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White Fang by Jack London

Part 3 out of 4

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service of duty and awe, but not of love. He did not know what
love was. He had no experience of love. Kiche was a remote
memory. Besides, not only had he abandoned the Wild and his kind
when he gave himself up to man, but the terms of the covenant were
such that if ever he met Kiche again he would not desert his god to
go with her. His allegiance to man seemed somehow a law of his
being greater than the love of liberty, of kind and kin.


The spring of the year was at hand when Grey Beaver finished his
long journey. It was April, and White Fang was a year old when he
pulled into the home villages and was loosed from the harness by
Mit-sah. Though a long way from his full growth, White Fang, next
to Lip-lip, was the largest yearling in the village. Both from his
father, the wolf, and from Kiche, he had inherited stature and
strength, and already he was measuring up alongside the full-grown
dogs. But he had not yet grown compact. His body was slender and
rangy, and his strength more stringy than massive, His coat was the
true wolf-grey, and to all appearances he was true wolf himself.
The quarter-strain of dog he had inherited from Kiche had left no
mark on him physically, though it had played its part in his mental

He wandered through the village, recognising with staid
satisfaction the various gods he had known before the long journey.
Then there were the dogs, puppies growing up like himself, and
grown dogs that did not look so large and formidable as the memory
pictures he retained of them. Also, he stood less in fear of them
than formerly, stalking among them with a certain careless ease
that was as new to him as it was enjoyable.

There was Baseek, a grizzled old fellow that in his younger days
had but to uncover his fangs to send White Fang cringing and
crouching to the right about. From him White Fang had learned much
of his own insignificance; and from him he was now to learn much of
the change and development that had taken place in himself. While
Baseek had been growing weaker with age, White Fang had been
growing stronger with youth.

It was at the cutting-up of a moose, fresh-killed, that White Fang
learned of the changed relations in which he stood to the dog-
world. He had got for himself a hoof and part of the shin-bone, to
which quite a bit of meat was attached. Withdrawn from the
immediate scramble of the other dogs--in fact out of sight behind a
thicket--he was devouring his prize, when Baseek rushed in upon
him. Before he knew what he was doing, he had slashed the intruder
twice and sprung clear. Baseek was surprised by the other's
temerity and swiftness of attack. He stood, gazing stupidly across
at White Fang, the raw, red shin-bone between them.

Baseek was old, and already he had come to know the increasing
valour of the dogs it had been his wont to bully. Bitter
experiences these, which, perforce, he swallowed, calling upon all
his wisdom to cope with them. In the old days he would have sprung
upon White Fang in a fury of righteous wrath. But now his waning
powers would not permit such a course. He bristled fiercely and
looked ominously across the shin-bone at White Fang. And White
Fang, resurrecting quite a deal of the old awe, seemed to wilt and
to shrink in upon himself and grow small, as he cast about in his
mind for a way to beat a retreat not too inglorious.

And right here Baseek erred. Had he contented himself with looking
fierce and ominous, all would have been well. White Fang, on the
verge of retreat, would have retreated, leaving the meat to him.
But Baseek did not wait. He considered the victory already his and
stepped forward to the meat. As he bent his head carelessly to
smell it, White Fang bristled slightly. Even then it was not too
late for Baseek to retrieve the situation. Had he merely stood
over the meat, head up and glowering, White Fang would ultimately
have slunk away. But the fresh meat was strong in Baseek's
nostrils, and greed urged him to take a bite of it.

This was too much for White Fang. Fresh upon his months of mastery
over his own team-mates, it was beyond his self-control to stand
idly by while another devoured the meat that belonged to him. He
struck, after his custom, without warning. With the first slash,
Baseek's right ear was ripped into ribbons. He was astounded at
the suddenness of it. But more things, and most grievous ones,
were happening with equal suddenness. He was knocked off his feet.
His throat was bitten. While he was struggling to his feet the
young dog sank teeth twice into his shoulder. The swiftness of it
was bewildering. He made a futile rush at White Fang, clipping the
empty air with an outraged snap. The next moment his nose was laid
open, and he was staggering backward away from the meat.

The situation was now reversed. White Fang stood over the shin-
bone, bristling and menacing, while Baseek stood a little way off,
preparing to retreat. He dared not risk a fight with this young
lightning-flash, and again he knew, and more bitterly, the
enfeeblement of oncoming age. His attempt to maintain his dignity
was heroic. Calmly turning his back upon young dog and shin-bone,
as though both were beneath his notice and unworthy of his
consideration, he stalked grandly away. Nor, until well out of
sight, did he stop to lick his bleeding wounds.

The effect on White Fang was to give him a greater faith in
himself, and a greater pride. He walked less softly among the
grown dogs; his attitude toward them was less compromising. Not
that he went out of his way looking for trouble. Far from it. But
upon his way he demanded consideration. He stood upon his right to
go his way unmolested and to give trail to no dog. He had to be
taken into account, that was all. He was no longer to be
disregarded and ignored, as was the lot of puppies, and as
continued to be the lot of the puppies that were his team-mates.
They got out of the way, gave trail to the grown dogs, and gave up
meat to them under compulsion. But White Fang, uncompanionable,
solitary, morose, scarcely looking to right or left, redoubtable,
forbidding of aspect, remote and alien, was accepted as an equal by
his puzzled elders. They quickly learned to leave him alone,
neither venturing hostile acts nor making overtures of
friendliness. If they left him alone, he left them alone--a state
of affairs that they found, after a few encounters, to be pre-
eminently desirable.

In midsummer White Fang had an experience. Trotting along in his
silent way to investigate a new tepee which had been erected on the
edge of the village while he was away with the hunters after moose,
he came full upon Kiche. He paused and looked at her. He
remembered her vaguely, but he REMEMBERED her, and that was more
than could be said for her. She lifted her lip at him in the old
snarl of menace, and his memory became clear. His forgotten
cubhood, all that was associated with that familiar snarl, rushed
back to him. Before he had known the gods, she had been to him the
centre-pin of the universe. The old familiar feelings of that time
came back upon him, surged up within him. He bounded towards her
joyously, and she met him with shrewd fangs that laid his cheek
open to the bone. He did not understand. He backed away,
bewildered and puzzled.

But it was not Kiche's fault. A wolf-mother was not made to
remember her cubs of a year or so before. So she did not remember
White Fang. He was a strange animal, an intruder; and her present
litter of puppies gave her the right to resent such intrusion.

One of the puppies sprawled up to White Fang. They were half-
brothers, only they did not know it. White Fang sniffed the puppy
curiously, whereupon Kiche rushed upon him, gashing is face a
second time. He backed farther away. All the old memories and
associations died down again and passed into the grave from which
they had been resurrected. He looked at Kiche licking her puppy
and stopping now and then to snarl at him. She was without value
to him. He had learned to get along without her. Her meaning was
forgotten. There was no place for her in his scheme of things, as
there was no place for him in hers.

He was still standing, stupid and bewildered, the memories
forgotten, wondering what it was all about, when Kiche attacked him
a third time, intent on driving him away altogether from the
vicinity. And White Fang allowed himself to be driven away. This
was a female of his kind, and it was a law of his kind that the
males must not fight the females. He did not know anything about
this law, for it was no generalisation of the mind, not a something
acquired by experience of the world. He knew it as a secret
prompting, as an urge of instinct--of the same instinct that made
him howl at the moon and stars of nights, and that made him fear
death and the unknown.

The months went by. White Fang grew stronger, heavier, and more
compact, while his character was developing along the lines laid
down by his heredity and his environment. His heredity was a life-
stuff that may be likened to clay. It possessed many
possibilities, was capable of being moulded into many different
forms. Environment served to model the clay, to give it a
particular form. Thus, had White Fang never come in to the fires
of man, the Wild would have moulded him into a true wolf. But the
gods had given him a different environment, and he was moulded into
a dog that was rather wolfish, but that was a dog and not a wolf.

And so, according to the clay of his nature and the pressure of his
surroundings, his character was being moulded into a certain
particular shape. There was no escaping it. He was becoming more
morose, more uncompanionable, more solitary, more ferocious; while
the dogs were learning more and more that it was better to be at
peace with him than at war, and Grey Beaver was coming to prize him
more greatly with the passage of each day.

White Fang, seeming to sum up strength in all his qualities,
nevertheless suffered from one besetting weakness. He could not
stand being laughed at. The laughter of men was a hateful thing.
They might laugh among themselves about anything they pleased
except himself, and he did not mind. But the moment laughter was
turned upon him he would fly into a most terrible rage. Grave,
dignified, sombre, a laugh made him frantic to ridiculousness. It
so outraged him and upset him that for hours he would behave like a
demon. And woe to the dog that at such times ran foul of him. He
knew the law too well to take it out of Grey Beaver; behind Grey
Beaver were a club and godhead. But behind the dogs there was
nothing but space, and into this space they flew when White Fang
came on the scene, made mad by laughter.

In the third year of his life there came a great famine to the
Mackenzie Indians. In the summer the fish failed. In the winter
the cariboo forsook their accustomed track. Moose were scarce, the
rabbits almost disappeared, hunting and preying animals perished.
Denied their usual food-supply, weakened by hunger, they fell upon
and devoured one another. Only the strong survived. White Fang's
gods were always hunting animals. The old and the weak of them
died of hunger. There was wailing in the village, where the women
and children went without in order that what little they had might
go into the bellies of the lean and hollow-eyed hunters who trod
the forest in the vain pursuit of meat.

To such extremity were the gods driven that they ate the soft-
tanned leather of their mocassins and mittens, while the dogs ate
the harnesses off their backs and the very whip-lashes. Also, the
dogs ate one another, and also the gods ate the dogs. The weakest
and the more worthless were eaten first. The dogs that still
lived, looked on and understood. A few of the boldest and wisest
forsook the fires of the gods, which had now become a shambles, and
fled into the forest, where, in the end, they starved to death or
were eaten by wolves.

In this time of misery, White Fang, too, stole away into the woods.
He was better fitted for the life than the other dogs, for he had
the training of his cubhood to guide him. Especially adept did he
become in stalking small living things. He would lie concealed for
hours, following every movement of a cautious tree-squirrel,
waiting, with a patience as huge as the hunger he suffered from,
until the squirrel ventured out upon the ground. Even then, White
Fang was not premature. He waited until he was sure of striking
before the squirrel could gain a tree-refuge. Then, and not until
then, would he flash from his hiding-place, a grey projectile,
incredibly swift, never failing its mark--the fleeing squirrel that
fled not fast enough.

