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White Fang (1946)

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70 years ago, the White Fang feature film, directed by Alexander Zguridi based on the eponymous work by Jack London, was released on all screens of the Soviet Union. Familiar to all Soviet children, the story of the friendship of a wolf born in the Northern Wilderness, who became a real killer due to human intervention, and a man who saw true love in a wild beast, contained an even more impressive story. The story of Djulbars.

By modern standards, some episodes of this film are extremely harsh, if not cruel. So, the decisive battle of the White Fang with a bulldog, which almost ended for the protagonist of the lethal outcome, was shot live, that is, a real dog fight took place in front of the cameras. Naturally, nothing like this in our politically correct age, when it’s easier to see human brains flying out on the screen than violence against animals, could have happened. But in the life of the main star of White Fang, a dog named Dzhulbars, there were much more terrible and dangerous moments.

The thing is that just a year before that, Dzhulbars honestly performed his duty on the fronts of the Great Patriotic War and was one of the most famous dogs of the mine search service. In just a year, thanks to its natural data and the unique training system developed by its owner, Dina Volkats, the dog managed to detect hundreds of mines and more than 150 shells, and therefore, the number of human lives he saved was measured in hundreds, if not thousands. Largely thanks to Djulbars, priceless works of art, Czech castles and cathedrals of Vienna survived. It is to him that the residents of Kiev owe the clearing of the grave of Taras Shevchenko and the Vladimir Cathedral, which is now the main church of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kiev Patriarchate.

Fulfilled Dzhulbars and quite a diversion task. In 1943, he derailed a train carrying Wehrmacht military equipment. The dog jumped onto the rails in front of the approaching train, threw the explosives fixed on it from the back, and, pulling the pin from the igniter capsule, jumped off the embankment and rushed into the nearest forest, where amazed sappers were waiting for it.

In March 1945, for truly unprecedented heroism, Djulbars was awarded the Medal of Merit. And this was the only case for all the time of the Great Patriotic War, when an exclusively human combat award went to the four-legged hero. Moreover. At the very end of the war, Dzhulbars was seriously injured. The wound was so serious that the doctors who approached the treatment of the dog with all responsibility gave poor forecasts. However, Dzhulbars got out and even took part in the Victory Parade, to which he appeared. in the tunic of Stalin.

The parade commander, Marshal Rokossovsky, received a report that the heroic dog would not be able to walk through the cobblestones of Red Square due to injury, and reported this to the Supreme Commander. The latter, without hesitation, invited Dzhulbars's colleagues to carry him in their arms, wrapping his tunic in his Stalin. Which was done.

On June 24, 1945, the commander of the 37th separate demining battalion, Major Alexander Mazover, was the only one who was officially allowed not to mint a step in front of the Mausoleum and not salute the Supreme. He carried in his arms a fighter of the 14th assault engineering and combat engineer brigade named Dzhulbars, an ordinary yard dog with a unique flair.

Movie info

Based on the story of the same name by Jack London.

The story of a wild wolf cub, which was picked up and raised by an Indian boy.Having fallen to an evil man - the owner of the bar, White Fang turned into a fierce evil beast, who emerged victorious from all the dog fights arranged by his enterprising owner. But once, half-strangled, engineer Wadon Scott tore out of the mouth of a bulldog. His kindness transformed the beast.

The beginning of the story

Wolves follow people on the heels, waiting for the right moment to start the hunt. Predators begin to lead one dog after another. Surprised people notice that their dogs leave for a large she-wolf, apparently, who understands dog habits. They conclude that this wolf used to live among people and dogs. After the death of all dogs, one of the travelers becomes a victim of the pack, and the second is saved by the Indians. It turned out that the assumptions of the travelers are confirmed. The wolf and the dog were the parents of the she-wolf, and she really lived for a long time among dogs and Indians.

The pack of wolves that attacked the travelers breaks up, and our wolf, together with the seasoned old wolf, begins to search for food on its own. After some time, their offspring is born, all the cubs, except one, die. This wolf cub is the White Fang. A summary of the story of his extraordinary and difficult life awaits you further.

The old wolf dies in the tenacious paws of a lynx. With his mother, Kichi, the wolf cub begins to learn hunting, the main rule of which is if not you, then you. However, full of energy, the little wolf enjoys life in freedom.

CHAPTER FIRST CHALLENGE FOR PRODUCTION

A dark spruce forest stood, frowning, on both sides of the ice-bound river. A freshly blown wind blew white frost from the trees, and they, black and ominous, leaned toward each other in the approaching twilight. A deep silence reigned around. This whole land, devoid of signs of life with its movement, was so deserted and cold that the spirit that hung over it could not even be called the spirit of sorrow. Laughter, but laughter is more terrible than sorrow, was heard here - joyless laugh, like a sphinx smile, laughter chilling with its soullessness, like a cold. This eternal wisdom - domineering, ascended over the world - laughed, seeing the futility of life, the futility of struggle. It was a wilderness - the wild, frozen to the very heart of the Northern wilderness.

And yet, something living moved in her and challenged her. A team of sled dogs made their way through the frozen river. Their ruffled fur was frozen in the cold, their breath froze in the air and settled on the skin with crystals. The dogs were in a leather harness, and leather shirts went from her to the sleigh dragging behind. Sleigh without runners, from a thick birch bark, lay on the snow all over. Their front end was bent up, like a scroll, to squeeze the soft snow waves that stood up to meet them. On the sleigh stood a tightly trimmed narrow, oblong box. There were other things there: clothes, an ax, a coffee pot, a frying pan, but above all, a narrow oblong box, which occupied most of the sleigh, was striking.

Ahead of the dogs on wide skis, a man stepped with difficulty. For the sleigh was the second. On the sleigh, in a box, there was a third, for whom the earthly labors were over, for the Northern wilderness prevailed, broke him, so that he could no longer move or fight. The northern wilderness does not like movement. She takes up arms for life, for life is movement, and the northern wilderness seeks to stop everything that moves. She freezes water to delay her run to the sea, she sucks the sap from a tree, and his mighty heart stiffens with a cold, but with special fury and cruelty the wilderness breaks the stubbornness of man, because man is the most rebellious creature in the world, because man always rebels against her will, according to which all movement in the end must stop.

And yet, in front of and behind the sled were two fearless and rebellious people who had not yet lost their lives. Their clothes were sewn of fur and soft tanned leather. Their eyelashes, cheeks and lips were so icy from freezing breath that no face could be seen under the ice crust.This gave them the appearance of some ghostly masks, grave diggers from the other world, making the burial of a ghost. But these were not ghostly masks, but people who penetrated the land of sorrow, ridicule and silence, daredevils who put all their miserable forces into a daring plan and decided to compete with the power of a world as far away, deserted and alien to them as the vast space of space .

They walked in silence, saving their breath for walking. An almost tangible silence surrounded them from all sides. It pressed on the mind, as water at great depths presses on the diver's body. It oppressed the infinity and immutability of its law. It reached the innermost recesses of their consciousness, squeezing out of it, like juice from grapes, all pretentious, false, every tendency to too high self-esteem inherent in the human soul, and inspired them with the thought that they were just insignificant, mortal creatures, specks of dust, midges that make their way at random without noticing the play of the blind forces of nature.

An hour passed, another passed. The pale light of a short, dull day began to fade as a faint, distant howl swept through the surrounding silence. He soared upward, reached a high note, lingered on it, trembling, but not reducing his strength, and then gradually froze. He could have been mistaken for the moaning of someone’s lost soul if he hadn’t heard the sullen fury and hunger of hunger.

The man walking in front turned around, caught the look of the one who was wandering behind the sled, and they nodded to each other. And again, silence, like a needle, pierced by a howl. They listened, trying to determine the direction of the sound. He came from the snowy expanses that they had just passed.

Soon a response howl was heard, also from somewhere behind, but a little to the left.

“It's because they are chasing us, Bill,” the man in front said. His voice sounded hoarse and unnatural, and he spoke with obvious difficulty.

“They have little prey,” his comrade answered. “For how many days I have not seen a single hare trace.”

The travelers fell silent, listening intently to the howl that was constantly heard behind them.

As soon as darkness fell, they turned the dogs to the fir trees on the riverbank and stopped for a halt. The coffin removed from the sled served them both as a table and a bench. Having huddled together on the other side of the fire, the dogs growled and gnawed, but did not show the slightest desire to escape into the dark.

“Something they are too tight on the fire,” said Bill.

Henry, squatting in front of the fire to set the coffeepot with a piece of ice on fire, nodded silently. He spoke only after he sat on the coffin and began to eat.

- They take care of their hide. They know that they will be fed here, and there they will go to feed someone. Dogs can’t be fooled.

Bill shook his head.

The comrade looked at him curiously.

“The first time I hear you doubt their mind.”

“Henry,” Bill said, chewing slowly over

would - and you didn’t notice how the dogs were biting when I fed them?

“Indeed, there was more fuss than ever,” Henry confirmed.

“How many dogs do we have, Henry?”

“So ...” Bill paused to add more weight to his words. - I also say that we have six dogs. I took six fish from the bag, gave each dog a fish. And one wasn’t enough, Henry.

“We have six dogs,” Bill repeated blankly. - I took six fish. One-eared fish was not enough. I had to take another fish from the bag.

“We only have six dogs,” Henry stood on his own.

“Henry,” Bill continued, “I am not saying that everyone was a dog, but seven of them got the fish.”

Henry stopped chewing, looked across the fire at the dogs and counted them.

“Now there are only six,” he said.

“The seventh ran away, I saw,” Bill said with calm insistence. - There were seven of them.

Henry looked at him with compassion and said:

“Hurry for you and me to get to the place.”

- How is this to be understood?

- And so, that you didn’t become your own from this baggage that we are carrying, and God knows what seems to you.

“I was thinking about that,” Bill answered seriously. - As soon as she ran, I immediately looked at the snow and saw the tracks, then counted the dogs - there were six of them. And the traces - here they are. Do you want to take a look? Let's go - I'll show you.

Henry did not answer him, and silently continued to chew. Having eaten the beans, he washed them down with hot coffee, wiped his mouth with his hand, and said:

“So you think it's ...”

A long, dreary howl did not let him finish. He listened silently, and then finished the sentence he had begun with a finger pointing back into the darkness:

“... is this a guest from there?” Bill nodded.

“No matter how you turn, you can’t think of anything else.” You yourself heard what kind of bickering the dogs raised.

A lingering howl was heard more and more often, from far away came the howling, - the silence turned into a living hell. The howl rang from all directions, and the dogs in fear huddled together so close to the fire that the fire almost scorched their hair.

Bill tossed firewood into the fire and lit a pipe.

“I see that you’ve been very chilly,” Henry said.

“Henry ...” Bill thoughtfully sucked the phone. “I still think, Henry: he is much happier than you and me.” - And Bill tapped his finger on the coffin on which they were sitting. - When we die, Henry, it’s good if at least a handful of stones lie over our bodies so that the dogs do not eat them.

“Why, neither you nor I have any relatives or money,” Henry said. - It’s unlikely that you and I will be taken to bury in such a distance, we can’t afford such a funeral.

“What I can’t understand at all, Henry, is why a person who was not a lord or something like this in his homeland and didn’t have to take care of either food or warm blankets - why did such a person need to scour the end of the world, in this god-forgotten country.

- Yes. I would sit at home, live to old age, ”agreed Henry.

His comrade opened his mouth, but said nothing. Instead, he reached out into the darkness, a wall advancing on them from all sides. In the darkness it was impossible to make out any definite outlines, only a pair of eyes were visible, burning like coals.

Henry silently pointed to the second pair and the third. A circle of burning eyes pulled together near their parking lot. From time to time, a couple would change places or disappear in order to reappear a second later.

The dogs were worried more and more, and suddenly, seized with fear, heaped together near the campfire, crawled to people and pressed themselves at their feet. In the dump, one dog got into a fire, she screeched in pain and horror, and the air smelled of burning wool. The eye ring opened for a minute and even stepped back a little, but as soon as the dogs calmed down, it again returned to its original place.

- That's the trouble, Henry! Ammo is not enough!

Having finished the pipe, Bill helped his companion to lay out a fur bed and blanket over fir branches, which he had already thrown into the snow before dinner. Henry grunted and began to untie the loafers.

“How many rounds do you have?” - he asked.

“Three,” came the answer. - And it would be necessary three hundred. I would show them to the devils!

He viciously threatened his fist towards the burning eyes and began to set his loafers in front of the fire.

- When only these frosts end! - continued Bill. “For the second week now, all fifty and fifty degrees.” And why only did I embark on this journey, Henry! I do not like it. Not at ease for me somehow. Arriving as soon as possible, and it's over! Would you and I sit by the fireplace in Fort McGarry now, play cribbage ... I would give a lot for that!

Henry grumbled something and began to fit. He was already dozing, when suddenly the voice of a comrade woke him:

“You know, Henry, what's bothering me?” Why didn’t the dogs attack the alien who also got the fish?

“You have become very restless, Bill,” came a sleepy reply. “This has never happened before.” Stop talking, sleep, and in the morning you get up as if nothing had happened. You have heartburn, that's why you are worried.

They slept nearby, under one blanket, breathing heavily in a dream.The bonfire went out, and the circle of burning eyes that cordoned off the parking lot closed more and more tightly.

The dogs were huddled together, growling menacingly when a pair of eyes came too close. So they growled so loudly that Bill woke up. Cautiously, trying not to wake his companion, he crawled out from under the covers and threw brushwood into the fire. The fire flashed brighter, and the ring of eyes leaned back.

Bill looked at the huddled dogs, rubbed his eyes, looked more intently, and climbed under the covers again.

- Henry! He called out to a comrade. - Henry! Henry groaned, waking up, and asked:

“Nothing,” he heard, “only seven of them again.” I have now counted.

Henry greeted this news with a grunt, immediately turning into snoring, and again fell into a dream.

In the morning he woke up first and woke a friend. Three hours remained until dawn, although it was already six in the morning. In the dark, Henry set about making breakfast, and Bill rolled up his bed and began to pack his sleigh.

“Listen, Henry,” he asked suddenly, “how many dogs do you say we had?”

- That's wrong! He declared triumphantly.

“Seven again?” He asked.

“No, five.” One is gone.

- What a devil! Henry shouted angrily, and, throwing the cooking, went to count the dogs.

“That's right, Bill,” he said. - Fatty escaped.

- He slipped away so quickly that they did not notice. Go find him now.

“A lost cause,” Henry answered. - Alive eat. He probably screeched more than once when these devils began to tear him.

“Fetty was always stupid,” Bill said.

“The most stupid dog will still have the mind not to go to certain death.”

He looked around the rest of the dogs, quickly appreciating the merits of each in his mind.

- These are smarter, they will not throw such a thing.

“You won’t drive them away from the fire,” Bill agreed. “I always thought that Fatty wasn’t all right.”

Such was the tombstone word dedicated to a dog that died on the Northern Route - and it was no meaner than many other epitaphs to dead dogs, and, perhaps, to people.

CHAPTER TWO WOLF

After having breakfast and putting their meager belongings in a sleigh, Bill and Henry left the friendly bonfire and moved into the darkness. And at once he heard a howl - a wild, mournful howl, through darkness and cold, he reached them from everywhere. Travelers walked silently. It dawned at nine o’clock.

At noon, the sky in the south turned pink - in the place where the convexity of the globe is an obstacle between the midday sun and the country of the North. But the pink glow quickly faded. The gray daylight, which replaced it, lasted up to three hours, then it also went out, and the canopy of the Arctic night fell over the deserted silent edge.

As soon as darkness fell, the howl, pursuing the travelers both to the right, and to the left, and from behind, was heard closer, at times it was heard so close that the dogs could not stand it and began to rush about in the building.

After one of these fits of panic, when Bill and Henry again tidied up the team, Bill said:

“It would be nice if they attacked some game and left us alone.”

“Yes, listening to them is unpleasant,” agreed Henry. And they fell silent until the next break.

Henry stood bent over a boiling pot of beans and poured crushed ice into it when suddenly behind his back there was the sound of a blow, Bill's cry and a piercing screech. He straightened up and managed to make out only the obscure outlines of some beast, rushing through the snow and hiding in the dark. Then Henry saw that Bill, either triumphant or dead, stood among the dogs, holding a stick in one hand and the tail of dried salmon in the other.

- Half still dragged away! He shouted. “But I poured him as it should. Have you heard the screech?

- And who is it? - asked Henry.

- I did not understand. I can only say that he has legs, and jaws, and a skin, like any dog.

- Hand wolf, or what?

“A wolf or not a wolf, it must only be really tame if it comes straight to the feeding place and grabs the fish.”

That night, when they sat on a crate after dinner, smoking pipes, the circle of burning eyes narrowed even more.

“It would be nice if they scared a herd of elks somewhere and left us alone,” Bill said.

His companion muttered something not quite amiable, and for twenty minutes they sat silently: Henry — standing on fire, and Bill — on a circle of burning eyes that shone in the darkness, very close to the fire.

“It would be nice now to drive to McGarry ...” Bill began again.

- Yes, give up your “it would be good”, stop washing! - Henry could not stand it. - You have heartburn, so you whine. Drink soda - immediately feel better, and I will be more fun with you.

In the morning Henry woke up a desperate scolding. He got up on his elbow and saw that Bill was standing among the dogs at the flaming bonfire and with a furrowed face furiously waving his arms.

- Hey! - shouted Henry. - What happened?

“Frog escaped,” he heard in reply.

“I tell you, I ran away.”

Henry jumped out from under the covers and rushed to the dogs.

Having carefully counted them, he added his voice to the curses that his comrade sent to the omnipotent Northern Wilderness, which deprived them of another dog.

“Frog was the strongest in the entire harness,” Bill finished his speech.

“And smart!” - added Henry.

That was the second epitaph in these two days.

Breakfast went sadly, the remaining four dogs harnessed to a sled. This day was an exact repetition of many previous days. Travelers silently wandered through the snowy desert. Silence was broken only by the howl of the pursuers, who were chasing them on the heels, not showing their eyes. With the onset of darkness, when the pursuit, as one would expect, approached, the howl was heard almost nearby, the dogs trembled with fear, rushed around and confused the building, even more oppressing these people.

“Well, brainless creatures, now you can’t get anywhere,” Bill said with a pleased look at the next parking lot.

Henry left the cooking and went to look. His companion tied the dogs in the Indian way, to the sticks. He put a leather loop around the neck of each dog, tied a thick long stick to the loop - close to the neck, the other end of the stick was attached with a leather strap to a stake driven into the ground. Dogs could not gnaw the belt near the neck, and sticks prevented them from getting the leash at the stake with their teeth.

Henry nodded his head approvingly.

- One-eared only in this way can be held. It doesn’t cost him to gnaw through a belt - it’s the same as to cut a knife. And so by the morning everyone will be safe.

- Of course! - said Bill. - If at least one is lost, I will refuse coffee tomorrow.

“But they know that we have nothing to scare them,” Henry remarked, getting to bed and pointing to the shimmering circle that edged their swine. “If they had a shot at them once or twice, they would lively feel respect for us.” With each night, the dogs are closer and closer. Avert your eyes from the fire, peer in that direction. Well? Did you see that one?

Both began to watch with interest the vague silhouettes moving behind the fire. Peering intently where a pair of eyes sparkled in the darkness, one could see the outline of the beast. From time to time it was even possible to notice how these animals move from place to place.

The fuss among the dogs attracted the attention of Bill and Henry. Squealing impatiently, the One-Eared torn from the leash into the darkness, then, stepping back, gnawed at a stick with frenzy.

“Look, Bill,” Henry whispered.

In a circle lit by a bonfire, inaudible steps, sideways, a beast like a dog slipped. He approached cowardly and at the same time brazenly, directing all his attention to dogs, but not losing sight of people. One-eared rushed to the alien, as far as the stick allowed, and whined impatiently.

“This fool seems not a bit afraid,” Bill said quietly.

“She-wolf,” whispered Henry. “Now I understand what happened to Fetty and Frog.” A flock releases her as bait. She lures the dogs, and the rest pounce and devour them.

Something crackled in the fire. The smut rolled to the side with a loud hiss.The frightened beast hid in the dark with one leap.

“You know what I think, Henry?” - said Bill.

- This is the one that I hit with a stick.

“You have no doubt,” Henry answered.

“That's what I want to say,” Bill went on, “apparently she’s used to bonfires, and this is very suspicious.”

“She knows more than she is supposed to know a self-respecting wolf,” Henry agreed. “The she-wolf who comes to feed the dogs is a seasoned beast.”

“Old Villan once had a dog, and she left with the wolves,” Bill mused aloud. “Who knows, if not me?” I shot her in a pack of wolves on a elk pasture near Little Stick. Old Villan cried like a child. He said that he hadn’t seen her for three years. And all these three years she ran with the wolves.

- This is not a wolf, but a dog, and more than once she had to eat fish from human hands. You hit the nail on the head, Bill.

“If I succeed, I will lay her down and she will not be a wolf or a dog, but just a carrion,” Bill said. “We should no longer lose dogs.”

“Why, you only have three rounds,” Henry objected to him.

“And I will aim for sure,” came the reply. In the morning, Henry again made a fire and set about making breakfast with his friend's snoring.

“You were sleeping well,” he said, lifting him from his sleep. “I didn't want to wake you.”

Still not awake properly, Bill began to eat. Noticing that his mug was empty, he reached for the coffee pot. But the coffeepot was far away, near Henry.

“Listen, Henry,” he said with a gentle reproach, “have you forgotten anything?”

Henry carefully looked around and shook his head. Bill handed him an empty mug.

“You won’t have coffee,” Henry declared.

- Is all gone? Asked Bill frightenedly.

“Are you afraid my stomach will go bad?”

Paint of anger flooded Bill's face.

“So what's the matter then, explain, don’t torment me,” he said.

“Spanker escaped,” Henry answered. Slowly, with an air of complete submission to fate, Bill turned his head and, on the spot, counted the dogs.

- How did it happen? He asked blankly. Henry shrugged.

- I do not know. The One-Eared must have bitten his belt. He himself, of course, could not do it.

- Damned creature! - Bill said slowly, without betraying the anger boiling in him. “I couldn’t gnaw at my belt, so I ate at Spanker.”

“Well, for Spanker, now all life's worries are over.” The wolves probably already digested it, and now it is in their guts. - Henry read the epitaph to the third dog. “Have some coffee, Bill.”

But Bill shook his head.

“Well, have a drink,” Henry insisted, lifting up the coffee pot. Bill pushed back his mug.

“Damn me if I drink!” He said that I wouldn’t, if the dog was gone, then I won’t.

- Great coffee! Henry seduced him.

But Bill did not give up and ate a dry breakfast, flavoring food with inarticulate curses at Odnuhuhy, who had played such a nasty joke with them.

“I'll tie them all up tonight tonight,” Bill said as they set off.

Having gone no more than a hundred steps, Henry, walking in front, bent down and picked up some object that fell under his skis. In the darkness, he could not make out what it was, but he recognized it by touch and threw this thing back, so she knocked on the sled and bounced right to Bill's ski.

“Maybe you still need it,” said Henry.

Bill gasped. That's all that was left of Spanker is the stick that was tied to his neck.

“They ate it completely,” said Bill. “And they didn't even leave straps on the stick.” Great, they’ve got hungry, Henry ... What good, they’ll get to us too.

Henry laughed defiantly.

“True, the wolves never chased after me, but I had worse than that, but still remained alive.” A dozen annoying creatures is not enough to finish off your humble servant, Bill!

“Let's see, see ...” his friend muttered ominously.

“Well, when we get to McGarry, then you'll see.”

“Not really, I hope so,” stood Bill.

“You're just out of sorts, and nothing more,” Henry said decisively. “You need to accept the hins.” Just let me get to McGarry, I'll pump you a good dose.

Bill grumbled something, expressing his disagreement with such a diagnosis, and fell silent.

The day passed, like all the previous ones.

It dawned at nine o’clock. At twelve, the horizon in the south turned pink from the invisible sun, and a gloomy day came, which in three hours was supposed to absorb the night.

Just at that moment, when the sun made a faint attempt to peer out from the horizon, Bill took out a gun from his sleigh and said:

“You do not stop, Henry.” I'll go see what is being done there.

- Do not leave the sleigh! Henry shouted to him. “You only have three rounds.” Who knows what might happen ...

- Aha! Are you whining now? Asked Bill triumphantly.

Henry was silent and walked on alone, now and then restlessly looking back into the desert darkness, where his comrade disappeared.

An hour later, Bill caught up with the sleigh, reducing the distance directly.

“They are widely dispersed,” he said, “prowl everywhere, but they are not behind us either.” It is evident that we are sure that we will not leave them. They decided to tolerate a little, they do not want to miss anything edible.

“That is, it seems to them that we will not leave them,” Henry emphasized.

But Bill ignored these words.

- I saw some - skinny! Probably, for a long time nothing fell into them, except for Fetti, Frog and Spanker. A flock of large, ate and did not feel. Greatly empty. Ribs, like a washboard, and bellies totally failed. In a word, we went to extremes. Togo look and all fear will forget, and then keep your eyes open!

A few minutes later, Henry, who was now following the sleigh, issued a quiet warning whistle.

Bill looked around and calmly stopped the dogs. Behind the turn that they had just passed, a hot, furry beast ran in their fresh tracks. Sniffing at the snow, he ran a light, gliding trot. When people stopped, he stopped, stretching out his muzzle and drawing in the trembling nostrils of the smells that reached him.

- She. She-wolf, said Bill.

Dogs lay in the snow. He walked past them to a friend who was standing near the sleigh. Both began to look at the strange beast that had been chasing them for several days and destroyed half of the team.

After waiting and looking around, the beast took several steps forward. He repeated this maneuver until he approached the sleigh a hundred yards, then stopped near the slay, raised his face and, raising his nose, began to closely monitor the people watching him. There was something dreary in this look, reminiscent of the look of a dog, but without the shadow of a dog's devotion. It was a yearning born of hunger, cruel like wolf fangs, ruthless, like a cold.

For the wolf, the beast was great, and despite its thinness, it was clear that he belonged to the largest representatives of his breed.

“Two and a half feet tall,” Henry determined. - And from head to tail there will probably be about five.

“Not quite the usual suit for a wolf,” Bill said. “I've never seen redheads.” And this is some kind of reddish brown.

Bill was wrong. The fur of the beast was real wolf. Gray hair predominated in it, but a light reddish shade, sometimes disappearing, then appearing again, created a deceptive impression - the wool seemed gray or now suddenly cast with a redhead.

“A real ride like, only bigger,” Bill said. - Togo and look tail wags.

- Hey you, like! He shouted. - Come here ... What’s your name!

“She's not a bit afraid,” Henry laughed. His comrade shouted louder and threatened the beast with his fist, but the tog did not show the slightest fear and only became more wary. He continued to look at them all with the same merciless hungry longing. There was meat in front of him, and he was starving. And if he only had the courage, he would rush at people and gobble them up.

“Listen, Henry,” Bill said, unconsciously lowering his voice to a whisper. “We have three rounds.”But you can kill her on the spot. You won’t miss it. Three dogs, as it happened, we must put an end to this. What do you say?

Henry nodded his head in agreement.

Bill cautiously pulled the gun out of the sleigh, it was picked up, but never brought to the shoulder. The she-wolf jumped from the path to the side and disappeared among the fir trees. Friends looked drut at a friend. Henry whistled pointedly.

- Oh, I did not realize! - exclaimed Bill, putting the gun in place. “How could such a she-wolf not know a gun when she knows the time of feeding the dogs!” I tell you, Henry, she is to blame for all our misfortunes. If not for this creature, we would now have six dogs, not three. No, Henry, I'll get to her. In the open, you won’t kill her, she’s too smart. But I will track her down. I will shoot this creature from an ambush.

“Just don't go far,” Henry warned him. - If they attack you with a whole flock, three bullets will help you, like a dead poultice. This beast was very hungry. Look, Bill, get caught!

That night the stop was made early. Three dogs could not carry the sled so fast and for as long as six did, they were noticeably exhausted. Bill tied them away from each other so that they would not gnaw the belts, and both travelers immediately went to bed. But the wolves became bolder and woke them more than once at night. They came so close that the dogs began to rage with fear, and in order to keep the brave predators at a distance, they had to put branches in the fire every now and then.

“The sailors say sharks like to swim behind the ships,” Bill said, climbing under the covers after one of such walks to the fire. - So, wolves are land sharks. They know their business better than you and me and they run after us not for exercise. We get them, Henry. You see, we get caught.

“You can be considered already caught if you talk about it so much,” his comrade snapped. “Whoever is afraid of flogging is like a flog, and you are like wolves on your teeth.”

“They finished off people and better than you and me,” Bill answered.

- Yes, stop whining! My powers are no more!

Henry angrily rolled over on the other side, surprised that Bill was silent. It was not like him, because harsh words easily infuriated him. Henry thought about this for a long time before falling asleep, but in the end his eyelids began to stick together, and he fell into a dream with the thought: “Chandrite Bill. It will be necessary to stir him up tomorrow. ”

The first meeting of the White Fang with people

Fate presents him with a meeting with people. Seeing these unusual creatures, the wolf cub is submissive, following the ancient call laid down by his ancestors. But as soon as a man reaches out to him, the wolf cub bites him and gets a strong blow to the head. From pain and horror, he begins to whine, calling for the help of the she-wolf. Mother hurries to help her offspring, but then an Indian named Gray Beaver recognizes her dog Kichi in her and calls her imperiously. An amazed wolf cub sees his proud wolf mother crawling on her belly to her former master. Now they both belong to an old Indian who calls the wolf cub the White Fang.

Life in the camp of the Indians

Further we observe how White Fang gets used to new life among people. We will continue the summary of the novel with a description of the trials that the little wolf will face in the camp of the Indians.

Master Kichi sells the she-wolf, and White Fang is left alone. It is hard for him to adapt to new conditions. People, sometimes cruel, sometimes fair, dictate new laws of life to him. One of them is that he must always obey the Master, and never, under any circumstances, try to bite him again.

In addition, he has to constantly fight dogs, his brothers do not want to recognize him as one of them, they consider him a stranger. He understands that the one who is stronger always wins in a fight.

White Fang grows strong, agile, cruel and cunning. In his heart there is no place for good feelings and the need for affection, because he himself is deprived of them.But he knows how to run faster than anyone and fight hardest than anyone, and he really emerges victorious from numerous fights.

Escape and return of the White Fang

We will resume the summary of the book White Fang at the time of the wolf's escape from the Indians. During the transition of the Indians to another pasture, the young wolf decides to escape, but, being alone, can not resist his grief and loneliness. He is forced to return to the owners.

Upon returning, the young wolf masters the craft of a sled dog. After some time, he leads the team and rules his brothers with decisive adherence, which makes them even more angry.

Working in a sled team makes White Fang stronger, but turns it from a wolf to a dog. He perceives the world as he sees it, cruel and severe and from now on he will forever serve his master - Man.

With this baggage of knowledge, the childhood of a wolf cub named White Fang ends. The summary goes on to describe his adult life.

White Fang and Handsome Smith

Once the owner of the White Fang goes to the fort and takes a wolf with him. Gold miners live there, buying fur from the Indians. A strong wolf dog attracts the attention of Handsome Smith, who is trying to persuade an Indian to sell him a dog, but he flatly refuses. Then Handsome Smith generously treats the Indian to alcohol, and he agrees to exchange the White Fang for several bottles of alcohol.

“White Fang”, a brief summary of the chapter on the life of the main character in Handsome Smith, will cause the reader only pity and sympathy.

The new owner was even ruthless than the previous one. He often brutally beats the White Fang, he tries to run twice, but both times Handsome Smith finds him. The dog has no choice but to reconcile and submit to the owner, hating him with all his heart.

Handsome Smith loves to have fun in dog fights and exposes White Fang there. His win-win triumph ends with a loss to the bulldog. This battle nearly ended with the death of the White Fang, engineer Whedon Scott saved him, opening the mouth of the bulldog. Then he persuaded Handsome Smith to sell him a dog. So White Fang got a third boss.

White Fang gains a new master

We continue to follow the story line, which conducts Jack London. “White Fang” - a brief summary - omits all the details of the new life of the White Fang, but includes the main events.

So embittered by the ordeals, White Fang came to his senses pretty soon and showed Widon Scott all his rage. But the new owner treats White Fang with patience and affection, awakening in the dog the feelings that were practically killed in him by a hopeless and cruel life.

The owner is trying to atone for the people who were so inhuman with White Fang. Once, when Scott has to leave unexpectedly, the dog suffers so much without him that he completely loses interest in life. And when the owner returns, White Fang first shows him all his love, clinging to his head. One day, Handsome Smith appears at Mr. Scott's house to steal the dog secretly, but White Fang could fend for himself.

However, it is time for the engineer to return home to California. Scott is not sure that a dog accustomed to the northern cold can live normally in an unusual heat. In the end, Scott decides to leave Fang. But the dog managed to get out of the house, breaking the window, and ran to the departing boat. The owner takes the dog with him.

White Fang Life in California

The summary of the story “White Fang”, as well as the work itself, shows the reader all the power of good.

White Fang's life continues in California, at Wadon Scott's hometown. Here the dog’s life changes completely. He meets a girlfriend, a shepherd named Collie. White Fang gets used to Scott's children and begins to truly love them, they also don’t dwell on him. But he especially likes the owner’s father, Judge Scott. White Fang becomes the darling and protector of the entire Whedon family.

Judge's Rescue

One day, White Fang even saves a judge from imminent death at the hands of the fierce criminal Jim Hill, who was once convicted. The dog bit him, but he himself was seriously injured. Hill shot a dog three times, broke his hind leg and several ribs. White Fang is between life and death, doctors are sure that after such injuries the dog will not survive. But the amazing vitality and healthy body of a dog who grew up in the northern wilderness, pull him out of the arms of death. White Fang is recovering.

The summary of the novel “White Fang”, no less than a complete work, makes one think first of all about human qualities.

The work ends with a pacified scene, when the dog, weakened after the wounds, staggers slightly, enters the lawn, which is flooded with bright sunlight. Little puppies creep up to him, their offspring with Collie, and, basking in the sun, he plunges into the memories of his life.

CHAPTER THREE SONG OF HUNGER

At first, the day promised good luck. During the night not a single dog was lost, and Henry and Bill briskly set out on the road among the silence, darkness and cold surrounding them. Bill did not seem to recall the gloomy forebodings that disturbed him last night, and even deigned to play a trick on the dogs when, on one of the turns, they overturned the sled. Everything mixed up in a heap. Turning over, the sleigh was stuck between a tree and a huge boulder, and in order to understand all this confusion, we had to harness the dogs. Travelers bent over the sled, trying to lift them, when Henry saw that the One-Eared runs away.

- Back, One-Eared! He shouted, rising from his knees and looking after the dog.

But One-Eared let it go even faster, dragging along the snow. And there, on the path they had just traveled, a she-wolf was waiting for him. Running towards her, One-Eared pricked up his ears, switched to a light, shallow step, then stopped. He looked at her carefully, incredulously, but with greed. And she gritted her teeth, as if smiling at him with an insinuating smile, then made several playful leaps and stopped. One-eared went to her still cautiously, with his tail lifted up, pricked up his ears and raised his head high.

He wanted to sniff her, but the she-wolf leaned back, flirting with him slyly. Each time he took a step forward, she stepped back. And so, step by step, the she-wolf carried One-Eared along with it, farther from its reliable defenders - people. Suddenly, as if an unclear fear stopped the One-Eared. He turned his head and looked at the overturned sled, at his teammates and at the owners calling him. But if something like that flickered in the dog’s head, the she-wolf instantly dispelled all his indecision: she went up to him, touched his nose for a moment, and then started again, playing, moving farther and farther away.

Meanwhile, Bill remembered the gun. But it was lying under an inverted sled, and while Henry helped him make out the luggage, the One-Eared and the she-wolf came so close to each other that shooting at such a distance was risky.

Too late Odnuzy realized his mistake. Still not knowing what was the matter, Bill and Henry saw how he turned and rushed to run back to them. And then they saw twelve scrawny gray wolves that rushed at right angles to the road, across the One-Eared. In an instant, the she-wolf abandoned all her playfulness and craftiness — with a growl she rushed at the One-Eared. He threw her shoulder, made sure that the return path was cut off, and, still hoping to reach the sleigh, rushed to them in a circle. With every minute the wolves became more and more. The she-wolf rushed after the dog, keeping at a distance of one jump from her.

- Where are you going? - Suddenly shouted Henry, grabbing a friend by the shoulder.

Bill shook off his hand.

- Enough! - he said. “They won’t get a single dog anymore!”

With a rifle at the ready, he rushed into the shrubbery bordering the river channel. His intentions were perfectly clear: taking the sled for the center of the circle along which the dog ran.Bill hoped to cut this circle at the point where the chase had not yet reached. In broad daylight, having a gun in his hands, it was quite possible to drive away the wolves and save the dog.

“Watch out, Bill!” Henry shouted after him. - Do not risk in vain!

Henry sat on the sled and waited for what would happen next. There was nothing left for him to do. Bill had already disappeared from sight, but in the bushes and among the growing heaps of firs, the One-Eared appeared or disappeared again. Henry realized that the dog’s position was hopeless. She was well aware of the danger, but she had to flee in the outer circle, while a pack of wolves raced along the inner, narrower one. There was nothing to think that the One-Eared would be able to get ahead of his pursuers so much as to cross their path and reach the sleigh. Both lines could close every minute. Henry knew that somewhere in the snow, shielded from him by trees and shrubs, a pack of wolves, One-Eared and Bill, should meet at one point.

Everything happened quickly, much faster than he expected. A shot rang out, then two more - one after another, and Henry realized that Bill's charges were out. Then squeals and a loud growl were heard. Henry discerned the voice of the One-Eared, howling with pain and horror, and the howling of a wounded man, obviously a wolf.

And that’s all. The growl ceased. The screech stopped. Silence loomed over the deserted land again.

Henry sat on a sleigh for a long time. He had no reason to go there: everything was clear, as if Bill had a meeting with the pack before his eyes. Only once he jumped up and quickly pulled an ax out of the sled, but then he sank down again and frowned directly in front of him, and the two surviving dogs clung to his feet and trembled with fear.

Finally he got up - so tired, as if his muscles had lost all elasticity - and began to harness. He put it on his shoulders and dragged the sled along with the dogs. But he did not go long and, as soon as it got dark, made a stop and prepared as much brushwood as possible, then he fed the dogs, dined and laid himself near the fire.

But he was not destined to enjoy the dream. Before he could close his eyes, the wolves came close to the fire. To make out them, it was no longer necessary to strain eyesight. They surrounded the fire with a tight ring, and Henry clearly saw how some of them were lying, others were sitting, others were crawling on their belly closer to the fire or wandered around it. Some even slept. They curled up in the snow like a dog, and slept soundly, and he himself could not now close his eyes.

Henry made a big bonfire, because he knew that only fire serves as the premier between his body and the fangs of hungry wolves. Both dogs were sitting at the feet of their master — one on the right, the other on the left — in the hope that he would protect them, they howled, squealed, and began to bark frantically if any wolf got closer to the fire than the rest. Hearing barking, the whole circle began to move, the wolves jumped up from their seats and rushed forward, howling and roaring impatiently, then laid back on the snow and fell into sleep one after another.

The circle contracted more and more closely. Little by little, inch by inch, one or the other wolf crawled forward until they all found themselves at almost a single leap from Henry. Then he grabbed bunts from the fire and threw them into the flock. This caused a hasty retreat, followed by an enraged howl and a frightened growl if a smut fired by a mark fell into some too brave wolf.

By morning, Henry looked haggard, his eyes sunken by insomnia. In the dark, he cooked breakfast for himself, and at nine o'clock, when the daylight dispersed the wolves, he set to work, which he considered in the long hours of the night. He chopped a few young fir trees and tied them high to the trees, built a platform, then, throwing the sled ropes through it, with the help of dogs he lifted the coffin and placed it there, upstairs.

