Chapter XXII - The Southland
White Fang landed from the steamer in San Francisco. He was
appalled. Deep in him, below any reasoning process or act of
consciousness, he had associated power with godhead. And never had
the white men seemed such marvellous gods as now, when he trod the
slimy pavement of San Francisco. The log cabins he had known were
replaced by towering buildings. The streets were crowded with
perils - waggons, carts, automobiles; great, straining horses
pulling huge trucks; and monstrous cable and electric ears hooting
and clanging through the midst, screeching their insistent menace
after the manner of the lynxes he had known in the northern woods.
All this was the manifestation of power. Through it all, behind it
all, was man, governing and controlling, expressing himself, as of
old, by his mastery over matter. It was colossal, stunning. White
Fang was awed. Fear sat upon him. As in his cubhood he had been
made to feel his smallness and puniness on the day he first came in
from the Wild to the village of Grey Beaver, so now, in his full-
grown stature and pride of strength, he was made to feel small and
puny. And there were so many gods! He was made dizzy by the
swarming of them. The thunder of the streets smote upon his ears.
He was bewildered by the tremendous and endless rush and movement
of things. As never before, he felt his dependence on the love-
master, close at whose heels he followed, no matter what happened
never losing sight of him.
But White Fang was to have no more than a nightmare vision of the
city - an experience that was like a bad dream, unreal and
terrible, that haunted him for long after in his dreams. He was
put into a baggage-car by the master, chained in a corner in the
midst of heaped trunks and valises. Here a squat and brawny god
held sway, with much noise, hurling trunks and boxes about,
dragging them in through the door and tossing them into the piles,
or flinging them out of the door, smashing and crashing, to other
gods who awaited them.
And here, in this inferno of luggage, was White Fang deserted by
the master. Or at least White Fang thought he was deserted, until
he smelled out the master's canvas clothes-bags alongside of him,
and proceeded to mount guard over them.
"'Bout time you come," growled the god of the car, an hour later,
when Weedon Scott appeared at the door. "That dog of yourn won't
let me lay a finger on your stuff."
White Fang emerged from the car. He was astonished. The nightmare
city was gone. The car had been to him no more than a room in a
house, and when he had entered it the city had been all around him.
In the interval the city had disappeared. The roar of it no longer
dinned upon his ears. Before him was smiling country, streaming
with sunshine, lazy with quietude. But he had little time to
marvel at the transformation. He accepted it as he accepted all
the unaccountable doings and manifestations of the gods. It was
There was a carriage waiting. A man and a woman approached the
master. The woman's arms went out and clutched the master around
the neck - a hostile act! The next moment Weedon Scott had torn
loose from the embrace and closed with White Fang, who had become a
snarling, raging demon.
"It's all right, mother," Scott was saving as he kept tight hold of
White Fang and placated him. "He thought you were going to injure
me, and he wouldn't stand for it. It's all right. It's all right.
He'll learn soon enough."
"And in the meantime I may be permitted to love my son when his dog
is not around," she laughed, though she was pale and weak from the
She looked at White Fang, who snarled and bristled and glared
"He'll have to learn, and he shall, without postponement," Scott
He spoke softly to White Fang until he had quieted him, then his
voice became firm.
"Down, sir! Down with you!"
This had been one of the things taught him by the master, and White
Fang obeyed, though he lay down reluctantly and sullenly.
Scott opened his arms to her, but kept his eyes on White Fang.
"Down!" he warned. "Down!"
White Fang, bristling silently, half-crouching as he rose, sank
back and watched the hostile act repeated. But no harm came of it,
nor of the embrace from the strange man-god that followed. Then
the clothes-bags were taken into the carriage, the strange gods and
the love-master followed, and White Fang pursued, now running
vigilantly behind, now bristling up to the running horses and
warning them that he was there to see that no harm befell the god
they dragged so swiftly across the earth.
At the end of fifteen minutes, the carriage swung in through a
stone gateway and on between a double row of arched and interlacing
walnut trees. On either side stretched lawns, their broad sweep
broken here and there by great sturdy-limbed oaks. In the near
distance, in contrast with the young-green of the tended grass,
sunburnt hay-fields showed tan and gold; while beyond were the
tawny hills and upland pastures. From the head of the lawn, on the
first soft swell from the valley-level, looked down the deep-
porched, many-windowed house.
Little opportunity was given White Fang to see all this. Hardly
had the carriage entered the grounds, when he was set upon by a
sheep-dog, bright-eyed, sharp-muzzled, righteously indignant and
angry. It was between him and the master, cutting him off. White
Fang snarled no warning, but his hair bristled as he made his
silent and deadly rush. This rush was never completed. He halted
with awkward abruptness, with stiff fore-legs bracing himself
against his momentum, almost sitting down on his haunches, so
desirous was he of avoiding contact with the dog he was in the act
of attacking. It was a female, and the law of his kind thrust a
barrier between. For him to attack her would require nothing less
than a violation of his instinct.
