Well, the title says it all.
Jean saw that Jan made an exceptionally fine leader. There was no sort of doubt about it. He set a tremendously high working standard, and hustled the team into accepting it by the exercise of an almost uncannily far-seeing severity. Nothing escaped him, least of all a hint of any kind of shirking. He was quicker than Jean's whip, more sure, and more compelling. But while Jean saw all this, and more, with genuine admiration for Jan, and for his own astuteness in foretelling this exceptional capacity and acquiring ownership of the hound, he also saw, with angry puzzlement, that his team was falling off in condition and in efficiency as a unit.
It was not that the leader lacked either justice or discretion in his fiery severity. Jan displayed both to a miracle. But the team had to live between his severity while at work, and Bill's bitter and tireless persecution and crafty incendiarism outside the traces. Over all, for their consolation, were the whips of the masters. But so infernally crafty was Bill, that he never once allowed the masters to detect the real wickedness of the part he played. They could see poor Blackfoot's bleeding hocks: "We got to call heem Redleg soon. Damn that Beel!"—but they could not see Bill's continuous crafty incitements to mutiny, or the hundred and one ways in which he strove, when out of harness, to work up hatred of Jan among his mates, or when in harness to play subtle tricks which should produce an effect discreditable to the new leader.
Intuitively Jan became aware of most of these things. But even where he detected Bill at fault, he could not trounce the ex-leader as he trounced the other dogs, because he and Bill knew very well that there could be no sparring, no such lightsome thing as mere chastisement, between them. There was war to the death in Bill's snarl when Jan so much as looked at him. He was perfectly certain he could, and would, kill Jan directly a suitable opportunity offered. Jan was not so sure about that; but he did know very well that he was not capable of just thrashing Bill and letting it go at that; for over and above Bill's unbeaten prowess as a fighter and master dog there was a mortal hatred in him where Jan was concerned—a hatred which, weighed as a fighting asset, was almost equivalent to a second set of fangs.
And then came the memorable evening upon which Jean killed a bull-moose and all the team fed full—except Bill.
A very fine novel about a dog and a romance
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