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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesKazan, The Wolf Dog - Chapter 22. Sandy's Method
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Kazan, The Wolf Dog - Chapter 22. Sandy's Method Post by :mrtwist Category :Long Stories Author :James Oliver Curwood Date :May 2012 Read :1794

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Kazan, The Wolf Dog - Chapter 22. Sandy's Method

CHAPTER XXII. SANDY'S METHOD

McTrigger dropped on his knees in the sand. The look of exultation was gone from his face. He twisted the collar about the dog's limp neck until he came to the worn plate, on which he could make out the faintly engraved letters _K-a-z-a-n_. He spelled the letters out one by one, and the look in his face was of one who still disbelieved what he had seen and heard.

"A dog!" he exclaimed again. "A dog, Sandy McTrigger an' a--a beauty!"

He rose to his feet and looked down on his victim. A pool of blood lay in the white sand at the end of Kazan's nose. After a moment Sandy bent over to see where his bullet had struck. His inspection filled him with a new and greater interest. The heavy ball from the muzzle-loader had struck Kazan fairly on top of the head. It was a glancing blow that had not even broken the skull, and like a flash Sandy understood the quivering and twitching of Kazan's shoulders and legs. He had thought that they were the last muscular throes of death. But Kazan was not dying. He was only stunned, and would be on his feet again in a few minutes. Sandy was a connoisseur of dogs--of dogs that had worn sledge traces. He had lived among them two-thirds of his life. He could tell their age, their value, and a part of their history at a glance. In the snow he could tell the trail of a Mackenzie hound from that of a Malemute, and the track of an Eskimo dog from that of a Yukon husky. He looked at Kazan's feet. They were wolf feet, and he chuckled. Kazan was part wild. He was big and powerful, and Sandy thought of the coming winter, and of the high prices that dogs would bring at Red Gold City. He went to the canoe and returned with a roll of stout moose-hide babiche. Then he sat down cross-legged in front of Kazan and began making a muzzle. He did this by plaiting babiche thongs in the same manner that one does in making the web of a snow-shoe. In ten minutes he had the muzzle over Kazan's nose and fastened securely about his neck. To the dog's collar he then fastened a ten-foot rope of babiche. After that he sat back and waited for Kazan to come to life.

When Kazan first lifted his head he could not see. There was a red film before his eyes. But this passed away swiftly and he saw the man. His first instinct was to rise to his feet. Three times he fell back before he could stand up. Sandy was squatted six feet from him, holding the end of the babiche, and grinning. Kazan's fangs gleamed back. He growled, and the crest along his spine rose menacingly. Sandy jumped to his feet.

"Guess I know what you're figgering on," he said. "I've had _your kind before. The dam' wolves have turned you bad, an' you'll need a whole lot of club before you're right again. Now, look here."

Sandy had taken the precaution of bringing a thick club along with the babiche. He picked it up from where he had dropped it in the sand. Kazan's strength had fairly returned to him now. He was no longer dizzy. The mist had cleared away from his eyes. Before him he saw once more his old enemy, man--man and the club. All of the wild ferocity of his nature was roused in an instant. Without reasoning he knew that Gray Wolf was gone, and that this man was accountable for her going. He knew that this man had also brought him his own hurt, and what he ascribed to the man he also attributed to the club. In his newer undertaking of things, born of freedom and Gray Wolf, Man and Club were one and inseparable. With a snarl he leaped at Sandy. The man was not expecting a direct assault, and before he could raise his club or spring aside Kazan had landed full on his chest. The muzzle about Kazan's jaws saved him. Fangs that would have torn his throat open snapped harmlessly. Under the weight of the dog's body he fell back, as if struck down by a catapult.

As quick as a cat he was on his feet again, with the end of the babiche twisted several times about his hand. Kazan leaped again, and this time he was met by a furious swing of the club. It smashed against his shoulder, and sent him down in the sand. Before he could recover Sandy was upon him, with all the fury of a man gone mad. He shortened the babiche by twisting it again and again about his hand, and the club rose and fell with the skill and strength of one long accustomed to its use. The first blows served only to add to Kazan's hatred of man, and the ferocity and fearlessness of his attacks. Again and again he leaped in, and each time the club fell upon him with a force that threatened to break his bones. There was a tense hard look about Sandy's cruel mouth. He had never known a dog like this before, and he was a bit nervous, even with Kazan muzzled. Three times Kazan's fangs would have sunk deep in his flesh had it not been for the babiche. And if the thongs about his jaws should slip, or break--.

Sandy followed up the thought with a smashing blow that landed on Kazan's head, and once more the old battler fell limp upon the sand. McTrigger's breath was coming in quick gasps. He was almost winded. Not until the club slipped from his hand did he realize how desperate the fight had been. Before Kazan recovered from the blow that had stunned him Sandy examined the muzzle and strengthened it by adding another babiche thong. Then he dragged Kazan to a log that high water had thrown up on the shore a few yards away and made the end of the babiche rope fast to a dead snag. After that he pulled his canoe higher up on the sand, and began to prepare camp for the night.

