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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
The next day none of the dogs has disappeared, which puts Bill in a better mood. They again set out on their journey, but the sled turns over and is jammed between a tree trunk and a huge rock. When they unharness the dogs to straighten out the tangle, they see One Ear sneaking past them towards the she-wolf, who is playfully luring him into the pack of wolves. Bill prepares his gun, but the wolves are too far away to shoot. Bill sets out after them, fires his last three cartridges, and is overwhelmed by the pack, along with One Ear.
Henry is now left to fend for himself and his remaining two dogs. The wolves, unafraid and unhesitating, pursue him. Fire is the only thing he has to keep them away. He spends sleepless nights, throwing fire brands at the wolves every time they get too close. Henry heaves the coffin up into a tree so that the wolves cannot get to it. He prepares himself for longer days, but he lives with paranoia, constantly fearing an attack from the wolves. The she- wolf continues to be the boldest of all, getting very close to Henry. In fact, she comes so close that he singes her fur, much to his satisfaction.
The chances for his survival seem remote to Henry. He has resigned himself to the terrifying situation. When the wolves attack, trying to eat him alive, he successfully fights them off with burning coals. In exhaustion, he finally dozes. When he wakes up, he learns that his two remaining dogs have been devoured by the wolves. However, the wolves are gone and he is surrounded by about a dozen men. By a miracle, Henry has survived his Northland Wild ordeal.
This is one of the most terrifying chapters in the book, as Bill finally falls prey to the pack of hungry wolves. One Ear cannot resist the she-wolf, who lures him away from the safety of his human companions and towards the pack. Bill's attempt to save the dog proves futile, for he foolishly fires the last three cartridges and is still surrounded by the wolves and devoured. London is clearly developing his theme that only the fittest survive in this brutal environment.
When Henry realizes that Bill is dead, he takes precautions to protect his own life. Only fire can now save him from the wolves, who have surrounded him. The animals sleep in front of his fire, yawn, and stretch audaciously. Of course, Bill cannot sleep, for he must constantly throw firebrands at them to keep them at bay.
In the midst of all this personal danger, Henry's gesture of protecting the coffin and the body of Lord Alfred from the wolves is touching. It shows his respect for the dead. Henry also observes his own body. He is quite fascinated by its adaptability, and he cannot get over the fact that it would be nothing but meat to a pack of ravenous wolves.
Even daylight does not seem to deter the wolves, who are closing in on Henry. He is trying to beat them by racing to reach his destination, Fort McGurry. He is slowed, however, for his team has dwindled to two dogs and his lack of sleep seems to be taking its toll on him. He dreams he is in Fort McGurry, enjoying happier times. The wolves then attack. With snarls and yelps they actually begin to eat him alive. Henry's presence of mind saves him once again as he throws burning coals at these carnivores. His determination in the struggle to survive is remarkable. It is not until the last minute that he loses hope.
Henry, in the end of the chapter, survives his ordeal because of luck. A group of men comes upon his campsite and rescues him. He tells them his story in a few choice words and then does what he has not done for a long time -- sleeps.