BREAKFAST eaten and the slim camp-outfit lashed to the sled, the men turned their backs on the cheery fire and launched out into the darkness. At once began to rise the cries that were fiercely sad--cries that called through the darkness and cold to one another and answered back. Conversation ceased. Daylight came at nine o'clock. At midday the sky to the south warmed to rose- color, and marked where the bulge of the earth intervened between the meridian sun and the northern world. But the rose-color swiftly faded. The gray light of day that remained lasted until three o'clock, when it, too, faded, and the pall of the Arctic night descended upon the lone and silent land.
As darkness came on, the hunting-cries to right and left and rear drew closer---so close that more than once they sent surges of fear through the toiling dogs, throwing them into short-lived panics. At the conclusion of one such panic, when he and Henry had got the dogs back in the traces, Bill said:
"I wisht they'd strike game somewheres, an' go away an' leave us alone." "They do get on the nerves horrible," Henry sympathized. They spoke no more until camp was made. Henry was bending over and adding ice to the bubbling pot of beans when he was startled by the sound of a blow, an exclamation from Bill, and a sharp snarling cry of pain from among the dogs. He straightened up in time to see a dim form disappearing across the snow into the shelter of the dark. Then he saw Bill, standing amid the dogs, half triumphant, half crest-fallen, in one hand a stout club, in the other the tail and part of the body of a sun-cured salmon.
"It got haft of it," he announced; "but I got a whack at it jes' the same. D'ye hear it squeal?"
"What'd it look like?" Henry asked.