<h3>CHAPTER I—THE ENEMY OF HIS KIND</h3>
<p>Had there been in White Fang’s nature any possibility, no matter
how remote, of his ever coming to fraternise with his kind, such possibility
was irretrievably destroyed when he was made leader of the sled-team.
For now the dogs hated him—hated him for the extra meat bestowed
upon him by Mit-sah; hated him for all the real and fancied favours
he received; hated him for that he fled always at the head of the team,
his waving brush of a tail and his perpetually retreating hind-quarters
for ever maddening their eyes.</p>
<p>And White Fang just as bitterly hated them back. Being sled-leader
was anything but gratifying to him. To be compelled to run away
before the yelling pack, every dog of which, for three years, he had
thrashed and mastered, was almost more than he could endure. But
endure it he must, or perish, and the life that was in him had no desire
to perish out. The moment Mit-sah gave his order for the start,
that moment the whole team, with eager, savage cries, sprang forward
at White Fang.</p>
<p>There was no defence for him. If he turned upon them, Mit-sah
would throw the stinging lash of the whip into his face. Only
remained to him to run away. He could not encounter that howling
horde with his tail and hind-quarters. These were scarcely fit
weapons with which to meet the many merciless fangs. So run away
he did, violating his own nature and pride with every leap he made,
and leaping all day long.</p>
<p>One cannot violate the promptings of one’s nature without having
that nature recoil upon itself. Such a recoil is like that of
a hair, made to grow out from the body, turning unnaturally upon the
direction of its growth and growing into the body—a rankling,
festering thing of hurt. And so with White Fang. Every urge
of his being impelled him to spring upon the pack that cried at his
heels, but it was the will of the gods that this should not be; and
behind the will, to enforce it, was the whip of cariboo-gut with its
biting thirty-foot lash. So White Fang could only eat his heart
in bitterness and develop a hatred and malice commensurate with the
ferocity and indomitability of his nature.</p>
<p>If ever a creature was the enemy of its kind, White Fang was that
creature. He asked no quarter, gave none. He was continually
marred and scarred by the teeth of the pack, and as continually he left
his own marks upon the pack. Unlike most leaders, who, when camp
was made and the dogs were unhitched, huddled near to the gods for protection,
White Fang disdained such protection. He walked boldly about the
camp, inflicting punishment in the night for what he had suffered in
the day. In the time before he was made leader of the team, the
pack had learned to get out of his way. But now it was different.
Excited by the day-long pursuit of him, swayed subconsciously by the
insistent iteration on their brains of the sight of him fleeing away,
mastered by the feeling of mastery enjoyed all day, the dogs could not
bring themselves to give way to him. When he appeared amongst
them, there was always a squabble. His progress was marked by
snarl and snap and growl. The very atmosphere he breathed was
surcharged with hatred and malice, and this but served to increase the
hatred and malice within him.</p>
<p>When Mit-sah cried out his command for the team to stop, White Fang
obeyed. At first this caused trouble for the other dogs.
All of them would spring upon the hated leader only to find the tables
turned. Behind him would be Mit-sah, the great whip singing in
his hand. So the dogs came to understand that when the team stopped
by order, White Fang was to be let alone. But when White Fang
stopped without orders, then it was allowed them to spring upon him
and destroy him if they could. After several experiences, White
Fang never stopped without orders. He learned quickly. It
was in the nature of things, that he must learn quickly if he were to
survive the unusually severe conditions under which life was vouchsafed
<p>But the dogs could never learn the lesson to leave him alone in camp.
Each day, pursuing him and crying defiance at him, the lesson of the
previous night was erased, and that night would have to be learned over
again, to be as immediately forgotten. Besides, there was a greater
consistence in their dislike of him. They sensed between themselves
and him a difference of kind—cause sufficient in itself for hostility.
Like him, they were domesticated wolves. But they had been domesticated
for generations. Much of the Wild had been lost, so that to them
the Wild was the unknown, the terrible, the ever-menacing and ever warring.
But to him, in appearance and action and impulse, still clung the Wild.
