Matt had dashed into the cabin and come out with a rifle.
"Nothin'," he said slowly, with a careless calmness that was assumed, "only goin' to keep that promise I made. I reckon it's up to me to kill 'm as I said I'd do."
"No you don't!"
"Yes I do. Watch me."
As Matt had pleaded for White Fang when he had been bitten, it was now Weedon Scott's turn to plead.
"You said to give him a chance. Well, give it to him. We've only just started, and we can't quit at the beginning. It served me right, this time. And — look at him!"
White Fang, near the corner of the cabin and forty feet away, was snarling with blood-curdling viciousness, not at Scott, but at the dog- musher.
"Well, I'll be everlastingly gosh-swoggled!" was the dog-musher's expression of astonishment.
"Look at the intelligence of him," Scott went on hastily. "He knows the meaning of firearms as well as you do. He's got intelligence and we've got to give that intelligence a chance. Put up the gun."
"All right, I'm willin'," Matt agreed, leaning the rifle against the woodpile.
"But will you look at that!" he exclaimed the next moment.
White Fang had quieted down and ceased snarling. "This is worth investigatin'. Watch."
Matt, reached for the rifle, and at the same moment White Fang snarled. He stepped away from the rifle, and White Fang's lifted lips descended, covering his teeth.
"Now, just for fun."
Matt took the rifle and began slowly to raise it to his shoulder. White Fang's snarling began with the movement, and increased as the movement approached its culmination. But the moment before the rifle came to a level on him, he leaped sidewise behind the corner of the cabin. Matt stood staring along the sights at the empty space of snow which had been occupied by White Fang.
The dog-musher put the rifle down solemnly, then turned and looked at his employer.
"I agree with you, Mr. Scott. That dog's too intelligent to kill."