4. CHAPTER IV - THE CLINGING DEATH
Beauty Smith slipped the chain from his neck and stepped back.
For once White Fang did not make an immediate attack. He stood
still, ears pricked forward, alert and curious, surveying the
strange animal that faced him. He had never seen such a dog
before. Tim Keenan shoved the bull-dog forward with a muttered "Go
to it." The animal waddled toward the centre of the circle, short
and squat and ungainly. He came to a stop and blinked across at
There were cries from the crowd of, "Go to him, Cherokee! Sick 'm,
Cherokee! Eat 'm up!"
But Cherokee did not seem anxious to fight. He turned his head and
blinked at the men who shouted, at the same time wagging his stump
of a tail good-naturedly. He was not afraid, but merely lazy.
Besides, it did not seem to him that it was intended he should
fight with the dog he saw before him. He was not used to fighting
with that kind of dog, and he was waiting for them to bring on the
Tim Keenan stepped in and bent over Cherokee, fondling him on both
sides of the shoulders with hands that rubbed against the grain of
the hair and that made slight, pushing-forward movements. These
were so many suggestions. Also, their effect was irritating, for
Cherokee began to growl, very softly, deep down in his throat.
There was a correspondence in rhythm between the growls and the
movements of the man's hands. The growl rose in the throat with
the culmination of each forward-pushing movement, and ebbed down to
start up afresh with the beginning of the next movement. The end
of each movement was the accent of the rhythm, the movement ending
abruptly and the growling rising with a jerk.
This was not without its effect on White Fang. The hair began to
rise on his neck and across the shoulders. Tim Keenan gave a final
shove forward and stepped back again. As the impetus that carried
Cherokee forward died down, he continued to go forward of his own
volition, in a swift, bow-legged run. Then White Fang struck. A
cry of startled admiration went up. He had covered the distance
and gone in more like a cat than a dog; and with the same cat-like
swiftness he had slashed with his fangs and leaped clear.