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Newspaper Page Text
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ily toward Dufour's camp he found
the fire low and Dufour gone.
He saddled his horse hastily and
followed him. But soon the snow be
gan to fall and the man's trail be
came obliterated. Dufour had bee"n
leading his packhorse. Hoofs and
footprints alike became hidden under
the Soft downfall.
Johnson pressed on resolutely. The
snowfall became heavier. At last he
was forced to halt He dug a shelter
in the hard accumulation of the win
ter and crept inside, leaving his horse
blanketed and tethered, under the
protection of the bank.
It must have been in the middle of
the night that he started up. He
looked out. The snow had ceased
and the stars shone brilliantly. John
son fancied he had heard a cry.
He listened, and now there was no
doubt of it. A man was crying at
thfe bottom of the valley. Mingled
with his cry came a furious snarl
which had only one meaning for
Johnson, and for the horse as well.
Hastily he untethered the trem
bling animal, mounted it, and rode
down. He heard the cry again, and
the sound of a discharged rifle. Pres
ently he came upon the little shelter
Dufour was lying outside upon his
side, his rifle grasped firmly in his
hand. As Johnson approached hia
horse snorted and reared. Johnson
leaped to the ground. A dozen slink
ing forms disappeared in the shadows
of the stunted trees.
A pack of wolves had scented Du
four and had attacked him.
Johnson fired after them. He
thought by the yelping that he had
hit one; he was sure of it when he
heard the beasts fighting over the
body. He turned to Dufour". He saw
at a glance that the man had fallen
down the cliff. He was fearfully in
jured, and lay as if paralyzed. His
horse had evidently bolted.
Johnson turned his horse loose. It
would have to look after Itself; it
might evade the wolves, but no hal-
1 ter or ropes could hold it there. It
leaped, whinnying, into the darkness.
Johnson crouched by Dufour's side,
waiting. There was no time to lose
in words, and he knew the almost
human cunning of the wolf pack,
maddened with hunger in the last
days of winter.
Suddenly, out of nothing, it seem
ed, two huge forms leaped toward
them. They fell between Dufour and
Johnson. Johnson clubbed his rifle
and brought it down on one brute's
head. It lay quivering, silent The
other sprang at his throat.
For a moment Johnson was forced
back against the cliff. He felt the hot
breath on his face and heard the hiss
in the throat Then somehow he had
evaded the fangs and hurled the mon
ster from him. He swung wildly with
his rifle stock. By some good ior
tune he struck the beast behind the
ear. It fell, stunned. t
Then the rest of the pack was upon
him. But it was beginning to grow
lighter. JohnBon dragged Dufour
to the shelter that he had dug in
the bank and stood in front of him,
waiting. Three times his. rifle rang
out and each time he shot down a
form that leaped in midair.
It was growing quite light The
beasts were snarling over their dead.
They crouched round 'Johnson in a
half-circle, tearing at the flesh and
watching him, too. A wolf prefers,
man's flesh to wolf-meat. JohnsQn
knew that, but he knew that only a
concerted attack could overcome
It was dawn now. The b easts were
lurking further back among the trees.
Johnson fired his last two bullets into
their refuge. He heard a yelping,
and in the gold of the first sunlight
saw the survivors stream away
through the birch thickets.
Then at last he turned to Dufour.
The man must have fallen all the way
down the cliffs, and a glance showed
him that he could not live.
Dufour clutched at Johnson as he
, bent over him. "Forgive!" he whis-