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The Call of the Wild by Jack London

    Into the Primitive
    Buck did not read the newspapers, or he would have
known that trouble was brewing, not alone for himself, But for
every tidewater dog, strong of muscle and with warm,
long hair, from Puget Sound to San Diego.  Because men,
groping in the Arctic darkness, had found a yellow metal, and
because steamship and transportation companies were booming the
find, thousands of men were rushing into the Northland.
These men wanted dogs, and the dogs they wanted were heavy
dogs, with strong muscles by which to toil, and furry coats
to protect them from the frost.
    Buck lived at a big house in the sun-kissed Santa Clara
Valley.  Judge Miller's place, it was called.  It stood back
from the road, half-hidden among the trees, through which
glimpses could be caught of the wide cool veranda that ran
around its four sides.  The house was approached by graveled
driveways which wound about through wide-spreading lawns and
under the interlacing boughs of tall poplars.  At the rear
things were on even a more spacious scale than at the front.
There were great stables, where a dozen grooms and boys held
forth, rows of vine-clad servants' cottages, an endless and
orderly array of outhouses, long grape arbors, green
pastures, orchards, and berry patches.  Then there was the
pumping plant for the artesian well, and the big cement tank
where Judge Miler's boys took their morning plunge and kept
cool in the hot afternoon.
    And over this great demesne Buck ruled.  Here he was
born, and here he had lived the four years of his life.  It
was true, there were other dogs.  There could not but be
other dogs on so vast a place, but they did not count.  They
came and went, resided in the populous kennels, or lived
obscurely in the recesses of the house after the fashion of
Toots, the Japanese pug, or Ysabel, the Mexican hairless,
strange creatures that rarely put nose out of doors or set
foot to ground.  On the other hand, there were the fox
terriers, a score of them at least, who yelped fearful
promises at Toots and Ysabel looking out of the windows at
them and protected by a legion of housemaids armed with
brooms and mops.
    But Buck was neither house dog nor kennel dog.  The
whole realm was his.  He plunged into the swimming tank or
went hunting with the Judge's sons;I he escorted Mollie and
Alice, the Judge's daughters, on long twilight or early
morning rambles; on wintry nights he lay at the Judge's feet
before the roaring library fire; he carried the Judge's
grandsons on his back, or rolled them in the grass, and
guarded their footsteps through wild adventures down to the
fountain in the stable yard, and even beyond, where the
paddocks were, and the berry patches.  Among the terriers
he stalked imperiously, and Toots and Ysabel he utterly
ignored, for he was king--king over all creeping, crawling,
flying things of Judge Miller's place, humans included.
    His father, Elmo, a huge St. Bernard, had been the Judge's
inseparable companion, and Buck bid fair to follow in the
way of his father.  He was not so large--he weighed only
one hundred and forty pounds--for his mother, Shep, had been a
Scotch shepherd dog.  Nevertheless, one hundred and forty
pounds, to which was added the dignity that comes of good
living and universal respect, enabled him to carry himself
in right royal fashion.  During the four years since his
puppyhood he had lived the life of a sated aristocrat; he had
a fine pride in himself, was even a trifle egotistical, as
country gentlemen sometimes become because of their insular
situation.  But he had saved himself by not becoming a mere
pampered house dog.  Hunting and kindred outdoor delights had
kept down the fat and hardened his muscles; and to him,
as to the cold-tubbing races, the love of water had been a
tonic and a health preserver.
    And this was the manner of dog Buck was in the fall of
1897, when the Klondike strike dragged men from all the world
into the frozen North.  But Buck did not read the newspapers,
and he did not know that Manuel, one of the gardener's
helpers, was an undesirable acquaintance.  Manuel had one
besetting sin.  He loved to play Chinese lottery.  Also, in
his gambling, he had one besetting weakness--faith in a
system; and this made his damnation certain.  For to play a
system requires money, while the wages of a gardener's helper
do not lap over the needs of a wife and numerous progeny.
B   The Judge was at a meeting of the Raisin Growers'
Association, and the boys were busy organizing an athletic
club, on the memorable night of Manuel's treachery.  No one
saw him and Buck go off through the orchard on what Buck
imagined was merely a stroll.  And with the exception of a
solitary man, no one saw them arrive at the little flag
station known as College Park.  This man talked with Manuel,
and money chinked between them.
    "You might wrap up the goods before you deliver them," the
stranger said gruffly, and Manuel doubled a piece of stout
rope around Buck's neck under the collar.
    "Twist it, and you'll choke him plenty," said Manuel,
and the stranger grunted a ready affirmative.
    Buck had accepted the rope with quiet dignity.  To be
sure, it was an unwonted performance but he had learned to
trust in men he knew, and to give them credit for a wisdom
that outreached his own.  But when the ends of the rope were
placed in the stranger's hands, he growled menacingly.  He had
merely intimated his displeasure, in his pride believing that
to intimate was to command.  But to his surprise the rope
tightened around his neck, shutting off his breath.  In a
quick rage he sprang at the man, who met him halfway,
grappled him close by the throat, and with a deft twist
threw him over on his back.  Then the rope tightened
mercilessly, while Buck struggled in a fury, his tongue lolling
out of his mouth and his great chest panting futilely.  Never
in all his life had he been so vilely treated, and never in
all his life had he been so angry.  But his strength ebbed,
his eyes glazed, and he knew nothing when the train was
flagged and the two men threw him into the baggage car.
    The next he knew, he was dimly aware that his tongue was
hurting and that \he was being jolted along in some kind of a
conveyance.\  The hoarse shriek of a locomotive whistling a
crossing told him where he was.  He had traveled too often
with the Judge not to know the sensation of riding in a
baggage car.  He opened his eyes, and into them came the
unbridled anger of a kidnaped king.  The man sprang for his
throat, but Buck was too quick for him.  His jaws closed on
the hand, nor did they relax till his senses were choked
out of him once more.
    "Yep, has fits," the man said, hiding his mangled hand
from the baggage man, who had been attracted by the sounds of
struggle.  "I'm taking him up for the boss to 'Frisco.  A
crack dog doctor there thinks that he can cure him."
   Concerning that night's ride, the man spoke most
eloquently for himself, in a little shed back of a saloon on
the San Francisco water front.
   "All I get is fifty for it," he grumbled, "and I
wouldn't do it over for a thousand, cold cash."
    His hand was wrapped in a bloody handkerchief, and the
right trouser leg was ripped from knee to ankle.
    "How much did the other mug get?" the saloon-keeper
    "A hundred," was the reply.  "Wouldn't take a sou less,
so help me."
    "That makes a hundred and fifty," the saloon-keeper
calculated, "and he's worth it, or I'm a squarehead."
    The kidnaper undid the bloody wrappings and looked at
his lacerated hand.  "If I don't get hydrophobia--"
   "It'll be because you was born to hang," laughed the
saloon-keeper.  "Here, lend me a hand before you pull your
freight," he added.
    Dazed, suffering intolerable pain from throat and
tongue, with the life half throttled out of him, Buck
attempted to face his tormentors.  But he was thrown down
and choked repeatedly, till they succeeded in filing the
heavy brass collar from off his neck.  Then the rope was
removed, and he was flung into a cage-like crate.
  There he lay for the remainder of the weary night,
nursing his wrath and wounded pride.  He could not
understand what it all meant.  What did they want with him,
these strange men? Why were they keeping him pent up in
this narrow crate?  He did not know why, but he felt
oppressed by the vague sense of impending calamity.
Several times during the night he sprang to his feet when the
shed door rattled open, expecting to see the Judge, or the
boys at least.  But each time it was the bulging face of the
saloon-keeper that peered in at him by the sickly light of a
tallow candle.  And each time the joyful bark that trembled
in Buck's throat was twisted into a savage growl.
    But the saloon-keeper let him alone, and in the morning
four men entered and picked up the crate.  More tormentors,
Buck decided, for they were evil-looking creatures, ragged and
unkempt; and he stormed and raged at them through the bars.
They only laughed and poked sticks at him, which he promptly
assailed with his teeth till he realized that was what
they wanted.  Whereupon he lay down sullenly and allowed the
crate to be lifted into a wagon.  Then he, and the crate
in which he was imprisoned, began a passage through many hands.
Clerks in the express office took charge of him; he was
carted about in another wagon; a truck carried him, with an
assortment of boxes and parcels, upon a ferry steamer; he
was trucked off the steamer into a great railway depot, and
finally he was deposited in an express car.
    For two days and nights this express car was dragged
along at the tail of shrieking locomotives; and for two days
and nights Buck neither ate nor drank.  In his anger he had
met the first advances of the express messengers with growls,
and they had retaliated by teasing him.  When he flung
himself against the bars, quivering and frothing, they
laughed at him and taunted him.  They growled and barked
like detestable dogs, mewed, and flapped their arms and
crowed.  It was all very silly, he knew; but therefore the
more outrage to his dignity, and his anger waxed and waxed.
He did not mind the hunger so much, but the lack of water
caused him severe suffering and fanned his wrath to
fever-pitch.  For that matter, high-strung and finely
sensitive, the ill treatment had flung him into a fever,
which was fed by the inflammation of his parched and swollen
throat and tongue.
    He was glad for one thing: the rope was off his
neck.  That had given them an unfair advantage; but now
that it was off, he would show them.  They would never get
another rope around his neck.  Upon that he was resolved.
For two days and nights he neither ate nor drank, and
during those two days and nights of torment, he accumulated
a fund of wrath that boded ill for whoever first fell foul of
him.  His eyes turned bloodshot, and he was metamorphosed
into a raging fiend.  So changed was he that the Judge
himself would not have recognized him; and the express
messengers breathed with relief when they bundled him off
the train at Seattle.
    Four men gingerly carried the crate from the wagon
into a small, high-walled back yard.  A stout man, with a
red sweater that sagged generously at the neck, came out
and signed the book for the driver.  That was the man, Buck
divined, the next tormentor, and he hurled himself savagely
against the bars.  The man smiled grimly, and brought a
hatchet and a club.
    "You ain't going to take him out now?" the driver
    "Sure," the man replied, driving the hatchet into the
crate for a pry.
    There was an instantaneous scattering of the four men
who had carried it in, and from safe perches on top the
wall they prepared to watch the performance.
   Buck rushed at the splintering wood, sinking his teeth
into it, surging and wrestling with it.  Wherever the
hatchet fell on the outside, he was there on the inside,
snarling and growling, as furiously anxious to get out as
the man in the red sweater was calmly intent on getting him
    "Now, you red-eyed devil," he said, when he had made an
opening sufficient for the passage of Buck's body.  At the
same time he dropped the hatchet and shifted the club to
his right hand.
    And Buck was truly a red-eyed devil, as he drew
himself together for the spring, hair bristling, mouth
foaming, a mad glitter in his bloodshot eyes.  Straight at
the man he launched his one hundred and forty pounds of fury,
surcharged with the pent passion of two days and nights.  In
mid-air, just as his jaws were about to close on the man, he
received a shock that checked his body and brought his
teeth together with an agonizing clip.  He whirled over,
fetching the ground on his back and side.  He had never been
struck by a club in his life, and did not understand.
With a snarl that was part bark and more scream he was again
on his feet and launched into the air.  And again the
shock came and he was brought crushingly to the ground.  This
time he was aware that it was the club, but His madness
knew no caution.  A dozen times he charged, and as often
the club broke the charge and smashed him down.
M   After a particularly fierce blow he crawled to his
feet, too dazed to rush.  He staggered limply about, the
blood flowing from nose and mouth and ears, his beautiful
coat sprayed and flecked with bloody slaver.  Then the man
advanced and deliberately dealt him a frightful blow on the
nose.  All the pain he had endured was nothing compared with
the exquisite agony of this.  With a roar that was almost
lion-like in its ferocity, he again hurled himself at the
man.  But the man, shifting the club from right to left,
cooly caught him by the under jaw, at the same time wrenching
downward and backward.  Buck described a complete circle in
the air, and half of another, then crashed to the ground on
his head and chest.
    For the last time he rushed.  The man struck the shrewd
blow he had purposely withheld for so long, and Buck crumpled
up and went down, knocked utterly senseless.
    "He's no slouch at dog-breaking, that's what I say," one
of the men on the wall cried with enthusiasm.
    "Druther break cayuses any day, and twice on Sundays," was
the reply of the driver, as he climbed on the wagon and
started the horses.
    Buck's senses came back to him, but not his strength.
He lay where he had fallen, and from there he watched the man
in the red sweater.
    "'Answers to the name of Buck,'" the man soliloquized,
quoting from the saloon-keeper's letter which had announced
the consignment of the crate and contents.  "Well, Buck,
my boy," he went on in a genial voice, "we've had our little
ruction, and the best thing we can do is to let it go at
that.  You've learned your place, and I know mine.  Be a
good dog and all will go well and the goose hang high.  Be
a bad dog, and I'll whale the stuffing outa you.
    As he spoke he fearlessly patted the head he had so
mercilessly pounded, and though Buck's hair involuntarily
bristled at touch of the hand, he endured it without protest.
When the man brought him water, he drank eagerly, and later
bolted a generous meal of raw meat, chuck by chunk, from
the man's hand.
   He was beaten (he knew that); but he was not broken.
He saw, once for all, that he stood no chance against a man
with a club.  He had learned the lesson, and in all his
afterlife he never forgot it.  That club was a revelation.
It was his introduction to the reign of primitive law, and he
met the introduction halfway.  The facts of life took on a
fiercer aspect; and while he faced that aspect uncowed, he
faced it with all the latent cunning of his nature aroused.
As the days went by, other dogs came, in crates and at the
ends of ropes, some docilely, and some raging and roaring
as he had come; and, one and all, he watched them pass under
the dominion of the man in the red sweater.  Again and again,
as he looked at each brutal performance, the lesson was driven
home to Buck: a man with a club was a lawgiver, a master
to be obeyed, though not necessarily conciliated.  Of this
last Buck was never guilty, though he did see beaten dogs
that fawned upon the man, and wagged their tails, and
licked his hand.  Also he saw one dog, that would neither
conciliate nor obey, finally killed in the struggle for
    Now and again men came, strangers, who talked excitedly,
wheedlingly, and in all kinds of fashions to the man in the
red sweater.  And at such times that money passed between them
the strangers took one or more of the dogs away with them.
