Page:Bush Studies (1902).djvu/82

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70
BUSH STUDIES

protruded, and unconsciously he felt his stiffened beard.

He breathed without movement. There was no sound now from man or dog. In his mind he saw them waiting for him to attack the door; this he did not debate nor alter. He went to the shutter, ran the axe's edge along the hide hinges, pushed it in, then stepped back.

Immediately the dog's head appeared. He growled no protest, but the flinty fire from his eyes and the heat of his suppressed breath, hissing between his bared fangs, revealed to Scrammy that in this contest, despite the axe, his one hand was a serious handicap.

With the first blow his senses quickened. The slush-lamp had gone out and there was no hint of daylight inside. This he noted between his blows at the dog, as he looked for his victim. It was strange the old fellow did not show fight! Where was he hiding? Was it possible that, scenting danger, he had slipped out? He recalled the dog's warning when his master was counting his hoard. The memory of that chinking belt-hidden pile dominated greedily. Had the old man escaped? He would search the