Jack London. Lost Face (in English, in the original)

Page 5

Subienkow laughed scornfully.
“And you shall be a slave in my house until you die.”

The Pole laughed more scornfully.

“Untie my hands and feet and let us talk,” he said.

The chief made the sign; and when he was loosed Subienkow rolled a cigarette and lighted it.

“This is foolish talk,” said Makamuk.  “There is no such medicine.  It cannot be.  A cutting edge is stronger than any medicine.”

The chief was incredulous, and yet he wavered.  He had seen too many deviltries of fur-thieves that worked.  He could not wholly doubt.

“I will give you your life; but you shall not be a slave,” he announced.

“More than that.”

Subienkow played his game as coolly as if he were bartering for a foxskin.

“It is a very great medicine.  It has saved my life many times.  I want a sled and dogs, and six of your hunters to travel with me down the river and give me safety to one day’s sleep from Michaelovski Redoubt.”

“You must live here, and teach us all of your deviltries,” was the reply.

Subienkow shrugged his shoulders and remained silent.  He blew cigarette smoke out on the icy air, and curiously regarded what remained of the big Cossack.

“That scar!” Makamuk said suddenly, pointing to the Pole’s neck, where a livid mark advertised the slash of a knife in a Kamtchatkan brawl.  “The medicine is not good.  The cutting edge was stronger than the medicine.”

“It was a strong man that drove the stroke.”  (Subienkow considered.)  “Stronger than you, stronger than your strongest hunter, stronger than he.”

Again, with the toe of his moccasin, he touched the Cossack—a grisly spectacle, no longer conscious—yet in whose dismembered body the pain-racked life clung and was loth to go.

“Also, the medicine was weak.  For at that place there were no berries of a certain kind, of which I see you have plenty in this country.  The medicine here will be strong.”

“I will let you go down river,” said Makamuk; “and the sled and the dogs and the six hunters to give you safety shall be yours.”

“You are slow,” was the cool rejoinder.  “You have committed an offence against my medicine in that you did not at once accept my terms.  Behold, I now demand more.  I want one hundred beaver skins.”  (Makamuk sneered.)

“I want one hundred pounds of dried fish.”  (Makamuk nodded, for fish were plentiful and cheap.)  “I want two sleds—one for me and one for my furs and fish.  And my rifle must be returned to me.  If you do not like the price, in a little while the price will grow.”

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