Buck wondered where they went, for they never came back; but
the fear of the future was strong upon him, and he was glad
each time when he was not selected.
    Yet his time came, in the end, in the form of a little
weazened man who spat broken English and many strange and
uncouth exclamations which Buck could not understand.
    "Sacredam!" he cried, when his eyes lit upon Buck.
"Dat one dam bully dog! Eh? How much?"
   "Three hundred, and a present at that," was the prompt
reply of the man in the red sweater.  "And seeing it's
government money, you ain't got no kick coming, eh, Perrault?"

    Perrault grinned.  Considering that the price of dogs
had been boomed skyward by the unwonted demand, it was not an
unfair sum for so fine an animal.  The Canadian Government
would be no loser, nor would its dispatches travel the
slower.  Perrault knew dogs, when he looked at Buck he
knew that he was one in a thousand -- "One in ten thousand,"
he commented mentally.
  Buck saw money pass between them, and was not surprised
when Curly, a good-natured Newfoundland, and he were led
away by the little weazened man.  That was the last he saw
of the man in the red sweater, and as Curly and he looked
at receding Seattle from the deck of the Narwhal, it was the
last he saw of the warm Southland.  Curly and he were
taken below by Perrault and turned over to a black-faced
giant called Francois.  Perrault was a French Canadian, and
swarthy; but Francois was a French Canadian half-breed, and
twice as swarthy.  They were a new kind of men to Buck
(of which he was destined to see many more), and while he
developed no affection for them, he none the less grew honestly
to respect them.   He speedily learned that Perrault and
Francois were fair men, calm and impartial in administering
justice, and too wise in the way of dogs to be fooled by
    In the 'tween-decks of the Narwhal, Buck and Curly
joined two other dogs.  One of them was a big, snow-white
fellow from Spitzbergen who had been brought away by a whaling
captain, and who had later accompanied a Geological Survey
into the Barrens.
    He was friendly, in a treacherous sort of way, smiling
into one's face the while he meditated some underhand trick,
as, for instance, when he stole from Buck's food at the first
meal.  As Buck sprang to punish him, the lash of Francois'
whip sang through the air, reaching the culprit first; and
nothing remained to Buck but to recover the bone.  That was
fair of Francois, he decided, and the half-breed began his
rise in Buck's estimation.
    The other dog made no advances, nor received any; also,
he did not attempt to steal from the newcomers.  He was a
gloomy, morose fellow, and he showed Curly plainly that all
he desired was to be left alone, and further, that there
would be trouble if he were not left alone.  "Dave" he was
called, and he ate and slept, or yawned between times, and
took interest in nothing, not even when the Narwhal crossed
Queen Charlotte Sound and rolled and pitched and bucked like
a thing possessed.  When Buck and Curly grew excited, half-wild
with fear, he raised his head as though annoyed, favored
them with a incurious glance, yawned, and went to sleep
    Day and night the ship throbbed to the tireless pulse
of the propeller, and though one day was very like another,
it was apparent to Buck that the weather was steadily growing
colder.  At last, one morning, the propeller was quiet, and
the Narwhal was pervaded with an atmosphere of excitement.
He felt it, as did the other dogs, and knew that a change was
at hand.  Francois leashed them and brought them on deck.
At the first step upon the cold surface, Buck's feet sank
into a white mushy something very like mud.  He sprang back
with a snort.  More of this white stuff was falling through
the air.  He shook himself, but more of it fell upon him.
he sniffed it curiously, then licked some up on his
tongue.  It bit like fire, and the next instant was gone.
This puzzled him.  He tried it again, with the same result.
The onlookers laughed uproariously, and he felt ashamed, he
knew not why, for it was his first snow.
  II.  The Law of Club and Fang
    Buck's first day on the Yea beach was like a nightmare.
Every hour was filled with shock and surprise.  He had been
suddenly jerked from the heart of civilization and flung
into the heart of things primordial.  No lazy, sun-kissed
life was this, with nothing to do but loaf and be bored.
re was neither peace, nor rest, nor a moment's safety.
All was confusion and action, and every moment life and
limb were in peril.  There was imperative need to be
constantly alert; for these dogs and men were not town dogs
and men.  They were savages, all of them, who knew no law but
the law of club and fang.
    He had never seen dogs fight as these wolfish creatures
fought, and his first experience taught him an unforgettable
lesson.  it is true, it was a vicarious experience, else he
would not have lived to profit by it.  Curly was the
victim.  They were camped near the log store, where she, in
her friendly way, made advances to a husky dog the size of a
full-grown wolf, though not half so large as she.  There
was no warning, only a leap in like a flash, a metallic
clip of teeth, a leap out equally swift, and Curly's face
was ripped open from eye to jaw.
    It was the wolf manner of fighting, to strike and leap
away; but there was more to it than this.  Thirty or forty
huskies ran to the spot and surrounded the combatants in an
intent and silent circle.  Buck did not comprehend that
silent intentness, nor the eager way with which they were
licking their chops. Curly rushed her antagonist, who
struck again and leaped aside.  He met her next rush with
his chest, in a peculiar fashion that tumbled her off her
feet.  She never regained them.  This was what the onlooking
huskies had waited for.  They closed in upon her, snarling
and yelping, and she was buried, screaming with agony,
beneath the bristling mass of bodies.
_ f     So sudden was it, and so unexpected, that Buck was
taken aback.  He saw Spitz run out his scarlet tongue in a
way he had of laughing; and he saw Francois, swinging an
axe, spring into the mess of dogs.  Three men with
clubs were helping him to scatter them.  It did not take
long.  Two minutes from the time Curly went down, the last
of her assailants were clubbed off.  But she lay there limp
and lifeless in the bloody, trampled snow, almost literally
torn to pieces, the swart half-breed standing over her and
cursing horribly.  The scene often came back to Buck to
trouble him in his sleep.  So that was the way.  No fair
play.  Once down, that was the end of you.  Well, he would
see to it that he never went down.  Spitz ran out his
tongue and laughed again, and from that moment Buck hated
him with a bitter and deathless hatred.
c   Before he had recovered from the shock caused by the
tragic passing of Curly, he received another shock.  Francois
fastened upon him an arrangement of straps and buckles.  It
was a harness, such as he had seen the grooms put on the
horses at home.  And as he had seen horses work, so he was set
to work, hauling Francois on a sled to the forest that
fringed the valley, and returning with a load of
firewood.  Though his dignity was sorely hurt by thus being
made a draught animal, he was too wise to rebel.  He
buckled down with a will and did his best, though it was all
new and strange.  Francois was stern, demanding instant
obedience, and by virtue of his whip receiving instant
obedience; while Dave, who was an experienced wheeler,
nipped Buck's hindquarters whenever he was in error.  Spitz
was the leader, likewise experienced, and while he could not
always get at Buck, he growled sharp reproof now and again,
or cunningly threw his weight in the traces to jerk Buck into
the way he should go.  Buck learned easily, and under the
combined tuition of his two mates and Francois made remarkable
progress.  Ere they returned to camp he knew enough to
stop at "ho," to go ahead at "mush," to swing wide on the
bends, and to keep clear of the wheeler when the loaded sled
shot downhill at their heels.
    "Three very good dogs," Francois told Perrault.  "Dat
Buck, him pull like hell.  I teach him quick as
    By afternoon, Perrault, who was in a hurry to be on the
trail with his dispatches, returned with two more dogs.
"Billee" and "Joe" he called them, two brothers, and true
huskies both.  Sons of the one mother though they were, they
were different as day and night.  Billee's one fault was
his excessive good nature, while Joe was the very opposite,
sour and introspective, with a perpetual snarl and a
malignant eye.  Buck received them in comradely fashion,
Dave ignored them, while Spitz proceeded to thrash first
one and then the other.  Billee wagged his tail
appeasingly, turned to run when he saw that appeasement was
of no avail, and cried (still appeasingly) when Spitz's sharp
teeth scored his flank. But no matter how Spitz circled,
Joe whirled around on his heels to face him, mane bristling,
ears laid back, lips writhing and snarling, jaws clipping
together as fast as he could snap, and eyes diabolically
gleaming--the incarnation of belligerent fear.  So terrible
was his appearance that Spitz was forced to forego
disciplining him; but to cover his own discomfiture he turned
upon the inoffensive and wailing Billee and drove him to the
confines of the camp.
    By evening Perrault secured another dog, an old husky,
long and lean and gaunt, with a battle-scarred face and a
single eye which flashed a warning of prowess that commanded
respect.  He was called Sol-leks, which means the Angry One.
Like Dave, he asked nothing, gave nothing, expected nothing:
and when he marched slowly and deliberately into their midst,
even Spitz left him alone.  he had one peculiarity which
Buck was unlucky enough to discover.  He did not like to be
approached on his blind side.  Of this offense Buck was
unwittingly guilty, and the first knowledge he had of his
indiscretion was when Sol-leks whirled upon him and slashed
his shoulder to the bone for three inches up and down.
Forever after Buck avoided his blind side, and to the last
of their comradeship had no more trouble.a  His only
apparent ambition, like Dave's, was to be left alone; though,
as Buck was afterward to learn, each of them possessed one
other and even more vital ambition.
    That night Buck faced the great problem of sleeping.
The tent, illumined by a candle, glowed warmly in the
midst of the white plain; and when he, as a matter of course,
entered it, both Perrault and Francois bombarded him with
curses and cooking utensils, till he recovered from his
consternation and fled ignominiously into the outer cold.  A
chill wind was blowing that nipped him sharply and bit
with especial venom into his wounded shoulder.  He lay down
on the snow and attempted to sleep, but the frost soon
drove him shivering to his feet.  Miserable and
disconsolate, he wandered about among the many tents, only to
find that one place was as cold as another.  Here and there
savage dogs rushed upon him, but he bristled his neck-hair
and snarled (for he was learning fast) and they let him go
his way unmolested.
    Finally an idea came to him.  He would return and see
how his own teammates were making out.  To his astonishment,
they had disappeared.  Again he wandered about through the
great camp, looking for them, and again he returned.  Were
they in the tent?  No, that could not be, else he would
not have been driven out.  Then where could they possibly
be?  With drooping tail and shivering body, very forlorn
indeed, he aimlessly circled the tent.  Suddenly the snow
gave way beneath his fore legs and he sank down.  Something
wriggled under his feet.  He sprang back, bristling and
snarling, fearful of the unseen and unknown.  But a
friendly little yelp reassured him, and he went back to
investigate.  A whiff of warm air ascended to his nostrils,
and there, curled up under the snow in a snug ball, lay
Billee.  He whined placatingly, squirmed and wriggled to
show his good will and intentions, and even ventured, as a
bribe for peace, to lick Buck's face with his warm wet
    Another lesson.  So that was the way they did it, eh?
Buck confidently selected a spot, and with much fuss and
wasted effort proceeded to dig a hole for himself.  In a
trice the heat from his body filled the confined space and he
was asleep.^  The day had been long and arduous, and he
slept soundly and comfortably, though he growled and barked
and wrestled with bad dreams.
    Nor did he open his eyes till roused by the noises
of the waking camp.  At first he did not know where he was.
It had snowed during the night and he was completely buried.
The snow walls pressed him on every side, and a great surge of
fear swept through him--the fear of the wild thing for the
trap.  It was a token that he was harking back through his
own life to the lives of his forebears; for he was a
civilized dog, an unduly civilized dog and of his own
experience knew no trap and so could not of himself fear it.
The muscles of his whole body contracted spasmodically and
instinctively, the hair on his neck and shoulders stood on
end, and with a ferocious snarl he bounded straight up
into the blinding day, the snow flying about him in a flashing
cloud.  Ere he landed on his feet, he saw the white camp
spread out before him and knew where he was and remembered all
that had passed from the time he went for a stroll with
Manuel to the hole he had dug for himself the night before.
    A shout from Francois hailed his appearance.  "What I
say?" the dog-driver cried to Perrault.  "Dat Buck for sure
learn quick as anything."
    Perrault nodded gravely.  As courier for the Canadian
Government, bearing important dispatches, he was anxious to
secure the best dogs, and he was particularly gladdened by
the possession of Buck.
    Three more huskies were added to the team inside an
hour, making a total of nine, and before another quarter of
an hour had passed they were in harness and swinging up the
trail toward the Yea Canyon.  Buck was glad to be gone, and
though the work was hard he found he did not particularly
despise it.  he was surprised at the eagerness which
animated the whole team and which was communicated to him;i
but still more surprising was the change wrought in Dave and
Sol-leks.  They were new dogs, utterly transformed by the
harness.  All passiveness and unconcern had dropped from
them.  They were alert and active, anxious that the work
should go well, and fiercely irritable with whatever, by
delay or confusion, retarded that work.  The toil of the
traces seemed the supreme expression of their being, and
all that they lived for and the only thing in which they
took delight.
    Dave was wheeler or sled dog, pulling in front of him
was Buck, then came Sol-leks; the rest of the team was
strung out ahead, single file, to the leader, which
position was filled by Spitz.
    buck had been purposely placed between Dave and Sol-leks
so that he might receive instruction.  Apt scholar that he was,
they were equally apt teachers, never allowing him to linger
long in error, and enforcing their teaching with their
sharp teeth.  Dave was fair and very wise.  He never
nipped Buck without cause, and he never failed to nip him
when he stood in need of it.  As Francois' whip backed him
up, Buck found it to be cheaper to mend his ways than to
retaliate.  Once, during a brief halt, when he got tangled in
the traces and delayed the start, both Dave and Sol-leks
flew at him and administered a sound trouncing. The resulting
tangle was even worse, but Buck took good care to keep the
traces clear thereafter; and ere the day was done, so
well had he mastered his work, his mates about ceased
nagging him.  Francois' whip snapped less frequently, and
Perrault even honored Buck by lifting up his feet and
carefully examining them.
