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The Trail of the Meat
Dark spruce forest frowned on either side the frozen waterway. The trees had been stripped by a recent wind of their white covering of frost, and they seemed to lean toward each other, black and ominous, in the fading light. A vast silence reigned over the land. The land itself was a desolation, lifeless, without movement, so lone and cold that the spirit of it was not even that of sadness. There was a hint in it of laughter, but of a laughter more terrible than any sadness — a laughter that was mirthless as the smile of the Sphinx, a laughter cold as the frost and partaking of the grimness of infallibility. It was the masterful and incommunicable wisdom of eternity laughing at the futility of life and the effort of life. It was the Wild, the savage, frozen-hearted Northland Wild.
But there was life, abroad in the land and defiant. Down the frozen waterway toiled a string of wolfish dogs. Their bristly fur was rimed with frost. Their breath froze in the air as it left their mouths, spouting forth in spumes of vapor that settled upon the hair of their bodies and formed into crystals of frost. Leather harness was on the dogs, and leather traces attached them to a sled which dragged along behind. The sled was without runners. It was made of stout birch-bark, and its full surface rested on the snow. The front end of the sled was turned up, like a scroll, in order to force down and under the bore of soft snow that surged like a wave before it. On the sled, securely lashed, was a long and narrow oblong box. There were other things on the sled — blankets, an axe, and a coffee-pot and frying-pan; but prominent, occupying most of the space, was the long and narrow oblong box.
In advance of the dogs, on wide snowshoes, toiled a man. At the rear of the sled toiled a second man. On the sled, in the box, lay a third man whose toil was over, — a man whom the Wild had conquered and beaten down until he would never move nor struggle again. It is not the way of the Wild to like movement. Life is an offense to it, for life is movement; and the Wild aims always to destroy movement. It freezes the water to prevent it running to the sea; it drives the sap out of the trees till they are frozen to their mighty hearts; and most ferociously and terribly of all does the Wild harry and crush into submission man — man, who is the most restless of life, ever in revolt against the dictum that all movement must in the end come to the cessation of movement.
But at front and rear, unawed and indomitable, toiled the two men who were not yet dead. Their bodies were covered with fur and soft-tanned leather. Eyelashes and cheeks and lips were so coated with the crystals from their frozen breath that their faces were not discernible. This gave them the seeming of ghostly masques, undertakers in a spectral world at the funeral of some ghost. But under it all they were men, penetrating the land of desolation and mockery and silence, puny adventurers bent on colossal adventure, pitting themselves against the might of a world as remote and alien and pulseless as the abysses of space.
They travelled on without speech, saving their breath for the work of their bodies. On every side was the silence, pressing upon them with a tangible presence. It affected their minds as the many atmospheres of deep water affect the body of the diver. It crushed them with the weight of unending vastness and unalterable decree. It crushed them into the remotest recesses of their own minds, pressing out of them, like juices from the grape, all the false ardors and exaltations and undue self-values of the human soul, until they perceived themselves finite and small, specks and motes, moving with weak cunning and little wisdom amidst the play and interplay of the great blind elements and forces.
An hour went by, and a second hour. The pale light of the short sunless day was beginning to fade, when a faint far cry arose on the still air. It soared upward with a swift rush, till it reached its topmost note, where it persisted, palpitant and tense, and then slowly died away. It might have been a lost soul wailing, had it not been invested with a certain sad fierceness and hungry eagerness. The front man turned his head until his eyes met the eyes of the man behind. And then, across the narrow oblong box, each nodded to the other.
A second cry arose, piercing the silence with needlelike shrillness. Both men located the sound. It was to the rear, somewhere in the snow expanse they had just traversed. A third and answering cry arose, also to the rear and to the left of the second cry.
"They're after us, Bill," said the man at the front.
His voice sounded hoarse and unreal, and he had spoken with apparent effort.
"Meat is scarce," answered his comrade. "I ain't seen a rabbit sign for days."
