“Yes. Well, see you get him. Money? It doesn’t matter. Get him! Get him!” he reiterated fiercely. “You understand me? It doesn’t matter how you get him. I can deal with the rest.”
Suddenly he raised a clenched fist, fat, and strong, and white, and extended his thumb. He turned it downwards and pressed its extremity on the gold mounted blotting pad before him with a force that bent the knuckle backwards. “Get him so I can crush him—like that,” he cried. “Get him alive. I want him alive. See?”
“I see. I’ll get him—sure. You needn’t worry a thing.”
And as Walter Idepski rose to take his departure, for all his nerve, he felt glad that the passion of this Swede’s hate was not directed against him.
EIGHT YEARS LATER
A great gathering thronged the heart of the clearing. There were men of every shade of colour, men of well-nigh every type. They stood about in a wide circle, whose regularity remained definite even under the stirring of fierce excitement. They had gathered for a fight, a great fight between two creatures, full human in shape and splendid manhood, but bestial in the method of the battle demanded. It was a battle with muscles of iron, and hearts that knew no mercy, and body and mind tuned only to endure and conquer. It was a battle that belonged to the savage out-world, acknowledging only the vicious laws of “rough and tough.”
The rough creatures stood voiceless and well-nigh breathless. The combatants were well matched and redoubtable, even in a community whose only deity was physical might and courage and the skill of the wielded axe. The lust of it all was burning fiercely in every heart.
The sun poured out its flood of summer upon a world of virgin forest. The sky was without blemish. A dome of perfect azure roofed in the length and breadth of Nature’s kingdom. Nevertheless the fairness of the summer day, with its ravishing accompaniment of soft, mystery sounds from an unseen world and the lavish beauty of shadowed woods were fit setting for the pulsing of savage emotions. It was far out in the lost world of Northern Quebec. It was far, far beyond the widest-flung frontiers of civilisation. It was out there where man soon learns to forget his birthright, and readily yields to the animal in him.
It was a scene of mighty slaughter amongst the giants of the forest. Hundreds sprawled in the path of man’s gleaming axe. Giants they were, hoary with age, and gnarled with the sinews built up by Nature to resist her fiercest storms. They lay there, in every direction, reaching up with tattered arms outstretched, as though appealing for the light, the warmth, and the sweetness of life they would know no more.
Amidst this carnage a great camp was growing up. There were huts completed. There were huts only in the skeleton. They were dotted about in a fashion apparently without order or purpose. Yet long before the falling of the first snow, order would reign everywhere and man’s purpose would be achieved.