    It was a hard day's run, up the Canyon, through Sheep
Camp, past the Scales and the timber line, across glaciers
and snowdrifts hundreds of feet deep, and over the great
Chilcoot Divide, which stands between the salt water and the
fresh and guards forbiddingly the sad and lonely North.
They made good time down the chain of lakes which fills the
craters of extinct volcanoes, and late that night pulled
into the huge camp at the head of Lake Bennett, where
thousands of gold-seekers were building boats against the
breakup of the ice in the spring.  Buck made his hole in
the snow and slept the sleep of the exhausted just, but all
too early was routed out in the cold darkness and harnessed
with his mates to the sled.
    That day they made forty miles, the trail being packed;
but the next day, and for many days to follow, they broke
their own trail, worked harder, and made poorer time.  As a
rule, Perrault traveled ahead of the team, packing the
snow with webbed shoes to make it easier for them.  Francois,
guiding the sled at the gee-pole, sometimes exchanged places
with him, but not often.  Perrault was in a hurry, and he
prided himself on his knowledge of ice, which knowledge was
indispensable, for the fall ice was very thin, and where
there was swift water, there was no ice at all.
    Day after day, for days unending, Buck toiled in the
traces.  Always, they broke camp in the dark, and the
first gray of dawn found them hitting the trail with fresh
miles reeled off behind them.  And always they pitched camp
after dark, eating their bit of fish, and crawling to
sleep into the snow.  Buck was ravenous.  The pound and a
half of sundried salmon, which was his ration for each day,
seemed to go nowhere.  He never had enough, and suffered
from perpetual hunger pangs.  Yet the other dogs, because
they weighed less and were born to the life, received a
pound only of the fish and managed to keep in good condition.
    He swiftly lost the fastidiousness which had characterized
his old life.  A dainty eater, he found that his mates,
finishing first, robbed him of his unfinished ration.  There
was no defending it.  While he was fighting off two or three,
it was disappearing down the throats of the others.  To
remedy this, he ate as fast as they; and, so greatly did
hunger compel him, he was not above taking what did not
belong to him.  He watched and learned.  When he saw Pike,
one of the new dogs, a clever malingerer and thief, slyly
steal a slice of bacon when Perrault's back was turned, he
duplicated the performance the following day, getting away
with the whole chunk.  A great uproar was raised, but he
was unsuspected; while Dub, an awkward blunderer who was
always getting caught, was punished for Buck's misdeed.
    `This first theft marked Buck as fit to survive in the
hostile Northland environment.  It marked his adaptability,
his capacity to adjust himself to changing conditions, the
lack of which would have meant swift and terrible death.  It
marked, further, the decay or going to pieces of his moral
nature, a vain thing and a handicap in the ruthless struggle
for existence.`  It was all well enough in the Southland,
under the law of love and fellowship, to respect private
property and personal feeling; but in the Northland, under
the law of club and fang, whoso took such things into account
was a fool, and in so far as he observed them he would fail
to prosper.
    Not that Buck reasoned it out.  He was fit, that was
all, and unconsciously he accommodated himself to the new
mode of life.  All his days, no matter what the odds, he had
never run from a fight.  But the club of the man in the
red sweater had beaten into him a more fundamental and
primitive code.  Civilized, he could have died for a moral
consideration, say the defense of Judge Miller's riding whip;
but the completeness of his decivilization was now evidenced
by his ability to flee from the defense of a moral
consideration and so save his hide.  He did not steal for
joy of it, but because of the clamor of his stomach.  He
did not rob openly, but stole secretly and cunningly, out of
respect for club and fang.  In short, the things he did
were done because it was easier to do them than not to do
    his development (or retrogression) was rapid.  His
muscles became hard as iron, and he grew callous to all
ordinary pain.  He achieved an internal as well as external
economy.  He could eat anything, no matter how loathsome or
indigestible; and, once eaten, the juices of his stomach
extracted the last least particle of nutriment; and his blood
carried it to the farthest reaches of his body, building it
into the toughest and stoutest of tissues.  Sight and
scent became remarkably keen, while his hearing developed
such acuteness that in his sleep he heard the faintest sound
and knew whether it heralded peace or peril.  He learned to
bite the ice out with his teeth when it collected between
his toes; and when he was thirsty and there was a thick scum
of ice over the water hole, he would break it by rearing
and striking it with stiff fore legs.  His most conspicuous
trait was an ability to scent the wind and forecast it a
night in advance.  No matter how breathless the air when
he dug his nest by tree or bank, the wind that later
blew inevitably found him to leeward, sheltered and snug.
    And not only did he learn by experience, but instincts
long dead became alive again.  The domesticated generations
fell from him.  In vague ways he remembered back to the
youth of the breed, to the time the wild dogs ranged in
packs through the primeval forest and killed their meat as
they ran it down.  It was no task for him to learn to
fight with cut and slash and the quick wolf snap.  In this
manner had fought forgotten ancestors.  They quickened the
old life within him, and the old tricks which they had
stamped into the heredity of the breed were his tricks.
They came to him without effort or discovery, as though they
had been his always.  And when, on the still cold nights,
he pointed his nose at a star and howled long and
wolf-like, it was his ancestors, dead and dust, pointing
nose at star and howling down through the centuries and
through him. And his cadences were their cadences, the
cadences which voiced their woe and what to them was the
meaning of the stillness, and the cold, and dark.
    Thus, as token of what a puppet thing life is, the
ancient song surged through him and he came into his own
again; and he came because men had found a yellow metal in
the North, and because Manuel was a gardener's helper whose
wages did not lap over the needs of his wife and divers
small copies of himself.
    III.  The Dominant Primordial Beast
    The dominant primordial beast was strong in Buck,
and under the fierce conditions of trail life it grew and
grew.  Yet it was a secret growth.  His newborn cunning gave
him poise and control.  He was too busy adjusting himself to
the new life to feel at ease, and not only did he not pick
fights, but he avoided them whenever possible.  A certain
deliberateness characterized his attitude.  He was not prone
to rashness and precipitate action; and in the bitter hatred
between him and Spitz he betrayed no impatience, shunned
all offensive acts.
   On the other hand, possibly because he divined in
Buck a dangerous rival, Spitz never lost an opportunity of
showing his teeth.  He even went out of his way to bully
Buck, striving constantly to start the fight which could
end only in the death of one or the other.
    Early in the trip this might have taken place had it
not been for an unwonted accident.  At the end of this day
they made a bleak and miserable camp on the shore of Lake Le
Barge.  Driving snow, a wind that cut like a white-hot
knife, and darkness, had forced them to grope for a
camping place.  They could hardly have fared worse.  At their
backs rose a perpendicular wall of rock, and Perrault and
Francois were compelled to make their fire and spread their
sleeping robes on the ice of the lake itself.  The tent
they had discarded at Yea in order to travel light.  A few
sticks of driftwood furnished them with a fire that thawed
down through the ice and left them to eat supper in the
    Close in under the sheltering rock Buck made his nest.
So snug and warm was it, that he was loath to leave it when
Francois distributed the fish which he had first thawed over
the fire.  But when Buck finished his ration and returned,
he found his nest occupied.  A warning snarl told him that
the trespasser was Spitz.  Till now Buck had avoided
trouble with his enemy, but this was too much.  The beast in
him roared.  He sprang upon Spitz with a fury which
surprised them both, and Spitz particularly, for his whole
experience with Buck had gone to teach him that his rival was
an unusually timid dog, who managed to hold his own only
because of his great weight and size.
    Francois was surprised, too, when they shot out in a
tangle from the disrupted nest and he divined the cause of
the trouble.  "A-a-ah!" he cried to Buck.  "Give it to him by
Gar! Give it to him, the dirty thief!"
    Spitz was equally willing.  He was crying with sheer
rage and eagerness as he circled back and forth for a chance
to spring in.  Buck was no less eager, and no less cautious,
as he likewise circled back and forth for the advantage.  But
it was then that the unexpected happened, the thing which
projected their struggle for supremacy far into the future,
past many a weary mile of trail and toil.
    An oath from Perrault, the resounding impact of a club
upon a bony frame, and a shrill yelp of pain, heralded the
breaking forth of pandemonium.  the camp was suddenly
discovered to be alive with skulking furry forms--starving
huskies, four or five score of them, who had scented the
camp from some Indian village.  They had crept in while
Buck and Spitz were fighting,k and when the two men sprang
among them with stout clubs they showed their teeth and
fought back.  They were crazed by the smell of the food.
Perrault found one with head buried in the grub-box.  His
club landed heavily on the gaunt ribs, and the grub-box was
capsized on the ground.  On the instant a score of the
famished brutes were scrambling for the bread and bacon.
The clubs fell upon them unheeded.  They yelped and howled
under the rain of blows, but struggled none the less madly
till the last crumb had been devoured.
      In the meantime the astonished team-dogs had burst out
of their nests only to be set upon by the fierce invaders.
Never had Buck seen such dogs.  It seemed as though their
bones would burst through their skins.  They were mere
skeletons, draped loosely in draggled hides, with blazing
eyes and slavered fangs.  But the hunger-madness made them
terrifying, irresistible.  There was no opposing them.  The
team-dogs were swept back against the cliff at the first
onset.  Buck was beset by three huskies, and in a trice his
head and shoulders were ripped and slashed.  The din was
frightful.  Billee was crying as usual.  Dave and Sol-leks,
dripping blood from a score of wounds, were fighting bravely
side by side.  Joe was snapping like a demon.  Once his teeth
closed on the fore leg of a husky, and he crunched down
through the bone.  Pike, the malingerer, leaped upon the
crippled animal, breaking its neck with a quick flash of
teeth and a jerk.  Buck got a frothing adversary by the
throat, and was sprayed with blood when his teeth sank
through the jugular.  The warm taste of it in his mouth
goaded him to greater fierceness.  He flung himself upon
another, and at the same time felt teeth sink into his own
throat.  It was Spitz, treacherously attacking from the
    Perrault and Francois, having cleaned out their part of
the camp, hurried to save their sled-dogs.  The wild wave
of famished beasts rolled back before them, and Buck shook
himself free.  But is was only for a moment.  The two men
were compelled to run back to save the grub; upon which the
huskies returned to the attack on the team.  Billee,
terrified into bravery, sprang through the savage circle and
fled away over the ice.  Pike and Dub followed on his heels,
with the rest of the team behind.  As Buck drew himself
together to spring after them, out of the tail of his eye he
saw Spitz rush upon him with the evident intention of
overthrowing him.  Once off his feet and under that mass of
huskies, there was no hope for him.  But he braced himself to
the shock of Spitz's charge, then joined the flight out on
the lake.
    Later, the nine team-dogs gathered together and sought
shelter in the forest.  Though unpursued, they were in a
sorry plight.  There was not one who was not wounded in four
or five places, while some were wounded grievously.  Dub was
badly injured in a hind leg; Dolly, the last husky added to
the team at Yea, had a badly torn throat; Joe had lost an
eye; while Billee, the good-natured, with an ear chewed and
rent to ribbons, cried and whimpered throughout the night.
At daybreak they limped warily back to camp, to find the
marauders gone and the two men in bad tempers.  Fully half
their grub supply was gone.  The huskies had chewed through
the sled lashings and canvas coverings.  In fact, nothing, no
matter how remotely eatable, had escaped them.  They had
eaten a pair of Perrault's moose-hide moccasins, chunks out
of the leather traces, and even two feet of lash from the
end of Francois's whip.  He broke from a mournful
contemplation of it to look over his wounded dogs.
   "Ah, my friends," he said softly, "mebbe it make you
mad dog, those many bites.  Mebbe all mad dog, sacredam!
What you think, eh, Perrault?"
    The courier shook his head dubiously.  With four hundred
miles of trail still between him and Dawson, he could ill
afford to have madness break out among his dogs.  Two hours
of cursing and exertion got the harnesses into shape, and
the wound-stiffened team was under way, struggling painfully
over the hardest part of the trail they had yet encountered,
and for that matter, the hardest between them and Dawson.
    The Thirty Mile River was wide open.  Its wild water
defied the frost, and it was in the eddies only and in the
quiet places that the ice held at all.  Six days of
exhausting toil were required to cover those thirty terrible
miles.  And terrible they were, for every foot of them was
accomplished at the risk of life to dog and man.  A dozen
times, Perrault, nosing the way, broke through the ice
bridges, being saved by the long pole he carried, which he so
held that it fell each time across the hole made by his
body.  But a cold snap was on, the thermometer registering
fifty below zero, and each time he broke through he was
compelled for very life to build a fire and dry his
    Nothing daunted him.  It was because nothing daunted him
that he had been chosen for government courier.  He took
all manner of risks, resolutely thrusting his little weazened
face into the frost and struggling on from dim dawn to
dark.  He skirted the frowning shores on rim ice that
bent and crackled under foot and upon which they dared not
halt.  Once, the sled broke through, with Dave and Buck, and
they were half-frozen and all but drowned by the time they were
dragged out.  The usual fire was necessary to save them.
They were coated solidly with ice, and the two men kept them
on the run around the fire, sweating and thawing, so
close that they were singed by the flames.
    At another time Spitz went through, dragging the whole
team after him up to Buck, who strained backward with all
his strength, his fore paws on the slippery edge and the ice
quivering and snapping all around.  But behind him was Dave,
likewise straining backward, and behind the sled was
Francois, pulling till his tendons cracked.
    Again, the rim ice broke away before and behind, and
there was no escape except up the cliff.  Perrault scaled it
by a miracle, while Francois prayed for just that miracle;
and with every thong and sled lashing and the last bit of
harness rove into a long rope, the dogs were hoisted, one
by one, to the cliff crest.  Francois came up last, after the
sled and load.  Then came the search for a place to
descend, which descent was ultimately made by the aid of
the rope, and night found them back on the river with a
quarter of a mile to the day's credit.
    By the time they made the Hootalinqua and good ice, Buck
was played out.  The rest of the dogs were in like condition;
but Perrault, to make up lost time, pushed them late and
early.  The first day they covered thirty-five miles to the
Big Salmon; the next day thirty-five more to the Little Salmon;
the third day forty miles, which brought them well up toward
the Five Fingers.
