Part 4 out of 4
So spoke Matt, coming out of the cabin, his sleeves rolled up, a
pan of dirty dish-water in his hands, arrested in the act of
emptying the pan by the sight of Weedon Scott patting White Fang.
At the instant his voice broke the silence, White Fang leaped back,
snarling savagely at him.
Matt regarded his employer with grieved disapproval.
"If you don't mind my expressin' my feelin's, Mr. Scott, I'll make
free to say you're seventeen kinds of a damn fool an' all of 'em
different, an' then some."
Weedon Scott smiled with a superior air, gained his feet, and
walked over to White Fang. He talked soothingly to him, but not
for long, then slowly put out his hand, rested it on White Fang's
head, and resumed the interrupted patting. White Fang endured it,
keeping his eyes fixed suspiciously, not upon the man that patted
him, but upon the man that stood in the doorway.
"You may be a number one, tip-top minin' expert, all right all
right," the dog-musher delivered himself oracularly, "but you
missed the chance of your life when you was a boy an' didn't run
off an' join a circus."
White Fang snarled at the sound of his voice, but this time did not
leap away from under the hand that was caressing his head and the
back of his neck with long, soothing strokes.
It was the beginning of the end for White Fang--the ending of the
old life and the reign of hate. A new and incomprehensibly fairer
life was dawning. It required much thinking and endless patience
on the part of Weedon Scott to accomplish this. And on the part of
White Fang it required nothing less than a revolution. He had to
ignore the urges and promptings of instinct and reason, defy
experience, give the lie to life itself.
Life, as he had known it, not only had had no place in it for much
that he now did; but all the currents had gone counter to those to
which he now abandoned himself. In short, when all things were
considered, he had to achieve an orientation far vaster than the
one he had achieved at the time he came voluntarily in from the
Wild and accepted Grey Beaver as his lord. At that time he was a
mere puppy, soft from the making, without form, ready for the thumb
of circumstance to begin its work upon him. But now it was
different. The thumb of circumstance had done its work only too
well. By it he had been formed and hardened into the Fighting
Wolf, fierce and implacable, unloving and unlovable. To accomplish
the change was like a reflux of being, and this when the plasticity
of youth was no longer his; when the fibre of him had become tough
and knotty; when the warp and the woof of him had made of him an
adamantine texture, harsh and unyielding; when the face of his
spirit had become iron and all his instincts and axioms had
crystallised into set rules, cautions, dislikes, and desires.
Yet again, in this new orientation, it was the thumb of
circumstance that pressed and prodded him, softening that which had
become hard and remoulding it into fairer form. Weedon Scott was
in truth this thumb. He had gone to the roots of White Fang's
nature, and with kindness touched to life potencies that had
languished and well-nigh perished. One such potency was LOVE. It
took the place of LIKE, which latter had been the highest feeling
that thrilled him in his intercourse with the gods.
But this love did not come in a day. It began with LIKE and out of
it slowly developed. White Fang did not run away, though he was
allowed to remain loose, because he liked this new god. This was
certainly better than the life he had lived in the cage of Beauty
Smith, and it was necessary that he should have some god. The
lordship of man was a need of his nature. The seal of his
dependence on man had been set upon him in that early day when he
turned his back on the Wild and crawled to Grey Beaver's feet to
receive the expected beating. This seal had been stamped upon him
again, and ineradicably, on his second return from the Wild, when
the long famine was over and there was fish once more in the
village of Grey Beaver.
And so, because he needed a god and because he preferred Weedon
Scott to Beauty Smith, White Fang remained. In acknowledgment of
fealty, he proceeded to take upon himself the guardianship of his
master's property. He prowled about the cabin while the sled-dogs
slept, and the first night-visitor to the cabin fought him off with
a club until Weedon Scott came to the rescue. But White Fang soon
learned to differentiate between thieves and honest men, to
appraise the true value of step and carriage. The man who
travelled, loud-stepping, the direct line to the cabin door, he let
alone--though he watched him vigilantly until the door opened and
he received the endorsement of the master. But the man who went
softly, by circuitous ways, peering with caution, seeking after
secrecy--that was the man who received no suspension of judgment
from White Fang, and who went away abruptly, hurriedly, and without
Weedon Scott had set himself the task of redeeming White Fang--or
rather, of redeeming mankind from the wrong it had done White Fang.
It was a matter of principle and conscience. He felt that the ill
done White Fang was a debt incurred by man and that it must be
paid. So he went out of his way to be especially kind to the
Fighting Wolf. Each day he made it a point to caress and pet White
Fang, and to do it at length.
At first suspicious and hostile, White Fang grew to like this
petting. But there was one thing that he never outgrew--his
growling. Growl he would, from the moment the petting began till
it ended. But it was a growl with a new note in it. A stranger
could not hear this note, and to such a stranger the growling of
White Fang was an exhibition of primordial savagery, nerve-racking
and blood-curdling. But White Fang's throat had become harsh-
fibred from the making of ferocious sounds through the many years
since his first little rasp of anger in the lair of his cubhood,
and he could not soften the sounds of that throat now to express
the gentleness he felt. Nevertheless, Weedon Scott's ear and
sympathy were fine enough to catch the new note all but drowned in
the fierceness--the note that was the faintest hint of a croon of
content and that none but he could hear.
As the days went by, the evolution of LIKE into LOVE was
accelerated. White Fang himself began to grow aware of it, though
in his consciousness he knew not what love was. It manifested
itself to him as a void in his being--a hungry, aching, yearning
void that clamoured to be filled. It was a pain and an unrest; and
it received easement only by the touch of the new god's presence.
At such times love was joy to him, a wild, keen-thrilling
satisfaction. But when away from his god, the pain and the unrest
returned; the void in him sprang up and pressed against him with
its emptiness, and the hunger gnawed and gnawed unceasingly.
White Fang was in the process of finding himself. In spite of the
maturity of his years and of the savage rigidity of the mould that
had formed him, his nature was undergoing an expansion. There was
a burgeoning within him of strange feelings and unwonted impulses.
His old code of conduct was changing. In the past he had liked
comfort and surcease from pain, disliked discomfort and pain, and
he had adjusted his actions accordingly. But now it was different.
Because of this new feeling within him, he ofttimes elected
discomfort and pain for the sake of his god. Thus, in the early
morning, instead of roaming and foraging, or lying in a sheltered
nook, he would wait for hours on the cheerless cabin-stoop for a
sight of the god's face. At night, when the god returned home,
White Fang would leave the warm sleeping-place he had burrowed in
the snow in order to receive the friendly snap of fingers and the
word of greeting. Meat, even meat itself, he would forego to be
with his god, to receive a caress from him or to accompany him down
into the town.
LIKE had been replaced by LOVE. And love was the plummet dropped
down into the deeps of him where like had never gone. And
responsive out of his deeps had come the new thing--love. That
which was given unto him did he return. This was a god indeed, a
love-god, a warm and radiant god, in whose light White Fang's
nature expanded as a flower expands under the sun.
But White Fang was not demonstrative. He was too old, too firmly
moulded, to become adept at expressing himself in new ways. He was
too self-possessed, too strongly poised in his own isolation. Too
long had he cultivated reticence, aloofness, and moroseness. He
had never barked in his life, and he could not now learn to bark a
welcome when his god approached. He was never in the way, never
extravagant nor foolish in the expression of his love. He never
ran to meet his god. He waited at a distance; but he always
waited, was always there. His love partook of the nature of
worship, dumb, inarticulate, a silent adoration. Only by the
steady regard of his eyes did he express his love, and by the
unceasing following with his eyes of his god's every movement.
Also, at times, when his god looked at him and spoke to him, he
betrayed an awkward self-consciousness, caused by the struggle of
his love to express itself and his physical inability to express
He learned to adjust himself in many ways to his new mode of life.
It was borne in upon him that he must let his master's dogs alone.
Yet his dominant nature asserted itself, and he had first to thrash
them into an acknowledgment of his superiority and leadership.
This accomplished, he had little trouble with them. They gave
trail to him when he came and went or walked among them, and when
he asserted his will they obeyed.
In the same way, he came to tolerate Matt--as a possession of his
master. His master rarely fed him. Matt did that, it was his
business; yet White Fang divined that it was his master's food he
ate and that it was his master who thus led him vicariously. Matt
it was who tried to put him into the harness and make him haul sled
with the other dogs. But Matt failed. It was not until Weedon
Scott put the harness on White Fang and worked him, that he
understood. He took it as his master's will that Matt should drive
him and work him just as he drove and worked his master's other
Different from the Mackenzie toboggans were the Klondike sleds with
runners under them. And different was the method of driving the
dogs. There was no fan-formation of the team. The dogs worked in
single file, one behind another, hauling on double traces. And
here, in the Klondike, the leader was indeed the leader. The
wisest as well as strongest dog was the leader, and the team obeyed
him and feared him. That White Fang should quickly gain this post
was inevitable. He could not be satisfied with less, as Matt
learned after much inconvenience and trouble. White Fang picked
out the post for himself, and Matt backed his judgment with strong
language after the experiment had been tried. But, though he
worked in the sled in the day, White Fang did not forego the
guarding of his master's property in the night. Thus he was on
duty all the time, ever vigilant and faithful, the most valuable of
all the dogs.
"Makin' free to spit out what's in me," Matt said one day, "I beg
to state that you was a wise guy all right when you paid the price
you did for that dog. You clean swindled Beauty Smith on top of
pushin' his face in with your fist."