“They got to Bill and they can get to me, but they can’t get you, young man,” he said, referring to the dead man buried high in the trees.

Having done this, Henry set off on his journey. Empty sleds easily jumped after the dogs, which took off, knowing, like the man, that danger would pass them only when they get to Fort McGarry. Now the wolves are completely bolder: with a calm trot they ran behind the sled and nearby, sticking out their tongues, leading their skinny sides. The wolves were so thin — skin and bones, only the muscles showed up like ropes — that Henry wondered how they stood on their feet and did not wallow in the snow.

He was afraid that the darkness would catch him on his way. At noon, the sun not only warmed the southern part of the sky, but even seemed a pale golden edge above the horizon. Henry saw this as a good omen. The days were getting longer. The sun was returning to these parts. But as soon as the friendly rays faded, Henry made a halt. Until complete darkness there were still a few hours of gray daylight and gloomy twilight, and he used them to store as much brushwood as possible.

Along with the darkness, horror came to him. The wolves became bolder, and the night spent without sleep made itself felt. Wrapped in a blanket, putting an ax between his legs, he was sitting near a fire and could not overcome the slumber. Both dogs snuggled close to him. In the middle of the night, he woke up and about twelve feet away saw a large gray wolf, one of the largest in the entire pack. The beast slowly stretched, as if it were spilling out, and Henry yawned with his whole mouth directly into his face, looking at him as his property, as a prey, which sooner or later he would get.

Such confidence was felt in the behavior of the whole flock. Henry counted twenty wolves looking at him with hungry eyes or sleeping calmly in the snow. They reminded him of the children who had gathered around the laid table and were waiting only for permission to pounce on the treat. And this delicacy is destined to become him! “When will the wolves begin their feast?” He thought.

Putting brushwood in a bonfire, Henry noticed that now he is completely new to his own body. He watched the work of his muscles and examined with interest the cunning mechanism of his fingers. In the light of the fire, he bent them several times in a row, now one by one, now all at once, then widened, then quickly clenched into a fist. He peered at the structure of the nails, nibbled his fingertips, now stronger, then softer, testing the sensitivity of his nervous system. All of this fascinated Henry, and he suddenly felt a fondness for his howling body, which worked so easily, so accurately and perfectly. Then he cast a fearful glance at the wolves, who were closing around the bonfire all around her, and suddenly, like thunder, he was struck by the thought that this wonderful body, this living flesh is nothing but meat - the object of lust for voracious animals that will tear, tear apart him with their fangs, they will satisfy their hunger to them in the same way as he himself more than once satisfied his hunger with the meat of elk and hare.

He woke up from a nap bordering on a nightmare, and saw a red wolf in front of him. She sat some six feet from the fire and looked sadly at the man. Both dogs whined and growled at his feet, but the she-wolf did not seem to notice them. She looked at the man, and for several minutes answered her the same. She looked not at all ferocious. A terrible longing was shining in her eyes, but Henry knew that this kind was born of the same terrible hunger. He was food, and the sight of this food aroused taste sensations in the wolf. Her mouth was open, saliva dripping on the snow, and she licked her lips, anticipating the wait.

Crazy fear swept Henry. He quickly extended a hand behind the bunt, but did not have time to touch it, as the she-wolf recoiled back: apparently, she was used to throwing anything at her.The she-wolf snapped, biting her white fangs all the way to the gums, the anguish in her eyes gave way to such bloodthirsty anger that Henry flinched. He glanced at his hand, noticed with what dexterity the fingers held the smut, how they fitted to all its irregularities, covering the rough surface from all sides, like the little finger, apart from his will, moved away from the hot place by himself - he glanced at the same for a moment I clearly imagined how the white teeth of the she-wolf would pierce these thin, delicate fingers and tear them apart. Henry had never loved his body as it was now, when his existence was so fragile.

All night, Henry fought off a hungry flock with burning bunts, fell asleep when he did not have enough strength to fight a nap, and woke up from a squeal and growl of dogs. It was morning, but this time the daylight did not drive the wolves away. The man was expecting his pursuers to scatter. They still surrounded the fire with a ring and looked at Henry with such arrogant confidence that he again lost the courage that had returned to him with the dawn.

Henry set off, but as soon as he got out of the fire, the boldest wolf of the pack rushed at him, but the jump was poorly designed, and the wolf missed. Henry escaped by jumping back, and the wolf's teeth snapped a few inches from his thigh.

The whole flock rushed to the man, swept around the nets, and only the burning bunts drove her to a respectable distance.

Even in daylight, Henry did not dare to move away from the fire and chop wood. Twenty paces from the sled stood a huge, dried spruce. He spent half a day stretching a chain of bonfires up to her, all the while keeping several burning branches ready for his pursuers. Having reached the goal, he looked around, looking for where there is more brushwood to dump the spruce in that direction.

This night was an exact repetition of the previous one, with the only difference being that Henry could hardly fight sleep. He no longer woke from the growling dogs. Moreover, they growled without ceasing, and his tired, drowsy brain no longer caught the shades in their voices.

And suddenly he woke up as if from a jolt. The she-wolf stood very close. Mechanically, he poked smut in her bared mouth. The she-wolf recoiled back, howling in pain, while Henry inhaled with pleasure the smell of burning wool and burnt meat, watching the beast shake its head and roar angrily already a few steps away.

But this time, before falling asleep, Henry tied a smoldering pine branch to his right hand. As soon as he closed his eyes, the pain of a burn woke him. This went on for several hours. Waking up, he drove off the wolves with burning bunts, threw brushwood into the fire and again tied the branch to his hand. Everything was going well, but on one of these awakenings, Henry tightened his belt tightly, and as soon as his eyes closed, the bitch fell out of his hand.

He had a dream. Fort McGarry. Warm, comfortable. He plays cribbage with the head of the trading post. And he dreams that wolves are besieging the fort. The wolves howl at the very gates, and they and the chief sometimes break away from the game to listen to the howl and laugh at the futile efforts of the wolves to penetrate the fort. Then - what a strange dream he had! - there was a crack. The door swung open wide. Wolves burst into the room. They rushed at him and the boss. As soon as the door opened, the howl became deafening, he no longer gave him rest. The dream took on some other shape. Henry could not yet figure out which ones, and howl, which did not stop for a minute, prevented him from understanding this.

And then he woke up and heard a howl and a growl in reality. The wolves flocked at him in a flock. Someone's fangs dug into his hand. He jumped into the fire and, jumping, felt sharp teeth slash his leg. And so the battle began. Thick gauntlets protected his hands from fire, with full handfuls he scattered burning coals in all directions, and at the end the fire became something like a volcano.

But this could not last long.Henry's face was covered with blisters, eyebrows and eyelashes were scorched, his legs could not stand the heat. Grabbing the smut in his hands, he jumped closer to the edge of the fire. The wolves retreated. On the right and on the left, wherever the coals fell, snow hissed: and from desperate jumps, snorts and growls, one could guess that the wolves were stepping on them. Having spread the bunts, the man threw off his smoldering gloves and began to stomp his feet in the snow to cool them. Both dogs disappeared, and he knew very well that they served as the next dish at that long feast that began with Fatti and one of the coming days, perhaps, would end with himself. “But you still haven’t reached me!” He shouted, furiously threatening hungry animals with his fist. Hearing his voice, the flock swept over, growled amicably, and the she-wolf approached him almost closely and stared at him with sad, hungry eyes. Henry began to mull over a new defense plan. Having spread the fire with a wide ring, he threw his bed on the melting snow and sat on it inside this ring. As soon as a man hid behind a fire fence, the whole flock surrounded her, curious about where he had gone. Until now, they did not have access to the fire, and now they sat around him in a tight circle and, like dogs, blinked, yawned and stretched in the warmth that was unusual for them. Then the she-wolf sat on its hind legs, raised its head and howled. One by one, the wolves pulled her up, and finally the whole flock, staring with their faces in the starry sky, dragged on the song of hunger.

It began to grow light, then the day came. Bonfire burned out. The brushwood was coming to an end, it was necessary to replenish the supply. The man tried to go beyond the limits of the ring of fire, but the wolves rushed towards him. Burning bunts made them bounce to the sides, but they no longer ran back. The man tried in vain to drive them away. Finally convinced of the hopelessness of his attempts, he retreated into the burning ring, and at that time one of the wolves jumped on him, but missed and with all four paws hit the fire. The beast howled with fear, snarled and crawled away from the fire, trying to cool the burnt paws in the snow.

The man, hunched over, sat on the blanket. By the limp shoulders and drooping head, it was clear that he no longer had the strength to continue the struggle. From time to time he raised his head and looked at the burning fire. The ring of fire And ember in some places has already opened, has broken up into separate bonfires. The free passage between them increased and the bonfires themselves decreased.

“Well, now you get to me,” muttered Henry. “But I don't care, I want to sleep ...”

Waking up, he saw a wolf between two bonfires right in front of him, looking at him with a fixed look.

A few minutes later, which seemed to him for hours, he raised his head again. There was some strange change, so incomprehensible to him, that he immediately woke up. Something happened. At first he could not understand what exactly. Then he guessed: the wolves had disappeared.

Only by the snow trodden around could one judge how close they got to him.

A wave of slumber again swept Henry, his head fell to his knees, but suddenly he started and woke up.

From somewhere came human voices, the creak of skids, the impatient screeching of dogs. Four sledges drove up from the river to the parking lot between the trees. Several people surrounded Henry, crouching in a ring of dying fire. They pushed and shook him, trying to bring to life. He looked at them like a drunk, and muttered in a languid, sleepy voice:

- The red wolf ... came to feed the dogs ... At first she ate dog food ... then the dogs ... And then Bill ...

“Where is Lord Alfred?” - one of those who arrived shouted into his ear, shaking him by the shoulder with force.

He slowly shook his head.

- She did not touch him ... He is there, in the trees ... at the last parking lot.

- Yes. In a coffin, - Henry answered.

He angrily jerked his shoulder, freeing himself from a man bending over him.

- Leave me alone, I can’t ... Good night ...

The eyelids of Henry trembled and closed, his head fell to his chest. And as soon as he was lowered onto the blanket, loud snoring was heard in the frosty silence.

But other sounds blended into this snoring. From afar, barely perceptible at such a distance, came the howling of a hungry flock chasing after another prey, instead of the person just left by it.

CHAPTER FIRST BATTLE OF FANGS

The she-wolf was the first to hear the sounds of human voices and the squealing of sled dogs, and she was the first to recoil from a man driven into a circle of extinguishing fire. Reluctantly parting with the already hunted prey, the flock hesitated for several minutes, listening, and then rushed after the she-wolf.

At the head of the pack was a large gray wolf, one of its leaders. It was he who directed the pack in the wolf’s footsteps, warningly snarling at his younger brothers and driving them away with fangs when they dared to run ahead. And this he added to the move, seeing in front of a she-wolf, running at a slow trot through the snow.

The she-wolf ran alongside him, as if the place was intended for her, and was no longer moving away from the pack. The leader did not growl and snarl at the she-wolf when an accidental jump carried her forward - on the contrary, he apparently was very close to her, because he tried to run alongside him all the time. And she didn’t like it, and she growled and gritted her teeth, not letting him go to her. Sometimes the she-wolf did not stop even before biting his shoulder. In such cases, the leader did not show any malice, but only bounced to the side and made several awkward jumps, reminding with all his appearance and behavior of a confused simpleton in love.

This was the only thing that prevented him from managing the pack. But the wolf was overcome by other troubles. To her right was a skinny old wolf whose gray skin bore the marks of many battles. He kept to the right of the she-wolf all the time. This was explained by the fact that he had only one eye, the left. The old wolf kept crowding her every now and then, poking her scarred face in her side, then in the shoulder, or in the neck. She met his courtship with a clank of teeth, as well as the courtship of the leader who was running to her left, and when both of them began to molest her at the same time, she had to tightly: she had to jerk her teeth, at the same time not to lag behind the flock and look at herself under legs. At such moments, both wolves threatened snarling and grinning at each other's teeth. At another time, they would have fought, but now even love and rivalry gave way to a stronger feeling - a feeling of hunger, tormenting the whole flock.

After each such rebuff, the old wolf bounced off the obstinate object of his lusts and came across a young, three-year-old wolf, who ran to the right, from the side of his blind eye. The three-year-old was quite mature and, taking into account the weakness and exhaustion of the remaining wolves, stood out from the whole pack with his strength and liveliness. And yet he ran so that his head was flush with the shoulder of the one-eyed wolf. As soon as he dared to break up with him (which happened quite rarely), the old man growled, clanged his teeth and immediately upset him in his former place. However, from time to time the three-year-old lagged behind and furtively squeezed between him and the she-wolf. This maneuver met with a double, even triple rebuff. As soon as the she-wolf began to growl, the old wolf made a sharp turn and pounced on a three-year-old. Sometimes a wolf attacked him at the same time as the old man, and sometimes the leader who fled to the left joined them.

Seeing the three fierce jaws in front of him, the young wolf stopped, settled on its hind legs and, bristling all over, showed its teeth. Confusion at the head of the pack was invariably accompanied by confusion in the back rows. The wolves came across a three-year-old and expressed their dissatisfaction with the fact that they viciously bit him for his thighs and for his sides. His position was dangerous, as hunger and rage usually accompany each other.But the boundless self-confidence of youth pushed him to repeat these attempts, although they did not have the slightest success and caused him only one trouble.

Caught some prey for wolves - love and rivalry because of love would immediately take possession of the flock, and ohm would dissipate. But her situation was desperate. Wolves became thinner from a long hunger strike and moved forward much slower than usual. In the tail, limping, weaving the weak - the youngest and oldest. The strong walked ahead. Weight, they looked more like skeletons than real wolves. And yet, in their movements - apart from those who were limping - there was no noticeable fatigue or the slightest effort. It seemed that in the muscles that spoke on their bodies like peaches, an inexhaustible supply of power lurks. Each movement of the steel muscle was followed by a different movement, followed by a third, fourth - and hook without end.

On that day, wolves ran many miles. They fled at night. The next day came, and they were still running. Icy dead space. Nowhere is the slightest sign of life. They alone were moving in this frozen desert. Only there was life in them, and they scoured in search of other living beings to tear them to pieces - and live, live!

The wolves had to cross more than one watershed and sprinkle one stream in the lowlands, before their searches were successful. They met moose. Their first prey was a large elk male. It was a life. It was meat, and it was not protected by a mysterious bonfire, or flying bunts. It was not the first time wolves had encountered cloven hooves and branching horns, and they discarded their usual patience and caution. The battle was short and hot. Moose surrounded on all sides. With well-aimed blows of heavy hooves, the ogg tore open stomachs of wolves, pierced skulls, and broke bones with huge horns. The elk crushed them under him, rolling in the snow, but he was doomed to death, and in the end his legs broke. A wolf with frenzy stared at his throat, and the teeth of the other wolves tore him apart - alive, without waiting until he was quiet and stopped beating.

There was plenty of food. The elk weighed over eight hundred pounds - twenty pounds for each wolf's throat. If the wolves with astonishing endurance knew how to fast, then the speed with which they ate food was no less amazing, and soon from the magnificent, full of strength animal that collided with the pack a few hours ago, there were only a few bones scattered in the snow.

Now the wolves rested and slept for a long time. On a full stomach, younger males began to quarrel and fight, and that went on for the remainder of the days preceding the breakup of the flock. The famine is over. Wolves reached wild places, they still hunted as a whole flock, but acted with more caution, cutting off from small elk herds that fell in their way, pregnant females or old sick moose.

And then the day came in this country of plenty, when the wolf pack was divided into two. The she-wolf, a young leader who fled to her left, and One-eyed, who fled to her right, led their half of the pack east, to the Mackenzie River, and further to the lakes. And this small flock also decreased every day. Wolves were divided into pairs - male with female. The sharp teeth of the opponent kept dropping away some lone wolf. And finally, the she-wolf, the young leader, the one-eyed and the impudent three-year-old remained four.

By this time, the character of the she-wolf had completely deteriorated. All three of the caretakers had traces of her teeth. But the wolves never answered her the same way, never tried to defend themselves. They only put their shoulders under the most fierce bites of a she-wolf, wagged their tail and minced around her, trying to moderate her anger. But if the wolves showed meekness to the female, then in relation to each other they were very anger. The ferocity of the three-year-old has crossed all borders.In one of the next quarrels, he flew up to the old wolf from the side from which the heat had not seen anything, and tore his ear to shreds. But the gray-haired one-eyed old man called for help against youth and strength all his long-term wisdom and all his experience. His leaking eye and his scarred snout spoke eloquently enough about what kind of experience this was. He had to go through too many battles for a long time in order to at least for one minute think about what should be done now.

The battle began honestly, but dishonestly ended. It would be difficult to judge in advance its outcome if the young leader had not joined the old leader, together they attacked the daring three-year-old. The ruthless fangs of the former brothers fell into him from all sides. The days were forgotten when the wolves hunted together, the prey that they killed together, the hunger that equally tormented the three of them. All this was a thing of the past. Now love owned them - a feeling even more severe and cruel than hunger.

In the meantime, the she-wolf - the cause of all the contention - sat contentedly in the snow and began to monitor the battle. She even liked it. Her hour has come — which rarely happens — when the wool stands on end, the fang hits the fang, vomits, stripes the supple body, and all this is only for its possession.

And the three-year-old, who for the first time in his life faced love, paid for it with his life. Both rivals stood over his body. They looked at the she-wolf who sat in the snow and smiled at them. But the old wolf was wise - wise in matters of love no less than in battles. The young leader turned his head to lick the wound on his shoulder. His scruff was facing his opponent. With his only eye, the old man saw what a convenient opportunity seemed to him. Rushing an arrow at a young wolf, he slashed his fangs on the neck, leaving a long, deep wound and ripped open vein on it, and immediately bounced back.

The young leader growled, but his terrible growl immediately turned into a convulsive cough. Bleeding, coughing, he rushed at the old wolf, but life was already leaving him, his legs were giving way, his eyes were covered with fog, blows and leaps were getting weaker and weaker. And the wolf was sitting on the sidelines and smiling. The sight of the battle aroused in her some vague feeling of joy, for such is love in the northern wilderness, and only the one who dies knows its tragedy. For those who remain alive, it is no longer a tragedy, but the triumph of a fulfilled desire.

When the young wolf stretched out in the snow, One-eyed proudly walked toward the she-wolf. However, the complete triumph of the winner was hindered by the need to be on the alert. He simple-heartedly expected a sharp reception and was just as simple-heartedly surprised when the she-wolf did not show him teeth - for the first time in all this time he was greeted so affectionately. She sniffed with him and even began to jump and frolic, just like a puppy. And One-eyed, forgetting his venerable age and wisdom by experience, also turned into a puppy, perhaps even more stupid than a wolf.

The defeated rivals and the love story written in blood on snow were also forgotten. Only once did One-eyed remember this when he stopped for a minute to lick his wounds. And then his lips trembled viciously, the fur on his neck and shoulders stood on end, his claws frantically dug into the snow, his body bent, ready to jump. But the next minute everything was forgotten, and he rushed after the she-wolf, playfully beckoning him into the forest.

And then they ran alongside, like good friends, who finally came to a mutual agreement. Days passed, but they did not part — they chased prey together, killed it together, and ate it together. But then the she-wolf was overwhelmed by anxiety. She seemed to be looking for something and could not find. She was attracted to secluded places under fallen trees, and she spent whole hours sniffing the snow-covered clefts in the cliffs and caves under the overhanging banks of the river.All this did not interest the Old Wolf at all, but he dutifully followed her, and when these searches dragged on, he lay on the snow and waited for her. Not lingering for a long time in one place, they ran to the Mackenzie River and leisurely set off along the shore, from time to time turning in search of prey for small tributaries, but invariably returning to the river. Sometimes they came across other wolves, usually wandering in pairs, but neither side showed either joy at the meeting, nor friendly feelings, nor the desire to pack again. Lonely wolves met on their way. These were males who would willingly join One-Eyed and his girlfriend. But the One-Eyed did not want this, and as soon as the she-wolf stood shoulder to shoulder with him, bristled and grinning her teeth, as the intrusive strangers retreated, turned back and again set off on their lonely path.

Once, when they were running through a silent forest on a moonlit night, One-Eyed suddenly stopped. He lifted his muzzle upward, pulled his tail and, blowing his nostrils, began to sniff the air. Then he raised his front paw like a dog on a rack. Something alarmed him, and he continued to sniff, trying to unravel the news rushing through the air. The wolf pulled her nose and ran on, invigorating her companion. Still not calmed down, he followed her, but every now and then stopped to delve into the warning that the wind bore him.

Carefully stepping, the she-wolf stepped out of the trees into a large clearing. For several minutes she stood there alone. Then, on his guard, radiating boundless distrust with each hair, One-eyed approached her. They began to be nearby, continuing to listen, peer, twirl their noses.

They heard the sounds of a dog bickering, the guttural voices of men, the piercing wrangling of women, and even the subtle plaintive cry of a child. From, glades they could see only large, leather-covered wigwams, the fires of fires, which were constantly obscured by human figures, and smoke slowly rising in calm air. But they were nostrilized by the many smells of the Indian village, talking about things completely incomprehensible to the One-Eyed and familiar to the she-wolf to the smallest detail. The she-wolf was seized with strange uneasiness, and she continued to sniff all with great and great pleasure. But One-Eyed still doubted. He hesitantly started and betrayed his fears. She turned, poked his nose in the neck, as if reassuring, then again began to look at the village. Longing glowed in her eyes, but it was no longer longing born of hunger. She trembled at the desire to run there, sneak closer to the fires, intervene in a dog fight, dodge and bounce off people’s careless steps.

One-eyed impatiently stomped around her, but her old anxiety returned to the she-wolf, she again felt an irresistible need to find what she had been looking for for a long time. She turned and, to the great relief of the One-Eyed, ran into the forest, under the cover of trees.

Noiselessly, like shadows, gliding in the moonlit forest, they attacked the path and immediately buried their nose in the snow. The footprints on the path were very fresh. The one-eyed cautiously moved the alley forward, and his girlfriend followed on his heels. Their wide paws with thick pillows lay softly, like velvet, in the snow. But then One-eyed saw something white on the same white snow surface. One-eyed's sliding tread hid the speed of his movements, and he let go of the tagger even faster. Some obscure white flickered ahead of him.

She and the she-wolf ran along a narrow glade, bordered on both sides by a thicket of young fir trees and overlooking a moonlit meadow. The old wolf overtook a flicker in front of him. Each of his jumps reduced the distance between them. Now it is very close. Another leap - and the wolf’s teeth yell at him. But this jump did not follow.The white spot, which turned out to be a hare, flew high into the air right above the One-Eyed head and began to bounce and swing there, upstairs, not touching the ground, as if dancing some kind of fantastic dance. With a startled snort, One-eyed jumped back and, falling on the snow, growled menacingly at this terrible and incomprehensible object. However, the she-wolf calmly walked around him, tried on a jump and jumped up, trying to grab the hare. She soared high, but missed and only clanged her teeth. The first and second jump followed.

Rising slowly, One-eyed watched the she-wolf. Finally, her mistakes made him angry, he jumped up and grabbed the hare with his teeth, sank to the ground with him. But at that very moment a suspicious rustle was heard from one side, and One-eyed saw a young Christmas tree bending over him, which was about to hit him. The wolf’s jaws clenched, grinning his teeth, he darted back from this incomprehensible danger, a growl gurgled in his throat, his hair stood on end from rage and fear. And the slender tree straightened, and the hare danced again high in the air.

The wolf is furious. She bit One-eyed on the shoulder, and he, frightened by this unexpected attack, frenziedly slashed her teeth in the face. Such a rebuff, in turn, was a surprise for the she-wolf, and she attacked the One-eyed, growling with indignation. He already realized his mistake and tried to appease the she-wolf, but she continued to bite him. Then, abandoning all hopes of reconciliation, One-eyed began to dodge her bites, hiding her head and substituting one shoulder or the other under her teeth.

Meanwhile, the hare continued to dance in the air. The she-wolf sat down in the snow, and the One-eyed man, now afraid of his girlfriend even more than the mysterious Christmas tree, again made the jump. Grabbing a hare and falling to the ground with him, he stared with his only eye on the tree. As before, it bent to the very ground. The wolf cringed, expecting an imminent blow, the fur stood on end, but his teeth did not release prey. However, there was no blow. The tree remained bent over it. As soon as the wolf moved, the tree also moved, and he grumbled at it through clenched jaws, when he stood calmly, the tree did not move either, and the wolf decided that it was safer. But the warm hare blood was so delicious!

From this predicament of the One-Eyed wolf. She took a hare from him and, while the tree swayed swayingly and swayed above her, she calmly bit her head. The tree immediately straightened up and no longer bothered them, occupying its appropriate vertical position, in which the tree is supposed to grow by nature itself. And the wolf with One-eyed divided among themselves the prey caught for them by this mysterious tree.

A lot of them came across such paths and glades, where hares swayed high in the air, and a wolf pair examined them all. The she-wolf was always the first, and One-eyed followed her, watching and learning how to rob the traps. And this science subsequently served him well.

CHAPTER TWO HALES

Two days and two nights, a she-wolf and One-eyed wandered around an Indian village. The one-eyed man was worried and cowardly, and the village attracted something to the she-wolf, and she did not want to leave. But one morning, when a shot rang out in the air, not far from them, and a bullet hit a tree just a few inches from the one-eyed head, the wolves no longer hesitated and set off in long, even leaps, quickly increasing the distance between themselves and danger.

They didn’t run for long — only three days. The wolf continued with increasing perseverance. She was very heavy these days and could not run fast. Once, after chasing a hare, which at normal times it would not have cost her to catch, she suddenly left the chase and lay down to rest in the snow.One-eyed approached her, but he did not have time to gently touch her neck with the nose, as she bit him with such fury that he fell on his back and, being a very comic sight, began to fend off her teeth. The she-wolf became even more irritable than before, but the One-eyed was patient and caring as never before.

And finally, the wolf found what she was looking for. Found a few miles upstream a small stream that flowed into Mackenzie in the summer, now, having frozen to the rocky bottom, the stream has calmed down, turning from source to mouth into solid ice. A weary wolf ran tiredly behind the One-Eyed, who had gone far ahead, and suddenly noticed that in one place a high clay bank hangs over the stream. She turned to the side and ran there. Violent spring downpours and melting snow washed out a narrow crack in the shore and formed a small cave there.

The she-wolf stopped at the entrance to it and carefully looked at the outer wall of the cave, then circled it on both sides to the place where the precipice turned into a gentle slope. Returning back, she went into the cave through a narrow hole. The first three feet she had to crawl, then the walls rang out in breadth and height, and the she-wolf came out into a small circular area about six feet in diameter. Her head almost touched the ceiling. It was dry and comfortable inside. The she-wolf began to examine the cave, and One-eyed stood at the entrance and patiently watched her. With her head bowed and her nose almost touching her paws, the she-wolf rolled over several times around herself, either with a tired sigh, or with a grunt, bent her legs and stretched out on the ground, head to the entrance. One-eyed, pricked up his ears, chuckled at her, and the she-wolf could see how the tip of his tail walks good-naturedly back and forth against a light spot - the entrance to the cave. She pressed her sharp ears, opened her mouth and stuck out her tongue, with all her appearance expressing complete satisfaction and calmness.

One-eyed was hungry. He fell asleep at the entrance to the cave, but his sleep was disturbing. He woke up now and then, pricked up his ears, listened to what the world had said to him, bathed in the bright April sun playing in the snow. As soon as One-eyed began to doze, the faint whisper of invisible brooks came to his ears, and he lifted his head, listening intently to these sounds. The sun reappeared in the sky, and the awakening North sent its call to the wolf. Everything revived. Spring was felt in the air, life was born under the snow, the trees were swollen with sap, the kidneys cast off ice chains.

The one-eyed looked restlessly at his girlfriend, but she did not show the slightest desire to rise from her seat. He looked around, saw a flock of bugs fluttering not far from him, raised himself, but, looking again at the she-wolf, lay down and dozed off again. There was a faint humming in his ears. Through a nap, he waved his paw over his face several times - then he woke up. A mosquito curled at the tip of his nose. The mosquito was big - he probably spent the whole winter in a dry stump, and now the sun has taken him out of his stupor. The wolf was not able to resist the call of the outside world, in addition, he wanted to eat.

One-eyed crawled to his girlfriend and tried to convince her to rise. But she only snapped at him. Then the wolf decided to go alone and, going out into the bright sunlight, saw that the snow under his feet was falling through and travel would not be easy. He ran up the frozen stream, where the snow in the shade of the trees was still hard. After wandering for eight hours, the One-eyed came back dark, even more hungry than before. He had seen game more than once, but could not catch it. Hares easily rode on the melting crust, and he fell and floundered in the snow.

Some vague suspicion made One-eyed stop at the entrance to the cave. From there came strange faint sounds. They did not look like the voice of a she-wolf, but at the same time something familiar seemed to be in them. He crawled cautiously inward and heard his girlfriend's warning growl.This did not bother the One-Eyed, but made him keep a certain distance, he was interested in other sounds - a faint, muffled yelp and cry.

The wolf grumbled angrily at him. One-eyed curled up at the entrance to the cave and fell asleep. When morning came and a dim light penetrated the lair, the wolf again began to search for the source of these dimly familiar sounds. A new note appeared in the wolf's warning growl: jealousy was heard in him - and this made the wolf stay away from her. Nevertheless, he managed to discern that between the legs of the she-wolf, clinging to her belly, five small lively balls glistened, weak, helpless, they quietly screeched and did not open their eyes to the light. The wolf was surprised. This was not the first time in his long and successful life, it happened often, and yet every time he was surprised again. The wolf looked at him with concern. From time to time she grumbled quietly, and when the wolf, as it seemed to her, came too close, this grumble became formidable. An instinct ahead of all wolf mothers experience vaguely told her that fathers could eat their helpless offspring, although so far she did not know such a disaster. And fear made her drive One-Eyed from the cubs generated by him.

However, nothing threatened the wolves. The old wolf, in turn, felt the dictates of instinct, which passed to him from his fathers. Without thinking about him, not opposing him, he felt this command with his whole being and, turning his back on his newborn offspring, went in search of food.

Five or six miles from the lair, the stream branched, and both of its arms turned at right angles to the mountains. The wolf went along the left sleeve and soon came across someone's tracks. Having sniffed them and making sure that the tracks were completely fresh, he fell on the snow and looked in the direction they were leading. Then he turned slowly and ran along the right sleeve. The footprints were much larger than his own, and he knew that there was little hope of prey where they would lead.

Having run about half a mile along the right sleeve, the wolf caught a grinding sound with his sensitive ear. Closing closer, he saw a porcupine, who, standing on his hind legs, sharpened his teeth on a tree. The one-eyed man cautiously approached him, not hoping, however, for good luck. So far in the north porcupines he did not come across, but he knew these animals, although in his entire life he had never tasted meat. However, experience taught the wolf that there is happiness or luck in life, and he continued to get close to the porcupine. It is difficult to guess how this meeting will end, because the outcome of the struggle with a living creature can never be known in advance.

The porcupine curled up in a ball, spreading long sharp needles in all its singing, and an attack has now become impossible. In his youth, One-eyed once poked his face in the same here lifeless ball of needles and unexpectedly received a blow with his tail but nose. One needle remained stuck in his nose, causing burning pain, and left the wound only a few weeks later. He lay down, preparing to jump and holding his nose a whole foot away from the porcupine's tail. Frozen in place, he waited. Who knows? Everything can be. Suddenly a porcupine will turn around. Suddenly, the case will appear with a deft blow of the paw to open the tender, unprotected belly.

But after half an hour, One-eyed got up, growled viciously on a motionless ball and ran on.

Too often he had to watch porcupines in the past - just like that, without any sense, to spend time on it now. And he ran farther th th to the right sleeve of the stream. The day was drawing to a close, and his search was still unsuccessful.

The awakened instinct of fatherhood controlled the wolf. He knew that food must be found at all costs. At noon he caught a white partridge. He ran out of the bush and found himself nose to nose with this stupid bird. She was sitting on a stump, some foot from his face. They saw each other at the same time.The bird fluttered its wings fearfully, but the wolf hit it with its paw, knocked it to the ground and grabbed it with its teeth just at the moment when it swept through the snow, trying to fly into the air. As soon as One-Eyed's teeth pierced the tender meat, breaking brittle bones, his jaws began to work. Then he suddenly remembered something and started to run to the cave, taking the partridge with him.

Having run a mile further with his noiseless tread, slipping like a shadow, and carefully looking at each new coastal bend, he again came across traces of all the same large paws. Traces were removed in the direction where his path lay, and he prepared at any moment to meet the owner of these paws.

The wolf gently poked his head out from behind the rock in the place where the stream turned sharply, and his keen eye noticed something that made him immediately cling to the ground. It was the very beast that left large footprints in the snow - a large female lynx. She lay in front of a porcupine curled up in a tight ball in the same position in which the wolf himself lay in front of the same porcupine in the early morning. If earlier One-eyed could be compared with a moving shadow, now it was a ghost of that shadow, carefully circling the silent, motionless mara - porcupine and lynx from the leeward side.

The wolf lay on the snow, laying a partridge next to it, and through the needles of a stunted pine began to closely monitor the game of life unfolding before his eyes - the trot and porcupine, which, although lurking, were full of strength and each defended their existence. The meaning of this game was that one of its participants wanted to eat another, but that one did not want to be eaten.

The old wolf also took part in this game from his cover, hoping that suddenly happiness would be on his side and he would get the food he needed to live.

Half an hour passed, an hour passed, everything remained as before. The ball of needles remained completely motionless, and it could easily be mistaken for a stone, the lynx turned into a marble statue, and the One-eyed one was definitely dead. However, all three lived such a tense life, tense almost to the point of feeling physical pain, that they hardly ever had to feel in themselves as much strength as they felt now, when their bodies seemed petrified.

The one-eyed leaned forward, wary even more. There, behind a pine tree, some changes took place. The porcupine finally decided that his enemy had retired. Slowly, carefully, he began to straighten his impenetrable armor. He was not bothered by the slightest suspicion. The prickly ball turned slowly and slowly and began to straighten. One-eyed felt his mouth fill with saliva at the sight of live game lying in front of him like a finished treat.

Before he could even turn around, the porcupine saw his enemy. And at that moment a lynx hit him.

The blow was quick, like lightning. The paw with strong claws, bent like a bird of prey, split its tender belly and immediately pulled back. If the porcupine turned full-length or spotted the enemy some tenth of a second later, the paw would have remained unharmed, but the moment the lynx pulled its paw away, the porcupine struck its side with its tail and thrust its sharp needles into it.

It all happened simultaneously — a blow, a retaliation, the death-cry of a porcupine and the cry of a huge cat, stunned by pain. The one-eyed man stood up, pricked up his ears and stretched out his tail, trembling with excitement. Lynx gave vent to its temper. She furiously attacked the beast that caused her such pain. But the porcupine, wheezing, screeching and trying to curl up in a ball to hide the entrails that had fallen out of the open belly, hit its tail again. The big cat howled again in pain and with a snort recoiled back, her nose, all studded with needles, looked like a pillow for pins.She scratched him with her paws, trying to get rid of those arrows burning like fire, poked her face in the snow, rubbed herself against the branches and jumped forward, backward, to the right, to the left, not remembering herself from crazy pain and fear.

Without ceasing to snort, the lynx frantically jerked its short tail, then gradually it calmed down. The one-eyed one continued to follow her, and suddenly started and bristled: a lynx with a desperate howl flew high into the air and rushed away, accompanying each of its leaps with a piercing screech. And only when she disappeared and her squeals froze in the distance, One-eyed decided to step forward. He walked with such caution, as if all the snow was strewn with needles, ready to pierce every minute into the soft pillows on his paws. The porcupine met the appearance of the wolf with a fierce screech and clatter of teeth. He somehow managed to curl up, but it was no longer the former impenetrable ball: the torn muscles disobeyed him, he was torn almost in half and was bleeding.

One-eyed grabbed his mouth and swallowed bloodied snow with pleasure. After such an appetizer, his hunger only intensified, but it was not without reason that he lived in the world - life taught him caution. It was necessary to wait time. He lay in the snow before the porcupine, and he gnashed his teeth, wheezed and quietly screeched. A few minutes later, One-eyed noticed that the porcupine's needles were slowly dropping and trembling was running through his body. Then the trembling immediately stopped. Long teeth clanged for the last time, the needles dropped, the body went limp and no longer moved.

With a timid, fearful movement of the paw, the One-eyed one stretched the porcupine in full length and turned it on its back. Everything turned out well. Porcupine was dead. After a careful examination, the wolf carefully took its prey in the teeth and ran along the stream, dragging it in the snow and turning its head to the side so as not to step on the prickly needles. But suddenly he remembered something, threw a porcupine and returned to the partridge. He did not hesitate for a minute, he knew what needed to be done: he had to eat a partridge. And, having eaten her, One-eyed ran to where his prey lay.

When he dragged his burden into the lair, the she-wolf examined her, raised her head and licked the wolf in the neck. But now after that she growled cheerfully, driving him away from the cubs - however, this time the growl was not so vicious, an apology rather than a threat was heard in him. The instinctive fear of the father of her offspring gradually disappeared. One-eyed behaved, as befitted a wolf-father, and did not show an unlawful desire to gobble up the babies she produced into the world.

CHAPTER THREE GRAY PUPPIES

He was very different from his brothers and sisters. Their hair was already taking on a reddish hue inherited from the wolf mother, and he went all in One-Eyed. He was the only gray wolf cub in the entire litter. He was born a real wolf and looked very much like his father, with the only difference being that he had two eyes and his father had one.

The eyes of the gray wolf cub have only recently opened, and he already saw well. And even when his eyes were still closed, his sense of smell, touch and taste already served him. He knew his two brothers and two sisters very well. He raised clumsy fuss with them, sometimes already turning into a fight, and his neck began to tremble with hoarse sounds, harbingers of growls. Long before his eyes opened, he learned by smell, touch and taste to recognize a she-wolf - a source of heat, food and tenderness. And when she touched his gentle body with her soft, caressing tongue, he calmed down, clung to her and peacefully fell asleep.

Almost the first month of his life passed in a dream, but now he saw well, slept less and gradually began to get acquainted with the world. His world was dark, although he did not suspect this, since he did not know any other world. The cub was surrounded by darkness, but his eyes did not have to adapt to other lighting.His world was very small, he was limited to the walls of the lair, the wolf cub had no idea about the immensity of the outside world, and therefore life in such close limits did not seem to him burdensome.

However, he very soon discovered that one of the walls of his world was different from the others - there was a way out of the cave, and light came from there. He found that this wall was not like the others, long before he had thoughts and conscious desires. She irresistibly attracted the wolf cub at that time, when he could not see her. The light coming from there beat him closed eyelids, and his optic nerves responded to these warm sparks, causing such a pleasant and at the same time strange sensation. The life of his body, each cell of his body, the life that makes up his very essence and acts against his will, was eager for this light, attracted him to him, just as the complex chemical composition of the plant makes him turn to the sun.

Long before consciousness woke up in a wolf cub, he kept crawling to the exit from the cave. Sisters and brothers did not lag behind him. And during this time of their life, none of them climbed into the dark corners by the back wall. Light attracted them to itself, as if they were plants, a chemical process called life required light, light was a prerequisite for their existence, and tiny puppy bodies pulled towards it, like a tendril of a vine, without thinking, obeying only instinct. Later, when individuality began to manifest in each of them, when each had desires and conscious impulses, the desire for light only intensified. They crawled unceasingly and reached for him, and their mother had to continually drive them back.

It was then that the wolf cub learned other features of his mother, in addition to her soft, caressing tongue.

