The Grey Cub

Hewasdifferentfromhisbrothersandsisters.Theirhairalreadybetrayedthereddishhueinheritedfromtheirmother,theshe-wolf;whilehealone,inthisparticular,tookafterhisfather.Hewastheonelittlegreycubofthelitter.Hehadbredtruetothestraightwolf-stockinfact,hehadbredtruetooldOneEyehimself,physically,withbutasingleexception,andthatwashehadtwoeyestohisfather’sone.

Thegreycub’seyeshadnotbeenopenlong,yetalreadyhecouldseewithsteadyclearness.Andwhilehiseyeswerestillclosed,hehadfelt,tasted,andsmelled.Heknewhistwobrothersandhistwosistersverywell.Hehadbeguntorompwiththeminafeeble,awkwardway,andeventosquabble,hislittlethroatvibratingwithaqueerraspingnoise(theforerunnerofthegrowl),asheworkedhimselfintoapassion.Andlongbeforehiseyeshadopenedhehadlearnedbytouch,taste,andsmelltoknowhismotherafountofwarmthandliquidfoodandtenderness.Shepossessedagentle,caressingtonguethatsoothedhimwhenitpassedoverhissoftlittlebody,andthatimpelledhimtosnugglecloseagainstherandtodozeofftosleep.

Mostofthefirstmonthofhislifehadbeenpassedthusinsleeping;butnowhecouldseequitewell,andhestayedawakeforlongerperiodsoftime,andhewascomingtolearnhisworldquitewell.Hisworldwasgloomy;buthedidnotknowthat,forheknewnootherworld.Itwasdim-lighted;buthiseyeshadneverhadtoadjustthemselvestoanyotherlight.Hisworldwasverysmall.Itslimitswerethewallsofthelair;butashehadnoknowledgeofthewideworldoutside,hewasneveroppressedbythenarrowconfinesofhisexistence.

Buthehadearlydiscoveredthatonewallofhisworldwasdifferentfromtherest.Thiswasthemouthofthecaveandthesourceoflight.

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