A recrudescence of anger glinted in Weedon Scott's grey eyes, and
he muttered savagely, "The beast!"
In the late spring a great trouble came to White Fang. Without
warning, the love-master disappeared. There had been warning, but
White Fang was unversed in such things and did not understand the
packing of a grip. He remembered afterwards that his packing had
preceded the master's disappearance; but at the time he suspected
nothing. That night he waited for the master to return. At
midnight the chill wind that blew drove him to shelter at the rear
of the cabin. There he drowsed, only half asleep, his ears keyed
for the first sound of the familiar step. But, at two in the
morning, his anxiety drove him out to the cold front stoop, where
he crouched, and waited.
But no master came. In the morning the door opened and Matt
stepped outside. White Fang gazed at him wistfully. There was no
common speech by which he might learn what he wanted to know. The
days came and went, but never the master. White Fang, who had
never known sickness in his life, became sick. He became very
sick, so sick that Matt was finally compelled to bring him inside
the cabin. Also, in writing to his employer, Matt devoted a
postscript to White Fang.
Weedon Scott reading the letter down in Circle City, came upon the
"That dam wolf won't work. Won't eat. Aint got no spunk left.
All the dogs is licking him. Wants to know what has become of you,
and I don't know how to tell him. Mebbe he is going to die."
It was as Matt had said. White Fang had ceased eating, lost heart,
and allowed every dog of the team to thrash him. In the cabin he
lay on the floor near the stove, without interest in food, in Matt,
nor in life. Matt might talk gently to him or swear at him, it was
all the same; he never did more than turn his dull eyes upon the
man, then drop his head back to its customary position on his fore-
And then, one night, Matt, reading to himself with moving lips and
mumbled sounds, was startled by a low whine from White Fang. He
had got upon his feet, his ears cocked towards the door, and he was
listening intently. A moment later, Matt heard a footstep. The
door opened, and Weedon Scott stepped in. The two men shook hands.
Then Scott looked around the room.
"Where's the wolf?" he asked.
Then he discovered him, standing where he had been lying, near to
the stove. He had not rushed forward after the manner of other
dogs. He stood, watching and waiting.
"Holy smoke!" Matt exclaimed. "Look at 'm wag his tail!"
Weedon Scott strode half across the room toward him, at the same
time calling him. White Fang came to him, not with a great bound,
yet quickly. He was awakened from self-consciousness, but as he
drew near, his eyes took on a strange expression. Something, an
incommunicable vastness of feeling, rose up into his eyes as a
light and shone forth.
"He never looked at me that way all the time you was gone!" Matt
Weedon Scott did not hear. He was squatting down on his heels,
face to face with White Fang and petting him--rubbing at the roots
of the ears, making long caressing strokes down the neck to the
shoulders, tapping the spine gently with the balls of his fingers.
And White Fang was growling responsively, the crooning note of the
growl more pronounced than ever.
But that was not all. What of his joy, the great love in him, ever
surging and struggling to express itself, succeeding in finding a
new mode of expression. He suddenly thrust his head forward and
nudged his way in between the master's arm and body. And here,
confined, hidden from view all except his ears, no longer growling,
he continued to nudge and snuggle.
The two men looked at each other. Scott's eyes were shining.
"Gosh!" said Matt in an awe-stricken voice.
A moment later, when he had recovered himself, he said, "I always
insisted that wolf was a dog. Look at 'm!"
With the return of the love-master, White Fang's recovery was
rapid. Two nights and a day he spent in the cabin. Then he
sallied forth. The sled-dogs had forgotten his prowess. They
remembered only the latest, which was his weakness and sickness.
At the sight of him as he came out of the cabin, they sprang upon
"Talk about your rough-houses," Matt murmured gleefully, standing
in the doorway and looking on.
"Give 'm hell, you wolf! Give 'm hell!--an' then some!"
White Fang did not need the encouragement. The return of the love-
master was enough. Life was flowing through him again, splendid
and indomitable. He fought from sheer joy, finding in it an
expression of much that he felt and that otherwise was without
speech. There could be but one ending. The team dispersed in
ignominious defeat, and it was not until after dark that the dogs
came sneaking back, one by one, by meekness and humility signifying
their fealty to White Fang.
Having learned to snuggle, White Fang was guilty of it often. It
was the final word. He could not go beyond it. The one thing of
which he had always been particularly jealous was his head. He had
always disliked to have it touched. It was the Wild in him, the
fear of hurt and of the trap, that had given rise to the panicky
impulses to avoid contacts. It was the mandate of his instinct
that that head must be free. And now, with the love-master, his
snuggling was the deliberate act of putting himself into a position
of hopeless helplessness. It was an expression of perfect
confidence, of absolute self-surrender, as though he said: "I put
myself into thy hands. Work thou thy will with me."
One night, not long after the return, Scott and Matt sat at a game
of cribbage preliminary to going to bed. "Fifteen-two, fifteen-
four an' a pair makes six," Mat was pegging up, when there was an
outcry and sound of snarling without. They looked at each other as
they started to rise to their feet.
"The wolf's nailed somebody," Matt said.
A wild scream of fear and anguish hastened them.
"Bring a light!" Scott shouted, as he sprang outside.
Matt followed with the lamp, and by its light they saw a man lying
on his back in the snow. His arms were folded, one above the
other, across his face and throat. Thus he was trying to shield
himself from White Fang's teeth. And there was need for it. White
Fang was in a rage, wickedly making his attack on the most
vulnerable spot. From shoulder to wrist of the crossed arms, the
coat-sleeve, blue flannel shirt and undershirt were ripped in rags,
while the arms themselves were terribly slashed and streaming
All this the two men saw in the first instant. The next instant
Weedon Scott had White Fang by the throat and was dragging him
clear. White Fang struggled and snarled, but made no attempt to
bite, while he quickly quieted down at a sharp word from the
Matt helped the man to his feet. As he arose he lowered his
crossed arms, exposing the bestial face of Beauty Smith. The dog-
musher let go of him precipitately, with action similar to that of
a man who has picked up live fire. Beauty Smith blinked in the
lamplight and looked about him. He caught sight of White Fang and
terror rushed into his face.
At the same moment Matt noticed two objects lying in the snow. He
held the lamp close to them, indicating them with his toe for his
employer's benefit--a steel dog-chain and a stout club.
Weedon Scott saw and nodded. Not a word was spoken. The dog-
musher laid his hand on Beauty Smith's shoulder and faced him to
the right about. No word needed to be spoken. Beauty Smith
In the meantime the love-master was patting White Fang and talking
"Tried to steal you, eh? And you wouldn't have it! Well, well, he
made a mistake, didn't he?"
"Must 'a' thought he had hold of seventeen devils," the dog-musher
White Fang, still wrought up and bristling, growled and growled,
the hair slowly lying down, the crooning note remote and dim, but
growing in his throat.
CHAPTER I--THE LONG TRAIL
It was in the air. White Fang sensed the coming calamity, even
before there was tangible evidence of it. In vague ways it was
borne in upon him that a change was impending. He knew not how nor
why, yet he got his feel of the oncoming event from the gods
themselves. In ways subtler than they knew, they betrayed their
intentions to the wolf-dog that haunted the cabin-stoop, and that,
though he never came inside the cabin, knew what went on inside
"Listen to that, will you!" the dug-musher exclaimed at supper one
Weedon Scott listened. Through the door came a low, anxious whine,
like a sobbing under the breath that had just grown audible. Then
came the long sniff, as White Fang reassured himself that his god
was still inside and had not yet taken himself off in mysterious
and solitary flight.
"I do believe that wolf's on to you," the dog-musher said.
Weedon Scott looked across at his companion with eyes that almost
pleaded, though this was given the lie by his words.
"What the devil can I do with a wolf in California?" he demanded.
"That's what I say," Matt answered. "What the devil can you do
with a wolf in California?"
But this did not satisfy Weedon Scott. The other seemed to be
judging him in a non-committal sort of way.
"White man's dogs would have no show against him," Scott went on.
"He'd kill them on sight. If he didn't bankrupt me with damaged
suits, the authorities would take him away from me and electrocute
"He's a downright murderer, I know," was the dog-musher's comment.
Weedon Scott looked at him suspiciously.
"It would never do," he said decisively.
"It would never do!" Matt concurred. "Why you'd have to hire a man
'specially to take care of 'm."
The other suspicion was allayed. He nodded cheerfully. In the
silence that followed, the low, half-sobbing whine was heard at the
door and then the long, questing sniff.
"There's no denyin' he thinks a hell of a lot of you," Matt said.
The other glared at him in sudden wrath. "Damn it all, man! I
know my own mind and what's best!"
"I'm agreein' with you, only . . . "
"Only what?" Scott snapped out.
"Only . . . " the dog-musher began softly, then changed his mind
and betrayed a rising anger of his own. "Well, you needn't get so
all-fired het up about it. Judgin' by your actions one'd think you
didn't know your own mind."
Weedon Scott debated with himself for a while, and then said more
gently: "You are right, Matt. I don't know my own mind, and
that's what's the trouble."
"Why, it would be rank ridiculousness for me to take that dog
along," he broke out after another pause.
"I'm agreein' with you," was Matt's answer, and again his employer
was not quite satisfied with him.
"But how in the name of the great Sardanapolis he knows you're
goin' is what gets me," the dog-musher continued innocently.
"It's beyond me, Matt," Scott answered, with a mournful shake of
Then came the day when, through the open cabin door, White Fang saw
the fatal grip on the floor and the love-master packing things into
it. Also, there were comings and goings, and the erstwhile placid
atmosphere of the cabin was vexed with strange perturbations and
unrest. Here was indubitable evidence. White Fang had already
scented it. He now reasoned it. His god was preparing for another
flight. And since he had not taken him with him before, so, now,
he could look to be left behind.
That night he lifted the long wolf-howl. As he had howled, in his
puppy days, when he fled back from the Wild to the village to find
it vanished and naught but a rubbish-heap to mark the site of Grey
Beaver's tepee, so now he pointed his muzzle to the cold stars and
told to them his woe.
Inside the cabin the two men had just gone to bed.
"He's gone off his food again," Matt remarked from his bunk.
There was a grunt from Weedon Scott's bunk, and a stir of blankets.
"From the way he cut up the other time you went away, I wouldn't
wonder this time but what he died."
The blankets in the other bunk stirred irritably.
"Oh, shut up!" Scott cried out through the darkness. "You nag
worse than a woman."
"I'm agreein' with you," the dog-musher answered, and Weedon Scott
was not quite sure whether or not the other had snickered.
The next day White Fang's anxiety and restlessness were even more
pronounced. He dogged his master's heels whenever he left the
cabin, and haunted the front stoop when he remained inside.
Through the open door he could catch glimpses of the luggage on the
floor. The grip had been joined by two large canvas bags and a
box. Matt was rolling the master's blankets and fur robe inside a
small tarpaulin. White Fang whined as he watched the operation.
Later on two Indians arrived. He watched them closely as they
shouldered the luggage and were led off down the hill by Matt, who
carried the bedding and the grip. But White Fang did not follow
them. The master was still in the cabin. After a time, Matt
returned. The master came to the door and called White Fang
"You poor devil," he said gently, rubbing White Fang's ears and
tapping his spine. "I'm hitting the long trail, old man, where you
cannot follow. Now give me a growl--the last, good, good-bye
But White Fang refused to growl. Instead, and after a wistful,
searching look, he snuggled in, burrowing his head out of sight
between the master's arm and body.
"There she blows!" Matt cried. From the Yukon arose the hoarse
bellowing of a river steamboat. "You've got to cut it short. Be
sure and lock the front door. I'll go out the back. Get a move
The two doors slammed at the same moment, and Weedon Scott waited
for Matt to come around to the front. From inside the door came a
low whining and sobbing. Then there were long, deep-drawn sniffs.
"You must take good care of him, Matt," Scott said, as they started
down the hill. "Write and let me know how he gets along."
"Sure," the dog-musher answered. "But listen to that, will you!"
Both men stopped. White Fang was howling as dogs howl when their
masters lie dead. He was voicing an utter woe, his cry bursting
upward in great heart-breaking rushes, dying down into quavering
misery, and bursting upward again with a rush upon rush of grief.
The Aurora was the first steamboat of the year for the Outside, and
her decks were jammed with prosperous adventurers and broken gold
seekers, all equally as mad to get to the Outside as they had been
originally to get to the Inside. Near the gang-plank, Scott was
shaking hands with Matt, who was preparing to go ashore. But
Matt's hand went limp in the other's grasp as his gaze shot past
and remained fixed on something behind him. Scott turned to see.
Sitting on the deck several feet away and watching wistfully was
The dog-musher swore softly, in awe-stricken accents. Scott could
only look in wonder.
"Did you lock the front door?" Matt demanded. The other nodded,
and asked, "How about the back?"
"You just bet I did," was the fervent reply.
White Fang flattened his ears ingratiatingly, but remained where he
was, making no attempt to approach.
"I'll have to take 'm ashore with me."
Matt made a couple of steps toward White Fang, but the latter slid
away from him. The dog-musher made a rush of it, and White Fang
dodged between the legs of a group of men. Ducking, turning,
doubling, he slid about the deck, eluding the other's efforts to
But when the love-master spoke, White Fang came to him with prompt
"Won't come to the hand that's fed 'm all these months," the dog-
musher muttered resentfully. "And you--you ain't never fed 'm
after them first days of gettin' acquainted. I'm blamed if I can
see how he works it out that you're the boss."
Scott, who had been patting White Fang, suddenly bent closer and
pointed out fresh-made cuts on his muzzle, and a gash between the
Matt bent over and passed his hand along White Fang's belly.
"We plump forgot the window. He's all cut an' gouged underneath.
Must 'a' butted clean through it, b'gosh!"
But Weedon Scott was not listening. He was thinking rapidly. The
Aurora's whistle hooted a final announcement of departure. Men
were scurrying down the gang-plank to the shore. Matt loosened the
bandana from his own neck and started to put it around White
Fang's. Scott grasped the dog-musher's hand.
"Good-bye, Matt, old man. About the wolf-you needn't write. You
see, I've . . . !"
"What!" the dog-musher exploded. "You don't mean to say . . .?"
"The very thing I mean. Here's your bandana. I'll write to you
Matt paused halfway down the gang-plank.
"He'll never stand the climate!" he shouted back. "Unless you clip
'm in warm weather!"
The gang-plank was hauled in, and the Aurora swang out from the
bank. Weedon Scott waved a last good-bye. Then he turned and bent
over White Fang, standing by his side.
"Now growl, damn you, growl," he said, as he patted the responsive
head and rubbed the flattening ears.
CHAPTER II--THE SOUTHLAND
White Fang landed from the steamer in San Francisco. He was
appalled. Deep in him, below any reasoning process or act of
consciousness, he had associated power with godhead. And never had
the white men seemed such marvellous gods as now, when he trod the
slimy pavement of San Francisco. The log cabins he had known were
replaced by towering buildings. The streets were crowded with
perils--waggons, carts, automobiles; great, straining horses
pulling huge trucks; and monstrous cable and electric ears hooting
and clanging through the midst, screeching their insistent menace
after the manner of the lynxes he had known in the northern woods.
All this was the manifestation of power. Through it all, behind it
all, was man, governing and controlling, expressing himself, as of
old, by his mastery over matter. It was colossal, stunning. White
Fang was awed. Fear sat upon him. As in his cubhood he had been
made to feel his smallness and puniness on the day he first came in
from the Wild to the village of Grey Beaver, so now, in his full-
grown stature and pride of strength, he was made to feel small and
puny. And there were so many gods! He was made dizzy by the
swarming of them. The thunder of the streets smote upon his ears.
He was bewildered by the tremendous and endless rush and movement
of things. As never before, he felt his dependence on the love-
master, close at whose heels he followed, no matter what happened
never losing sight of him.
But White Fang was to have no more than a nightmare vision of the
city--an experience that was like a bad dream, unreal and terrible,
that haunted him for long after in his dreams. He was put into a
baggage-car by the master, chained in a corner in the midst of
heaped trunks and valises. Here a squat and brawny god held sway,
with much noise, hurling trunks and boxes about, dragging them in
through the door and tossing them into the piles, or flinging them
out of the door, smashing and crashing, to other gods who awaited
And here, in this inferno of luggage, was White Fang deserted by
the master. Or at least White Fang thought he was deserted, until
he smelled out the master's canvas clothes-bags alongside of him,
and proceeded to mount guard over them.
"'Bout time you come," growled the god of the car, an hour later,
when Weedon Scott appeared at the door. "That dog of yourn won't
let me lay a finger on your stuff."
White Fang emerged from the car. He was astonished. The nightmare
city was gone. The car had been to him no more than a room in a
house, and when he had entered it the city had been all around him.
In the interval the city had disappeared. The roar of it no longer
dinned upon his ears. Before him was smiling country, streaming
with sunshine, lazy with quietude. But he had little time to
marvel at the transformation. He accepted it as he accepted all
the unaccountable doings and manifestations of the gods. It was
There was a carriage waiting. A man and a woman approached the
master. The woman's arms went out and clutched the master around
the neck--a hostile act! The next moment Weedon Scott had torn
loose from the embrace and closed with White Fang, who had become a
snarling, raging demon.
"It's all right, mother," Scott was saving as he kept tight hold of
White Fang and placated him. "He thought you were going to injure
me, and he wouldn't stand for it. It's all right. It's all right.
He'll learn soon enough."
"And in the meantime I may be permitted to love my son when his dog
is not around," she laughed, though she was pale and weak from the
She looked at White Fang, who snarled and bristled and glared
"He'll have to learn, and he shall, without postponement," Scott
He spoke softly to White Fang until he had quieted him, then his
voice became firm.
"Down, sir! Down with you!"
This had been one of the things taught him by the master, and White
Fang obeyed, though he lay down reluctantly and sullenly.
Scott opened his arms to her, but kept his eyes on White Fang.
"Down!" he warned. "Down!"
White Fang, bristling silently, half-crouching as he rose, sank
back and watched the hostile act repeated. But no harm came of it,
nor of the embrace from the strange man-god that followed. Then
the clothes-bags were taken into the carriage, the strange gods and
the love-master followed, and White Fang pursued, now running
vigilantly behind, now bristling up to the running horses and
warning them that he was there to see that no harm befell the god
they dragged so swiftly across the earth.