Persistently rushing to the light, he was convinced that his mother had a nose with which she could throw him back in punishment, then he recognized the paw that knew how to take it to the ground and roll it into a corner with a quick, precisely calculated movement. So he first experienced pain and began to avoid it, at first simply not exposing himself to such a risk, and then learning to dodge and escape from punishment. These were already conscious actions - the result of the emerging ability to generalize the phenomena of the world. Until now, he dodged pain unknowingly, as unconsciously as he climbed to the light. But now he dodged her because he knew what pain was.

He was a very fierce wolf cub. And so were his brothers and sisters. This is to be expected. After all, he was a predator and came from a family of predators that ate meat. The milk that he sucked from the very first day of his barely warming life was made from meat, and now that he was a month old and his eyes had been open for a week, he also began to eat meat half-chewed by a she-wolf for her five grown cubs, which now lacked milk.

Every day the gray wolf cub was getting angrier and angrier. His growl was more hoarse and louder than that of his brothers and sisters, the attacks of puppy rage were worse. He was the first to learn how to knock them over with his clever paws. And he was the first to grab another wolf cub by the ear and began to tug and drag him from side to side, furiously growling through clenched jaws. And of course, he most of all the other wolf cubs troubled his mother, who tried to drive her brood away from the cave.

Light every day more and more attracted a gray wolf cub. He started wandering around the cave every minute, trying to get out of it, and they pulled him back just the same way. True, he did not know that this was the way out. He did not suspect the existence of different entrances and exits that lead from one place to another. He had no idea about the existence of other places, but about the ways to get there even more so. Therefore, the exit from the cave seemed to him a wall - a wall of light.What the sun was for free-living, the wall was for him - the sun of his world. She attracted him to her, as fire draws a butterfly. He constantly strove to get there. Life, fast growing in him, pushed him to the wall of light. The life lurking in him knew that this was the only way into the world — the way he was destined to set foot. But he himself did not know anything about it. He did not know that the outside world exists.

This wall of light had one strange property. His father (and the wolf cub has already recognized in him one of the inhabitants of his world - a mother-like creature that sleeps closer to the light and brings food) - his father used to go right through the distant light wall and disappear behind it. The gray wolf cub could not understand this. His mother did not allow him to approach the light wall, but he approached the other walls of the cave, and each time his gentle nose came across something solid. It hurt. And after several such trips, the inspection of the walls ceased. Without hesitation, he took the disappearance of his father for his distinctive property, just as milk and meat chewing gum were the distinguishing properties of his mother.

In essence, the gray wolf cub did not know how to think, in any case the way people think. His brain worked in the dark. Nevertheless, his conclusions were no less clear and definite than the conclusions of people. He accepted things as they were, without bothering himself with the question of why this or that happened. It was enough to know that this had happened. Such was his method of knowing the world around him. And so, having poked his nose several times in a row at the walls of the cave, he was reconciled with the fact that he could not pass through them, he could not do what his father was doing. But the desire to understand the difference between his father and himself never arose in him. Logic and physics did not take part in the formation of his brain.

Like most inhabitants of the Northern Wilderness, he had to experience a feeling of hunger early. The days came when the father stopped bringing meat, when even the mother's nipples did not give milk. The wolves squealed and whined and spent most of their time in a dream, then they were attacked by a hungry numbness. There was no fuss and fights, none of them were furious, did not try to growl, and the journey to the distant white wall stopped. They were asleep, and life, a little warm in them, gradually went out.

One-eyed completely lost peace. He prowled everywhere and slept little in the lair, which has now become dull and joyless. The she-wolf also left her brood and went out in search of food. In the first days after birth, the wolf cubs One-eyed visited the Indian village more than once and robbed rabbit snares, but as soon as the snow melted and the rivers opened, the Indians went further, and this source of food dried up.

When the gray wolf cub got a little stronger and again became interested in the distant white wall, he discovered that the population of his world had greatly decreased. He had only one sister left. The rest have disappeared. As soon as the forces returned to him, he began to play, but to play alone, because his sister could neither raise her head nor move. His small body was rounded off from the meat he was eating now, and for her the food was hoarse too late. She slept all the time, and the spark of life in her little body, similar to a skinned skeleton, flickered fainter and fainter and finally died away.

Then the time came when One-Eyed stopped appearing through the wall and disappearing behind it, the place where he was sleeping at the entrance to the cave was empty. This happened at the end of a second, less ferocious hunger strike. The she-wolf knew why the One-eyed did not return to the lair, but could not tell the gray wolf about what she had to see.

Going for prey up the left sleeve of the stream, to where the lynx lived, she attacked yesterday’s track of One-Eyed. And where the tracks ended, she found him himself - or rather, what was left of him. Everything around spoke of the recent battle and that, having won this battle, the lynx went into its hole.The she-wolf found this hole, but, judging by many signs, the lynx was there, and the she-wolf did not dare to enter her.

After that, the she-wolf stopped hunting on the left sleeve of the stream. She knew that the lynx has a cub in the hole and that the lynx itself is famous for its anger and fearlessness in fights. Three or four wolves cost nothing to drive a snorting, bristling lynx onto a tree, but it’s completely different to meet her face to face, especially when you know that she has a hungry brood behind her.

But the Northern Wilderness is the Northern Wilderness, and motherhood is motherhood - it does not stop at anything both in the Northern Wilderness and outside it, and inevitably there should come a day when, for the sake of her gray cub, the she-wolf ventures to go along the left sleeve to a hole in cliffs towards an angry lynx.

CHAPTER FOUR WALL

By the time the mother began to leave the cave and go hunting, the wolf cub had already comprehended the law, according to which he was forbidden to approach the exit from the lair. This law was inspired by his mother many times, pushing him with his nose or paw, and the instinct of fear began to develop in him. In his entire short life in the cave, he had never met anything that could frighten him - and yet he knew what fear was. Fear passed to the wolf cub from distant ancestors, after a thousand thousand lives. This was a legacy that he received directly from the One-Eyed and the she-wolf, but to them, in turn, it passed through all the generations of wolves that came before them. Fear is the legacy of the Northern Wilderness, and not one beast has been given to get rid of it or exchange it for lentil soup!

So, the gray wolf cub knew fear, although he did not understand its essence. He probably reconciled with him, as with one of the barriers that life poses. And he already had to make sure that such barriers exist: he experienced hunger and, not being able to satisfy him, came across a barrier to his desires. The dense walls of the cave, the sharp noses that his mother endowed, the crushing blow of her paws, the unquenched hunger developed confidence in him that not everything in the world was allowed, that there were many restrictions and prohibitions in life. And these restrictions and prohibitions were law. To obey them was to avoid pain and all kinds of life complications.

The wolf cub did not think about all this in the way people think. He simply distinguished the world around that which causes pain, and that which does not cause pain, and, delimiting, tried to avoid everything that causes pain, that is, prohibitions and barriers, and use only the rewards and joys that life gives.

That's why, obeying the law inspired by the mother, obeying the unknown law of fear, the wolf cub stayed away from the exit from the cave. The exit still seemed to him a light white wall. When his mother was not in the cave, he mostly slept, and waking up, lay quietly and restrained a mournful yelp that tickled his throat and burst out.

Waking up once, he heard unusual sounds against a white wall. He did not know that it was a wolverine who stopped at the entrance to the cave and, trembling from her own audacity, carefully sniffed at the smells coming from there. The little wolf knew only one thing: the sounds were unusual, strange, and therefore unknown and scary, because the unknown was one of the main elements that formed fear.

The wool on the back of the wolf cub stood on end, but he was silent. Why did he realize that he had to bristle in response to these sounds? He had no such experience in the past - and yet fear was so manifested in him that it was impossible to find an explanation in the past

of life. But fear was accompanied by another instinctive desire - the desire to hide, to hide. The wolf cub was seized with horror, but it lay silent, motionless, frozen, petrified, lying like a dead man. Returning home and smelling the traces of wolverine, his mother growled, rushed into the cave and with unusual tenderness began to lick and caress the wolf cub.And the wolf cub realized that he managed to avoid severe pain.

But other forces acted in it, the main of which was growth. Instinct and the law demanded obedience from him, and growth demanded disobedience. Mother and fear made her stay away from the white wall, but growth is life, and life should always be drawn to the light - and no obstacles could stop the wave of life rising in it, rising with every piece of meat eaten, with every breath of air. Finally, fear and obedience were thrown aside by the pressure of life, and one fine day the wolf cub, with wrong, timid steps, headed for the exit from the cave.

Unlike the other walls he had to deal with, this wall seemed to recede farther and farther as he approached it. Testingly stretching his small tender nose forward, he expected to come across a hard surface, but the wall turned out to be as transparent and permeable as light. The wolf cub entered what he imagined as a wall, and plunged into its constituent substance.

This confused him: after all, he crawled through something solid! And the light became brighter and brighter. Fear drove the wolf cub back, but a growing life forced him to move on. And here is the exit from the cave. The wall inside which, as he imagined, he was, suddenly moved immeasurably far. From the bright light, his eyes hurt, he blinded a wolf cub, suddenly the expanding space circled his head. Eyes gradually got accustomed to bright light and adapted to the increased distance between objects. At first the wall moved so far that it was lost sight. Now he could see her again, but she stepped into the distance and looked completely different. The wall became mottled: it included trees bordering a stream, and a mountain towering behind the trees, and the sky, which was even higher than the mountain.

Horror attacked the cub. There are even more unknown and formidable things. He cringed at the entrance to the cave and began to look at the world that opened before him. How scary! Everything unknown seemed hostile to him. The wool on his back stood on end, he bared his teeth, trying to let out a furious, frightening growl. The tiny, frightened little beast challenged and threatened the world.

However, everything turned out well. The wolf cub continued to look, and out of curiosity even forgot to growl, even forgot about its fright. Life, growing in him, temporarily conquered fear, and fear gave way to curiosity. The wolf cub began to distinguish what was before his eyes: the open part of the stream, sparkling in the sun, the dried pine near the escarpment and the escarpment rising directly to the cave, at the entrance to which he perched.

Until now, the gray wolf cub lived on a flat surface, he had not yet experienced bruises from falls - and he did not know what a fall was - so he boldly stepped right into the air. His hind legs lingered on a ledge at the entrance to the cave, so that he fell head down. The earth hit him painfully on the nose, he yelped plaintively and then immediately after that rolled head over heels on the slope. He was attacked by panic. The unknown finally took possession of him, it held him in his power and prepared to inflict unbearable pain on him. The life growing stronger in him again gave way to fear, and he screeched, like any scared puppy would scream.

The unknown threatened him, he still could not understand what, and howled and squealed, not ceasing. It was much worse than lying down, freezing with fear, when the unknown just flashed past him. Now it has completely taken possession of it. Silence will not help anything. In addition, now he was tormented not by fear, but by horror.

But the slope became more gentle, and grass grew at its foot. Drop rate decreased. Stopping at last, the wolf cub howled desperately, then whined lingeringly and pitifully, and after nothing had happened, as if he had already had to deal with his toilet a thousand times, he began to lick dry clay adhering to his sides.

Having finished this, he sat down and looked around - just as the first man would have come from Earth to Mars. The wolf cub made its way through the wall of the world, the unknown released him from its embrace, and he remained unharmed. But the first man on Mars would have met much less unusual for himself than a wolf cub on earth. Without any prior knowledge, without any preparation, he found himself in the role of a researcher of a completely unfamiliar world.

Now, when a terrible suspense released the wolf cub to freedom, he forgot about all its horrors. He was only curious about everything that surrounded him. He examined the grass beneath him, a lingonberry bush a little further away, the trunk of a dried pine tree that stood on the edge of a clearing surrounded by trees. The squirrel ran out from behind a pine tree directly onto the cub and horrified him.

He crouched and growled. But the squirrel got scared even more, she quickly climbed a tree and, finding herself in safety, angrily snooted from there.

This gave the wolf cub courage, and although the woodpecker with whom he had to meet after that made him startle, he confidently continued on his way. This confidence increased to such an extent that when some impudent bird jumped up to the wolf cub, he, playing, extended his paw to it. In response to this, the bird pecked painfully at his nose, he contracted and squealed. The bird was frightened by his squeal and flew right away.

Teen Wolf studied. His small, weak brain, though unconsciously, made a conclusion. Things happen! living and nonliving. And living things must beware. The non-living always remain in place, and the living move, and you can never know in advance what they can do. Any surprises must be expected from them; one must be on the alert with them.

The little wolf walked awkwardly, and now and then he came across something. The branch, which seemed to be so far, touched him on the nose or lashed on the sides, the ground was uneven. He stumbled, bruised his nose, paws. Small stones slipped from under his feet, as soon as he stepped on them. And finally, the wolf cub realized that not all inanimate things are in a state of stable equilibrium, like his cave, and that small inanimate things fall and turn over much more often than large ones. With each mistake, the little wolf knew more and more. The farther he went, the harder his step became. He was adjusting. He learned to calculate his movements, to adapt to his physical abilities, to measure the distance between various objects, as well as between them and himself.

Good luck always accompanies beginners. Born to become a hunter (although he himself did not know this), the wolf cub attacked the game immediately near the cave, in its first outing into the light of day. The skillfully hidden partridge nest came to him only as a result of his own awkwardness: he fell on him. He tried to walk along the trunk of a fallen pine tree, the rotten bark came under his feet, and with a desperate screech he broke from a round trunk, fell on a bush and, flying through foliage and branches, found himself right in the nest, where seven partridge chicks sat.

The chicks squealed, and the cub was scared at first, then, seeing that they were very small, he became bolder. The chicks were moving. He took one paw, and he fluttered even more. The wolf liked this very much. He sniffed the chick, took it in his mouth. The chick beat and tickled his tongue. At that very moment the wolf cub felt hunger. His jaws closed, the bird's bones cracked, and he felt warm blood on his tongue. The blood was very tasty. In his teeth he had game, the same game that his mother brought him, only tastier, because she was alive. The youngster ate the chick and stopped only when it was done with the whole brood. After that, he licked his lips, just like his mother did, and began to get out of the bush.

He was met by a winged whirlwind. The swift onslaught and the fierce blows of the wings dazzled, stunned the wolf cub. He buried his head in his hands and screeched.The blows rained down with renewed vigor. The partridge mother was beside herself with rage. Then the wolf cub got angry. He jumped up with a growl and began to fight off his paws, then he launched his small teeth into the wing of the bird and began to pull and drag it from side to side. The partridge was torn, hitting it with another wing. This was the first fight of a wolf cub. He rejoiced. He forgot all his fear of the unknown and was not afraid of anything. He tore and beat a living creature that stabbed him. In addition, this living creature had meat. Thirst for blood took possession of the wolf. He just destroyed seven small living things. Now he will destroy a large living creature. He was too absorbed in the fight and too happy to feel his happiness. He was trembling with excitement, which until now he had never had to experience. He did not let go of the wing and snarled through gritted teeth. Partridge pulled him out of the bush. When she tried to drag him back there, he dragged her out into the open. The bird screamed and beat it with its free wing, and its feathers flew through the air like snow flakes. The wolf cub no longer remembered itself with rage, the warlike blood of its ancestors rose and raged in it. Without feeling it, the wolf cub lived at that moment a full life. He performed the role intended for him, did the work for which he was born - he killed the prey and fought before killing it. He justified his existence, fulfilling the highest purpose of life, because life reaches its heights in those moments when all its forces rush to achieve its goals.

Finally, the bird stopped fighting. The cub was still holding her by the wing. They lay on the ground and looked at each other. He tried to growl violently and menacingly. Partridge pecked his nose, already aching. The cub flinched, but did not release its wing. The bird pecked him again and again. He screeched and backed away, not realizing that he would drag the bird along with the wing. A hail of blows rained down on his long-suffering nose. The warlike fervor of the wolf cub has gone out. After releasing the prey, he fled from all legs to the inglorious flight to the other side of the clearing and lay there near the bush, panting, sticking out his tongue and yelping plaintively. And suddenly a foreboding of imminent misfortune squeezed his heart. Unknown with all its horrors fell on the wolf cub again. He instinctively recoiled under the protection of the bush. It smelled of wind, and a large winged body flew past in an ominous silence: the hawk, rushing at a wolf from heaven, missed.

While the little wolf cub was lying under the bush and, gradually recovering, began to look fearfully from there, on the other side of the clearing a partridge fluttered out of the ravaged nest - the grief of loss made her forget about the winged lightning of heaven. But the wolf cub saw everything, and this served as a warning and a lesson to him. He saw a hawk fall down with a stone, flutter above the ground, almost touching its grass with wings, stick its claws into a partridge, screaming piercingly from mortal pain and horror, and soared up, taking it with him.

The wolf cub did not leave its shelter for a long time. He learned a lot. Living things are meat, they taste good. But big living things hurt. We must eat small ones - such as partridge chicks, but it is better not to mess with large ones, such as partridge itself. And yet his vanity was infringed. He suddenly wanted to grapple with the big bird once more - it is a pity that the hawk carried it away. Or maybe there will be other partridges? We must go look.

A wolf cub descended along a gentle bank to a stream. He still has not seen water. At first glance, it was quite reliable, even. He boldly stepped forward and, screaming with fear, went to the bottom, right in the arms of the unknown. It got cold, his breath caught. Instead of the air he used to breathe, water poured into his lungs. Choking squeezed his throat like death. For a wolf cub, it was tantamount to death.He did not know what death was, but, like all the inhabitants of the Northern Wilderness, he was afraid of it. She was for him the personification of the most terrible pain. It concealed the very essence of the unknown, the totality of all its horrors. This was the last, irreparable disaster he was afraid of, although he could not imagine it to the end.

The wolf cub climbed to the surface and swallowed fresh air with his whole mouth. This time he did not sink. He struck with all four paws, as if that was the most familiar thing for him, and swam. The near shore was some yard from the wolf cub, but he emerged with his back to him and, seeing the distant one, immediately rushed there. The stream was narrow, but just in this place it was spreading with a wide backwater.

In the middle, the cub picked up and carried downstream, right on the small rapids, starting where the channel narrowed again. It was difficult to swim here. Calm water suddenly began to boil. The wolf cub was sometimes knocked to the surface, then went headlong into the water. He was thrown from side to side, turned over on his side, then on his back, hit against stones. With each such blow, he screeched, and from these screeches it was possible to calculate how many pitfalls he had come in his way.

Below the rapids, where the shores were expanding again, the wolf cub fell into a whirlpool, which lightly carried it to the shore and laid it lightly on the sandbank. He scrambled out of the water and lay down. His acquaintance with the outside world continued. The water was still and still moving!

In addition, at first glance it seemed solid as earth, but in reality there was no hardness in it. And the wolf cub came to the conclusion that things are not always what they seem. The fear of the unknown, which was nothing more than a mistrust of the outside world inherited from ancestors, only intensified after a collision with reality. From now on, this distrust of the appearance of things will take root in him for life. And before trusting them, he will try to find out what they really are.

On this day, the wolf cub was destined to experience another adventure. He suddenly remembered that he had a mother, and felt that he needed her more than anything. Not only his body was tired of all the tests he had endured, but his brain was tired. For all his previous life, his brain did not have to work as much as this day. In addition, the cub wanted to sleep. And he went in search of a cave and mother, experiencing an oppressive feeling of loneliness and complete helplessness.

Making his way through the bush, the wolf cub suddenly heard a piercing ferocious scream. Something flashed before his eyes. He saw a weasel darting into the bushes. The weasel was small, and the cub was not afraid of her. Then at his very feet he saw a living creature, very tiny - it was a baby affection, who, like a wolf cub, ran away from home and went to travel. A tiny caress was about to whisk into the grass. The cub turned her onto her back. Weasel squeaked - her voice was raspy. At that very moment, a yellow spot flashed before the eyes of the wolf. He heard a fierce scream, something hit him hard on the head, and the sharp teeth of his weasel mother glared at his neck.

While he screeched and howled backed away, the weasel ran to his cub and disappeared with him in the bushes. The pain from the bite still did not pass, but the pain from the insult made me feel even stronger, and the wolf cub sat up and whimpered softly. After all, the weasel mother was so small, and biting so painfully! The wolf cub did not yet know that a little affection is one of the most ferocious, vengeful and terrible predators of the Northern Wilderness, but soon he had to find out.

He had not stopped whining when the weasel-mother reappeared in front of him. She did not rush at him immediately, because now her cub was safe. She approached carefully, so that he could examine her thin, snake-like body and the highly raised snake-head. In response to the sharp, menacing cry of affection, the fur on the back of the wolf cub stood on end, he growled.She came closer and closer. And suddenly a jump, which he could not follow with his inexperienced eye, - a thin yellow body for one second disappeared from his field of vision, and a caress clung to his throat, deeply biting his skin.

The little wolf growled, fought back, but he was very young, this was his first exit into the world, and therefore his growl turned into a squeal, and he no longer fought, but tried to break free from his teeth and run away. But the weasel did not let the wolf cub. Continuing to hang on his neck, she reached the vein, where life pulsates. Weasel loved blood and preferred to suck it directly from the throat - the center of life.

The gray wolf cub was surely expected to die, and the story about him would have remained unwritten if the she-wolf had not jumped out from behind the bushes. Weasel released him and darted to the throat of a she-wolf, but, having missed, clung to her jaw. The she-wolf waved her head like a whip, her weasel teeth broke and she flew high into the air. Without letting the thin yellow calf even fall to the ground, the she-wolf caught him on the fly, and the weasel met her death on her sharp teeth.

A new surge of maternal tenderness served as a reward for the cub. Mother rejoiced even more than her son. She lightly threw his nose, licking his wounds. And then both of them divided among themselves the bloodsucker weasel, ate it, returned to the cave and went to bed.

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CHAPTER ONE. The pursuit of mining

A dark spruce forest stood, frowning, on both sides of the ice-bound river. A freshly blown wind blew white frost from the trees, and they, black and ominous, leaned toward each other in the approaching twilight. A deep silence reigned around. This whole land, devoid of signs of life with its movement, was so deserted and cold that the spirit that hung over it could not even be called the spirit of sorrow. Laughter, but laughter is more terrible than sorrow, was heard here - joyless laugh, like a sphinx smile, laughter chilling with its soullessness, like a cold. This eternal wisdom - domineering, ascended over the world - laughed, seeing the futility of life, the futility of struggle. It was a wilderness - the wild, frozen to the very heart of the Northern wilderness.

And yet, something living moved in her and challenged her. A team of sled dogs made their way through the frozen river. Their ruffled fur was frozen in the cold, their breath froze in the air and settled on the skin with crystals. The dogs were in a leather harness, and leather shirts went from her to the sleigh dragging behind. Sleigh without runners, from a thick birch bark, lay on the snow all over. Their front end was bent up, like a scroll, to squeeze the soft snow waves that stood up to meet them. On the sleigh stood a tightly trimmed narrow, oblong box. There were other things there: clothes, an ax, a coffee pot, a frying pan, but above all, a narrow, oblong box, which occupied most of the sleigh, was striking.

Ahead of the dogs on wide skis, a man stepped with difficulty. For the sleigh was the second. On the sleigh, in a box, there was a third, for whom the earthly labors were over, for the Northern wilderness prevailed, broke him, so that he could no longer move or fight. The northern wilderness does not like movement. She takes up arms for life, for life is movement, and the northern wilderness seeks to stop everything that moves. She freezes the water to delay her run to the sea, she sucks the sap from the tree, and his mighty heart stiffens with a cold, but with special fury and cruelty the wilderness breaks the stubbornness of man, because man is the most rebellious creature in the world, because man always rebels against her will, according to which all movement in the end must cease.

And yet, in front and behind the sleigh came two fearless and rebellious people who had not yet lost their lives. Their clothes were sewn of fur and soft tanned leather. Their eyelashes, cheeks and lips were so icy from freezing breath that no face could be seen under the ice crust.This gave them the appearance of some ghostly masks, grave diggers from the other world, making the burial of a ghost. But these were not ghostly masks, but people who penetrated the land of sorrow, ridicule and silence, daredevils who put all their miserable forces into a daring plan and decided to compete with the power of a world as far away, deserted and alien to them as the vast space of space .

They walked in silence, saving their breath for walking. An almost tangible silence surrounded them from all sides. It pressed on the mind, as water at great depths presses on the diver's body. It oppressed the infinity and immutability of its law. It reached the innermost recesses of their consciousness, squeezing out of it, like juice from grapes, all pretentious, false, every tendency to too high self-esteem inherent in the human soul, and inspired them with the thought that they were just insignificant, mortal creatures, specks of dust, midges that make their way at random without noticing the play of the blind forces of nature.

An hour passed, another passed. The pale light of a short, dull day began to fade as a faint, distant howl swept through the surrounding silence. He soared upward, reached a high note, lingered on it, trembling, but not losing strength, and then gradually froze. He could have been mistaken for the moaning of someone’s lost soul if he hadn’t heard the sullen fury and hunger of hunger.

The man walking in front turned around, caught the look of the one who was wandering behind the sled, and they nodded to each other. And again, silence, like a needle, pierced by a howl. They listened, trying to determine the direction of the sound. He came from the snowy expanses that they had just passed.

Soon a response howl was heard, also from somewhere behind, but a little to the left.

“It's because they are chasing us, Bill,” the man in front said. His voice sounded hoarse and unnatural, and he spoke with obvious difficulty.

“They have little booty,” his comrade answered. - For how many days I have not seen a single hare trace.

The travelers fell silent, listening intently to the howl, which was constantly heard behind them.

As soon as darkness fell, they turned the dogs to the fir trees on the riverbank and stopped for a halt. The coffin removed from the sled served them both as a table and a bench. Having huddled together on the other side of the fire, the dogs growled and gnawed, but did not show the slightest desire to escape into the dark.

“Something they are too tight on the fire,” said Bill.

Henry, squatting in front of the fire to set the coffeepot with a piece of ice on fire, nodded silently. He spoke only after he sat on the coffin and began to eat.

- They take care of their hide. They know that they will be fed here, and there they will go to feed someone. Dogs can’t be fooled.

Bill shook his head.

- Who knows! The comrade looked at him curiously.

“The first time I hear you doubt their mind.”

“Henry,” Bill said, chewing the beans slowly, “but you didn’t notice how the dogs were biting when I fed them?”

“Indeed, there was more fuss than ever,” Henry confirmed.

- How many dogs we have. Henry?

“So ...” Bill paused to add more weight to his words. - I also say that we have six dogs. I took six fish from the bag, gave each dog a fish. And one was not enough. Henry.

“We have six dogs,” Bill repeated blankly. - I took six fish. One-eared fish was not enough. I had to take another fish from the bag.

“We only have six dogs,” Henry stood on his own.

“Henry,” Bill went on, “I am not saying that everyone was a dog, but the fish went to seven.

Henry stopped chewing, looked across the fire at the dogs and counted them.

“Now there are only six,” he said.

“The seventh ran away, I saw,” Bill said with calm insistence. - There were seven of them.

Henry looked at him with compassion and said:

“Hurry for you and me to get to the place.”

- How is this to be understood?

- And so, that you didn’t become your own from this baggage that we are carrying, and God knows what seems to you.

CHAPTER FIVE LAW OF PRODUCTION

The wolf cub developed with astonishing speed. He rested for two days, and then set off again to travel. On this exit, he met a young affection whose mother was eaten with his help, and made sure that the cub went after his mother. But now he no longer wandered and, tired, found the way to the cave and went to bed. After that, the wolf cub went for a walk every day and each time went further and further.

He used to accurately measure his strength and weakness, thinking when to show courage, and when - caution. It turned out that caution should always be observed, with the exception of those rare cases when self-confidence allows you to give vent to anger and greed.

When meeting with partridges, the wolf cub became a devil. In exactly the same way, he did not miss a chance to reply with an angry growl at the crackling of squirrels that had come to him for the first time near a dried pine. And just the sight of a bird that reminded him of the one that pecked his nose almost invariably infuriated him.

But it also happened that the wolf cub did not even pay attention to the birds, and this happened when he was threatened by the attack of other predators, who, like him, scoured in search of prey. The wolf cub did not forget the hawk and, seeing its shadow sliding on the grass, hid away in the bushes. His paws no longer parted on the move in different directions - he had already taken over from her mother her light, noiseless gait, the speed of which was inconspicuous to the eye.

As for hunting, his luck ended on the very first day. Seven partridge chicks and a little weasel - that’s the whole prey of the wolf cub. But the thirst for killing grew stronger in him day by day, and he cherished the dream of ever getting to a squirrel, which, with its crackling sound, notified all the inhabitants of the forest about its approach. But the squirrel climbed the trees with the same ease with which the birds flew through the air, and there was only one thing left for the wolf cub: to sneak up on it imperceptibly while it was on the ground.

The cub had a deep respect for his mother. She knew how to get meat and never forgot to bring his share to her son. Moreover, she was not afraid of anything. It didn’t occur to the wolf that this fearlessness was the result of experience and knowledge. He thought fearlessness was an expression of strength. Mother was the personification of strength, and, growing up, he felt this strength both in the sharper blows of her paws and in the fact that the nose pushes with which the mother had punished him before were now replaced by ferocious bites. This also inspired the cub to respect mother. She demanded obedience from him, and the more he grew up, the more severe her treatment with him became.

Again hunger came, and now the wolf cub was already quite consciously experiencing its torment. The she-wolf was completely exhausted in search of food. Spending almost all her time on the hunt and mostly unsuccessfully, she rarely came to sleep in the cave. This time the hunger strike was short-lived, but ferocious. The wolf cub could not suck a drop of milk from the maternal nipples, and the meat had not been given to him for a long time.

Before, he hunted for fun, for the pleasure that the hunt gives, but now he has set about it for real, and yet he was not lucky. But failure only contributed to the development of the wolf cub. He studied the habits of the squirrel with even greater diligence and made even more efforts to sneak up on her unnoticed. He tracked field mice and learned to dig them out of minks, learned a lot about woodpeckers and other birds. And then the time came when the little wolf cub did not climb into the bushes at the sight of the hawk’s shadow sliding on the ground. He became stronger, more experienced, felt more confident in himself. In addition, hunger hardened him. Now he sat in the middle of the meadow in the most prominent place and waited for the hawk to come down to him. There, above him, in the blue of the sky, food flew - the food that his stomach so insistently demanded.But the hawk refused to accept the battle, and the wolf cub climbed into the thicket, whining plaintively from disappointment and hunger.

The famine is over. A wolf brought home meat. The meat was unusual, not at all like the one she had brought before. It was a cub of a lynx, already grown up, but not as large as a wolf cub. And all the meat was entirely meant for the wolf cub. Mother had already managed to satisfy her hunger, although her son did not suspect that for this she needed the entire brood of lynx. He did not suspect what a desperate act the mother had to commit. The wolf cub knew only one thing: a young lynx with a velvety skin was meat, and he ate this meat, enjoying every swallowed piece.

A full stomach disposes to rest, and the little wolf cub lay down in a cave next to his mother and fell asleep. His voice woke him up. The wolf cub has never heard such a terrible growl. Perhaps in his entire life his mother never growled worse. But there was a reason for such a growl, and no one knew this better than the she-wolf herself. A lynx brood cannot be destroyed with impunity.

In the bright rays of the midday sun the wolf cub saw a female lynx, crouched on the ground at the entrance to the cave. The wool on his back stood on end. Horror looked into his eyes, - he understood this, without waiting for the prompting of instinct. And even if the sight of the lynx was not formidable enough, the fury that was heard in her hoarse screech, suddenly changing her growl, spoke for itself.

Life, growing stronger in the wolf cub, as if pushed him forward. He growled and bravely took a seat next to his mother. But he was shamefully pushed back. The low entrance did not allow the lynx to jump, she slipped into the cave, but the she-wolf rushed towards her and pressed her to the ground. Few things were able to make out the wolf cub in this battle. He heard only a roar, a snort and a piercing screech. Both animals rode on the ground, a lynx tore its opponent with teeth and claws, and a she-wolf could only use its teeth.

The cub jumped to the lynx and grabbed her hind leg with a furious growl. By the severity of his body, without suspecting it, he interfered with her movements and helped her mother. The fight took a new turn: the combatants crushed a wolf cub for themselves, and he had to open his teeth. But both mothers bounced off each other, and the lynx, before grappling with the she-wolf again, hit the she-wolf with her mighty paw, tore his shoulder to the bone and threw him against the wall. Now a plaintive cry was added to the roar of the fighting. But the battle dragged on so that the wolf cub had enough time to cry enough and experience a new surge of courage. And towards the end of the fight, he again clung to the back leg of the lynx, growling violently through clenched jaws.

The lynx was dead. But the she-wolf also weakened from her wounds. She began to caress the wolf cub and lick his shoulder, but the loss of blood deprived her of strength, and all that day and all night she lay near her dead enemy, not moving and barely breathing. The next week, leaving the cave just to get drunk, the she-wolf barely moved her legs, as each movement hurt her. And then, when the lynx was eaten, the wolf’s wounds had already healed so much that she could start the hunt again.

The wolf’s shoulder still hurt, and he walked with a limp for a long time. But during this time, his attitude towards the world has changed. He now held on with more confidence, with a sense of pride unfamiliar to him before the fight with a trot. He was convinced that life was harsh, he participated in the battle, he stuck his teeth into the body of the enemy and remained alive. And this gave him courage, even enthusiasm appeared in him, which had not happened before. He ceased to be timid and was no longer afraid of small animals, but the unknown with his secrets and horrors still dominated him and did not cease to oppress him.

The wolf cub began to accompany the she-wolf on a hunt, saw her killing game many times, and he himself took part in it. He dimly began to comprehend the law of prey. There are two breeds in life: his own and alien.He belongs to the first with his mother, to the second - all other creatures with the ability to move. But they, in turn, are not united. Among them there are not predators and small predators - those whom his relatives kill and eat, and there are enemies who kill or eat his relatives or come across them themselves. From this distinction the law was formed. The purpose of life is prey. The essence of life is prey. Life feeds on life. All life in the world is divided into those who eat and those who eat. And this law said: eat, or they will eat you. The wolf cub could not clearly articulate this law and did not try to draw a conclusion from it. He did not even think about him, but simply lived according to his orders.

The wolf cub has seen the effect of this law everywhere. He ate partridge chicks. The hawk ate their mother and wanted to eat the wolf cub itself. Later, when the wolf cub grew up, he wanted to eat a hawk. He ate a little lynx. Mother Lynx would have eaten a wolf cub if it had not been killed and eaten. And so it went. All living things around Volonchok lived according to this law, of which he himself was a tiny particle. He was a predator. He ate only meat, live meat that ran away from him, flew up into the air, climbed trees, hid underground or entered into battle with him, and sometimes sent him to flight.

If a wolf cub could think like a man, he might have come to the conclusion that life is an indefatigable thirst for satiation, and the world is an arena where all those who, striving for satiation, pursue each other, hunt each other, collide , eats each other, an arena where blood flows, where cruelty reigns, blind chance and chaos without a beginning and an end.

But the wolf cub did not know how to think like a man, and did not possess the ability to generalize. Having set himself one single goal, he only thought about it, and only achieved it alone. In addition to the law of prey, in the life of the wolf cub there were many other, less important laws that still should be studied, and, having studied, obey them. The world was full of surprises. Life playing in a wolf cub, the forces controlling his body served him as an inexhaustible source of happiness. The pursuit of prey made him tremble with pleasure. Rage and battle brought with it a pleasure. And even the horrors and secrets of the unknown helped him live.

In addition, in life there were many other pleasant sensations. A full stomach, a lazy nap in the sun — all this served the cub as a reward for his zeal and labors, and zeal and labors in themselves gave him joy. And the wolf cub lived in harmony with the hostile environment surrounding it. He was full of strength, he was happy and proud of himself.

CHAPTER ONE CREATORS OF FIRE

The cub came across this quite unexpectedly. It was all his fault. Caution was what was forgotten. He left the cave and ran to the stream to get drunk. The reason for his oversight, perhaps, was also the fact that he wanted to sleep. (The whole night went on a hunt, and the wolf cub has just woken up.) But the road to the stream was so familiar to him! He ran on it so many times, and so far everything has been going smoothly.

The wolf cub went down the path to the dried pine, crossed the meadow and ran between the trees. And suddenly he simultaneously saw and sensed something unfamiliar. Five living creatures squatted in front of him silently — he had never seen such before. This was the first meeting of the wolf cub with people. But people did not jump up, did not bite their teeth, and did not growl at him. They did not move and continued to squat, keeping an ominous silence.

The wolf cub did not move. Obeying his instinct, without hesitation, he would have rushed to run away from them, but for the first time in his life a different, completely opposite feeling arose in him: a little wolf crushed a thrill. The consciousness of his own weakness and insignificance deprived him of the ability to move. Before him were power and strength, unknown to him until now.

The wolf cub has never seen a man, but instinctively understood all its power.Somewhere in the depths of his consciousness, there was confidence that this living creature had won the right of primacy over all the other inhabitants of the Northern Wilderness. More than one pair of eyes looked at a man now - the eyes of all the wolf’s ancestors stared at him, circling in the darkness near the countless winter camps, peering from afar, due to the thickets, to the strange biped creature that sent the ruler over all other living creatures. The wolf cub was captured by his ancestors, captured by awe, born of centuries of struggle and the experience accumulated by generations. This legacy crushed the wolf, which was just a wolf cub. If he was older, he would run away. But now he fell to the ground, fettered by fear and ready to express the humility with which his distant ancestor went to the man to bask in the fire he had made.

One of the Indians got up, went to the wolf cub and bent over it. The cub fell even lower to the ground. The unknown finally found flesh and blood, approached him and extended a hand, about to grab it. The hair of the wolf cub stood on end, his lips trembled, revealing small fangs. The hand hanging over him lingered for a minute, and the man said with a laugh:

- Wabam vabiska they pit that! (Look! What white fangs!)

The rest laughed out loud and began to provoke the Indian to take the wolf cub. The hand went lower and lower, and two instincts raged in the wolf cub: one inspired me to submit, the other pushed me to fight. In the end, the wolf cub made a deal with himself. He obeyed both instincts: he obeyed to those holes until his hand touched him, and then decided to fight and grabbed it with his teeth. And now after that a blow to the head dumped him on his side. Any hunt to fight is gone. The wolf cub turned into a submissive puppy, sat on its hind legs and whined. But the man he bit by the hand got angry. The cub received a second blow to the head and, rising to its feet, whined even louder than before.

The Indians laughed, and even that, with a bitten hand, joined their laughter. Still laughing, they surrounded the wolf cub, who continued to howl in pain and horror.

And suddenly he was on his guard. The Indians were also wary. The wolf cub recognized this voice and, issuing the last lingering cry, in which triumph rather than grief sounded, he became silent and waited for the appearance of the mother - her fearless, ferocious mother, who knew how to fight opponents, knew how to kill them and never coward before anyone. The she-wolf approached with a loud growl: she heard the screams of her cub and ran to his aid.

The wolf rushed to the people. Enraged, ready for anything, she was an unpleasant sight, but the wolf cub only pleased her with saving anger.

He squealed with joy and rushed to meet her, and people quickly stepped back a few steps. A she-wolf stood between her cub and people. The hair on it stood on end, a furious growl bubbled in her throat, her lips and nose twitched convulsively.

And suddenly one of the Indians shouted:

There was surprise in this exclamation. The wolf cub felt his mother cringe at the sound of a human voice.

- Kichi! The Indian shouted again, this time sharply and imperiously.

And then the wolf cub saw how the she-wolf, his fearless mother, crouched to the ground, touching her belly, and wagged her tail, screeching and asking for peace. The cub did not understand anything. Horror seized him. He again trembled before the man. Instinct told him the truth. And mother confirmed it. She also expressed obedience to people.

The man who said “Kichi” went up to the she-wolf. He laid a hand on her head, and the she-wolf fell even lower to the ground. She did not bite him, and was not going to do it. Those four also approached her, began to feel and stroke her, but she did not protest. Teen Wolf did not take his eyes off people. Their mouths made loud noises. There was nothing threatening in these sounds. The wolf cub pressed against his mother and decided to reconcile, but the fur on his back was still standing on end.