Successful as he was with squirrels, there was one difficulty that
prevented him from living and growing fat on them. There were not
enough squirrels. So he was driven to hunt still smaller things.
So acute did his hunger become at times that he was not above
rooting out wood-mice from their burrows in the ground. Nor did he
scorn to do battle with a weasel as hungry as himself and many
times more ferocious.

In the worst pinches of the famine he stole back to the fires of
the gods. But he did not go into the fires. He lurked in the
forest, avoiding discovery and robbing the snares at the rare
intervals when game was caught. He even robbed Grey Beaver's snare
of a rabbit at a time when Grey Beaver staggered and tottered
through the forest, sitting down often to rest, what of weakness
and of shortness of breath.

One day While Fang encountered a young wolf, gaunt and scrawny,
loose-jointed with famine. Had he not been hungry himself, White
Fang might have gone with him and eventually found his way into the
pack amongst his wild brethren. As it was, he ran the young wolf
down and killed and ate him.

Fortune seemed to favour him. Always, when hardest pressed for
food, he found something to kill. Again, when he was weak, it was
his luck that none of the larger preying animals chanced upon him.
Thus, he was strong from the two days' eating a lynx had afforded
him when the hungry wolf-pack ran full tilt upon him. It was a
long, cruel chase, but he was better nourished than they, and in
the end outran them. And not only did he outrun them, but,
circling widely back on his track, he gathered in one of his
exhausted pursuers.

After that he left that part of the country and journeyed over to
the valley wherein he had been born. Here, in the old lair, he
encountered Kiche. Up to her old tricks, she, too, had fled the
inhospitable fires of the gods and gone back to her old refuge to
give birth to her young. Of this litter but one remained alive
when White Fang came upon the scene, and this one was not destined
to live long. Young life had little chance in such a famine.

Kiche's greeting of her grown son was anything but affectionate.
But White Fang did not mind. He had outgrown his mother. So he
turned tail philosophically and trotted on up the stream. At the
forks he took the turning to the left, where he found the lair of
the lynx with whom his mother and he had fought long before. Here,
in the abandoned lair, he settled down and rested for a day.

During the early summer, in the last days of the famine, he met
Lip-lip, who had likewise taken to the woods, where he had eked out
a miserable existence.

White Fang came upon him unexpectedly. Trotting in opposite
directions along the base of a high bluff, they rounded a corner of
rock and found themselves face to face. They paused with instant
alarm, and looked at each other suspiciously.

White Fang was in splendid condition. His hunting had been good,
and for a week he had eaten his fill. He was even gorged from his
latest kill. But in the moment he looked at Lip-lip his hair rose
on end all along his back. It was an involuntary bristling on his
part, the physical state that in the past had always accompanied
the mental state produced in him by Lip-lip's bullying and
persecution. As in the past he had bristled and snarled at sight
of Lip-lip, so now, and automatically, he bristled and snarled. He
did not waste any time. The thing was done thoroughly and with
despatch. Lip-lip essayed to back away, but White Fang struck him
hard, shoulder to shoulder. Lip-lip was overthrown and rolled upon
his back. White Fang's teeth drove into the scrawny throat. There
was a death-struggle, during which White Fang walked around, stiff-
legged and observant. Then he resumed his course and trotted on
along the base of the bluff.

One day, not long after, he came to the edge of the forest, where a
narrow stretch of open land sloped down to the Mackenzie. He had
been over this ground before, when it was bare, but now a village
occupied it. Still hidden amongst the trees, he paused to study
the situation. Sights and sounds and scents were familiar to him.
It was the old village changed to a new place. But sights and
sounds and smells were different from those he had last had when he
fled away from it. There was no whimpering nor wailing. Contented
sounds saluted his ear, and when he heard the angry voice of a
woman he knew it to be the anger that proceeds from a full stomach.
And there was a smell in the air of fish. There was food. The
famine was gone. He came out boldly from the forest and trotted
into camp straight to Grey Beaver's tepee. Grey Beaver was not
there; but Kloo-kooch welcomed him with glad cries and the whole of
a fresh-caught fish, and he lay down to wait Grey Beaver's coming.



Had there been in White Fang's nature any possibility, no matter
how remote, of his ever coming to fraternise with his kind, such
possibility was irretrievably destroyed when he was made leader of
the sled-team. For now the dogs hated him--hated him for the extra
meat bestowed upon him by Mit-sah; hated him for all the real and
fancied favours he received; hated him for that he fled always at
the head of the team, his waving brush of a tail and his
perpetually retreating hind-quarters for ever maddening their eyes.

And White Fang just as bitterly hated them back. Being sled-leader
was anything but gratifying to him. To be compelled to run away
before the yelling pack, every dog of which, for three years, he
had thrashed and mastered, was almost more than he could endure.
But endure it he must, or perish, and the life that was in him had
no desire to perish out. The moment Mit-sah gave his order for the
start, that moment the whole team, with eager, savage cries, sprang
forward at White Fang.

There was no defence for him. If he turned upon them, Mit-sah
would throw the stinging lash of the whip into his face. Only
remained to him to run away. He could not encounter that howling
horde with his tail and hind-quarters. These were scarcely fit
weapons with which to meet the many merciless fangs. So run away
he did, violating his own nature and pride with every leap he made,
and leaping all day long.

One cannot violate the promptings of one's nature without having
that nature recoil upon itself. Such a recoil is like that of a
hair, made to grow out from the body, turning unnaturally upon the
direction of its growth and growing into the body--a rankling,
festering thing of hurt. And so with White Fang. Every urge of
his being impelled him to spring upon the pack that cried at his
heels, but it was the will of the gods that this should not be; and
behind the will, to enforce it, was the whip of cariboo-gut with
its biting thirty-foot lash. So White Fang could only eat his
heart in bitterness and develop a hatred and malice commensurate
with the ferocity and indomitability of his nature.

If ever a creature was the enemy of its kind, White Fang was that
creature. He asked no quarter, gave none. He was continually
marred and scarred by the teeth of the pack, and as continually he
left his own marks upon the pack. Unlike most leaders, who, when
camp was made and the dogs were unhitched, huddled near to the gods
for protection, White Fang disdained such protection. He walked
boldly about the camp, inflicting punishment in the night for what
he had suffered in the day. In the time before he was made leader
of the team, the pack had learned to get out of his way. But now
it was different. Excited by the day-long pursuit of him, swayed
subconsciously by the insistent iteration on their brains of the
sight of him fleeing away, mastered by the feeling of mastery
enjoyed all day, the dogs could not bring themselves to give way to
him. When he appeared amongst them, there was always a squabble.
His progress was marked by snarl and snap and growl. The very
atmosphere he breathed was surcharged with hatred and malice, and
this but served to increase the hatred and malice within him.

When Mit-sah cried out his command for the team to stop, White Fang
obeyed. At first this caused trouble for the other dogs. All of
them would spring upon the hated leader only to find the tables
turned. Behind him would be Mit-sah, the great whip singing in his
hand. So the dogs came to understand that when the team stopped by
order, White Fang was to be let alone. But when White Fang stopped
without orders, then it was allowed them to spring upon him and
destroy him if they could. After several experiences, White Fang
never stopped without orders. He learned quickly. It was in the
nature of things, that he must learn quickly if he were to survive
the unusually severe conditions under which life was vouchsafed

But the dogs could never learn the lesson to leave him alone in
camp. Each day, pursuing him and crying defiance at him, the
lesson of the previous night was erased, and that night would have
to be learned over again, to be as immediately forgotten. Besides,
there was a greater consistence in their dislike of him. They
sensed between themselves and him a difference of kind--cause
sufficient in itself for hostility. Like him, they were
domesticated wolves. But they had been domesticated for
generations. Much of the Wild had been lost, so that to them the
Wild was the unknown, the terrible, the ever-menacing and ever
warring. But to him, in appearance and action and impulse, still
clung the Wild. He symbolised it, was its personification: so
that when they showed their teeth to him they were defending
themselves against the powers of destruction that lurked in the
shadows of the forest and in the dark beyond the camp-fire.

But there was one lesson the dogs did learn, and that was to keep
together. White Fang was too terrible for any of them to face
single-handed. They met him with the mass-formation, otherwise he
would have killed them, one by one, in a night. As it was, he
never had a chance to kill them. He might roll a dog off its feet,
but the pack would be upon him before he could follow up and
deliver the deadly throat-stroke. At the first hint of conflict,
the whole team drew together and faced him. The dogs had quarrels
among themselves, but these were forgotten when trouble was brewing
with White Fang.

On the other hand, try as they would, they could not kill White
Fang. He was too quick for them, too formidable, too wise. He
avoided tight places and always backed out of it when they bade
fair to surround him. While, as for getting him off his feet,
there was no dog among them capable of doing the trick. His feet
clung to the earth with the same tenacity that he clung to life.
For that matter, life and footing were synonymous in this unending
warfare with the pack, and none knew it better than White Fang.

So he became the enemy of his kind, domesticated wolves that they
were, softened by the fires of man, weakened in the sheltering
shadow of man's strength. White Fang was bitter and implacable.
The clay of him was so moulded. He declared a vendetta against all
dogs. And so terribly did he live this vendetta that Grey Beaver,
fierce savage himself, could not but marvel at White Fang's
ferocity. Never, he swore, had there been the like of this animal;
and the Indians in strange villages swore likewise when they
considered the tale of his killings amongst their dogs.

When White Fang was nearly five years old, Grey Beaver took him on
another great journey, and long remembered was the havoc he worked
amongst the dogs of the many villages along the Mackenzie, across
the Rockies, and down the Porcupine to the Yukon. He revelled in
the vengeance he wreaked upon his kind. They were ordinary,
unsuspecting dogs. They were not prepared for his swiftness and
directness, for his attack without warning. They did not know him
for what he was, a lightning-flash of slaughter. They bristled up
to him, stiff-legged and challenging, while he, wasting no time on
elaborate preliminaries, snapping into action like a steel spring,
was at their throats and destroying them before they knew what was
happening and while they were yet in the throes of surprise.

He became an adept at fighting. He economised. He never wasted
his strength, never tussled. He was in too quickly for that, and,
if he missed, was out again too quickly. The dislike of the wolf
for close quarters was his to an unusual degree. He could not
endure a prolonged contact with another body. It smacked of
danger. It made him frantic. He must be away, free, on his own
legs, touching no living thing. It was the Wild still clinging to
him, asserting itself through him. This feeling had been
accentuated by the Ishmaelite life he had led from his puppyhood.
Danger lurked in contacts. It was the trap, ever the trap, the
fear of it lurking deep in the life of him, woven into the fibre of

In consequence, the strange dogs he encountered had no chance
against him. He eluded their fangs. He got them, or got away,
himself untouched in either event. In the natural course of things
there were exceptions to this. There were times when several dogs,
pitching on to him, punished him before he could get away; and
there were times when a single dog scored deeply on him. But these
were accidents. In the main, so efficient a fighter had he become,
he went his way unscathed.