He symbolised it, was its personification: so that when they showed
their teeth to him they were defending themselves against the powers
of destruction that lurked in the shadows of the forest and in the dark
beyond the camp-fire.</p>
<p>But there was one lesson the dogs did learn, and that was to keep
together. White Fang was too terrible for any of them to face
single-handed. They met him with the mass-formation, otherwise
he would have killed them, one by one, in a night. As it was,
he never had a chance to kill them. He might roll a dog off its
feet, but the pack would be upon him before he could follow up and deliver
the deadly throat-stroke. At the first hint of conflict, the whole
team drew together and faced him. The dogs had quarrels among
themselves, but these were forgotten when trouble was brewing with White
<p>On the other hand, try as they would, they could not kill White Fang.
He was too quick for them, too formidable, too wise. He avoided
tight places and always backed out of it when they bade fair to surround
him. While, as for getting him off his feet, there was no dog
among them capable of doing the trick. His feet clung to the earth
with the same tenacity that he clung to life. For that matter,
life and footing were synonymous in this unending warfare with the pack,
and none knew it better than White Fang.</p>
<p>So he became the enemy of his kind, domesticated wolves that they
were, softened by the fires of man, weakened in the sheltering shadow
of man’s strength. White Fang was bitter and implacable.
The clay of him was so moulded. He declared a vendetta against
all dogs. And so terribly did he live this vendetta that Grey
Beaver, fierce savage himself, could not but marvel at White Fang’s
ferocity. Never, he swore, had there been the like of this animal;
and the Indians in strange villages swore likewise when they considered
the tale of his killings amongst their dogs.</p>
<p>When White Fang was nearly five years old, Grey Beaver took him on
another great journey, and long remembered was the havoc he worked amongst
the dogs of the many villages along the Mackenzie, across the Rockies,
and down the Porcupine to the Yukon. He revelled in the vengeance
he wreaked upon his kind. They were ordinary, unsuspecting dogs.
They were not prepared for his swiftness and directness, for his attack
without warning. They did not know him for what he was, a lightning-flash
of slaughter. They bristled up to him, stiff-legged and challenging,
while he, wasting no time on elaborate preliminaries, snapping into
action like a steel spring, was at their throats and destroying them
before they knew what was happening and while they were yet in the throes
<p>He became an adept at fighting. He economised. He never
wasted his strength, never tussled. He was in too quickly for
that, and, if he missed, was out again too quickly. The dislike
of the wolf for close quarters was his to an unusual degree. He
could not endure a prolonged contact with another body. It smacked
of danger. It made him frantic. He must be away, free, on
his own legs, touching no living thing. It was the Wild still
clinging to him, asserting itself through him. This feeling had
been accentuated by the Ishmaelite life he had led from his puppyhood.
Danger lurked in contacts. It was the trap, ever the trap, the
fear of it lurking deep in the life of him, woven into the fibre of
<p>In consequence, the strange dogs he encountered had no chance against
him. He eluded their fangs. He got them, or got away, himself
untouched in either event. In the natural course of things there
were exceptions to this. There were times when several dogs, pitching
on to him, punished him before he could get away; and there were times
when a single dog scored deeply on him. But these were accidents.
In the main, so efficient a fighter had he become, he went his way unscathed.</p>
<p>Another advantage he possessed was that of correctly judging time
and distance. Not that he did this consciously, however.
He did not calculate such things. It was all automatic.
His eyes saw correctly, and the nerves carried the vision correctly
to his brain. The parts of him were better adjusted than those
of the average dog. They worked together more smoothly and steadily.
His was a better, far better, nervous, mental, and muscular co-ordination.
When his eyes conveyed to his brain the moving image of an action, his
brain without conscious effort, knew the space that limited that action
and the time required for its completion. Thus, he could avoid
the leap of another dog, or the drive of its fangs, and at the same
moment could seize the infinitesimal fraction of time in which to deliver
his own attack. Body and brain, his was a more perfected mechanism.
Not that he was to be praised for it. Nature had been more generous
to him than to the average animal, that was all.</p>
<p>It was in the summer that White Fang arrived at Fort Yukon.