    Buck's feet were not so compact and hard as the feet
of the huskies.  His had softened during the many generations
since the day his last wild ancestor was tamed by a cave
dweller or river man.  All day long he limped in agony, and
camp once made, lay down like a dead dog.  Hungry as he was,
he would not move to receive his ration of fish, which
Francois had to bring to him.  Also, the dog-driver rubbed
Buck's feet for half an hour each night after supper, and
sacrificed the tops of his own moccasins to make four
moccasins for Buck.  This was a great relief, and Buck caused
even the weazened face of Perrault to twist itself into a
grin one morning, when Francois forgot the moccasins and Buck
lay on his back, his four feet waving appealingly in the air,
and refused to budge without them.  later his feet grew
hard to the trail, and the worn-out footgear was thrown
    At the Pelly one morning, as they were harnessing up,
dolly, who had never been conspicuous for anything, went
suddenly mad.  She announced her condition by a long,
heart-breaking wolf howl that sent every dog bristling with
fear, then sprang straight for Buck.  He had never seen
a dog go mad, nor did he have any reason to fear madness;
yet he knew that here was horror, and fled away from it in a
panic.  Straight away he raced, with Dolly, panting and
frothing, one leap behind; nor could she gain on him, so
great was his terror, nor could he leave her, so great
was her madness.  He plunged through the wooded breast of the
island, flew down to the lower end, crossed a back channel
filled with rough ice to another island, gained a third
island, curved back to the main river, and in desperation
started to cross it.  And all the time, though he did not
look, he could hear her snarling just one leap behind.
Francois called to him a quarter of a mile away and he
doubled back, still one leap ahead, gasping painfully for
air and putting all his faith in that Francois would save
him.  the dog-driver held the axe poised in his hand, and
as Buck shot past him the axe crashed down upon mad Dolly's
   Buck staggered over against the sled, exhausted,
sobbing for breath, helpless.  This was Spitz's
opportunity.  He sprang upon Buck, and twice his teeth
sank into his unresisting foe and ripped and tore the flesh
to the bone.  Then Francois' lash descended, and Buck had the
satisfaction of watching Spitz receive the worst whipping as
yet administered to any of the team.
    "One devil, dat Spitz," remarked Perrault.  "Some dam
day him kill dat Buck."
    "Dat Buck two devils," was Francois's rejoinder.  "All de
time I watch dat Buck I know for sure.  Lissen: some dam
fine day him get mad like hell and den him chew dat Spitz
all up and spit him out on de snow.  Sure, I know."
    From then on it was war between them.  Spitz, as
lead-dog and acknowledged master of the team, felt his
supremacy threatened by this strange Southland dog.F  And
strange Buck was to him, for of the many Southland dogs he
had known, not one had shown up worthily in camp and on
trail.  They were all too soft, dying under the toil, the
frost, and starvation.  Buck was the exception.  He alone
endured and prospered, matching the husky in strength,
savagery, and cunning.E  Then he was a masterful dog, and
what made him dangerous was the fact that the club of the
man in the red sweater had knocked all blind pluck and
rashness out of his desire for mastery.  He was preeminently
cunning, and could bide his time with a patience that was
nothing less than primitive.
    It was inevitable that the clash for leadership should
come.  Buck wanted it.  He wanted it because it was his
nature, because he had been gripped tight by that nameless,
incomprehensible pride of the trail and trace--that pride
which holds dogs in the toil to the last gasp, which lures
them to die joyfully in the harness, and breaks their
hearts if they are cut out of the harness.  This was the
pride of Dave as wheel-dog, of Sol-leks as he pulled with all
his strength; the pride that laid hold of them at break of
camp, transforming them from sour and sullen brutes into
straining, eager, ambitious creatures; the pride that
spurred them on all day and dropped them at pitch of camp at
night, letting them fall back into gloomy unrest and
discontent.  This was the pride that bore up Spitz and made
him thrash the sled-dogs who blundered and shirked in the
traces or hid away at harness-up time in the morning.
Likewise it was this pride that made him fear Buck as a
possible lead-dog.  And this was Buck's pride, too.
    He openly threatened the other's leadership.  He came
between him and the shirks he should have punished.  And he
did it deliberately.  One night there was a heavy snowfall,
and in the morning Pike, the malingerer, did not appear.  He
was securely hidden in his nest under a foot of snow.
Francois called him and sought him in vain.  Spitz was wild
with wrath.  He raged through the camp, smelling and
digging in every likely place, snarling so frightfully that
Pike heard and shivered in his hiding-place.
    But when he was at last unearthed, and Spitz flew at him
to punish him, Buck flew with equal rage, in between.  So
unexpected was it, and so shrewdly managed, that Spitz was
hurled backward and off his feet.  Pike, who had been
trembling abjectly, took heart at this open mutiny, and
sprang upon his overthrown leader.  Buck, to whom fair
play was a forgotten code, likewise sprang upon Spitz.  But
Francois, chuckling at the incident while unswerving in the
administration of justice, brought his lash down upon
Buck with all his might.  This failed to drive Buck from
his prostrate rival, and the butt of the whip was brought
into play.  Half-stunned by the blow, Buck was knocked
backward and the lash laid upon him again and again, while
Spitz soundly punished the many times offending Pike.
    In the days that followed, as Dawson grew closer and
closer, Buck still continued to interfere between Spitz and
the culprits; but he did it craftily, when Francois was not
around.  With the covert mutiny of Buck, a general
insubordination sprang up and increased.  Dave and Sol-leks
were unaffected, but the rest of the team went from bad to
worse.  Things no longer went right.  There was continual
bickering and jangling.  Trouble was always afoot, and at the
bottom of it was Buck.  He kept Francois busy, for the
dog-driver was in constant apprehension of the life-and-death
struggle between the two which he knew must take place sooner
or later; and on more than one night the sounds of
quarreling and strife among the other dogs turned him out of
his sleeping robe, fearful that Buck and Spitz were at it.
    But the opportunity did not present itself, and they
pulled into Dawson one dreary afternoon with the great fight
still to come.  Here were many men, and countless dogs, and
Buck found them all at work.  It seemed the ordained order of
things that dogs should work.  All day they swung up and
down the main street in long teams, and in the night their
jingling bells still went by.  They hauled cabin logs and
firewood, freighted up to the mines, and did all manner of
work that horses did in the Santa Clara Valley.  Here and there
Buck met Southland dogs, but in the main they were the wild
wolf husky breed.  Every night, regularly, at nine, at
twelve, and three, they lifted a nocturnal song, a weird
and eerie chant, in which it was Buck's delight to join.
    With the aurora borealis flaming coldly overhead, or the
stars leaping in the frost dance, and the land numb and
frozen under its pall of snow, this song of the huskies might
have been the defiance of life, only it was pitched in minor
key, with long-drawn wailings and half-sobs, and was more the
pleading of life, the articulate travail of existence.  It
was an old song, old as the breed itself--one of the first
songs of the younger world in a day when songs were sad.  It
was invested with the woe of unnumbered generations, this
plaint by which Buck was so strangely stirred.  When he
moaned and sobbed, it was with the pain of living that was
of old the pain of his wild fathers, and the fear and
mystery of the cold and dark that was to them fear and
mystery.  And that he should be stirred by it marked the
completeness with which he harked back through the ages of
fire and roof to the raw beginnings of life in the howling
    Seven days from the time they pulled into Dawson, they
dropped down the steep bank by the Barracks to the Yukon Trail,
and pulled for Yea and Salt Water.  Perrault was carrying
dispatches if anything more urgent than those he had brought
in; also, the travel pride had gripped him, and he purposed
to make the record trip of the year.  Several things favored
him in this.  The week's rest had recuperated the dogs and
put them in thorough trim.  The trail they had broken into
the country was packed hard by later journeyers.  And further,
the police had arranged in two or three places deposits of
grub for dog and man, and he was traveling light.
    They made Sixty Mile, which is a fifty-mile run, on the
first day; and the second day saw them booming up the Yukon
well on their way to Pelly.  But such splendid running was
achieved not without great trouble and vexation on the part
of Francois.  The insidious revolt led by Buck had destroyed
the solidarity of the team.  It no longer was as one dog
leaping in the traces.  The encouragement Buck gave the
rebels led them into all kinds of petty misdemeanors.  No
more was Spitz a leader greatly to be feared.  The old awe
departed, and they grew equal to challenging his
authority.  Pike robbed him of half a fish one night, and
gulped it down under the protection of Buck.  Another night
Dub and Joe fought Spitz and made him forego the punishment
they deserved.  And even Billee, the good-natured, was less
good-natured, and whined not half so placatingly as in former
days.  Buck never came near Spitz without snarling and
bristling menacingly.  In fact, his conduct approached that of
a bully, and he was given to swaggering up and down before
Spitz's very nose.
    The breaking down of discipline likewise affected the
dogs in their relations with one another.  They quarreled
and bickered more than ever among themselves, till at times the
camp was a howling bedlam.  Dave and Sol-leks alone were
unaltered, though they were made irritable by the unending
squabbling.  Francois swore strange barbarous oaths, and
stamped the snow in futile rage, and tore his hair.  His
lash was always singing among the dogs, but it was of small
avail.  Directly his back was turned they were at it again.
He backed up Spitz with his whip, while Buck backed up the
remainder of the team.  Francois knew he was behind all the
trouble, and Buck knew he knew; but Buck was too clever ever
again to be caught red-handed.  He worked faithfully in the
harness, for the toil had become a delight to him; yet it was
a greater delight slyly to precipitate a fight amongst his
mates and tangle the traces.
    At the mouth of the Tahkeena, one night after supper, Dub
turned up a snowshoe rabbit, blundered it, and missed.  In a
second the whole team was in full cry.  A hundred yards
away was a camp of the Northwest Police, with fifty dogs,
huskies all, who joined the chase.  The rabbit sped down the
river, turned off into a small creek, up the frozen bed of
which it held steadily.  It ran lightly on the surface of the
snow, while the dogs plowed through by main strength.  Buck
led the pack, sixty strong, around bend after bend, but he
could not gain.  He lay down low to the race, whining
eagerly, his splendid body flashing forward, leap by leap,
in the wan white moonlight.  And leap by leap, like some
pale frost wraith, the snowshoe rabbit flashed on ahead.
    All that stirring of old instincts which at stated
periods drives men out from the sounding cities to forest and
plain to kill things by chemically propelled leaden
pellets, the bloodlust, the joy to kill--all this was
Buck's, only it was infinitely more intimate.  He was
ranging at the head of the pack, running the wild thing
down, the living meat, to kill with his own teeth and wash
his muzzle to the eyes in warm blood.
    There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life,
and beyond which life cannot rise.  And such is the paradox
of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it
comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive.J  This
ecstasy, this forgetfulness of living, comes to the
artist, caught up and out of himself in a sheet of flame;
it comes to the soldier, war-mad on a stricken field and
refusing quarter; and it came to Buck, leading the pack,
sounding the old wolf-cry, straining after the food that was
alive and that fled swiftly before him through the moonlight.
He was sounding the deeps of his nature, and of the parts
of his nature that were deeper than he, going back into the
womb of Time.  He was mastered by the sheer surging of
life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy of each
separate muscle, joint, and sinew in that it was everything
that was not death, that it was aglow and rampant,
expressing itself in movement, flying exultantly under the
stars and over the face of dead matter that did not move.
    But Spitz, cold and calculating even in his supreme
moods, left the pack and cut across a narrow neck of land
where the creek made a long bend around.  Buck did not know
of this, and as he rounded the bend, the frost wraith of a
rabbit still flitting before him, he saw another and larger
frost wraith leap from the overhanging bank into the immediate
path of the rabbit.  It was Spitz.  The rabbit could not
turn, and as the white teeth broke its back in mid air it
shrieked as loudly as a stricken man may shriek.  At
sound of this, the cry of Life plunging down from Life's
apex in the grip of Death, the full pack at Buck's heels
raised a hell's chorus of delight.
    Buck did not cry out.  He did not check himself, but
drove in upon Spitz, shoulder to shoulder, so hard that
he missed the throat.  They rolled over and over in the
powdery snow.  Spitz gained his feet almost as though he had
not been overthrown, slashing Buck down the shoulder and
leaping clear.  Twice his teeth clipped together, like the
steel jaws of a trap, as he backed away for better footing,
with lean and lifting lips that writhed and snarled.
    In a flash Buck knew it.  The time had come.  It was to
the death.  As they circled about, snarling, ears laid
back, keenly watchful for the advantage, the scene came to
Buck with a sense of familiarity.  He seemed to remember it
all--the white woods, and earth, and moonlight, and the
thrill of battle.  Over the whiteness and silence brooded
a ghostly calm.  There was not the faintest whisper of
air--nothing moved, not a leaf quivered, the visible
breaths of the dogs rising slowly and lingering in the frosty
air.  They had made short work of the snowshoe rabbit, these
dogs that were ill-tamed wolves; and they were now drawn up
in an expectant circle.  They, too, were silent, their eyes
only gleaming and their breaths drifting slowly upward.  To
Buck it was nothing new or strange, this scene of old
time.  It was as though it had always been, the wonted way
of things.
    Spitz was a practiced fighter.  From Spitzbergen through
the Arctic, and across Canada and the Barrens, he had held his
own with all manner of dogs and achieved to mastery over
them.  Bitter rage was his, but never blind rage.  In
passion to rend and destroy, he never forgot that his
enemy was in like passion to rend and destroy.  He never
rushed till he was prepared to receive a rush; never
attacked till he had first defended that attack.
    In vain Buck strove to sink his teeth in the neck of
the big white dog.  Wherever his fangs struck for the softer
flesh, they were countered by the fangs of Spitz.  Fang
clashed fang, and lips were cut and bleeding, but Buck
could not penetrate his enemy's guard.  Then he warmed up and
enveloped Spitz in a whirlwind of rushes.  Time and time
again he tried for the snow-white throat, where life
bubbled near to the surface, and each time and every time
Spitz slashed him and got away.  Then Buck took to rushing,
as though for the throat, when, suddenly drawing back his
head and curving in from the side, he would drive his
shoulder at the shoulder of Spitz, as a ram by which to
overthrow him.  But instead, Buck's shoulder was slashed
down each time as Spitz leaped lightly away.