Another advantage he possessed was that of correctly judging time
and distance. Not that he did this consciously, however. He did
not calculate such things. It was all automatic. His eyes saw
correctly, and the nerves carried the vision correctly to his
brain. The parts of him were better adjusted than those of the
average dog. They worked together more smoothly and steadily. His
was a better, far better, nervous, mental, and muscular co-
ordination. When his eyes conveyed to his brain the moving image
of an action, his brain without conscious effort, knew the space
that limited that action and the time required for its completion.
Thus, he could avoid the leap of another dog, or the drive of its
fangs, and at the same moment could seize the infinitesimal
fraction of time in which to deliver his own attack. Body and
brain, his was a more perfected mechanism. Not that he was to be
praised for it. Nature had been more generous to him than to the
average animal, that was all.

It was in the summer that White Fang arrived at Fort Yukon. Grey
Beaver had crossed the great watershed between Mackenzie and the
Yukon in the late winter, and spent the spring in hunting among the
western outlying spurs of the Rockies. Then, after the break-up of
the ice on the Porcupine, he had built a canoe and paddled down
that stream to where it effected its junction with the Yukon just
under the Artic circle. Here stood the old Hudson's Bay Company
fort; and here were many Indians, much food, and unprecedented
excitement. It was the summer of 1898, and thousands of gold-
hunters were going up the Yukon to Dawson and the Klondike. Still
hundreds of miles from their goal, nevertheless many of them had
been on the way for a year, and the least any of them had travelled
to get that far was five thousand miles, while some had come from
the other side of the world.

Here Grey Beaver stopped. A whisper of the gold-rush had reached
his ears, and he had come with several bales of furs, and another
of gut-sewn mittens and moccasins. He would not have ventured so
long a trip had he not expected generous profits. But what he had
expected was nothing to what he realised. His wildest dreams had
not exceeded a hundred per cent. profit; he made a thousand per
cent. And like a true Indian, he settled down to trade carefully
and slowly, even if it took all summer and the rest of the winter
to dispose of his goods.

It was at Fort Yukon that White Fang saw his first white men. As
compared with the Indians he had known, they were to him another
race of beings, a race of superior gods. They impressed him as
possessing superior power, and it is on power that godhead rests.
White Fang did not reason it out, did not in his mind make the
sharp generalisation that the white gods were more powerful. It
was a feeling, nothing more, and yet none the less potent. As, in
his puppyhood, the looming bulks of the tepees, man-reared, had
affected him as manifestations of power, so was he affected now by
the houses and the huge fort all of massive logs. Here was power.
Those white gods were strong. They possessed greater mastery over
matter than the gods he had known, most powerful among which was
Grey Beaver. And yet Grey Beaver was as a child-god among these
white-skinned ones.

To be sure, White Fang only felt these things. He was not
conscious of them. Yet it is upon feeling, more often than
thinking, that animals act; and every act White Fang now performed
was based upon the feeling that the white men were the superior
gods. In the first place he was very suspicious of them. There
was no telling what unknown terrors were theirs, what unknown hurts
they could administer. He was curious to observe them, fearful of
being noticed by them. For the first few hours he was content with
slinking around and watching them from a safe distance. Then he
saw that no harm befell the dogs that were near to them, and he
came in closer.

In turn he was an object of great curiosity to them. His wolfish
appearance caught their eyes at once, and they pointed him out to
one another. This act of pointing put White Fang on his guard, and
when they tried to approach him he showed his teeth and backed
away. Not one succeeded in laying a hand on him, and it was well
that they did not.

White Fang soon learned that very few of these gods--not more than
a dozen--lived at this place. Every two or three days a steamer
(another and colossal manifestation of power) came into the bank
and stopped for several hours. The white men came from off these
steamers and went away on them again. There seemed untold numbers
of these white men. In the first day or so, he saw more of them
than he had seen Indians in all his life; and as the days went by
they continued to come up the river, stop, and then go on up the
river out of sight.

But if the white gods were all-powerful, their dogs did not amount
to much. This White Fang quickly discovered by mixing with those
that came ashore with their masters. They were irregular shapes
and sizes. Some were short-legged--too short; others were long-
legged--too long. They had hair instead of fur, and a few had very
little hair at that. And none of them knew how to fight.

As an enemy of his kind, it was in White Fang's province to fight
with them. This he did, and he quickly achieved for them a mighty
contempt. They were soft and helpless, made much noise, and
floundered around clumsily trying to accomplish by main strength
what he accomplished by dexterity and cunning. They rushed
bellowing at him. He sprang to the side. They did not know what
had become of him; and in that moment he struck them on the
shoulder, rolling them off their feet and delivering his stroke at
the throat.

Sometimes this stroke was successful, and a stricken dog rolled in
the dirt, to be pounced upon and torn to pieces by the pack of
Indian dogs that waited. White Fang was wise. He had long since
learned that the gods were made angry when their dogs were killed.
The white men were no exception to this. So he was content, when
he had overthrown and slashed wide the throat of one of their dogs,
to drop back and let the pack go in and do the cruel finishing
work. It was then that the white men rushed in, visiting their
wrath heavily on the pack, while White Fang went free. He would
stand off at a little distance and look on, while stones, clubs,
axes, and all sorts of weapons fell upon his fellows. White Fang
was very wise.

But his fellows grew wise in their own way; and in this White Fang
grew wise with them. They learned that it was when a steamer first
tied to the bank that they had their fun. After the first two or
three strange dogs had been downed and destroyed, the white men
hustled their own animals back on board and wrecked savage
vengeance on the offenders. One white man, having seen his dog, a
setter, torn to pieces before his eyes, drew a revolver. He fired
rapidly, six times, and six of the pack lay dead or dying--another
manifestation of power that sank deep into White Fang's

White Fang enjoyed it all. He did not love his kind, and he was
shrewd enough to escape hurt himself. At first, the killing of the
white men's dogs had been a diversion. After a time it became his
occupation. There was no work for him to do. Grey Beaver was busy
trading and getting wealthy. So White Fang hung around the landing
with the disreputable gang of Indian dogs, waiting for steamers.
With the arrival of a steamer the fun began. After a few minutes,
by the time the white men had got over their surprise, the gang
scattered. The fun was over until the next steamer should arrive.

But it can scarcely be said that White Fang was a member of the
gang. He did not mingle with it, but remained aloof, always
himself, and was even feared by it. It is true, he worked with it.
He picked the quarrel with the strange dog while the gang waited.
And when he had overthrown the strange dog the gang went in to
finish it. But it is equally true that he then withdrew, leaving
the gang to receive the punishment of the outraged gods.

It did not require much exertion to pick these quarrels. All he
had to do, when the strange dogs came ashore, was to show himself.
When they saw him they rushed for him. It was their instinct. He
was the Wild--the unknown, the terrible, the ever-menacing, the
thing that prowled in the darkness around the fires of the primeval
world when they, cowering close to the fires, were reshaping their
instincts, learning to fear the Wild out of which they had come,
and which they had deserted and betrayed. Generation by
generation, down all the generations, had this fear of the Wild
been stamped into their natures. For centuries the Wild had stood
for terror and destruction. And during all this time free licence
had been theirs, from their masters, to kill the things of the
Wild. In doing this they had protected both themselves and the
gods whose companionship they shared

And so, fresh from the soft southern world, these dogs, trotting
down the gang-plank and out upon the Yukon shore had but to see
White Fang to experience the irresistible impulse to rush upon him
and destroy him. They might be town-reared dogs, but the
instinctive fear of the Wild was theirs just the same. Not alone
with their own eyes did they see the wolfish creature in the clear
light of day, standing before them. They saw him with the eyes of
their ancestors, and by their inherited memory they knew White Fang
for the wolf, and they remembered the ancient feud.

All of which served to make White Fang's days enjoyable. If the
sight of him drove these strange dogs upon him, so much the better
for him, so much the worse for them. They looked upon him as
legitimate prey, and as legitimate prey he looked upon them.

Not for nothing had he first seen the light of day in a lonely lair
and fought his first fights with the ptarmigan, the weasel, and the
lynx. And not for nothing had his puppyhood been made bitter by
the persecution of Lip-lip and the whole puppy pack. It might have
been otherwise, and he would then have been otherwise. Had Lip-lip
not existed, he would have passed his puppyhood with the other
puppies and grown up more doglike and with more liking for dogs.
Had Grey Beaver possessed the plummet of affection and love, he
might have sounded the deeps of White Fang's nature and brought up
to the surface all manner of kindly qualities. But these things
had not been so. The clay of White Fang had been moulded until he
became what he was, morose and lonely, unloving and ferocious, the
enemy of all his kind.


A small number of white men lived in Fort Yukon. These men had
been long in the country. They called themselves Sour-doughs, and
took great pride in so classifying themselves. For other men, new
in the land, they felt nothing but disdain. The men who came
ashore from the steamers were newcomers. They were known as
chechaquos, and they always wilted at the application of the name.
They made their bread with baking-powder. This was the invidious
distinction between them and the Sour-doughs, who, forsooth, made
their bread from sour-dough because they had no baking-powder.

All of which is neither here nor there. The men in the fort
disdained the newcomers and enjoyed seeing them come to grief.
Especially did they enjoy the havoc worked amongst the newcomers'
dogs by White Fang and his disreputable gang. When a steamer
arrived, the men of the fort made it a point always to come down to
the bank and see the fun. They looked forward to it with as much
anticipation as did the Indian dogs, while they were not slow to
appreciate the savage and crafty part played by White Fang.

But there was one man amongst them who particularly enjoyed the
sport. He would come running at the first sound of a steamboat's
whistle; and when the last fight was over and White Fang and the
pack had scattered, he would return slowly to the fort, his face
heavy with regret. Sometimes, when a soft southland dog went down,
shrieking its death-cry under the fangs of the pack, this man would
be unable to contain himself, and would leap into the air and cry
out with delight. And always he had a sharp and covetous eye for
White Fang.

This man was called "Beauty" by the other men of the fort. No one
knew his first name, and in general he was known in the country as
Beauty Smith. But he was anything save a beauty. To antithesis
was due his naming. He was pre-eminently unbeautiful. Nature had
been niggardly with him. He was a small man to begin with; and
upon his meagre frame was deposited an even more strikingly meagre
head. Its apex might be likened to a point. In fact, in his
boyhood, before he had been named Beauty by his fellows, he had
been called "Pinhead."

