|Set Display||Please Turn On Your Virtual Bookmarks||Help Support This Site||Table of Contents||Jack London|
CHAPTER I--THE LONG TRAIL
It was in the air. White Fang sensed the coming calamity, even before there was tangible evidence of it. In vague ways it was borne in upon him that a change was impending. He knew not how nor why, yet he got his feel of the oncoming event from the gods themselves. In ways subtler than they knew, they betrayed their intentions to the wolf-dog that haunted the cabin-stoop, and that, though he never came inside the cabin, knew what went on inside their brains.
"Listen to that, will you!" the dug-musher exclaimed at supper one night.
Weedon Scott listened. Through the door came a low, anxious whine, like a sobbing under the breath that had just grown audible. Then came the long sniff, as White Fang reassured himself that his god was still inside and had not yet taken himself off in mysterious and solitary flight.
"I do believe that wolf's on to you," the dog-musher said.
Weedon Scott looked across at his companion with eyes that almost pleaded, though this was given the lie by his words.
"What the devil can I do with a wolf in California?" he demanded.
"That's what I say," Matt answered. "What the devil can you do with a wolf in California?"
But this did not satisfy Weedon Scott. The other seemed to be judging him in a non-committal sort of way.
"White man's dogs would have no show against him," Scott went on. "He'd kill them on sight. If he didn't bankrupt me with damaged suits, the authorities would take him away from me and electrocute him."
"He's a downright murderer, I know," was the dog-musher's comment.
Weedon Scott looked at him suspiciously.
"It would never do," he said decisively.
"It would never do!" Matt concurred. "Why you'd have to hire a man 'specially to take care of 'm."
The other suspicion was allayed. He nodded cheerfully. In the silence that followed, the low, half-sobbing whine was heard at the door and then the long, questing sniff.
"There's no denyin' he thinks a hell of a lot of you," Matt said.
The other glared at him in sudden wrath. "Damn it all, man! I know my own mind and what's best!"
"I'm agreein' with you, only . . . "
"Only what?" Scott snapped out.
"Only . . . " the dog-musher began softly, then changed his mind and betrayed a rising anger of his own. "Well, you needn't get so all-fired het up about it. Judgin' by your actions one'd think you didn't know your own mind."
Weedon Scott debated with himself for a while, and then said more gently: "You are right, Matt. I don't know my own mind, and that's what's the trouble."
"Why, it would be rank ridiculousness for me to take that dog along," he broke out after another pause.
"I'm agreein' with you," was Matt's answer, and again his employer was not quite satisfied with him.
"But how in the name of the great Sardanapolis he knows you're goin' is what gets me," the dog-musher continued innocently.