Книга White Fang. Содержание - CHAPTER II-THE SOUTHLAND
Later on two Indians arrived. He watched them closely as they shouldered the luggage and were led off down the hill by Matt, who carried the bedding and the grip. But White Fang did not follow them. The master was still in the cabin. After a time, Matt returned. The master came to the door and called White Fang inside.
«You poor devil,» he said gently, rubbing White Fang's ears and tapping his spine. «I'm hitting the long trail, old man, where you cannot follow. Now give me a growl-the last, good, good-bye growl.»
But White Fang refused to growl. Instead, and after a wistful, searching look, he snuggled in, burrowing his head out of sight between the master's arm and body.
«There she blows!» Matt cried. From the Yukon arose the hoarse bellowing of a river steamboat. «You've got to cut it short. Be sure and lock the front door. I'll go out the back. Get a move on!»
The two doors slammed at the same moment, and Weedon Scott waited for Matt to come around to the front. From inside the door came a low whining and sobbing. Then there were long, deep-drawn sniffs.
«You must take good care of him, Matt,» Scott said, as they started down the hill. «Write and let me know how he gets along.»
«Sure,» the dog-musher answered. «But listen to that, will you!»
Both men stopped. White Fang was howling as dogs howl when their masters lie dead. He was voicing an utter woe, his cry bursting upward in great heart-breaking rushes, dying down into quavering misery, and bursting upward again with a rush upon rush of grief.
The Aurora was the first steamboat of the year for the Outside, and her decks were jammed with prosperous adventurers and broken gold seekers, all equally as mad to get to the Outside as they had been originally to get to the Inside. Near the gang-plank, Scott was shaking hands with Matt, who was preparing to go ashore. But Matt's hand went limp in the other's grasp as his gaze shot past and remained fixed on something behind him. Scott turned to see. Sitting on the deck several feet away and watching wistfully was White Fang,
The dog-musher swore softly, in awe-stricken accents. Scott could only look in wonder.
«Did you lock the front door?» Matt demanded. The other nodded, and asked, «How about the back?»
«You just bet I did,» was the fervent reply.
White Fang flattened his ears ingratiatingly, but remained where he was, making no attempt to approach.
«I'll have to take 'm ashore with me.»
Matt made a couple of steps toward White Fang, but the latter slid away from him. The dog-musher made a rush of it, and White Fang dodged between the legs of a group of men. Ducking, turning, doubling, he slid about the deck, eluding the other's efforts to capture him.
But when the love-master spoke, White Fang came to him with prompt obedience.
«Won't come to the hand that's fed 'm all these months,» the dog– musher muttered resentfully. «And you-you ain't never fed 'm after them first days of gettin' acquainted. I'm blamed if I can see how he works it out that you're the boss.»
Scott, who had been patting White Fang, suddenly bent closer and pointed out fresh-made cuts on his muzzle, and a gash between the eyes.
Matt bent over and passed his hand along White Fang's belly.
«We plump forgot the window. He's all cut an' gouged underneath. Must 'a' butted clean through it, b'gosh!»
But Weedon Scott was not listening. He was thinking rapidly. The Aurora's whistle hooted a final announcement of departure. Men were scurrying down the gang-plank to the shore. Matt loosened the bandana from his own neck and started to put it around White Fang's. Scott grasped the dog-musher's hand.
«Good-bye, Matt, old man. About the wolf-you needn't write. You see, I've . . . !»
«What!» the dog-musher exploded. «You don't mean to say . . .?»
«The very thing I mean. Here's your bandana. I'll write to you about him.»
Matt paused halfway down the gang-plank.
«He'll never stand the climate!» he shouted back. «Unless you clip 'm in warm weather!»
The gang-plank was hauled in, and the Aurora swang out from the bank. Weedon Scott waved a last good-bye. Then he turned and bent over White Fang, standing by his side.
«Now growl, damn you, growl,» he said, as he patted the responsive head and rubbed the flattening ears.
CHAPTER II-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 their way.
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 fright.