Backward, from the apex, his head slanted down to his neck and
forward it slanted uncompromisingly to meet a low and remarkably
wide forehead. Beginning here, as though regretting her parsimony,
Nature had spread his features with a lavish hand. His eyes were
large, and between them was the distance of two eyes. His face, in
relation to the rest of him, was prodigious. In order to discover
the necessary area, Nature had given him an enormous prognathous
jaw. It was wide and heavy, and protruded outward and down until
it seemed to rest on his chest. Possibly this appearance was due
to the weariness of the slender neck, unable properly to support so
great a burden.

This jaw gave the impression of ferocious determination. But
something lacked. Perhaps it was from excess. Perhaps the jaw was
too large. At any rate, it was a lie. Beauty Smith was known far
and wide as the weakest of weak-kneed and snivelling cowards. To
complete his description, his teeth were large and yellow, while
the two eye-teeth, larger than their fellows, showed under his lean
lips like fangs. His eyes were yellow and muddy, as though Nature
had run short on pigments and squeezed together the dregs of all
her tubes. It was the same with his hair, sparse and irregular of
growth, muddy-yellow and dirty-yellow, rising on his head and
sprouting out of his face in unexpected tufts and bunches, in
appearance like clumped and wind-blown grain.

In short, Beauty Smith was a monstrosity, and the blame of it lay
elsewhere. He was not responsible. The clay of him had been so
moulded in the making. He did the cooking for the other men in the
fort, the dish-washing and the drudgery. They did not despise him.
Rather did they tolerate him in a broad human way, as one tolerates
any creature evilly treated in the making. Also, they feared him.
His cowardly rages made them dread a shot in the back or poison in
their coffee. But somebody had to do the cooking, and whatever
else his shortcomings, Beauty Smith could cook.

This was the man that looked at White Fang, delighted in his
ferocious prowess, and desired to possess him. He made overtures
to White Fang from the first. White Fang began by ignoring him.
Later on, when the overtures became more insistent, White Fang
bristled and bared his teeth and backed away. He did not like the
man. The feel of him was bad. He sensed the evil in him, and
feared the extended hand and the attempts at soft-spoken speech.
Because of all this, he hated the man.

With the simpler creatures, good and bad are things simply
understood. The good stands for all things that bring easement and
satisfaction and surcease from pain. Therefore, the good is liked.
The bad stands for all things that are fraught with discomfort,
menace, and hurt, and is hated accordingly. White Fang's feel of
Beauty Smith was bad. From the man's distorted body and twisted
mind, in occult ways, like mists rising from malarial marshes, came
emanations of the unhealth within. Not by reasoning, not by the
five senses alone, but by other and remoter and uncharted senses,
came the feeling to White Fang that the man was ominous with evil,
pregnant with hurtfulness, and therefore a thing bad, and wisely to
be hated.

White Fang was in Grey Beaver's camp when Beauty Smith first
visited it. At the faint sound of his distant feet, before he came
in sight, White Fang knew who was coming and began to bristle. He
had been lying down in an abandon of comfort, but he arose quickly,
and, as the man arrived, slid away in true wolf-fashion to the edge
of the camp. He did not know what they said, but he could see the
man and Grey Beaver talking together. Once, the man pointed at
him, and White Fang snarled back as though the hand were just
descending upon him instead of being, as it was, fifty feet away.
The man laughed at this; and White Fang slunk away to the
sheltering woods, his head turned to observe as he glided softly
over the ground.

Grey Beaver refused to sell the dog. He had grown rich with his
trading and stood in need of nothing. Besides, White Fang was a
valuable animal, the strongest sled-dog he had ever owned, and the
best leader. Furthermore, there was no dog like him on the
Mackenzie nor the Yukon. He could fight. He killed other dogs as
easily as men killed mosquitoes. (Beauty Smith's eyes lighted up
at this, and he licked his thin lips with an eager tongue). No,
White Fang was not for sale at any price.

But Beauty Smith knew the ways of Indians. He visited Grey
Beaver's camp often, and hidden under his coat was always a black
bottle or so. One of the potencies of whisky is the breeding of
thirst. Grey Beaver got the thirst. His fevered membranes and
burnt stomach began to clamour for more and more of the scorching
fluid; while his brain, thrust all awry by the unwonted stimulant,
permitted him to go any length to obtain it. The money he had
received for his furs and mittens and moccasins began to go. It
went faster and faster, and the shorter his money-sack grew, the
shorter grew his temper.

In the end his money and goods and temper were all gone. Nothing
remained to him but his thirst, a prodigious possession in itself
that grew more prodigious with every sober breath he drew. Then it
was that Beauty Smith had talk with him again about the sale of
White Fang; but this time the price offered was in bottles, not
dollars, and Grey Beaver's ears were more eager to hear.

"You ketch um dog you take um all right," was his last word.

The bottles were delivered, but after two days. "You ketch um
dog," were Beauty Smith's words to Grey Beaver.

White Fang slunk into camp one evening and dropped down with a sigh
of content. The dreaded white god was not there. For days his
manifestations of desire to lay hands on him had been growing more
insistent, and during that time White Fang had been compelled to
avoid the camp. He did not know what evil was threatened by those
insistent hands. He knew only that they did threaten evil of some
sort, and that it was best for him to keep out of their reach.

But scarcely had he lain down when Grey Beaver staggered over to
him and tied a leather thong around his neck. He sat down beside
White Fang, holding the end of the thong in his hand. In the other
hand he held a bottle, which, from time to time, was inverted above
his head to the accompaniment of gurgling noises.

An hour of this passed, when the vibrations of feet in contact with
the ground foreran the one who approached. White Fang heard it
first, and he was bristling with recognition while Grey Beaver
still nodded stupidly. White Fang tried to draw the thong softly
out of his master's hand; but the relaxed fingers closed tightly
and Grey Beaver roused himself.

Beauty Smith strode into camp and stood over White Fang. He
snarled softly up at the thing of fear, watching keenly the
deportment of the hands. One hand extended outward and began to
descend upon his head. His soft snarl grew tense and harsh. The
hand continued slowly to descend, while he crouched beneath it,
eyeing it malignantly, his snarl growing shorter and shorter as,
with quickening breath, it approached its culmination. Suddenly he
snapped, striking with his fangs like a snake. The hand was jerked
back, and the teeth came together emptily with a sharp click.
Beauty Smith was frightened and angry. Grey Beaver clouted White
Fang alongside the head, so that he cowered down close to the earth
in respectful obedience.

White Fang's suspicious eyes followed every movement. He saw
Beauty Smith go away and return with a stout club. Then the end of
the thong was given over to him by Grey Beaver. Beauty Smith
started to walk away. The thong grew taut. White Fang resisted
it. Grey Beaver clouted him right and left to make him get up and
follow. He obeyed, but with a rush, hurling himself upon the
stranger who was dragging him away. Beauty Smith did not jump
away. He had been waiting for this. He swung the club smartly,
stopping the rush midway and smashing White Fang down upon the
ground. Grey Beaver laughed and nodded approval. Beauty Smith
tightened the thong again, and White Fang crawled limply and
dizzily to his feet.

He did not rush a second time. One smash from the club was
sufficient to convince him that the white god knew how to handle
it, and he was too wise to fight the inevitable. So he followed
morosely at Beauty Smith's heels, his tail between his legs, yet
snarling softly under his breath. But Beauty Smith kept a wary eye
on him, and the club was held always ready to strike.

At the fort Beauty Smith left him securely tied and went in to bed.
White Fang waited an hour. Then he applied his teeth to the thong,
and in the space of ten seconds was free. He had wasted no time
with his teeth. There had been no useless gnawing. The thong was
cut across, diagonally, almost as clean as though done by a knife.
White Fang looked up at the fort, at the same time bristling and
growling. Then he turned and trotted back to Grey Beaver's camp.
He owed no allegiance to this strange and terrible god. He had
given himself to Grey Beaver, and to Grey Beaver he considered he
still belonged.

But what had occurred before was repeated--with a difference. Grey
Beaver again made him fast with a thong, and in the morning turned
him over to Beauty Smith. And here was where the difference came
in. Beauty Smith gave him a beating. Tied securely, White Fang
could only rage futilely and endure the punishment. Club and whip
were both used upon him, and he experienced the worst beating he
had ever received in his life. Even the big beating given him in
his puppyhood by Grey Beaver was mild compared with this.

Beauty Smith enjoyed the task. He delighted in it. He gloated
over his victim, and his eyes flamed dully, as he swung the whip or
club and listened to White Fang's cries of pain and to his helpless
bellows and snarls. For Beauty Smith was cruel in the way that
cowards are cruel. Cringing and snivelling himself before the
blows or angry speech of a man, he revenged himself, in turn, upon
creatures weaker than he. All life likes power, and Beauty Smith
was no exception. Denied the expression of power amongst his own
kind, he fell back upon the lesser creatures and there vindicated
the life that was in him. But Beauty Smith had not created
himself, and no blame was to be attached to him. He had come into
the world with a twisted body and a brute intelligence. This had
constituted the clay of him, and it had not been kindly moulded by
the world.

White Fang knew why he was being beaten. When Grey Beaver tied the
thong around his neck, and passed the end of the thong into Beauty
Smith's keeping, White Fang knew that it was his god's will for him
to go with Beauty Smith. And when Beauty Smith left him tied
outside the fort, he knew that it was Beauty Smith's will that he
should remain there. Therefore, he had disobeyed the will of both
the gods, and earned the consequent punishment. He had seen dogs
change owners in the past, and he had seen the runaways beaten as
he was being beaten. He was wise, and yet in the nature of him
there were forces greater than wisdom. One of these was fidelity.
He did not love Grey Beaver, yet, even in the face of his will and
his anger, he was faithful to him. He could not help it. This
faithfulness was a quality of the clay that composed him. It was
the quality that was peculiarly the possession of his kind; the
quality that set apart his species from all other species; the
quality that has enabled the wolf and the wild dog to come in from
the open and be the companions of man.

After the beating, White Fang was dragged back to the fort. But
this time Beauty Smith left him tied with a stick. One does not
give up a god easily, and so with White Fang. Grey Beaver was his
own particular god, and, in spite of Grey Beaver's will, White Fang
still clung to him and would not give him up. Grey Beaver had
betrayed and forsaken him, but that had no effect upon him. Not
for nothing had he surrendered himself body and soul to Grey
Beaver. There had been no reservation on White Fang's part, and
the bond was not to be broken easily.