But with the sheep-dog it was otherwise. Being a female, she
possessed no such instinct. On the other hand, being a sheep-dog,
her instinctive fear of the Wild, and especially of the wolf, was
unusually keen. White Fang was to her a wolf, the hereditary
marauder who had preyed upon her flocks from the time sheep were
first herded and guarded by some dim ancestor of hers. And so, as
he abandoned his rush at her and braced himself to avoid the
contact, she sprang upon him. He snarled involuntarily as he felt
her teeth in his shoulder, but beyond this made no offer to hurt
her. He backed away, stiff-legged with self-consciousness, and
tried to go around her. He dodged this way and that, and curved
and turned, but to no purpose. She remained always between him and
the way he wanted to go.
"Here, Collie!" called the strange man in the carriage.
Weedon Scott laughed.
"Never mind, father. It is good discipline. White Fang will have
to learn many things, and it's just as well that he begins now.
He'll adjust himself all right."
The carriage drove on, and still Collie blocked White Fang's way.
He tried to outrun her by leaving the drive and circling across the
lawn but she ran on the inner and smaller circle, and was always
there, facing him with her two rows of gleaming teeth. Back he
circled, across the drive to the other lawn, and again she headed
The carriage was bearing the master away. White Fang caught
glimpses of it disappearing amongst the trees. The situation was
desperate. He essayed another circle. She followed, running
swiftly. And then, suddenly, he turned upon her. It was his old
fighting trick. Shoulder to shoulder, he struck her squarely. Not
only was she overthrown. So fast had she been running that she
rolled along, now on her back, now on her side, as she struggled to
stop, clawing gravel with her feet and crying shrilly her hurt
pride and indignation.
White Fang did not wait. The way was clear, and that was all he
had wanted. She took after him, never ceasing her outcry. It was
the straightaway now, and when it came to real running, White Fang
could teach her things. She ran frantically, hysterically,
straining to the utmost, advertising the effort she was making with
every leap: and all the time White Fang slid smoothly away from
her silently, without effort, gliding like a ghost over the ground.
As he rounded the house to the PORTE-COCHERE, he came upon the
carriage. It had stopped, and the master was alighting. At this
moment, still running at top speed, White Fang became suddenly
aware of an attack from the side. It was a deer-hound rushing upon
him. White Fang tried to face it. But he was going too fast, and
the hound was too close. It struck him on the side; and such was
his forward momentum and the unexpectedness of it, White Fang was
hurled to the ground and rolled clear over. He came out of the
tangle a spectacle of malignancy, ears flattened back, lips
writhing, nose wrinkling, his teeth clipping together as the fangs
barely missed the hound's soft throat.
The master was running up, but was too far away; and it was Collie
that saved the hound's life. Before White Fang could spring in and
deliver the fatal stroke, and just as he was in the act of
springing in, Collie arrived. She had been out-manoeuvred and out-
run, to say nothing of her having been unceremoniously tumbled in
the gravel, and her arrival was like that of a tornado - made up of
offended dignity, justifiable wrath, and instinctive hatred for
this marauder from the Wild. She struck White Fang at right angles
in the midst of his spring, and again he was knocked off his feet
and rolled over.
The next moment the master arrived, and with one hand held White
Fang, while the father called off the dogs.
"I say, this is a pretty warm reception for a poor lone wolf from
the Arctic," the master said, while White Fang calmed down under
his caressing hand. "In all his life he's only been known once to
go off his feet, and here he's been rolled twice in thirty
The carriage had driven away, and other strange gods had appeared
from out the house. Some of these stood respectfully at a
distance; but two of them, women, perpetrated the hostile act of
clutching the master around the neck. White Fang, however, was
beginning to tolerate this act. No harm seemed to come of it,
while the noises the gods made were certainly not threatening.
These gods also made overtures to White Fang, but he warned them
off with a snarl, and the master did likewise with word of mouth.
At such times White Fang leaned in close against the master's legs
and received reassuring pats on the head.
The hound, under the command, "Dick! Lie down, sir!" had gone up
the steps and lain down to one side of the porch, still growling
and keeping a sullen watch on the intruder. Collie had been taken
in charge by one of the woman-gods, who held arms around her neck
and petted and caressed her; but Collie was very much perplexed and
worried, whining and restless, outraged by the permitted presence
of this wolf and confident that the gods were making a mistake.
All the gods started up the steps to enter the house. White Fang
followed closely at the master's heels. Dick, on the porch,
growled, and White Fang, on the steps, bristled and growled back.
"Take Collie inside and leave the two of them to fight it out,"
suggested Scott's father. "After that they'll be friends."
"Then White Fang, to show his friendship, will have to be chief
mourner at the funeral," laughed the master.
The elder Scott looked incredulously, first at White Fang, then at
Dick, and finally at his son.
"You mean . . .?"
Weedon nodded his head. "I mean just that. You'd have a dead Dick
inside one minute - two minutes at the farthest."
He turned to White Fang. "Come on, you wolf. It's you that'll
have to come inside."
White Fang walked stiff-legged up the steps and across the porch,
with tail rigidly erect, keeping his eyes on Dick to guard against
a flank attack, and at the same time prepared for whatever fierce
manifestation of the unknown that might pounce out upon him from
the interior of the house. But no thing of fear pounced out, and
when he had gained the inside he scouted carefully around, looking
at it and finding it not. Then he lay down with a contented grunt
at the master's feet, observing all that went on, ever ready to
spring to his feet and fight for life with the terrors he felt must
lurk under the trap-roof of the dwelling.