- What is so surprising? - spoke one of the Indians. - Her father had a wolf, and her mother a dog. After all, my bragg tied it in the spring for three nights in the forest! So Kichi's father was a Wolf.

“Ever since Kichi ran away, Gray Beaver, it's been a whole year,” said another Indian.

“And there is nothing surprising here, Salmon Tongue,” Gray Beaver answered. - Then there was a famine, and the dogs did not have enough meat.

“She lived among the wolves,” said the third Indian.

“You're right, Three Eagles,” Gray Beaver grinned, touching the wolf cub, “and here is the proof of your innocence.”

Feeling the touch of a human hand, the wolf cub growled deafly, and the hand pulled back, preparing to strike him. Then he hid his fangs and dutifully clung to the ground, and his hand dropped again and began to scratch behind his ear and pat him on the back.

“Here is a proof of your innocence,” Gray Beaver repeated. “Kichi is his mother.” But his father had a wolf. Therefore, there is little canine in it, but a lot of wolves in it. He has white fangs, and I'll give him the nickname White Fang. I said. This is my dog. Didn't Kichi belong to my brother? And hasn't my brother died?

The wolf cub, who received the name, lay and listened. People kept talking. Then Gray Beaver took a knife from the scabbard that hung on his neck, went to the bush, and cut out a stick. White Fang watched him. Gray Beaver made a notch at both ends of the stick and tied rawhide straps around them. He put one belt around Kichi’s neck, led her to a low pine tree and tied a second belt to a tree.

White Fang went after his mother and lay down next to her. Salmon's tongue extended a hand to the cub and overturned it on its back. Kichi looked at them, startled. White Fang felt fear seize him again. He could not resist and growled, but no longer dared to bite. A hand with spread hooked fingers began to scratch him vividly! and roll from side to side. Lying on your back with your legs upside down was stupid and humiliating. In addition, White Fang felt completely helpless, and his whole being rebelled against such humiliation. But what can you do? If this person wants to hurt him, he is in his power. Is it possible to bounce to the side when all four legs dangle in the air? Still, humility prevailed over fear, and White Fang limited himself to a quiet growl. He could not suppress the growls, but the man did not get angry and did not hit him on the head. And, oddly enough, White Fang experienced some inexplicable pleasure when a man’s hand stroked his hair back and forth. Turning to his side, he stopped growling. Fingers began to scrape and scratch behind his ear, and from this the pleasant sensation only intensified. And when at last the man stroked him for the last time and left, White Fang finally perked up. He had yet to be tested more than once, a fear of man, but friendly relations between them arose at these moments.

A little later, White Fang heard the approach of some strange sounds. He quickly guessed that these sounds were coming from people. The whole Indian tribe, migrating to a new place, came onto the path in a string. There were forty of them - men, women, children, bent under the weight of a camp hut. Many dogs walked with them, and all the dogs, except for the puppies, were also loaded with different luggage. Each dog carried on its back a bag with things of twenty pounds, thirty in weight.

White Fang had never seen dogs, but immediately felt that they were not much different from his own breed. Smelling a wolf cub and his mother, the dogs immediately proved how insignificant this difference is. The dump began. Whole, bristling, White Fang snarled and snapped at the open mouth of the dog, which surrounded him on all sides, the dogs scorched the wolf, but he did not stop biting and tearing their legs and belly, while at the same time feeling the dog’s teeth bite into his body. A deafening bark rose.The wolf cub heard the growl of Kichi, rushing to his aid, heard the cries of people, the blows of sticks and the squeal of dogs that got these blows.

After a few seconds, the wolf cub was again on its feet. He saw that people drive dogs away with sticks and stones, protecting them, saving him from the ferocious fangs of these creatures, which were nevertheless somewhat different from the wolf breed. And although the wolf cub could not clearly imagine such an abstract concept as fair retribution, nevertheless he felt in his own way the justice of man and recognized in him a creature that establishes the law and monitors its implementation. He also appreciated the way people force! obey your laws. They did not bite and did not use their claws, like all other animals, but used the powers of inanimate objects. Inanimate objects obeyed their will: stones and sticks thrown by these strange creatures flew through the air like living things and inflicted sensitive blows on dogs.

This power seemed to White Fang extraordinary, divine power, it went beyond the limits of all imaginable. White Fang, by its very nature, could not even suspect the existence of gods, at best he felt that there were incomprehensible things. But the awe and awe that people instilled in him was akin to the awe and awe that a person would have felt at the sight of a deity, who was throwing lightning from the mountain top to the ground.

But the last dog ran away to the side, the turmoil subsided, and White Fang began to lick his wounds, reflecting on his first introduction to the pack and on his first acquaintance with her cruelty. Until now, it seemed to him that their entire breed consisted of One-eyed, the mother and himself. The three of them stood apart.

But suddenly, all of a sudden, it turned out that there were many other creatures that obviously belonged to his breed. And somewhere in the depths of consciousness the wolf cub had a feeling of resentment against his brothers, who, barely seeing him, inflamed him with mortal hatred. In addition, he was indignant that his mother was tied to a stick, although this was done by the hands of a higher being. It smelled like a trap, forcibly. But what could the wolf cub know about a trap, about captivity? The freedom to wander, run, lie down when he pleases, he inherited from his ancestors. Now the movements of the she-wolf were limited by the length of the stick, and the same stick also limited the movements of the she-wolf, because he still could not do without his mother.

The wolf cub didn’t like it, and when people got up and hit the road, he was finally dissatisfied with such orders, because some small human being picked up the stick to which Kichi was attached and led it along like a captive, and White Fang also wandered for Kichi, very embarrassed and worried about everything that was happening.

They went down the river valley, much further than the places where the White Fang entered in their wanderings, and reached the very end of it, where the river flowed into Mackenzie. On the shore there were pies raised on high poles, and there were grids for drying fish. The Indians pitched a parking lot here. White Fang looked around in surprise. The power of people grew every minute. He was already convinced of their power over ferocious dogs. This power spoke of power. But even more amazed at the White Fang was the power of people over inanimate objects, their ability to change the face of the world. It was the most amazing thing. So people installed poles for wigwams, there was, in fact, nothing remarkable here - the same people who knew how to throw stones and sticks did it. However, when the poles were covered with leather and canvas and they became wigwams, White Fang was completely at a loss.

Most of all he was struck by the enormous size of the wigwams. They grew everywhere with monstrous speed, like some kind of living creatures. They occupied almost the entire field of vision. He was afraid of them.The wigwams loomed ominously above, and when the wind ran through the parking lot, blowing canvas and skin on them, White Fang fell to the ground in fear, not taking his eyes off these bulks and preparing to bounce to the side as soon as they started to fall on him.

But soon White Fang got used to the wigwam. He saw that women and children come in and go out without any harm to themselves, that the dogs also want to get inside, but people drive them away with abuse and throw stones after them. Towards the end of the day, White Fang left Kichi and crawled carefully to the nearest wigwam. He was incited by curiosity - the need to learn to live, act and gain experience. The last few steps that separated him from the wigwam wall, White Fang crawled painfully for a long time and carefully. The events of this day have already prepared him for the fact that the unknown tends to manifest himself in the most unexpected, most incredible way. Finally his nose touched the canvas. White Fang was waiting for what would happen. Nothing ... everything went well. Then he sniffed this terrible substance, saturated with the smell of a man, took it with his teeth and pulled it slightly towards him. Again everything worked out well, although the canvas wall wavered. He pulled one more time. The wall swayed. He really enjoyed it. He pulled harder and harder until the whole wall came into motion. Then, in the wigwam, a sharp Indian shout was heard, and White Fang rushed headlong to Kichi. But since then he has ceased to be afraid of high wigwams.

In less than five minutes, White Fang again ran away from his mother. She was tied to a peg driven into the ground, and could not go after her cub. A puppy with a belligerent appearance approached a puppy much older and rounder than him. The puppy's name was Lip-Lip, as White Fang later found out. He was already tempted in battles and was known as a big bully among his brothers.

White Fang recognized the puppy as a creature of his breed, besides it seemed completely harmless, and, not expecting any hostile actions from him, he prepared to give him a friendly welcome. But as soon as the stranger bared his teeth and got all the way, White Fang also got up and also bared his teeth. Having bristled and growling menacingly, the wolf cub and the puppy began to circle one after another, prepare for everything. This went on for quite some time, and White Fang began to like this game. And suddenly Lip-Lip made a rapid jump, tore the wolf with his teeth and bounced to the side. The bite fell right on that shoulder, which still hurt at the White Fang after a fight with a trot, hurt deeply, near the bone itself. White Fang howled in surprise and pain, but then with a fury he threw himself on Lip-Lip and dug his teeth into it.

But Lip-Lip was not without reason born in an Indian village and not without reason participated in so many fights with puppies. The novice was ill from his small sharp teeth, and with a shriek he shamefully ran to the floor, protecting his mother. This was the first fight of the White Fang with Lip-Lip, and there were many such fights, because from the very first meeting they felt a deep inborn hatred of each other, which led to constant clashes.

Kichi lovingly licked her cub and tried to keep him close to her, but White Fang's curiosity was insatiable. A few minutes later he went on reconnaissance again and came across a man named Gray Beaver. Squatting, Earrings Beaver was doing something with dry moss and sticks spread out near him on the ground. White Fang came closer and began to watch him. Gray Beaver made some sounds in which, as it seemed to White Fang, there was nothing hostile, and he came even closer.

Women and children brought sticks and twigs to Gray Beaver. Apparently, something interesting was being prepared. White Fang's curiosity flared up so much that he walked close to Gray Beaver, forgetting that there was a formidable human being in front of him. And suddenly he saw that from the hands of Gray Beaver above the branches and moss rises something strange, like a fog.Then from this fog, spinning and wriggling, something alive appeared, red, like the sun in the sky. White Fang did not suspect the existence of fire. But fire attracted him to itself, as it once was in the cave in the days of infancy, it attracted light. He crawled closer, heard Gray Beaver laughing and realized that there was nothing hostile in these sounds. Then White Fang touched the flame with his nose and at the same time stuck out his tongue.

In the first second he was numb. Lurking amidst twigs and moss, the unknown clung to his nose. White Fang recoiled from the fire, erupting in a desperate screech. Hearing this screech, Kichi rushed forward with a growl, as far as the stick allowed, and swept in impotent rage, feeling that she could not help her son. But Gray Beaver laughed, slapping himself on the hips, and told everyone about what had happened, and everyone also laughed out loud. And White Fang, sitting on his hind legs, squealed and squealed and seemed so small and miserable among the people around him.

It was the most severe pain he had to experience. A living creature, arising under the hands of Gray Beaver and similar in color to the sun, burned his nose and tongue. White Fang whined, whined without stopping, and people met each his cry with a new burst of laughter. He tried to lick his nose, but the touch of a burnt tongue on a burnt nose only intensified the pain, and he howled even more desperate, even more melancholy.

And then he felt ashamed. He understood why people are laughing. We are not given to know how some animals understand what laughter is and realize that we are laughing at them. This happened to White Fang, and he felt ashamed when people laughed at him. He turned and ran away, but it was not laughter pain that caused him to escape, but laughter, because laughter penetrated deeper and wounded more than fire. White Fang rushed to his mother, who was raging on a leash, to the only creature in the world who did not laugh at him.

Twilight came, after them night came, and White Fang did not leave Kichi. His nose and tongue still hurt, but another, even stronger feeling did not allow him to calm down. Longing gripped him. He felt a kind of emptiness in himself, he languished in the silence and peace that reigned at the stream and in his native cave. Life has become too hectic. There were too many human beings - men, women, children - they all made noise and annoyed him. The dogs were constantly quarreling, growling, biting. The calm loneliness that he knew before was over. Here, even the very air was full of life. She buzzed and hummed around White Fang, not stopping for a minute. New sounds confused and disturbed him, making him wait all the time for new events.

White Fang watched people who walked between the wigwams, disappeared, reappeared. Just as a man looks at the created gods on him, White Fang looked at the people around him. They were supreme beings for him. He saw in all their deeds the same miraculous power that man endows with God. They possessed incomprehensible, boundless power. They were the masters of the living and nonliving world, they kept everything that was capable of moving in obedience, and communicated motion to immovable things, from dry moss and sticks they created a life that painfully burned and resembled the sun in its color. They made fire! They were gods!

CHAPTER TWO bondage

Each new day brought the White Fang - something new. While his mother was sitting on a leash, he ran around the village, exploring, studying him and gaining experience. He quickly became acquainted with the habits of human beings, but such close acquaintance did not cause him to be neglected. The more he recognized people, the more he became convinced of their power. A person experiences heartache when his gods are subverted and when the altars erected by his hands collapse, but such pain is unknown to the wolf and wild dog.In contrast to the man whose gods are the light haze of a dream that never finds reality, these are ghosts endowed with kindness and strength, these are his ups and downs in the spirit kingdom, - in contrast to man, a wolf and a wild dog, warming themselves at a fire made by a man, see that their gods are clothed in flesh and blood, that they are tangible, occupy a certain place in space and achieve their goals, justify their purpose in life, obeying the law of time. Belief in such gods is easy; nothing can shake it. You cannot get away from such a god. Here he stands at his full height, with a stick in his hand - omnipotent, angry and kind. It contains mystery and power, clothed with flesh that bleeds when it is torn, and which tastes no worse than any other meat.

So it was with White Fang. Human beings seemed to him gods, undoubted and omnipresent gods. And he obeyed them, just as his mother Kichi obeyed, as soon as she heard her name from their lips. He gave way to them. When they called him - he came up, when they drove him away - he hurriedly ran away, when they threatened - he fell to the ground, because behind each of their desires there was a force, which was manifested with the help of a fist and a stick, flying through the air stones and burning with pain blows of the whip.

White Fang belonged to people, as all dogs belonged to them. His actions depended on their orders. They were free to mutilate, trample, or spare his body. White Fang remembered this lesson quickly, but it was not easy for him — too much in his nature rebelled against what he had to deal with at every turn. And at the same time, invisibly to himself, White Fang began to comprehend the charm of a new life, although getting used to it was both difficult and unpleasant. He put his fate in the wrong hands and relieved himself of all responsibility for his own existence. This alone served as his reward, because leaning on another is always easier than standing alone. But all this did not happen right away - in one day you cannot surrender to a person with both soul and body. White Fang could not renounce the heritage of their ancestors, could not forget the Northern Wilderness. There were days when he went to the edge of the forest and stood there, listening to the calls that led him into the distance. And from such walks he returned restless, alarmed, yelling pitifully and quietly, lay down next to Kichi and licked her face with his quick, inquisitive tongue.

White Fang quickly studied the life of an Indian village. He found out how unfair and greedy adult dogs were in distributing meat and fish. I was convinced that men are fair, children are cruel, and women are kind and from them, rather than from others, you can get a piece of meat or bone. And after two or three skirmishes with the puppies' mothers, White Fang realized that it was better not to mess with these furies - the further away from them, the calmer.

But most of all he was poisoned by the life of Lip-Lip. He was older and stronger than him. White Fang did not avoid fights with him, but always failed. Such an opponent was beyond his power. Lip-Lip pursued its prey everywhere. As soon as White Fang moved away from his mother, the bully was right there, he followed on his heels, growled, became attached to him and, if there were no people nearby, climbed into the fray. These skirmishes gave Lip-Lip a great deal: pleasure, because he always came out of them as a winner. But what was for Lip-Lip the greatest pleasure in life brought White Fang only misery.

However, intimidation of the White Fang was not so easy. He suffered defeat after defeat, but did not humble himself. Nevertheless, this eternal enmity began to affect him. He became angry and gloomy. Ferocity was peculiar to him like a wolf, and endless persecution further hardened him. That good-natured, cheerful, young that was in him, could not find a way out. He never played and did not bother with his peers: Lip-Lip did not allow this.As soon as the White Fang appeared among the puppies, Lip-Lip flew up to him, started a quarrel, and finally drove him away.

Soon, almost all of the puppy that was in the White Fang disappeared, and he began to seem much older than his age. Deprived of the opportunity to give out his energy in the game, he went into himself and began to develop mentally. A trick appeared in him, and he had enough time to ponder his tricks. Since he was prevented from receiving his share of meat and fish during the general feeding of dogs, he became a clever thief. He had to take care of himself, and White Fang managed to hunt food so skillfully that it became a real scourge for Indian women. He snooped around the village, knew where what was happening, saw and heard everything, applied to circumstances, and avoided meeting his archenemy in every possible way.

Even in the first days of his life in the village of White Fang, he played a cruel joke with Lip-Lip and tasted the sweetness of revenge. He lured him right into the mouth of the fierce Kichi in much the same way that she had once lured dogs and led them away from a human stand to be eaten by wolves. Fleeing from Lip-Lip, White Fang ran not directly, but began to circle between the wigwams. He ran well, faster than any puppy of his age and faster than Lip-Lip itself. But this time, he was not particularly in a hurry and let his pursuer go just a single jump from himself.

Excited by the chase and proximity of the victim, Lip-Lip left all caution and forgot where he was. When he remembered this, it was too late. Rounding the beta with Whig around you, he flew in a big swing right at Kichi, lying on a leash. Lip-Lip howled in horror. Although Kichi was attached, getting rid of her was not so easy. She knocked him down so that he could not escape, and glared at him with his teeth.

Finally rolling away from the she-wolf to the side, Lip-Lip hardly got up, all disheveled, beaten, both physically and morally. The hair on it stuck out in shreds in those places where Kichi’s teeth went over it. He opened his mouth and burst into a drawn out, heartbreaking puppy howl. But White Fang did not even let him howl. He rushed at his enemy and pulled him behind his hind leg. Where did the former belligerence of the puppy go! Lip-Lip started off, and his victim chased him on the heels and did not lag behind until her tormentor reached his wigwam. Then the Indian women came to the rescue of Lip-Lip, and the White Fang, which turned into an enraged devil, retreated only under a hail of stones pouring on him.

The day came when Gray Beaver untied Kichi, deciding that now she would not run away. White Fang rejoiced when he saw his mother free. He gladly went to wander with her around the village and, while Kichi was close, Lip-Lip kept a respectful distance from Belelo Fang. White Fang even bristled and approached him with a belligerent look, but Lip-Lip did not accept the call. He was not stupid and decided to wait with vengeance until he met the White Fang one on one.

On the same day, Kichi and White Fang reached the edge of the forest near the village. White Fang gradually, step by step, took his mother there, and when she stopped at the edge of the forest, he tried to lure her further. A stream, a lair and a calm forest attracted the White Fang, and he wanted his mother to leave with him. He ran back a few steps, stopped and looked at her. She stood still. White Fang whimpered plaintively and, playing, began to run among the bushes, then returned, licked his mother in the face and ran back again. But she continued to stand still. White Fang looked at her, and it seemed that perseverance and impatience suddenly moved into the cub and then slowly left him when Kichi turned her head and looked at the village.

Dal called White Fang. And mother heard this call. But even more clearly she heard the call of fire and man, a call to which of all animals only the wolf responds - the wolf and the wild dog, for they are brothers.

Kichi turned and trotted back slowly.The village held it in its power tighter than any leash. In invisible, mysterious ways, the gods took possession of the she-wolf and did not let her go. White Fang sat in the shade of a birch and whimpered softly. It smelled of pine, tender forest aromas filled the air, reminding White Fang of a former free life, which was replaced by bondage. But White Fang was just a puppy, and his mother's call came to him more clearly than the call of the Northern Wilderness or man. He used to rely on her in everything. Independence was yet to come. White Fang got up and trudged sadly into the village, but stopped on the way about two times and whined, listening to the call that was still flying out of the thicket.

In the Northern Wilderness, mother and cub do not live near each other for long, but people often shorten this short term. So it was with White Fang. Gray Beaver owed another Indian, whose name was Three Eagles. And the Three Eagles went up the Mackenzie River to the Great Slave Lake. A piece of red cloth, a bear's skin, twenty rounds of ammunition and Kichi went to pay off the debt. White Fang saw the Three Eagles taking his mother to his pie, and wanted to follow her. With the fist of Three Eagles, he threw him back to shore. Pie sailed away. White Fang jumped into the water and swam after it, ignoring the screams of Gray Beaver. White Fang did not even heed the voice of a man - he was so afraid of separation from his mother.

But the gods are used to obeying them, and the angry Gray Beaver, having lowered the cake to the water, swam after the White Fang. Having overtaken the fugitive, he pulled him by the scruff of the water and, holding in his left hand, asked him a good bashing. White Fang got it right. The Indian's hand was heavy, the punches were calculated accurately and strewed one by one.

Under the hail of these blows, the White Fang dangled from side to side like a spoiled pendulum. The most diverse feelings excited him. At first he took a dip, then fear attacked him, and he began to squeal from every blow. But fear soon gave way to malice. The freedom-loving nature has declared itself - White Fang grinned his teeth and growled fearlessly in the face of an angry deity. The deity was even more angry. Shocks fell more often, became harder and more painful.

Gray Beaver did not stop beating the White Fang, White Fang did not stop growling. But this could not go on forever, someone had to give in, and lost White Fang. Fear took over him again. For the first time in his life, a man beat him for real. Random stick or stone strikes seemed affectionate compared to what he had to experience now. White Fang surrendered and began to scream and howl. At first he squealed from every blow, but soon his fear turned into horror, and squeals gave way to a continuous howl that did not coincide with the rhythm of the beatings. Finally, Gray Beaver lowered his right hand. The White Fang continued to howl, hanging in the air like a rag. The owner, apparently, was pleased with this and threw the pies to the bottom. Meanwhile, the cake was carried downstream. Gray Beaver grabbed the oar. White Fang prevented him from rowing. Gray Beaver viciously shoved his foot. At that moment, love of freedom again made itself felt in the White Fang, and he dug his teeth into his leg, shod in moccasins.

The previous bashing was nothing compared to the one he had to endure. Gray Beaver's anger was terrible, and White Fang was overwhelmed by horror. This time, Gray Beaver launched a heavy oar, and when White Fang found himself at the bottom of the pie, there was not a single living place on his entire small body. Gray Beaver kicked him again. White Fang did not rush to that foot. Captivity taught him another lesson: never, under any circumstances, you can not bite the god - your master and master, the body of God is sacred, and teeth such as White Fang, do not dare to defile him. This was obviously considered the most terrible insult, the most terrible misconduct, for which there was no mercy or condescension.

The pie moored to the shore, but the White Fang did not move and continued to lie, screeching and waiting for the Gray Beaver to express its will.Gray Beaver wished White Fang to come out of the pie, and threw it ashore so that it hit the ground with all its might. Trembling with his whole body, White Fang stood up and whined. Lip-Lip, who was watching what was happening from the shore, rushed, knocked him off his feet and glared at him with his teeth. White Fang was too helpless and could not defend himself, and he would not be well-off if Gray Beaver hadn’t kicked Lip-Lip so that it flew high into the air and plopped to the ground far from White Fang.

Such was human justice, and White Fang, despite pain and fear, could not but feel appreciation for the man. He obediently trudged after Gray Beaver through the entire village to his wigwam. And from that day on, White Fang remembered that the gods reserve the right to punish, and the animals subject to them are deprived of this right.

That same night, when everything was quiet in the village, White Fang remembered his mother and was sad. But he was sad so loudly that he woke Gray Beaver, and he beat him. After that, in the presence of the gods, he yearned for silence and gave vent to his grief when he went out alone to the edge of the forest.

These days, White Fang could heed the voice of the past, which called him back to the cave and stream, but the memory of his mother kept him in place. Maybe she will return to the village, as people return after the hunt. And White Fang remained in captivity, waiting for Kichi.

Bonded life did not weigh White Fang so much. Much of it interested him. Events in the village followed one after another. There was no end to the strange deeds performed by the gods, and White Fang was always distinguished by curiosity. In addition, he learned to get along with Gray Beaver. Obedience, strict, rigorous obedience was required from the White Fang, and, having acquired this, he did not cause anger in people and avoided beating.

And sometimes it even happened that the Gray Beaver himself threw a piece of meat to the White Fang and, while he ate, did not let other dogs approach him. And such a piece did not have a price. He alone was for some reason more expensive than a dozen pieces obtained from the hands of women. Gray Beaver has never stroked and caressed the White Fang. And maybe his heavy fist, maybe his justice and power, or all this together influenced the White Fang, but in him attachment to a gloomy master began to arise.

Some treacherous forces imperceptibly entangled the White Fang with the bonds of bondage, and they acted as infallibly as a stick or punch. The instinct that has long driven wolves to a human bonfire develops rapidly. He developed in the White Fang. And although his present life was full of sorrows, the village became more and more expensive to him. But he himself did not suspect this. He only felt longing for Kichi, hoped for her return and eagerly reached for his former free life.

CHAPTER THIRD TOMATS

Lip-Lip poisoned the life of the White Fang to such an extent that it became angrier and fiercer than it was supposed to by nature. Ferocity was characteristic of his temper, but now she has crossed all sorts of boundaries. He was known for his anger even to people. Every time a bark was heard in the village, a dog bite or women raised a cry because of a stolen piece of meat, no one doubted that the White Fang was the culprit. People did not try to figure out the reasons for this behavior. They saw only the consequences, and these consequences were bad. White Fang was known as a prodigy, a thief and an instigator of all fights, angry Indian women called him a wolf, predicted a bad end for him, and while listening to all this, he vigilantly followed them and was ready to dodge a blow with a stick or a stone every minute.

White Fang felt like a renegade among the inhabitants of the village. All young dogs followed the lead of Lip-Lip. There was a difference between them and White Fang. Perhaps the dogs sensed a different breed in him and instilled in him the instinctive enmity that always arises between a domestic dog and a wolf. Be that as it may, but they joined Lip-Lip.And, declaring war on the White Fang, the dogs had enough reason not to stop it. All of them met his sharp teeth to the one, and, justice must be given to him, he paid back to his enemies a hundredfold. He could beat many dogs one on one, but this was not an opportunity.

The beginning of each fight served as a signal for all young dogs, they fled from the whole village and attacked the White Fang.

Enmity with a pack of dogs taught him two important things: to fight off the entire pack at once and, dealing with one enemy, inflict the greatest possible number of wounds in the shortest possible time. Not to fall, to stand among enemies besieging him from all sides - meant to save life, and White Fang comprehended this science perfectly. He could keep his feet no worse than a cat. Even adult dogs could squeeze him as much as needed - White Fang leaned back, jumped, slipped to the side, and yet his legs did not betray him and stood firmly on the ground.

Before each fight, dogs usually observe a certain ritual: growl, walk around in front of each other, their fur stands on end. White Fang did without it. Any delay threatened the appearance of the entire dog pack. The thing must be done quickly, and then to flee. And White Fang did not show his intentions. He rushed into the fray without any warning and began to bite and tear his opponent, without waiting until he was ready. Thus, he learned to inflict severe wounds on dogs. Moreover. White Fang realized that it was important to take the enemy by surprise, he had to attack unexpectedly, tear his shoulder apart, tear his ear to shreds before he could come to his senses — and then the deal was half done.

He was convinced that the dog, taken by surprise, should not be knocked down, and then the most vulnerable spot on her neck would be unprotected. White Fang knew where this place was. He inherited this knowledge from many generations of wolves. And, attacking, he adhered to such tactics: firstly, he was catching a dog when she was alone, secondly, he flew into it unexpectedly and knocked down, and thirdly, he gripped her throat.

White Fang was still young, and his fragile jaws could not inflict fatal blows, but still not one puppy ran around the village with traces of his teeth on his neck. And once, having caught one of his enemies at the edge of the forest, he still managed to eat his throat and blew out his spirit. That evening the village became agitated. His trick was noticed, the news of it reached the owner of a dead dog, a woman, reminded White Fang of all his thefts, and a crowd of people gathered near the dwelling of Gray Beaver. But he resolutely closed the entrance to the lodge, where the offender sat, and refused to give it to his fellow tribesmen.

White Fang was hated by both people and dogs. He did not know a moment of rest. Each dog grinned down on his teeth, each person waved at him. Kindred met him with a growl, the gods with curses and stones. He kept his watch all the time, every minute he was ready to attack, repel the attack or dodge the blow. He acted swiftly and calmly: flashing his fangs, throwing himself at the enemy or bouncing back with a formidable growl.

As for the growl, he was able to growl worse than dogs - both old and young. The aim of a growl is to warn or frighten the enemy, and one must be well versed in when and under what circumstances such a tool should be used. And White Fang knew that. He put all his fury and anger into his growl, all that he could frighten the enemy with. The trembling nostrils, the fur standing on end, the tongue wriggling between the teeth with a red snake, the pressed ears, the eyes burning with hatred, the twitching lips, the bared fangs made many dogs think. When White Fang was taken by surprise, he had only a second to ponder the ghlan of action.But often this pause was delayed, the enemy refused to fight, and the growl of the White Fang all the time gave him the opportunity to retreat with honor even with skirmishes with adult dogs.

Having expelled the White Fang from the pack, declaring war on him, the young dogs thereby put themselves face to face with his anger, dexterity and strength. The case turned out so that now the enemies of the White Fang and themselves could not step away from the pack. He did not allow this. Young dogs were waiting for his attack every minute and did not dare to run alone. All of them, with the exception of Lip-Lip, had to stick in a pack in order to fight back from their formidable adversary. Going alone to the river, the puppy either went to certain death, or announced the whole village with a piercing screech, escaping from a wolf cub that jumped out of an ambush.

But White Fang continued to take revenge on the dogs even after they remembered once and for all that they needed to stick together. He attacked the dogs, forcing them one by one, they attacked him with a whole pack. As soon as the dogs saw the White Fang, they all rushed after him in pursuit, and in such cases only fast legs saved him. But woe to that dog who, carried away, overtook his comrades! White Fang all the way turned to the pursuer, rushing in front of the pack, and rushed at him. This happened often, because the dogs excited by the chase forgot about everything, and the White Fang always remained calm. Every now and then looking back, he was ready at any moment to make a sharp turn on the whole run and rush at the too zealous pursuer who had separated from his comrades.

There is an irresistible need to play in young dogs, and White Fang's enemies have met this need, turning the war with him into a fun game. Hunting for a wolf cub has become their favorite pastime - true, not amusing and sometimes deadly entertainment. And White Fang, with which none of the dogs could compare with the speed of legs, in turn, did not stop at risk. In those days when the hope for the return of Kichi had not yet left White Fang, he often lured a dog pack into a nearby forest. But the dogs could not catch him there. By the yapping and howling, White Fang determined where they were, while he himself ran silently, gliding among the trees with a shadow, as his father and mother did. In addition, his connection with the Northern Wilderness was closer than that of dogs, he better understood all its secrets and tricks. Most often, White Fang resorted to such a trick: swam across a stream, muddled its tracks and calmly lay down somewhere in the forest thicket, listening to the bark of its pursuers who had lost it.

Causing only one hatred among his brothers and people and always enmity with everyone, White Fang developed rapidly, but one-sidedly. With such a life, neither good feelings nor the need for affection could arise in him. He had no idea about all this. Obey the strong, oppress the weak — the cat the law that governed him, Gray Beaver is a deity, he is endowed with power, so White Fang obeyed him. But dogs - those that are younger and smaller than his height, are weak, and they must be destroyed.

In White Fang, all those qualities developed that helped him withstand the danger that often threatened his life. Steel muscles protruded on his thin, flexible body like ropes. Nobody could compare with agility and cunning, he ran faster, was ruthless in fights, more resilient, meaner, more fierce and smarter than all other dogs. White Fang should have become like this, otherwise he would not have survived in the hostile environment into which his life had led.

CHAPTER FOUR THE Pursuit of the Gods

In the fall, when the days became shorter and the approaching cold weather was already felt in the air, White Fang had the opportunity to break free. For several days, turmoil reigned in the village. The Indians dismantled the summer wigwams and prepared to go on an autumn hunt.White Fang vigilantly watched these preparations, and when the wigwams were taken apart and things were immersed in pies, he understood everything. One by one, the pies began to move away from the shore, and some of them were already out of sight.

White Fang decided to stay and at the first opportunity slipped out of the village into the forest. Having crossed the creek, which was already covered in ice, he confused his tracks. Then he climbed deeper into the thicket and waited. As time went. He managed to fall asleep several times, wake up and fall asleep again. The voice of Gray Beaver woke him. Then other voices were heard - the wife of the owner, who took part in the search, and Mit-Sa - the son of Gray Beaver.

White Fang trembled with fear when he heard his nickname, but resisted and did not leave the forest, although something incited him to respond to the call of his master. Soon, the voices froze in the distance, and then he got out of the bush, glad that the escape was a success. It was dusk. White Fang frolic between the trees, rejoicing in freedom. And suddenly a feeling of loneliness swept over him. He sat, listening anxiously to the forest silence: no sound, no movement ... It seemed suspicious to him, some unknown danger lay in wait for him. He peered into the vague outlines of tall trees, in the thick shadows between them, where any enemy could hide.

Then he felt cold. The warm wigwam banner, near which he always warmed himself, was not here. He sat, alternately squeezing one or the other front paw, then covered them with his fluffy tail, and at that moment a vision flashed before him. There was nothing strange about this: familiar paintings appeared before his eyes. He again saw the village, the wigwams, the fires of bonfires. He heard the piercing voices of women, the rough bass of male speech, the barking of dogs. White Fang was hungry and remembered pieces of meat and fish that he fell from people. But now silence surrounded him, promising not food, but danger.

Captivity pampered White Fang. Dependence on people liggilized his pieces of power. He forgot how to get food. Night descended over him. His eyesight and hearing, accustomed to the noise and movement of the village, to the continuous alternation of sounds and pictures, did not find a job. He had nothing to do, nothing to listen to, nothing to look at. He tried to catch even the slightest rustle or movement. In this silence and stillness of nature there was some terrible danger.

And suddenly White Fang flinched. Something huge and formless flashed before his eyes. On the ground lay the shadow of a tree illuminated by a moon peeking out from behind the clouds. Calming down, he whimpered quietly, but, remembering that this could attract the enemy lurking somewhere, he fell silent.

A tree caught in the night frost creaked loudly above his head. White Fang howled and, not feeling his feet under terror, rushed headlong toward the village. He felt an irresistible need for human society, for the zagzite that it gives. In his nostrils there was a smell of smoke from bonfires, voices and screams rang in the nooks. He ran out of the forest into a moonlit meadow, where there were neither shadows nor darkness, but his eyes did not see the familiar village. He forgot that people left there.

White Fang stopped dead in his tracks. There was nowhere to run. He wandered sadly through the empty camp, sniffing piles of rubbish and rubbish left by the gods. Now he would have been delighted even by a stone thrown by some angry woman, even by the heavy arm of Gray Beaver, and he would have greeted Lip-Lip and the whole growling, cowardly pack of dogs.

He wandered to the place where he stood before the wiggles of Gray Beaver, sat in the middle and raised his face to the moon. Cramps clenched his throat, his mouth fell open, and loneliness, fear, longing for Kichi, all past sorrows and foreboding of future adversities and suffering - all this resulted in a long, dreary howl. It was the howling wolf howl that first escaped from the chest of the White Fang.

With the approach of morning, his fears disappeared, but the feeling of loneliness only intensified. The sight of an abandoned camp in which life had been so boiling until recently made him sad.He did not have to think long: he turned into the forest and ran along the riverbank. He ran all day, not giving himself a single minute of rest. He seemed to be running forever. His strong body did not know fatigue. And even when exhaustion nevertheless came, the endurance inherited from his ancestors continued to drive him farther and farther.

Where the river flowed between steep banks, White Fang ran around, in the mountains. Streams and rivers flowing into Mackenzie, he swam or wade. Often he had to run along the narrow edge of ice, frozen near the shore, thin ice broke, and, falling into the icy water, White Fang was more than once in the hairs of death. And all this time he waited that he was about to attack the trail of the gods in the place where they would moor to the shore and head inland.

In his mind, White Fang surpassed many of his brethren, and yet the thought of another bank of the Mackenzie River did not occur to him. What if the trail of the gods crosses the other side? He could not figure it out. Probably, later, when White Fang would have gained experience in wandering, matured, learned to find tracks along the river banks, he would have allowed this opportunity. Such maturity awaited him in the future. Now he ran at random, taking into account only one shore of Mackenzie.

White Fang ran all night, stumbling in the dark on obstacles and obstacles that slowed his run, but did not discourage the desire to move on. By the middle of the second day, thirty hours later, his iron muscles began to lose, only tension of will supported him. He did not eat anything for almost two days and was completely exhausted from hunger. Continuous immersion in ice water also affected it. His magnificent skin was covered in mud, wide pillows on his feet bleeding. He began to limp — first slightly, then more and more. To top it all off, the sky frowned and snow began to fall - the wet, melting snow that clung to its spreading paws, covered everything and hid the irregularities of the soil, making the already painful road difficult.

That night, Gray Beaver decided to take a halt on the far bank of the Mackenzie River, because the path to the hunting sites went in the opposite direction. But shortly before dark, Klu-Kuch, the wife of Gray Beaver, noticed on the near bank of an elk who went to the river to get drunk. And so, hadn’t come ashore, if Mit-Sa hadn’t gotten off due to a snowstorm from the right course, Klu-Kuch would not have noticed the moose. A Gray Beaver would not have laid it with a well-aimed shot from a gun, and all subsequent events would have turned out in a completely different way. Gray Beaver would not have made a break on the near bank of the Mackenzie River, and White Fang, having run past, would have died, or would have fallen to its wild relatives and remained a wolf for the rest of its days.

The night has come. The snow tumbled harder, and White Fang stumbled, limping, and squealing quietly as he walked, and hit a fresh trail. The track was so fresh that White Fang recognized him immediately. Squealing with impatience, he turned from the river and rushed into the forest. Familiar sounds came to his ears. He saw the flames of the fire, Klu-Kuch, busy cooking. Gray Beaver, squatting and chewing a piece of raw bacon. People had fresh meat!

White Fang was awaiting reprisal. At the thought of her, the fur on his back stood on end. Then, sneaking, he moved forward. He was afraid of hateful beatings and knew that they could not be avoided. But he also knew that he would bask in the fire, would enjoy the protection of the gods, would meet a dog society, although hostile to him, but still a society that could satisfy his need for closeness to living beings.

White Fang crawled closer to the fire. Gray Beaver saw him and stopped chewing fat. White Fang crawled even more slowly, a sense of humiliation and humility crushed him, forcing a grovel in front of man. He crawled right to Gray Beaver, slowing down and slowing down, as if it was getting harder to crawl with every inch, and finally lay down at the feet of his master, who from now on surrendered voluntarily to his body and soul.Of his own free will, he went up to the bonfire of man and recognized human power over himself. White Fang trembled, awaiting imminent punishment. A hand rose above him. He cringed, preparing to take a hit. But there was no blow.

White Fang glanced furtively. Gray Beaver tore the fat into two parts. Gray Beaver was handing him a piece of fat! Cautiously and incredulously, White Fang sniffed it, and then pulled it toward him. Gray Beaver ordered the White Fang to be given meat and, while he ate, kept other dogs out of it. Grateful and contented, White Fang lay down at the feet of his master, looking at the hot flame of a fire and squinting sleepily. He knew that morning would catch him not in a gloomy forest, but in a halt, among the gods to whom he gave himself all over and on whose will he now depended.

CHAPTER FIVE AGREEMENT

In mid-December, Gray Beaver set off up the Mackenzie River. Mit-Sa and Clu-Kuch drove with him. The sleds of Gray Beaver were driven by dogs that he traded or borrowed from neighbors. Younger dogs were harnessed in the second sled, and Mit-Sa ruled them. The team and sleigh looked more like toys, but Mit-Sa was delighted: he felt that he was doing real manly work. In addition, he learned to control dogs and train them, and puppies also got used to harnessing. The sledges of Mit-Sa did not go empty, but carried about two hundred pounds of any belongings and provisions.

