“Batard,” he said calmly, “look out. Ah keel you.”
Batard snarled at the word and shook the box with greater force. Then he upreared, and with his fore paws threw his weight against it higher up. Leclere kicked out with one foot, but the rope bit into his neck and checked so abruptly as nearly to overbalance him.
“Hi, ya! Chook! Mush-on!” he screamed.
Batard retreated, for twenty feet or so, with a fiendish levity in his bearing that Leclere could not mistake. He remembered the dog often breaking the scum of ice on the water hole by lifting up and throwing his weight upon it; and remembering, he understood what he now had in mind. Batard faced about and paused. He showed his white teeth in a grin, which Leclere answered; and then hurled his body through the air, in full charge, straight for the box.
Fifteen minutes later, Slackwater Charley and Webster Shaw returning, caught a glimpse of a ghostly pendulum swinging back and forth in the dim light. As they hurriedly drew in closer, they made out the man’s inert body, and a live thing that clung to it, and shook and worried, and gave to it the swaying motion.
“Hi, ya! Chook! you Spawn of Hell!” yelled Webster Shaw.
But Batard glared at him, and snarled threateningly, without loosing his jaws.
Slackwater Charley got out his revolver, but his hand was shaking, as with a chill, and he fumbled.
“Here you take it,” he said, passing the weapon over.
Webster Shaw laughed shortly, drew a sight between the gleaming eyes, and pressed the trigger. Batard’s body twitched with the shock, threshed the ground spasmodically for a moment, and went suddenly limp. But his teeth still held fast locked.
There have been renunciations and renunciations. But, in its essence, renunciation is ever the same. And the paradox of it is, that men and women forego the dearest thing in the world for something dearer. It was never otherwise. Thus it was when Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. The firstlings and the fat thereof were to him the dearest things in the world; yet he gave them over that he might be on good terms with God. So it was with Abraham when he prepared to offer up his son Isaac on a stone. Isaac was very dear to him; but God, in incomprehensible ways, was yet dearer. It may be that Abraham feared the Lord. But whether that be true or not it has since been determined by a few billion people that he loved the Lord and desired to serve him.