White Fang HTML version
The Law Of Meat
The cub's development was rapid. He rested for two days, and then ventured forth from
the cave again. It was on this adventure that he found the young weasel whose mother he
had helped eat, and he saw to it that the young weasel went the way of its mother. But on
this trip he did not get lost. When he grew tired, he found his way back to the cave and
slept. And every day thereafter found him out and ranging a wider area.
He began to get accurate measurement of his strength and his weakness, and to know
when to be bold and when to be cautious. He found it expedient to be cautious all the
time, except for the rare moments, when, assured of his own intrepidity, he abandoned
himself to petty rages and lusts.
He was always a little demon of fury when he chanced upon a stray ptarmigan. Never did
he fail to respond savagely to the chatter of the squirrel he had first met on the blasted
pine. While the sight of a moose-bird almost invariably put him into the wildest of rages;
for he never forgot the peck on the nose he had received from the first of that ilk he
But there were times when even a moose-bird failed to affect him, and those were times
when he felt himself to be in danger from some other prowling meat hunter. He never
forgot the hawk, and its moving shadow always sent him crouching into the nearest
thicket. He no longer sprawled and straddled, and already he was developing the gait of
his mother, slinking and furtive, apparently without exertion, yet sliding along with a
swiftness that was as deceptive as it was imperceptible.
In the matter of meat, his luck had been all in the beginning. The seven ptarmigan chicks
and the baby weasel represented the sum of his killings. His desire to kill strengthened
with the days, and he cherished hungry ambitions for the squirrel that chattered so
volubly and always informed all wild creatures that the wolf-cub was approaching. But as
birds flew in the air, squirrels could climb trees, and the cub could only try to crawl
unobserved upon the squirrel when it was on the ground.
The cub entertained a great respect for his mother. She could get meat, and she never
failed to bring him his share. Further, she was unafraid of things. It did not occur to him
that this fearlessness was founded upon experience and knowledge. Its effect on him was
that of an impression of power. His mother represented power; and as he grew older he
felt this power in the sharper admonishment of her paw; while the reproving nudge of her
nose gave place to the slash of her fangs. For this, likewise, he respected his mother. She
compelled obedience from him, and the older he grew the shorter grew her temper.
Famine came again, and the cub with clearer consciousness knew once more the bite of
hunger. The she-wolf ran herself thin in the quest for meat. She rarely slept any more in
the cave, spending most of her time on the meat-trail, and spending it vainly. This famine