Page:Bush Studies (1902).djvu/83

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hut; what were fifty dogs' teeth? In close quarters he would do for him with one blow.

He was breathing now in deep gasps. The keen edge of the axe severed the hide-hinged door. He rushed it; then stood back swinging the axe in readiness. It did not fall, for the bolt still held it. But this was only what a child would consider a barrier. One blow with the axe-head smashed the bolt. The door fell across the head of the bunk, the end partly blocking the entrance. He struck a side blow that sent it along the bunk.

The dog was dreadfully distressed. The bushman outside thought the cause the fallen door. Face to face they met—determined battle in the dog's eyes met murder in the man's. He brandished an axe circuit, craned his neck, and by the dull light of the fire searched the hut. He saw no one but the dog. Unless his master was under the bunk, he had escaped. The whole plot broke on him quite suddenly! The cunning old miser, knowing his dog would show his flight by following, had locked him in, and he had wasted all this time barking up the wrong tree. He would have done the old man to death that minute