1. CHAPTER I - THE MAKERS OF FIRE
The cub came upon it suddenly. It was his own fault. He had been
careless. He had left the cave and run down to the stream to
drink. It might have been that he took no notice because he was
heavy with sleep. (He had been out all night on the meat-trail,
and had but just then awakened.) And his carelessness might have
been due to the familiarity of the trail to the pool. He had
travelled it often, and nothing had ever happened on it.
He went down past the blasted pine, crossed the open space, and
trotted in amongst the trees. Then, at the same instant, he saw
and smelt. Before him, sitting silently on their haunches, were
five live things, the like of which he had never seen before. It
was his first glimpse of mankind. But at the sight of him the five
men did not spring to their feet, nor show their teeth, nor snarl.
They did not move, but sat there, silent and ominous.
Nor did the cub move. Every instinct of his nature would have
impelled him to dash wildly away, had there not suddenly and for
the first time arisen in him another and counter instinct. A great
awe descended upon him. He was beaten down to movelessness by an
overwhelming sense of his own weakness and littleness. Here was
mastery and power, something far and away beyond him.
The cub had never seen man, yet the instinct concerning man was
his. In dim ways he recognised in man the animal that had fought
itself to primacy over the other animals of the Wild. Not alone
out of his own eyes, but out of the eyes of all his ancestors was
the cub now looking upon man - out of eyes that had circled in the
darkness around countless winter camp-fires, that had peered from
safe distances and from the hearts of thickets at the strange, two-legged
animal that was lord over living things. The spell of the
cub's heritage was upon him, the fear and the respect born of the
centuries of struggle and the accumulated experience of the
generations. The heritage was too compelling for a wolf that was
only a cub. Had he been full-grown, he would have run away. As it
was, he cowered down in a paralysis of fear, already half
proffering the submission that his kind had proffered from the
first time a wolf came in to sit by man's fire and be made warm.