At the end of fifteen minutes, the carriage swung in through a
stone gateway and on between a double row of arched and interlacing
walnut trees. On either side stretched lawns, their broad sweep
broken here and there by great sturdy-limbed oaks. In the near
distance, in contrast with the young-green of the tended grass,
sunburnt hay-fields showed tan and gold; while beyond were the
tawny hills and upland pastures. From the head of the lawn, on the
first soft swell from the valley-level, looked down the deep-
porched, many-windowed house.
Little opportunity was given White Fang to see all this. Hardly
had the carriage entered the grounds, when he was set upon by a
sheep-dog, bright-eyed, sharp-muzzled, righteously indignant and
angry. It was between him and the master, cutting him off. White
Fang snarled no warning, but his hair bristled as he made his
silent and deadly rush. This rush was never completed. He halted
with awkward abruptness, with stiff fore-legs bracing himself
against his momentum, almost sitting down on his haunches, so
desirous was he of avoiding contact with the dog he was in the act
of attacking. It was a female, and the law of his kind thrust a
barrier between. For him to attack her would require nothing less
than a violation of his instinct.
But with the sheep-dog it was otherwise. Being a female, she
possessed no such instinct. On the other hand, being a sheep-dog,
her instinctive fear of the Wild, and especially of the wolf, was
unusually keen. White Fang was to her a wolf, the hereditary
marauder who had preyed upon her flocks from the time sheep were
first herded and guarded by some dim ancestor of hers. And so, as
he abandoned his rush at her and braced himself to avoid the
contact, she sprang upon him. He snarled involuntarily as he felt
her teeth in his shoulder, but beyond this made no offer to hurt
her. He backed away, stiff-legged with self-consciousness, and
tried to go around her. He dodged this way and that, and curved
and turned, but to no purpose. She remained always between him and
the way he wanted to go.
"Here, Collie!" called the strange man in the carriage.
Weedon Scott laughed.
"Never mind, father. It is good discipline. White Fang will have
to learn many things, and it's just as well that he begins now.
He'll adjust himself all right."
The carriage drove on, and still Collie blocked White Fang's way.
He tried to outrun her by leaving the drive and circling across the
lawn but she ran on the inner and smaller circle, and was always
there, facing him with her two rows of gleaming teeth. Back he
circled, across the drive to the other lawn, and again she headed
The carriage was bearing the master away. White Fang caught
glimpses of it disappearing amongst the trees. The situation was
desperate. He essayed another circle. She followed, running
swiftly. And then, suddenly, he turned upon her. It was his old
fighting trick. Shoulder to shoulder, he struck her squarely. Not
only was she overthrown. So fast had she been running that she
rolled along, now on her back, now on her side, as she struggled to
stop, clawing gravel with her feet and crying shrilly her hurt
pride and indignation.
White Fang did not wait. The way was clear, and that was all he
had wanted. She took after him, never ceasing her outcry. It was
the straightaway now, and when it came to real running, White Fang
could teach her things. She ran frantically, hysterically,
straining to the utmost, advertising the effort she was making with
every leap: and all the time White Fang slid smoothly away from
her silently, without effort, gliding like a ghost over the ground.
As he rounded the house to the porte-cochere, he came upon the
carriage. It had stopped, and the master was alighting. At this
moment, still running at top speed, White Fang became suddenly
aware of an attack from the side. It was a deer-hound rushing upon
him. White Fang tried to face it. But he was going too fast, and
the hound was too close. It struck him on the side; and such was
his forward momentum and the unexpectedness of it, White Fang was
hurled to the ground and rolled clear over. He came out of the
tangle a spectacle of malignancy, ears flattened back, lips
writhing, nose wrinkling, his teeth clipping together as the fangs
barely missed the hound's soft throat.
The master was running up, but was too far away; and it was Collie
that saved the hound's life. Before White Fang could spring in and
deliver the fatal stroke, and just as he was in the act of
springing in, Collie arrived. She had been out-manoeuvred and out-
run, to say nothing of her having been unceremoniously tumbled in
the gravel, and her arrival was like that of a tornado--made up of
offended dignity, justifiable wrath, and instinctive hatred for
this marauder from the Wild. She struck White Fang at right angles
in the midst of his spring, and again he was knocked off his feet
and rolled over.
The next moment the master arrived, and with one hand held White
Fang, while the father called off the dogs.
"I say, this is a pretty warm reception for a poor lone wolf from
the Arctic," the master said, while White Fang calmed down under
his caressing hand. "In all his life he's only been known once to
go off his feet, and here he's been rolled twice in thirty
The carriage had driven away, and other strange gods had appeared
from out the house. Some of these stood respectfully at a
distance; but two of them, women, perpetrated the hostile act of
clutching the master around the neck. White Fang, however, was
beginning to tolerate this act. No harm seemed to come of it,
while the noises the gods made were certainly not threatening.
These gods also made overtures to White Fang, but he warned them
off with a snarl, and the master did likewise with word of mouth.
At such times White Fang leaned in close against the master's legs
and received reassuring pats on the head.
The hound, under the command, "Dick! Lie down, sir!" had gone up
the steps and lain down to one side of the porch, still growling
and keeping a sullen watch on the intruder. Collie had been taken
in charge by one of the woman-gods, who held arms around her neck
and petted and caressed her; but Collie was very much perplexed and
worried, whining and restless, outraged by the permitted presence
of this wolf and confident that the gods were making a mistake.
All the gods started up the steps to enter the house. White Fang
followed closely at the master's heels. Dick, on the porch,
growled, and White Fang, on the steps, bristled and growled back.
"Take Collie inside and leave the two of them to fight it out,"
suggested Scott's father. "After that they'll be friends."
"Then White Fang, to show his friendship, will have to be chief
mourner at the funeral," laughed the master.
The elder Scott looked incredulously, first at White Fang, then at
Dick, and finally at his son.
"You mean . . .?"
Weedon nodded his head. "I mean just that. You'd have a dead Dick
inside one minute--two minutes at the farthest."
He turned to White Fang. "Come on, you wolf. It's you that'll
have to come inside."
White Fang walked stiff-legged up the steps and across the porch,
with tail rigidly erect, keeping his eyes on Dick to guard against
a flank attack, and at the same time prepared for whatever fierce
manifestation of the unknown that might pounce out upon him from
the interior of the house. But no thing of fear pounced out, and
when he had gained the inside he scouted carefully around, looking
at it and finding it not. Then he lay down with a contented grunt
at the master's feet, observing all that went on, ever ready to
spring to his feet and fight for life with the terrors he felt must
lurk under the trap-roof of the dwelling.
CHAPTER III--THE GOD'S DOMAIN
Not only was White Fang adaptable by nature, but he had travelled
much, and knew the meaning and necessity of adjustment. Here, in
Sierra Vista, which was the name of Judge Scott's place, White Fang
quickly began to make himself at home. He had no further serious
trouble with the dogs. They knew more about the ways of the
Southland gods than did he, and in their eyes he had qualified when
he accompanied the gods inside the house. Wolf that he was, and
unprecedented as it was, the gods had sanctioned his presence, and
they, the dogs of the gods, could only recognise this sanction.
Dick, perforce, had to go through a few stiff formalities at first,
after which he calmly accepted White Fang as an addition to the
premises. Had Dick had his way, they would have been good friends.
All but White Fang was averse to friendship. All he asked of other
dogs was to be let alone. His whole life he had kept aloof from
his kind, and he still desired to keep aloof. Dick's overtures
bothered him, so he snarled Dick away. In the north he had learned
the lesson that he must let the master's dogs alone, and he did not
forget that lesson now. But he insisted on his own privacy and
self-seclusion, and so thoroughly ignored Dick that that good-
natured creature finally gave him up and scarcely took as much
interest in him as in the hitching-post near the stable.
Not so with Collie. While she accepted him because it was the
mandate of the gods, that was no reason that she should leave him
in peace. Woven into her being was the memory of countless crimes
he and his had perpetrated against her ancestry. Not in a day nor
a generation were the ravaged sheepfolds to be forgotten. All this
was a spur to her, pricking her to retaliation. She could not fly
in the face of the gods who permitted him, but that did not prevent
her from making life miserable for him in petty ways. A feud, ages
old, was between them, and she, for one, would see to it that he
So Collie took advantage of her sex to pick upon White Fang and
maltreat him. His instinct would not permit him to attack her,
while her persistence would not permit him to ignore her. When she
rushed at him he turned his fur-protected shoulder to her sharp
teeth and walked away stiff-legged and stately. When she forced
him too hard, he was compelled to go about in a circle, his
shoulder presented to her, his head turned from her, and on his
face and in his eyes a patient and bored expression. Sometimes,
however, a nip on his hind-quarters hastened his retreat and made
it anything but stately. But as a rule he managed to maintain a
dignity that was almost solemnity. He ignored her existence
whenever it was possible, and made it a point to keep out of her
way. When he saw or heard her coming, he got up and walked off.
There was much in other matters for White Fang to learn. Life in
the Northland was simplicity itself when compared with the
complicated affairs of Sierra Vista. First of all, he had to learn
the family of the master. In a way he was prepared to do this. As
Mit-sah and Kloo-kooch had belonged to Grey Beaver, sharing his
food, his fire, and his blankets, so now, at Sierra Vista, belonged
to the love-master all the denizens of the house.
But in this matter there was a difference, and many differences.
Sierra Vista was a far vaster affair than the tepee of Grey Beaver.