Thereafter they spoke no more, though their ears were keen for the hunting-cries that continued to rise behind them.
At the fall of darkness they swung the dogs into a cluster of spruce trees on the edge of the waterway and made a camp. The coffin, at the side of the fire, served for seat and table. The wolf-dogs, clustered on the far side of the fire, snarled and bickered among themselves, but evinced no inclination to stray off into the darkness.
"Seems to me, Henry, they're stayin' remarkable close to camp," Bill commented.
Henry, squatting over the fire and settling the pot of coffee with a piece of ice, nodded. Nor did he speak till he had taken his seat on the coffin and begun to eat.
"They know where their hides is safe," he said. "They'd sooner eat grub than be grub. They're pretty wise, them dogs."
Bill shook his head. "Oh, I don't know."
His comrade looked at him curiously. "First time I ever heard you say anythin' about their not bein' wise."
"Henry," said the other, munching with deliberation the beans he was eating, "did you happen to notice the way them dogs kicked up when I was a-feedin' 'em?"
"They did cut up more'n usual," Henry acknowledged.
"How many dogs 've we got, Henry?"
"Well, Henry ..." Bill stopped for a moment, in order that his words might gain greater significance. "As I was sayin', Henry, we've got six dogs. I took six fish out of the bag. I gave one fish to each dog, an', Henry, I was one fish short."
"You counted wrong."
"We've got six dogs," the other reiterated dispassionately. "I took out six fish. One Ear didn't get no fish. I come back to the bag afterward an' got 'm his fish."
"We've only got six dogs," Henry said.
"Henry," Bill went on, "I won't say they was all dogs, but there was seven of 'm that got fish."
Henry stopped eating to glance across the fire and counted the dogs.
"There's only six now," he said.
"I saw the other one run off across the snow," Bill announced with cool positiveness. "I saw seven."
His comrade looked at him commiseratingly, and said, "I'll be almighty glad when this trip's over."
"What d'ye mean by that?" Bill demanded.
"I mean that this load of ourn is gettin' on your nerves, an' that you're beginnin' to see things."
"I thought of that," Bill answered gravely. "An' so, when I saw it run off across the snow, I looked in the snow an' saw its tracks. Then I counted the dogs an' there was still six of 'em. The tracks is there in the snow now. D'ye want to look at 'em? I'll show 'm to you."
Henry did not reply, but munched on in silence, until, the meal finished, he topped it with a final cup of coffee. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and said:
"Then you're thinkin' as it was —"
A long wailing cry, fiercely sad, from somewhere in the darkness, had interrupted him. He stopped to listen to it, then he finished his sentence with a wave of his hand toward the sound of the cry, "— one of them?"
Bill nodded. "I'd a blame sight sooner think that than anything else. You noticed yourself the row the dogs made."
Cry after cry, and answering cries, were turning the silence into a bedlam. From every side the cries arose, and the dogs betrayed their fear by huddling together and so close to the fire that their hair was scorched by the heat. Bill threw on more wood, before lighting his pipe.
"I'm thinkin' you're down in the mouth some," Henry said.
"Henry ..." He sucked meditatively at his pipe for some time before he went on. "Henry, I was a-thinkin' what a blame sight luckier he is than you an' me'll ever be."
He indicated the third person by a downward thrust of the thumb to the box on which they sat.
"You an' me, Henry, when we die, we'll be lucky if we get enough stones over our carcasses to keep the dogs off of us."
"But we ain't got people an' money an' all the rest, like him," Henry rejoined. "Long-distance funerals is somethin' you an' me can't exactly afford."
"What gets me, Henry, is what a chap like this, that's a lord or something in his own country, and that's never had to bother about grub nor blankets, why he comes a-buttin' round the God-forsaken ends of the earth — that's what I can't exactly see."
"He might have lived to a ripe old age if he'd stayed to home," Henry agreed.
