“You can’t put on meat in a muzzle,” he told his prisoner. “An’ I want you to git strong—an’ fierce as hell. I’ve got an idee. It’s an idee you can lick your weight in wildcats. We’ll pull off a stunt pretty soon that’ll fill our pockets with dust. I’ve done it afore, and we can do it here. Wolf an’ dog—s’elp me Gawd but it’ll be a drawin’ card!”
Twice a day after this he brought fresh raw meat to Kazan. Quickly Kazan’s spirit and courage returned to him. The soreness left his limbs. His battered jaws healed. And after the fourth day each time that Sandy came with meat he greeted him with the challenge of his snarling fangs. McTrigger did not beat him now. He gave him no fish, no tallow and meal—nothing but raw meat. He traveled five miles up the river to bring in the fresh entrail of a caribou that had been killed. One day Sandy brought another man with him and when the stranger came a step too near Kazan made a sudden swift lunge at him. The man jumped back with a startled oath.
“He’ll do,” he growled. “He’s lighter by ten or fifteen pounds than the Dane, but he’s got the teeth, an’ the quickness, an’ he’ll give a good show before he goes under.”
“I’ll make you a bet of twenty-five per cent. of my share that he don’t go under,” offered Sandy.
“Done!” said the other. “How long before he’ll be ready?”
Sandy thought a moment.
“Another week,” he said. “He won’t have his weight before then. A week from to-day, we’ll say. Next Tuesday night. Does that suit you, Harker?”
“Next Tuesday night,” he agreed. Then he added, “I’ll make it a half of my share that the Dane kills your wolf-dog.”
Sandy took a long look at Kazan.
“I’ll just take you on that,” he said. Then, as he shook Harker’s hand, “I don’t believe there’s a dog between here and the Yukon that can kill the wolf!”
Red Gold City was ripe for a night of relaxation. There had been some gambling, a few fights and enough liquor to create excitement now and then, but the presence of the mounted police had served to keep things unusually tame compared with events a few hundred miles farther north, in the Dawson country. The entertainment proposed by Sandy McTrigger and Jan Harker met with excited favor. The news spread for twenty miles about Red Gold City and there had never been greater excitement in the town than on the afternoon and night of the big fight. This was largely because Kazan and the huge Dane had been placed on exhibition, each dog in a specially made cage of his own, and a fever of betting began. Three hundred men, each of whom was paying five dollars to see the battle, viewed the gladiators through the bars of their cages. Harker’s dog was a combination of Great Dane and mastiff, born in the North, and bred to the traces. Betting favored him by the odds of two to one. Occasionally it ran three to one. At these odds there was plenty of Kazan money. Those who were risking their money on him were the older wilderness men—men who had spent their lives among dogs, and who knew what the red glint in Kazan’s eyes meant. An old Kootenay miner spoke low in another’s ear: