4. CHAPTER IV - THE WALL OF THE WORLD
By the time his mother began leaving the cave on hunting
expeditions, the cub had learned well the law that forbade his
approaching the entrance. Not only had this law been forcibly and
many times impressed on him by his mother's nose and paw, but in
him the instinct of fear was developing. Never, in his brief cave-life,
had he encountered anything of which to be afraid. Yet fear
was in him. It had come down to him from a remote ancestry through
a thousand thousand lives. It was a heritage he had received
directly from One Eye and the she-wolf; but to them, in turn, it
had been passed down through all the generations of wolves that had
gone before. Fear! - that legacy of the Wild which no animal may
escape nor exchange for pottage.
So the grey cub knew fear, though he knew not the stuff of which
fear was made. Possibly he accepted it as one of the restrictions
of life. For he had already learned that there were such
restrictions. Hunger he had known; and when he could not appease
his hunger he had felt restriction. The hard obstruction of the
cave-wall, the sharp nudge of his mother's nose, the smashing
stroke of her paw, the hunger unappeased of several famines, had
borne in upon him that all was not freedom in the world, that to
life there was limitations and restraints. These limitations and
restraints were laws. To be obedient to them was to escape hurt
and make for happiness.
He did not reason the question out in this man fashion. He merely
classified the things that hurt and the things that did not hurt.
And after such classification he avoided the things that hurt, the
restrictions and restraints, in order to enjoy the satisfactions
and the remunerations of life.
Thus it was that in obedience to the law laid down by his mother,
and in obedience to the law of that unknown and nameless thing,
fear, he kept away from the mouth of the cave. It remained to him
a white wall of light. When his mother was absent, he slept most
of the time, while during the intervals that he was awake he kept
very quiet, suppressing the whimpering cries that tickled in his
throat and strove for noise.