White Fang HTML version

The Bondage
The days were thronged with experience for White Fang. During the time that Kiche was
tied by the stick, he ran about over all the camp, inquiring, investigating, learning. He
quickly came to know much of the ways of the man-animals, but familiarity did not breed
contempt. The more he came to know them, the more they vindicated their superiority,
the more they displayed their mysterious powers, the greater loomed their god-likeness.
To man has been given the grief, often, of seeing his gods overthrown and his altars
crumbling; but to the wolf and the wild dog that have come in to crouch at man's feet, this
grief has never come. Unlike man, whose gods are of the unseen and the overguessed,
vapours and mists of fancy eluding the garmenture of reality, wandering wraiths of
desired goodness and power, intangible out-croppings of self into the realm of spirit -
unlike man, the wolf and the wild dog that have come in to the fire find their gods in the
living flesh, solid to the touch, occupying earth-space and requiring time for the
accomplishment of their ends and their existence. No effort of faith is necessary to
believe in such a god; no effort of will can possibly induce disbelief in such a god. There
is no getting away from it. There it stands, on its two hind-legs, club in hand, immensely
potential, passionate and wrathful and loving, god and mystery and power all wrapped up
and around by flesh that bleeds when it is torn and that is good to eat like any flesh.
And so it was with White Fang. The man-animals were gods unmistakable and
unescapable. As his mother, Kiche, had rendered her allegiance to them at the first cry of
her name, so he was beginning to render his allegiance. He gave them the trail as a
privilege indubitably theirs. When they walked, he got out of their way. When they
called, he came. When they threatened, he cowered down. When they commanded him to
go, he went away hurriedly. For behind any wish of theirs was power to enforce that
wish, power that hurt, power that expressed itself in clouts and clubs, in flying stones and
stinging lashes of whips.
He belonged to them as all dogs belonged to them. His actions were theirs to command.
His body was theirs to maul, to stamp upon, to tolerate. Such was the lesson that was
quickly borne in upon him. It came hard, going as it did, counter to much that was strong
and dominant in his own nature; and, while he disliked it in the learning of it, unknown to
himself he was learning to like it. It was a placing of his destiny in another's hands, a
shifting of the responsibilities of existence. This in itself was compensation, for it is
always easier to lean upon another than to stand alone.
But it did not all happen in a day, this giving over of himself, body and soul, to the man-
animals. He could not immediately forego his wild heritage and his memories of the
Wild. There were days when he crept to the edge of the forest and stood and listened to
something calling him far and away. And always he returned, restless and uncomfortable,
to whimper softly and wistfully at Kiche's side and to lick her face with eager,
questioning tongue.