White Fang had to see sled dogs before, and when he himself was harnessed for the first time in a sled, he did not resist it. A collar stuffed with moss was put on his neck, from which two straps went to a belt thrown across the chest and across the back, a long rope was attached to this belt connecting him to the sleigh.

The team consisted of seven dogs. They all turned nine to ten months old, and only one White Fang was eight. Each dog walked on a separate rope. All the ropes were of different lengths, and the difference between them was measured by the length of the hull of the dog. They connected in a ring on the front of the sled. The front was bent up so that the sleigh - birch bark, without runners - did not bury in the soft, fluffy snow. Thanks to this arrangement, the heaviness of the sled itself and luggage was distributed over a large surface. For the same purpose - to distribute the severity as evenly as possible - dogs were tied to the front of the sleigh with a fan, and not one of them followed the other.

The fan-shaped harness had another advantage: the different lengths of the ropes prevented the dogs running from behind from throwing themselves in the front, and it was possible to start a fight only with the neighbor who was walking on the shorter rope. However, then the attacker found himself nose to nose with his enemy and, in addition, exposed himself to the blows of the scourge of the driver. But the biggest advantage of this team was that, trying to attack the front dogs, the rear ones leaned on the building, and the faster the sleigh rolled, the faster the chased dog ran. Thus, the rear could never catch up with the front. The faster one ran, the faster the other ran away from it and the faster all the other dogs ran. As a result of all this, sleighs also rolled faster. With such cunning tricks, man strengthened his power over animals.

Mit-Sa, very similar to his father, inherited wisdom from him. He had long noticed that Lip-Lip does not allow White Fang to pass, but then Lip-Lip had its own masters, and Mit-Sa dared to throw a stone at him stealthily. And now Lip-Lip belonged to Mit-Sa, and, deciding to avenge his past, Mit-Sa tied him to the longest rope. Thus, Lip-Lip became a leader, as if it was done a great honor, but in fact there was little honor in this, because all the dogs hated the bully and the leader of the entire Lip-Lip pack and were now chasing them.

Since Lip-Lip was tied to the longest rope, it seemed to the dogs that he was fleeing from them. They could only see his hind legs and fluffy tail, and this is far from as scary as the fur standing on end and sparkling fangs.In addition, the sight of a running dog evokes confidence in other dogs that it is running away from them and that it must be caught up at all costs.

As soon as the sled started, the whole team chased after Lip-Lip, and this pursuit continued all day. At first, the insulted Lip-Lip continually tried to rush at his pursuers, but Mit-Sa each time whipped him on the head with a thirty-foot whip, twisted from dried deer intestines, and forced him to return to his place. Lip-Lip would not be afraid to grab the whole harness, but the scourge was much worse than that - and there was nothing left for him but to pull the rope and carry its sides from the teeth of his comrades.

The Indian's mind is inexhaustible at tricks. To strengthen the hostility of the entire team to Lip-Lip, Mit-Sa began to distinguish him in front of other dogs, arousing jealousy and hatred of the leader in them. Mit-Sa fed him meat in the presence of the whole pack and did not give meat to anyone else. Dogs were furious. They rushed around Lip-Lip while he was eating, but did not dare to approach close, as Mit-Sa was standing next to him with a scourge in his hand. And when there was no meat, Mit-Sa drove the team away and pretended to feed Lip-Lip.

White Fang set to work willingly. Submitting himself to the gods, he once made a much longer journey than the other dogs, and much deeper than them, he realized the futility of resisting the will of the gods. In addition, the hatred that all dogs had for him reduced their significance in his eyes and increased the significance of man. He did not need the company of his brothers: Kichi was almost forgotten, and loyalty to the gods, whose authority the White Fang recognized, served him almost the only way to express his feelings. And White Fang worked hard, obeyed orders and obeyed discipline. He worked honestly and willingly. Honesty in work is inherent in all tamed wolves and tamed dogs, and White Fang was fully endowed with this quality.

White Fang also communicated with dogs, but this communication was expressed in hostility and hatred. He never played with them. He knew how to fight - and he fought, repaying a hundredfold for all the bites and oppressions that he had to endure in the days when Lip-Lip was the leader of the pack. Now Lip-Lip dominated her only when he ran at the end of a long rope in front of his comrades and the sleigh jumping in the snow. In the parking lots, Lip-Lip kept close to Mit-Sa, Gray Beaver and Cloud-Kuch, not daring to move away from the gods, because now the fangs of all the dogs were directed against him and he experienced all the bitterness of hostility that Beloy had previously had Fang

After the fall of Lip-Lip, White Fang could become the leader of the pack, but he was too gloomy and closed for this. The teammates received only bites from him, otherwise he seemed to not notice them. When meeting with him, they turned to the side, and not one, even the most daring, dog did not dare to take his share of meat from the White Fang. On the contrary, they tried to swallow their share as soon as possible, fearing that he would not take it away. White Fang learned the law well: oppress the weak and obey the strong. He hastily ate a piece thrown by the owner, and then - woe to that dog who had not finished eating. Terrible growl, bared fangs - and she could only pour out her indignation to indifferent stars, while White Fang finished her share.

From time to time one, then the other dog rebelled against the White Fang, but he quickly pacified them. He jealously guarded his isolated position in the pack and often took it from battle. But such fights were short-lived. Dogs could not compete with him. He inflicted wounds on the enemy, preventing him from coming to his senses, and the dog was bleeding, not having had time to start the fight properly.

White Fang, like the gods, maintained strict discipline among his brethren. He did not give them any concessions and demanded unlimited respect for himself. Between themselves, dogs could do anything. This did not concern him.White Fang only ensured that dogs did not encroach on his isolation, gave way to him when he appeared among the pack, and recognized his dominance over himself. As soon as some daredevil took a belligerent appearance, grinning his teeth or bristling, the White Fang rushed at him and without any pity proved to him the erroneousness of his behavior.

He was a fierce tyrant, he ruled with iron intransigence. The weak did not know mercy from him.

The fierce struggle for existence, which he had to wage from early childhood, when together with his mother, alone, without any help, they fought for life, overcoming the hostility of the Northern Wilderness, did not pass without a trace. When meeting with the strongest opponent, White Fang behaved quietly. He oppressed the weak, but respected the strong. And when Gray Beaver met other people on his long journey, White Fang walked quietly and carefully between alien adult dogs.

Several months passed, and the journey of Gray Beaver was still ongoing. The long road and hard work in the team strengthened the strength of the White Fang, and his mental development, apparently, was completed. The world around him was known to the end. And he looked at him grimly, not having any illusions in relation to him. This world was severe and cruel, there was neither warmth, nor affection, nor affection.

White Fang did not even feel attached to Gray Beaver. True, Gray Beaver was a god, but a cruel god. White Fang willingly recognized his power over himself, although this power was based on mental superiority and brute force. In nature, the White Fang was something that went towards this domination, otherwise he would not have returned from the northern wilderness and would not have proved his loyalty to the gods. Depths still unexplored were hidden in it. With a kind word or a gentle touch, Gray Beaver could penetrate these depths, but Gray Beaver never caressed the White Fang, did not say a single good word to him. Eee> was not his custom. The superiority of Gray Beaver was based on cruelty, and with the same cruelty he commanded, administering justice with a stick, punishing the crime with physical pain and repaying what he deserved not by affection, but by refraining from the blow.

And White Fang did not suspect the bliss that a person’s hand can bestow. Yes, he did not like human hands: there was something suspicious in them. True, sometimes these hands gave meat, but more often they made pain. They had to stay away from them, they threw stones, brandished sticks, clubs, whips, they could beat and push, and if they touched, then only to pinch, pull, pull out a tuft of wool. In foreign villages, he learned that children's hands also know how to hurt. Some kid once almost gouged out his eye. After that, White Fang began to be very suspicious of children. He simply did not blow them. When they came up and extended their hands to him, not promising good, he got up and left.

In one of the villages on the shore of the Great Slave Lake, White Fang happened to clarify the law taught to him by Gray Beaver, according to which an attack on the gods is considered an unforgivable sin. According to the custom of all dogs in all villages, White Fang went in search of food. He saw a boy who was chopping an ax with the frozen carcass of an elk. Pieces of meat scattered in different directions. White Fang stopped and began to pick them up. The boy threw an ax and grabbed a heavy club. White Fang bounced back, barely having time to dodge the blow. The boy ran after him, and he, unfamiliar with the village, rushed into the passage between the wigwams and found himself at a dead end in front of a high earthen rampart.

There was nowhere to go. The boy blocked the only way out of the impasse. Raising the club, he took a step forward. White Fang was furious. His sense of justice was outraged, he bristled all over and met the boy with a menacing growl.White Fang knew the law well: all the remains of meat, for example, pieces of frozen moose carcass, belong to the dog that finds them, he did nothing wrong, did not break any law, and yet the boy was about to beat him. White Fang himself did not know how this happened. He did it in a fit of rage, and everything happened so quickly that his opponent did not have time to understand anything either. The boy suddenly stretched out in the snow, and White Fang's teeth bit his hand holding a club.

But White Fang knew that the law established by the gods was violated. He who plunges his teeth into the sacred body of one of the gods must wait for the worst punishment. He fled under the protection of Gray Beaver and sat cowering at his feet when the bitten boy and his whole family appeared to demand retaliation. But they left with nothing, Gray Beaver defended White Fang. Mit-Sa and Klu-Kuch did the same. Listening to people’s quarrels and watching them angrily wave their hands, White Fang began to realize that there was an excuse for his misconduct. And so he learned that the gods are different: they are divided into his gods and the gods of strangers, and this is far from the same thing. Everything must be accepted from their gods — and justice and injustice. But he is not obliged to bear the injustice of other gods; he has the right to avenge her with her teeth. And that was also the law.

On the same day, White Fang got acquainted with the new law even closer. Gathering brushwood in the forest, Mit-Sa came across a company of boys, among whom was the victim. A quarrel has occurred. The boys pounced on Mit-Sa. He had a bad time. Blows rained down on him from all sides. At first White Fang simply watched the fight - this is the business of the gods, it does not concern him. But then he realized that they were beating Mit-Sa, one of his own gods. And what he did after this, he did without reasoning. A gust of mad fury threw him into the very middle of the dump. Five minutes later, the boys fled from the battlefield, and many of them left bloody footprints in the snow, indicating that the teeth of the White Fang were not inactive. When Mit-Sa told the incident in the village, Gray Beaver ordered White Fang to be given meat. He ordered to give him a lot of meat. And White Fang, having satiated, lay down by the fire and fell asleep, firmly convinced that he understood the law correctly.

Following this, White Fang adopted the law of ownership and the fact that the owner’s property must be protected. From protecting the body of God to protecting his property was one step, and White Fang took this step. What belonged to God should be protected from the whole world, not stopping even before attacking other gods. But this act, blasphemous in itself, is always fraught with great danger. The gods are omnipotent, and it is difficult for a dog to compete with them, and yet White Fang learned to fearlessly repulse them. The feeling of home conquered fear in him, and in the end the thieving gods decided to leave the property of Gray Beaver alone.

White Fang soon realized that the thieving gods were cowardly and, having heard the alarm, immediately ran away. In addition (as he was convinced from experience), the time interval between the raised alarm and the appearance of Gray Beaver was usually very short. And he also realized that the thief was running away not because he was afraid of him, White Fang, but because he was afraid of Gray Beaver. Smelling a thief, White Fang did not raise a bark - and he did not know how to bark - he threw himself at an uninvited guest and, if possible, bent his teeth at him. Moody and uncommunicative helped White Fang become a reliable watchman for the mastery, and Gray Beaver encouraged him in every way. And in the end, White Fang became even angrier, even more indomitable, and finally locked himself in.

Months passed one after another, and time more and more fastened the agreement between the dog and the man. This agreement, even in time immemorial, was concluded by the first wolf, who came from the Northern Wilderness to a man. And, like all his predecessors - wolves and wild dogs, White Fang himself developed the terms of this agreement.They were very simple. For the worship of a deity, he gave his freedom. From the god White Fang received communication with him, patronage, food and warmth. In return, he guarded his property, protected his body, worked for him and obeyed him.

If you have a god, he must be served. And White Fang served his god, obeying a sense of duty and awe. But he did not love him. He did not know what love was, and he never experienced this feeling. Kichi has become a distant memory. In addition, surrendering to a man, White Fang not only broke with the Northern Wilderness and with his relatives, but also obeyed such a condition of the contract that would not allow him to leave God and go for Kichi, even if he met her. Devotion to man became the law for the White Fang, and this law was stronger than the love of freedom, stronger than blood bonds.

CHAPTER SIX HUNGER

Spring was just around the corner when Gray Beaver's long journey ended. One of April’s days, White Fang, who was one year old by this time, returned to the old village again, and there Mit-Sa removed the harness from it. Although White Fang has not yet reached full maturity, still after Lip-Lip it was the largest of the one-year-old puppies.

Having inherited his height and strength from his wolf father and Kichi, he almost caught up with adult dogs, but yielded to them in the fortress of addition. His body was lean and slender; in fights, he took it rather by dodging than by force, his skin was gray, like that of a wolf. And in appearance he seemed like a real wolf. The dog’s blood, which passed to him from Kichi, left no trace on his appearance, but his character was not without its participation.

White Fang wandered around the village, with a sense of calm satisfaction, recognizing the gods he knew before traveling. He met here and puppies, also grown up for that time, and adult dogs, which now no longer seemed so big and scary to him. White Fang almost ceased to be afraid of them and walked among the pack with ease, which at first gave him great pleasure.

There was also the old gray-haired Basik, who previously needed only to bite his teeth in order to drive the White Fang to distant lands. In the past, Basik had repeatedly forced White Fang to become convinced of his own insignificance, but now Basik himself helped him evaluate the changes that had occurred in him. Besik was aging, decrepit, and White Fang was young, and his strength came every day.

The change in relations with dogs became clear to White Fang shortly after returning to the village. People were carving the carcass of a dead elk. He got a hoof with a piece of tibia, on which there was quite a lot of meat. Running away from the fighting dogs away into the forest so that no one could see him, White Fang set about his prey. And suddenly Basik flew into it. Still not having time to properly figure out what was the matter, White Fang twice slashed the old dog's teeth and bounced to the side. Dumbfounded by such a daring and swift attack, Basik stared pointlessly at the White Fang, and a bone with fresh meat lay between them.

Besik was old and had already experienced the courage of the very youth who had previously not cost him anything to scare. No matter how bitter it was, willy-nilly the grievances had to be swallowed, summoning all his wisdom to help, so as not to flee before the young dogs. In the old days, just anger would have made him rush at the daring youth, but now the diminishing forces did not allow him to dare to do such an act. Having bristled all over, he glanced menacingly at the White Fang, and he, remembering his past fear, cringed like a little puppy, and was already wondering in his mind how to retreat with as little disgrace as possible.

It was then that Basik made a mistake. If he had been content with a formidable and fierce look, everything would have gone well. The White Fang prepared for flight would have retreated, leaving the bone to him. But Basik did not want to wait. Deciding that the victory remained with him, he took a step forward and sniffed the bone. The White Fang bristled slightly.Even now it was possible to save the situation. If Basik continued to stand with his head held high, glancing menacingly at the enemy, White Fang would eventually have fled. But Basiku's nostrils tickled the smell of fresh meat, and, unable to resist, he grabbed a bone.

This White Fang could not bear. The dominance of his teammates was still fresh in his memory, and he could no longer control himself, watching another dog devour his meat. As usual, he rushed at Besik, not allowing him to come to his senses. After the first bite, the right ear of the old dog hung in shreds. The suddenness of the attack stunned him. But immediately after this, and with the same suddenness, even more sad events followed: Besik was knocked down, a wound gaped on his neck. Without letting the old man get up, the young dog pulled him by the shoulder twice. The swiftness of the attack was truly overwhelming. Basik rushed at White Fang, but his teeth only fiercely snapped in the air. The next minute, Basik's nose was streaked, and he staggered back.

The situation has changed dramatically. Over the bone stood the formidably bristling White Fang, and Basik kept himself at a distance, preparing to retreat at any moment. He did not dare to start a fight with a young, lightning-fast opponent. And again, with even greater bitterness, Basik felt an approaching old age. His attempt to maintain dignity was truly heroic. Turning calmly with his back to a young dog and a bone lying on the ground, as if both were completely not worthy of attention, he majestically left. And only when White Fang could no longer see him, Basik lay down on the ground and began to lick his wounds.

After this incident, White Fang finally believed in himself and became proud. Now he calmly walked among adult dogs, and became not so compliant. Not that he was looking for reasons for a quarrel, far from it - he demanded attention to himself. He defended his rights and did not want to retreat in front of other dogs. I had to reckon with him, that's all. No one dared to neglect it. This is the fate of the puppies, and the whole team had to put up with this fate, the puppies avoided adult dogs, gave them the way, and sometimes they were forced to give them their share of meat. But the unsociable, lonely, gloomy, formidable, alien to all White Fang was adopted as an equal among adult dogs. They quickly realized that he should be left alone, did not declare war on him and made no attempt to make friends with him. White Fang paid them the same, and after several hassles, the dogs became convinced that this state of affairs suits everyone perfectly.

In the middle of summer, an unexpected incident occurred with White Fang. Rushing with his silent trot to the end of the village to examine a new lodge, set up while he was leaving with the Indians to hunt for elk, White Fang came across Kichi. He stopped and looked at her. He remembered his mother vaguely, nevertheless he remembered, and Kichi forgot her son. Growling menacingly, she bared her teeth at him, and White Fang remembered everything. Childhood and what this growl spoke of appeared before him. Before meeting with the gods, Kichi was for White Fang the center of the universe. Old feelings returned and took possession of him. He jumped to his mother, but she met him with a grinning mouth and pricked his cheekbone to the bone. White Fang did not understand what had happened, and stumbled backward, stunned by this technique.

But Kichi was not to blame. She-wolves forget their wolf cubs, which turned one year or more than a year. Gaki Kichi forgot White Fang. He was a stranger to her, a stranger, and the brood she had acquired during this time gave her the right to be hostile to such strangers.

One of her puppies crawled to White Fang. Without knowing it, they were each other stepbrothers. White Fang sniffed the puppy with curiosity, for which Kichi once again ran into him and spread his face. White Fang moved back even further.All old memories that were resurrected in him died again and turned to dust. He looked at Kichi, who licked her cub and from time to time raised her head and growled. Now Kichi was no longer needed by White Fang. He learned to do without her and forgot what she was dear to him. There was no room left for Kichi in his world, just as there was no room left for White Fang in her world.

There were no memories - he stood bewildered, stunned by everything that had happened. And then Kichi rushed to him for the third time, driving him out of sight. White Fang submitted. Kichi was a female, and according to the law established by his breed, males should not fight with females. He did not know anything about this law, he did not comprehend it on the basis of life experience - this law was prompted by instinct, the instinct that made him howl at the moon, at night stars, fear death and the unknown.

Months passed one after another. The forces of the White Fang were increasing, he became larger, wider in the shoulders, and his character developed along the path that predetermined heredity and environment. White Fang was created from material as soft as clay and fraught with all sorts of possibilities. The environment sculpted from this clay everything that it pleased, giving it any shape. So, if White Fang hadn’t approached a man kindled fire, the Northern Wilderness would have made him a real wolf. But the gods gave him a different environment, and from the White Fang turned out to be a dog in which there was a lot of wolf, and yet it was a dog, not a wolf.

And under the influence of the environment, the malleable material from which the White Fang was made took a definite form. It was inevitable. He became more gloomy, meaner, he shunned his fellow men. And they realized that it was better to live in peace with him than to be at enmity, and the Gray Beaver every day appreciated him more and more.

But maturity did not free White Fang from one weakness: he could not stand it when they laughed at him. Human laughter made him crazy. People could laugh at each other with anything, and he did not pay attention to it. But as soon as someone laughed at him, he was enraged: a staid, full of dignity dog ​​raged to the point of absurdity. Laughter so embittered her that she turned into a devil. And woe to those puppies that came across White Fang in these minutes! He knew the law too well to take out the anger on the Gray Beaver, the Gray Beaver was helped by a stick and mind, and the puppies had nothing but open space, which saved them when the White Fang appeared in front of them, driven into a rage with laughter.

When White Fang began its third year, the Indians living on the Mackenzie River suffered a famine. In summer, no fish were caught. In winter, deer left their usual places. Moose rarely came across, hares almost disappeared. Predatory animals died. Hungry, weakened by hunger, they began to devour each other. Only the strong survived. The gods of the White Fang always hunted. The old and weak among them were dying one by one. There was a cry in the village. Women and children conceded their miserable share of food to the lean, haggard hunters who scoured the woods in vain search for game.

Hunger brought the gods to such extremes that they ate moccasins and rawhide mittens, and the dogs ate their harness and even whips. In addition, dogs ate each other, and the gods ate dogs. First done away with the weakest and least valuable. The surviving dogs saw all this and understood that they would face the same fate. Those who were bolder and smarter left the bonfires made by man, near which there was now a massacre, and fled to the forest, where they were waiting for starvation or wolf teeth.

During this difficult time, White Fang also ran into the forest. He was more adapted to life than other dogs, - said the school, passed in childhood. He especially skillfully tracked small animals.He could watch for hours every movement of the cautious squirrel and wait for it to decide to get down from the tree to the ground, while he showed such enormous patience that was in no way inferior to the hunger that tormented him. White Fang was never in a hurry. He waited until it was possible to act for sure, not afraid that the squirrel would again fall on a tree. Then, and only then, White Fang jumped out of his ambush with lightning speed, like a shell that never flies past its intended target - past a squirrel that its fast legs could not save.

But although hunting for squirrels usually ended in luck, one circumstance prevented White Fang from eating up to its fill: squirrels were rarely found, and he willy-nilly had to hunt for smaller game. At times, hunger tormented him so much that he did not stop even digging mice from minks. He did not disdain to join the battle with affection, as hungry as he was, but a thousand times more fierce.

When hunger pestered the White Fang especially cruelly, he crept closer to the fires of the gods, but did not come close to them. He ran through the forest, avoiding encounters with the gods, and robbed snares when they occasionally came across game. Once he even robbed a snare for a hare set by a Gray Beaver, and the Gray Beaver at that time was walking, staggering through the forest, and now and then sat down to rest, barely catching his breath from weakness.

One day, White Fang stumbled upon a young wolf, haggard and barely kept on its feet. If White Fang hadn’t been so hungry, he probably would have gone further with him and eventually joined the wolf pack, but now he had no choice but to chase the wolf, to bully and eat it.

Fate seemed to favor the White Fang. Whenever a lack of food was felt especially sharply, he found some prey. Happiness did not cheat on him even in those days when he had no strength at all - not once in that time had he caught the eye of larger predators. Once, reinforced by a trot, which lasted for two whole days, White Fang met with a wolf pack. A long, fierce pursuit began, but White Fang was stronger than the wolves and eventually ran away from them. And not only ran away, but described a large circle and, returning, attacked one of his emaciated pursuers.

Soon White Fang left these places and went to the valley, to his homeland. Finding the former lair, he met Kichi there. Kichi also left the inhospitable fires of the gods and, as soon as she had time to marry, she returned to the cave. By the time White Fang appeared near the cave, there was only one wolf cub left from the entire Kichi brood, but he was also living out the last days - it was difficult for a young life to survive such hunger.

The reception that Kichi gave to her adult son could not be called warm. But White Fang reacted indifferently to this. No longer needing his mother, he calmly turned his back on her and ran up the stream. On his left sleeve, White Fang found a lynx's lair, with which he had once had to fight with his mother. Here, in an abandoned hole, he lay down and rested all day.

In the early summer, when the hunger strike was coming to an end, White Fang met Lip-Lip, who, like him, fled into the forest and eked out a miserable existence there. White Fang met him completely unexpectedly. Bending around the ledge of a steep bank from opposite sides, they simultaneously ran out from behind a high rock and collided nose to nose. Both froze, frightened by such a meeting, and stared at each other.

White Fang was in excellent condition. All this week he hunted very successfully and ate a lot, and his last booty was fed up to waste. But as soon as he saw Lip-Lip, the wool on his back stood on end. He bristled completely involuntarily - this external manifestation of malice in the past accompanied every meeting with the bully Lip-Lip. Hack was now: seeing his enemy. The White Fang bristled and growled at him.Not a single minute was in vain. Weight was made quickly, in an instant. Lip-Lip backed away, but White Fang knocked shoulder to shoulder with him, knocked him down, knocked him to his back, and dug his teeth into his sinewy neck. Lip-Lip struggled in near-death cramps, and White Fang walked around without taking his eyes off him. Then he set off again and disappeared behind a sharp bend of the coast.

Soon after, White Fang ran to the edge of the forest and down a narrow clearing down to the Mackenzie River. He ran here before, but then on this shore it was empty, and now there was a village. White Fang stopped and, not leaving behind the trees, began to look around. Sounds and smells seemed familiar to him. It was an old village, moving to another place, but there was something new in its sounds and smells. No howling or crying was heard. These sounds created contentment. And when White Fang heard an angry female voice, he realized that you can get angry only on a full stomach. The air smelled of fish - which means there was food in the village. The famine is over. He boldly left the forest and ran straight to the master lodge. The owner himself was not at home, but Klu-Kuch met the White Fang with joyful cries, gave him a whole fresh fish, and he lay down and waited for Gray Beaver to return.

CHAPTER ONE ENEMY

If the nature of the White Fang was at least the slightest opportunity to get closer to the representatives of his breed, then this opportunity irretrievably perished nose before he became the leader of the team. The dogs hated him, hated that Mit-Sa threw him an extra piece of meat, hated him for all the real and imaginary advantages that he enjoyed, hated him because he always ran in the head of the harness, making them furious with one kind of his own fluffy tail and quickly flickering legs.

And White Fang infused dogs with exactly the same sharp hatred. The role of the leader did not give him the slightest pleasure. Through force he put up with the fact that he had to run away from barking dogs that had been under his control for three years. But he had to put up with it, otherwise he was threatened with death, and the life that was beating in him did not want to die. As soon as Mit-Sa moved, the whole team with a furious bark rushed in pursuit of the White Fang.

He could not defend himself: as soon as he turned his head to the dogs, Mit-Sa whipped him in the face with a whip. White Fang had no choice but to rush forward. He could not repel the attack with a howling pack with his tail and hind legs - such weapons cannot be defended against many ruthless fangs. And the White Fang rushed to the jump, every jump raping his nature and humiliating his pride, and he had to run all day.

Such self-abuse does not go unpunished. If the hair that has grown on the body is forced to grow deep into the skin, it will cause excruciating pain. The same thing happened with White Fang. With his whole being, he sought to get rid of the dogs chasing him on the heels, but the will of the gods could not be violated, especially since their will was reinforced by the blows of a thirty-foot scourge, twisted from deer intestines. And White Fang endured all this, harboring such hatred and anger that his fierce and indomitable disposition was capable of.

If any living creature could be called the enemy of its brethren, then this applied specifically to the White Fang. He never asked for mercy, and he himself did not spare anyone. His wounds and scars did not leave his body, and the dogs, in turn, did not part with the marks of his teeth. In contrast to many leaders who rushed under the protection of the gods, as soon as the dogs were tied up, White Fang neglected such protection. He fearlessly walked around the parking lot, at night cracking down on dogs for everything that he had to endure from them during the day. In those days, when White Fang was not yet a leader, his current teammates usually tried not to come across him on the road. Now the situation has changed.The chase, which lasted from morning to evening, the realization that the White Fang had been running away from them all day, was in their power, all this did not allow the dogs to retreat in front of him. As soon as he appeared among the pack, now the fight began. His walks in the parking lot were accompanied by a growl, squabble, screech. The very air that he breathed was saturated with hatred and anger, and this only increased the hatred and anger in himself.

When Mit-Sa ordered the team to stop, White Fang obeyed his shout. At first, this stop caused confusion among the dogs, all of them attacked the hated leader. But here the matter took a completely different turn: waving a whip, Mit-Sa came to the aid of White Fang. And the dogs finally realized that if the sled stopped at the order of Mit-Sa, it is better not to touch the leader. But if White Fang stopped arbitrarily, then it could be repaired over him.

Soon White Fang stopped stopping without an order. Such lessons are learned quickly. Yes, White Fang could not but absorb them, otherwise he would not have survived in the harsh environment that life had prepared for him.

But for dogs, these lessons were in vain - they did not leave him alone in the parking lots. The day chase and furious barking, in which the team put all their hatred for the leader, made her forget what was the previous night, the lesson was repeated the next night, but by the morning there was no trace of him. In addition, the hostility of the dogs to the White Fang was fed by another important circumstance: they felt a different breed in it, and this was quite enough to contrast them with each other.

Like White Fang, they were all tamed wolves, but several tamed generations stood behind them. Much of what the Northern Wilderness endows with a wolf has already been lost, and for dogs in the Northern Wilderness lurked only obscurity, an eternal threat and eternal enmity. But the appearance of the White Fang, all his habits and instincts spoke of a strong connection with the Northern Wilderness, he was a symbol and personification of it. And therefore, grinning his teeth at him, the dogs thereby protected themselves from death, concealed in the darkness of forests and in darkness, which surrounded human bonfires on all sides.

However, dogs learned one lesson firmly: you need to stick together. White Fang was too dangerous an adversary, and no one dared to meet him face to face. Dogs attacked him with a whole pack, otherwise he would have finished with them in one night. And White Fang could not get rid of any of his enemies. He knocked the opponent down, but the pack immediately attacked him, preventing him from biting his dog's throat. At the slightest hint of a quarrel, the entire team united themselves against their leader. The dogs were constantly biting among themselves, but as soon as any of them started a fight with the White Fang, all the other quarrels were instantly forgotten.

However, they could not bite White Fang with all the diligence. He was too mobile for them, too menacing and smart. He avoided those places where one could fall into the trap, and always slipped away when the pack tried to surround him with a ring. And not one dog could think of knocking down the White Fang from her feet. His feet clung to the ground with the same stubbornness with which he himself clung to life. And therefore, in that endless war that the White Fang waged with the flock, saving his life and staying on his feet were equivalent concepts for him, and no one knew this better than himself.

So, White Fang became the implacable enemy of his fellow men - the enemy of wolves, who warmed themselves around a bonfire, divorced by man, and pampered under the saving canopy of human power. So did his life. He declared blood feud on all dogs and took revenge so cruelly that even Gray Beaver, in which there was enough rage and savagery, could not marvel at the anger of the White Fang. “There is no other such dog!” Said the Gray Beaver. And Indians from foreign villages confirmed his words, remembering how White Fang cracked down on their dogs.

White Fang was about five years old when Gray Beaver again took him with him on a long journey, and in the villages along the Rocky Mountains, along the Mackenzie and Porcupine rivers, right up to the Yukon, they remembered for a long time the White Fang’s killings of dogs. He reveled in his revenge. The foreign dogs did not expect anything bad from him, they did not have to meet with an adversary who would attack so suddenly. They did not know that they were dealing with an enemy killing, like lightning, with one blow. Dogs In foreign villages approached White Fang with a defiant look, and he, without wasting time on preliminary ceremonies, rushed at them swiftly, like a unfolding steel spring, grabbed his throat and killed the enemy, preventing him from recovering from amazement.

White Fang became an experienced fighter. He fought prudently, never wasted his energy, did not drag out the fight. He flew in and, if it happened to miss, immediately bounced back. Like all wolves. White Fang avoided prolonged contact with the enemy. He could not stand it. Such contact - fraught with danger and infuriated him. He wanted to be free, he wanted to stay firmly on his feet. The northern wilderness did not let White Fang out of its tenacious embrace and asserted its authority over it. Alienation from early childhood from a society like him only intensified in him this desire for freedom. The close proximity to the enemy was fraught with some kind of threat, White Fang suspected a trap here, and the fear of this trap did not leave him.

Foreign dogs could not compete with him. White Fang dodged their fangs, he dealt with them and ran away unscathed. True, there is no rule without exception. It also happened that several opponents attacked the White Fang at once and did not have time to run away from them, and sometimes it flew into him coolly from any one dog. But this rarely happened. White Fang became such a skilled fighter that he came out with honor from almost all fights.

He had one more advantage - the ability to correctly calculate the time and distance. This was, of course, done completely unconsciously. It was just that his eyesight never let him down, and his whole body, better coordinated than that of other dogs, worked accurately and quickly, the coordination of mental and physical forces was more perfect than theirs. When the optic nerves transmitted a moving image to the brain of the White Fang, my mine, without any effort, determined the space and time required for this movement to complete. Thus, he could dodge the dog’s jump or its fangs and at the same time use every second to throw himself at the enemy. But one should not give him praise for this - nature gave him more generously than others, that’s all.

It was summer when White Fang hit Fort Yukon. At the end of winter, Gray Beaver crossed the watershed between Mackenzie and the Yukon and hunted all spring on the western spurs of the Rocky Mountains. And when the Porcupine River cleared of ice, Gray Beaver made a cake and went down it to the place where it merged with the Yukon, just under the Arctic Circle. Here stood the fort of the Hudson's Bay Company. There were Indians in the fort, there were a lot of food supplies - an unprecedented revival reigned everywhere. It was the summer of 1898, and thousands of gold miners moved up the Yukon, to Dawson, and to Klondike. They still had hundreds of miles to travel, and yet many of them had been in nougat for a year, no one had done less than five thousand miles, and some came here from the other end of the world.

At Fort Yukon, Gray Beaver made a stop. Rumors of a gold rush reached his ears, and he brought with him several bales with furs and one bale with mittens and moccasins. Gray Beaver would never dare to embark on such a long journey, if he had not been attracted here by the hope of great profit. But what Gray Beaver saw here exceeded all his expectations.In his most unbridled dreams, he hoped to gain one hundred percent from the sale of furs, and he was convinced that a thousand could be won. And, like a true Native American, Gray Beaver set to work slowly, deciding to sit here at least until the fall, just not to miscalculate and not to cheapen.

At Fort Yukon, White Fang first saw white people. Next to the Indians, they seemed to him creatures of a different breed - gods, whose power rested on even greater power. This confidence came to the White Fang by itself, he did not have to strain his mental abilities to be convinced of the power of the white gods. He only felt it, but felt it with extraordinary power. The wigwams built by the Indians once seemed to him a testament to the greatness of man, but now he was struck by a huge fort and houses made of thick logs. All this spoke of power. The white gods were powerful. Their power extended beyond the power of the former White Fang gods, among which the Gray Beaver was the most powerful creature. But Gray Beaver seemed insignificant in comparison with white-skinned gods.

Of course, White Fang only felt all this and did not realize a clear account of his feelings. But animals act most often on the basis of just such sensations, and each act of the White Fang was now explained by confidence in the power of the white gods. He treated them with great caution. Who knows what unknown horror and what new trouble can be expected from them? White Fang watched with curiosity the white gods, but was afraid to get in their way. For the first few hours, he was content with what he watched them from a distance, but then, seeing that the white gods did not do any harm to his dogs, he came closer.

In turn, White Fang attracted widespread attention: its resemblance to a wolf was immediately evident, and people pointed at each other with their fingers. This made White Fang alert. As soon as someone approached him, he gritted his teeth and ran to the side. People never managed to touch him with a hand - and it’s good that they didn’t succeed.

Soon, White Fang learned that very few of these gods — ten in all — were constantly living in the fort. Every two or three days a steamer moored on the shore (another great proof of the omnipotence of white people) and stood at the pier for several hours. The gods came and left again on steamboats. It seemed that these people have no number. In the first two days, White Fang saw as many as he had not seen Indians in his entire life. And every day they came, walked along the fort and again drove up the river.

But if the white gods were omnipotent, then the dogs were worthless. White Fang quickly became convinced of this, faced with those who went ashore with their masters. Weight they were not like one another. Some had short, too short legs, while others had long, too long legs. Instead of thick fur, short hair covered them, and some had almost no wool. And not one of these dogs knew how to fight.

Feeding hatred for his entire breed, White Fang considered himself obligated to enter into a fight with these dogs. After several hassles, he was imbued with deepest contempt for them: they turned out to be clumsy, helpless and tried to defeat the White Fang with one force, while he took with skill and cunning. Dogs rushed at him with a bark. White Fang hopped to the side. They lost sight of him, and then he flew at them from the side, knocked him down with his shoulder and clung to his throat.

Often this bite was fatal, and his opponent fought in the mud under the feet of Indian dogs, who were just waiting for the moment when it would be possible to throw the whole flock and tear the stranger to pieces. White Fang was wise. He had long known that the gods were angry when someone kills their dogs. White gods were no exception. Therefore, having knocked the enemy down and bit his throat, he ran to the side and allowed the pack to finish the work he had begun.At this time, white people ran up and sent their anger down on the flock, and White Fang came out of the water dry. Usually he stood aside and watched his brothers beat with stones, sticks, axes, and everything that people could reach. White Fang was wise.

But her brothers, too, learned something: they realized that the most fun begins at the moment when the ship lands on the shore. Here the dogs escaped from the ship, and two or three of them were instantly torn to pieces. Then people drive the rest back and are taken for a cruel reprisal. Once a white man, in front of whose torn his setter was, grabbed a revolver. He shot six times in a row, and six dogs from the pack fell dead. This was another manifestation of the power of white people, long remembered by the White Fang.

White Fang reveled in all this, he did not spare his fellow men, and managed to remain intact in such skirmishes. At first, fights with dogs of white people simply entertained him, then he set about it for real. He had no other business. Gray Beaver engaged in trade, became rich. And White Fang wandered around the pier, waiting with a pack of dissolute Indian dogs for the arrival of steamboats. As soon as the ship approached the shore, fun began. By the time white people came to their senses from surprise, the dog pack ran in different directions and waited for the next steamboat.

However, White Fang could not be considered a member of the dog pack. He did not mix with her, kept aloof, never lost his independence, and the dogs were even afraid of him. True, he acted along with them. He started a quarrel with a stranger and knocked him down. Then the dogs rushed and finished off the stranger, and White Fang immediately ran away, leaving the pack to receive punishment from the angry gods.

In order to start such a quarrel, it did not take much work. White Fang only had to appear on the pier when other people's dogs went ashore - and that was enough, they rushed at him. So instinct commanded them. Dogs in White Fang sensed the northern wilderness, unknown, horror, eternal threat, sensed in it what walked, sneaking, in the darkness surrounding human bonfires, when they, getting close to these bonfires, abandoned their former instincts and were afraid of the Northern Wilderness, abandoned and betrayed by them. From generation to generation, this fear of the Northern Wilderness has been transmitted to dogs. The northern wilderness threatened death, but their overlords gave them the right to kill all life that comes from there. And, using this right, they defended themselves and the gods who allowed them into their society.

And therefore, immigrants from the South, having run down the gangways to the banks of the Yukon, it was enough to see the White Fang in order to feel an irresistible desire to rush and tear him to pieces. Among the visiting dogs came across urban, but the instinctive fear of the Northern Wilderness persisted in them. They looked at the beast that looked like a wolf in broad daylight, not only with their own eyes - they looked at White Fang through the eyes of their ancestors, and the memory inherited from all previous generations told them that they had a wolf, to which the breed they are fed by eternal enmity.

All this was pleasing to White Fang. If he makes dogs throw himself into a fight with his appearance, the better for him and the worse for them. They sensed their rightful prey in White Fang, and it was as if he had treated them.

No wonder White Fang first saw the light of day in a secluded lair and in its very first battles had opponents such as partridge, weasel and lynx. And not without reason his early childhood was overshadowed by enmity with Lip-Lip and with a whole flock of young dogs. If his life were different, he himself would have been different. If it weren’t in the village of Lip-Lipa, White Fang would make friends with other puppies, would be more like a dog and more tolerant of whom he would treat his brothers.If Gray Beaver was softer and kinder, he would be able to awaken in him a sense of affection and love. But everything turned out differently. Life abruptly treated White Fang, and he became a sullen, reserved, vicious beast - the enemy of his brothers.

