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running and very much alive. was filled with weird visions He contemplated the bones, and delicious dreams. clean-picked and polished, pink But ever he sucked and with the cell-life in them which chewed on the crushed bones had not yet died. Could it of the caribou calf, the least possibly be that he might be remnants of which he had that ere the day was done ? gathered up and carried with Such was life, eh? A vain him. He crossed no more hills and fleeting thing. It or divides, but automatically only life that pained. There followed a large stream which was no hurt in death. To flowed through a wide and die was to sleep. It meant shallow valley. He did not cessation, rest. Then why was see this stream, or this valley. he not content to die?
He saw nothing save visions. But he did not moralise long. Soul and body walked He was squatting in the moss, crawled side by side, yet apart, a bone in his mouth, sucking so slender was the thread that at the shreds of life that still bound them. dyed it faintly pink. The He awoke, in his right mind, sweet meaty taste, thin and lying on his back on a rocky elusive almost as a memory, ledge. The sun was shining maddened him. He closed his bright and warm. Afar off jaws on the bones and crunched. he heard the squawking of Sometimes it was the bone caribou calves. He was aware that broke, sometimes his of vague memories of rain, and teeth. Then he crushed the wind, and snow, but whether bones between rocks, pounded he had been beaten by the them to a pulp, and swal- storm for two days or two lowed them. He pounded his weeks he did not know. fingers, too, in his haste, and For some time he lay withyet found a moment in which out movement, the genial sunto feel surprise at the fact shine pouring upon him, and that his fingers did not hurt saturating his miserable body much when caught under the with its warmth. A fine day, descending rock.
he thought. Perhaps he could Came two frightful days of manage to locate himself. By snow and rain. He did not a painful effort he rolled over know when he made camp, on his side. Below him flowed when he broke camp. He a wide and sluggish river. Its travelled in the night as much unfamiliarity puzzled him. as in the day. He rested Slowly he followed it with his wherever he fell, crawled on eyes, winding in wide sweeps whenever the dying life in among the bleak, bare hills, him flickered up and burned bleaker and barer, and lowerless dimly. He, as a man, no lying than any hills he had longer strove. It was the life yet encountered. Slowly, dein him, unwilling to die, that liberately, without excitement drove him on. He did not or more than the most casual suffer. His nerves had become interest, he followed the course blunted, numb, while his mind of the strange stream toward
the sky-line, and saw it empty- his eyes for a long while, and ing into a bright and shining thought, and then it came to
He was still unexcited. him. He had been making Most unusual, he thought, a north by east, away from the vision or a mirage,
more Dease Divide, and into the likely a vision, a trick of his Coppermine Valley. This wide disordered mind. He was con and sluggish river was the firmed in this by sight of a Coppermine. That shining sea ship lying at anchor in the was the Arctic Ocean. That midst of the shining sea. He ship was a whaler, strayed closed his eyes for a while, then east, far east, from the mouth opened them. Strange how of the Mackenzie, and it was the vision persisted. Yet not lying at anchor in Coronation strange. He knew there were Gulf. He remembered the no seas or ships in the heart of Hudson Bay Company chart the Barren-lands, just as he had he had seen long ago, and it known there was no cartridge was all clear and reasonable to in the empty rifle.
him. He heard a snuffle behind He sat up and turned his him, a half-choking gasp or attention to immediate affairs. cough. Very slowly, because He had worn through the of his exceeding weakness and blanket-wrappings, and his feet stiffness, he rolled over on his were like shapeless lumps of other side. He could
raw meat. His last blanket nothing near at hand, but he
Rifle and knife waited patiently. Again came were both missing. He had the snuffle and cough, and, lost his hat somewhere, with outlined between two jagged the bunch of matches in the rocks, not a score of feet away, band, but the matches against he made out the gray head of his chest were safe and dry a wolf. The sharp ears were inside the tobacco-pouch and not pricked so sharply as he oil-paper. He looked at his had seen them on other wolves, watch. It marked 11 o'clock, the eyes were bleared and and was still running. Evi. bloodshot, the head seemed to dently he had kept it wound. droop limply and forlornly. He was calm and collected. The animal blinked continually Though extremely weak, he in the sunshine. It seemed had no sensation of pain. He sick. As he looked, it snuffled was not hungry. The thought and coughed again.
of food was not even pleasant to This, at least, was real, he him, and whatever he did was thought, and turned on the done by his reason alone. He other side so that he might see ripped off the legs of his pants the reality of the world which to the knees, and bound them had been veiled from him be- about his feet. Somehow he fore by the vision. But the had succeeded in retaining the sea stiil shone in the distance, tin bucket. He would have and the ship's spars were some hot water before he beplainly discernible. Was it gan what he foresaw was to be reality after all ? He closed a terrible journey to the ship.
His movements were slow. tail between its legs, like a He shook as with a palsy. miserable and woe-begone dog. When he started to collect dry It shivered in the chill mornmoss he found he could not ing wind, and grinned dispirrise to his feet. He tried itedly when the man spoke again and again, then con it in
voice which tented himself with crawling achieved no
than about on hands and knees. coarse whisper. Once he crawled near to the The sun rose brightly, and sick wolf. The animal dragged all morning the man tottered itself reluctantly out of his and fell toward the ship on way, licking its chops with a
the shining sea. The weather tongue which seemed hardly was perfect. It was the brief to have the strength to curl. Indian summer of the high The
noticed that the latitudes. It might last tongue was not the custom- week.