So, in the night, when the men in the fort were asleep, White Fang
applied his teeth to the stick that held him. The wood was
seasoned and dry, and it was tied so closely to his neck that he
could scarcely get his teeth to it. It was only by the severest
muscular exertion and neck-arching that he succeeded in getting the
wood between his teeth, and barely between his teeth at that; and
it was only by the exercise of an immense patience, extending
through many hours, that he succeeded in gnawing through the stick.
This was something that dogs were not supposed to do. It was
unprecedented. But White Fang did it, trotting away from the fort
in the early morning, with the end of the stick hanging to his

He was wise. But had he been merely wise he would not have gone
back to Grey Beaver who had already twice betrayed him. But there
was his faithfulness, and he went back to be betrayed yet a third
time. Again he yielded to the tying of a thong around his neck by
Grey Beaver, and again Beauty Smith came to claim him. And this
time he was beaten even more severely than before.

Grey Beaver looked on stolidly while the white man wielded the
whip. He gave no protection. It was no longer his dog. When the
beating was over White Fang was sick. A soft southland dog would
have died under it, but not he. His school of life had been
sterner, and he was himself of sterner stuff. He had too great
vitality. His clutch on life was too strong. But he was very
sick. At first he was unable to drag himself along, and Beauty
Smith had to wait half-an-hour for him. And then, blind and
reeling, he followed at Beauty Smith's heels back to the fort.

But now he was tied with a chain that defied his teeth, and he
strove in vain, by lunging, to draw the staple from the timber into
which it was driven. After a few days, sober and bankrupt, Grey
Beaver departed up the Porcupine on his long journey to the
Mackenzie. White Fang remained on the Yukon, the property of a man
more than half mad and all brute. But what is a dog to know in its
consciousness of madness? To White Fang, Beauty Smith was a
veritable, if terrible, god. He was a mad god at best, but White
Fang knew nothing of madness; he knew only that he must submit to
the will of this new master, obey his every whim and fancy.


Under the tutelage of the mad god, White Fang became a fiend. He
was kept chained in a pen at the rear of the fort, and here Beauty
Smith teased and irritated and drove him wild with petty torments.
The man early discovered White Fang's susceptibility to laughter,
and made it a point after painfully tricking him, to laugh at him.
This laughter was uproarious and scornful, and at the same time the
god pointed his finger derisively at White Fang. At such times
reason fled from White Fang, and in his transports of rage he was
even more mad than Beauty Smith.

Formerly, White Fang had been merely the enemy of his kind, withal
a ferocious enemy. He now became the enemy of all things, and more
ferocious than ever. To such an extent was he tormented, that he
hated blindly and without the faintest spark of reason. He hated
the chain that bound him, the men who peered in at him through the
slats of the pen, the dogs that accompanied the men and that
snarled malignantly at him in his helplessness. He hated the very
wood of the pen that confined him. And, first, last, and most of
all, he hated Beauty Smith.

But Beauty Smith had a purpose in all that he did to White Fang.
One day a number of men gathered about the pen. Beauty Smith
entered, club in hand, and took the chain off from White Fang's
neck. When his master had gone out, White Fang turned loose and
tore around the pen, trying to get at the men outside. He was
magnificently terrible. Fully five feet in length, and standing
two and one-half feet at the shoulder, he far outweighed a wolf of
corresponding size. From his mother he had inherited the heavier
proportions of the dog, so that he weighed, without any fat and
without an ounce of superfluous flesh, over ninety pounds. It was
all muscle, bone, and sinew-fighting flesh in the finest condition.

The door of the pen was being opened again. White Fang paused.
Something unusual was happening. He waited. The door was opened
wider. Then a huge dog was thrust inside, and the door was slammed
shut behind him. White Fang had never seen such a dog (it was a
mastiff); but the size and fierce aspect of the intruder did not
deter him. Here was some thing, not wood nor iron, upon which to
wreak his hate. He leaped in with a flash of fangs that ripped
down the side of the mastiff's neck. The mastiff shook his head,
growled hoarsely, and plunged at White Fang. But White Fang was
here, there, and everywhere, always evading and eluding, and always
leaping in and slashing with his fangs and leaping out again in
time to escape punishment.

The men outside shouted and applauded, while Beauty Smith, in an
ecstasy of delight, gloated over the rippling and manging performed
by White Fang. There was no hope for the mastiff from the first.
He was too ponderous and slow. In the end, while Beauty Smith beat
White Fang back with a club, the mastiff was dragged out by its
owner. Then there was a payment of bets, and money clinked in
Beauty Smith's hand.

White Fang came to look forward eagerly to the gathering of the men
around his pen. It meant a fight; and this was the only way that
was now vouchsafed him of expressing the life that was in him.
Tormented, incited to hate, he was kept a prisoner so that there
was no way of satisfying that hate except at the times his master
saw fit to put another dog against him. Beauty Smith had estimated
his powers well, for he was invariably the victor. One day, three
dogs were turned in upon him in succession. Another day a full-
grown wolf, fresh-caught from the Wild, was shoved in through the
door of the pen. And on still another day two dogs were set
against him at the same time. This was his severest fight, and
though in the end he killed them both he was himself half killed in
doing it.

In the fall of the year, when the first snows were falling and
mush-ice was running in the river, Beauty Smith took passage for
himself and White Fang on a steamboat bound up the Yukon to Dawson.
White Fang had now achieved a reputation in the land. As "the
Fighting Wolf" he was known far and wide, and the cage in which he
was kept on the steam-boat's deck was usually surrounded by curious
men. He raged and snarled at them, or lay quietly and studied them
with cold hatred. Why should he not hate them? He never asked
himself the question. He knew only hate and lost himself in the
passion of it. Life had become a hell to him. He had not been
made for the close confinement wild beasts endure at the hands of
men. And yet it was in precisely this way that he was treated.
Men stared at him, poked sticks between the bars to make him snarl,
and then laughed at him.

They were his environment, these men, and they were moulding the
clay of him into a more ferocious thing than had been intended by
Nature. Nevertheless, Nature had given him plasticity. Where many
another animal would have died or had its spirit broken, he
adjusted himself and lived, and at no expense of the spirit.
Possibly Beauty Smith, arch-fiend and tormentor, was capable of
breaking White Fang's spirit, but as yet there were no signs of his

If Beauty Smith had in him a devil, White Fang had another; and the
two of them raged against each other unceasingly. In the days
before, White Fang had had the wisdom to cower down and submit to a
man with a club in his hand; but this wisdom now left him. The
mere sight of Beauty Smith was sufficient to send him into
transports of fury. And when they came to close quarters, and he
had been beaten back by the club, he went on growling and snarling,
and showing his fangs. The last growl could never be extracted
from him. No matter how terribly he was beaten, he had always
another growl; and when Beauty Smith gave up and withdrew, the
defiant growl followed after him, or White Fang sprang at the bars
of the cage bellowing his hatred.

When the steamboat arrived at Dawson, White Fang went ashore. But
he still lived a public life, in a cage, surrounded by curious men.
He was exhibited as "the Fighting Wolf," and men paid fifty cents
in gold dust to see him. He was given no rest. Did he lie down to
sleep, he was stirred up by a sharp stick--so that the audience
might get its money's worth. In order to make the exhibition
interesting, he was kept in a rage most of the time. But worse
than all this, was the atmosphere in which he lived. He was
regarded as the most fearful of wild beasts, and this was borne in
to him through the bars of the cage. Every word, every cautious
action, on the part of the men, impressed upon him his own terrible
ferocity. It was so much added fuel to the flame of his
fierceness. There could be but one result, and that was that his
ferocity fed upon itself and increased. It was another instance of
the plasticity of his clay, of his capacity for being moulded by
the pressure of environment.

In addition to being exhibited he was a professional fighting
animal. At irregular intervals, whenever a fight could be
arranged, he was taken out of his cage and led off into the woods a
few miles from town. Usually this occurred at night, so as to
avoid interference from the mounted police of the Territory. After
a few hours of waiting, when daylight had come, the audience and
the dog with which he was to fight arrived. In this manner it came
about that he fought all sizes and breeds of dogs. It was a savage
land, the men were savage, and the fights were usually to the

Since White Fang continued to fight, it is obvious that it was the
other dogs that died. He never knew defeat. His early training,
when he fought with Lip-lip and the whole puppy-pack, stood him in
good stead. There was the tenacity with which he clung to the
earth. No dog could make him lose his footing. This was the
favourite trick of the wolf breeds--to rush in upon him, either
directly or with an unexpected swerve, in the hope of striking his
shoulder and overthrowing him. Mackenzie hounds, Eskimo and
Labrador dogs, huskies and Malemutes--all tried it on him, and all
failed. He was never known to lose his footing. Men told this to
one another, and looked each time to see it happen; but White Fang
always disappointed them.

Then there was his lightning quickness. It gave him a tremendous
advantage over his antagonists. No matter what their fighting
experience, they had never encountered a dog that moved so swiftly
as he. Also to be reckoned with, was the immediateness of his
attack. The average dog was accustomed to the preliminaries of
snarling and bristling and growling, and the average dog was
knocked off his feet and finished before he had begun to fight or
recovered from his surprise. So often did this happen, that it
became the custom to hold White Fang until the other dog went
through its preliminaries, was good and ready, and even made the
first attack.

But greatest of all the advantages in White Fang's favour, was his
experience. He knew more about fighting than did any of the dogs
that faced him. He had fought more fights, knew how to meet more
tricks and methods, and had more tricks himself, while his own
method was scarcely to be improved upon.

As the time went by, he had fewer and fewer fights. Men despaired
of matching him with an equal, and Beauty Smith was compelled to
pit wolves against him. These were trapped by the Indians for the
purpose, and a fight between White Fang and a wolf was always sure
to draw a crowd. Once, a full-grown female lynx was secured, and
this time White Fang fought for his life. Her quickness matched
his; her ferocity equalled his; while he fought with his fangs
alone, and she fought with her sharp-clawed feet as well.

But after the lynx, all fighting ceased for White Fang. There were
no more animals with which to fight--at least, there was none
considered worthy of fighting with him. So he remained on
exhibition until spring, when one Tim Keenan, a faro-dealer,
arrived in the land. With him came the first bull-dog that had
ever entered the Klondike. That this dog and White Fang should
come together was inevitable, and for a week the anticipated fight
was the mainspring of conversation in certain quarters of the town.


Beauty Smith slipped the chain from his neck and stepped back.

For once White Fang did not make an immediate attack. He stood
still, ears pricked forward, alert and curious, surveying the
strange animal that faced him. He had never seen such a dog
before. Tim Keenan shoved the bull-dog forward with a muttered "Go
to it." The animal waddled toward the centre of the circle, short
and squat and ungainly. He came to a stop and blinked across at
White Fang.

There were cries from the crowd of, "Go to him, Cherokee! Sick 'm,
Cherokee! Eat 'm up!"