CHAPTER TWO CRAZY GOD

There were few white people at Fort Yukon. They all lived here for a long time, called themselves “sour dough” and were very proud of it. Those who came here from other places were despised by the old-timers. People who went ashore from the ship were newcomers and were called "Chechako." Beginners greatly disliked their nickname. They knead the dough with dry yeast, and this drew a sharp line between them and the old-timers, who put the bread on the sourdough, because they did not have yeast.

But all this - by the way. The inhabitants of the fort despised the visitors and rejoiced whenever they had any kind of trouble. They especially enjoyed the reprisals of the White Fang and the entire outrageous pack with other people's dogs. As soon as the ship approached, the old-timers of the fort hurried ashore so as not to miss the fun. They were looking forward to having fun no less than Indian dogs and, of course, immediately appreciated the role that White Fang played in these fights.

But there was among the old-timers one man who enjoyed this fun especially. Hearing the whistle of an approaching steamboat, he would go ashore at all costs, and when the fight ended and the pack of dogs scattered in different directions, this man slowly left the pier, expressing deep regret with all his appearance. Often, when a pampered southern dog with a dying howl fell to the ground and died, torn to shreds by a bunch of swooping on it, this man screamed and jumped with delight. And every time he looked enviously at White Fang.

The old-timers of the fort called this man "Handsome." Nobody knew his real name, and in these places he was known as Handsome Smith. True, there was little beautiful in him, therefore, probably, he was given such a nickname. He was extremely ugly. Creating it, nature was stingy. He was stunted, and on his feeble body sat an irregularly shaped, elongated head. In childhood, even before a new nickname, “Handsome”, was strengthened behind him, his peers called him “Carnation”.

Smith's nape was completely flattened, his forehead was low and awkwardly wide. And then nature suddenly became generous and endowed Handsome Smith with hatched eyes, besides, set so wide that another pair of eyes could fit between them. In order to somehow fill the remaining free space, nature gave him a heavy lower jaw, which protruded forward and almost lay on his chest, or maybe it only seemed so, for Handsome Smith's neck was too thin for such a bulky burden .

The lower jaw gave his face an expression of ferocious decisiveness, but somehow did not believe in this decisiveness, perhaps because the jaw was too large and massive. In other words, there was no trace of decisiveness in nature of Handsome Smith. He was reputed everywhere for a despicable, miserable coward. To complete the picture, it should be mentioned that his teeth were long and yellow, and both fangs crawled out from under his thin lips. Apparently, nature didn’t have enough paint on her eyes, she scrubbed for them all the remains from her palette - and it turned out something dull yellow. The same can be said about liquid hair, which stuck in shreds on his head and cheekbones, resembling a sheaf of straw disheveled by the wind.

In short, Handsome Smith was a freak, but you shouldn’t blame him yourself. So a man was born of God. He cooked on the inhabitants of the fort, washed dishes and did all kinds of dirty work. In the fort, they treated him tolerantly and even condescendingly, as a creature who was unlucky in life. In addition, Handsome Smith was afraid. From such an evil coward one could get a bullet in the back and a glass of coffee with poison.But after all, someone needed to do cooking, and Handsome Smith, despite all his shortcomings, knew his job.

Such was the man who admired the desperate removal of the White Fang and dreamed of taking possession of it. Handsome Smith began to flirt with White Fang. He did not pay any attention to it. When the flirting became more insistent, White Fang grinned teeth on Handsome Smith, bristled and ran away. This man did not like him. White Fang sensed something evil in him and hated him, fearing his outstretched hand and insinuating voice.

Good and evil are perceived by a simple being very simply. Good is her that which ceases pain, that brings with it freedom and satisfaction. Therefore, good is nice. Evil is hateful because it brings anxiety, danger, suffering. Just as fog rises above a rotten swamp, so from the ugly body and the dirty soul of Handsome Smith blew something bad, unhealthy. Unconsciously, as if with the help of the sixth sense, White Fang guessed that this man was fraught with evil, threatened with death, and that he should be hated.

White Fang was at home when Handsome Smith first entered Gray Beaver's parking lot. Long before the appearance of Handsome Smith, at the one sound of her steps, White Fang realized who was coming to them and bristled. Although it was very comfortable for him to lie, but only this man came closer, he immediately got up and ran silently, like a real wolf, to the side. White Fang did not know what the conversation was with Serov Beaver, he only saw that the owner was talking to him. During the conversation, Handsome Smith pointed a finger at White Fang, and he growled, as if this hand was not fifty feet away from him, but fell on his back. Handsome Smith laughed, and White Fang decided to hide in the forest and, running away, all looked back at the talking people.

Gray Beaver refused to sell the dog. He got rich, he has everything. In addition, you will not find a better sled dog or a better leader anywhere - neither in Mackenzie nor in the Yukon. White Fang is a master fight. Breaking a dog does not cost him anything - it’s like a person slamming a mosquito. (Handsome Smith's eyes sparkled at these words, and he eagerly licked his thin lips.) No, Gray Beaver will not sell White Fang for any money.

But Handsome Smith knew the Indians well. He began to visit Gray Beaver often and each time brought a bottle for his bosom. Whiskey has one powerful property - it excites thirst. And such a thirst appeared on the Gray Carpet. His insides demanded more and more of this burning liquid, and, having lost power over himself from the habit of not using it, he was ready for anything to get this liquid. The proceeds from the sale of furs, mittens and moccasins began to melt. There were fewer and fewer of them, and the more the bag in which they were kept by Gray Beaver was empty, the more anxious it became.

Finally, everything was gone - money, goods, and peace of mind. At Gray Beaver there was only a thirst that grew with every minute. And then Handsome Smith again started talking about the sale of the White Fang, but this time the price was determined not by dollars, but by bottles of whiskey, and Gray Beaver listened to the proposal more carefully.

“You can catch it — your dog,” was his last word.

Bottles passed on to him, but two days later Handsome Smith himself told Gray Beaver:

Having returned home one evening, White Fang lay with a sigh of relief near the wigwam. There was no terrible white god. In recent days, he has been pestering White Fang more and more, and he preferred for this time to completely leave home. He did not know what danger the hands of this man were fraught with, he only sensed something unkind and decided to stay away from them.

As soon as the White Fang had settled down, the Gray Beaver staggered up to him and tied a belt around his neck. Then Gray Beaver sat next to the White Fang, holding the end of the belt in one hand.In the other, he held the bottle and kept putting it on it, and then White Fang heard a gurgle.

So an hour passed, and suddenly to the ears of the White Fang brought a sheet, the sounds of someone's steps. He distinguished them first and, guessing who was walking, bristled all over. Gray Beaver sat and nodded. White Fang gently pulled the belt from the owner’s hands, but the weakened fingers clenched tight and Gray Beaver woke up.

Handsome Smith went up to the lodge and stopped next to the White Fang. He growled muffled at this terrible creature, not taking his eyes off his hands. One arm extended forward and began to slip over his head. White Fang growled louder. The hand continued to sink slowly, and White Fang, angrily looking at her and already panting from the furious growl, fell lower and lower to the ground. And suddenly his teeth flashed like a snake, and clanged in the air with a sharp metallic sound. The hand pulled back in time. Handsome Smith was frightened and furious. Gray Beaver hit White Fang on the head, and the goth again dutifully lay down on the ground. White Fang followed every movement of both people. He saw that Handsome Smith was gone and soon returned with a weighty stick. Gray Beaver handed him a belt. Handsome Smith stepped forward. The belt tightened. White Fang was still lying. Gray Beaver hit him several times, forcing him to stand up. White Fang obeyed and jumped right on a stranger who wanted to take him with him. He was waiting for this attack and, with a stick, knocked the White Fang to the ground, stopping his jump halfway. Gray Beaver laughed and nodded his head approvingly. Handsome Smith again pulled on his belt, and White Fang, stunned by the blow, struggled to his feet.

He did not repeat his jump. One such blow was enough to convince him that the white god was not in vain holding a stick in his hands. White Fang was wise and saw the futility of fighting inevitability. Pulling his tail and never ceasing to growl muffled, he trudged behind Handsome Smith, who kept his eyes on him and kept the stick ready.

Arriving at the fort, Handsome Smith firmly tied the White Fang and lay down to sleep. White Fang waited an hour, and then set to work on his belt and after some ten seconds was free. He did not waste time in vain: the belt was slanted obliquely clean, like a knife. Looking around, the White Fang bristled and growled. Then he turned and ran to the Gray Beaver wigwam. He was not obliged to obey this alien and terrible god. He gave himself to Gray Beaver, and no one but Gray Beaver could own it.

All of the previous was repeated, the nose a little difference. Gray Beaver tied a sheaf and in the morning led him to Handsome Smith. It was here that White Fang felt this difference. Handsome Smith asked him a bashing. White Fang, tightly attached this time, had no choice but to rush about in impotent rage and bear punishment. Handsome Smt launched a stick and a whip, and White Fang had never experienced such beatings before in his life. Even the flogging that Gray Beaver had once asked him was nothing compared to what now had to endure.

Handsome Smith was enjoying himself. He glanced eagerly at his victim, and his eyes lit up with a dim fire when the White Fang howled in pain and growled after each hit with a stick or a whip. Handsome Smith was cruel, as only cowards are cruel. Submissively blowing blows and scolding from people, he vented his anger on the weakest creatures. All living things love power, and Handsome Smith was no exception: not having the ability to rule over his equal, he enjoyed the defenselessness of animals. But Handsome Smith should not be blamed for this. An ugly body and low intelligence were given to him from birth, and life treated him severely and did not straighten him.

White Fang knew why they beat him. When Gray Beaver put a strap on his neck and passed the leash to Handsome Smith, White Fang realized that his god was ordering him to go with this man.And when Handsome Smith put him on a leash in a fort, he realized that Tog was ordering him to stay here. Consequently, he violated the will of both gods and deserved punishment. He had to see before how the dogs, who escaped from the new owner, were beaten in the same way as they beat him now. White Fang was wise, but forces lived within him, before which wisdom itself also receded. One of these powers was fidelity. White Fang did not like Gray Beaver - and yet he remained faithful to him contrary to his will, his anger. He could not help himself. So it was created. Fidelity was the property of the White Fang breed, fidelity distinguished him from all other animals, fidelity brought the wolf and wild dog to the man and allowed them to become his comrades. After beating White Fang, they dragged him back to the fort, and this time, Handsome Smith tied him in an Indian way - with a stick. But giving up your deity is not easy, and White Fang experienced it on himself. Gray Beaver was a god for him, and he continued to cling to Gray Beaver against his will. Gray Beaver betrayed and rejected the White Fang, but that meant nothing. No wonder White Fang surrendered to Gray Beaver in body and soul. The bonds that bound him to the master were not so easy to break. And at night, when the whole fort was asleep, White Fang began to nibble the stick to which it was tied. The stick was dry and hard and adjoined so close to the neck that he hardly, after the excruciating strain of muscles, reached for it with his teeth, and in order to gnaw the leash, it took him several hours of patient work. Before him, not a single dog had done anything like this, but White Fang did it and ran away from the fort early in the morning with a stub of a stick hanging from its neck. White Fang was wise. And if he were only wise, he would not have come to Gray Beaver, who had already betrayed him twice. But wisdom combined with loyalty - he ran home, and the owner betrayed him for the third time. Again, White Fang allowed himself to wear a belt around his neck, and again Handsome Smith came for him. And this time, White Fang got even more. Gray Beaver stared blankly as a white man waved his whip. He did not try to protect the dog. She no longer belonged to him. When the beating ended, White Fang was a little alive. A pampered southern dog would not have endured such beatings, but White Fang endured. He was tempered by the harsh school of life. He was too viable, and his grip on life was stronger than that of other dogs. But now White Fang was barely breathing. He could not even move, Handsome Smith had to wait half an hour before leading him home. And then White Fang stood up, staggering, and, not seeing anything in front of him, trudged behind Handsome Smith into the fort.

This time he was put on a chain that could not be cut. He tried to tear out the bracket driven into the log, but all his efforts were in vain. A few days later, the ravaged Gray Beaver became sober and went on a long journey along the Porcupine River to Mackenzie. White Fang remained at Fort Yukon and became fully owned) by a madman who had lost his human appearance. But what does the dog know about madness? For White Fang, Handsome Smith became a god - a terrible, but still a god. It was a crazy god, but White Fang did not know what madness was, he only knew that he had to obey the will of this man and fulfill all his whims and whims.

CHAPTER THREE KINGDOM OF HATE

In the hands of a crazy god, White Fang turned into a devil. Having set up a fence at the far end of the fort, Handsome Smith put the White Fang on a chain and began to tease him and infuriate him with small but painful attacks. He very soon discovered that White Fang could not stand when they laugh at him, and usually ended his torture with explosions of deafening laughter. Mocking the White Fang, God pointed a finger at him. At these moments, the dog lost all power over itself and in the fits of rage overwhelming it seemed more furious than Handsome Smith.

Until now, White Fang has felt enmity - though a fierce enmity - only against creatures of the same breed. Now he has become the enemy of everything that he saw around him. The bullying of Handsome Smith drove him to such anger that he blindly and recklessly hated everyone and everything. He hated his chain, people staring at him through the crossbars of the fence, coming along with people of dogs, to whose evil growl he could not answer. White Fang hated even the planks of which his fence was made. But above all, and most of all, he hated Handsome Smith.

Handling White Fang in this way, Handsome Smith pursued a specific goal. Once, several people gathered near the fence. Handsome Smith went to White Fang, holding a stick in his hand, and removed the chain from him. As soon as the owner left, White Fang swept across the fence from corner to corner, trying to get to the people staring at him. White Fang was magnificent in its rage. Full five feet in length and two and a half in height, he weighed ninety pounds - much more than any adult wolf. He inherited the massive body of the dog from his mother, and there was no trace of fat on his body. Muscles, bones, tendons - and not an ounce of excess weight, as befits a fighter who is in a beautiful company.

The door to the fence opened again. White Fang stopped. Something strange happened. The door opened wider. And suddenly a big dog was pushed into him. The door slammed shut at once. White Fang never saw such a breed (it was a mastiff), but the size and ferocious appearance of a stranger did not bother him at all. He saw in front of him not a tree, not iron, but a living creature on which anger could be torn. Flashing his fangs, he jumped on the mastiff and spread his neck. Mastiff shook his head and with a hoarse growl rushed at White Fang. But White Fang galloped from side to side, managing to dodge and elude the enemy, and at the same time managed to tear him with his fangs and jump back again.

The audience shouted, applauded, and Handsome Smith, trembling with delight, did not take his greedy eyes from the White Fang, cracking down on the enemy. The weighty, clumsy mastiff was doomed from the very beginning, and the fight ended with Handsome Smith driving away the White Fang with a stick, and the mastiff half dead, dragged out. Then the losers paid the bet, and money rang in Handsome Smith's hand.

From that day on, White Fang was already looking forward to the moment when a crowd gathered around his fence again. This portended a fight, and the fight was now the only way for him to manifest his essence. Sitting locked up, hunted, distraught with hatred, he found an outcome for this hatred only when the owner let a dog into his fence. Handsome Smith, apparently, knew how to calculate the strength of the White Fang, because the White Fang always came out victorious from such battles. Once, three dogs were admitted to him one after another. Then, after a few days, the just-caught adult wolf. And the third time he had to fight with two dogs at once. Of all his fights, this was the most desperate, and although he laid down both of his opponents, he was barely breathing by the end of the battle.

In the fall, when the first snow fell and lard stretched along the river, Handsome Smith took a seat for himself and for White Fang on a steamer heading up the Yukon to Dawson. The fame of White Fang swept everywhere. He was known by the nickname of the “fighting wolf,” and so curious people always crowded around his cage on the deck. He growled and rushed at the audience or lay motionless and looked at them with cold hatred. Didn't these people deserve his hatred? White Fang never asked himself such a question. He knew only one feeling and all surrendered to him. Life has become hell for him. Like any wild beast that fell into the hands of a man, he could not sit locked up. And he had to endure bondage.

Onlookers stared at the White Fang, stuck sticks through the bars, he snarled, and they laughed at him. These people awakened such fury in him that nature itself did not intend to endow him. However, nature gave him the ability to adapt. Where another animal would perish or be reconciled, White Fang applied to circumstances and continued to live without breaking its tenacity. It is possible that in the end, the devil in the image of Handsome Smith could have managed to break the White Fang, but so far all his efforts have been in vain.

If the Devil was sitting in Handsome Smith, then the White Fang was not inferior to him in this, and both devils waged an endless war against each other. Previously, the White Fang had the prudence to submit to the man who holds the stick in his hand, but now this prudence has left him. It was enough for him to see Handsome Smith to become furious. And when they collided and the stick drove the White Fang into the corner of the cage, and then he did not stop growling and grinning his teeth. It was impossible to calm him down. Handsome Smith could beat White Fang as much as he wanted - he didn’t give up. As soon as the owner stopped beating and left, after him a defiant roar was heard or White Fang rushed to the bars of the cage and howled from the hatred that raged in him.

When the ship arrived at Dawson, White Fang was brought ashore. But in Dawson, he still lived in full view of everyone, in a cage, constantly surrounded by onlookers. Handsome Smith imagined his “fighting wolf,” and people paid fifty cents with golden sand to look at him. The White Fang did not have a moment of rest. If he was sleeping, he was awakened, lifted from his place with a stick. The audience wanted to get complete pleasure for their money. And in order to make the sight even more entertaining, White Fang was constantly kept in a state of rage.

But worst of all was the atmosphere in which he lived. They looked at him as a terrible, wild beast, and this attitude of people penetrated the White Fang through the bars of the cage. Each of their words, each movement convinced him that his fury was terrible for people. It only added fuel to the fire, and the ferocity of the White Fang grew every day. Here is another proof of the ductility of the material from which it was made - proof of its ability to apply to the environment.

Handsome Smith not only flaunted the White Fang, he made him a professional fighter. When it was possible to arrange a battle, White Fang was taken out of the cage and led into the forest, a few miles from the city. This was usually done at night to avoid a clash with the local mounted police. A few hours later, at dawn, spectators appeared and a dog with whom he was to fight. White Fang had to meet opponents of all breeds and all sizes. He lived in a wild country, and the people here were wild, and dog fights usually ended in the death of one of the participants.

But White Fang continued to fight, and, therefore, his opponents perished. He did not know defeat. The battle training, received from childhood, when White Fang had to fight with Lip-Lip and with a whole flock of young dogs, served him well. White Fang was saved by the firmness with which he stood on his feet. Not a single enemy managed to knock him down. Dogs, in which the blood of their distant ancestors - wolves was still preserved, launched their favorite fighting technique: they threw themselves at the enemy directly or with an unexpected throw from the side, hoping to hit him in the shoulder and knock him back. Hounds, huskies, shepherd dogs, Newfoundlands - all tried this technique at White Fang and achieved nothing. There was no case that White Fang lost balance. People told each other about this and each time hoped that he would be knocked down, but he always disappointed them.

White Fang was helped by his lightning speed. She gave him a huge advantage over opponents. Even the most experienced of them have not yet met such a dodgy fighter.I had to reckon with the surprise of his attack. All dogs usually perform a certain ritual before a fight - they grind their teeth, bristle, growl, and all dogs that had to fight with the White Fang were knocked down and killed before they came to a fight or came to themselves from surprise. This happened so often that the White Fang began to hold in order to give him, the enemy the opportunity to perform the prescribed ritual and even the first to rush into the fray.

But the greatest advantage in the battles was given to White Fang by his experience. White Fang knew a lot about fights like no other opponent. He fought more often than all of them, knew how to repel any attack, and his own fighting techniques were much more diverse and hardly needed improvement.

Time passed, and had to fight less and less. Lovers of dog fights have already lost hope of finding a worthy rival to White Fang, and Handsome Smith had no choice but to set him up against the wolves. The Indians caught them with traps specifically for this purpose, and the battle of the White Fang with the wolf invariably attracted crowds of spectators. Once it was possible to get somewhere an adult female lynx, and this time White Fang had to defend his life in battle. The lynx was not inferior to him either in speed of movement, or in rage, and launched into use both teeth and sharp claws, while White Fang acted only with teeth.

But after the fight with a trot, the fighting stopped. White Fang had no one to fight with - no one could release a worthy opponent at him. And he sat in a cage until spring, and in the spring, someone Tim Keenen, a gambler by profession, came to Dawson. Kinen brought with him a bulldog - the first bulldog that appeared on Klondike. The meeting of the White Fang with this dog was inevitable, and for some residents of the city the upcoming battle between them for a whole week served as the main topic of conversation.

CHAPTER FOUR CHAIN ​​DEATH

Handsome Smith took off his chain and stepped back.

And for the first time, White Fang did not immediately rush into battle. He stood rooted to the spot, pricked up, and peered curiously at the strange creature that appeared before him. He had never seen such a dog. Tim Keenen pushed the bulldog forward and said:

A squat, clumsy dog ​​hobbled to the middle of the circle and, blinking his eyes, stopped against the White Fang.

From the crowd shouted:

- Take it, Cherokee! Pour it properly! Take it, take it!

But Cherokee, apparently, did not have the slightest desire to fight. He turned his head, looked at the screaming people, and good-naturedly wagged his tail. Cherokee was not afraid of the White Fang, he just was too lazy to start a fight. In addition, he was not sure that with the dog in front of him, it was necessary to engage in battle. The Cherokee was not used to meeting such opponents and waited for a real fighter to be brought to him.

Tim Keenen entered the circle and, bending over the bulldog, began to stroke him against the coat and gently push him forward. These movements were supposed to provoke Cherokee. And they not only cheered, but angered him. There was a low, muffled growl. The movements of human hands exactly coincided with the growling of a dog. When the hands pushed the Cherokee forward, he began to growl, then fell silent, but the next touch answered the same. Each movement of the hands stroking the Cherokee against the coat ended with a slight push, and just like a goluchchk, a growl escaped from his throat.

White Fang could not remain indifferent to all this. Wool on the scruff of his neck and on his back stood on end. Tim Keenen pushed Cherokee one last time and stepped back. Having run a few steps forward by inertia, be it! He did not stop and, quickly fingering with his crooked paws, jumped out to the middle of the circle. At that moment, White Fang rushed at him. The audience cried out in delight. White Fang with the ease of a cat in one jump covered the entire distance between himself and the enemy, with the same cat agility tore his teeth and bounced to the side.

Blood appeared on the bulldog’s thick neck, near the ear. As if not noticing this, without even growling, Cherokee turned and ran after the White Fang. The mobility of the White Fang and the perseverance of the Cherokee kindled the passions of the crowd. Spectators made new bets, increased rates. White Fang jumped on the bulldog again and again, pulled it with its teeth and bounced to the side unscathed, and this unusual adversary continued to calmly and as if busily run after him, not rushing, but not slowing down. Cherokee's behavior felt a definite purpose, from which nothing could distract him.

All his movements, all habits were imbued with this goal. He confused White Fang. He had never met such a dog in his life. Her coat was very short, blood showed on her soft body from the slightest scratch. And where is the fluffy fur that gets in the way of fights? White Fang's teeth bite into the supple body of a bulldog without any difficulty, which, apparently, did not know how to defend itself. And why doesn't he screech, bark, like all dogs do in such cases? Apart from a dull growl, the bulldog suffered bites in silence and did not stop the pursuit of the enemy for a minute.

The Cherokee could not be blamed for slowness. He spun and scrolled from side to side, but White Fang still eluded him. Cherokee was also bewildered. He had never had to fight a dog that would not allow him to come to him. The desire to cling to each other so far has always been mutual. But this dog kept his distance all the time, jumped back and forth and dodged him. And, even having pulled Cherokee's teeth, she immediately opened her jaw and bounced off.

And White Fang could not get to the throat of his opponent. The bulldog was too short, in addition, the protruding jaw served him well. White Fang rushed at him and bounced to the side, managing not to get a single scratch, and the number of wounds on Cherokee's body kept growing and growing. His head and neck were streaked on both sides, blood was spurting from his wounds, but Cherokee showed no signs of concern. He was still stubbornly, just as conscientiously chasing the White Fang, and all that time he stopped just once to look at people bewildered and wave his tail stub as a sign of his readiness to continue the fight.

At this moment, White Fang flew into Cherokee and, tearing it by the ear, already tattered to shreds, bounced to the side. Starting to get angry, Cherokee set off again in pursuit, running inside the circle described by White Fang, and trying to grab hold of his death grip on his throat. The bulldog missed a little, and White Fang, having caused the loud approval of the crowd, saved himself only by making an unexpected jump in the opposite direction.

As time went. White Fang danced and spun around Cherokee, biting him now and then, and now bouncing away. And the bulldog with gloomy perseverance continued to run after him. Sooner or later, he will achieve his goal and, grabbing the White Fang by the throat, will decide the outcome of the battle. In the meantime, he had no choice but to patiently endure all the enemy attacks. His short ears hung with a fringe, his neck and shoulders were covered with many wounds, and even his lips were torn and covered with blood - and all this was done by the lightning-quick bites of the White Fang, which could neither be foreseen nor avoided.

Many times White Fang attempted to knock Cherokee down, but the difference in height was too great between them. Cherokee was stocky, squat. And this time, happiness has changed White Fang. Jumping and spinning a yule near Cherokee, he took a moment when the enemy, not having time to make a sharp turn, turned his head to the side and left his shoulder unprotected. White Fang rushed forward, but his own shoulder was much higher than the opponent’s shoulder, he could not resist and flew across the back with all his might.And for the first time in the entire fighting career of the White Fang, people have witnessed how the “fighting wolf” could not stand on its feet. He twisted in the air like a cat, and only this prevented him from falling backward. He crashed to his side and in the next instant he was again standing on his feet, but Cherokee's teeth dug into his throat.

The grip was not entirely successful, it came too low, closer to the chest, but Cherokee did not open his jaws. White Fang swept from side to side, trying to shake off the bulldog. This dragging heaviness drove him furious. She connected his movements, deprived him of freedom, as if he had fallen into a trap. His instinct rebelled against this. He did not remember himself. The thirst for life possessed him. His body imperiously demanded freedom. The brain, the mind did not participate in this struggle, retreating before a blind craving for life, for movement - primarily for movement, for life is manifested in it.

Without turning around for a second, White Fang swirled, hopped forward, backward, trying to shake off the fifty-pound load hanging on his neck. But the bulldog had only one thing to do: not to open the jaws. Occasionally, when he managed to momentarily touch the ground with his paws, he tried to resist the White Fang and immediately described a circle in the air, obeying every movement of the distraught enemy. Cherokee did as instinct told him to. He knew that he was doing the right thing, that he couldn’t open his jaws, and at times he trembled with pleasure. At such moments, he even closed his eyes and, ignoring the pain, allowed White Fang to turn himself to the right or to the left. None of this mattered. Now Cherokee was important one thing: do not open the teeth, and he did not open them.

White Fang stopped rushing, only finally exhausted. He could not do anything, could not understand anything. Never in his whole life had he experienced anything like this. The dogs he fought before behaved completely differently. It was necessary to act with them like this: clutching, jerking with teeth, bounced, clinging, jerking with teeth, bounced. Panting, White Fang reclined on the ground. Without opening his teeth, Cherokee leaned on him with his whole body, trying to tumble backward. White Fang resisted and felt the bulldog's jaws move as it chewed on its skin. Every minute they approached the throat. The bulldog acted prudently: trying not to miss the captured, he took the slightest opportunity to capture more. Such an opportunity was provided to him when White Fang lay calmly, but as soon as he began to tear, the bulldog immediately clenched his jaw.

White Fang could only reach the scruff of the Cherokee. He launched his teeth above his shoulder, but could not touch them, as if chewing his skin - this method was not familiar to him, and his jaws were not adapted for such a grip. He frantically tore Cherokee with his teeth and suddenly felt that their situation had changed. Cherokee knocked him over on his back and, still not unclenching his jaw, managed to stand over him. White Fang bent his hind legs and, like a cat, began to tear his enemy's claws. Cherokee risked staying with a spread belly and was saved only by jumping to the side, at right angles to the White Fang.

It was unthinkable to break free of his grip. She fettered with the inexorability of fate. Cherokee's teeth slowly moved up along the vein. White Fang was protected from death only by wide folds of skin and thick fur on the neck. Cherokee scored his whole mouth with his skin, but that did not stop him from taking the slightest opportunity to seize it even more. He strangled White Fang, and breathing with each passing minute became harder and harder.

The fight seemed to be drawing to a close. Those who bet on the Cherokee were beside themselves with delight and offered monstrous bets. Supporters of the White Fang depressed and refused to put ten against one and twenty against one. But there was one man who ventured to bet at fifty against one.It was Handsome Smith. He entered the circle and, pointing at the White Fang with his finger, began to scornfully laugh at him. It had its effect. White Fang went mad with rage. He gathered his last strength and rose to his feet. But as soon as he rushed around in a circle with a fifty-pound load hanging on his neck, this rage gave way to horror. The thirst for life again took possession of him, and his mind went out, obeying the dictates of the body. He ran around in circles, stumbling, falling and rising again, rearing up, throwing his enemy up, and yet all his attempts to shake off a tenacious death were in vain.

Finally, White Fang tipped over on his back, and the bulldog immediately grabbed his teeth even higher and, taking his skin with his mouth, almost did not let him take a breath. Thunderous applause greeted the winner, shouting from the crowd: “Cherokee! Cherokee! ”The bulldog zealously curled its tail. But the applause did not stop him. The tail and massive jaws acted completely independently of each other. The tail went from side to side, and the jaws pressed their throat more and more strongly.

And then the audience was distracted from this fun. In the distance we heard the screams of the dog drivers, the ringing of bells. Everyone except Handsome Smith was wary, deciding that the police had come. But soon two men appeared on the road, running alongside the sledges. They were sent not from the city, but to the city, returning, in all probability, from some kind of reconnaissance expedition. Seeing the crowd gathered, strangers stopped the dogs and went to find out what was going on.

One of them was a tall young man, his smoothly shaven face flushed with rapid movement in the cold. The other, the drover, was shorter and with a mustache.

White Fang stopped fighting. From time to time, he began to beat frantically, but now all resistance was aimless. The ruthless jaws of the bulldog squeezed his throat more and more, he did not have enough air, his breathing became more and more choppy. Cherokee would have bitten his vein long ago if his teeth hadn’t come so close to his chest from the very beginning. He intercepted them all higher, getting close to his throat, but it took a lot of time, besides his mouth was all clogged with thick folds of the skin of the White Fang.

Meanwhile, handsome Smith’s brutal cruelty supplanted the last vestiges of reason in him. Seeing that the eyes of the White Fang are already covered with a veil, he realized that the battle was lost. As if breaking loose, he rushed to White Fang and began to kick him fiercely. The audience shouted, a whistle was heard, but the matter was limited to that. Ignoring these protests, Handsome Smith continued to beat White Fang. But suddenly, a movement occurred in the crowd: a tall young man made his way forward, unceremoniously pushing everyone to the right and left. He entered the circle just at that moment when Handsome Smith brought his right foot for the next blow, transferring all the weight to his left, he was in a state of unstable balance. At that moment, the young man struck him in the face with crushing force. Handsome Smith could not resist and, jumping in the air, crashed into the snow.

The young man turned to the crowd.

- Underpants! He cried. “Bastards!”

He did not remember himself from the anger, that anger that only a sane person ignites. His gray eyes sparkled with a steel gleam. Handsome Smith got up and moved fearfully to him. The stranger did not understand his intentions. Unaware that a desperate coward was in front of him, he decided that Handsome Smith wanted to fight, and, shouting: “Bastard!”, He overturned him a second time. Handsome Smith realized that lying in the snow was safer, and no longer made any attempts to get to his feet.

“Matt, help me!” Said the stranger to the driver, who entered the circle with him.

Both of them bent over the dogs. Matt prepared to pull White Fang away as soon as Cherokee loosened his grip. The young man began to unclench his bulldog. But all his efforts were in vain.Trying to open his jaws, he did not stop repeating in an undertone: “Bastards!”

The audience was worried, and some were already starting to protest against such an unsolicited interference. But as soon as the stranger raised his head and looked at the crowd, the protesting voices fell silent.

“You bastards are like that!” He shouted again and set to work.

“Nothing to try, Mr. Scott.” So we never grow them, ”Matt finally said.

They straightened up and examined the mating dogs.

“There was a little blood out,” said Matt, “before I got to my throat.”

“He will get one,” Scott answered. “Have you seen?” Intercepted even higher.

The excitement of the young man and his fear for the fate of the White Fang grew every minute. He hit Cherokee on the head — one, another. But it did not help. Cherokee wagged his tail stump as a sign that, perfectly understanding the meaning of these blows, he would nevertheless fulfill his duty to the end and would not open his jaws.

- Help someone! - shouted Scott, desperate to the crowd.

But not a single person moved. The audience began to make fun of him and bombarded him with a hail of venomous advice.

“Put something in his mouth,” Matt advised.

Scott grabbed the holster that hung on his belt, took out a revolver and tried to stick it in between the clenched jaws of the bulldog. He tried his best, he could hear steel gritting on Cherokee's gritted teeth. He and the drover knelt, bending over the dogs.

Tim Keenen stepped into a circle. Going up to Scott, he touched his shoulder and spoke in a menacing tone:

“Don't break his teeth, stranger.”

“Not teeth, so I’ll break my neck,” Scott answered, continuing to stick the revolving barrel into the mouth of Cherokee.

“I tell you, do not break your teeth!” Tim Keenem repeated still more insistently.

But if he hoped to intimidate Scott, he did not succeed.

Continuing to wield the revolver, Scott raised his head and calmly asked:

Tim Keenen grunted something under his breath.

- Then open her teeth.

“That's what, my dear friend,” Tim spoke out in malice, “it's not as easy as you think.” I don’t know what to do here.

“Then get out,” followed the reply, “and do not bother me.” See, I'm busy.

Tim Keenen did not leave, but Scott did not pay any attention to her. He somehow squeezed a bulldog between his teeth and now tried to push it further so that it came out on the other side.

Having achieved this, Scott began to carefully, slowly unclenching the bulldog's jaw, and Matt, meanwhile, freed the folds of the skin of the White Fang from his mouth.

- Hold your dog! - commanded Scott Tim.

The owner of the Cherokee obediently bent over and grabbed the bulldog with both hands.

- Well! Shouted Scott, making a final effort. Dogs were stolen in different directions. The bulldog fiercely resisted.

“Take him away,” Scott ordered, and Tim Keenen led Cherokee into the crowd.

White Fang tried to get up - one, another. But his weakened legs bent under him, and he slowly fell into the snow. His half-closed eyes faded, his lower jaw dropped, his tongue fell out ... Strangled dog. Matt examined him.

“A little alive,” he said, “but still breathing.” Handsome Smith stood up and went to look at White Fang.

- Matt, how much is a good sled dog? Asked Scott.

The driver thought for a minute and answered, not rising from his knees:

“Well, and one on which there is no living space?” - And Scott poked the White Fang with his foot.

“Half,” the drover decided. Scott turned to Handsome Smith.

“Have you heard the beast?” I take a dog from you and pay one and a half hundred dollars for it.

He opened his wallet and counted out this amount. Handsome Smith laid his hands behind his back, refusing to take the money extended to him.

“Not for sale,” he said.

“No, you sell,” Scott said, “because I buy.” Get the money. My dog.

Still holding his hands behind his back, Handsome Smith backed away. Scott stepped toward him and fisted.

Handsome Smith pulled his head into his shoulders.

“My dog ​​...” he began.

“You lost all rights to this dog,” Scott interrupted. “Take the money or will I hit you again?”

“Good, good,” Handsome Smith muttered in fright. “But you force me.” There is no price for this dog. I will not allow myself to rob. Each person has his rights.

“That's right,” Scott answered, handing him the money. - Every person has his rights. But you are not a man, but a beast.

“Let me just go back to Dawson,” Handsome Smith threatened him. “There I will find you a council.”

“You only dare to open your mouth; I will send you out of Dawson alive!” Do you get it?

Handsome Smith muttered something slurred.

- Got it? - shouted Scott, furious.

“Yes,” muttered Handsome Smith, backing away from him.

“Yes, sir,” Handsome Smith barked.

- Watch out! He bites! Someone shouted, and the crowd laughed.

Scott turned his back to Handsome Smith and walked over to the driver, who was still tinkering with White Fang.

Some of the spectators were already leaving, others gathered in heaps, glancing at Scott and talking to each other.

Tim Keenen approached one of these groups.

- What is this bird? - he asked.

“Weedon Scott,” someone answered.

- What is Wadon Scott?

- Yes, an engineer from the mines. He tucked his own man among the local people. If you don't want to make trouble, stay away from him. Him himself the chief of the mines friend-buddy.

“I immediately realized that this was an important person,” said Tim Keenen. - No, I think it’s better not to mess with this.

CHAPTER FIVE RESISTANT

- Not! There is nothing to be done! Wadon Scott said in a hopeless tone.

He sank down a step and looked at the driver, who also shrugged hopelessly.

Both looked at White Fang. Whole bristling and growling viciously, he broke off the chain, trying to get to dogs drawn from the sled. Dogs, having received a fair amount of instructions from Matt - instructions reinforced by a stick, understood that it was better not to mess with White Fang.

Now they lay on the sidelines and seemed to have completely forgotten about its existence.

“Yeah, he’s a wolf, but you can’t tame a wolf,” Weedon Scott said.

- Who knows? - objected Matt. “Maybe he has more from the dog than from the wolf.” But of which I am sure, you won’t get me off of that.

The drover was silent and with a mysterious look nodded towards Elk Mountain.

“Well, do not force yourself to ask,” Scott said sharply, without waiting for the continuation, “lay out what’s the matter.”

The driver jabbed a thumb over his shoulder, pointing to the White Fang.

- A wolf or a dog - it doesn’t matter, but they only tried to tame it.

“That cannot be!”

- I tell you - they tried. He walked in a team. You look closer. He has a worn area on his chest.

- That's right, Matt! Before getting to Handsome Smith, he walked in a harness.

“And why shouldn't he be in a team with us?”

- And indeed! - exclaimed Scott.

But the hope that had arisen immediately died away, and he said, shaking his head:

“We have been holding him for two weeks now, and he seems to have become even angrier.”

“Let's get him off the chain — we'll see what happens,” Matt suggested.

Scott looked at him incredulously.

- Yes Yes! - continued Matt. - I know that you have already tried this, so try again, just remember to take the stick.

“Good, but now I will entrust this to you.”

The driver armed himself with a stick and went to White Fang, who was sitting on a leash. He watched the stick, like a lion watching the scourge of the tamer.

“See how you stare at the stick,” said Matt. - This is a good sign. So the dog is not so stupid. Dare not rush at me while I'm with a stick. Not mad he is in the end.

As soon as the man’s hand approached the neck of the White Fang, he bristled and fell to the ground with a growl. Keeping his eyes on Matt’s hand, he also watched the stick above his head. Matt quickly unfastened the chain from the collar and stepped back.

White Fang could not believe that he was free.Many months have passed since Handsome Smith took possession of him, and during all this time he was unchained only for fights with dogs, and then again put on a leash.

What was he to do with his freedom? What if the gods again conceived some kind of devilish thing?

White Fang took several slow, cautious steps, expecting an attack every minute. He did not know how to behave, this freedom was so unusual. Just in case, it is better to stay away from the gods watching him and move around the corner of the hut. So he did, and everything worked out well.

Puzzled by this, White Fang came back and, stopping about ten feet from the people, stared at them warily.

“But won't he run away?” - Asked the new owner. Matt shrugged.

- Take a chance! Risk is a noble cause.

- Poor thing! Most of all he needs human affection, - Scott muttered with pity and entered the hut. He brought out a piece of meat from there and threw it to White Fang. He bounced to one side and began to incredulously examine the piece from afar.

