White Fang HTML version

The Famine
The spring of the year was at hand when Grey Beaver finished his long journey. It was
April, and White Fang was a year old when he pulled into the home villages and was
loosed from the harness by Mit-sah. Though a long way from his full growth, White
Fang, next to Lip-lip, was the largest yearling in the village. Both from his father, the
wolf, and from Kiche, he had inherited stature and strength, and already he was
measuring up alongside the full-grown dogs. But he had not yet grown compact. His
body was slender and rangy, and his strength more stringy than massive, His coat was the
true wolf-grey, and to all appearances he was true wolf himself. The quarter-strain of dog
he had inherited from Kiche had left no mark on him physically, though it had played its
part in his mental make-up.
He wandered through the village, recognising with staid satisfaction the various gods he
had known before the long journey. Then there were the dogs, puppies growing up like
himself, and grown dogs that did not look so large and formidable as the memory pictures
he retained of them. Also, he stood less in fear of them than formerly, stalking among
them with a certain careless ease that was as new to him as it was enjoyable.
There was Baseek, a grizzled old fellow that in his younger days had but to uncover his
fangs to send White Fang cringing and crouching to the right about. From him White
Fang had learned much of his own insignificance; and from him he was now to learn
much of the change and development that had taken place in himself. While Baseek had
been growing weaker with age, White Fang had been growing stronger with youth.
It was at the cutting-up of a moose, fresh-killed, that White Fang learned of the changed
relations in which he stood to the dog- world. He had got for himself a hoof and part of
the shin-bone, to which quite a bit of meat was attached. Withdrawn from the immediate
scramble of the other dogs - in fact out of sight behind a thicket - he was devouring his
prize, when Baseek rushed in upon him. Before he knew what he was doing, he had
slashed the intruder twice and sprung clear. Baseek was surprised by the other's temerity
and swiftness of attack. He stood, gazing stupidly across at White Fang, the raw, red
shin-bone between them.
Baseek was old, and already he had come to know the increasing valour of the dogs it had
been his wont to bully. Bitter experiences these, which, perforce, he swallowed, calling
upon all his wisdom to cope with them. In the old days he would have sprung upon White
Fang in a fury of righteous wrath. But now his waning powers would not permit such a
course. He bristled fiercely and looked ominously across the shin-bone at White Fang.
And White Fang, resurrecting quite a deal of the old awe, seemed to wilt and to shrink in
upon himself and grow small, as he cast about in his mind for a way to beat a retreat not
too inglorious.
And right here Baseek erred. Had he contented himself with looking fierce and ominous,
all would have been well. White Fang, on the verge of retreat, would have retreated,