3. CHAPTER III - THE HUNGER CRY
The day began auspiciously. They had lost no dogs during the
night, and they swung out upon the trail and into the silence, the
darkness, and the cold with spirits that were fairly light. Bill
seemed to have forgotten his forebodings of the previous night, and
even waxed facetious with the dogs when, at midday, they overturned
the sled on a bad piece of trail.
It was an awkward mix-up. The sled was upside down and jammed
between a tree-trunk and a huge rock, and they were forced to
unharness the dogs in order to straighten out the tangle. The two
men were bent over the sled and trying to right it, when Henry
observed One Ear sidling away.
"Here, you, One Ear!" he cried, straightening up and turning around
on the dog.
But One Ear broke into a run across the snow, his traces trailing
behind him. And there, out in the snow of their back track, was
the she-wolf waiting for him. As he neared her, he became suddenly
cautious. He slowed down to an alert and mincing walk and then
stopped. He regarded her carefully and dubiously, yet desirefully.
She seemed to smile at him, showing her teeth in an ingratiating
rather than a menacing way. She moved toward him a few steps,
playfully, and then halted. One Ear drew near to her, still alert
and cautious, his tail and ears in the air, his head held high.
He tried to sniff noses with her, but she retreated playfully and
coyly. Every advance on his part was accompanied by a
corresponding retreat on her part. Step by step she was luring him
away from the security of his human companionship. Once, as though
a warning had in vague ways flitted through his intelligence, he
turned his head and looked back at the overturned sled, at his
team-mates, and at the two men who were calling to him.
But whatever idea was forming in his mind, was dissipated by the
she-wolf, who advanced upon him, sniffed noses with him for a
fleeting instant, and then resumed her coy retreat before his