Grey Beaver had crossed the great watershed between Mackenzie and the
Yukon in the late winter, and spent the spring in hunting among the
western outlying spurs of the Rockies. Then, after the break-up
of the ice on the Porcupine, he had built a canoe and paddled down that
stream to where it effected its junction with the Yukon just under the
Artic circle. Here stood the old Hudson’s Bay Company fort;
and here were many Indians, much food, and unprecedented excitement.
It was the summer of 1898, and thousands of gold-hunters were going
up the Yukon to Dawson and the Klondike. Still hundreds of miles
from their goal, nevertheless many of them had been on the way for a
year, and the least any of them had travelled to get that far was five
thousand miles, while some had come from the other side of the world.</p>
<p>Here Grey Beaver stopped. A whisper of the gold-rush had reached
his ears, and he had come with several bales of furs, and another of
gut-sewn mittens and moccasins. He would not have ventured so
long a trip had he not expected generous profits. But what he
had expected was nothing to what he realised. His wildest dreams
had not exceeded a hundred per cent. profit; he made a thousand per
cent. And like a true Indian, he settled down to trade carefully
and slowly, even if it took all summer and the rest of the winter to
dispose of his goods.</p>
<p>It was at Fort Yukon that White Fang saw his first white men.
As compared with the Indians he had known, they were to him another
race of beings, a race of superior gods. They impressed him as
possessing superior power, and it is on power that godhead rests.
White Fang did not reason it out, did not in his mind make the sharp
generalisation that the white gods were more powerful. It was
a feeling, nothing more, and yet none the less potent. As, in
his puppyhood, the looming bulks of the tepees, man-reared, had affected
him as manifestations of power, so was he affected now by the houses
and the huge fort all of massive logs. Here was power. Those
white gods were strong. They possessed greater mastery over matter
than the gods he had known, most powerful among which was Grey Beaver.
And yet Grey Beaver was as a child-god among these white-skinned ones.</p>
<p>To be sure, White Fang only felt these things. He was not conscious
of them. Yet it is upon feeling, more often than thinking, that
animals act; and every act White Fang now performed was based upon the
feeling that the white men were the superior gods. In the first
place he was very suspicious of them. There was no telling what
unknown terrors were theirs, what unknown hurts they could administer.
He was curious to observe them, fearful of being noticed by them.
For the first few hours he was content with slinking around and watching
them from a safe distance. Then he saw that no harm befell the
dogs that were near to them, and he came in closer.</p>
<p>In turn he was an object of great curiosity to them. His wolfish
appearance caught their eyes at once, and they pointed him out to one
another. This act of pointing put White Fang on his guard, and
when they tried to approach him he showed his teeth and backed away.
Not one succeeded in laying a hand on him, and it was well that they
<p>White Fang soon learned that very few of these gods—not more
than a dozen—lived at this place. Every two or three days
a steamer (another and colossal manifestation of power) came into the
bank and stopped for several hours. The white men came from off
these steamers and went away on them again. There seemed untold
numbers of these white men. In the first day or so, he saw more
of them than he had seen Indians in all his life; and as the days went
by they continued to come up the river, stop, and then go on up the
river out of sight.</p>
<p>But if the white gods were all-powerful, their dogs did not amount
to much. This White Fang quickly discovered by mixing with those
that came ashore with their masters. They were irregular shapes
and sizes. Some were short-legged—too short; others were
long-legged—too long. They had hair instead of fur, and
a few had very little hair at that. And none of them knew how
<p>As an enemy of his kind, it was in White Fang’s province to
fight with them. This he did, and he quickly achieved for them
a mighty contempt. They were soft and helpless, made much noise,
and floundered around clumsily trying to accomplish by main strength
what he accomplished by dexterity and cunning. They rushed bellowing
at him. He sprang to the side. They did not know what had
become of him; and in that moment he struck them on the shoulder, rolling
them off their feet and delivering his stroke at the throat.</p>
<p>Sometimes this stroke was successful, and a stricken dog rolled in
the dirt, to be pounced upon and torn to pieces by the pack of Indian
dogs that waited. White Fang was wise. He had long since
learned that the gods were made angry when their dogs were killed.