There were many persons to be considered. There was Judge Scott,
and there was his wife. There were the master's two sisters, Beth
and Mary. There was his wife, Alice, and then there were his
children, Weedon and Maud, toddlers of four and six. There was no
way for anybody to tell him about all these people, and of blood-
ties and relationship he knew nothing whatever and never would be
capable of knowing. Yet he quickly worked it out that all of them
belonged to the master. Then, by observation, whenever opportunity
offered, by study of action, speech, and the very intonations of
the voice, he slowly learned the intimacy and the degree of favour
they enjoyed with the master. And by this ascertained standard,
White Fang treated them accordingly. What was of value to the
master he valued; what was dear to the master was to be cherished
by White Fang and guarded carefully.
Thus it was with the two children. All his life he had disliked
children. He hated and feared their hands. The lessons were not
tender that he had learned of their tyranny and cruelty in the days
of the Indian villages. When Weedon and Maud had first approached
him, he growled warningly and looked malignant. A cuff from the
master and a sharp word had then compelled him to permit their
caresses, though he growled and growled under their tiny hands, and
in the growl there was no crooning note. Later, he observed that
the boy and girl were of great value in the master's eyes. Then it
was that no cuff nor sharp word was necessary before they could pat
Yet White Fang was never effusively affectionate. He yielded to
the master's children with an ill but honest grace, and endured
their fooling as one would endure a painful operation. When he
could no longer endure, he would get up and stalk determinedly away
from them. But after a time, he grew even to like the children.
Still he was not demonstrative. He would not go up to them. On
the other hand, instead of walking away at sight of them, he waited
for them to come to him. And still later, it was noticed that a
pleased light came into his eyes when he saw them approaching, and
that he looked after them with an appearance of curious regret when
they left him for other amusements.
All this was a matter of development, and took time. Next in his
regard, after the children, was Judge Scott. There were two
reasons, possibly, for this. First, he was evidently a valuable
possession of the master's, and next, he was undemonstrative.
White Fang liked to lie at his feet on the wide porch when he read
the newspaper, from time to time favouring White Fang with a look
or a word--untroublesome tokens that he recognised White Fang's
presence and existence. But this was only when the master was not
around. When the master appeared, all other beings ceased to exist
so far as White Fang was concerned.
White Fang allowed all the members of the family to pet him and
make much of him; but he never gave to them what he gave to the
master. No caress of theirs could put the love-croon into his
throat, and, try as they would, they could never persuade him into
snuggling against them. This expression of abandon and surrender,
of absolute trust, he reserved for the master alone. In fact, he
never regarded the members of the family in any other light than
possessions of the love-master.
Also White Fang had early come to differentiate between the family
and the servants of the household. The latter were afraid of him,
while he merely refrained from attacking them. This because he
considered that they were likewise possessions of the master.
Between White Fang and them existed a neutrality and no more. They
cooked for the master and washed the dishes and did other things
just as Matt had done up in the Klondike. They were, in short,
appurtenances of the household.
Outside the household there was even more for White Fang to learn.
The master's domain was wide and complex, yet it had its metes and
bounds. The land itself ceased at the county road. Outside was
the common domain of all gods--the roads and streets. Then inside
other fences were the particular domains of other gods. A myriad
laws governed all these things and determined conduct; yet he did
not know the speech of the gods, nor was there any way for him to
learn save by experience. He obeyed his natural impulses until
they ran him counter to some law. When this had been done a few
times, he learned the law and after that observed it.
But most potent in his education was the cuff of the master's hand,
the censure of the master's voice. Because of White Fang's very
great love, a cuff from the master hurt him far more than any
beating Grey Beaver or Beauty Smith had ever given him. They had
hurt only the flesh of him; beneath the flesh the spirit had still
raged, splendid and invincible. But with the master the cuff was
always too light to hurt the flesh. Yet it went deeper. It was an
expression of the master's disapproval, and White Fang's spirit
wilted under it.
In point of fact, the cuff was rarely administered. The master's
voice was sufficient. By it White Fang knew whether he did right
or not. By it he trimmed his conduct and adjusted his actions. It
was the compass by which he steered and learned to chart the
manners of a new land and life.
In the Northland, the only domesticated animal was the dog. All
other animals lived in the Wild, and were, when not too formidable,
lawful spoil for any dog. All his days White Fang had foraged
among the live things for food. It did not enter his head that in
the Southland it was otherwise. But this he was to learn early in
his residence in Santa Clara Valley. Sauntering around the corner
of the house in the early morning, he came upon a chicken that had
escaped from the chicken-yard. White Fang's natural impulse was to
eat it. A couple of bounds, a flash of teeth and a frightened
squawk, and he had scooped in the adventurous fowl. It was farm-
bred and fat and tender; and White Fang licked his chops and
decided that such fare was good.
Later in the day, he chanced upon another stray chicken near the
stables. One of the grooms ran to the rescue. He did not know
White Fang's breed, so for weapon he took a light buggy-whip. At
the first cut of the whip, White Fang left the chicken for the man.
A club might have stopped White Fang, but not a whip. Silently,
without flinching, he took a second cut in his forward rush, and as
he leaped for the throat the groom cried out, "My God!" and
staggered backward. He dropped the whip and shielded his throat
with his arms. In consequence, his forearm was ripped open to the
The man was badly frightened. It was not so much White Fang's
ferocity as it was his silence that unnerved the groom. Still
protecting his throat and face with his torn and bleeding arm, he
tried to retreat to the barn. And it would have gone hard with him
had not Collie appeared on the scene. As she had saved Dick's
life, she now saved the groom's. She rushed upon White Fang in
frenzied wrath. She had been right. She had known better than the
blundering gods. All her suspicions were justified. Here was the
ancient marauder up to his old tricks again.
The groom escaped into the stables, and White Fang backed away
before Collie's wicked teeth, or presented his shoulder to them and
circled round and round. But Collie did not give over, as was her
wont, after a decent interval of chastisement. On the contrary,
she grew more excited and angry every moment, until, in the end,
White Fang flung dignity to the winds and frankly fled away from
her across the fields.
"He'll learn to leave chickens alone," the master said. "But I
can't give him the lesson until I catch him in the act."
Two nights later came the act, but on a more generous scale than
the master had anticipated. White Fang had observed closely the
chicken-yards and the habits of the chickens. In the night-time,
after they had gone to roost, he climbed to the top of a pile of
newly hauled lumber. From there he gained the roof of a chicken-
house, passed over the ridgepole and dropped to the ground inside.
A moment later he was inside the house, and the slaughter began.
In the morning, when the master came out on to the porch, fifty
white Leghorn hens, laid out in a row by the groom, greeted his
eyes. He whistled to himself, softly, first with surprise, and
then, at the end, with admiration. His eyes were likewise greeted
by White Fang, but about the latter there were no signs of shame
nor guilt. He carried himself with pride, as though, forsooth, he
had achieved a deed praiseworthy and meritorious. There was about
him no consciousness of sin. The master's lips tightened as he
faced the disagreeable task. Then he talked harshly to the
unwitting culprit, and in his voice there was nothing but godlike
wrath. Also, he held White Fang's nose down to the slain hens, and
at the same time cuffed him soundly.
White Fang never raided a chicken-roost again. It was against the
law, and he had learned it. Then the master took him into the
chicken-yards. White Fang's natural impulse, when he saw the live
food fluttering about him and under his very nose, was to spring
upon it. He obeyed the impulse, but was checked by the master's
voice. They continued in the yards for half an hour. Time and
again the impulse surged over White Fang, and each time, as he
yielded to it, he was checked by the master's voice. Thus it was
he learned the law, and ere he left the domain of the chickens, he
had learned to ignore their existence.
"You can never cure a chicken-killer." Judge Scott shook his head
sadly at luncheon table, when his son narrated the lesson he had
given White Fang. "Once they've got the habit and the taste of
blood . . ." Again he shook his head sadly.
But Weedon Scott did not agree with his father. "I'll tell you
what I'll do," he challenged finally. "I'll lock White Fang in
with the chickens all afternoon."
"But think of the chickens," objected the judge.
"And furthermore," the son went on, "for every chicken he kills,
I'll pay you one dollar gold coin of the realm."
"But you should penalise father, too," interpose Beth.
Her sister seconded her, and a chorus of approval arose from around
the table. Judge Scott nodded his head in agreement.
"All right." Weedon Scott pondered for a moment. "And if, at the
end of the afternoon White Fang hasn't harmed a chicken, for every
ten minutes of the time he has spent in the yard, you will have to
say to him, gravely and with deliberation, just as if you were
sitting on the bench and solemnly passing judgment, 'White Fang,
you are smarter than I thought.'"
From hidden points of vantage the family watched the performance.
But it was a fizzle. Locked in the yard and there deserted by the
master, White Fang lay down and went to sleep. Once he got up and
walked over to the trough for a drink of water. The chickens he
calmly ignored. So far as he was concerned they did not exist. At
four o'clock he executed a running jump, gained the roof of the
chicken-house and leaped to the ground outside, whence he sauntered
gravely to the house. He had learned the law. And on the porch,
before the delighted family, Judge Scott, face to face with White
Fang, said slowly and solemnly, sixteen times, "White Fang, you are
smarter than I thought."
