“Jaws, monstrous and wet, grabbing at him in enraged confusion” . . . Frontispiece
“The owl had lost a foot on the turn
“A shrew-mouse, thirsting for blood, but who got poison instead”
“This one had simply streaked out of the night from nowhere”
“Landed full upon the dumbfounded water-vole—splash!”
“A ‘silver tabby’ floated among the twigs, looking for him”
“An angry eagle-owl”
“Turning over and over, in one long, sickening dive back to earth”
“That little black-headed fellow doing the stalking act upon that python was great”
“Shooting straight upwards on the top of what appeared to have been a submarine mine in a mild form”
“He clutched, and tore, and gulped, and gorged”
“All allowed that he was the pluckiest beast on earth”
THE WAY OF THE WILD
GULO THE INDOMITABLE
If his father had been a brown bear and his mother a badger, the result in outward appearance would have been Gulo, or something very much like him. But not all the crossing in the world could have accounted for his character; that came straight from the Devil, his master. Gulo, however, was not a cross. He was himself, Gulo, the wolverine, alias glutton, alias carcajou, alias quick-hatch, alias fjeldfras in the vernacular, or, officially, Gulo luscus. But, by whatever name you called him, he did not smell sweet; and his character, too, was of a bad odor. A great man once said that he was like a bear cub with a superadded tail; but that great man cannot have seen his face. If he had, he would have looked for his double among the fiends on the top of Notre Dame. There was, in fact, nothing like him on this earth, only in a very hot place not on the earth.
He was, in short, a beast with brains that only man, and no beast, ought to be trusted with; and he had no soul. God alone knows if love, which softens most creatures, had ever come to Gulo; his behavior seemed to show that it had not. Perhaps love was afraid of him. And, upon my soul, I don’t wonder.
It was not, however, a hot, but a very cold, place in the pine-forest where Gulo stood, and the unpitying moon cast a dainty tracery through the tasseled roof upon the new and glistening snow around him—the snow that comes early to those parts—and the north-east wind cut like several razors. But Gulo did not seem to care. Wrapped up in his ragged, long, untidy, uncleanly-looking, brown-black cloak—just his gray-sided, black fiend’s face poking out—he seemed warm enough. When he lifted one paw to scratch, one saw that the murderous, scraping, long claws of him were nearly white; and as he set his lips in a devilish grin, his fangs glistened white in the moonlight, too.