The Law of Life by Jack London

The Law of Life by Jack London

The old man was sitting quietly in the cold snow. This Indian used to be a chief and everybody listened to his words, but today he was forced to listen to the speeches of others. He was old and blind, but the hearing of this man was the same as in his youth. He heard the cries of his daughter, who was trying to get the dogs to drag the sled. The tribe was preparing for a long trip, because there were no more animals left on these lands to feed everyone. In his youth, the chief was a great hunter. But now his son became the leader of the tribe. The old man was dying. He was very old and had almost no strength left. The other people had their worries and sorrows. The old man had to go his last way alone. The leader came and asked the old man if everything was good with him. He smiled and replied that it was well.

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The Law of Life by Jack London

The old Indian was sitting on the snow. It was Koskoosh, former chief of his tribe. Now all he could do was sit and listen to the others. His eyes were old and he could not see. But his ears were wide open to every sound.

The Law of Life by Jack London

Aha! That was the sound of his daughter Sit-cum-to-ha. She was beating the dogs trying to make them stand in front of the snow-sleds. He was forgotten by her, and by the others, too. They had to look for new hunting grounds. The long snowy ride waited, and the days of the North lands were growing short. The tribe could not wait for death, and Koskoosh was dying.

The stiff crackling noises of frozen animal skins told him that the chief’s tent was being torn down. The chief was a mighty hunter. He was his son, the son of Koskoosh. And Koskoosh was being left to die.

As the women worked, old Koskoosh could hear his son’s voice drive them to work faster. He listened harder. It was the last time he would hear that voice.

A child cried and the woman sang softly to quiet it. The child was Koo-Tee, the old man thought, a sickly, child. It would die soon and they would burn a hole in the frozen ground to bury it. They would cover its small body with stones to keep the wolves away. Well, what of it? A few years and in the end – death. Death waited ever-hungry. Death had the hungriest stomach of all.

Koskoosh listened to other sounds he would hear no more. The men tying strong leather rope around the sleds to hold their belongings. The sharp sounds of leather whips ordering the dogs to move and pull the sleds. Listen to the dogs cry! How they hated the work!…

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