But it was the multiplicity of laws that befuddled White Fang and
often brought him into disgrace. He had to learn that he must not
touch the chickens that belonged to other gods. Then there were
cats, and rabbits, and turkeys; all these he must let alone. In
fact, when he had but partly learned the law, his impression was
that he must leave all live things alone. Out in the back-pasture,
a quail could flutter up under his nose unharmed. All tense and
trembling with eagerness and desire, he mastered his instinct and
stood still. He was obeying the will of the gods.
And then, one day, again out in the back-pasture, he saw Dick start
a jackrabbit and run it. The master himself was looking on and did
not interfere. Nay, he encouraged White Fang to join in the chase.
And thus he learned that there was no taboo on jackrabbits. In the
end he worked out the complete law. Between him and all domestic
animals there must be no hostilities. If not amity, at least
neutrality must obtain. But the other animals--the squirrels, and
quail, and cottontails, were creatures of the Wild who had never
yielded allegiance to man. They were the lawful prey of any dog.
It was only the tame that the gods protected, and between the tame
deadly strife was not permitted. The gods held the power of life
and death over their subjects, and the gods were jealous of their
Life was complex in the Santa Clara Valley after the simplicities
of the Northland. And the chief thing demanded by these
intricacies of civilisation was control, restraint--a poise of self
that was as delicate as the fluttering of gossamer wings and at the
same time as rigid as steel. Life had a thousand faces, and White
Fang found he must meet them all--thus, when he went to town, in to
San Jose, running behind the carriage or loafing about the streets
when the carriage stopped. Life flowed past him, deep and wide and
varied, continually impinging upon his senses, demanding of him
instant and endless adjustments and correspondences, and compelling
him, almost always, to suppress his natural impulses.
There were butcher-shops where meat hung within reach. This meat
he must not touch. There were cats at the houses the master
visited that must be let alone. And there were dogs everywhere
that snarled at him and that he must not attack. And then, on the
crowded sidewalks there were persons innumerable whose attention he
attracted. They would stop and look at him, point him out to one
another, examine him, talk of him, and, worst of all, pat him. And
these perilous contacts from all these strange hands he must
endure. Yet this endurance he achieved. Furthermore, he got over
being awkward and self-conscious. In a lofty way he received the
attentions of the multitudes of strange gods. With condescension
he accepted their condescension. On the other hand, there was
something about him that prevented great familiarity. They patted
him on the head and passed on, contented and pleased with their own
But it was not all easy for White Fang. Running behind the
carriage in the outskirts of San Jose, he encountered certain small
boys who made a practice of flinging stones at him. Yet he knew
that it was not permitted him to pursue and drag them down. Here
he was compelled to violate his instinct of self-preservation, and
violate it he did, for he was becoming tame and qualifying himself
Nevertheless, White Fang was not quite satisfied with the
arrangement. He had no abstract ideas about justice and fair play.
But there is a certain sense of equity that resides in life, and it
was this sense in him that resented the unfairness of his being
permitted no defence against the stone-throwers. He forgot that in
the covenant entered into between him and the gods they were
pledged to care for him and defend him. But one day the master
sprang from the carriage, whip in hand, and gave the stone-throwers
a thrashing. After that they threw stones no more, and White Fang
understood and was satisfied.
One other experience of similar nature was his. On the way to
town, hanging around the saloon at the cross-roads, were three dogs
that made a practice of rushing out upon him when he went by.
Knowing his deadly method of fighting, the master had never ceased
impressing upon White Fang the law that he must not fight. As a
result, having learned the lesson well, White Fang was hard put
whenever he passed the cross-roads saloon. After the first rush,
each time, his snarl kept the three dogs at a distance but they
trailed along behind, yelping and bickering and insulting him.
This endured for some time. The men at the saloon even urged the
dogs on to attack White Fang. One day they openly sicked the dogs
on him. The master stopped the carriage.
"Go to it," he said to White Fang.
But White Fang could not believe. He looked at the master, and he
looked at the dogs. Then he looked back eagerly and questioningly
at the master.
The master nodded his head. "Go to them, old fellow. Eat them
White Fang no longer hesitated. He turned and leaped silently
among his enemies. All three faced him. There was a great
snarling and growling, a clashing of teeth and a flurry of bodies.
The dust of the road arose in a cloud and screened the battle. But
at the end of several minutes two dogs were struggling in the dirt
and the third was in full flight. He leaped a ditch, went through
a rail fence, and fled across a field. White Fang followed,
sliding over the ground in wolf fashion and with wolf speed,
swiftly and without noise, and in the centre of the field he
dragged down and slew the dog.
With this triple killing his main troubles with dogs ceased. The
word went up and down the valley, and men saw to it that their dogs
did not molest the Fighting Wolf.
CHAPTER IV--THE CALL OF KIND
The months came and went. There was plenty of food and no work in
the Southland, and White Fang lived fat and prosperous and happy.
Not alone was he in the geographical Southland, for he was in the
Southland of life. Human kindness was like a sun shining upon him,
and he flourished like a flower planted in good soil.
And yet he remained somehow different from other dogs. He knew the
law even better than did the dogs that had known no other life, and
he observed the law more punctiliously; but still there was about
him a suggestion of lurking ferocity, as though the Wild still
lingered in him and the wolf in him merely slept.
He never chummed with other dogs. Lonely he had lived, so far as
his kind was concerned, and lonely he would continue to live. In
his puppyhood, under the persecution of Lip-lip and the puppy-pack,
and in his fighting days with Beauty Smith, he had acquired a fixed
aversion for dogs. The natural course of his life had been
diverted, and, recoiling from his kind, he had clung to the human.
Besides, all Southland dogs looked upon him with suspicion. He
aroused in them their instinctive fear of the Wild, and they
greeted him always with snarl and growl and belligerent hatred.
He, on the other hand, learned that it was not necessary to use his
teeth upon them. His naked fangs and writhing lips were uniformly
efficacious, rarely failing to send a bellowing on-rushing dog back
on its haunches.
But there was one trial in White Fang's life--Collie. She never
gave him a moment's peace. She was not so amenable to the law as
he. She defied all efforts of the master to make her become
friends with White Fang. Ever in his ears was sounding her sharp
and nervous snarl. She had never forgiven him the chicken-killing
episode, and persistently held to the belief that his intentions
were bad. She found him guilty before the act, and treated him
accordingly. She became a pest to him, like a policeman following
him around the stable and the hounds, and, if he even so much as
glanced curiously at a pigeon or chicken, bursting into an outcry
of indignation and wrath. His favourite way of ignoring her was to
lie down, with his head on his fore-paws, and pretend sleep. This
always dumfounded and silenced her.
With the exception of Collie, all things went well with White Fang.
He had learned control and poise, and he knew the law. He achieved
a staidness, and calmness, and philosophic tolerance. He no longer
lived in a hostile environment. Danger and hurt and death did not
lurk everywhere about him. In time, the unknown, as a thing of
terror and menace ever impending, faded away. Life was soft and
easy. It flowed along smoothly, and neither fear nor foe lurked by
He missed the snow without being aware of it. "An unduly long
summer," would have been his thought had he thought about it; as it
was, he merely missed the snow in a vague, subconscious way. In
the same fashion, especially in the heat of summer when he suffered
from the sun, he experienced faint longings for the Northland.
Their only effect upon him, however, was to make him uneasy and
restless without his knowing what was the matter.
White Fang had never been very demonstrative. Beyond his snuggling
and the throwing of a crooning note into his love-growl, he had no
way of expressing his love. Yet it was given him to discover a
third way. He had always been susceptible to the laughter of the
gods. Laughter had affected him with madness, made him frantic
with rage. But he did not have it in him to be angry with the
love-master, and when that god elected to laugh at him in a good-
natured, bantering way, he was nonplussed. He could feel the
pricking and stinging of the old anger as it strove to rise up in
him, but it strove against love. He could not be angry; yet he had
to do something. At first he was dignified, and the master laughed
the harder. Then he tried to be more dignified, and the master
laughed harder than before. In the end, the master laughed him out
of his dignity. His jaws slightly parted, his lips lifted a
little, and a quizzical expression that was more love than humour
came into his eyes. He had learned to laugh.
Likewise he learned to romp with the master, to be tumbled down and
rolled over, and be the victim of innumerable rough tricks. In
return he feigned anger, bristling and growling ferociously, and
clipping his teeth together in snaps that had all the seeming of
deadly intention. But he never forgot himself. Those snaps were
always delivered on the empty air. At the end of such a romp, when
blow and cuff and snap and snarl were last and furious, they would
break off suddenly and stand several feet apart, glaring at each
other. And then, just as suddenly, like the sun rising on a stormy
sea, they would begin to laugh. This would always culminate with
the master's arms going around White Fang's neck and shoulders
while the latter crooned and growled his love-song.
But nobody else ever romped with White Fang. He did not permit it.
He stood on his dignity, and when they attempted it, his warning
snarl and bristling mane were anything but playful. That he
allowed the master these liberties was no reason that he should be
a common dog, loving here and loving there, everybody's property
for a romp and good time. He loved with single heart and refused
to cheapen himself or his love.