For some minutes after Kazan's stunned senses had become normal he lay motionless, watching Sandy McTrigger. Every bone in his body gave him pain. His jaws were sore and bleeding. His upper lip was smashed where the club had fallen. One eye was almost closed. Several times Sandy came near, much pleased at what he regarded as the good results of the beating. Each time he brought the club. The third time he prodded Kazan with it, and the dog snarled and snapped savagely at the end of it. That was what Sandy wanted--it was an old trick of the dog-slaver. Instantly he was using the club again, until with a whining cry Kazan slunk under the protection of the snag to which he was fastened. He could scarcely drag himself. His right forepaw was smashed. His hindquarters sank under him. For a time after this second beating he could not have escaped had he been free.

Sandy was in unusually good humor.

"I'll take the devil out of you all right," he told Kazan for the twentieth time. "There's nothin' like beatin's to make dogs an' wimmin live up to the mark. A month from now you'll be worth two hundred dollars or I'll skin you alive!"

Three or four times before dusk Sandy worked to rouse Kazan's animosity. But there was no longer any desire left in Kazan to fight. His two terrific beatings, and the crushing blow of the bullet against his skull, had made him sick. He lay with his head between his forepaws, his eyes closed, and did not see McTrigger. He paid no attention to the meat that was thrown under his nose. He did not know when the last of the sun sank behind the western forests, or when the darkness came. But at last something roused him from his stupor. To his dazed and sickened brain it came like a call from out of the far past, and he raised his head and listened. Out on the sand McTrigger had built a fire, and the man stood in the red glow of it now, facing the dark shadows beyond the shoreline. He, too, was listening. What had roused Kazan came again now--the lost mourning cry of Gray Wolf far out on the plain.

With a whine Kazan was on his feet, tugging at the babiche. Sandy snatched up his club, and leaped toward him.

"Down, you brute!" he commanded.

In the firelight the club rose and fell with ferocious quickness. When McTrigger returned to the fire he was breathing hard again. He tossed his club beside the blankets he had spread out for a bed. It was a different looking club now. It was covered with blood and hair.

"Guess that'll take the spirit out of him," he chuckled. "It'll do that--or kill 'im!"

Several times that night Kazan heard Gray Wolf's call. He whined softly in response, fearing the club. He watched the fire until the last embers of it died out, and then cautiously dragged himself from under the snag. Two or three times he tried to stand on his feet, but fell back each time. His legs were not broken, but the pain of standing on them was excruciating. He was hot and feverish. All that night he had craved a drink of water. When Sandy crawled out from between his blankets in the early dawn he gave him both meat and water. Kazan drank the water, but would not touch the meat. Sandy regarded the change in him with satisfaction. By the time the sun was up he had finished his breakfast and was ready to leave. He approached Kazan fearlessly now, without the club. Untying the babiche he dragged the dog to the canoe. Kazan slunk in the sand while his captor fastened the end of the hide rope to the stern of the canoe. Sandy grinned. What was about to happen would be fun for him. In the Yukon he had learned how to take the spirit out of dogs.

He pushed off, bow foremost. Bracing himself with his paddle he then began to pull Kazan toward the water. In a few moments Kazan stood with his forefeet planted in the damp sand at the edge of the stream. For a brief interval Sandy allowed the babiche to fall slack. Then with a sudden powerful pull he jerked Kazan out into the water. Instantly he sent the canoe into midstream, swung it quickly down with the current, and began to paddle enough to keep the babiche taut about his victim's neck. In spite of his sickness and injuries Kazan was now compelled to swim to keep his head above water. In the wash of the canoe, and with Sandy's strokes growing steadily stronger, his position became each moment one of increasing torture. At times his shaggy head was pulled completely under water. At others Sandy would wait until he had drifted alongside, and then thrust him under with the end of his paddle. He grew weaker. At the end of a half-mile he was drowning. Not until then did Sandy pull him alongside and drag him into the canoe. The dog fell limp and gasping in the bottom. Brutal though Sandy's methods had been, they had worked his purpose. In Kazan there was no longer a desire to fight. He no longer struggled for freedom. He knew that this man was his master, and for the time his spirit was gone. All he desired now was to be allowed to lie in the bottom of the canoe, out of reach of the club, and safe from the water. The club lay between him and the man. The end of it was within a foot or two of his nose, and what he smelled was his own blood.

For five days and five nights the journey down-stream continued, and McTrigger's process of civilizing Kazan was continued in three more beatings with the club, and another resort to the water torture. On the morning of the sixth day they reached Red Gold City, and McTrigger put up his tent close to the river. Somewhere he obtained a chain for Kazan, and after fastening the dog securely back of the tent he cut off the babiche muzzle.

"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?"

Harker nodded.

"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!"

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