Bill jarred down to earth, short of his mark, his feet ill placed, his world awry. And in that instant the big hound was upon him like a bolt from heaven: the strangest attack surely that ever dog faced, or so it must have seemed to stricken Bill, the northland fighter for the killing throat-hold, who never had seen the famous killing grip that was always used by Jan’s tall sire, Finn the wolfhound.
Jan came down upon Bill as though from the clouds. (He stood a full four inches higher than Bill.) His huge jaws, stretched to cracking-point, took Bill where the base of the skull meets the spinal cord. One jaw on either side that rope of life, they drove down; through the matted armor of Bill’s coat, through skin and flesh, and on to their ultimate destination, under the crushing pressure of a hundred and forty pounds of steel-like muscle, bone, and sinew, the invincible product of the trail-life developed upon a foundation of scientifically attained health and strength.
Bill, the fearless and unbeaten, now screamed aloud; not for mercy, but in mortal pain. His tense body squirmed, convulsed, under Jan’s great weight like a thing galvanized by electricity.
Jan’s jaws sank deeper.
Bill snapped at the bloody snow in his frenzy, actually breaking his own fangs.
Jan’s jaws sank deeper.
A long horrible shudder passed through the squirming body of Bill. And Jan’s jaws sank a little deeper. Then with a dreadful sucking sound and a sharp gasp for breath, those jaws parted and were withdrawn; for Bill’s long fight and his life were ended now, and Jan was quite alone in that desolate place.
The thrifty Jean was far from pleased when, on the morning after his lucky moose-shot, he found that the sled-team was short of one dog. As it happened, Jake was the first to note the absence of Bill, the ex-leader; and while he looked this way and that for the missing dog, Jean, by a thought process which went a little farther, called Jan to him and proceeded to look over the big hound.
“You don’t need to look for no Beel,” he said, grimly, to Jake. “Look thees Jan, here. By gar! that was some fight, now I’m telling you. See that, an’ thees. Look that ear. See thees shoulder. By gar! that Beel he fight good an’ hard. But when he fight Jan, tha’s the feenish—for Beel.”
Jake and Jean together made the best job they could of patching up Jan’s wounds a little against the frost and the rub of trace and breast-band.
“Good dog, too, that blame Bill,” mused Jake.
“Sure, he was good dog, very good dog; by gar! yes,” agreed Jean. “But thees Jan, hee’s best of all dogs. No good for Beel to fight heem. Only he was too blame full o’ moose-meat, he don’ lose no blood to Beel, you bet. That why Beel he don’ eat las’ night. Seeck? No. He too cunning, that Beel.” A long pause, while Jean spat out chewed tobacco and juice over one of Jan’s worst wounds, with a view to its antiseptic and healing properties. And then, on a grunting sigh: “Ah, well, I reckon that makes Jan’s price five hunderd. That blame Beel, he worth two hunderd any day.”