The white men were no exception to this. So he was content, when
he had overthrown and slashed wide the throat of one of their dogs,
to drop back and let the pack go in and do the cruel finishing work.
It was then that the white men rushed in, visiting their wrath heavily
on the pack, while White Fang went free. He would stand off at
a little distance and look on, while stones, clubs, axes, and all sorts
of weapons fell upon his fellows. White Fang was very wise.</p>
<p>But his fellows grew wise in their own way; and in this White Fang
grew wise with them. They learned that it was when a steamer first
tied to the bank that they had their fun. After the first two
or three strange dogs had been downed and destroyed, the white men hustled
their own animals back on board and wrecked savage vengeance on the
offenders. One white man, having seen his dog, a setter, torn
to pieces before his eyes, drew a revolver. He fired rapidly,
six times, and six of the pack lay dead or dying—another manifestation
of power that sank deep into White Fang’s consciousness.</p>
<p>White Fang enjoyed it all. He did not love his kind, and he
was shrewd enough to escape hurt himself. At first, the killing
of the white men’s dogs had been a diversion. After a time
it became his occupation. There was no work for him to do.
Grey Beaver was busy trading and getting wealthy. So White Fang
hung around the landing with the disreputable gang of Indian dogs, waiting
for steamers. With the arrival of a steamer the fun began.
After a few minutes, by the time the white men had got over their surprise,
the gang scattered. The fun was over until the next steamer should
<p>But it can scarcely be said that White Fang was a member of the gang.
He did not mingle with it, but remained aloof, always himself, and was
even feared by it. It is true, he worked with it. He picked
the quarrel with the strange dog while the gang waited. And when
he had overthrown the strange dog the gang went in to finish it.
But it is equally true that he then withdrew, leaving the gang to receive
the punishment of the outraged gods.</p>
<p>It did not require much exertion to pick these quarrels. All
he had to do, when the strange dogs came ashore, was to show himself.
When they saw him they rushed for him. It was their instinct.
He was the Wild—the unknown, the terrible, the ever-menacing,
the thing that prowled in the darkness around the fires of the primeval
world when they, cowering close to the fires, were reshaping their instincts,
learning to fear the Wild out of which they had come, and which they
had deserted and betrayed. Generation by generation, down all
the generations, had this fear of the Wild been stamped into their natures.
For centuries the Wild had stood for terror and destruction. And
during all this time free licence had been theirs, from their masters,
to kill the things of the Wild. In doing this they had protected
both themselves and the gods whose companionship they shared.</p>
<p>And so, fresh from the soft southern world, these dogs, trotting
down the gang-plank and out upon the Yukon shore had but to see White
Fang to experience the irresistible impulse to rush upon him and destroy
him. They might be town-reared dogs, but the instinctive fear
of the Wild was theirs just the same. Not alone with their own
eyes did they see the wolfish creature in the clear light of day, standing
before them. They saw him with the eyes of their ancestors, and
by their inherited memory they knew White Fang for the wolf, and they
remembered the ancient feud.</p>
<p>All of which served to make White Fang’s days enjoyable.
If the sight of him drove these strange dogs upon him, so much the better
for him, so much the worse for them. They looked upon him as legitimate
prey, and as legitimate prey he looked upon them.</p>
<p>Not for nothing had he first seen the light of day in a lonely lair
and fought his first fights with the ptarmigan, the weasel, and the
lynx. And not for nothing had his puppyhood been made bitter by
the persecution of Lip-lip and the whole puppy pack. It might
have been otherwise, and he would then have been otherwise. Had
Lip-lip not existed, he would have passed his puppyhood with the other
puppies and grown up more doglike and with more liking for dogs.
Had Grey Beaver possessed the plummet of affection and love, he might
have sounded the deeps of White Fang’s nature and brought up to
the surface all manner of kindly qualities. But these things had
not been so. The clay of White Fang had been moulded until he
became what he was, morose and lonely, unloving and ferocious, the enemy
of all his kind.</p>
<div style="break-after:column;"></div><br />