White Fang HTML version

The Covenant
When December was well along, Grey Beaver went on a journey up the Mackenzie. Mit-
sah and Kloo-kooch went with him. One sled he drove himself, drawn by dogs he had
traded for or borrowed. A second and smaller sled was driven by Mit-sah, and to this was
harnessed a team of puppies. It was more of a toy affair than anything else, yet it was the
delight of Mit-sah, who felt that he was beginning to do a man's work in the world. Also,
he was learning to drive dogs and to train dogs; while the puppies themselves were being
broken in to the harness. Furthermore, the sled was of some service, for it carried nearly
two hundred pounds of outfit and food.
White Fang had seen the camp-dogs toiling in the harness, so that he did not resent
overmuch the first placing of the harness upon himself. About his neck was put a moss-
stuffed collar, which was connected by two pulling-traces to a strap that passed around
his chest and over his back. It was to this that was fastened the long rope by which he
pulled at the sled.
There were seven puppies in the team. The others had been born earlier in the year and
were nine and ten months old, while White Fang was only eight months old. Each dog
was fastened to the sled by a single rope. No two ropes were of the same length, while the
difference in length between any two ropes was at least that of a dog's body. Every rope
was brought to a ring at the front end of the sled. The sled itself was without runners,
being a birch-bark toboggan, with upturned forward end to keep it from ploughing under
the snow. This construction enabled the weight of the sled and load to be distributed over
the largest snow-surface; for the snow was crystal-powder and very soft. Observing the
same principle of widest distribution of weight, the dogs at the ends of their ropes
radiated fan-fashion from the nose of the sled, so that no dog trod in another's footsteps.
There was, furthermore, another virtue in the fan-formation. The ropes of varying length
prevented the dogs attacking from the rear those that ran in front of them. For a dog to
attack another, it would have to turn upon one at a shorter rope. In which case it would
find itself face to face with the dog attacked, and also it would find itself facing the whip
of the driver. But the most peculiar virtue of all lay in the fact that the dog that strove to
attack one in front of him must pull the sled faster, and that the faster the sled travelled,
the faster could the dog attacked run away. Thus, the dog behind could never catch up
with the one in front. The faster he ran, the faster ran the one he was after, and the faster
ran all the dogs. Incidentally, the sled went faster, and thus, by cunning indirection, did
man increase his mastery over the beasts.
Mit-sah resembled his father, much of whose grey wisdom he possessed. In the past he
had observed Lip-lip's persecution of White Fang; but at that time Lip-lip was another
man's dog, and Mit-sah had never dared more than to shy an occasional stone at him. But
now Lip-lip was his dog, and he proceeded to wreak his vengeance on him by putting
him at the end of the longest rope. This made Lip-lip the leader, and was apparently an