- Back, Major! Shouted Matt, but it was too late.

The major rushed to the meat, and at that moment, when the piece was already in his teeth, the White Fang flew in and knocked him down. Matt rushed to them, but White Fang did his job quickly. The major stood up with difficulty, and the blood gushing from his throat spread in a red puddle in the snow.

“It's a pity for Major, but rightly for him,” Scott said hastily.

But Matt had already lifted his foot to hit White Fang. Quickly, one after another a leap followed, a clank of teeth and a loud cry of pain.

Growling fiercely, White Fang crawled back, and Matt bent down and began to examine his bitten leg.

“He did, anyway,” he said, pointing to a torn leg and underwear, on which a bloody circle spread.

“I told you this was hopeless,” Scott said in a fallen voice. - I thought a lot about this dog, it does not go out of my head. Well, nothing else remains.

With these words, he reluctantly pulled a revolver from his pocket and, examining the drum, made sure that there were bullets in it.

“Listen, Mr. Scott,” Matt begged, “which this dog has never had to experience!” You can’t demand that she immediately turn into an angel. Give her a deadline.

“Admire the Major,” Scott answered. The driver glanced at the crippled dog. She lay in the snow in a pool of blood and was, apparently, with her last breath.

- Share it with him. You yourself said so, Mr. Scott. Looked at someone else's piece - it means his song is sung. This is to be expected. I won’t give a penny for a dog that will give its food without a fight.

“Well, and you yourself, Matt?” Dogs are dogs, but everything should be a measure.

“And rightly so,” Matt did not give up. “Why, I ask, did I hit him?” You yourself said that he was right. So there was nothing to beat him for.

“We will do a good deed by shooting this dog,” Scott insisted. “We can't tame her!”

- Listen, Mr. Scott. Let him, poor fellow, show himself. After all, he knows what he endured before getting to us. Let's try. And if he does not live up to our trust, I will shoot him myself.

“I don’t want to kill him at all,” Scott answered, hiding his revolver. - Let him run free, and see what good can be gained from him. Now I’ll try.

He went to White Fang and spoke to him in a soft, soothing voice.

- Take a stick just in case! Matt warned him.

Scott shook his head and continued to speak, trying to gain White Fang's trust.

White Fang alert. He was in danger. He bit the dog of this god, bit his companion. What now to expect, except severe punishment? And yet he did not accept. The wool stood on end, his whole body tensed, he bared his teeth and vigilantly watched the man, preparing for any unexpectedness. Osprey did not have a stick in his hands, and White Fang let him close to him. The hand of God began to fall over his head.White Fang cringed and fell to the ground. This is where danger and betrayal lie! The hands of the gods, with their undeniable power and treachery, were well known to him. In addition, he still could not stand the touch on his body. He growled even angrier and bent to the ground even lower, and his hand continued to sink. He did not want to bite this hand and patiently endured the danger that it threatened, as long as he could struggle with instinct - with an insatiable thirst for life.

Weedon Scott was sure that he would always have time to pull his hand in time. But then he happened to experience how White Fang can smash with the accuracy and swiftness of a snake that has deployed its rings.

Scott cried out in surprise and grabbed the bitten right hand with his left hand. Matt swore loudly and jumped to him. White Fang crawled back, bristling all over, gritting his teeth and looking menacingly at people. Now, probably, he will be beaten, no less terrible than those that had to endure from Handsome Smith.

- What are you doing? - suddenly shouted Scott. And Matt had already managed to escape to the hut and appeared on the doorstep with a gun in his hands.

“Nothing special,” he said slowly, with mock calm. “I want to keep my promise.” He said that I would shoot a dog, which means I would shoot.

- No, do not shoot.

- No, I'll shoot you! Look here.

Now it was Whedon Scott's turn to stand up for White Fang, as the bitten Matt stood up for him a few minutes ago.

“You yourself suggested trying it, so try it!” We just started, you can’t immediately drop the case. It’s my fault. And ... look at him!

Looking at them from around the corner of the hut, White Fang growled with such fury that the blood ran cold, but not the Scott, but the driver drove his fury.

- Well, what do you say! - exclaimed Matt.

“See how intelligent he is!” - continued Scott hastily. “He knows what a firearm is no worse than you and me.” Such a smart dog is worth the trouble. Leave the gun.

- Okay. Let's try. - And Matt leaned the gun against a pile of firewood. - Well no! You only admire him! He exclaimed at that very moment.

White Fang calmed down and stopped grumbling.

- Try again. Watch him.

Matt took the gun and White Fang snarled again. Matt stepped away from the gun - White Fang hid his teeth.

- Well, one more time. This is just interesting!

Matt took the gun and began to slowly raise it to his shoulder. The White Fang immediately growled, and his growl grew louder and louder as the gun went up. But before Matt could put a barrel on him, he jumped to the side and disappeared around the corner of the hut. On sight, Matt had white snow, and the place where the dog had just stood was empty.

The driver slowly put down his gun, turned and looked at his master.

“Right, Mr. Scott.” The dog is too smart. It's a pity to kill him.

CHAPTER SIX NEW SCIENCE

Seeing approaching Whedon Scott, the White Fang bristled and growled, making it clear that he would not tolerate reprisals against himself. Since he had bitten Scott's hand, which was now bandaged and hung in the band, a day has passed. White Fang remembered that the gods sometimes put off punishment, and now he was waiting for retribution for his misconduct. It could not be otherwise. He committed blasphemy: he stuck his teeth into the sacred body of a god, moreover, a white-skinned god. From the experience that he had left from communicating with the gods, White Fang knew what a severe punishment threatens him.

God sat a few steps away from him. There was nothing wrong with that - they usually punish while standing. In addition, this god had no stick, no whip, no gun, and White Fang himself was free. Nothing held him back - neither a chain, nor a belt with a stick, and he could have escaped before God could get to his feet. In the meantime, you have to wait and see what happens next.

God sat completely calm, making no attempt to get up, and the angry roar of the White Fang gradually turned into a dull grunt, and then the grunt ceased.Then the god spoke, and at the very first sounds of his voice, the fur on the scruff of the White Fang stood on end, it again gurgled. But God continued to speak as calmly as before, without making any sudden movements. White Fang growled in unison with his voice, and a consonant rhythm established between the words and the growl. But man's speech poured endlessly. He spoke like no one had ever spoken to White Fang. Tenderness was heard in soft, soothing words, and this tenderness found some response in the White Fang. Involuntarily, contrary to all warnings of instinct, he felt confidence in his new god. Confidence in his own safety was born in him - in what he had to reassure so many times when communicating with people.

God spoke for a long time, and then got up and left. When he again appeared on the threshold of the hut, White Fang examined him suspiciously. In his hands there was no whip, no stick, no weapon. And his healthy hand did not hide behind his back. He sat on the same spot a few steps from the White Fang and handed him the meat. Pointing his ears, White Fang looked incredulously at the piece, contriving to look at it and at the same time at the same time, and prepared to bounce to the side at the first hint of danger.

But the punishment was still delayed. God offered him food - that's all. The meat was like meat; there was nothing terrible in it. But White Fang was still in doubt and did not take the stretched piece, although the hand of God moved closer and closer to his nose. The gods are wise - who knows what insidiousness lurks in this seemingly harmless handout? From his past experience, especially when he had to deal with women, White Fang knew that meat and punishment all the time had a close and unpleasant connection between themselves.

In the end, God threw meat into the snow, at the feet of the White Fang. He carefully sniffed the handout, not looking at her - his eyes were fixed on God. Nothing bad happened. Then he took a piece in his teeth and swallowed it. But here everything worked out well. God offered him another piece. And the second time, White Fang refused to take it from his hands, and God again threw the meat into the snow. This was repeated several times. But the time came when God refused to give up meat. He held the piece and persistently invited White Fang to take the handout from his hands.

The meat was delicious, and White Fang was hungry. Little by little, with infinite caution, he came closer and finally decided to take a piece from human hands. Keeping his eyes on God, White Fang extended his neck and pressed his ears, the fur on his scruff of his neck stood on end, a dull growl bubbled in his throat, as if warning a man that jokes were now inappropriate. White Fang ate a piece, and nothing happened to him. And so little by little he ate all the meat, and yet nothing happened to him. So, the punishment was postponed.

White Fang licked and waited for what would happen next. God kept talking. A caress was heard in his voice - something that the White Fang had no idea so far. And this affection awakened in him still unknown sensations. He felt a strange calm, as if his need was being met, some kind of void in his being was filling. Then instinct woke up in him again, and past experience again sent him a warning. The gods are cunning: it is difficult to guess which path they will choose in order to achieve their goals.

And there is! An insidious hand stretches farther and farther and falls over his head. But God continues to speak. His voice sounds soft and soothing. Despite the threat posed by the hand, the voice inspires confidence. And, despite all the softness of the voice, the hand inspires fear. Opposing feelings and sensations fought in White Fang. It seemed that he would fall dead, torn to pieces by hostile forces, none of which gained an advantage in this fight just because he made incredible efforts to curb them.

And White Fang made a deal with himself: he snarled, pressed his ears, but made no attempt either to bite Scott or to run away from him. The hand dropped. The distance between her and the head of the White Fang became less and less. So she touched the fur standing on end. White Fang fell to the ground. A hand followed him, snuggling tighter and tighter. Cringing, almost trembling, he still restrained himself. He felt the torment of the touch of this hand, which raped his instincts. He could not forget in one day all the evil that human hands did to him. But such was the will of God, and he did everything possible to force himself to obey it.

The hand rose and fell again, caressing and stroking it. This was repeated several times, but as soon as the hand rose, so did the wool on the back of the White Kyk. And each time the hand fell, his ears pressed against his head and a growl began to bubble in his throat. White Fang growled, warning God that he was ready to avenge the pain he would be inflicted. Who knows when the true intentions of God will finally be revealed! At any moment, his soft, inspiring confidence voice can turn into an angry scream, and these gentle, caressing fingers will squeeze like a vice, and deprive the White Fang of any opportunity to resist punishment.

But the words of God were still affectionate, and his hand still rose and again touched the White Fang, and there was nothing hostile in these touches. White Fang had a dual feeling. Instinct rebelled against such treatment, it constrained him, went against his desire for freedom. Nevertheless, he did not experience physical pain. On the contrary, almost touching was pleasant. Gradually, the hand of God moved to his ears and began to carefully scratch them, a pleasant sensation as if even intensified. But the fear did not leave the White Fang, he was still alarmed, expecting something unkind and experiencing alternately suffering, then pleasure, depending on which of these feelings prevailed in him.

These words escaped from Matt. He got out of the hut with rolled up sleeves, carrying a basin of dirty water in his hands, and only wanted to throw it out in the snow when he suddenly saw that Wadon Scott was caressing the White Fang.

At the first sound of his voice, White Fang bounced back and growled fiercely.

Matt looked at his master, shaking his head in disapproval and dismay.

“You will excuse me, Mr. Scott, but, by golly, at least seventeen fools are sitting in you, and everyone is wielding his own way.”

Weedon Scott smiled with a look of superiority, stood up and bent over the White Fang. He spoke affectionately to him, then slowly extended his hand and again began to stroke his head. The White Fang patiently endured this stroking, but he looked - looked all eyes - not at the one who caressed him, but at Matt, who was standing in the door of the hut.

“Perhaps you have turned out to be a first-class engineer, Mr. Scott,” the racer ranted, “but, I believe, you have lost a lot in your life: you should have escaped from home and entered a circus as a child.”

White Fang snarled when he heard Matt's voice, but this time he didn’t bounce back from the hand gently stroking his head and neck.

And this was the beginning of the end of the former life, the end of the former kingdom of hatred. For White Fang, a new, incomprehensibly beautiful life began. In this case, Wadon Scott required a lot of patience and intelligence. And White Fang had to overcome the dictates of instinct, go against his own experience, abandon everything that his life had taught.

The past not only did not contain all the new things that he had to learn now, but He denied this new. In short, White Fang required an immeasurably greater ability to understand the environment than that with which he came from the Northern Wilderness and voluntarily submitted to the power of Gray Beaver. At that time he was just a puppy, not yet formed, ready to take any form under the arms of life. But now everything was going differently.Past life has treated White Fang too hard, it hardened it, turned it into a fierce, indomitable fighting wolf, who did not love anyone and did not use anyone's love. To be reborn - it meant for him to go through a complete inner revolution, to drop all his previous skills - and this was required of him now that youth was behind, when flexibility was lost and soft tissue acquired indestructible hardness, became knotty, stubborn, like iron, and instincts once and for all established the needs and laws of behavior.

Nevertheless, the new situation in which White Fang found himself again took him into processing. She softened the bitterness in him, sculpted from him a different, more perfect form. Essentially speaking, everything depended on Weedon Scott. He got to the very depths of the nature of the White Fang and affectionate brought to life all those feelings that dozed and had already half-died out in him. So White Fang learned what love is. She took the place of addiction - the warmest feeling available to him in communication with the gods.

But love cannot come in one day. Having arisen from addiction, it developed very slowly. White Fang liked his newfound god, and he did not run away from him, although he remained at large all the time. Living with the new god was incomparably better than living in handsome Smith’s cage, and White Fang could not do without a deity. Feeling human power over him became a necessity for him. The seal of dependence on a person has remained on White Fang since those distant days when he left the Northern Wilderness and crawled to the feet of Gray Beaver, dutifully awaiting beatings. This indelible seal was again imposed on him when he returned from the Northern Wilderness for the second time after a hunger strike and smelled fish in the village of Gray Beaver.

And White Fang remained with his new master, because he could not do without a deity and because Whedon Skop was better than Handsome Smith. As a sign of loyalty, he assumed the duties of a watchman at the household goods. He wandered around the hut when the sled dogs were already sleeping, and Scott's first belated guest had to beat him off with a stick until the owner himself came to the rescue. But White Fang soon learned to distinguish thieves from honest people, he realized how much gait and behavior mean.

He did not touch the man who walked straight to the door with a firm gait, although he did not stop vigilantly watching him until the door opened and the visitor's trustworthiness received confirmation from the owner. But the one who made his way stealthily, in a roundabout way, trying not to catch the eye - he did not know the mercy of the White Fang and ran into a hasty and shameful flight.

Weedon Scott set out to reward the White Fang for all that he had to endure, or rather, atone for the sin in which the person was guilty before him. This became for Scott a matter of principle, a matter of conscience. He felt that people were indebted to the White Fang and this debt had to be paid, and therefore he tried to show as much tenderness to the White Fang as possible. He made it a rule daily and for a long time to caress and stroke him.

At first, this fondness in White Fang aroused only suspicion and hostility, but little by little he began to find pleasure in it. Nevertheless, White Fang could not unlearn from one of his habits: as soon as a man’s hand touched him, he began to growl and did not stop until Scott left. But new notes appeared in this growl. An outsider would not have heard them; for him, the growl of the White Fang remained, as before, an expression of primitive savagery, from which a person's blood runs cold. From that distant time, when White Fang lived with his mother in a cave and the first attacks of rage seized him, his throat was hardened with a growl, and he could no longer express his feelings in a different way.Nevertheless, Scott's keen ear distinguished new notes in this fierce roar, which only he could hardly hear that the dog was enjoying.

Time passed, and the love that arose from addiction grew stronger and stronger. White Fang himself began to feel this, albeit unconsciously. Love made itself felt with a sense of emptiness, which insistently, eagerly required filling. Love brought with it pain and anxiety, which subsided only from the touch of the hand of the new god. In these moments, love became joy - unbridled joy that permeates the whole being of the White Fang. But as soon as God left, the pain and anxiety returned and the White Fang was again embraced by a feeling of emptiness, a feeling of hunger, imperiously demanding satisfying.

White Fang gradually found himself. Despite his mature years, despite the rigidity of the form into which he was cast by life, more and more new features arose in his character. Unusual feelings and impulses arose in him. Now White Fang behaved in a completely different way. Before, he hated inconvenience and pain and tried his best to avoid them. Now everything was different: for the sake of the new god, White Fang often suffered inconvenience and pain. So, for example, in the mornings, instead of wandering around, looking for food or lying somewhere in a secluded corner, he spent whole hours on the cold porch, waiting for Scott to appear. Late in the evening, when he returned home, White Fang left a warm hole dug in a snowdrift, in order to feel the touch of a friendly hand, to hear friendly words. He forgot about food - even about food - if only to be near God, get caress from him, or go with him to the city.

And so inclination gave way to love. Love touched in him such depths where addiction never penetrated. White Fang paid for love with love. He acquired a deity, a radiant deity, in the presence of which he blossomed like a plant under the sun. White Fang could not show his feelings. He was no longer young and too harsh for that. Constant loneliness developed restraint in him. His sullen temper was the result of years of experience. He could not bark and could no longer learn to greet his god with bark. He never climbed into his eyes, did not fuss and did not jump to prove his love, never rushed towards, but waited on the sidelines - but he always waited. This love bordered on silent, silent adoration. Only the eyes that followed every movement of the master betrayed White Fang's feelings. When the owner looked at him and spoke to him, he was embarrassed, not knowing how to express the love that took possession of his whole being.

White Fang began to adapt to the concept of life. So he realized that the owner’s dogs should not be touched. But his imperious character was evident, and the dogs had to make sure in practice the superiority of their new leader. Recognizing his power over himself, they no longer gave him trouble. As soon as the White Fang appeared among the pack, the dogs gave way to him and obeyed his will.

In the same way, he got used to Matt, as to the property of the owner. Weedon Scott himself very rarely fed White Fang, this was the responsibility of Matt, and White Fang realized that the food he eats belonged to the owner who instructed Matt to take care of him. The same Matt tried to somehow harness him to the sledges along with other dogs. But this attempt failed, and White Fang obeyed only when Whedon Scott himself put on a harness and sat down in the sled. He understood: the owner wants Matt to rule them in the same way as other dogs.

Klondike sleds, unlike the sledges that ride the Mackenzie, have runners. The harness method here is completely different. Dogs run in single file in double patterns, and do not fan out. And here, on Klondike, the leader is really a leader. In the first place put the most intelligent and strongest dog, which is afraid and listened to the whole team.As expected, White Fang soon took this place. After many troubles, Matt realized that he would not agree to anything less. White Fang himself chose this place, and Matt, not embarrassed in the expressions, confirmed the correctness of his choice after the first test. Running the whole day in a team, White Fang did not forget that at night it was necessary to guard the household goods. Thus, he faithfully served Scott, and he in the whole team did not have a more valuable dog than White Fang.

“If you allow me to express my opinion,” Matt once said, “I’ll inform you that it was very smart of you to give one and a half hundred dollars for this dog.” You deftly led Handsome Smith, not to mention the fact that he was visited by physiognomy as well.

Whedon Scott's gray eyes flared up again with anger, and he muttered angrily: “Bastard!”

In late spring, White Fang suffered great grief: suddenly, without warning, the owner disappeared. As a matter of fact, there was a warning, but White Fang did not have experience in such matters and did not know what to expect from a person who puts his things in suitcases. Subsequently, he recalled that packing was preceded by the departure of the owner, but then he did not have the slightest suspicion. In the evening, White Fang, as always, was waiting for his arrival. At midnight the wind rose, he took refuge from the cold behind the hut and lay there, listening through the slumber, if familiar steps would be heard. But at two in the morning, anxiety drove him out of the hut, he curled up in a ball on the cold porch and waited further.

The owner did not come. In the morning, the door opened and Matt stepped out onto the porch. White Fang looked sadly at the driver: he had no other way to ask about what he so wanted to know. Days went by days, but the owner did not appear. White Fang, who still did not know what the disease was, fell ill. He was bad, so bad that Matt eventually had to take him to the hut. In addition, in his letter to the master, Matt attributed several lines about White Fang.

Having received a letter in Circle, Weedon Scott read the following:

“The damned wolf refuses to work. Eats nothing. Quite depressed. Dogs do not give him a pass. He wants to know where you went, but I can’t explain to him. I’m afraid it’s not dead. ”

Matt wrote the pride. White Fang yearned, stopped eating, did not fend off dogs that had flown down. He lay in a room on the floor near the stove, losing all interest in food, in Matt, in everything else. Matt tried to talk to him kindly, tried to shout - nothing worked: White Fang raised his dull eyes, and then dropped his head back on his forepaws.

But one evening, when Matt sat at the table and read, muttering words in a whisper and moving his lips, his attention was drawn to the quiet screeching of White Fang. White Fang stood up, pricked up his ears, looked at the door, and listened carefully. A minute later, Map heard footsteps. The door opened and Wadon Scott entered. They greeted each other. Then Scott looked around.

- And where is the wolf? He asked and saw him.

White Fang stood near the stove. He did not rush forward, as any other dog would do, but stood and looked at his master.

- Hell! - exclaimed Matt. - Yes, he wags his tail!

Weedon Scott stepped out into the middle of the room and called White Fang to him. White Fang did not jump toward him, but immediately approached the call. Shyness fettered his movements, but a new, unusual expression appeared in his eyes: a feeling of deep love lit up in them.

“I probably never looked at me like that while you were gone,” said Matt.

But Whedon Scott did not hear anything. Squatted before the White Fang, he caressed him - scratched his ears, stroked his neck and shoulders, gently patted him on the back. And White Fang growled quietly in response, and soft notes were heard in his growl more clearly than before.

But that was not all.How did joy help find a way out of a deep feeling bursting out? White Fang suddenly craned his neck and stuck his head under the arm of the master, and, conjugating so that only his ears were visible, he no longer growled and pressed closer and closer to the owner.

The men looked at each other. Scott's eyes shone.

- Here you go! - exclaimed amazed Matt. Then he added: “I told everyone that it was not a wolf, but a dog.” Admire it!

With the return of the owner who taught him love, White Fang quickly came to his senses. He spent only two nights and a day in the hut, and then went out onto the porch. The dogs had already forgotten about his prowess, they remembered that recently the White Fang was weak and sick, and as soon as he appeared on the porch, they rushed at him from all sides.

- Well, a dump! Muttered mutteredly, watching the scene from the threshold of the hut. - There is nothing to stand on ceremony with them, wolf! Ask them as they should. Well, more, more!

White Fang did not need promotion. The arrival of the mobile owner was quite enough - a wonderful, violent life again huddled in his veins. He fought, finding in the fight the only way out for his joy. There could be only one end - the dogs fled, having been defeated, and returned only after dark, humiliatingly and meekly declaring to the White Fang their humility.

Learning to snuggle up to the owner's head, White Fang often used this new way of expressing his feelings. This was the limit beyond which he could not go. He guarded his head most of all and could not stand it when they touched it. So the Northern Wilderness told him: fear the trap, fear everything that can hurt. Instinct demanded that the head remain free. And now, clinging to the owner, White Fang put himself in a completely helpless position of his own free will. By this he expressed unlimited faith, selfless submission to the owner and as if told him: “I give myself into your hands. Treat me as you know. ”

One evening, shortly after his return, Scott was playing cribbage with Matt for the coming dream.

“Fifteen and two, fifteen and four, and another two ...” Matt counted, when suddenly someone heard shouts and growls from the outside.

Looking at each other, they jumped from the table.

- The wolf is fighting someone! - said Matt. A desperate cry made them rush to the door.

- Shine on me! - shouted Scott, running out onto the porch.

Matt followed him with a lamp, and in the light of her they saw a man lying on his back in the snow. He covered his face and neck with his hands, trying to defend himself against the teeth of the White Fang. And this was not an extra precaution: not remembering himself with rage, White Fang tried at all costs to get his teeth to the stranger's throat, from the sleeves of his jacket, blue flannel blouse and lower shirt, he had only shreds, and his clasped hands were covered in blood .

Scott and the driver drove it all in one second. Scott grabbed the White Fang by the neck and pulled it back. White Fang burst with a growl, but did not bite the owner and after his sharp shout quickly calmed down.

Matt helped the man to his feet. Rising, he took his hands from his face, and, seeing the brutal physiognomy of Handsome Smith, the little guy jumped back like scalded. Squinting in the light, Handsome Smith looked around. His face twisted in horror as he glanced at White Fang.

At that very moment the driver saw that something was lying on the snow. He brought the lamp closer and pushed a steel chain and a thick stick with the toe of his boot.

Weedon Scott nodded his head knowingly. They did not utter a word. The driver took Handsome Smith by the shoulder and turned his back on him. Everything was clear. Handsome Smith was taken aback.

And the owner stroked the White Fang and said:

“I wanted to take you away, huh?” And you did not allow? So, so, then this young man miscalculated!

“He must have thought that the netherworld had rushed at him,” Matt grinned.

And the White Fang continued to growl, but little by little the fur on his back subsided, and the soft note, completely drowned in this vicious growl, became more audible and audible.

CHAPTER ON THE FAR WAY

It was worn in the air. White Fang felt trouble long before she let her know about her approach. The news of the future Heremin reached him in some unknown ways. A premonition arose in him through the fault of the gods, although he did not realize how and why this happened. Unaware of this, the gods gave their intentions to the dog, and she no longer took the porch of the hut and, not entering the room, knew that people were up to something.

- Listen! - the driver once said at dinner.

Weedon Scott listened. From behind the door came a quiet, anxious whimper, more like a pent-up cry. Then it became audible that White Fang sniffed at the door, wanting to make sure that his god was still here, and had not mysteriously disappeared, like the last time.

“He senses what’s the matter,” said the driver.

Weedon Scott looked at Matt almost imploringly, but his words did not match the expression on his eyes.

“What the hell is a wolf in California?” He asked.

“So I say the same thing,” said Matt. “What the hell is a wolf in California?”

But these words did not satisfy Whedon Scott; it seemed to him that Matt was condemning him.

“Our dogs can't handle him,” Scott went on. “He will bite them all.” And even if I don’t get completely fined for some fines, the police will still take it from me and deal with it in its own way.

- A real thug, what to say! - confirmed the drover.

Weedon Scott looked at him incredulously.

“No, that’s not possible,” he said emphatically.

“Of course not,” Matt agreed. - Yes, you have to put a special person to him.

All of Scott's vibrations disappeared. He nodded joyfully. In the silence that came, I heard the White Fang whimper softly, as if holding back a cry, and sniffed the door.

“Still, he’s great attached to you,” said Matt.

The owner suddenly boiled:

“Fuck you, Matt!” I myself know what to do.

“I don't argue, only ...”

- What is “only”? - cut him off Scott.

“Only ...” the driver began quietly, but suddenly he became bolder and did not hide his anger: “Why are you so ruffled?” Looking at you, you might think that you still don’t know what to do.

For a minute Whedon Scott struggled with himself, and then said in a much softer tone:

“You're right, Matt.” I myself don’t know what to do. That's the whole trouble ... - And after a pause, he added: - No, it would be sheer madness to take the dog with you.

“I completely agree with you,” answered Matt, but this time his words did not satisfy the owner.

“How he realizes that you are leaving, that’s what I can’t understand!” - as if nothing had happened continued Matt.

“I don’t understand this myself,” Scott answered, shaking his head sadly.

And then the day came when, at the open door of the White Fang hut, he saw the owner packing his things in that damned suitcase. The landlord and Matt kept leaving and coming, and the peaceful life of the hut was disrupted. White Fang had no doubt. He had long felt trouble, and now he realized what was threatening him: God was preparing to flee again. Well, if he did not take it with him for the first time, then obviously he would not take it now.

That night, White Fang raised a howl - a long wolf howl. White Fang howled, raising its face to the indifferent stars, and poured out his grief to them just as in childhood, when, having run away from the Northern wilderness, he did not find the village and saw only a bunch of garbage in the place where he stood before the Gray Beaver.

The hut just went to bed.

“He stopped eating again,” Matt said from his bunk.

Weedon Scott mumbled something and tossed and turned under the covers.

- At that time he yearned, and now, probably, he will die.

The blanket in the other bunk moved again.

- Yes, shut up you! - shouted in the darkness Scott. - Settled one thing like an old woman!

“Quite right,” the drover replied, and Scott did not have the firm conviction that he was not making fun of him secretly.

The next day, White Fang's anxiety and fear only intensified. He followed the owner on the heels, and when Scott went into the hut, he stuck out on the porch. At the open door he could see things laid out on the floor. Two large suitcases and a drawer were added to the suitcase. Matt folded the master's blankets and fur clothes in a canvas bag. White Fang whined, looking at these preparations.

Soon two Indians appeared at the hut. White Fang watched closely as they shouldered things and walked down the hill after Matt, who was carrying a suitcase and a canvas bag. Matt soon returned. The master went out onto the porch and called for the White Fang in the hut.

- Oh, you poor thing! He said gently, scratching his ear and stroking his back. “I'm leaving, old man.” You can’t take you this far with you. Well, flailing goodbye, flailing, flailing properly.

But White Fang refused to growl. Instead, he threw a sad, inquisitive look at his master and bowed his head under his arm.

- Beep! Shouted Matt.

A sharp howl of a steamer siren came from Yukon.

- Stop saying goodbye! Yes, do not forget to slam the front door! I will go out through the back. Hurry up!

Both doors slammed shut at the same time, and Scott waited on the porch until Matt stepped out of the corner of the hut. Behind the door there was a quiet yelp, like a cry. Then White Fang began to draw air deeply, with his whole chest, his nose buried in the threshold.

“Take care of him, Matt,” Scott said as they walked down the hill. - Write to me how he lives here.

“Necessarily,” the drover replied. - Wait. Do you hear?

He stopped. White Fang howled like dogs howling over the owner’s corpse. Deep sorrow sounded in this howl, which now turned into a heartbreaking cry, now into mournful moans, then again soaring up in a new outburst of despair.

The Aurora steamer was the first to depart from Klondike this year, and its decks were jammed with passengers. There were crowds of people who were lucky in the pursuit of gold, people whom the gold rush had ruined - and they all sought to leave this country, just as they had tried to get here at one time.

Standing by the gangway, Scott said goodbye to Matt. The driver already wanted to go ashore, when suddenly his eyes stared at something deep in the deck, and he did not answer Scott's handshake. He turned around: White Fang sat a few steps away from them and looked wistfully at his master.

Matt swore under his breath. Scott looked at the dog in complete bewilderment.

“Have you locked the front door?” Skop nodded his head and asked:

- Of course, locked up! - Matt replied fervently.

White Fang crouched over his ears, but continued to sit on the sidelines, not trying to approach them.

- Have to take him with you.

Matt took two steps toward White Fang, who darted to the side. The driver rushed after him, but White Fang slipped between the legs of the passengers. Dodging, snooping from side to side, he ran around the deck and was not given to Matt.

But as soon as the owner spoke, White Fang dutifully approached him.

“How much time fed him, and now he doesn’t let me near!” Muttered the driver. “Have you ever fed since that first day!” Kill me - I do not know how he realized that you were the master.

Scott, stroking the White Fang, suddenly bent down and pointed to fresh cuts in his face and a deep wound between his eyes.

Matt ran a hand over his belly.

“And you and I forgot about the window!” Look, the whole belly is indented. He must have broken the glass and popped out.

But Whedon Scott did not listen, he quickly pondered something. The Aurora gave the last beep. The mourners frantically went ashore. Matt took the scarf off his neck and wanted to take the White Fang on a leash. Scott grabbed his hand.

- Goodbye, Matt! Goodbye buddy! You probably won't have to write to me about the wolf ... I ... I ...

- What? - the driver screamed. “Are you really ...”

- That's it. Hide your handkerchief. I'll write about him myself.

Matt lingered on the gangways.

“He can't stand the climate!” You will have to cut it in the heat!

The gangway was dragged onto the deck, and the Aurora rolled off the coast. Weedon Scott waved goodbye to Matt and turned to White Fang, who was standing next to him.

“Well, now growls, a scoundrel, growls,” he said, looking at the White Fang gently clinging to his feet and scratching his ears.

CHAPTER TWO IN THE SOUTH

White Fang stepped off a steamer in San Francisco.

He was shocked. The idea of ​​power was always combined with his idea of ​​deity. And never before had white people seemed to him such wizards as now, when he walked along the slippery sidewalks of San Francisco. Instead of the familiar log cabins, huge buildings rose to the sides. The streets were full of all kinds of dangers - carriages, carriages, cars, tall horses harnessed to huge wagons - and among them scary trams moved, constantly threatening the White Fang with a piercing ringing and rattling, reminiscent of the screech of a lynx, which he had encountered in the northern forests .

Everything around spoke of power. Behind all this, the presence of an authoritative person was felt, having asserted his dominance over the world of things. White Fang was stunned and overwhelmed by this sight. He was scared. Consciousness of her own insignificance embraced a proud, full-bodied dog, as if she had once again turned into a puppy running from the northern backwoods to the village of Gray Beaver. And how many gods were here! From them, the White Fang rippled in his eyes. A street rumble deafened him; he was lost from a continuous stream and flickering of things. He felt, as never before, his dependence on his master and was on his heels, trying not to lose sight of him.

The city was swept by a nightmare, but the remembrance of it for a fraction of the time haunted the White Fang in a dream. On the same day, the owner put him on a chain in the corner of the luggage car, among a pile of suitcases and chests. Here, a stocky, very strong god disposed of everything, who rattled chests and suitcases, pulled them into a carriage, piled one on top of the other, or threw them out the door where other gods grabbed them.

And here, in this pitch-heavy hell, the owner left White Fang - at least White Fang considered himself abandoned until he sensed household items next to him and, sensing, became a guard near them.

“They came on time,” the stocky god grumbled as Wadon Scott appeared at the door an hour later. - This dog did not let me touch your suitcases.

White Fang stepped out of the car. Again a surprise! The nightmare is over. He took the car for a room in the house, which was surrounded on all sides by the city. But during this hour the city disappeared. The roar of it no longer crawled into his ears. In front of the White Fang there was a cheerful, calm, sunlit country. But there was no time to be surprised at this change. White Fang resigned to her, as he reconciled to all the miracles that accompanied every step of the gods.

A stroller awaited them. A man and a woman approached the owner. The woman reached out and hugged the owner's neck ... This is the enemy! The very next minute, Weedon Skop scrambled out of her arms and grabbed White Fang, who snarled and raged about himself with rage.

- Nothing, mom! - said Scott, not releasing the White Fang and trying to pacify him. - He thought that you want to offend me, but this is not allowed. Nothing, nothing. He will understand everything soon.

“Until then, I can express my love for my son only when his dog is not around,” Mrs. Skop laughed, although her face was white with fear.

She looked at White Fang, who was still growling and, bristling all over, did not take her eyes off her.

- He will soon understand everything, you will see - he must understand! - said Scott.

He began to speak affectionately with the White Fang and, finally calming him down, shouted in a stern voice:

- Lie down! They say to you!

White Fang already knew these words, and he obeyed the order, albeit reluctantly.

Osprey held out his hands, never taking his eyes off the White Fang.

- Lie down! He shouted again.

White Fang bristled, stood up, but immediately sank to the mesa, not ceasing to observe the hostile actions of unfamiliar gods. However, neither the woman nor the man who embraced the master after her did nothing wrong to him. Strangers and the owner packed their things in a stroller, sat in it themselves, and White Fang ran after the drink, while this time jumping close to the horses and as if warning them that he would not allow any harm to the god that they so quickly carried along the road.

A quarter of an hour later, the carriage drove into the stone gate and rolled down the alley, lined with a thick hazel, intertwined above. Beyond the alley on both sides there was a large meadow with mighty oaks visible in it in some places. The trimmed greenery of the meadow was set off by golden-brown, sun-scorched fields, and further down were the hills with pastures on the slopes. At the end of the alley, on a low hill, stood a house with a long veranda and many windows.

But White Fang did not have time to properly consider all this. As soon as the carriage drove into the alley, a shepherd flew into it with eyes widening with indignation and anger. White Fang was cut off from the owner. Having bristled all over and, as always, silently, he prepared to inflict a crushing blow to her, but this blow was never followed. White Fang stopped halfway and rode to his hind legs, trying at all costs to avoid contact with the dog, which he wanted to knock down a minute ago. It was a female, and the law of his breed protected her from such attacks. To attack a female would mean for White Fang no less than to go against the dictates of instinct.

But the instinct told the female something completely different. As a shepherd, she had an unconscious fear of the Northern Wilderness, and especially of its inhabitant such as a wolf. White Fang was a wolf for a shepherd, a primordial enemy, robbing herds back in those distant times, when the first sheep was entrusted to the cares of its distant ancestors. And so, as soon as White Fang stopped, abandoning the fight, the shepherd rushed at him. He growled involuntarily, feeling sharp teeth bite into his shoulder, but still did not bite the shepherd, but only shyly backed away, trying to run around to the side. However, all his efforts were in vain - the shepherd did not give him a pass.

- Back, Collie! - shouted the stranger sitting in a carriage.

Weedon Scott laughed.

- Nothing, father. This is a good lesson for White Fang. He will have to get used to a lot. Let it start right away. Nothing, it will cost somehow.

The stroller was retreating, while Collie was still blocking the White Fang. He tried to overtake her and, turning off the road, rushed across the lawn, but the shepherd ran along the inner circle, and the White Fang ran across her bared mouth everywhere. He turned back, To another lawn, but here she overtook him.

A stroller took the owner. White Fang saw her slowly disappearing behind the Trees. The situation was hopeless. He tried to describe another circle. The shepherd did not lag behind. Then White Fang turned all the way to her. He decided on a unit tested combat technique - hit her on the shoulder and knocked down. The shepherd ran so fast that this blow not only knocked her to the ground, but caused her to roll over several times in a row. Trying to stop, she grabbed the ground with her claws and howled loudly with indignation and offended pride.

White Fang did not wait. The path was clear, and he only needed it. Without stopping yapping, the shepherd rushed after him. He took it straight, and as for the ability to run, then the shepherd could learn a lot from him. She raced with a hysterical bark, gathering all her strength for each jump, and White Fang rushed forward silently, without the slightest exertion, and, like a ghost, glided across the grass.

Rounding the house, White Fang saw the owner getting out of the stroller that stopped at the entrance.At that very moment he realized that a new attack was being prepared on him. A Scottish greyhound rushed towards him. White Fang wanted to give her a decent welcome, but could not stop immediately, and the greyhound was almost there. She ran into him from the side. From such an unexpected blow, White Fang rolled head over heels with all its might. And when he jumped to his feet, his appearance was terrible: ears pressed close to his head, lips and nose twitching convulsively, fangs clanging a greyhound an inch from his throat.

The owner rushed to the rescue, but he was too far from them, and the collie shepherd was the savior of the greyhound. Running up just at that moment when White Fang was preparing to jump, she did not allow him to deliver a mortal blow to the enemy. Collie flew like a barrage. The feeling of offended dignity and fair anger only kindled in the shepherd the hatred of this native of the Northern Wilderness, who managed to lead and overtake her with a deft maneuver and, in addition, threw him out in the sand. She rushed at the White Fang at right angles in the goth moment when he darted to the greyhound, and again knocked him down.

The owner, who arrived in time, grabbed the White Fang, and the owner's father recalled the dogs.

“There is nothing to say, a miserable wolf who came from the Arctic has a good welcome here,” Scott said, reassuring White Fang. - For the entire “howling life, he was only once knocked down, and here he was knocked down twice in any half minute.

The carriage drove off, and new unknown gods came out of the house. Some of them stopped at a respectful distance from the owner, but two women came up and hugged his neck. White Fang was beginning to get used to this hostile gesture. He did no harm to the master, and in the words that the gods uttered at the same time, there was not the slightest threat. Strangers tried to approach White Fang, but he growled a warning, and the owner confirmed his warning with words. White Fang pressed at the owner's feet, and he reassured him, gently stroking his head.

On command: “Dick! To the place! ”- the greyhound ran up the stairs and lay on the veranda, still growling and not taking her eyes off the alien. One of the women hugged Collie around the neck and began caressing, and stroking her. But Collie could not calm down and, indignant at the presence of the wolf, whined, in complete confidence that the gods made a mistake by allowing him into their society.

The gods rose to the veranda. White Fang was on the heels of the owner. Dick growled at her. The White Fang bristled and answered the same.