But Cherokee did not seem anxious to fight. He turned his head and
blinked at the men who shouted, at the same time wagging his stump
of a tail good-naturedly. He was not afraid, but merely lazy.
Besides, it did not seem to him that it was intended he should
fight with the dog he saw before him. He was not used to fighting
with that kind of dog, and he was waiting for them to bring on the
real dog.

Tim Keenan stepped in and bent over Cherokee, fondling him on both
sides of the shoulders with hands that rubbed against the grain of
the hair and that made slight, pushing-forward movements. These
were so many suggestions. Also, their effect was irritating, for
Cherokee began to growl, very softly, deep down in his throat.
There was a correspondence in rhythm between the growls and the
movements of the man's hands. The growl rose in the throat with
the culmination of each forward-pushing movement, and ebbed down to
start up afresh with the beginning of the next movement. The end
of each movement was the accent of the rhythm, the movement ending
abruptly and the growling rising with a jerk.

This was not without its effect on White Fang. The hair began to
rise on his neck and across the shoulders. Tim Keenan gave a final
shove forward and stepped back again. As the impetus that carried
Cherokee forward died down, he continued to go forward of his own
volition, in a swift, bow-legged run. Then White Fang struck. A
cry of startled admiration went up. He had covered the distance
and gone in more like a cat than a dog; and with the same cat-like
swiftness he had slashed with his fangs and leaped clear.

The bull-dog was bleeding back of one ear from a rip in his thick
neck. He gave no sign, did not even snarl, but turned and followed
after White Fang. The display on both sides, the quickness of the
one and the steadiness of the other, had excited the partisan
spirit of the crowd, and the men were making new bets and
increasing original bets. Again, and yet again, White Fang sprang
in, slashed, and got away untouched, and still his strange foe
followed after him, without too great haste, not slowly, but
deliberately and determinedly, in a businesslike sort of way.
There was purpose in his method--something for him to do that he
was intent upon doing and from which nothing could distract him.

His whole demeanour, every action, was stamped with this purpose.
It puzzled White Fang. Never had he seen such a dog. It had no
hair protection. It was soft, and bled easily. There was no thick
mat of fur to baffle White Fang's teeth as they were often baffled
by dogs of his own breed. Each time that his teeth struck they
sank easily into the yielding flesh, while the animal did not seem
able to defend itself. Another disconcerting thing was that it
made no outcry, such as he had been accustomed to with the other
dogs he had fought. Beyond a growl or a grunt, the dog took its
punishment silently. And never did it flag in its pursuit of him.

Not that Cherokee was slow. He could turn and whirl swiftly
enough, but White Fang was never there. Cherokee was puzzled, too.
He had never fought before with a dog with which he could not
close. The desire to close had always been mutual. But here was a
dog that kept at a distance, dancing and dodging here and there and
all about. And when it did get its teeth into him, it did not hold
on but let go instantly and darted away again.

But White Fang could not get at the soft underside of the throat.
The bull-dog stood too short, while its massive jaws were an added
protection. White Fang darted in and out unscathed, while
Cherokee's wounds increased. Both sides of his neck and head were
ripped and slashed. He bled freely, but showed no signs of being
disconcerted. He continued his plodding pursuit, though once, for
the moment baffled, he came to a full stop and blinked at the men
who looked on, at the same time wagging his stump of a tail as an
expression of his willingness to fight.

In that moment White Fang was in upon him and out, in passing
ripping his trimmed remnant of an ear. With a slight manifestation
of anger, Cherokee took up the pursuit again, running on the inside
of the circle White Fang was making, and striving to fasten his
deadly grip on White Fang's throat. The bull-dog missed by a
hair's-breadth, and cries of praise went up as White Fang doubled
suddenly out of danger in the opposite direction.

The time went by. White Fang still danced on, dodging and
doubling, leaping in and out, and ever inflicting damage. And
still the bull-dog, with grim certitude, toiled after him. Sooner
or later he would accomplish his purpose, get the grip that would
win the battle. In the meantime, he accepted all the punishment
the other could deal him. His tufts of ears had become tassels,
his neck and shoulders were slashed in a score of places, and his
very lips were cut and bleeding--all from these lightning snaps
that were beyond his foreseeing and guarding.

Time and again White Fang had attempted to knock Cherokee off his
feet; but the difference in their height was too great. Cherokee
was too squat, too close to the ground. White Fang tried the trick
once too often. The chance came in one of his quick doublings and
counter-circlings. He caught Cherokee with head turned away as he
whirled more slowly. His shoulder was exposed. White Fang drove
in upon it: but his own shoulder was high above, while he struck
with such force that his momentum carried him on across over the
other's body. For the first time in his fighting history, men saw
White Fang lose his footing. His body turned a half-somersault in
the air, and he would have landed on his back had he not twisted,
catlike, still in the air, in the effort to bring his feet to the
earth. As it was, he struck heavily on his side. The next instant
he was on his feet, but in that instant Cherokee's teeth closed on
his throat.

It was not a good grip, being too low down toward the chest; but
Cherokee held on. White Fang sprang to his feet and tore wildly
around, trying to shake off the bull-dog's body. It made him
frantic, this clinging, dragging weight. It bound his movements,
restricted his freedom. It was like the trap, and all his instinct
resented it and revolted against it. It was a mad revolt. For
several minutes he was to all intents insane. The basic life that
was in him took charge of him. The will to exist of his body
surged over him. He was dominated by this mere flesh-love of life.
All intelligence was gone. It was as though he had no brain. His
reason was unseated by the blind yearning of the flesh to exist and
move, at all hazards to move, to continue to move, for movement was
the expression of its existence.

Round and round he went, whirling and turning and reversing, trying
to shake off the fifty-pound weight that dragged at his throat.
The bull-dog did little but keep his grip. Sometimes, and rarely,
he managed to get his feet to the earth and for a moment to brace
himself against White Fang. But the next moment his footing would
be lost and he would be dragging around in the whirl of one of
White Fang's mad gyrations. Cherokee identified himself with his
instinct. He knew that he was doing the right thing by holding on,
and there came to him certain blissful thrills of satisfaction. At
such moments he even closed his eyes and allowed his body to be
hurled hither and thither, willy-nilly, careless of any hurt that
might thereby come to it. That did not count. The grip was the
thing, and the grip he kept.

White Fang ceased only when he had tired himself out. He could do
nothing, and he could not understand. Never, in all his fighting,
had this thing happened. The dogs he had fought with did not fight
that way. With them it was snap and slash and get away, snap and
slash and get away. He lay partly on his side, panting for breath.
Cherokee still holding his grip, urged against him, trying to get
him over entirely on his side. White Fang resisted, and he could
feel the jaws shifting their grip, slightly relaxing and coming
together again in a chewing movement. Each shift brought the grip
closer to his throat. The bull-dog's method was to hold what he
had, and when opportunity favoured to work in for more.
Opportunity favoured when White Fang remained quiet. When White
Fang struggled, Cherokee was content merely to hold on.

The bulging back of Cherokee's neck was the only portion of his
body that White Fang's teeth could reach. He got hold toward the
base where the neck comes out from the shoulders; but he did not
know the chewing method of fighting, nor were his jaws adapted to
it. He spasmodically ripped and tore with his fangs for a space.
Then a change in their position diverted him. The bull-dog had
managed to roll him over on his back, and still hanging on to his
throat, was on top of him. Like a cat, White Fang bowed his hind-
quarters in, and, with the feet digging into his enemy's abdomen
above him, he began to claw with long tearing-strokes. Cherokee
might well have been disembowelled had he not quickly pivoted on
his grip and got his body off of White Fang's and at right angles
to it.

There was no escaping that grip. It was like Fate itself, and as
inexorable. Slowly it shifted up along the jugular. All that
saved White Fang from death was the loose skin of his neck and the
thick fur that covered it. This served to form a large roll in
Cherokee's mouth, the fur of which well-nigh defied his teeth. But
bit by bit, whenever the chance offered, he was getting more of the
loose skin and fur in his mouth. The result was that he was slowly
throttling White Fang. The latter's breath was drawn with greater
and greater difficulty as the moments went by.

It began to look as though the battle were over. The backers of
Cherokee waxed jubilant and offered ridiculous odds. White Fang's
backers were correspondingly depressed, and refused bets of ten to
one and twenty to one, though one man was rash enough to close a
wager of fifty to one. This man was Beauty Smith. He took a step
into the ring and pointed his finger at White Fang. Then he began
to laugh derisively and scornfully. This produced the desired
effect. White Fang went wild with rage. He called up his reserves
of strength, and gained his feet. As he struggled around the ring,
the fifty pounds of his foe ever dragging on his throat, his anger
passed on into panic. The basic life of him dominated him again,
and his intelligence fled before the will of his flesh to live.
Round and round and back again, stumbling and falling and rising,
even uprearing at times on his hind-legs and lifting his foe clear
of the earth, he struggled vainly to shake off the clinging death.

At last he fell, toppling backward, exhausted; and the bull-dog
promptly shifted his grip, getting in closer, mangling more and
more of the fur-folded flesh, throttling White Fang more severely
than ever. Shouts of applause went up for the victor, and there
were many cries of "Cherokee!" "Cherokee!" To this Cherokee
responded by vigorous wagging of the stump of his tail. But the
clamour of approval did not distract him. There was no sympathetic
relation between his tail and his massive jaws. The one might wag,
but the others held their terrible grip on White Fang's throat.

It was at this time that a diversion came to the spectators. There
was a jingle of bells. Dog-mushers' cries were heard. Everybody,
save Beauty Smith, looked apprehensively, the fear of the police
strong upon them. But they saw, up the trail, and not down, two
men running with sled and dogs. They were evidently coming down
the creek from some prospecting trip. At sight of the crowd they
stopped their dogs and came over and joined it, curious to see the
cause of the excitement. The dog-musher wore a moustache, but the
other, a taller and younger man, was smooth-shaven, his skin rosy
from the pounding of his blood and the running in the frosty air.

White Fang had practically ceased struggling. Now and again he
resisted spasmodically and to no purpose. He could get little air,
and that little grew less and less under the merciless grip that
ever tightened. In spite of his armour of fur, the great vein of
his throat would have long since been torn open, had not the first
grip of the bull-dog been so low down as to be practically on the
chest. It had taken Cherokee a long time to shift that grip
upward, and this had also tended further to clog his jaws with fur
and skin-fold.