Bill opened his mouth to speak, but changed his mind. Instead, he pointed toward the wall of darkness that pressed about them from every side. There was no suggestion of form in the utter blackness; only could be seen a pair of eyes gleaming like live coals. Henry indicated with his head a second pair, and a third. A circle of the gleaming eyes had drawn about their camp. Now and again a pair of eyes moved, or disappeared to appear again a moment later.
The unrest of the dogs had been increasing, and they stampeded, in a surge of sudden fear, to the near side of the fire, cringing and crawling about the legs of the men. In the scramble one of the dogs had been overturned on the edge of the fire, and it had yelped with pain and fright as the smell of its singed coat possessed the air. The commotion caused the circle of eyes to shift restlessly for a moment and even to withdraw a bit, but it settled down again as the dogs became quiet.
"Henry, it's a blame misfortune to be out of ammunition."
Bill had finished his pipe and was helping his companion spread the bed of fur and blanket upon the spruce boughs which he had laid over the snow before supper. Henry grunted, and began unlacing his moccasins.
"How many cartridges did you say you had left?" he asked.
"Three," came the answer. "An' I wisht 'twas three hundred. Then I'd show 'em what for, damn 'em!"
He shook his fist angrily at the gleaming eyes, and began securely to prop his moccasins before the fire.
"An' I wisht this cold snap'd break," he went on. "It's ben fifty below for two weeks now. An' I wisht I'd never started on this trip, Henry. I don't like the looks of it. I don't feel right, somehow. An' while I'm wishin', I wisht the trip was over an' done with, an' you an' me a-sittin' by the fire in Fort McGurry just about now an' playin' cribbage — that's what I wisht."
Henry grunted and crawled into bed. As he dozed off he was aroused by his comrade's voice.
"Say, Henry, that other one that come in an' got a fish — why didn't the dogs pitch into it? That's what's botherin' me."
"You're botherin' too much, Bill," came the sleepy response. "You was never like this before. You jes' shut up now, an' go to sleep, an' you'll be all hunkydory in the mornin'. Your stomach's sour, that's what's botherin' you."
The men slept, breathing heavily, side by side, under the one covering. The fire died down, and the gleaming eyes drew closer the circle they had flung about the camp. The dogs clustered together in fear, now and again snarling menacingly as a pair of eyes drew close. Once their uproar became so loud that Bill woke up. He got out of bed carefully, so as not to disturb the sleep of his comrade, and threw more wood on the fire. As it began to flame up, the circle of eyes drew farther back. He glanced casually at the huddling dogs. He rubbed his eyes and looked at them more sharply. Then he crawled back into the blankets.
"Henry," he said. "Oh, Henry."
Henry groaned as he passed from sleep to waking, and demanded, "What's wrong now?"
"Nothin'," came the answer; "only there's seven of 'em again. I just counted."
Henry acknowledged receipt of the information with a grunt and slid into a snore as he drifted back into sleep.
In the morning it was Henry who awoke first and routed his companion out of bed. Daylight was yet three hours away, though it was already six o'clock; and in the darkness Henry went about preparing breakfast, while Bill rolled the blankets and made the sled ready for lashing.
"Say, Henry," he asked suddenly, "how many dogs did you say we had?"
"Wrong," Bill proclaimed triumphantly.
"Seven again?" Henry queried.
"No, five; one's gone."
"The hell!" Henry cried in wrath, leaving the cooking to come and count the dogs.
"You're right, Bill," he concluded. "Fatty's gone."
"An' he went like greased lightnin' once he got started. Couldn't 've seen 'm for smoke."
"No chance at all," Henry concluded. "They jes' swallowed 'm alive. I bet he was yelpin' as he went down their throats, damn 'em!"
"He always was a fool dog," said Bill.
"But no fool dog ought to be fool enough to go off an' commit suicide that way." He looked over the remainder of the team with a speculative eye that summed up instantly the salient traits of each animal. "I bet none of the others would do it."
"Couldn't drive 'em away from the fire with a club," Bill agreed. "I always did think there was somethin' wrong with Fatty, anyway."
