"The Law of Life,"by Jack London-Part Two.Koskoosh placed another stick on the fire and let his thoughts travel deeper into the past.There was the time of the great famine.He had lost his mother in that famine.In the summer the usual plentiful catch of fish had failed,and the tribe looked forward to the winter and the coming of the caribou.Then the winter came,but with it there were no caribou.Never had the like been known,not even in the lives of the old men.The rabbits had not produced any young and the dogs were skin and bone.And through the long darkness the children wept and died.So did the women and the old men.Not one in ten lived to meet the sun when it returned in the spring.That was a famine!
But he had seen times of plenty,too,when the meat spoiled before it could be eaten.Even the dogs grew fat and were worth nothing from eating too much.In these times they let the animals and birds go unkilled and the tents were filled with newly born children.Then it was that the men remembered old quarrels and crossed to the south and to the west to kill ancient enemies.He remembered,when a boy,during a time of plenty,when he saw a moose pulled down by the wolves.Zing-ha lay with him in the snow and watched.Zing-ha was his friend who later became the best of hunters.One day he fell through an air hole on the frozen Yukon River.They found him a month later,frozen to the ice where he had attempted to climb out.Zing-ha and he had gone out that day to play at hunting,in the manner of their fathers.Near a creek they discovered the fresh track of a moose and with it the tracks of many wolves."An old one,"Zing-ha said."It is an old one who cannot travel as fast as the others.The wolves have separated him from his brothers,and they will never leave him."And it was so.It was their way.By day and by night,never resting,biting at his heels,they would stay with him to the end.How Zing-ha and he had felt the desire to see blood!The finish would be a sight to remember!
Eagerly,they started up the trail.Even he,Koskoosh,who was not a good tracker,could have followed it blind,it was so wide.They were not far behind the hunt,reading its awful story at every step.Now they saw where the moose had stopped to face his attackers.On every side the snow had been stamped heavily.In the middle there were the deep footprints of the moose.All about,everywhere,were the lighter footmarks of the wolves.Some had moved to one side and rested while their brothers tried to seize the moose.The full-stretched impressions of their bodies in the snow were as perfect as though they'd been made the moment before.One wolf had been caught in a wild dash at the moose and had died under its heavy stamping.A few bones remained as witness.The two boys stopped again at a second stand.Here the great animal had fought with despair.As the snow indicated,he had been dragged down twice.And twice he shook off his enemies and gained his footing once more.He had finished his task long before,but nevertheless,life was dear to him.Zing-ha said it was a strange thing for a moose once down to struggle free again.But this one certainly had done so.The medicine man would see signs and wonders in this when they told him.