I wouldn't give two whoops in hell for a dog that wouldn't fight for his own meat."
"But look at yourself, Matt. It's all right about the dogs, but we must draw the line somewhere."
"Served me right," Matt argued stubbornly. "What'd I want to kick 'm for? You said yourself that he'd done right. Then I had no right to kick 'm."
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