And this was the epitaph of a dead dog on the Northland trail — less scant than the epitaph of many another dog, of many a man.
Breakfast eaten and the slim camp-outfit lashed to the sled, the men turned their backs on the cheery fire and launched out into the darkness. At once began to rise the cries that were fiercely sad — cries that called through the darkness and cold to one another and answered back. Conversation ceased. Daylight came at nine o'clock. At midday the sky to the south warmed to rose-color, and marked where the bulge of the earth intervened between the meridian sun and the northern world. But the rose-color swiftly faded. The gray light of day that remained lasted until three o'clock, when it, too, faded, and the pall of the Arctic night descended upon the lone and silent land.
As darkness came on, the hunting-cries to right and left and rear drew closer — so close that more than once they sent surges of fear through the toiling dogs, throwing them into short-lived panics.
At the conclusion of one such panic, when he and Henry had got the dogs back in the traces, Bill said:
"I wisht they'd strike game somewheres, an' go away an' leave us alone."
"They do get on the nerves horrible," Henry sympathized.
They spoke no more until camp was made. Henry was bending over and adding ice to the bubbling pot of beans when he was startled by the sound of a blow, an exclamation from Bill, and a sharp snarling cry of pain from among the dogs. He straightened up in time to see a dim form disappearing across the snow into the shelter of the dark. Then he saw Bill, standing amid the dogs, half triumphant, half crest-fallen, in one hand a stout club, in the other the tail and part of the body of a sun-cured salmon.
"It got half of it," he announced; "but I got a whack at it jes' the same. D'ye hear it squeal!" "What'd it look like?" Henry asked.
"Couldn't see. But it had four legs an' a mouth an' hair an' looked like any dog."
"Must be a tame wolf, I reckon."
"It's damned tame, whatever it is, comin' in here at feedin' time an' gettin' its whack of fish."
That night, when supper was finished and they sat on the oblong box and pulled at their pipes, the circle of gleaming eyes drew in even closer than before.
"I wisht they'd spring up a bunch of moose or somethin', an' go away an' leave us alone," Bill said.
Henry grunted with an intonation that was not all sympathy, and for a quarter of an hour they sat on in silence, Henry staring at the fire, and Bill at the circle of eyes that burned in the darkness just beyond the firelight.
"I wisht we was pullin' into McGurry right now," he began again.
"Shut up your wishin' an' your croakin'," Henry burst out angrily. "Your stomach's sour. That's what's ailin' you. Swallow a spoonful of sody, an' you'll sweeten up wonderful an' be more pleasant company."
In the morning, Henry was aroused by fervid blasphemy that proceeded from the mouth of Bill. Henry propped himself up on an elbow and looked to see his comrade standing among the dogs beside the replenished fire, his arms raised in objurgation, his face distorted with passion.
"Hello!" Henry called. "What's up now?"
"Frog's gone," came the answer.
"I tell you yes."
Henry leaped out of the blankets and to the dogs. He counted them with care, and then joined his partner in cursing the powers of the Wild that had robbed them of another dog.
"Frog was the strongest dog of the bunch," Bill pronounced finally.
"An' he was no fool dog neither," Henry added.
And so was recorded the second epitaph in two days.
Excerpted from "White Fang"
Copyright © 2017 Jack London.
Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of ContentsContents
PART I 3
CHAPTER I-THE TRAIL OF THE MEAT 3
CHAPTER II-THE SHE-WOLF 6
CHAPTER III-THE HUNGER CRY 11
PART II 16
CHAPTER I-THE BATTLE OF THE FANGS 16
CHAPTER II-THE LAIR 21
CHAPTER III-THE GREY CUB 24
CHAPTER IV-THE WALL OF THE WORLD 26
CHAPTER V-THE LAW OF MEAT 31
PART III 34
CHAPTER I-THE MAKERS OF FIRE 34
CHAPTER II-THE BONDAGE 39
CHAPTER III-THE OUTCAST 42
CHAPTER IV-THE TRAIL OF THE GODS 44
CHAPTER V-THE COVENANT 46
CHAPTER VI-THE FAMINE 50
PART IV 54
CHAPTER I-THE ENEMY OF HIS KIND 54
CHAPTER II-THE MAD GOD 58
CHAPTER III-THE REIGN OF HATE 62
CHAPTER IV-THE CLINGING DEATH 64
CHAPTER V-THE INDOMITABLE 70
CHAPTER VI-THE LOVE-MASTER 72
PART V 78
CHAPTER I-THE LONG TRAIL 79
CHAPTER II-THE SOUTHLAND 81
CHAPTER III-THE GOD'S DOMAIN 84
CHAPTER IV-THE CALL OF KIND 89
CHAPTER V-THE SLEEPING WOLF 92
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In the amassing story White Fang By Jack London the author teaches you to keep moving on. This is because through out the story white fang (the main character) faces many problems such as losing his mother, getting into illegal dog fights, and many more, but despite that he kept moving on. The story begins with two men mushing (dog sledding) up in the mountains of Alaska. Soon their dogs start to disappear one by one, this is because of a she-wolf and her pack of wolfs killing them. One night Henry (one of the men) spots the wolfs trying to eat one their dogs. Immediately got his gun out, sadly it only had 3 bullets. As quick as possible Henry charged towards the wolf's. Henry fired his gun but sadly missed. Before Henry could reload his gun one of the wolfs pounced on him and killed him leaving Bill (the other man) all alone. Luckily Bill scared off the wolfs by using fire. Afterwards the wolfs regrouped. The she-wolf then found a mate and had puppies, unfortunately only one of the pups survived. The she-wolf and white fang(the pup) then returned to a native American village where the she-wolf's master lived. Soon the master sold the she-wolf to another man leaving White fang all alone with Gray beaver(The master). Time went on and white fang grew more vicious each day. Grey beaver then decided to move to another city. Once there Gary beaver encountered beauty smith(a monster of a man) and was forced to give white fang to him. Beauty Smith then started to make white fang more vicious. Afterward he put white fang in illegal dog fights. White fang kept wining and wining, until one day that he met his match a bulldog. White fang fought but got injured and almost died luckily a young man named Scott save his life. Scott then tamed white fang and brought him to California whit him where he lived a happy life. This book has been one of the best ones I've read. This is because this book has action, drama, and suspense all packed into one book. I also recommend The Call of the wild By Jack London. I recommend this book to anyone who likes action and suspense.
You should read White Fang cause its a very interesting book and when ur reading it, it teaches kids a lesson and puts the world in a diffrent point of view
Its a very touching book, but also very sad. This is the book for people who love dogs
I read White Fang when I was eleven or twelve and I found it to be fascinating, exciting (physical action + phsycological drama) but a bit sad. I wasn't very affected at that age by the content (other than maybe tearing up a couple of times) but I don't recommend it for younger readers AT ALL unless they can handle the content. It doesn't contain anything bad, but wolves are violent animals sometimes (especially when hungry or starving) and they kill some travelers and eat them in the story. A mature twelve-year-old could MAYBE read it, but not for little kids who do not understand the violence of nature yet. Other than that, AWESOME read! Loved it, suchba classic!!!
I AM ALMOST 60 AND HAVE READ THIS AND ALL JACK LONDON BOOKS MANY TIMES SINCE EARLY HIGH SCHOOL. MY SONS ALSO HAVE. THIS WAS A PRESENT FOR MY NEPHEW, AN AVID READER. WHITE FANG IS A TIMELESS FAMILY READ. MY NEPHEW IS IN 5TH GRADE AND READS AT 9TH GRADE LEVEL. HIS PARENTS AND HE ENJOY AND APPROVE.
One of my all time favorite classics. A must read for any age.
For the complaints on grammar and language, keep in mind it was written nearly a century ago. Many of Jack London's works were inspired by his true life experiences. While he never struck it rich, Jack came back from his hunt for Yukon gold with something that would last far longer than mere gold: the embryos of many books/short stories that not only are great stories, but provide a glimpe into a world long gone, a time vastly different fom ours.