    Spitz was untouched, while Buck was streaming with
blood and panting hard.  The fight was growing desperate.
And all the while the silent and wolfish circle waited to
finish off whichever dog went down.  As Buck grew winded,
Spitz took to rushing, and he kept him staggering for
footing.  Once Buck went over, and the whole circle of sixty
dogs started up; but he recovered himself, almost in mid air,
and the circle sank down again and waited.
    r but Buck possessed a quality that made for
greatness - imagination.  He fought by instinct, but he
could fight by head as well he rushed, as though
attempting the old shoulder trick, but at the last instant
swept low to the snow and in.  His teeth closed on Spitz's
left fore leg. There was a crunch of breaking bone, and
the white dog faced him on three legs.  Thrice he tried to
knock him over, then repeated the trick and broke the
right fore leg.  Despite the pain and helplessness, Spitz
struggled madly to keep up.  He saw the silent circle, with
gleaming eyes, lolling tongues, and silvery breaths drifting
upward, closing in upon him as he had seen similar circles
close in upon beaten antagonists in the past.  Only this time
he was the one who was beaten.
    There was no hope for him.  Buck was inexorable.
Mercy was a thing reserved for gentler climes.  He
maneuvered for the final rush.  The circle had tightened
till he could feel the breaths of the huskies on his flanks.
He could see them, beyond Spitz and to either side,
half-crouching for the spring, their eyes fixed upon him.  A
pause seemed to fall.  Every animal was motionless as
though turned to stone.  Only Spitz quivered and bristled
as he staggered back and forth, snarling with horrible
menace, as though to frighten off impending death.  Then
Buck sprang in and out; but while he was in, shoulder had at
last squarely met shoulder.  The dark circle became a dot on
the moon flooded snow as Spitz disappeared from view.
Buck stood and looked on, the successful champion, the
dominant primordial beast who had made his kill and found it
    IV.  Who Has Won to Mastership
    "Eh? What I say? I speak true when I say dat Buck two
    This was Francois's speech next morning when he
discovered Spitz missing and Buck covered with wounds.  He
drew him to the fire and by its light pointed them out.
    "Dat Spitz fight like hell," said Perrault, as he
surveyed the gaping rips and cuts.
    "An' dat Buck fight like two hells," was Francois's
answer.  "And now we make good time.  No more Spitz, no
more trouble, sure."
    While Perrault packed the camp outfit and loaded the
sled, the dog-driver proceeded to harness the dogs.  Buck
trotted up to the place Spitz would have occupied as leader;
but Francois, not noticing him, brought Sol-leks to the
coveted position.  In his judgment, Sol-leks was the best
lead-dog left.  Buck sprang upon Sol-leks in a fury, driving
him back and standing in his place.
    "Eh? Eh?" Francois cried, slapping his thighs gleefully.
"Look at dat Buck.  Him kill dat Spitz, him think to
take de job."
    "Go 'way, Hook!" he cried, but Buck refused to budge.
    He took Buck by the scruff of the neck, and though the
dog growled threateningly, dragged him to one side and
replaced Sol-leks.  The old dog did not like it, and showed
plainly that he was afraid of Buck.  Francois was obdurate,
but when he turned his back, Buck again displaced Sol-leks,
who was not at all unwilling to go.
    Francois was angry.  "Now, by Gar, I fix you!" he cried,
coming back with a heavy club in his hand.
    Buck remembered the man in the red sweater, and
retreated slowly; nor did he attempt to charge in when
Sol-leks was once more brought forward.  But he circled just
beyond the range of the club, snarling with bitterness
and rage; and while he circled he watched the club so as to
dodge it if thrown by Francois, for he was become wise in the
way of clubs.
    The driver went about his work, and he called to Buck
when he was ready to put him in his old place in front of
Dave.  Buck retreated two or three steps.  Francois followed
him up, whereupon he again retreated.  After some time of this,
Francois threw down the club, thinking that Buck feared a
thrashing.   But Buck was in open revolt.  He wanted,
not to escape a clubbing, but to have the leadership.  It
was his by right.  He had earned it, and he would not be
content with less.    
    Perrault took a hand.  Between them they ran him about
for the better part of an hour.  They threw clubs at him.
He dodged.  They cursed him, and his fathers and mothers
before him, and all his seed to come after him down to the
remotest generation, and every hair on his body and drop of
blood in his veins; and he answered curse with snarl and
kept out of their reach.  He did not try to run away, but
retreated around and around the camp, advertising plainly
that when his desire was met, he would come in and be good.
   Francois sat down and scratched his head.  Perrault
looked at his watch and swore.  Time was flying, and they
should have been on the trail an hour gone.  Francois
scratched his head again.  He shook it and grinned
sheepishly at the courier, who shrugged his shoulders in sign
that they were beaten.  Then Francois went up to where
Sol-leks stood and called to Buck.  Buck laughed, as dogs
laugh, yet kept his distance.  Francois unfastened
Sol-leks's traces and put him back in his old place.  The
team stood harnessed to the sled in an unbroken line, ready
for the trail.  There was no place for Buck save at the
front.  Once more Francois called, and once more Buck laughed
and kept away.
    "Throw down de club," Perrault commanded.
    Francois complied, whereupon Buck trotted in,
laughing triumphantly, and swung around into position at the
head of the team. His traces were fastened, the sled
broken out, and with both men running they dashed out on to
the river trail.
    Highly as the dog-driver had forevalued Buck, with his
two devils, he found, while the day was yet young, that he
had undervalued.  At a bound Buck took up the duties of
leadership; and where judgment was required, and quick
thinking and quick acting, he showed himself the superior even
of Spitz, of whom Francois had never seen an equal.
      But it was in giving the law and making his mates
live up to it, that Buck excelled.  Dave and Sol-leks did not
mind the change in leadership.  It was none of their
business.  Their business was to toil, and toil mightily,
in the traces.  So long as that was not interfered with, they
did not care what happened.  Billee, the good-natured, could
lead for all they cared, so long as he kept order.  The rest
of the team, however, had grown unruly during the last days
of Spitz, and their surprise was great now that Buck
proceeded to lick them into shape.
    Pike, who pulled at Buck's heels, and who never put an
ounce more of his weight against the breastband than he was
compelled to do, was swiftly and repeatedly shaken for
loafing; and ere the first day was done he was pulling more
than ever before in his life.  The first night in camp, Joe,
the sour one, was punished soundly--a thing that Spitz had
never succeeded in doing.  Buck simply smothered him by
virtue of superior weight, and cut him up till he ceased
snapping and began to whine for mercy.
    The general tone of the team picked up immediately.  It
recovered its old-time solidarity, and once more the dogs
leaped as one dog in the traces.  At the Rink Rapids two
native huskies, Teek and Koona, were added; and the celerity
with which Buck broke them in took away Francois's breath.
    "Never such a dog as dat Buck!" he cried.  "No, never!
Him worth one thousand dollair, by Gar! Eh? What you say,
    And Perrault nodded.  He was ahead of the record then,
and gaining day by day.  The trail was in excellent
condition, well packed and hard, and there was no new-fallen
snow with which to contend.  It was not too cold.  The
temperature dropped to fifty below zero and remained there
the whole trip.  The men rode and ran by turn, and the dogs
were kept on the jump, with but infrequent stop-pages.
    The Thirty Mile River was comparatively coated with ice,
and they covered in one day going out what had taken them
ten days coming in.  In one run they made a sixty-mile
dash from the foot of Lake LeBarge to the White Horse
Rapids.  Across Marsh, Tagish, and Bennett (seventy miles of
lakes), they flew so fast that the man whose turn it was to
run towed behind the sled at the end of a rope.  And on the
last night of the second week they topped White Pass and
dropped down the sea slope with the lights of Skaguay and
of the shipping at their feet.
    It was a record run.  Each day for fourteen days they
had averaged forty miles.  For three days Perrault and Francois
threw chests up and down the main street of Skaguay and were
deluged with invitations to drink, while the team was the
constant center of a worshipful crowd of dogbusters and
mushers.  Then three or four western bad men aspired to clean
out the town, were riddled like pepperboxes for their pains,
and public interest turned to other idols.  Next came
official orders.  Francois called Buck to him, threw his
arms around him, wept over him.  And that was the last of
Francois and Perrault.  Like other men, they passed out of
Buck's life for good.
    A Scotch half-breed took charge of him and his mates,
and in company with a dozen other dog-teams he started back
over the weary trail to Dawson.  It was no light running now,
nor record time, but heavy toil each day, with a heavy load
behind; for this was the mail train, carrying word from the
world to the men who sought gold under the shadow of the
    Buck did not like it, but he bore up well to the
work, taking pride in it after the manner of Dave and
Sol-leks, and seeing that his mates, whether they prided in
it or not, did their fair share.  It was a monotonous life,
operating with machine-like regularity.  One day was very
like another.  At a certain time each morning the cooks
turned out, fires were built, and breakfast was eaten.
Then, while some broke camp, others harnessed the dogs, and
they were under way an hour or so before the darkness fell
which gave warning of dawn.  At night, camp was made.
Some pitched the tents, others cut firewood and pine boughs
for the beds, and still others carried water or ice for the
cooks.  Also, the dogs were fed.  To them, this was the one
feature of the day, though it was good to loaf around,
after the fish was eaten, for an hour or so with the other
dogs, of which there were fivescore and odd.  There were
fierce fighters among them, but three battles with the
fiercest brought Buck to mastery, so that when he bristled
and showed his teeth, they got out of his way.
    Best of all, perhaps, he loved to lie near the fire,
hind legs crouched under him, fore legs stretched out in front,
head raised, and eyes blinking drearily at the flames.
Sometimes he thought of Judge Miller's big house in the
sun-kissed Santa Clara Valley, and of the cement swimming
tank, and Ysabel, the Mexican hairless, and Toots, the Japanese
pug; but oftener he remembered the man in the red sweater,
the death of Curly, the great fight with Spitz and the
good things he had eaten or would like to eat.  He was not
homesick.  The Sunland was very dim and distant, and such
memories had no power over him.  Far more potent were the
memories of his heredity that gave things he had never seen
before a seeming familiarity; the instincts (which were but the
memories of his ancestors become habits) which had lapsed
in later days, and still later, in him, quickened and
became alive again.
    Sometimes as he crouched there, blinking dreamily at the
flames, it seemed that the flames were of another fire, and
that as he crouched by this other fire he saw another and
different man from the half-breed cook before him.  This
other man was shorter of leg and longer of arm, with
muscles that were stringy and knotty rather than rounded
and swelling.  The hair of this man was long and matted,
and his head slanted back under it from the eyes.  He
uttered strange sounds, and seemed very much afraid of the
darkness, into which he peered continually, clutching in his
hand, which hung midway between knee and foot, a stick
with a heavy stone made fast to the end.  He was all but
naked, a ragged and fire-scorched skin hanging part way down
his back, but on his body there was much hair.  In some
places, across the chest and shoulders and down the outside
of the arms and thighs, it was matted into almost a thick
fur.  He did not stand erect, but with trunk inclined forward
from the hips, on legs that bent at the knees.  About his
body there was a peculiar springiness, or resiliency, almost
catlike, and a quick alertness as of one who lived in
perpetual fear of things seen and unseen.
    At other times this hairy man squatted by the fire with
head between his legs and slept.  On such occasions his
elbows were on his knees, his hands clasped above his head
as though to shed rain by the hairy arms.  And beyond that
fire, in the circling darkness, Buck could see many
gleaming coals, two by two, always two by two, which he
knew to be the eyes of great beasts of prey.  And he could
hear the crashing of their bodies through the undergrowth,
and the noises they made in the night.  And dreaming there
by the Yukon bank, with lazy eyes blinking at the fire, these
sounds and sights of another world would make the hair to
rise along his back and stand on end across his shoulders
and up his neck, till he whimpered low and suppressedly, or
growled softly, and the half-breed cook shouted at him, "Hey, you
Buck, wake up!" Whereupon the other world would vanish and
the real world come into his eyes, and he would get up and
yawn and stretch as though he had been asleep.
    It was a hard trip, with the mail behind them, and the
heavy work wore them down.  They were short of weight and
in poor condition when they made Dawson, and should have had
a ten days' or a week's rest at least.  But in two days' time
they dropped down the Yukon bank from the Barracks, loaded
with letters for the outside.  The dogs were tired, the
drivers grumbling, and to make matters worse, it snowed every
day.  This meant a soft trail, greater friction on the
runners, and heavier pulling for the dogs; yet the drivers
were fair through it all, and did their best for the
    Each night the dogs were attended to first.  They ate
before the drivers ate, and no man sought his sleeping-robe
till he had seen to the feet of the dogs he drove.  Still,
their strength went down.  Since the beginning of the
winter they had traveled eighteen hundred miles, dragging
sleds the whole weary distance; and eighteen hundred miles
will tell upon life of the toughest.  Buck stood it,
keeping his mates up to their work and maintaining
discipline, though he too was very tired.  Billee cried and
whimpered regularly in his sleep each night.  Joe was sourer
than ever, and Sol-leks was unapproachable, blind side or other
    But it was Dave who suffered most of all.  Something had
gone wrong with him.  He became more morose and irritable,
and when camp was pitched at once made his nest, where his
driver fed him.  Once out of the harness and down, he did
not get on his feet again till harness-up time in the
morning.  Sometimes, in the traces, when jerked by a sudden
stoppage of the sled, or by straining to start it, he would
cry out with pain.  The driver examined him, but could find
nothing.  All the drivers became interested in his case.
They talked it over at meal-time, and over their last pipes
before going to bed, and one night they held a consultation.
He was brought from his nest to the fire and was pressed
and prodded till he cried out many times.  Something was wrong
inside, but they could locate no broken bones, could not make
it out.
