March 8th, 2013

Angry wolf

Strange things very old books teach us...

I'm currently reading a book called Kazan the Wolf Dog. (You can read the whole book here online.) It was published a few years after White Fang and Call of the Wild, and it's clearly a big knock-off of them. (Though in a lot of ways it's actually better... I'll get into the details once I finish it and write my review.)

I came to an odd paragraph that boggled me enough to merit a post of its own. Kazan and his mate are caught in a forest fire:

Panic-stricken, Kazan searched vainly for a means of escape. Not for an instant did he leave Gray Wolf. It would have been easy for him to swim across either of the two streams, for he was three-quarters dog. But at the first touch of water on her paws, Gray Wolf drew back, shrinking. Like all her breed, she would face fire and death before water.

Buh? The book was written in 1914 and has a whole lot wrong about wolves (claims that they're not social animals and that they all have red eyes are two of the big ones). But a fear of water? I wonder if it comes from the myth that werewolves can't cross running water?

All in all, the book is surprisingly enjoyable. That it's free to read online makes it even better. (Legally, too. Anything copyrighted or published prior to 1923 is in the public domain. I shouldn't have paid for Call of the Wild!)

Edit: Okay, so much for my werewolf idea. It's not just wolves:

And then out upon that white finger of sand came other things that dreaded the water as Gray Wolf dreaded it: a big fat porcupine, a sleek little marten, a fishercat that sniffed the air and wailed like a child. Those things that could not or would not swim outnumbered the others three to one. Hundreds of little ermine scurried along the shore like rats, their squeaking little voices sounding incessantly...

It goes on to list a bunch of other animals that won't swim.