Sad but such a good book! ;)
Best book on earth, no in the whole solar sysrem, no galixy, no. BEST BOOK EVER!!!!!!! not recomended if easily frightened. (Read my name really fast)
This book was so,awespiring and so many things that are beyond words.I have not read a book that makes me fall in love with the characters so easily,i slipped right into the book.It was like it was just me and the book.White fang is born in the wild later into returning to a tribe with his mother.Later on a man forces and bribes Grey Beaver (White fangs master)into giving him White fang.The man (Beast of a man) turns White fang into a meaner wolf.The man who now holds White fang is in a illegal dog fighting ring.White fang known as a champion and never losing his footing,one day meets his match (A bull dog) the bull dog had White fang by the throat.Luckily a man Samson and his friend come by.Samsom and his friend save White fang. The more White Fang stays with the men,the more he grows use to Samson.Samson leaves on day and comes back to sew White fang.When Samson leaves again he takes White Fang with him to his home.When a cirmanal escapes prison he turns up into Samsons house,and White Fang attacks the crimanal,but gets injured.In the end White fang is called "Blessed Wolf". This story takes you through White Fangs life. To living with his mother that was sold to man,and leaving White fang heart broken. Then going through nothing but violence and hatred in the illegle act. And yet in the end he learns love,kindness,and having a real family. Through all the rough times White fang held on and kept going. This is a book for every one to read.
I hate it when people sppil the ending if books. LET PEOPLE FIGIRE IT OUT FOR THENSELVES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No one that i know likes having a good book spoiled. With that being said, this is a great book, well written, lots of action. Definitely wirth a shot.
This book takes you from the wilderness to california and excellently describes white fang
I am reading this 4 areport 4 school i thought this would b dum but its really good so far
Read with our daughter for school. Good read to share.
I loved this book despite its nonquality yone with a love for k9s Will LOVE this book
This book is awsome. When I first read it, I was too young to understand it but now that I know the 'big words' it has become one of the best books I have ever read (second only to Call of the Wild). Jack London is a sensational writer. You read the whole thing from the wolf's point of view. It's amazing!!!
I am ten and i read it in two days. This story is just sooooo heart warming and heart breaking. It literaly made me cry. You MUST get it!
Iceshard, Stormfire, Dovepaw, Goldthunder, and Amberspark - to ALL. I dropped my nook, and now the screen is messed up. Don't worry, I'm doing a reset on it by letting it fully discharge. However, this process may take a month or so. If you need me, please remember to e<_>ma<_>il me at Umbreo<_>2000<_>@<_>gm<_>ail<_>.<_>c<_>om Never give up, Wolfclan! See ya soon!
I luv this book. This book has alot of grammer mistakes though. I recommend this to people 10 and up but if you 9 or under it would be better for an adult to read it that way they can sencor the bad word. :D luv the book though. Better than Wolves of the Beyond. Ok mabey a tie between them.
This is an awesome book and i can even read this 4 school
It is really engaging and detailed story.And its free.
Was a great book not that catching in the the begining but in the middle of the book started to get more exciting. AWESOME BOOK
B & N Says this book has been digitized, but it's very obvious that it has actually been re-typed into the current format. The only digitizing done was on the pages where the artwork is, and those are too dark to make much sense of. There are many pages missing in one large chunk of the book missing, as though whomever was typing was careless about turning pages, and the unbelievable amount of typos makes it almost impossible to read. I'm glad it was a free copy or I'd have been extremely unhappy with it. As for the actual story it is a great read, especially for those who like history/adventure/wolf/dog stories. I gave it five stars for the story,I'd give it -5 stars for the quality of the reading experience.
This is my favorite book of all time ive read it many a time and every time it thrills me white fang is a classic it has enlightened me to many things i never saw before it is a must read
I love this book if i where you i would get it.