    By the time Cassiar Bar was reached, he was so weak that
he was falling repeatedly in the traces.  The Scotch half-breed
called a halt and took him out of the team, making the
next dog, Sol-leks, fast to the sled.  His intention was
to rest Dave, letting him run free behind the sled.  Sick
as he was, Dave resented being taken out, grunting and
growling while the traces were unfastened, and whimpering
broken-heartedly when he saw Sol-leks in the position he had
held and served so long.  For the pride of trace and
trail was his, and, sick unto death, he could not bear that
another dog should do his work.
L   When the sled started, he floundered in the soft snow
alongside the beaten trail, attacking Sol-leks with his
teeth, rushing against him and trying to thrust him off
into the soft snow on the other side, striving to leap inside
his traces and get between him and the sled, and all the
while whining and yelping and crying with grief and pain.
The half-breed tried to drive him away with the whip; but he
paid no heed to the stinging lash, and the man had not the
heart to strike harder.  Dave refused to run quietly on the
trail behind the sled, where the going was easy, but
continued to flounder alongside in the soft snow, where the
going was most difficult, till exhausted.  Then he fell,
and lay where he fell, howling lugubriously as the long train
of sleds churned by.
    With the last remnant of his strength he managed to
stagger along behind till the train made another stop, when
he floundered past the sleds to his own, where he stood
alongside Sol-leks.  His driver lingered a moment to get a
light for his pipe from the man behind.  Then he returned and
started his dogs.  They swung out on the trail with
remarkable lack of exertion, turned their heads uneasily,
and stopped in surprise.  The driver was surprised, too;
the sled had not moved.  He called his comrades to
witness the sight.  Dave had bitten through both of Sol-lek's
traces, and was standing directly in front of the sled in
his proper place.
    He pleaded with his eyes to remain there.  The
driver was perplexed.  His comrades talked of how a dog
could break its heart through being denied the work that
killed it, and recalled instances they had known, where
dogs, too old for the toil, or injured, had died because
they were cut out of the traces.  Also, they held it a
mercy, since Dave was to die anyway, that he should die in
the traces, heart-easy and content.  So he was harnessed in
again, and proudly he pulled as of old, though more than
once he cried out involuntarily from the bite of his inward
hurt.  Several times fell down and was dragged in the
traces, and once the sled ran upon him so that he limped
thereafter on one of his hind legs.
    But he held out till camp was reached, when his driver
made a place for him by the fire.  Morning found him too
weak to travel.  At harness-up time he tried to crawl to
his driver.  By convulsive efforts he got on his feet,
staggered, and fell.  Then he wormed his way forward slowly
toward where the harnesses were being put on his mates.  He
would advance his fore legs and drag up his body with a sort
of hitching movement, when he would advance his fore legs and
hitch ahead again for a few more inches.  His strength left
him, and the last his mates saw of him he lay gasping in the
snow and yearning toward them.M  But they could hear him
mournfully howling till they passed out of sight behind a
belt of river timber.
    Here the train was halted.  The Scotch half-breed slowly
retraced his steps to the camp they had left.  The men
ceased talking.  A revolver-shot rang out.  The man came
back hurriedly.  The whips snapped, the bells tinkled merrily,
the sleds churned along the trail; but Buck knew, and every
dog knew, what had taken place behind the belt of river trees.
    V.  The Toil of Trace and Trail
    Thirty days from the time it left Dawson, the Salt Water
Mail, with Buck and his mates at the fore, arrived at
Skaguay.  They were in a wretched state, worn out and worn
down.  Buck's one hundred and forty pounds had dwindled to one
hundred and fifteen.  The rest of his mates, though lighter
dogs, had relatively lost more weight than he.  Pike, the
malingerer, who, in his lifetime of deceit, had often
successfully feigned a hurt leg, was now limping in
earnest.  Sol-leks was limping, and Dub was suffering
from a wrenched shoulder blade.
    They were all terribly footsore.  No spring or rebound
was left in them.  Their feet fell heavily on the trail,
jarring their bodies and doubling the fatigue of a day's
travel.  There was nothing the matter with them except that
they were dead tired.  It was not the dead tiredness that comes
through brief and excessive effort, from which recovery is a
matter of hours; but it was the dead tiredness that comes
through the slow and prolonged strength drainage of months
of toil.  There was no power of recuperation left, no
reserve strength to call upon.  It had been all used, the last
least bit of it.  Every muscle, every fiber, every cell, was
tired, dead tired.  And there was reason for it.  In less
than five months they had traveled twenty-five hundred miles,
during the last eighteen hundred of which they had but five
days' rest.  When they arrived at Skaguay, they were apparently
on their last legs.  They could barely keep the traces taut,
and on the down grades just managed to keep out of the way of
the sled.
    "Mush on, poor sore feets," the driver encouraged them
as they tottered down the main street of Skaguay.  "Dis is de
last.  Den we get one long rest.  Eh? For sure.  One bully
long rest."
    The drivers confidently expected a long stopover.
Themselves, they had covered twelve hundred miles with two days'
rest, and in the nature of reason and common justice they
deserved an interval of loafing.  But so many were the men
who had rushed into the Klondike, and so many were the
sweethearts, wives, and kin that had not rushed in, that
the congested mail was taking on Alpine proportions; also,
there were official orders.  Fresh batches of Hudson Bay dogs
were to take the places of those worthless for the trail.
The worthless ones were to be got rid of, and, since dogs
count for little against dollars, they were to be sold.
    Three days passed, by which time Buck and his mates
found how really tired and weak they were.  Then, on the
morning of the fourth day, two men from the States came
along and bought them, harness and all, for a song.  The
men addressed each other as "Hal" and "Charles". Charles was
a middle-aged, lightish colored man, with weak and watery
eyes and a mustache that twisted fiercely and vigorously up,
giving the lie to the limply drooping lip it concealed.
Hal was a youngster of nineteen or twenty, with a big Colt's
revolver and a hunting knife strapped about him on a belt
that fairly bristled with cartridges.  This belt was the most
salient thing about him.  It advertised his callowness--a
callowness sheer and unutterable.  Both men were manifestly
out of place, and why such as they should adventure the
North is part of the mystery of things that passes
    Buck heard the chaffering, saw the money pass between
the man and the Government agent, and knew that the Scotch
half-breed and the mail-train drivers were passing out of his
life on the heels of Perrault and Francois and the others
who had gone before.  When driven with his mates to the new
owners' camp, Buck saw a slipshod and slovenly affair, tent
half-stretched, dishes unwashed, everything in disorder;
also, he saw a woman.  "Mercedes" the men called her.  She
was Charles's wife and Hal's sister--a nice family party.
    Buck watched them apprehensively as they proceeded to
take down the tent and load the sled.  There was a great
deal of effort about their manner, but no businesslike
method.  The tent was rolled into an awkward bundle three
times as large as it should have been.  The tin dishes were
packed away unwashed.  Mercedes continually fluttered in
the way of her men and kept up an unbroken chattering of
remonstrance and advice.  When they put a clothes-sack on
the front of the sled, she suggested it should go on the
back; and when they had it put on the back, and covered it
over with a couple of the bundles, she discovered overlooked
articles which could abide nowhere else but in that very
sack, and they unloaded again.
    Three men from a neighboring tent came out and looked
on, grinning and winking at one another.
    "You've got a right smart load as it is," said one of them;
"and its not me should tell you your business, but I
wouldn't tote that tent along if I was you."
    "Undreamed of!" cried Mercedes, throwing up her hands in
dainty dismay.  "However in the world could I manage without
a tent?"
    "It's springtime, and you won't get any more cold
weather," the man replied.
    She shook her head decidedly, and Charles and Hal put the
last odds and ends on top the mountainous load.
    "Think it'll ride?" one of the men asked.
    "Why shouldn't it?" Charles demanded rather shortly.
    "Oh, that's all right, that's all right," the man hastened
meekly to say.  "I was just a wondering, that is all.  It
seemed a mite top-heavy."
    Charles turned his back and drew the lashings down as
well as he could, which was not in the least well.
    "And of course the dogs can hike along all day with that
contraption behind them," affirmed a second of the men.
    "Certainly," said Hal, with freezing politeness, taking
hold of the gee-pole with one hand and swinging his whip from
the other.  "Mush!" He shouted.  "Mush on there!"
    The dogs sprang against the breastbands, strained hard
for a few moments, then relaxed.  They were unable to move
the sled.
    "The lazy brutes, I'll show them," he cried, preparing to
lash out at them with the whip.
    But Mercedes interfered, crying, "Oh, Hal, you mustn't" as
she caught hold of the whip and wrenched it from him.  "The
poor dears! Now you must promise you won't be harsh with
them for the rest of the trip, or I won't go a step."
    "Precious lot you know about dogs," her brother
sneered, "and I wish you'd leave me alone.  They're lazy,
I tell you, and you've got to whip them to get anything out
of them.  That's their way.  You ask anyone.  Ask one of
those men."
    Mercedes looked at them imploringly, untold repugnances
at sight of pain written in her pretty face.
    "They're weak as water, if you want to know," came
the reply from one of the men.  "Plum tuckered out, that's
what's the matter.  They need a rest."
   "Rest be blanked," said Hal, with his beardless lips; and
Mercedes said, "Oh!" in pain and sorrow at the oath.
    \But she was a clannish creature, and rushed at once to
the defense of her brother.\  "Never mind that man," she
said pointedly.  "You're driving our dogs and you do what you
think best with them."
    Again Hal's whip fell upon the dogs.  They threw
themselves against the breastbands, dug their feet into the
packed snow, got down low to it, and put forth all their
strength.  The sled held as though it were an anchor.  After
two efforts, they stood still, panting.  The whip was
whistling savagely, when once more Mercedes interfered.  She
dropped on her knees before Buck, with tears in her eyes,
and put her arms around his neck.
    "You poor, poor dears," she cried sympathetically, "why
don't you pull hard? Then you wouldn't be whipped." Buck
did not like her, but he was feeling too miserable to
resist her, taking it as a part of the day's miserable
    One of the onlookers, who had been clenching his teeth
to suppress hot speech, now spoke up:
    "It's not that I care a whoop what becomes of you, but
for the dogs' sakes I just want to tell you, you can help
them a mighty lot by breaking out that sled.  The runners
are froze fast.  Throw your weight against the gee-pole,
right and left, and break it out."
    A third time the attempt was made, but this time,
following the advice, Hal broke out the runners which had
been frozen to the snow.  The overloaded and unwieldy
sled forged ahead, Buck and his mates struggling frantically
under the rain of blows.  A hundred yards ahead the path
turned and sloped steeply into the main street.  It would have
required an experienced man to keep the top-heavy sled
upright, and Hal was not such a man.  As they swung on the
turn the sled went over, spilling half its load through
the loose lashings.  The dogs never stopped.  The lightened
sled bounded on its side behind them.  They were angry
because of the ill treatment they had received and the unjust
load.  Buck was raging.  He broke into a run, the team
following his lead.  Hal cried, "Whoa! Whoa!" But they gave
no heed.  He tripped and was pulled off his feet.  The
capsized sled ground over him, and the dogs dashed on up the
street, adding to the gaiety of Skaguay as they scattered the
remainder of the outfit along its chief thoroughfare.
    Kind-hearted citizens caught the dogs and gathered up
the scattered belongings.  Also, they gave advice.  Half the
load and twice the dogs, if they ever expected to reach
Dawson, was what was said.  Hal and his sister and
brother-in-law listened unwillingly, pitched tent, and
overhauled the outfit.  Canned goods were turned out that
made men laugh, for canned goods on the Long Trail is a thing
to dream about.  "Blankets for a hotel," quoth one of the men
who laughed and helped.  "Half as many is too much; get rid
of them.  Throw away that tent, and all those dishes--who's
going to wash them, anyway? Good Lord, do you think you're
traveling on a Pullman?"
    And so it went, the inexorable elimination of the
superfluous.  Mercedes cried when her clothes-bags were
dumped on the ground and article after article was thrown
out.  She cried in general, and she cried in particular
over each discarded thing.  She clasped hands about knees,
rocking back and forth broken-heartedly.  She averred she
would not go an inch, not for a dozen Charleses.  She
appealed to everybody and to everything, finally wiping her
eyes and proceeding to cast out even articles of apparel that
were imperative necessaries.  And in her zeal, when she had
finished with her own, she attacked the belongings of her
men and went through them like a tornado.
    This accomplished, the outfit, though cut in half, was
still a formidable bulk. Charles and Hal went out in the
evening and bought six Outside dogs.  They, added to the
six of the original team, and Teek and Koona, the huskies
obtained at the Rink Rapids on the record trip, brought the
team up to fourteen.  But the Outside dogs, though
practically broken in since their landing, did not amount to
much.  Three were short-haired pointers, one was a
Newfoundland, and the other two were mongrels of
indeterminate breed.  They did not seem to know anything,
these newcomers. Buck and his comrades looked upon them with
disgust, and though he speedily taught them their places and
what not to do, he could not teach them what to do.  They
did not take kindly to trace and trail.  With the
exception of the two mongrels, they were bewildered and
spirit-broken by the strange savage environment in which they
found themselves and by the ill treatment they had received.
The two mongrels were without spirit at all; bones were the
only things breakable about them.
    With the newcomers hopeless and forlorn, and the old team
worn out by twenty-five hundred miles of continuous trail, the
outlook was anything but bright.  The two men, however, were
quite cheerful.  And they were proud, too.  They were doing
the thing in style, with fourteen dogs.  They had seen other
sleds depart over the Pass for Dawson, or come in from
Dawson, but never had they seen a sled with so many as
fourteen dogs.  In the nature of Arctic travel there was a
reason why fourteen dogs should not drag one sled, and that
was that one sled could not carry the food for fourteen
dogs.  But Charles and Hal did not know this.  They had worked
the trip out with a pencil, so much to a dog, so many
dogs, and so many days, Q.E.D.  Mercedes looked over their
shoulders and nodded comprehensively, it was all so very
    Late next morning Buck led the long team up the
street.  There was nothing lively about it, no snap or go in
him and his fellows.  They were starting dead weary.  Four
times he had covered the distance between Salt Water and
Dawson, and the knowledge that, jaded and tired, he was
facing the same trail once more, made him bitter.  His
heart was not in the work, nor was the heart of any
dog.  The Outsiders were timid and frightened, the Insiders
without confidence in their masters.
