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White Fang

The Hunger Cry
The day began auspiciously. They had lost no dogs during the night, and they swung out
upon the trail and into the silence, the darkness, and the cold with spirits that were fairly
light. Bill seemed to have forgotten his forebodings of the previous night, and even
waxed facetious with the dogs when, at midday, they overturned the sled on a bad piece
of trail.
It was an awkward mix-up. The sled was upside down and jammed between a tree-trunk
and a huge rock, and they were forced to unharness the dogs in order to straighten out the
tangle. The two men were bent over the sled and trying to right it, when Henry observed
One Ear sidling away.
"Here, you, One Ear!" he cried, straightening up and turning around on the dog.
But One Ear broke into a run across the snow, his traces trailing behind him. And there,
out in the snow of their back track, was the she-wolf waiting for him. As he neared her,
he became suddenly cautious. He slowed down to an alert and mincing walk and then
stopped. He regarded her carefully and dubiously, yet desirefully. She seemed to smile at
him, showing her teeth in an ingratiating rather than a menacing way. She moved toward
him a few steps, playfully, and then halted. One Ear drew near to her, still alert and
cautious, his tail and ears in the air, his head held high.
He tried to sniff noses with her, but she retreated playfully and coyly. Every advance on
his part was accompanied by a corresponding retreat on her part. Step by step she was
luring him away from the security of his human companionship. Once, as though a
warning had in vague ways flitted through his intelligence, he turned his head and looked
back at the overturned sled, at his team-mates, and at the two men who were calling to
him.
But whatever idea was forming in his mind, was dissipated by the she-wolf, who
advanced upon him, sniffed noses with him for a fleeting instant, and then resumed her
coy retreat before his renewed advances.
In the meantime, Bill had bethought himself of the rifle. But it was jammed beneath the
overturned sled, and by the time Henry had helped him to right the load, One Ear and the
she-wolf were too close together and the distance too great to risk a shot.
Too late One Ear learned his mistake. Before they saw the cause, the two men saw him
turn and start to run back toward them. Then, approaching at right angles to the trail and
cutting off his retreat they saw a dozen wolves, lean and grey, bounding across the snow.
On the instant, the she-wolf's coyness and playfulness disappeared. With a snarl she
sprang upon One Ear. He thrust her off with his shoulder, and, his retreat cut off and still
intent on regaining the sled, he altered his course in an attempt to circle around to it.
 
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