The Famine

ThespringoftheyearwasathandwhenGreyBeaverfinishedhislongjourney.ItwasApril,andWhiteFangwasayearoldwhenhepulledintothehomevillagesandwasloosedfromtheharnessbyMit-sah.Thoughalongwayfromhisfullgrowth,WhiteFang,nexttoLip-lip,wasthelargestyearlinginthevillage.Bothfromhisfather,thewolf,andfromKiche,hehadinheritedstatureandstrength,andalreadyhewasmeasuringupalongsidethefull-growndogs.Buthehadnotyetgrowncompact.Hisbodywasslenderandrangy,andhisstrengthmorestringythanmassive,Hiscoatwasthetruewolf-grey,andtoallappearanceshewastruewolfhimself.Thequarter-strainofdoghehadinheritedfromKichehadleftnomarkonhimphysically,thoughithadplayeditspartinhismentalmake-up.

Hewanderedthroughthevillage,recognisingwithstaidsatisfactionthevariousgodshehadknownbeforethelongjourney.Thentherewerethedogs,puppiesgrowinguplikehimself,andgrowndogsthatdidnotlooksolargeandformidableasthememorypicturesheretainedofthem.Also,hestoodlessinfearofthemthanformerly,stalkingamongthemwithacertaincarelesseasethatwasasnewtohimasitwasenjoyable.

TherewasBaseek,agrizzledoldfellowthatinhisyoungerdayshadbuttouncoverhisfangstosendWhiteFangcringingandcrouchingtotherightabout.FromhimWhiteFanghadlearnedmuchofhisowninsignificance;andfromhimhewasnowtolearnmuchofthechangeanddevelopmentthathadtakenplaceinhimself.WhileBaseekhadbeengrowingweakerwithage,WhiteFanghadbeengrowingstrongerwithyouth.

Itwasatthecutting-upofamoose,fresh-killed,thatWhiteFanglearnedofthechangedrelationsinwhichhestoodtothedog-world.Hehadgotforhimselfahoofandpartoftheshin-bone,towhichquiteabitofmeatwasattached.

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