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|The Taste Of The Meat||Jack London|
|Page 2 of 2||
"Chechaquo," the girl said.
The man, who looked like a tramp in his cheap overalls and dilapidated woollen jacket, grinned dryly, and Kit felt withered though he knew not why. But anyway she was an unusually pretty girl, he decided, as the two moved off. He noted the way of her walk, and recorded the judgment that he would recognize it after the lapse of a thousand years.
"Did you see that man with the girl?" Kit's neighbour asked him excitedly. "Know who he is?"
Kit shook his head.
"Cariboo Charley. He was just pointed out to me. He struck it big on Klondike. Old timer. Been on the Yukon a dozen years. He's just come out."
"What's chechaquo mean?" Kit asked.
"You're one; I'm one," was the answer.
"Maybe I am, but you've got to search me. What does it mean?"
On his way back to the beach Kit turned the phrase over and over. It rankled to be called tender-foot by a slender chit of a woman.
Going into a corner among the heaps of freight, his mind still filled with the vision of the Indian with the redoubtable pack, Kit essayed to learn his own strength. He picked out a sack of flour which he knew weighed an even hundred pounds. He stepped astride of it, reached down, and strove to get it on his shoulder. His first conclusion was that one hundred pounds was the real heavy. His next was that his back was weak. His third was an oath, and it occurred at the end of five futile minutes, when he collapsed on top of the burden with which he was wrestling. He mopped his forehead, and across a heap of grub-sacks saw John Bellew gazing at him, wintry amusement in his eyes.
"God!" proclaimed that apostle of the hard. "Out of our loins has come a race of weaklings. When I was sixteen I toyed with things like that."
"You forget, avuncular," Kit retorted, "that I wasn't raised on bear-meat."
"And I'll toy with it when I'm sixty."
"You've got to show me."
John Bellew did. He was forty-eight, but he bent over the sack, applied a tentative, shifting grip that balanced it, and, with a quick heave, stood erect, the somersaulted sack of flour on his shoulder.
"Knack, my boy, knack--and a spine."
Kit took off his hat reverently.
"You're a wonder, avuncular, a shining wonder. D'ye think I can learn the knack?"
John Bellew shrugged his shoulders.
"You'll be hitting the back trail before we get started."
"Never you fear," Kit groaned. "There's O'Hara, the roaring lion, down there. I'm not going back till I have to."
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