In the meantime, the abysmal brute in Beauty Smith had been rising
into his brain and mastering the small bit of sanity that he
possessed at best. When he saw White Fang's eyes beginning to
glaze, he knew beyond doubt that the fight was lost. Then he broke
loose. He sprang upon White Fang and began savagely to kick him.
There were hisses from the crowd and cries of protest, but that was
all. While this went on, and Beauty Smith continued to kick White
Fang, there was a commotion in the crowd. The tall young newcomer
was forcing his way through, shouldering men right and left without
ceremony or gentleness. When he broke through into the ring,
Beauty Smith was just in the act of delivering another kick. All
his weight was on one loot, and he was in a state of unstable
equilibrium. At that moment the newcomer's fist landed a smashing
blow full in his face. Beauty Smith's remaining leg left the
ground, and his whole body seemed to lift into the air as he turned
over backward and struck the snow. The newcomer turned upon the

"You cowards!" he cried. "You beasts!"

He was in a rage himself--a sane rage. His grey eyes seemed
metallic and steel-like as they flashed upon the crowd. Beauty
Smith regained his feet and came toward him, sniffling and
cowardly. The new-comer did not understand. He did not know how
abject a coward the other was, and thought he was coming back
intent on fighting. So, with a "You beast!" he smashed Beauty
Smith over backward with a second blow in the face. Beauty Smith
decided that the snow was the safest place for him, and lay where
he had fallen, making no effort to get up.

"Come on, Matt, lend a hand," the newcomer called the dog-musher,
who had followed him into the ring.

Both men bent over the dogs. Matt took hold of White Fang, ready
to pull when Cherokee's jaws should be loosened. This the younger
man endeavoured to accomplish by clutching the bulldog's jaws in
his hands and trying to spread them. It was a vain undertaking.
As he pulled and tugged and wrenched, he kept exclaiming with every
expulsion of breath, "Beasts!"

The crowd began to grow unruly, and some of the men were protesting
against the spoiling of the sport; but they were silenced when the
newcomer lifted his head from his work for a moment and glared at

"You damn beasts!" he finally exploded, and went back to his task.

"It's no use, Mr. Scott, you can't break 'm apart that way," Matt
said at last.

The pair paused and surveyed the locked dogs.

"Ain't bleedin' much," Matt announced. "Ain't got all the way in

"But he's liable to any moment," Scott answered. "There, did you
see that! He shifted his grip in a bit."

The younger man's excitement and apprehension for White Fang was
growing. He struck Cherokee about the head savagely again and
again. But that did not loosen the jaws. Cherokee wagged the
stump of his tail in advertisement that he understood the meaning
of the blows, but that he knew he was himself in the right and only
doing his duty by keeping his grip.

"Won't some of you help?" Scott cried desperately at the crowd.

But no help was offered. Instead, the crowd began sarcastically to
cheer him on and showered him with facetious advice.

"You'll have to get a pry," Matt counselled.

The other reached into the holster at his hip, drew his revolver,
and tried to thrust its muzzle between the bull-dog's jaws. He
shoved, and shoved hard, till the grating of the steel against the
locked teeth could be distinctly heard. Both men were on their
knees, bending over the dogs. Tim Keenan strode into the ring. He
paused beside Scott and touched him on the shoulder, saying

"Don't break them teeth, stranger."

"Then I'll break his neck," Scott retorted, continuing his shoving
and wedging with the revolver muzzle.

"I said don't break them teeth," the faro-dealer repeated more
ominously than before.

But if it was a bluff he intended, it did not work. Scott never
desisted from his efforts, though he looked up coolly and asked:

"Your dog?"

The faro-dealer grunted.

"Then get in here and break this grip."

"Well, stranger," the other drawled irritatingly, "I don't mind
telling you that's something I ain't worked out for myself. I
don't know how to turn the trick."

"Then get out of the way," was the reply, "and don't bother me.
I'm busy."

Tim Keenan continued standing over him, but Scott took no further
notice of his presence. He had managed to get the muzzle in
between the jaws on one side, and was trying to get it out between
the jaws on the other side. This accomplished, he pried gently and
carefully, loosening the jaws a bit at a time, while Matt, a bit at
a time, extricated White Fang's mangled neck.

"Stand by to receive your dog," was Scott's peremptory order to
Cherokee's owner.

The faro-dealer stooped down obediently and got a firm hold on

"Now!" Scott warned, giving the final pry.

The dogs were drawn apart, the bull-dog struggling vigorously.

"Take him away," Scott commanded, and Tim Keenan dragged Cherokee
back into the crowd.

White Fang made several ineffectual efforts to get up. Once he
gained his feet, but his legs were too weak to sustain him, and he
slowly wilted and sank back into the snow. His eyes were half
closed, and the surface of them was glassy. His jaws were apart,
and through them the tongue protruded, draggled and limp. To all
appearances he looked like a dog that had been strangled to death.
Matt examined him.

"Just about all in," he announced; "but he's breathin' all right."

Beauty Smith had regained his feet and come over to look at White

"Matt, how much is a good sled-dog worth?" Scott asked.

The dog-musher, still on his knees and stooped over White Fang,
calculated for a moment.

"Three hundred dollars," he answered.

"And how much for one that's all chewed up like this one?" Scott
asked, nudging White Fang with his foot.

"Half of that," was the dog-musher's judgment. Scott turned upon
Beauty Smith.

"Did you hear, Mr. Beast? I'm going to take your dog from you, and
I'm going to give you a hundred and fifty for him."

He opened his pocket-book and counted out the bills.

Beauty Smith put his hands behind his back, refusing to touch the
proffered money.

"I ain't a-sellin'," he said.

"Oh, yes you are," the other assured him. "Because I'm buying.
Here's your money. The dog's mine."

Beauty Smith, his hands still behind him, began to back away.

Scott sprang toward him, drawing his fist back to strike. Beauty
Smith cowered down in anticipation of the blow.

"I've got my rights," he whimpered.

"You've forfeited your rights to own that dog," was the rejoinder.
"Are you going to take the money? or do I have to hit you again?"

"All right," Beauty Smith spoke up with the alacrity of fear. "But
I take the money under protest," he added. "The dog's a mint. I
ain't a-goin' to be robbed. A man's got his rights."

"Correct," Scott answered, passing the money over to him. "A man's
got his rights. But you're not a man. You're a beast."

"Wait till I get back to Dawson," Beauty Smith threatened. "I'll
have the law on you."

"If you open your mouth when you get back to Dawson, I'll have you
run out of town. Understand?"

Beauty Smith replied with a grunt.

"Understand?" the other thundered with abrupt fierceness.

"Yes," Beauty Smith grunted, shrinking away.

"Yes what?"

"Yes, sir," Beauty Smith snarled.

"Look out! He'll bite!" some one shouted, and a guffaw of laughter
went up.

Scott turned his back on him, and returned to help the dog-musher,
who was working over White Fang.

Some of the men were already departing; others stood in groups,
looking on and talking. Tim Keenan joined one of the groups.

"Who's that mug?" he asked.

"Weedon Scott," some one answered.

"And who in hell is Weedon Scott?" the faro-dealer demanded.

"Oh, one of them crackerjack minin' experts. He's in with all the
big bugs. If you want to keep out of trouble, you'll steer clear
of him, that's my talk. He's all hunky with the officials. The
Gold Commissioner's a special pal of his."

"I thought he must be somebody," was the faro-dealer's comment.
"That's why I kept my hands offen him at the start."


"It's hopeless," Weedon Scott confessed.

He sat on the step of his cabin and stared at the dog-musher, who
responded with a shrug that was equally hopeless.

Together they looked at White Fang at the end of his stretched
chain, bristling, snarling, ferocious, straining to get at the
sled-dogs. Having received sundry lessons from Matt, said lessons
being imparted by means of a club, the sled-dogs had learned to
leave White Fang alone; and even then they were lying down at a
distance, apparently oblivious of his existence.

"It's a wolf and there's no taming it," Weedon Scott announced.

"Oh, I don't know about that," Matt objected. "Might be a lot of
dog in 'm, for all you can tell. But there's one thing I know
sure, an' that there's no gettin' away from."

The dog-musher paused and nodded his head confidentially at
Moosehide Mountain.

"Well, don't be a miser with what you know," Scott said sharply,
after waiting a suitable length of time. "Spit it out. What is

The dog-musher indicated White Fang with a backward thrust of his

"Wolf or dog, it's all the same--he's ben tamed 'ready."


"I tell you yes, an' broke to harness. Look close there. D'ye see
them marks across the chest?"

"You're right, Matt. He was a sled-dog before Beauty Smith got
hold of him."

"And there's not much reason against his bein' a sled-dog again."

"What d'ye think?" Scott queried eagerly. Then the hope died down
as he added, shaking his head, "We've had him two weeks now, and if
anything he's wilder than ever at the present moment."

"Give 'm a chance," Matt counselled. "Turn 'm loose for a spell."

The other looked at him incredulously.

"Yes," Matt went on, "I know you've tried to, but you didn't take a

"You try it then."

The dog-musher secured a club and went over to the chained animal.
White Fang watched the club after the manner of a caged lion
watching the whip of its trainer.

"See 'm keep his eye on that club," Matt said. "That's a good
sign. He's no fool. Don't dast tackle me so long as I got that
club handy. He's not clean crazy, sure."

As the man's hand approached his neck, White Fang bristled and
snarled and crouched down. But while he eyed the approaching hand,
he at the same time contrived to keep track of the club in the
other hand, suspended threateningly above him. Matt unsnapped the
chain from the collar and stepped back.

White Fang could scarcely realise that he was free. Many months
had gone by since he passed into the possession of Beauty Smith,
and in all that period he had never known a moment of freedom
except at the times he had been loosed to fight with other dogs.
Immediately after such fights he had always been imprisoned again.

He did not know what to make of it. Perhaps some new devilry of
the gods was about to be perpetrated on him. He walked slowly and
cautiously, prepared to be assailed at any moment. He did not know
what to do, it was all so unprecedented. He took the precaution to
sheer off from the two watching gods, and walked carefully to the
corner of the cabin. Nothing happened. He was plainly perplexed,
and he came back again, pausing a dozen feet away and regarding the
two men intently.

"Won't he run away?" his new owner asked.

Matt shrugged his shoulders. "Got to take a gamble. Only way to
find out is to find out."

"Poor devil," Scott murmured pityingly. "What he needs is some
show of human kindness," he added, turning and going into the

He came out with a piece of meat, which he tossed to White Fang.
He sprang away from it, and from a distance studied it

"Hi-yu, Major!" Matt shouted warningly, but too late.

Major had made a spring for the meat. At the instant his jaws
closed on it, White Fang struck him. He was overthrown. Matt
rushed in, but quicker than he was White Fang. Major staggered to
his feet, but the blood spouting from his throat reddened the snow
in a widening path.

"It's too bad, but it served him right," Scott said hastily.

