3. CHAPTER III - THE OUTCAST
Young dogs are bound to play, and out of the exigencies of the
situation they realised their play in this mimic warfare. Thus it
was that the hunt of White Fang became their chief game - a deadly
game, withal, and at all times a serious game. He, on the other
hand, being the fastest-footed, was unafraid to venture anywhere.
During the period that he waited vainly for his mother to come
back, he led the pack many a wild chase through the adjacent woods.
But the pack invariably lost him. Its noise and outcry warned him
of its presence, while he ran alone, velvet-footed, silently, a
moving shadow among the trees after the manner of his father and
mother before him. Further he was more directly connected with the
Wild than they; and he knew more of its secrets and stratagems. A
favourite trick of his was to lose his trail in running water and
then lie quietly in a near-by thicket while their baffled cries
arose around him.
Hated by his kind and by mankind, indomitable, perpetually warred
upon and himself waging perpetual war, his development was rapid
and one-sided. This was no soil for kindliness and affection to
blossom in. Of such things he had not the faintest glimmering.
The code he learned was to obey the strong and to oppress the weak.
Grey Beaver was a god, and strong. Therefore White Fang obeyed
him. But the dog younger or smaller than himself was weak, a thing
to be destroyed. His development was in the direction of power.
In order to face the constant danger of hurt and even of
destruction, his predatory and protective faculties were unduly
developed. He became quicker of movement than the other dogs,
swifter of foot, craftier, deadlier, more lithe, more lean with
ironlike muscle and sinew, more enduring, more cruel, more
ferocious, and more intelligent. He had to become all these
things, else he would not have held his own nor survive the hostile
environment in which he found himself.