The master went out on horseback a great deal, and to accompany him
was one of White Fang's chief duties in life. In the Northland he
had evidenced his fealty by toiling in the harness; but there were
no sleds in the Southland, nor did dogs pack burdens on their
backs. So he rendered fealty in the new way, by running with the
master's horse. The longest day never played White Fang out. His
was the gait of the wolf, smooth, tireless and effortless, and at
the end of fifty miles he would come in jauntily ahead of the
It was in connection with the riding, that White Fang achieved one
other mode of expression--remarkable in that he did it but twice in
all his life. The first time occurred when the master was trying
to teach a spirited thoroughbred the method of opening and closing
gates without the rider's dismounting. Time and again and many
times he ranged the horse up to the gate in the effort to close it
and each time the horse became frightened and backed and plunged
away. It grew more nervous and excited every moment. When it
reared, the master put the spurs to it and made it drop its fore-
legs back to earth, whereupon it would begin kicking with its hind-
legs. White Fang watched the performance with increasing anxiety
until he could contain himself no longer, when he sprang in front
of the horse and barked savagely and warningly.
Though he often tried to bark thereafter, and the master encouraged
him, he succeeded only once, and then it was not in the master's
presence. A scamper across the pasture, a jackrabbit rising
suddenly under the horse's feet, a violent sheer, a stumble, a fall
to earth, and a broken leg for the master, was the cause of it.
White Fang sprang in a rage at the throat of the offending horse,
but was checked by the master's voice.
"Home! Go home!" the master commanded when he had ascertained his
White Fang was disinclined to desert him. The master thought of
writing a note, but searched his pockets vainly for pencil and
paper. Again he commanded White Fang to go home.
The latter regarded him wistfully, started away, then returned and
whined softly. The master talked to him gently but seriously, and
he cocked his ears, and listened with painful intentness.
"That's all right, old fellow, you just run along home," ran the
talk. "Go on home and tell them what's happened to me. Home with
you, you wolf. Get along home!"
White Fang knew the meaning of "home," and though he did not
understand the remainder of the master's language, he knew it was
his will that he should go home. He turned and trotted reluctantly
away. Then he stopped, undecided, and looked back over his
"Go home!" came the sharp command, and this time he obeyed.
The family was on the porch, taking the cool of the afternoon, when
White Fang arrived. He came in among them, panting, covered with
"Weedon's back," Weedon's mother announced.
The children welcomed White Fang with glad cries and ran to meet
him. He avoided them and passed down the porch, but they cornered
him against a rocking-chair and the railing. He growled and tried
to push by them. Their mother looked apprehensively in their
"I confess, he makes me nervous around the children," she said. "I
have a dread that he will turn upon them unexpectedly some day."
Growling savagely, White Fang sprang out of the corner, overturning
the boy and the girl. The mother called them to her and comforted
them, telling them not to bother White Fang.
"A wolf is a wolf!" commented Judge Scott. "There is no trusting
"But he is not all wolf," interposed Beth, standing for her brother
in his absence.
"You have only Weedon's opinion for that," rejoined the judge. "He
merely surmises that there is some strain of dog in White Fang; but
as he will tell you himself, he knows nothing about it. As for his
He did not finish his sentence. White Fang stood before him,
"Go away! Lie down, sir!" Judge Scott commanded.
White Fang turned to the love-master's wife. She screamed with
fright as he seized her dress in his teeth and dragged on it till
the frail fabric tore away. By this time he had become the centre
He had ceased from his growling and stood, head up, looking into
their faces. His throat worked spasmodically, but made no sound,
while he struggled with all his body, convulsed with the effort to
rid himself of the incommunicable something that strained for
"I hope he is not going mad," said Weedon's mother. "I told Weedon
that I was afraid the warm climate would not agree with an Arctic
"He's trying to speak, I do believe," Beth announced.
At this moment speech came to White Fang, rushing up in a great
burst of barking.
"Something has happened to Weedon," his wife said decisively.
They were all on their feet now, and White Fang ran down the steps,
looking back for them to follow. For the second and last time in
his life he had barked and made himself understood.
After this event he found a warmer place in the hearts of the
Sierra Vista people, and even the groom whose arm he had slashed
admitted that he was a wise dog even if he was a wolf. Judge Scott
still held to the same opinion, and proved it to everybody's
dissatisfaction by measurements and descriptions taken from the
encyclopaedia and various works on natural history.
The days came and went, streaming their unbroken sunshine over the
Santa Clara Valley. But as they grew shorter and White Fang's
second winter in the Southland came on, he made a strange
discovery. Collie's teeth were no longer sharp. There was a
playfulness about her nips and a gentleness that prevented them
from really hurting him. He forgot that she had made life a burden
to him, and when she disported herself around him he responded
solemnly, striving to be playful and becoming no more than
One day she led him off on a long chase through the back-pasture
land into the woods. It was the afternoon that the master was to
ride, and White Fang knew it. The horse stood saddled and waiting
at the door. White Fang hesitated. But there was that in him
deeper than all the law he had learned, than the customs that had
moulded him, than his love for the master, than the very will to
live of himself; and when, in the moment of his indecision, Collie
nipped him and scampered off, he turned and followed after. The
master rode alone that day; and in the woods, side by side, White
Fang ran with Collie, as his mother, Kiche, and old One Eye had run
long years before in the silent Northland forest.
CHAPTER V--THE SLEEPING WOLF
It was about this time that the newspapers were full of the daring
escape of a convict from San Quentin prison. He was a ferocious
man. He had been ill-made in the making. He had not been born
right, and he had not been helped any by the moulding he had
received at the hands of society. The hands of society are harsh,
and this man was a striking sample of its handiwork. He was a
beast--a human beast, it is true, but nevertheless so terrible a
beast that he can best be characterised as carnivorous.
In San Quentin prison he had proved incorrigible. Punishment
failed to break his spirit. He could die dumb-mad and fighting to
the last, but he could not live and be beaten. The more fiercely
he fought, the more harshly society handled him, and the only
effect of harshness was to make him fiercer. Straight-jackets,
starvation, and beatings and clubbings were the wrong treatment for
Jim Hall; but it was the treatment he received. It was the
treatment he had received from the time he was a little pulpy boy
in a San Francisco slum--soft clay in the hands of society and
ready to be formed into something.
It was during Jim Hall's third term in prison that he encountered a
guard that was almost as great a beast as he. The guard treated
him unfairly, lied about him to the warden, lost his credits,
persecuted him. The difference between them was that the guard
carried a bunch of keys and a revolver. Jim Hall had only his
naked hands and his teeth. But he sprang upon the guard one day
and used his teeth on the other's throat just like any jungle
After this, Jim Hall went to live in the incorrigible cell. He
lived there three years. The cell was of iron, the floor, the
walls, the roof. He never left this cell. He never saw the sky
nor the sunshine. Day was a twilight and night was a black
silence. He was in an iron tomb, buried alive. He saw no human
face, spoke to no human thing. When his food was shoved in to him,
he growled like a wild animal. He hated all things. For days and
nights he bellowed his rage at the universe. For weeks and months
he never made a sound, in the black silence eating his very soul.
He was a man and a monstrosity, as fearful a thing of fear as ever
gibbered in the visions of a maddened brain.
And then, one night, he escaped. The warders said it was
impossible, but nevertheless the cell was empty, and half in half
out of it lay the body of a dead guard. Two other dead guards
marked his trail through the prison to the outer walls, and he had
killed with his hands to avoid noise.
He was armed with the weapons of the slain guards--a live arsenal
that fled through the hills pursued by the organised might of
society. A heavy price of gold was upon his head. Avaricious
farmers hunted him with shot-guns. His blood might pay off a
mortgage or send a son to college. Public-spirited citizens took
down their rifles and went out after him. A pack of bloodhounds
followed the way of his bleeding feet. And the sleuth-hounds of
the law, the paid fighting animals of society, with telephone, and
telegraph, and special train, clung to his trail night and day.
Sometimes they came upon him, and men faced him like heroes, or
stampeded through barbed-wire fences to the delight of the
commonwealth reading the account at the breakfast table. It was
after such encounters that the dead and wounded were carted back to
the towns, and their places filled by men eager for the man-hunt.
And then Jim Hall disappeared. The bloodhounds vainly quested on
the lost trail. Inoffensive ranchers in remote valleys were held
up by armed men and compelled to identify themselves. While the
remains of Jim Hall were discovered on a dozen mountain-sides by
greedy claimants for blood-money.
In the meantime the newspapers were read at Sierra Vista, not so
much with interest as with anxiety. The women were afraid. Judge
Scott pooh-poohed and laughed, but not with reason, for it was in
his last days on the bench that Jim Hall had stood before him and
received sentence. And in open court-room, before all men, Jim
Hall had proclaimed that the day would come when he would wreak
vengeance on the Judge that sentenced him.
For once, Jim Hall was right. He was innocent of the crime for
which he was sentenced. It was a case, in the parlance of thieves
and police, of "rail-roading." Jim Hall was being "rail-roaded" to
prison for a crime he had not committed. Because of the two prior
convictions against him, Judge Scott imposed upon him a sentence of
Judge Scott did not know all things, and he did not know that he
was party to a police conspiracy, that the evidence was hatched and
perjured, that Jim Hall was guiltless of the crime charged. And
Jim Hall, on the other hand, did not know that Judge Scott was
merely ignorant. Jim Hall believed that the judge knew all about
it and was hand in glove with the police in the perpetration of the
monstrous injustice. So it was, when the doom of fifty years of
living death was uttered by Judge Scott, that Jim Hall, hating all
things in the society that misused him, rose up and raged in the
court-room until dragged down by half a dozen of his blue-coated
enemies. To him, Judge Scott was the keystone in the arch of
injustice, and upon Judge Scott he emptied the vials of his wrath
and hurled the threats of his revenge yet to come. Then Jim Hall
went to his living death . . . and escaped.