    Buck felt vaguely that there was no depending upon these
two men and the woman.  They did not know how to do anything,
and as the days went by it became apparent that they could not
learn.  They were slack in all things, without order or
discipline.  It took them half the night to pitch a
slovenly camp, and half the morning to break that camp
and get the sled loaded in fashion so slovenly that for the
rest of the day they were occupied in stopping and
rearranging the load.  Some days they did not make ten
miles.  On other days they were unable to get started at
all.  And on no day did they succeed in making more than
half the distance used by the men as a basis in their
dog-food computation.
    It was inevitable that they should go short on dog food.
But they hastened it by overfeeding, bringing the day
nearer when underfeeding would commence.  The Outsider dogs
whose digestions had not been trained by chronic famine to
make the most of little, had voracious appetites.  And
when, in addition to this, the worn-out huskies pulled
weakly, Hal decided that the orthodox ration was too
small.  He doubled it.  And to cap it all, when Mercedes,
with tears in her pretty eyes and a quaver in her throat,
could not cajole him into giving the dogs still more, she
stole from the fish-sacks and fed them slyly.  But is was
not food that Buck and the huskies needed, but rest.  And
though they were making poor time, the heavy load they dragged
sapped their strength severely.
    Then came the underfeeding.  Hal awoke one day to the
fact that his dog food was half-gone and the distance only
quarter covered; further, that for love or money no
additional dog food was to be obtained.  So he cut down even
the orthodox ration and tried to increase the day's travel.
His sister and brother-in-law seconded him; but they were
frustrated by their heavy outfit and their own incompetence.
It was a simple matter to give the dogs less food; but it was
impossible to make the dogs travel faster, while their own
inability to get under way earlier in the morning prevented
them from traveling longer hours.  Not only did they not know
how to work dogs, but they did not know how to work
    The first to go was Dub.  Poor blundering thief that
he was, always getting caught and punished, he had none the
less been a faithful worker.  His wrenched shoulder-blade,
untreated and unrested, went from bad to worse, till
finally Hal shot him with the big Colt's revolver.  It is a
saying of the country that an Outside dog starves to death
on the ration of the husky, so the six Outside dogs under
Buck could do no less than die on half the ration of the
husky.  The Newfoundland went first, followed by the three
short-haired pointers, the two mongrels hanging more grittily
on to life, but going in the end.
    By this time all the amenities and gentleness of the
Southland had fallen away from the three people.  Shorn of
its glamour and romance, Arctic travel became to them a
reality too harsh for their manhood and womanhood.
Mercedes ceased weeping over the dogs, being too occupied
with weeping over herself and with quarreling with her
husband and brother.  To quarrel was the one thing they
were never too weary to do.  Their irritability arose out of
their misery, increased with it, doubled upon it,
out-distanced it.  The wonderful patience of the trail which
comes to men who toil hard and suffer sore, and remain
sweet of speech and kindly, did not come to these two men
and the woman.  They had no inkling of such a patience.  They
were stiff and in pain; their muscles ached, their bones
ached, their very hearts ached; and because of this they became
sharp of speech, and hard words were first on their lips
in the morning and last at night.
    Charles and Hal wrangled whenever Mercedes gave them a
chance.  It was the cherished belief of each that he did
more than his share of the work, and neither forbore to
speak this belief at every opportunity.  Sometimes Mercedes
sided with her husband, sometimes with her brother.  The
result was a beautiful and unending family quarrel.
Starting from a dispute as to which should chop a few
sticks for the fire (a dispute which concerned only
Charles and Hal), presently would be lugged in the rest of
the family, fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins, people thousands
of miles away, and some of them dead.  That Hal's views on art,
or the sort of society plays his mother's brother wrote, should
have anything to do with the chopping of a few sticks of
firewood, passes comprehension; nevertheless the quarrel was
as likely to tend in that direction as in the direction of
Charles's political prejudices.  And that Charles's sister's
tale-bearing tongue should be relevant to the building of a
Yukon fire, was apparent only to Mercedes, who disburdened
herself of copious opinions upon that topic, and incidentally
upon a few other traits unpleasantly peculiar to her husband's
family.  In the meantime the fire remained unbuilt, the camp
half-pitched, and the dogs unfed.
    Mercedes nursed a special grievance--the grievance of
sex.  She was pretty and soft, and had been chivalrously
treated all her days.  But the present treatment by her
husband and brother was everything save chivalrous.  It was
her custom to be helpless.  They complained.  Upon which
impeachment of what to her was her most essential sex
prerogative, she made their lives unendurable.  She no
longer considered the dogs, and because she was sore and
tired, she persisted in riding in the sled.  She was
pretty and soft, but she weighed one hundred and twenty
pounds --a lusty last straw to the load dragged by the weak
and starving animals.  She rode for days, till they fell in
the traces and the sled stood still.  Charles and Hal
begged her to get off and walk, pleaded with her,
entreated, the while she wept and importuned Heaven with a
recital of their brutality.
    On one occasion they took her off the sled by main
strength.  They never did it again.  She let her legs go
limp like a spoiled child, and sat down on the trail.  They
went on their way, but she did not move.  After they had
traveled three miles they unloaded the sled, came back for
her, and by main strength put her on the sled again.
    In the excess of their own misery they were callous to
the suffering of their animals.  Hal's theory, which he
practiced on others, was that one must get hardened.  He
had started out preaching it to his sister and
brother-in-law.  Failing there, he hammered it into the
dogs with a club.  At the Five Fingers the dog food gave out,
and a toothless old squaw offered to trade them a few pounds
of frozen horsehide for the Colt's revolver that kept the big
hunting knife company at Hal's hip.  A poor substitute for
food was this hide, just as it had been stripped from the
starved horses of the cattlemen six months back.  In its
frozen state it was more like strips of
galvanized iron, and when a dog wrestled it into his stomach,
it thawed into thin and unnutritious leathery strings and
into a mass of short hair, irritating and indigestible.
    And through it all Buck staggered along at the head of the
team as in a nightmare.  He pulled when he could; when he
could no longer pull, he fell down and remained down till
blows from whip or club drove him to his feet again.  All
the stiffness and gloss had gone out of his beautiful furry
coat.  The hair hung down, limp and draggled, or matted
with dried blood where Hal's club had bruised him.  His
muscles had wasted away to knotty strings, and the flesh
pads had disappeared, so that each rib and every bone in his
frame were outlined cleanly through the loose hide that was
wrinkled in folds of emptiness.  It was heartbreaking, only
Buck's heart was unbreakable.  The man in the red sweater
had proved that.
    As it was with Buck, so was it with his mates.  They
were perambulating skeletons.  There were seven all together,
including him.  In their very great misery they had become
insensible to the bite of the lash or the bruise of the
club.  The pain of the beating was dull and distant, just
as the things their eyes saw and their ears heard seemed
dull and distant.  They were not half-living, or
quarter-living.  They were simply so many bags of bones in
which sparks of life fluttered faintly.  When a halt was
made, they dropped down in the traces like dead dogs, and the
spark dimmed and paled and seemed to go out.  And when the
club or whip fell upon them, the spark fluttered feebly up,
and they tottered to their feet and staggered on.
    There came a day when Billee, the good-natured, fell
and could not rise.  Hal had traded off his revolver, so he
took the axe and knocked Billee on the head as he lay in
the traces, then cut the carcass out of the harness and
dragged it to one side.  Buck saw, and his mates saw, and
they knew that this thing was very close to them.  On the
next day Koona went, and but five of them remained: Joe,
too far gone to be malignant; Pike, crippled and limping,
only half-conscious and not conscious enough longer to
malinger; Sol-leks, the one-eyed, still faithful to the
toil of trace and trail, and mournful in that he had so
little strength with which to pull; Teek, who had not
traveled so far that winter and who was now beaten more than
the others because he was fresher; and Buck, still at the
head of the team, but no longer enforcing discipline or
striving to enforce it, blind with weakness half the time
and keeping the trail by the loom of it and by the dim feel
of his feet.
    It was beautiful spring weather, but neither dogs nor
humans were aware of it.  Each day the sun rose earlier and
set later.  It was dawn by three in the morning, and
twilight lingered till nine at night.  The whole long day
was a blaze of sunshine.  The ghostly winter silence had
given way to the great spring murmur of awakening life.  This
murmur arose from all the land, fraught with the joy of
living.  It came from the things that lived and moved
again, things which had been as dead and which had not
moved during the long months of frost.  The sap was rising
in the pines.  The willows and aspens were bursting out in
young buds.  Shrubs and vines were putting on fresh garbs
of green.  Crickets sang in the nights, and in the days all
manner of creeping, crawling things rustled forth into the
sun.  Partridges and woodpeckers were booming and
knocking in the forest.  Squirrels were chattering, birds
singing, and overhead honked the wild fowl driving up from
the south in cunning wedges that split the air.
    From every hill slope came the trickle of water, the
music of unseen fountains.  All things were thawing,
bending, snapping.  The Yukon was straining to break loose
the ice that bound it down.  It ate away from beneath;
the sun ate from above.  Air-holes formed, fissures sprang
and spread apart, while thin sections of ice fell through
bodily into the river.  And amid all this bursting,
rending, throbbing of awakening life, under the blazing sun
and through the soft-sighing breezes, like wayfarers to
death, staggered the two men, the woman and the huskies.
    With the dogs falling, Mercedes weeping and riding, Hal
swearing innocuously, and Charles eyes wistfully watering,
they staggered into John Thornton's camp at the mouth of the
White River.  When they halted, the dogs dropped down as
though they had all been struck dead.  Mercedes dried her
eyes and looked at John Thornton.  Charles sat down on a log
to rest.  He sat down very slowly and painstakingly, what
of his great stiffness.  Hal did the talking.  John Thornton
was whittling the last touches on an axe-handle he had made
from a stick of birch.  He whittled and listened, gave
monosyllabic replies, and when it was asked, terse advice.
He knew the breed, and he gave his advice in the
certainty that it would not be followed.
    "They told us up above that the bottom was dropping out
of the trail and that the best thing for us to do was to lay
over," Hal said in response to Thornton's warning to take
no more chances on the rotten ice.  "They told us we
couldn't make White River, and here we are." This last with
a sneering ring of triumph in it.
    "And they told you true," John Thornton answered.  "The
bottom's likely to drop out at any moment.  Only fools,
with the blind luck of fools, could have made it.  I tell
you straight, I wouldn't risk my carcass on that ice for
all the gold in Alaska."
    "That's because you're not a fool, I suppose," said Hal.
"All the same, we'll go on to Dawson." He uncoiled his whip.
"Get up there, Buck! Hi! Get up there! Mush on!"
    Thornton went on whittling.  It was idle, he knew, to
get between a fool and his folly; while two or three fools
more or less would not alter the scheme of things.
    But the team did not get up at the command.  It had long
since passed into the stage where blows were required to
rouse it.  The whip flashed out, here and there, on its
merciless errands.  John Thornton compressed his lips.
Sol-leks was the first to crawl to his feet.  Teek
followed.  Joe came next, yelping with pain.  Pike made
painful efforts.  Twice he fell over, when half-up, and on
the third attempt managed to rise.  Buck made no effort.  He
lay quietly where he had fallen.  The lash bit into him
again and again, but he neither whined nor struggled.
Several times Thornton started, as though to speak, but
changed his mind.  A moisture came into his eyes, and, as
the whipping continued, he arose and walked irresolutely up
and down.
    This was the first time Buck had failed, in itself a
sufficient reason to drive Hal into a rage.  He exchanged
the whip for the customary club.  Buck refused to move
under the rain of heavier blows which now fell upon him.
Like his mates, he was barely able to get up, but, unlike
them, He had made up his mind not to get up.  He had a
vague feeling of impending doom.  This had been strong upon
him when he pulled into the bank, and it had not departed from
him.  What of the thin and rotten ice he had felt under his
feet all day, it seemed that he sensed disaster close at
hand, out there ahead on the ice where his master was
trying to drive him.  He refused to stir.  So greatly
had he suffered, and so far gone was he, that the blows did
not hurt much.  And as they continued to fall upon him, the
spark of life within flickered and went down.  It was
nearly out.  He felt strangely numb.  As though from a
great distance, he was aware that he was being beaten.  The
last sensations of pain left him.  He no longer felt
anything, though very faintly he could hear the impact of the
club upon his body.  But it was no longer his body, it seemed
so far away.
    And then, suddenly, without warning, uttering a cry that
was inarticulate and more like the cry of an animal, John
Thornton sprang upon the man who wielded the club.  Hal
was hurled backward, as though struck by a falling tree.
Mercedes screamed.  Charles looked on wistfully, wiped his
watery eyes, but did not get up because of his stiffness.
    John Thornton stood over Buck, struggling to control
himself, too convulsed with rage to speak.
    "If you strike that dog again, I'll kill you," he at
last managed to say in a choking voice.
    "It's my dog," Hal replied, wiping the blood from his
mouth as he came back.  "Get out of my way, or I'll fix
you.  I'm going to Dawson."
    Thornton stood between him and Buck and evinced no
intention of getting out of the way.  Hal drew his long
hunting knife.  Mercedes screamed, cried, laughed, and
manifested the chaotic abandonment of hysteria.  Thornton
rapped Hal's knuckles with the axe-handle, knocking the
knife to the ground.  He rapped his knuckles again as he
tried to pick it up.  Then he stooped, picked it up
himself, and with two strokes cut Buck's traces.
    Hal had no fight left in him.  Besides, his hands were
full with his sister, or his arms, rather; while Buck was
too near dead to be of further use in hauling the sled.  A
few minutes later they pulled out from the bank and down
the river.  Buck heard them go and raised his head to
see.  Pike was leading, Sol-leks was at the wheel, and
between were Joe and Teek.  They were limping and
staggering.  Mercedes was riding the loaded sled.  Hal
guided at the gee-pole, and Charles stumbled along in the
    As Buck watched them, Thornton knelt beside him and with
rough, kindly hands searched for broken bones.  By the time
his search had disclosed nothing more than many bruises and
a state of terrible starvation, the sled was a quarter of
a mile away.  Dog and man watched it crawling along over the
ice.  Suddenly, they saw its back end drop down, as into a
rut, and the gee-pole, with Hal clinging to it, jerk into
the air.  Mercedes' scream came to their ears.  They saw
Charles turn one step to run back, Sand then a whole section
of ice give way and dogs and humans disappear.  A yawning
hole was all that was to be seen.  The bottom had dropped
out of the trail.
