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|Part IV||Jack London|
|Page 1 of 4||
"It's hopeless," Weedon Scott confessed.
He sat on the step of his cabin and stared at the dog-musher, who responded with a shrug that was equally hopeless.
Together they looked at White Fang at the end of his stretched chain, bristling, snarling, ferocious, straining to get at the sled-dogs. Having received sundry lessons from Matt, said lessons being imparted by means of a club, the sled-dogs had learned to leave White Fang alone; and even then they were lying down at a distance, apparently oblivious of his existence.
"It's a wolf and there's no taming it," Weedon Scott announced.
"Oh, I don't know about that," Matt objected. "Might be a lot of dog in 'm, for all you can tell. But there's one thing I know sure, an' that there's no gettin' away from."
The dog-musher paused and nodded his head confidentially at Moosehide Mountain.
"Well, don't be a miser with what you know," Scott said sharply, after waiting a suitable length of time. "Spit it out. What is it?"
The dog-musher indicated White Fang with a backward thrust of his thumb.
"Wolf or dog, it's all the same - he's ben tamed 'ready."
"I tell you yes, an' broke to harness. Look close there. D'ye see them marks across the chest?"
"You're right, Matt. He was a sled-dog before Beauty Smith got hold of him."
"And there's not much reason against his bein' a sled-dog again."
"What d'ye think?" Scott queried eagerly. Then the hope died down as he added, shaking his head, "We've had him two weeks now, and if anything he's wilder than ever at the present moment."
"Give 'm a chance," Matt counselled. "Turn 'm loose for a spell."
The other looked at him incredulously.
"Yes," Matt went on, "I know you've tried to, but you didn't take a club."
"You try it then."
The dog-musher secured a club and went over to the chained animal. White Fang watched the club after the manner of a caged lion watching the whip of its trainer.
"See 'm keep his eye on that club," Matt said. "That's a good sign. He's no fool. Don't dast tackle me so long as I got that club handy. He's not clean crazy, sure."
As the man's hand approached his neck, White Fang bristled and snarled and crouched down. But while he eyed the approaching hand, he at the same time contrived to keep track of the club in the other hand, suspended threateningly above him. Matt unsnapped the chain from the collar and stepped back.
White Fang could scarcely realise that he was free. Many months had gone by since he passed into the possession of Beauty Smith, and in all that period he had never known a moment of freedom except at the times he had been loosed to fight with other dogs. Immediately after such fights he had always been imprisoned again.
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