But Matt's foot had already started on its way to kick White Fang.
There was a leap, a flash of teeth, a sharp exclamation. White
Fang, snarling fiercely, scrambled backward for several yards,
while Matt stooped and investigated his leg.

"He got me all right," he announced, pointing to the torn trousers
and undercloths, and the growing stain of red.

"I told you it was hopeless, Matt," Scott said in a discouraged
voice. "I've thought about it off and on, while not wanting to
think of it. But we've come to it now. It's the only thing to

As he talked, with reluctant movements he drew his revolver, threw
open the cylinder, and assured himself of its contents.

"Look here, Mr. Scott," Matt objected; "that dog's ben through
hell. You can't expect 'm to come out a white an' shinin' angel.
Give 'm time."

"Look at Major," the other rejoined.

The dog-musher surveyed the stricken dog. He had sunk down on the
snow in the circle of his blood and was plainly in the last gasp.

"Served 'm right. You said so yourself, Mr. Scott. He tried to
take White Fang's meat, an' he's dead-O. That was to be expected.
I wouldn't give two whoops in hell for a dog that wouldn't fight
for his own meat."

"But look at yourself, Matt. It's all right about the dogs, but we
must draw the line somewhere."

"Served me right," Matt argued stubbornly. "What'd I want to kick
'm for? You said yourself that he'd done right. Then I had no
right to kick 'm."

"It would be a mercy to kill him," Scott insisted. "He's

"Now look here, Mr. Scott, give the poor devil a fightin' chance.
He ain't had no chance yet. He's just come through hell, an' this
is the first time he's ben loose. Give 'm a fair chance, an' if he
don't deliver the goods, I'll kill 'm myself. There!"

"God knows I don't want to kill him or have him killed," Scott
answered, putting away the revolver. "We'll let him run loose and
see what kindness can do for him. And here's a try at it."

He walked over to White Fang and began talking to him gently and

"Better have a club handy," Matt warned.

Scott shook his head and went on trying to win White Fang's

White Fang was suspicious. Something was impending. He had killed
this god's dog, bitten his companion god, and what else was to be
expected than some terrible punishment? But in the face of it he
was indomitable. He bristled and showed his teeth, his eyes
vigilant, his whole body wary and prepared for anything. The god
had no club, so he suffered him to approach quite near. The god's
hand had come out and was descending upon his head. White Fang
shrank together and grew tense as he crouched under it. Here was
danger, some treachery or something. He knew the hands of the
gods, their proved mastery, their cunning to hurt. Besides, there
was his old antipathy to being touched. He snarled more
menacingly, crouched still lower, and still the hand descended. He
did not want to bite the hand, and he endured the peril of it until
his instinct surged up in him, mastering him with its insatiable
yearning for life.

Weedon Scott had believed that he was quick enough to avoid any
snap or slash. But he had yet to learn the remarkable quickness of
White Fang, who struck with the certainty and swiftness of a coiled

Scott cried out sharply with surprise, catching his torn hand and
holding it tightly in his other hand. Matt uttered a great oath
and sprang to his side. White Fang crouched down, and backed away,
bristling, showing his fangs, his eyes malignant with menace. Now
he could expect a beating as fearful as any he had received from
Beauty Smith.

"Here! What are you doing?" Scott cried suddenly.

Matt had dashed into the cabin and come out with a rifle.

"Nothin'," he said slowly, with a careless calmness that was
assumed, "only goin' to keep that promise I made. I reckon it's up
to me to kill 'm as I said I'd do."

"No you don't!"

"Yes I do. Watch me."

As Matt had pleaded for White Fang when he had been bitten, it was
now Weedon Scott's turn to plead.

"You said to give him a chance. Well, give it to him. We've only
just started, and we can't quit at the beginning. It served me
right, this time. And--look at him!"

White Fang, near the corner of the cabin and forty feet away, was
snarling with blood-curdling viciousness, not at Scott, but at the

"Well, I'll be everlastingly gosh-swoggled!" was the dog-musher's
expression of astonishment.

"Look at the intelligence of him," Scott went on hastily. "He
knows the meaning of firearms as well as you do. He's got
intelligence and we've got to give that intelligence a chance. Put
up the gun."

"All right, I'm willin'," Matt agreed, leaning the rifle against
the woodpile

"But will you look at that!" he exclaimed the next moment.

White Fang had quieted down and ceased snarling. "This is worth
investigatin'. Watch."

Matt, reached for the rifle, and at the same moment White Fang
snarled. He stepped away from the rifle, and White Fang's lifted
lips descended, covering his teeth.

"Now, just for fun."

Matt took the rifle and began slowly to raise it to his shoulder.
White Fang's snarling began with the movement, and increased as the
movement approached its culmination. But the moment before the
rifle came to a level on him, he leaped sidewise behind the corner
of the cabin. Matt stood staring along the sights at the empty
space of snow which had been occupied by White Fang.

The dog-musher put the rifle down solemnly, then turned and looked
at his employer.

"I agree with you, Mr. Scott. That dog's too intelligent to kill."


As White Fang watched Weedon Scott approach, he bristled and
snarled to advertise that he would not submit to punishment.
Twenty-four hours had passed since he had slashed open the hand
that was now bandaged and held up by a sling to keep the blood out
of it. In the past White Fang had experienced delayed punishments,
and he apprehended that such a one was about to befall him. How
could it be otherwise? He had committed what was to him sacrilege,
sunk his fangs into the holy flesh of a god, and of a white-skinned
superior god at that. In the nature of things, and of intercourse
with gods, something terrible awaited him.

The god sat down several feet away. White Fang could see nothing
dangerous in that. When the gods administered punishment they
stood on their legs. Besides, this god had no club, no whip, no
firearm. And furthermore, he himself was free. No chain nor stick
bound him. He could escape into safety while the god was
scrambling to his feet. In the meantime he would wait and see.

The god remained quiet, made no movement; and White Fang's snarl
slowly dwindled to a growl that ebbed down in his throat and
ceased. Then the god spoke, and at the first sound of his voice,
the hair rose on White Fang's neck and the growl rushed up in his
throat. But the god made no hostile movement, and went on calmly
talking. For a time White Fang growled in unison with him, a
correspondence of rhythm being established between growl and voice.
But the god talked on interminably. He talked to White Fang as
White Fang had never been talked to before. He talked softly and
soothingly, with a gentleness that somehow, somewhere, touched
White Fang. In spite of himself and all the pricking warnings of
his instinct, White Fang began to have confidence in this god. He
had a feeling of security that was belied by all his experience
with men.

After a long time, the god got up and went into the cabin. White
Fang scanned him apprehensively when he came out. He had neither
whip nor club nor weapon. Nor was his uninjured hand behind his
back hiding something. He sat down as before, in the same spot,
several feet away. He held out a small piece of meat. White Fang
pricked his ears and investigated it suspiciously, managing to look
at the same time both at the meat and the god, alert for any overt
act, his body tense and ready to spring away at the first sign of

Still the punishment delayed. The god merely held near to his nose
a piece of meat. And about the meat there seemed nothing wrong.
Still White Fang suspected; and though the meat was proffered to
him with short inviting thrusts of the hand, he refused to touch
it. The gods were all-wise, and there was no telling what
masterful treachery lurked behind that apparently harmless piece of
meat. In past experience, especially in dealing with squaws, meat
and punishment had often been disastrously related.

In the end, the god tossed the meat on the snow at White Fang's
feet. He smelled the meat carefully; but he did not look at it.
While he smelled it he kept his eyes on the god. Nothing happened.
He took the meat into his mouth and swallowed it. Still nothing
happened. The god was actually offering him another piece of meat.
Again he refused to take it from the hand, and again it was tossed
to him. This was repeated a number of times. But there came a
time when the god refused to toss it. He kept it in his hand and
steadfastly proffered it.

The meat was good meat, and White Fang was hungry. Bit by bit,
infinitely cautious, he approached the hand. At last the time came
that he decided to eat the meat from the hand. He never took his
eyes from the god, thrusting his head forward with ears flattened
back and hair involuntarily rising and cresting on his neck. Also
a low growl rumbled in his throat as warning that he was not to be
trifled with. He ate the meat, and nothing happened. Piece by
piece, he ate all the meat, and nothing happened. Still the
punishment delayed.

He licked his chops and waited. The god went on talking. In his
voice was kindness--something of which White Fang had no experience
whatever. And within him it aroused feelings which he had likewise
never experienced before. He was aware of a certain strange
satisfaction, as though some need were being gratified, as though
some void in his being were being filled. Then again came the prod
of his instinct and the warning of past experience. The gods were
ever crafty, and they had unguessed ways of attaining their ends.

Ah, he had thought so! There it came now, the god's hand, cunning
to hurt, thrusting out at him, descending upon his head. But the
god went on talking. His voice was soft and soothing. In spite of
the menacing hand, the voice inspired confidence. And in spite of
the assuring voice, the hand inspired distrust. White Fang was
torn by conflicting feelings, impulses. It seemed he would fly to
pieces, so terrible was the control he was exerting, holding
together by an unwonted indecision the counter-forces that
struggled within him for mastery.

He compromised. He snarled and bristled and flattened his ears.
But he neither snapped nor sprang away. The hand descended.
Nearer and nearer it came. It touched the ends of his upstanding
hair. He shrank down under it. It followed down after him,
pressing more closely against him. Shrinking, almost shivering, he
still managed to hold himself together. It was a torment, this
hand that touched him and violated his instinct. He could not
forget in a day all the evil that had been wrought him at the hands
of men. But it was the will of the god, and he strove to submit.

The hand lifted and descended again in a patting, caressing
movement. This continued, but every time the hand lifted, the hair
lifted under it. And every time the hand descended, the ears
flattened down and a cavernous growl surged in his throat. White
Fang growled and growled with insistent warning. By this means he
announced that he was prepared to retaliate for any hurt he might
receive. There was no telling when the god's ulterior motive might
be disclosed. At any moment that soft, confidence-inspiring voice
might break forth in a roar of wrath, that gentle and caressing
hand transform itself into a vice-like grip to hold him helpless
and administer punishment.

But the god talked on softly, and ever the hand rose and fell with
non-hostile pats. White Fang experienced dual feelings. It was
distasteful to his instinct. It restrained him, opposed the will
of him toward personal liberty. And yet it was not physically
painful. On the contrary, it was even pleasant, in a physical way.
The patting movement slowly and carefully changed to a rubbing of
the ears about their bases, and the physical pleasure even
increased a little. Yet he continued to fear, and he stood on
guard, expectant of unguessed evil, alternately suffering and
enjoying as one feeling or the other came uppermost and swayed him.

"Well, I'll be gosh-swoggled!"

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