To - morrow
or next ary healthful red. It was a day it might be gone. yellowish brown, and seemed In the afternoon the man coated with a rough and half- came upon a trail.
It was dry mucus.
of another man who did not After he had drunk a quart walk, but who dragged himof hot water, the man found self on all- fours. The man he was able to stand, and even thought it might be Bill, but to walk as well as a dying he thought in a dull uninman might be supposed to terested way. He had
no walk. Every minute or so he curiosity. In fact, sensation was compelled to rest. His and emotion had left him. steps were feeble and uncer He was no longer susceptible tain, just as the wolf's that to pain. Stomach and nerves trailed him were feeble and had gone to sleep. Yet the uncertain; and that night, life that was in him drove when
the shining sea was him on. He was very weary, blotted out by blackness, he but it refused to die. It was knew he was nearer to it by because it refused to die that no more than four miles. he still ate muskeg-berries and
Throughout the night he minnows, drank his hot water, heard the cough of the sick and kept a wary eye on the wolf, and now and then the sick wolf. squawking of the caribou He followed the trail of the calves. There life all other man who dragged himaround him ; but it was strong self along, and soon came to life, very much alive and well, the end of it - a few freshand he knew the sick wolf picked bones where the moss clung to the sick man's trail was marked by the footpads in the hope that the man of many wolves. would die first. In the morn- squat moose - hide sack, mate ing, on first opening his eyes, to his own, which had been he beheld it regarding him torn by sharp teeth. Не with a wistful and hungry picked it up,
though its stare. It stood crouched, with weight was almost too much
for his feeble fingers. Bill away, and him unable to make had carried it to the last. even a mile a-day. Still the Ha! ha! he would have the Indian summer held on, and laugh on Bill. He would him- he continued to crawl and self survive and carry it to
faint turn and turn about, the ship in the shining sea. and ever the sick wolf coughed His mirth hoarse and and wheezed at his heels. His ghastly, like a raven's croak, knees had become raw meat and the sick wolf joined him, like his feet, and though he howling lugubriously. The padded them with the shirt man ceased suddenly. How from his back, it was
a red could he have the laugh on track he left behind him on Bill if that were Bill—if those the moss and stones. Once, bones, so pinky - white and glancing back, he saw the wolf clean, were Bill !
licking hungrily his bleeding He turned away:
Well, trail, and he saw sharply what Bill had deserted him; but his own end might be ... he would not take the gold, unless
unless he could nor would he suck Bill's bones. get the wolf. Then began as Bill would have, though, had grim a tragedy of existence as it been the other way round, was ever played—a sick man he mused as he staggered on that crawled, a sick wolf that
He came to a pool of water. limped, two creatures dragging Stooping over in quest of min- their dying carcasses across the nows, he jerked his head back desolation and hunting each as though he had been stung. other's lives. He had caught sight of his Had it been a well wolf it reflected face. So horrible would not have mattered so was it that sensibility awoke much to the man, but the long enough to be shocked. thought of going to feed the There were three minnows in maw of that loathsome and the pool, which was too large all but dead thing was to drain, and after several pugnant to him.
He was ineffectual attempts to catch finicky. His mind had begun them in the tin bucket he to wander again and to be forbore. He was afraid, be- perplexed by hallucinations, cause of his great weakness, while his lucid intervals grew that he might fall in and rarer and shorter. drown. It was for this reason He was awakened once, from that he did not trust himself a faint, by a wheeze close in to the river astride one of the his ear. The wolf leaped many drift-logs which lined its lamely back, losing its footing sand-spits.
and falling in its weakness. That day he decreased the It was ludicrous, but he was distance between him and the not amused. Nor was he even ship by three miles, the next afraid. He was too far gone day by two,-for he was crawl- for that. But his mind was ing now, as Bill had crawled, for the moment clear, and he —and the end of the fifth day lay and considered. The ship found the ship still seven miles was no more than four miles
He could see it quite The fingers were
He a day he lay motionlessmists out of his eyes, and he empty air. small boat cutting the water of the man had not this could see the white sail of a certitude require
It was un- to feed upon him never crawl those four miles. terrible. He knew that, and was very
had undergone. Sometimes the knew that he could not crawl ing off unconsciousness reasonable that he should die which he wished
He did not hear the Fate asked too much of him. rose over him and he dr And, dying, he declined to die. long dreams,
steeled himself and he slipped slc but in the very grip of death he he waited for the
lapped like a tongue along his
faltering lacerated han wells of his being. It was very softly, the presso like a sea, this deadly languor, the wolf was exe that rose and rose and drowned strength in an
crepe aeros alchemy of soul, he struggled fee would find another shred of clutched feel
back, and he could of the Without movement he lay of the slowly drawing nearer
It drew closer, throat and nearer, the wheezing intake and output of the sick man WE ever closer, through an infini- mouth
not suffie the anima
It was at his ear. The man tude of time, and he did not the harsh, dry tongue grated like trick His hands shot out-or at least mol he willed them to shoot out. his