Of all this White Fang knew nothing. But between him and Alice,
the master's wife, there existed a secret. Each night, after
Sierra Vista had gone to bed, she rose and let in White Fang to
sleep in the big hall. Now White Fang was not a house-dog, nor was
he permitted to sleep in the house; so each morning, early, she
slipped down and let him out before the family was awake.
On one such night, while all the house slept, White Fang awoke and
lay very quietly. And very quietly he smelled the air and read the
message it bore of a strange god's presence. And to his ears came
sounds of the strange god's movements. White Fang burst into no
furious outcry. It was not his way. The strange god walked
softly, but more softly walked White Fang, for he had no clothes to
rub against the flesh of his body. He followed silently. In the
Wild he had hunted live meat that was infinitely timid, and he knew
the advantage of surprise.
The strange god paused at the foot of the great staircase and
listened, and White Fang was as dead, so without movement was he as
he watched and waited. Up that staircase the way led to the love-
master and to the love-master's dearest possessions. White Fang
bristled, but waited. The strange god's foot lifted. He was
beginning the ascent.
Then it was that White Fang struck. He gave no warning, with no
snarl anticipated his own action. Into the air he lifted his body
in the spring that landed him on the strange god's back. White
Fang clung with his fore-paws to the man's shoulders, at the same
time burying his fangs into the back of the man's neck. He clung
on for a moment, long enough to drag the god over backward.
Together they crashed to the floor. White Fang leaped clear, and,
as the man struggled to rise, was in again with the slashing fangs.
Sierra Vista awoke in alarm. The noise from downstairs was as that
of a score of battling fiends. There were revolver shots. A man's
voice screamed once in horror and anguish. There was a great
snarling and growling, and over all arose a smashing and crashing
of furniture and glass.
But almost as quickly as it had arisen, the commotion died away.
The struggle had not lasted more than three minutes. The
frightened household clustered at the top of the stairway. From
below, as from out an abyss of blackness, came up a gurgling sound,
as of air bubbling through water. Sometimes this gurgle became
sibilant, almost a whistle. But this, too, quickly died down and
ceased. Then naught came up out of the blackness save a heavy
panting of some creature struggling sorely for air.
Weedon Scott pressed a button, and the staircase and downstairs
hall were flooded with light. Then he and Judge Scott, revolvers
in hand, cautiously descended. There was no need for this caution.
White Fang had done his work. In the midst of the wreckage of
overthrown and smashed furniture, partly on his side, his face
hidden by an arm, lay a man. Weedon Scott bent over, removed the
arm and turned the man's face upward. A gaping throat explained
the manner of his death.
"Jim Hall," said Judge Scott, and father and son looked
significantly at each other.
Then they turned to White Fang. He, too, was lying on his side.
His eyes were closed, but the lids slightly lifted in an effort to
look at them as they bent over him, and the tail was perceptibly
agitated in a vain effort to wag. Weedon Scott patted him, and his
throat rumbled an acknowledging growl. But it was a weak growl at
best, and it quickly ceased. His eyelids drooped and went shut,
and his whole body seemed to relax and flatten out upon the floor.
"He's all in, poor devil," muttered the master.
"We'll see about that," asserted the Judge, as he started for the
"Frankly, he has one chance in a thousand," announced the surgeon,
after he had worked an hour and a half on White Fang.
Dawn was breaking through the windows and dimming the electric
lights. With the exception of the children, the whole family was
gathered about the surgeon to hear his verdict.
"One broken hind-leg," he went on. "Three broken ribs, one at
least of which has pierced the lungs. He has lost nearly all the
blood in his body. There is a large likelihood of internal
injuries. He must have been jumped upon. To say nothing of three
bullet holes clear through him. One chance in a thousand is really
optimistic. He hasn't a chance in ten thousand."
"But he mustn't lose any chance that might be of help to him,"
Judge Scott exclaimed. "Never mind expense. Put him under the X-
ray--anything. Weedon, telegraph at once to San Francisco for
Doctor Nichols. No reflection on you, doctor, you understand; but
he must have the advantage of every chance."
The surgeon smiled indulgently. "Of course I understand. He
deserves all that can be done for him. He must be nursed as you
would nurse a human being, a sick child. And don't forget what I
told you about temperature. I'll be back at ten o'clock again."
White Fang received the nursing. Judge Scott's suggestion of a
trained nurse was indignantly clamoured down by the girls, who
themselves undertook the task. And White Fang won out on the one
chance in ten thousand denied him by the surgeon.
The latter was not to be censured for his misjudgment. All his
life he had tended and operated on the soft humans of civilisation,
who lived sheltered lives and had descended out of many sheltered
generations. Compared with White Fang, they were frail and flabby,
and clutched life without any strength in their grip. White Fang
had come straight from the Wild, where the weak perish early and
shelter is vouchsafed to none. In neither his father nor his
mother was there any weakness, nor in the generations before them.
A constitution of iron and the vitality of the Wild were White
Fang's inheritance, and he clung to life, the whole of him and
every part of him, in spirit and in flesh, with the tenacity that
of old belonged to all creatures.
Bound down a prisoner, denied even movement by the plaster casts
and bandages, White Fang lingered out the weeks. He slept long
hours and dreamed much, and through his mind passed an unending
pageant of Northland visions. All the ghosts of the past arose and
were with him. Once again he lived in the lair with Kiche, crept
trembling to the knees of Grey Beaver to tender his allegiance, ran
for his life before Lip-lip and all the howling bedlam of the
He ran again through the silence, hunting his living food through
the months of famine; and again he ran at the head of the team, the
gut-whips of Mit-sah and Grey Beaver snapping behind, their voices
crying "Ra! Raa!" when they came to a narrow passage and the team
closed together like a fan to go through. He lived again all his
days with Beauty Smith and the fights he had fought. At such times
he whimpered and snarled in his sleep, and they that looked on said
that his dreams were bad.
But there was one particular nightmare from which he suffered--the
clanking, clanging monsters of electric cars that were to him
colossal screaming lynxes. He would lie in a screen of bushes,
watching for a squirrel to venture far enough out on the ground
from its tree-refuge. Then, when he sprang out upon it, it would
transform itself into an electric car, menacing and terrible,
towering over him like a mountain, screaming and clanging and
spitting fire at him. It was the same when he challenged the hawk
down out of the sky. Down out of the blue it would rush, as it
dropped upon him changing itself into the ubiquitous electric car.
Or again, he would be in the pen of Beauty Smith. Outside the pen,
men would be gathering, and he knew that a fight was on. He
watched the door for his antagonist to enter. The door would open,
and thrust in upon him would come the awful electric car. A
thousand times this occurred, and each time the terror it inspired
was as vivid and great as ever.
Then came the day when the last bandage and the last plaster cast
were taken off. It was a gala day. All Sierra Vista was gathered
around. The master rubbed his ears, and he crooned his love-growl.
The master's wife called him the "Blessed Wolf," which name was
taken up with acclaim and all the women called him the Blessed
He tried to rise to his feet, and after several attempts fell down
from weakness. He had lain so long that his muscles had lost their
cunning, and all the strength had gone out of them. He felt a
little shame because of his weakness, as though, forsooth, he were
failing the gods in the service he owed them. Because of this he
made heroic efforts to arise and at last he stood on his four legs,
tottering and swaying back and forth.
"The Blessed Wolf!" chorused the women.
Judge Scott surveyed them triumphantly.
"Out of your own mouths be it," he said. "Just as I contended
right along. No mere dog could have done what he did. He's a
"A Blessed Wolf," amended the Judge's wife.
"Yes, Blessed Wolf," agreed the Judge. "And henceforth that shall
be my name for him."
"He'll have to learn to walk again," said the surgeon; "so he might
as well start in right now. It won't hurt him. Take him outside."
And outside he went, like a king, with all Sierra Vista about him
and tending on him. He was very weak, and when he reached the lawn
he lay down and rested for a while.
Then the procession started on, little spurts of strength coming
into White Fang's muscles as he used them and the blood began to
surge through them. The stables were reached, and there in the
doorway, lay Collie, a half-dozen pudgy puppies playing about her
in the sun.
White Fang looked on with a wondering eye. Collie snarled
warningly at him, and he was careful to keep his distance. The
master with his toe helped one sprawling puppy toward him. He
bristled suspiciously, but the master warned him that all was well.
Collie, clasped in the arms of one of the women, watched him
jealously and with a snarl warned him that all was not well.
The puppy sprawled in front of him. He cocked his ears and watched
it curiously. Then their noses touched, and he felt the warm
little tongue of the puppy on his jowl. White Fang's tongue went
out, he knew not why, and he licked the puppy's face.
Hand-clapping and pleased cries from the gods greeted the
performance. He was surprised, and looked at them in a puzzled
way. Then his weakness asserted itself, and he lay down, his ears
cocked, his head on one side, as he watched the puppy. The other
puppies came sprawling toward him, to Collie's great disgust; and
he gravely permitted them to clamber and tumble over him. At
first, amid the applause of the gods, he betrayed a trifle of his
old self-consciousness and awkwardness. This passed away as the
puppies' antics and mauling continued, and he lay with half-shut
patient eyes, drowsing in the sun.