White Fang made several ineffectual efforts to get up. Once he gained his feet, but his legs were too weak to sustain him, and he slowly wilted and sank back into the snow. His eyes were half closed, and the surface of them was glassy. His jaws were apart, and through them the tongue protruded, draggled and limp. To all appearances he looked like a dog that had been strangled to death. Matt examined him.
"Just about all in," he announced; "but he's breathin' all right."
Beauty Smith had regained his feet and come over to look at White Fang.
"Matt, how much is a good sled-dog worth?" Scott asked.
The dog-musher, still on his knees and stooped over White Fang, calculated for a moment.
"Three hundred dollars," he answered.
"And how much for one that's all chewed up like this one?" Scott asked, nudging White Fang with his foot.
"Half of that," was the dog-musher's judgment. Scott turned upon Beauty Smith.
"Did you hear, Mr. Beast? I'm going to take your dog from you, and I'm going to give you a hundred and fifty for him."
He opened his pocket-book and counted out the bills.
Beauty Smith put his hands behind his back, refusing to touch the proffered money.
"I ain't a-sellin'," he said.
"Oh, yes you are," the other assured him. "Because I'm buying. Here's your money. The dog's mine."
Beauty Smith, his hands still behind him, began to back away.
Scott sprang toward him, drawing his fist back to strike. Beauty Smith cowered down in anticipation of the blow.
"I've got my rights," he whimpered.
"You've forfeited your rights to own that dog," was the rejoinder. "Are you going to take the money? or do I have to hit you again?"
"All right," Beauty Smith spoke up with the alacrity of fear. "But I take the money under protest," he added. "The dog's a mint. I ain't a- goin' to be robbed. A man's got his rights."
"Correct," Scott answered, passing the money over to him. "A man's got his rights. But you're not a man. You're a beast."
"Wait till I get back to Dawson," Beauty Smith threatened. "I'll have the law on you."
"If you open your mouth when you get back to Dawson, I'll have you run out of town. Understand?"
Beauty Smith replied with a grunt.
"Understand?" the other thundered with abrupt fierceness.
"Yes," Beauty Smith grunted, shrinking away.
"Yes, sir," Beauty Smith snarled.
"Look out! He'll bite!" some one shouted, and a guffaw of laughter went up.
Scott turned his back on him, and returned to help the dog-musher, who was working over White Fang.
Some of the men were already departing; others stood in groups, looking on and talking. Tim Keenan joined one of the groups.
"Who's that mug?" he asked.
"Weedon Scott," some one answered.
"And who in hell is Weedon Scott?" the faro-dealer demanded.
"Oh, one of them crackerjack minin' experts. He's in with all the big bugs. If you want to keep out of trouble, you'll steer clear of him, that's my talk. He's all hunky with the officials. The Gold Commissioner's a special pal of his."
"I thought he must be somebody," was the faro-dealer's comment. "That's why I kept my hands offen him at the start."