“Take Collie into the house, and let the two fight,” said Scott's father. - After the fight, they will become friends.

“Then, in order to prove his friendship to Dick, White Fang will have to act as the main mourner at her funeral,” the owner laughed.

Father looked incredulously at first at White Fang, then at Dick, and finally at his son

- You think that. Weedon nodded his head.

- You guessed. Your Dick will go to the next world in a minute, at the most - in two. He turned to White Fang.

- Come on, wolf. Apparently, it’s not Collie who will have to take you to the house.

White Fang cautiously climbed the steps and went through the whole veranda, raising his tail, not taking his eyes off Dick and at the same time preparing for any surprise that might meet him in the house. But there was nothing terrible there. Entering the rooms, he carefully examined all corners, still expecting that he was in danger. Then, with a contented grunt, he lay down at the owner’s feet, not ceasing to follow everything that was going on around him, and was preparing every minute to jump from his place and engage in battle with the horrors that seemed to him lurking in this trap.

CHAPTER THREE OWNERSHIP OF GOD

Moving from place to place noticeably developed in White Fang the ability to adapt to the environment, bestowed on him by nature, and strengthened his awareness of the need for such an adaptation. He quickly got used to life in Sierra Whists - the so-called estate of Judge Scott.There were no more serious misunderstandings with dogs. Here, in the South, the dogs knew the customs of the gods better than he did, and in their eyes the existence of the White Fang was justified by the fact that the gods allowed him to enter their home. Until then, Collie and Dick had never had to deal with a wolf, but since the gods allowed him to come to them, they both had no choice but to obey.

At first, Dick's attitude towards White Fang could not but be somewhat wary, but he soon reconciled with him, as with the inalienable affiliation of Sierra Vista. If everything depended on one Dick, they would become friends, but White Fang did not feel the need for friendship. He demanded that the dogs leave him alone. All his life he kept himself apart from his brothers and had no desire to violate this order of caves now. Dick bothered him with his harassment, and he growled, chasing him away. Already in the North, White Fang realized that you should not touch the owner's dogs, and did not forget this lesson here. But he continued to insist on his isolation and isolation, and to such an extent ignored Dick that this good-natured dog abandoned all attempts to make friends with the wolf and in the end paid him no more attention than the hitch near the stable.

But with Collie, things were a little different. Resigned to the fact that the gods allowed the wolf to live in the house, she still did not see in this sufficient reason for her to completely leave him alone. Collie had countless crimes committed by the wolf and his relatives against her ancestors. The raids on the shepherd can not be forgotten in a single day, or for a whole generation, they appealed for revenge. Collie did not dare to violate the will of the gods who allowed the White Fang to her, but this did not stop her from poisoning his life. Between them there was a century of hostility, and Collie undertook to constantly remind the White Fang about this.

Taking advantage of the benefits that sex gave her, she plagued and harassed him in every way. The instinct did not allow him to attack Collie, but to remain indifferent to her persistent harassment was simply impossible. When the shepherd rushed at her, he placed his shoulder under the sharp teeth, covered with thick hair, and majestically stepped aside, if this did not help, with a patient and bored look began to walk in circles, hiding his head from her. However, when she nevertheless managed to cling to his hind leg, she had to retreat much more hastily, not even thinking about majesty. But in most cases, White Fang retained a dignified and almost solemn appearance. He did not notice Collie, if possible, and tried not to catch her eye, but when he saw or heard her nearby, he got up and left.

White Fang had a lot to learn at Sierra Vista. Life in the North was simple in comparison with the local difficult affairs. First of all, he had to get acquainted with the owner's family, but this was not a novelty for him. Mit-Sa and Klu-Kuch belonged to Gray Beaver, ate the meat they had extracted, basked near his fire and slept under his covers, in the same way all the inhabitants of Sierra Vista belonged to the owner of the White Fang.

But there was a difference, and the difference is quite significant. Sierra Vista was much larger than the Gray Beaver wigwam. White Fang had to deal with so many people here. In Sierra Vista, there was Judge Scott with his wife. Then there were two sisters of the owner - Beth and Mary. There was the wife of the owner - Alice and finally his children - Weedon and Maud, two kids four and six years old. No one could tell White Fang about all these people, and he did not know anything about the bonds of kinship and human relationships, and he could never know. And yet he quickly realized that all these people belong to his master. Then, observing their behavior, listening to their speech and intonation of voices, he little by little understood and the degree of proximity of each of the inhabitants of Sierra Vista to the owner, felt the measure of the arrangement with which he gave them. And accordingly to all this, White Fang himself began to relate to the new gods: that which the owner valued, he valued, that which was dear to the owner, had to be protected in every way by himself.

This was the case with the master's children.Throughout his life, White Fang did not tolerate children, he was afraid and could not stand the touch of their hands: he did not forget the childish cruelty and tyranny that he had to face in Indian villages. And when Widogg and Maud first approached him, he growled a warning and angrily flashed his eyes. A punch and a sharp shout from the owner made White Fang obey their caresses, although he did not stop growling while his tiny hands stroked him, and a gentle note was not heard in this growl. Later, noticing that the boy and girl were dear to the master, he allowed them to stroke themselves, no longer waiting for a blow and a sharp shout.

Still, White Fang could not show his feelings. He obeyed the owner’s children with frank reluctance and endured their harassment, as they endure a painful operation. If they really bothered him, he would get up and leave resolutely. But soon Whedon and Maud won over White Fang, although he still did not show his attitude towards them. He never approached the children himself, but he no longer ran away from them and waited for them to come. And then the adults began to notice that when they saw the children, a satisfied expression appeared in the eyes of the White Fang, which gave way to something like a slight annoyance as soon as they left it for other games.

White Fang had to learn a lot of new things, but it all took time. The next place after the children, White Fang was assigned to Judge Scott. There were two reasons for this: firstly, the owner obviously appreciated him very much, and secondly, Judge Scott was a reserved person. White Fang liked to lie at his feet when the judge read the newspaper on a spacious veranda. A glance or a word, occasionally cast in the direction of the White Fang, told him that Judge Scott noticed his presence and was able to make it feel without any obsession. But it happened when the owner went somewhere. As soon as he seemed, the rest of the world ceased to exist for White Fang.

White Fang allowed all members of the Scott family to stroke and caress themselves, but he did not relate to any of them as to the owner. No affection could cause a love note in his growl. No matter how hard Scott's family tried, none of them managed to get White Fang to snuggle up against his head. With this expression of unlimited trust, submission, and devotion, White Fang honored one Weedon Scott. Essentially speaking, the rest of the family was nothing more than property for him.

In the same way, White Fang felt the difference between the members of the host family and the servants very early. The servants were afraid of him, and he, for his part, refrained from attacking these people only because he considered them to also be property of the owner. Between them and White Fang maintained neutrality, and nothing more. They cooked dinner for the owner, washed dishes and did all sorts of other work, just like Matt did on Klondike. In short, servants were a necessary part of the life of Sierra Vista.

White Fang had to learn a lot of new things outside the estate. The owner's possessions were wide and extensive, but they also had their borders. There was a highway near Snerra Vista. Behind him began the common domain of all the gods - roads and streets. Their personal possessions stood behind the hedges. All this was governed by countless laws that dictated to White Fang his behavior, although he did not understand the language of the gods and could get acquainted with their laws only on the basis of his own experience. He acted according to his instincts until he came across one of the human laws. After several such encounters, White Fang comprehended the law and never again violated it.

But the strongest effects on White Fang were strict notes in the owner’s voice and the punishing hand of the owner. White Fang loved his god with selfless love, and his severity hurt him as much as Gray Beaver and Handsome Smith couldn’t.Their beatings were palpable only to the body, and the spirit, the proud, indomitable spirit of the White Fang continued to rage. The blows of the new master were too weak to hurt, and yet they penetrated deeper. The owner expressed his disapproval of the White Fang and this bite him in the heart.

Essentially speaking, White Fang hasn’t been hit so often by its owner. The owner's voice was quite enough, according to this voice White Fang judged whether he was doing the right thing or not, he was adapting his behavior and actions to him. This voice was for him a compass along which he directed his path, a compass that helped him get acquainted with a new country and a new life.

In the North, the only tame animal was a dog. All the rest lived in freedom and were the legitimate prey of each dog, if only she could cope with it. Previously, White Fang often had to hunt, and he was not aware that the situation in the South was different. He was convinced of this at the very beginning of his stay in the Santa Clara Valley. Walking sometime early in the morning near the house, he stepped out from behind the corner and stumbled upon a chicken who had escaped from the bird's yard. It is clear that he wanted to eat it. Leap, sparkling teeth, frightened clucking - and the brave traveler met its end. The chicken was well-fed, fatty and delicate in taste, White Fang licked and decided that the food was good.

On the same day, he came across another stray chicken near the stables. A groom ran to her rescue. Not knowing the nature of the White Fang, he took a thin whip with him for intimidation. After the first blow, White Fang left the chicken and rushed at the man. He could have been stopped with a stick, but not with a whip. The second blow, which met him in the middle of the jump, he accepted silently, not flinching from pain. The groom cried out, jumped back from the dog jumping onto his chest, dropped his whip, grabbed his neck with his hands. As a result, his hand was streaked from the elbow down to the bone itself.

The groom was terribly afraid. He was stunned not so much by the anger of the White Fang, but by the fact that he rushed silently, not barking, not growling. Still not taking his bloodstained hands from his face and throat, the groom began to retreat to the barn. If Collie didn’t appear on the stage, he would have been undoable. Collie saved the groom's life, just as she saved the life of Dick in her time. Not remembering herself with rage, the shepherd rushed at the White Fang. She was smarter than too gullible gods. All her suspicions were justified: this is a robber! He set about his old tricks again! He is incorrigible!

The groom ran to the stable, and White Fang began to retreat before Collie's fierce teeth, swirling and exposing one or the other shoulder under her bites. But Collie continued to pester him, not limited to the usual punishment this time. Her excitement and anger flared up with every minute, and in the end White Fang forgot all his dignity and fled into the field.

“He will not hunt chickens,” said the owner, “but first I need to catch him at the crime scene.”

The case presented itself two days later, but the owner did not even imagine how large this crime would reach. White Fang closely watched the bird yard and its inhabitants. In the evening, when the chickens sat on a perch, he climbed a pile of recently brought hay, jumped from there to the roof of the chicken coop, climbed over its crest and jumped to the ground. A second later, killing began in the chicken coop.

In the morning, when the owner stepped out onto the veranda, a curious sight appeared before his eyes: the groom laid out on the grass in a row fifty fifty stabbed white leggors. Scott whistled softly, first in surprise, then in delight. White Fang also appeared before his eyes, which showed no signs of embarrassment or consciousness of his own guilt. He held himself very proudly, as if he had actually committed an act worthy of all praise.At the thought of an unpleasant task ahead of him, the master pursed his lips: then he spoke sharply to the serene criminal, and anger was heard in his voice - the voice of God. Moreover: the owner poked White Fang with his nose in the slaughtered chickens and hit him with his fist.

Since then, White Fang no longer raided the chicken coop. The hens were protected by law, and White Fang realized this. Soon, the owner took him to the bird yard. As soon as a live bird poked almost under the nose of the White Fang, he immediately prepared for the jump. It was a completely natural movement, but the voice of the owner left him to stop. They stayed in the poultry yard for half an hour. And every time the White Fang, succumbing to instinct, rushed after the bird, the master's voice stopped him. Thus, he adopted another law and immediately, without leaving this bird kingdom, he learned not to notice its inhabitants.

“Such chicken hunters are incorrigible,” Judge Scott said at the breakfast, shaking his head sadly, when his son told him about the lesson taught to White Fang. “All they had to do was sit on the bird's yard and taste the blood ...” And he shook his head again sadly.

But Whedon Scott did not agree with his father.

“Do you know what I will do?” He said finally. “I'll lock White Fang on the chicken coop for the whole day.”

- What will happen to the hens! - protested the father.

“Moreover,” the son continued, “I pay a golden dollar for every strangled chicken.”

“It’s necessary to impose a fine on dad, too,” Beth intervened.

The sister supported her, and all those sitting at the table in chorus approved this proposal. The judge did not object.

- Good! - Weedon Scott thought for a moment. - If by the end of the day White Fang does not touch a single chicken, for every ten minutes he spent in the poultry yard, you will tell him in a very serious and solemn voice, as in court during the announcement of the sentence: “White Fang, you are smarter than me I thought. "

Choosing places where they were not visible, all family members prepared to observe the events. But they had to suffer great disappointment. As soon as the owner left the yard, White Fang lay down and fell asleep. Then he woke up and went to the trough to get drunk. He did not pay the slightest attention to hens - they did not exist for him. At four o'clock he jumped from a run to the roof of the chicken coop, jumped to the ground on the other side and ran a power-headed trot to the house. He has adopted a new law. And Judge Scott, to the great delight of the whole family gathered on the porch, solemnly said sixteen times in a row: "White Fang, you are smarter than I thought."

But the variety of laws very often confused the White Fang and plunged him into disfavor. In the end, he firmly realized that he should not touch the hens belonging to other gods. The same was true for cats, rabbits, and turkeys. Frankly, after the first acquaintance with this law, he had the impression that all living beings were inviolable. Quail fluttered in the meadow from under his nose and flew unscathed. White Fang trembled with his whole body, but still humbled his instinctive desire to grab the bird. He obeyed the will of the gods.

But then one day he had to see how Dick frightened off a hare in the meadow. The owner also saw this and not only did not intervene, but even incited White Fang to join the chase. Thus, White Fang learned that the new law does not apply to hares, and in the end he learned it completely. With pets you need to live in peace. If friendship with them does not go well, then neutrality should be maintained in any case. But other animals - squirrels, quail and hares that did not break ties with the wilderness and did not submit to humans - are the legitimate prey of every dog. The gods protected only tame animals and did not allow them to quarrel among themselves. The gods were dominant in the life and death of their subjects and jealously guarded this power.

Life in Sierra Vista was not so simple as in the North.Civilization demanded from the White Fang, first of all, power over itself and endurance - that poise, which was intangible, like a spider web, and at the same time it became harder. Life here was millennial, and White Fang came into contact with it in all its diversity. So, when he had to run after the owner's carriage around the city of San Jose or wait for the owner on the street, life flowed past him in a deep, immense stream, constantly demanding instant adaptation to his laws and almost always making him drown out all the natural impulses in himself.

In the city he saw butcher shops in which meat was hanging right in front of his nose. But touch him was not allowed. In the houses where the owner went, there were cats, which should also be left alone. And the dogs were everywhere, and it was impossible to fight them, even though they snarled at him. In addition, countless people scurried along the sidewalks, whose attention he attracted to himself. People stopped, pointed at each other, looked at him from all sides, spoke to him and, worst of all, touched him with their hands. I had to patiently endure the touch of someone else's hands, but with patience White Fang already managed to stock up. He even managed to overcome his clumsy shyness and with an arrogant look took all the signs of attention that endowed him with unfamiliar gods. They condescended to him, and he answered them the same. Yet there was something about White Fang that prevented him from being too familiar with him. Passers-by stroked his head and went on, happy with their own courage.

But White Fang didn’t always manage to get off so easily. When the owner’s carriage passed by the outskirts of San Jose, the boys who got in the way met him with stones. White Fang knew that it was impossible to catch up with them and deal with them properly. I had to act contrary to the instinct of self-preservation, and he, drowning in himself the voice of instinct, gradually became a completely tame, civilized dog.

Nevertheless, this state of affairs did not completely satisfy White Fang, although he did not know what impartiality and honesty were. But every living creature, to a certain extent, has a sense of justice, and it was difficult for White Fang to come to terms with the fact that he is not allowed to defend himself against these boys.

He forgot that the contract concluded between him and the gods obliged the latter to take care of him and protect him. And then one day the owner jumped out of the carriage with a whip in his hands and properly taught the tomboys. After that, they stopped throwing stones, and White Fang understood everything and felt complete satisfaction. Soon White Fang had to experience another similar case. Near the saloon, by which he ran along the road to the city, three dogs always roamed, taking it as a rule to rush at him. Knowing how all the fights of the White Fang with dogs end, the owner tirelessly explained to him the law prohibiting fights. White Fang learned this law well and, running past the saloon at the intersection, always fell into a very unpleasant position. His angry growl immediately drove all three dogs to a decent distance, but they continued their pursuit from afar, barked, insulted him. This went on for quite some time. Visitors to the saloon even encouraged dogs and once quite openly set them on White Fang. Then the owner stopped the stroller.

“Take them!” He said to White Fang.

White Fang did not believe his own ears. He looked at the owner, looked at the dogs. Then he once again cast a questioning and disturbing look at the owner.

He nodded his head.

- Take them, old man! Ask them properly!

White Fang cast aside all hesitation. He turned and rushed silently at the enemies. Those did not retreat. The dump began. Dogs barked, growled, clanged their teeth. The dust rising from the pillar obscured the battlefield. But after a few minutes, two dogs were already fighting on the road and dying spasms, and the third rushed to the hilt.She jumped the ditch, jumped over the fence and ran away to zero. White Fang rushed after her completely silently, like a real wolf, not inferior to the wolf in speed, and in the middle of the field he overtook and killed her.

This triple murder put an end to his ill-will with strange dogs. The rumor about the incident spread throughout the valley, and people began to ensure that their dogs did not pester the fighting wolf.

CHAPTER FOUR VOICE OF BLOOD

Months passed one after another. There was plenty of food in the South, work from the White Fang was not required, and he entered the body, flourished and was happy. The South became for White Fang not only a geographical point - he lived in the South of life. A human affection warmed him like the sun, and he blossomed, like a plant planted in good soil.

Still, there was some difference between White Fang and the dogs. He knew all the laws even better than his brethren, who did not have to live in other conditions, and observed them with greater accuracy - and yet ferocity did not betray him, as if the Northern Wilderness still held him in his power, like a wolf, living in it, only dozed off for a while.

White Fang was not friendly with dogs. He was always a loner and intended to stay away from his brothers. From the first years of his life, overshadowed by enmity with Lip-Lip and with a whole bunch of puppies, and in the months that he had to spend with Handsome Smith, White Fang hated dogs. His life deviated from the normal course, and he became close to a man, moving away from his relatives.

In addition, in the South, the dogs were very suspicious of White Fang: he woke an instinctive fear of the Northern Wilderness in them, and they greeted him with a bark and growl in which hatred was heard. He, from his grave, realized that biting them was completely optional. The bared fangs and viciously quivering lips acted unmistakably and stopped almost any angry dog.

But life sent White Fang a test, and that test was Collie. She did not give him a moment of rest. The law did not possess the same immutable power for her as it did for the White Fang, and Collie resisted all the owner's attempts to make them friends. Her vicious, hysterical growl haunted the White Fang in a persistent manner: Collie could not forgive him the story of the hens and was firmly convinced of the criminality of all his intentions. She found fault where she still was not. She poisoned White Fang's existence, following him on the heels like a policeman, and as soon as he cast a curious look at a pigeon or chicken, a shepherd raised a furious, indignant bark. White Fang's favorite way to get rid of her was to lie on the ground, put his head on his front paws and pretend to be sleeping. In such cases, she was always lost and immediately fell silent.

Except for trouble with Collie, everything else went smoothly. White Fang learned to restrain himself, firmly adopted the laws. His character appeared positivity, calm, philosophical patience. Wednesday ceased to be hostile to him. Premonitions of danger, the threat of pain and death as it never happened. Little by little, the horror of the unknown, who had been waiting for him at every step before, disappeared. Life has become calm and easy. It flowed smoothly, not clouded by fears or hostility.

He did not have enough snow, but he himself did not understand this. “Kick lasted a summer!” White Fang would probably think if he could think so. Need and snow was vague, unconscious. Similarly, in the summer days, when the sun burned ruthlessly, he experienced light bouts of longing for the North. But this longing was manifested only in anxiety, the reasons for which remained unclear to him.

White Fang has never been expansive. He pressed his head to the owner, gently grumbled and only in such ways expressed his love. But soon he had to find out a third way. He could not remain indifferent when the gods laughed.Laughter led him to a run-in, made him lose his mind in rage. But White Fang could not be angry with the owner, and when he once began to play a good-natured joke and laugh at him, he was at a loss. The old malice rose in him, but this time she had to fight with love. He could not be angry - what was he to do? He tried to maintain a magnificent appearance, but the owner laughed louder. He gained even greater greatness, and the master laughed and laughed. In the end, White Fang surrendered. His upper lip quivered, baring his teeth, and his eyes lit up with either a crafty or a love twinkle. White Fang learned to laugh.

He also learned to play with the owner: he allowed himself to be knocked over, tossed over on his back, to make all kinds of jokes on himself, and he pretended to be enraged, bristled all over, growled and clanged his teeth, pretending to want to bite the owner. But it never came to that: his teeth snapped in the air, not hitting Scott. And at the end of such a fuss, when the blows, jerks, clattering of teeth and growl became stronger and stronger, the man and the dog suddenly bounced in different directions, stopped and looked at each other. And then just as suddenly - as if the sun had suddenly glanced over the raging sea - they began to laugh. The game usually ended with the owner hugging the White Fang by the neck, and he started his grouchy, tender love song.

But, besides the owner, no one dared to raise such fuss with the White Fang. He did not allow this. As soon as someone else encroached on his self-esteem, a menacing growl and fur standing on end killed this daredevil any desire to play with him. If White Fang allowed the owner such liberties, this did not mean at all that he wasted his love to the right and burned like an ordinary dog, ready to mess around and play with anyone. He loved only one person and refused to exchange love with me.

The owner rode a lot, and White Fang considered it his first duty to accompany him on such walks. In the North, he proved his loyalty to people by going to harness, but in Utah no one rode a sled, and the local dogs were not loaded with heavy loads. Therefore, White Fang was always with the owner during his trips, finding in this a new way to express his devotion. It cost him nothing to run like that all day. He fled without the slightest exertion, feeling no fatigue, even a wolf trot, and, having done fifty miles, still briskly ran ahead of the horse.

These trips of the owner gave White Fang the opportunity to learn another way of expressing his feelings, and the great thing is that he used it only two times in his life. This happened for the first time when Wadon Scott tried to get a hot thoroughbred horse to let him open and close the gate without stepping off the saddle. Once again he drove up to the gate trying to close it behind him, but the horse scared backed away, swung to the side . She got excited more and more, swung up, and when the owner gave her spurs and forced her front legs to lower, she started to beat backwards. White Fang watched them with increasing anxiety, and in the end, no longer able to restrain himself, he jumped to the horse and barked angrily and menacingly at her.

After the horse incident, he often tried to bark, and the owner encouraged his attempts, but he managed to do this only once more, and the owner was not nearby at that time. The reason for this was the following events: the owner rode astride the field, when the horse darted to the side, frightened by a hare jumping out from under her hooves, stumbled, the owner flew out of the saddle, fell and broke his leg. White Fang was furious and wanted to grab the guilty horse in the throat, but the owner stopped him.

- home! Go home! He shouted, making sure his leg was broken.

White Fang did not want to leave him alone.The owner wanted to write a note, but could not find a pencil or paper in his pockets. Then he again ordered White Fang to run home.

White Fang looked at him wistfully, took a few steps, returned and quietly whined. The owner spoke to him in an affectionate, but serious tone, White Fang guarded his ears, listening to the words with excruciating tension.

“Don’t be embarrassed, old man, go home,” Weedon Scott said. “Go home and tell me what happened.” Home, wolf, home!

White Fang knew the word "home" and, not understanding the rest, nevertheless guessed what the owner was talking about. He turned and reluctantly ran across the field. Then he stopped in indecision and looked back.

- home! - a strict order was issued, and this time White Fang obeyed.

When he ran to the house, everyone was sitting on the veranda, enjoying the evening coolness. White Fang was dusty and panting.

“Weedon is back,” Scott's mother said.

The children greeted the White Fang with joyful cries and rushed to meet him. He slipped away from them at the far end of the veranda, but little Weedon and Maud drove him into the corner between the rocking chair and the railing. He growled, trying to break free. Scott's wife looked fearfully in that direction.

“Still, I’m constantly worried about the children as they turn around the White Fang,” she said. “You only expect that one day he will rush at them.”

White Fang jumped out of the trap with a furious growl, knocking the boy and girl down. Mother called them to her and began to console and persuade to leave White Fang alone.

“A wolf will always remain a wolf,” said Judge Scott. “You cannot rely on him.”

“But he's not a real wolf,” Beth intervened, taking the side of her missing brother.

“You rely on the words of Whedon,” the judge objected. “He thinks there is dog blood in White Fang, but that’s just his guess.” But by sight ...

The judge did not finish the sentence. White Fang stopped in front of him and growled violently.

- Went to the place! To the place! Judge Scott said sternly.

White Fang turned to his master's wife. She cried out in fright when he grabbed her dress by her teeth and, pulling him to his side, tore apart the light matter.

Here White Fang became the center of attention. He stood with his head held high, and peered into the faces of people. His throat twitched in a spasm, but made no sound. He tried to somehow express what was torn out in him and could not find a way out.

“Could he be mad?” - said Whedon's mother. “I told Whedon that a northern dog would not tolerate a warm climate.”

- He’s talking and look! - exclaimed Bet. At that moment, White Fang became speechless and burst into a deafening bark.

“Something happened to Whedon,” Scott's wife said with confidence.

Everyone jumped up, and White Fang rushed down the stairs, looking back and as if inviting the modems to follow themselves. He barked for the second and last time in his life and made sure he was understood.

After this incident, the inhabitants of Sierra Vista began to feel better about the White Fang, and even the groom with his hand admitted that the White Fang is a smart dog, even though he is a wolf. Judge Scott also adhered to this point of view and, to everyone’s displeasure, cited descriptions and tables taken from the encyclopedia and various books on zoology to prove his innocence.

Days passed one after another, generously flooding the Santa Clara Valley with sunbeams. But with the approach of winter, his second winter in the South, White Fang made a strange discovery - Collie's teeth ceased to be so sharp: her playful, light bites no longer hurt. White Fang forgot that once a shepherd was poisoning his life, and trying to answer her with the same playfulness, he did it awfully clumsy.

One time, Collie was running around in a meadow for a long time, and then carried White Fang along with her into the forest. The owner was going to ride before dinner, and White Fang knew about it: a saddled horse stood at the entrance. White Fang hesitated.He felt in himself something that was stronger than all the laws he knew, stronger than all habits, stronger than love for the master, stronger than the will to live. And when the shepherd bit him and ran away, he abandoned his indecision, turned and followed her. That day, the owner rode alone, and White Fang ran along the forest side by side with Collie, just as many years ago in the silent north more often his mother Kichi ran with One-Eyed.

CHAPTER FIVE NAPPING WOLF

Around the same time, newspapers reported a bold escape from the San Quentin prison of a prisoner renowned for his ferocity. It was a nature, warped from birth and not receiving the slightest help from the environment, a nature that was a striking example of what human material can turn into when it falls into the merciless hands of society. It was an animal - true, an animal in the image of a man, but nevertheless it could not be called a predator. In San Quentin prison, he was considered incorrigible. No punishment could break his tenacity. He was able to rebel until his last gasp, not remembering himself with rage, but could not live beaten, subdued. The more violently he rebelled, the more severe society treated him, and this severity only kindled his anger. A straitjacket, hunger, beatings did not reach their goal, and Jim Hall did not receive anything else from life. This is how Jim Hall was treated from his earliest childhood in the slums of San Francisco when he was soft clay, ready to take on any form in the hands of society.

While serving his third term in prison for the third time, Jim Hall met a watchman there who was almost the same beast as himself. The watchman in every possible way pursued him, slandered him in front of the caretaker, and Jim was deprived of his last prison concessions. The only difference between Jim and the watchman was that the watchman carried a bunch of keys and a revolver, while Jim Hall had only his bare hands and teeth. But once he rushed to the watchman and grabbed his teeth in his throat, like a wild beast in the jungle.

After that, Jim Hall was transferred to solitary confinement. He lived in it for three years. The floor, walls and ceiling of the cell were upholstered in iron. For all this time, he never came out of it, never saw the sky and the sun. Instead of day, twilight was in the cell, instead of night there was black silence. Jim Hall was buried alive in an iron grave. He did not see a human face, did not exchange a word with anyone. When he was given food, he snarled like a wild beast. He hated the whole world. He howled with rage day after day, night after night, then fell silent for weeks and months, not making a sound in this black silence that penetrated his very soul.

And then one night he ran away. The caretaker assured that this was unthinkable, but nevertheless the cell was empty, and on the threshold of it lay a dead watchman. Two more corpses marked the way of the criminal through the prison to the outer wall - Jim Hall killed all three with his bare hands so that nothing could be heard.

Having removed the weapons from the dead watchmen, Jim Hall disappeared into the mountains. His head was appreciated in a large amount of gold. Greedy farmers chased him with guns. At the cost of his blood, you could buy a mortgage or send his son to college. Citizens, inspired by a sense of duty, went to the Hall with guns in their hands. A pack of bloodhounds raced in his bloody footsteps. And the bloodhounds of the law, which consisted of a salary from the community, called by phone, sent telegrams, ordered special trains, without stopping their searches day or night.

From time to time, Jim Hall caught the eye of his pursuers, and then people heroically walked towards him or rushed from him in all directions, to the great pleasure of the whole country, reading about it in the newspapers at breakfast. After such skirmishes, the dead and wounded were transported to hospitals, and their place was occupied by other lovers of hunting for humans.

And then Jim Hall disappeared. Bloodhounds scoured in vain in his wake.Armed people detained innocent farmers and demanded that they prove their identity. And craving for a ransom for Hall's head dozens of times found his corpse in the mountains.

All this time, newspapers were read in Sierra Vista, but not so much with interest as with concern. Women were scared. Judge Scott swaggered and made fun of them, however, without any reason, since shortly before he retired, Jim Hall appeared before him in court and heard his sentence from him. And there, in the courtroom, before the whole audience, Jim Hall said that the day would come when HE would take revenge on the judge who passed this sentence.

This time Jim Hall was innocent. He was condemned wrongly. In the thieves' world and among the police, it was called "jail."

Jim Hall was “rolled up” for a crime he did not commit. Judging by Jim Hall's two previous convictions, Judge Scott gave him fifty years in prison.

Judge Scott did not know many of the circumstances of the case, nor did he suspect that he had become an involuntary accomplice to the conspiracy of the police, that the testimony was rigged and perverted, that Jim Hall was not involved in the crime. And Jim Hall, for his part, did not know that Judge Scott acted out of ignorance. Jim Hall was convinced that Judge Scott was well aware of everything and, passing this monstrous injustice sentence, he acted hand in hand with the police. And so, when Judge Scott announced the verdict, condemning Jim Hall for fifty years of life, not unlike death, Jim Hall, who hated the world, who hacked him cool, jumped up from his seat and raged with rage until his enemies dressed in blue uniforms did not knock him to the floor. He considered Judge Scott as the cornerstone of the stronghold of injustice that had befallen him and threatened him with revenge. And then Jim Hall was buried alive in a prison cell ... and he ran away from there.

White Fang knew nothing about all this. But between him and the owner’s wife, Alice, there was a secret. Every night, after all Sierra Vista went to bed, Alice got out of bed and let White Fang into the hall all night. And since White Fang was not a room dog and he was not supposed to sleep in the house, early in the morning, before everyone stood up, Alice quietly went downstairs and let him out into the yard.

One such night, when the whole house was resting in a dream, White Fang woke up, but continued to lie quietly. And just as quietly, he led his nose and immediately caught the news rushing towards him through the air about the presence of an unknown god in the house. He heard the sound of footsteps. White Fang did not bark. This was not his custom. An unfamiliar god walked very quietly, but White Fang stepped even more quietly, because he did not have clothes that rustled, touching his body. He moved silently. In the northern wilderness he had to hunt for shy game, and he knew how important it was to send it by surprise.

The unknown god stopped at the stairs and began to listen. White Fang froze. He stood without moving, and waited for what would happen next. A staircase led into the corridor, where there were rooms of the owner and the creatures most dear to him. White Fang bristled, but continued to wait in silence. An unknown god put his foot on the lower rung, he began to climb up the stairs ...

And at that moment White Fang rushed. He did this without warning, did not even growl. His body soared into the air and fell right on the back of an unknown god. The White Fang hung on his shoulders and dug his teeth into his neck. He hung on an unknown god with all his weight and in an instant overturned him backward. Both collapsed to the floor. White Fang bounced to the side, but as soon as the man tried to get to his feet, he again rushed at him and again launched his teeth into his neck.

The inhabitants of Sierra Vista awoke in fear. From the noise coming from the stairs, one would have thought that hordes of devils were fighting there. A revolver shot rang out, followed by a second, third.Someone screamed piercingly in horror and pain. Then a loud growl was heard. And all these sounds were accompanied by the clink of glass and the roar of overturned furniture.

But the noise froze as suddenly as it had arisen. All this lasted no more than three minutes. The terrified inhabitants of the house crowded on the top platform of the stairs. From below, from the darkness, there were gurgling sounds, as if air came out with bubbles on the surface of the water. At times, the gurgle turned into a hiss, almost a whistle. But these sounds quickly froze, and only heavy breathing was heard in the darkness, as if someone painfully gasped for air.

Weedon Scott turned the switch, and streams of light flooded the staircase and hall. Then he and Judge Scott cautiously went downstairs, holding revolvers ready. However, their caution turned out to be excessive: White Fang has already done its job. In the midst of the overturned and broken furniture, a man was lying on his side, his face was covered with his hand. Weedon Scott bent down, removed his hand and turned the man face up. A gaping throat wound left no doubt as to the cause of his death.

“Jim Hall!” Said Judge Scott.

Father and son looked at each other meaningfully, then looked at White Fang. He was also lying on his side. His eyes were closed, but when people bent over him, he lifted his eyelids, trying to look up, and slightly moved his tail. Weedon Skop stroked him, and in response to this caress he quietly growled. But the growl sounded a little audible and immediately broke off. The eyelids of the White Fang trembled and closed, the whole body somehow immediately went limp, and he stretched out on the floor.

“Your business is over, poor fellow,” muttered the master.

“Well, we'll see it again,” the judge declared and went to the telephone.

“Frankly, she has one chance in a thousand,” said the surgeon, and a half hour drive around White Fang.

The first sunrays glancing through the windows overcame the electric sung. The whole family, except for the children, gathered around the surgeon to listen to what he would say about White Fang.

“A fracture of the hind leg,” he continued. “Three broken ribs and at least one of them went into the lung.” Great blood loss. It is possible that there are other internal injuries, as, apparently, they trampled him underfoot. I'm not talking about the fact that all three bullets passed right through. No, one chance in a thousand is perhaps too optimistic. He does not have one in ten thousand.

“But you must not lose this chance!” Judge Scott exclaimed. - I will pay any money! We need to do a transillumination - all that is needed ... Weedon, wire Dr. Nichols right now in San Francisco. Don’t be offended, doctor, we believe you, but for this dog you need to do everything you can.

“Well, of course, of course!” I understand the dog deserves it. She must be looked after as a person, as a sick child. And watch the temperature. I'll drop by at ten o’clock.

And White Fang really looked after as a man. The daughter of the judge indignantly rejected the offer to call the nurse and took up the matter themselves. And White Fang snatched from life the only chance that the surgeon refused him.

But you should not blame the surgeon for his mistake. Until now, he had to treat and operate people who were pampered by civilization, the descendants of many pampered generations. Compared to White Fang, they all seemed fragile and weak and did not know how to cling to life. White Fang was a native of the Northern Wilderness, which does not allow anyone to coddle and quickly destroys the weak. Neither his mother, nor his father, nor many generations of their ancestors had signs of effeminacy. The northern wilderness rewarded the White Fang with an iron body and vitality, and he clung to life with both his spirit and body with the stubbornness that in the old days was characteristic of every living creature.

Chained to a place, deprived of the ability to even move due to tight dressings and plaster, White Fang struggled with death for weeks.He slept for a long time, saw many dreams, and visions of the North flashed through his endless string of visions. The past came to life and surrounded the White Fang from all sides. He again lived in a lair with Kichi, trembling with his whole body, crawled to the feet of Gray Beaver, expressing his humility to him, fled from Lip-Lip and howling packs of puppies.

White Fang again ran through the silent forest, hunting for game during the days of famine, again saw himself at the head of the team, heard Mit-Sa and Gray Beaver click the whips and shout: “Raa! Raa! ”When the sleigh enters the gorge and the team shrinks like a fan on a narrow road. Day after day, life passed before handsome Smith and the fights in which he participated. At that moment he whined and growled, and the people sitting beside him said that White Fang had a bad dream.

But the most painful thing was one recurring nightmare: White Fang dreamed of trams that rushed at him with a roar and rattle, like huge, piercing howls of lynx. Here White Fang, hiding, lies in the bushes, waiting for the moment when the squirrel finally decides to go down from the tree to the ground. Here he jumps on his prey ... But the squirrel instantly turns into a terrible tram, which is piled above him, like a mountain, squealing menacingly, rumbling and spitting fire at him. So it was with the hawk. A hawk with a stone fell on him from the sky and turned on the fly all in the same tram. White Fang saw himself in the fence at Handsome Smith. A crowd gathers around, and he knows that the battle will begin soon. He looks at the door, waiting for his opponent. The door swings open and a terrible tram flies at him. Such a nightmare was repeated day after day, night after night, and each time White Fang experienced horror in a dream.

Finally, one fine morning, the last plaster cast, the last bandage, was removed from him. What a triumph it was! All Sierra Vista gathered around the White Fang. The owner scratched his ear, and he sang his grouchy and affectionate song. “Priceless Wolf,” the owner’s wife called him. This new nickname was met with enthusiastic cries, and all the women began to repeat: “Priceless Wolf! Priceless Wolf! ”

He tried to get to his feet, made several unsuccessful attempts and fell. Recovery so dragged on that his muscles lost their elasticity and strength. He was ashamed of his weakness, as if he had done something to the gods. And, making a heroic effort, he stood on all four paws, staggering from side to side.

- Priceless Wolf! - the women exclaimed in unison.

Judge Skop cast a triumphant glance at them.

- The truth speaks through your lips! He said. “I kept saying this all the time. No dog could do what White Fang did. He is a wolf.

“Priceless Wolf,” Mrs. Scott corrected him.

“Yes, Priceless Wolf,” the judge agreed. - And henceforth, I will only call him that.

“He will have to learn to walk again,” the doctor said. - Let it start now. Now you can. Take him out into the yard.

And White Fang went out into the courtyard, and behind him, as if for an august person, all the inhabitants of Sierra Vista respectfully walked. He was very weak and, reaching the lawn, lay on the grass and rested for several minutes.

Then the procession moved on, and little by little, with every step, the White Fang muscles poured strength, blood ran faster and faster through the veins. We reached the stable, and there Collie was lying near the gate, and around her six well-fed puppies frolicked in the sun.

White Fang looked at them in bewilderment. Collie growled menacingly, and he chose to stay away from her. The owner pushed a puppy crawling along the grass towards him. The White Fang bristled, but the master reassured him. The collie, which was restrained by Beth, kept her alert eyes on the White Fang and growled with a growl that it was too early to calm down.

The puppy crawled to White Fang. Tog touched his ears and looked at him curiously. Then they touched each other's noses, and White Fang felt a puppy's warm tongue licking his cheek.Without knowing why it happened, he also stuck out his tongue and licked the puppy's face.

The gods met this with applause and cries of delight. White Fang was surprised and looked at them perplexedly. Then weakness gripped him again, he sank to the ground and, looking at the puppy, bent his head to one side. The rest of the puppies also crawled to him, to Collie's great displeasure, and White Fang, with an important look, allowed them to climb onto their backs and slide onto the grass.

The applause confused him and made him feel awkward. But it soon passed. The puppies continued their fuss, and White Fang lay in the sun and, half-closing his eyes, slowly sank into a nap.

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