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

Page 8

Subienkow dropped it into the fire under the pot and began to sing.  It was a French love-song that with great solemnity he sang into the brew.

“Without these words I utter into it, the medicine is worthless,” he explained.  “The words are the chiefest strength of it.  Behold, it is ready.”

“Name the words slowly, that I may know them,” Makamuk commanded.

“Not until after the test.  When the axe flies back three times from my neck, then will I give you the secret of the words.”

“But if the medicine is not good medicine?” Makamuk queried anxiously.

Subienkow turned upon him wrathfully.

“My medicine is always good.  However, if it is not good, then do by me as you have done to the others.  Cut me up a bit at a time, even as you have cut him up.”  He pointed to the Cossack.  “The medicine is now cool.  Thus, I rub it on my neck, saying this further medicine.”

With great gravity he slowly intoned a line of the “Marseillaise,” at the same time rubbing the villainous brew thoroughly into his neck.

An outcry interrupted his play-acting.  The giant Cossack, with a last resurgence of his tremendous vitality, had arisen to his knees.  Laughter and cries of surprise and applause arose from the Nulatos, as Big Ivan began flinging himself about in the snow with mighty spasms.

Subienkow was made sick by the sight, but he mastered his qualms and made believe to be angry.

“This will not do,” he said.  “Finish him, and then we will make the test.  Here, you, Yakaga, see that his noise ceases.

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