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White Fang by Jack London
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WHITE FANG


PART I


CHAPTER I--THE TRAIL OF THE MEAT


Dark spruce forest frowned on either side the frozen waterway. The trees
had been stripped by a recent wind of their white covering of frost, and
they seemed to lean towards each other, black and ominous, in the fading
light. A vast silence reigned over the land. The land itself was a
desolation, lifeless, without movement, so lone and cold that the spirit
of it was not even that of sadness. There was a hint in it of laughter,
but of a laughter more terrible than any sadness--a laughter that was
mirthless as the smile of the sphinx, a laughter cold as the frost and
partaking of the grimness of infallibility. It was the masterful and
incommunicable wisdom of eternity laughing at the futility of life and
the effort of life. It was the Wild, the savage, frozen-hearted
Northland Wild.

But there _was_ life, abroad in the land and defiant. Down the frozen
waterway toiled a string of wolfish dogs. Their bristly fur was rimed
with frost. Their breath froze in the air as it left their mouths,
spouting forth in spumes of vapour that settled upon the hair of their
bodies and formed into crystals of frost. Leather harness was on the
dogs, and leather traces attached them to a sled which dragged along
behind. The sled was without runners. It was made of stout birch-bark,
and its full surface rested on the snow. The front end of the sled was