The Son of the Wolf: Tales of the Far North

By Jack London; Charles N. Watson | Go to book overview

THE WHITE MAN'S WAY

'To cook by your fire and to sleep under your roof for the night,' I had announced on entering old Ebbits's cabin; and he had looked at me blear-eyed and vacuous, while Zilla had favored me with a sour face and a contemptuous grunt. Zilla was his wife, and no more bitter-tongued, implacable old squaw dwelt on the Yukon. Nor would I have stopped there had my dogs been less tired or had the rest of the village been inhabited. But this cabin alone had I found occupied, and in this cabin, perforce, I took my shelter.

Old Ebbits now and again pulled his tangled wits together, and hints and sparkles of intelligence came and went in his eyes. Several times during the preparation of my supper he even essayed hospitable inquiries about my health, the condition and number of my dogs, and the distance I had travelled that day. And each time Zilla had looked sourer than ever and grunted more contemptuously.

Yet I confess that there was no particular call for cheerfulness on their part. There they crouched by the fire, the pair of them, at the end of their days, old and withered and helpless, racked by rheumatism, bitten by hunger, and tantalized by the frying-odors of my abundance of meat. They rocked back and forth in a slow and hopeless way, and regularly, once every five minutes, Ebbits emitted a low groan. It was not so much a groan of pain, as of pain-weariness. He was oppressed by the weight and the torment of this thing called life, and still more was he oppressed by the fear of death. His was that eternal tragedy of the aged, with whom the joy of life has departed and the instinct for death has not come.

When my moose-meat spluttered rowdily in the fryingpan, I noticed old Ebbits's nostrils twitch and distend as he caught the food-scent. He ceased rocking for a space and forgot to groan, while a look of intelligence seemed to come into his face.

Zilla, on the other hand, rocked more rapidly, and for the first time, in sharp little yelps, voiced her pain. It came to me

-254-

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The Son of the Wolf: Tales of the Far North
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Oxford World's Classics the Son of the Wolf Tales of the Far North i
  • Oxford World's Classics ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction ix
  • Note on the Text xxvi
  • Select Bibliography xxviii
  • A Chronology of Jack London xxx
  • The Son of the Wolf Tales of the Far North 1
  • The White Silence 3
  • The Son of the Wolf 13
  • The Men of Forty-Mile 29
  • In a Far Country 38
  • To the Man on Trail 55
  • The Priestly Prerogative 64
  • The Wisdom of the Trail 78
  • The Wife of a King 86
  • An Odyssey of the North 102
  • Selected Northland Tales 135
  • Grit of Women 137
  • The Great Interrogation 151
  • The Law of Life 165
  • At the Rainbow's End 172
  • The Story of Jees Uck 182
  • The League of the Old Men 206
  • The Marriage of Lit-Lit 222
  • Love of Life 233
  • The White Man's Way 254
  • Finis 267
  • Like Argus of the Ancient Times 285
  • Explanatory Notes 313
  • A Selection of Oxford World's Classics 323
  • The Oxford World's Classics Website 333
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