S   "You poor devil," said John Thornton and Buck licked his
    VI.  For the Love of a Man
    When John Thornton froze his feet in the previous
December, his partners had made him comfortable and left
him to get well, going on themselves up the river to get
out a raft of saw-logs for Dawson.  He was still limping
slightly at the time he rescued Buck, but with the continued
warm weather even the slight limp left him.  And here, lying
by the river bank through the long spring days, watching
the running water, listening lazily to the songs of birds and
the hum of nature, Buck slowly won back his strength.
    A rest comes very good after one has traveled three
thousand miles, and it must be confessed that Buck waxed lazy
as his wounds healed, his muscles swelled out, and the flesh
came back to cover his bones.  For that matter, they were
all loafing,--Buck, John Thornton, and Skeet and Nig--waiting
for the raft to come that was to carry them down to Dawson.
Skeet was a little Irish setter who early made friends with
Buck, who, in a dying condition, was unable to resent her
first advances.  She had the doctor trait which some dogs
possess; and as a mother cat washes her kittens, so she
washed and cleansed Buck's wounds.  Regularly, each morning
after he had finished his breakfast, she performed her
self-appointed task, till he came to look for her
ministrations as much as he did for Thornton's.  Nig,
equally friendly though less demonstrative, was a huge black
dog, half-bloodhound and half-deerhound, with eyes that
laughed and a boundless good nature.
    To Buck's surprise these dogs manifested no jealousy
toward him.  They seemed to share the kindliness and
largeness of John Thornton.  As Buck grew stronger they
enticed him into all sorts of ridiculous games, in which
Thornton himself could not forbear to join; and in this
fashion Buck romped through his convalescence and into a new
existence.  Love, genuine passionate love, was his for the
first time.  This he had never experienced at Judge Miller's
down in the sun-kissed Santa Clara Valley.  With the Judge's
sons, hunting and tramping, it had been a working
partnership; with the Judge's grandsons, a sort of pompous
guardianship; and with the Judge himself, a stately and
dignified friendship.  But love that was feverish and
burning, that was adoration, that was madness, it had taken
John Thornton to arouse.
    This man had saved his life, which was something; but,
further, he was the ideal master.  Other men saw to the
welfare of their dogs from a sense of duty and business
expediency; he saw to the welfare of his as if they were his
own children, because he could not help it.  And he saw
further.  He never forgot a kindly greeting or a cheering
word, and to sit down for a long talk with them --"gas" he
called it-- was as much his delight as theirs.  He had a way of
taking Buck's head roughly between his hands, and resting
his own head upon Buck's, of shaking him back and forth,
the while calling him ill names that to Buck were love
names.  Buck knew no greater joy than that rough embrace and
the sound of murmured oaths, and at each jerk back and forth
it seemed that his heart would be shaken out of his body,
so great was its ecstasy.  And when, released, he sprang to
his feet, his mouth laughing, his eyes eloquent, his throat
vibrant with unuttered sound, and in that fashion remained
without movement, John Thornton would reverently exclaim, "God!
you can all but speak!"
    Buck had a trick of love expression that was akin to
hurt.  He would often seize Thornton's hand in his mouth
and close so fiercely that the flesh bore the impress of his
teeth for some time afterward.  And as Buck understood the
oaths to be love words, so the man understood this feigned
bite for a caress.
    For the most part, however, Buck's love was expressed in
adoration.  While he went wild with happiness when Thornton
touched him or spoke to him, he did not seek these tokens.
Unlike Skeet, who was wont to shove her nose under Thornton's
hand and nudge and nudge till petted, or Nig, who would
stalk up and rest his great head on Thornton's knee, Buck
was content to adore at a distance.  He would lie by the
hour, eager, alert, at Thornton's feet, looking up into
his face, dwelling upon it, studying it, following with
keenest interest each fleeting expression, every movement or
change of feature.  Or, as chance might have it, he would lie
farther away, to the side or rear, watching the outlines
of the man and the occasional movements of his body.  And
often, such was the communion in which they lived, the
strength of Buck's gaze would draw John Thornton's head
around, and he would return the gaze, without speech, his
heart shining out of his eyes as Buck's heart shone out.
    For a long time after his rescue, Buck did not like
Thornton to get out of his sight.  From the moment he left
the tent to when he entered it again, Buck would follow at
his heels.  His transient masters since he had come into the
Northland had bred in him a fear that no master could be
permanent.  He was afraid that Thornton would pass out of his
life as Perrault and Francois and the Scotch half-breed had
passed out.  Even in the night, in his dreams, he was
haunted by this fear.  At such times he would shake off
sleep and creep through the chill to the flap of the tent,
where he would stand and listen to the sound of his master's
    But in spite of this great love he bore John Thornton,
which seemed to bespeak the soft civilizing influence, the
strain of the primitive, which the Northland had aroused in
him, remained alive and active.  Faithfulness and devotion,
things born of fire and roof, were his; yet he retained his
wildness and wiliness.  He was a thing of the wild, come
in from the wild to sit by John Thornton's fire, rather
than a dog of the soft Southland stamped with the marks of
generations of civilization.  Because of his very great love,
he could not steal from this man, but from any other man, in
any other camp, he did not hesitate an instant; while the
cunning with which he stole enabled him to escape detection.
    His face and body were scored by the teeth of many
dogs, and he fought as fiercely as ever and more shrewdly.
Skeet and Nig were too good-natured for quarreling --besides,
they belonged to John Thornton; but the strange dog, no
matter what the breed or valor, swiftly acknowledged Buck's
supremacy or found himself struggling for life with a
terrible antagonist.  And Buck was merciless.  He had learned
well the law of club and fang, and he never forewent an
advantage or drew back from a foe he had started on the
way to death.  He had lessoned from Spitz, and from the
chief fighting dogs of the police and mail, and knew there was
no middle course.  He must master or be mastered; while to
show mercy was a weakness.  Mercy did not exist in the
primordial life.  It was misunderstood for fear, and such
misunderstandings made for death.  Kill or be killed, eat
or be eaten, was the law; and this mandate, down out of the
depths of Time, he obeyed.
    He was older than the days he had seen and the breaths
he had drawn.  He linked the past with the present, and the
eternity behind him throbbed through him in a mighty rhythm
to which he swayed as the tides and seasons swayed.  He sat
by John Thornton's fire, a broad-breasted dog, white-fanged
and long-furred; but behind him were the shades of all
manner of dogs, half wolves and wild wolves, urgent and
prompting, tasting the savor of the meat he ate,
thirsting for the water he drank, scenting the wind with
him, listening with him and telling him the sounds made by
the wild life in the forest; dictating his moods,
directing his actions, lying down to sleep with him when he
lay down, and dreaming with him and beyond him and becoming
themselves the stuff of his dreams.
    So peremptorily did these shades beckon him, that each day
mankind and the claims of mankind slipped farther from him.
Deep in the forest a call was sounding, and as often as
he heard this call, mysteriously thrilling and luring, he
felt compelled to turn his back upon the fire and the
beaten earth around it, and to plunge into the forest, and
on and on, he knew not where or why; nor did he wonder
where or why, the call sounding imperiously, deep in the
forest.  But as often as he gained the soft unbroken earth
and the green shade, the love for John Thornton drew him
back to the fire again.
    Thornton alone held him.  The rest of mankind was as
nothing.  Chance travelers might praise or pet him; but he
was cold under it all, and from a too demonstrative man he
would get up and walk away.  When Thornton's partners, Hans
and Pete, arrived on the long-expected raft, Buck refused to
notice them till he learned they were close to Thornton;
after that he tolerated them in a passive sort of way,
accepting favors from them as though he favored them by
accepting.  They were of the same large type as Thornton,
living close to the earth, thinking simply and seeing
clearly; and ere they swung the raft into the big eddy by
the saw-mill at Dawson, they understood Buck and his ways,
and did not insist upon an intimacy such as obtained with
Skeet and Nig.
    For Thornton, however, his love seemed to grow and grow.
He, alone among men, could put a pack upon Buck's back in
the summer traveling.  Nothing was too great for Buck to
do, when Thornton commanded.  One day (they had grub-staked
themselves from the proceeds of the raft and left Dawson for
the head waters of the Tanana) ^the men and dogs were sitting
on the crest of a cliff which fell away, straight down, to
naked bedrock three hundred feet below.  John Thornton was
sitting near the edge, Buck at his shoulder.  A thoughtless
whim seized Thornton, and he drew the attention of Hans and
Pete to the experiment he had in mind.  "Jump, Buck!" he
commanded, sweeping his arm out and over the chasm.  The
next instant he was grappling with Buck on the extreme edge,
while Hans and Pete were dragging them back into safety.
^   r"It's uncanny," Pete said, after it was over and they
had caught their speech.
r   Thornton shook his head.  "No, it is splendid, and it is
terrible, too.  Do you know, it sometimes makes me afraid."
    "I'm not hankering to be the man that lays hands on you
while he's around," Pete announced conclusively, nodding his
head toward Buck.
    "Py Jingo!" was Hans's contribution.  "Not mineself either."
    It was at Circle City, ere the year was out, that Pete's
apprehensions were realized.  "Black" Burton, a man evil
tempered and malicious, had been picking a quarrel with a
tenderfoot at the bar, when Thornton stepped good naturedly
between.  Buck, as was his custom, was lying in a corner,
head on paws, watching his master's every action.
_Burton struck out, without warning, straight from the
shoulder.  Thornton was sent spinning, and saved himself
from falling only by clutching the rail of the bar.
_   Those who were looking on heard what was neither bark
nor yelp, but a something which is best described as a
roar, and `they saw Buck's body rise up in the air as he
left the floor for Burton's throat.  The man saved his
life by instinctively throwing out his arm, but was hurled
backward to the floor with Buck on top of him.  Buck loosed
his teeth from the flesh of the arm and drove in again for
the throat.  This time the man succeeded only in partly
blocking, and his throat was torn open.`  Then the crowd
was upon Buck, and he was driven off; but while a surgeon
checked the bleeding, he prowled up and down, growling
furiously, attempting to rush in, and being forced back by an
array of hostile clubs.  A "miners' meeting" called on the
spot, decided that the dog had sufficient provocation, and
Buck was discharged.  But his reputation was made, and from
that day his name spread through every camp in Alaska.
    Later on, in the fall of the year, he saved John
Thornton's life in quite another fashion.  The three partners
were lining a long and narrow poling boat down a bad stretch of
rapids on the Forty Mile Creek.  Hans and Pete moved along the
bank, snubbing with a thin Manila rope from tree to tree,
while Thornton remained in the boat, helping its descent by
means of a pole, and shouting directions to the shore.
Buck, on the bank, worried and anxious, kept abreast of
the boat, his eyes never off his master.
      At a particularly bad spot, where a ledge of barely
submerged rocks jutted out into the river, Hans cast off the
rope, and, while Thornton poled the boat out into the
stream, ran down the bank with the end in his hand to
snub the boat when it had cleared the ledge.  This it did,
and was flying down-stream in a current as swift as a
mill-race, when Hans checked it with the rope and checked too
suddenly.  The boat flirted over and snubbed in to the bank
bottom up, while Thornton, flung sheer out of it, was carried
down-stream toward the worst part of the rapids, a stretch
of wild water in which no swimmer could live.
    Buck had sprung in on the instant; and at the end of
three hundred yards, amid a mad swirl of water, he
over-hauled Thornton.  When he felt him grasp his tail,
Buck headed for the bank, swimming with all his splendid
strength.  But the progress shoreward was slow; the
progress down-stream amazingly rapid.  From below came the
fatal roaring where the wild current went wilder and was
rent in shreds and spray by the rocks which thrust
through like the teeth of an enormous comb.  The suck of the
water as it took the beginning of the last steep pitch was
frightful, and Thornton knew that the shore was impossible.
He scraped furiously over a rock, bruised across a second,
and struck a third with crushing force.  He clutched its
slippery top with both hands, releasing Buck, and above the
roar of the churning water shouted: "Go, Buck! Go!"
    Buck could not hold his own, and swept on downstream,
struggling desperately, but unable to win back.  When he
heard Thornton's command repeated, he partly reared out of
the water, throwing his head high, as though for a last look,
then turned obediently toward the bank.  He swam powerfully
and was dragged ashore by Pete and Hans at the very point where
swimming ceased to be possible and destruction began.
    They knew that the time a man could cling to a
slippery rock in the face of that driving current was a
matter of minutes, and they ran as fast as they could up the
bank to a point far above where Thornton was hanging on.  They
attached the line with which they had been snubbing the
boat to Buck's neck and shoulders, being careful that it
should neither strangle him nor impede his swimming, and
launched him into the stream.  He struck out boldly, but not
straight enough into the stream.  He discovered the mistake
too late, when Thornton was abreast of him and a bare
half-dozen strokes away while he was being carried helplessly
    Hans promptly snubbed with the rope, as though Buck were
a boat.  The rope thus tightening on him in the sweep of the
current, he was jerked under the surface, and under the
surface he remained till his body struck against the bank
and he was hauled out.  He was half drowned, and Hans and Pete
threw themselves upon him, pounding the breath into him and
the water out of him.  He staggered to his feet and fell
down.  The faint sound of Thornton's voice came to them, and
though they could not make out the words of it, they knew
that he was in his extremity.  His master's voice acted on
Buck like an electric shock.  He sprang to his feet and ran
up the bank ahead of the men to the point of his previous
    Again the rope was attached and he was launched, and
again he struck out, but this time straight into the stream.
He had miscalculated once, but he would not be guilty of it
a second time.  Hans paid out the rope, permitting no
slack, while Pete kept it clear of coils.  buck held on
till he was on a line straight above Thornton; then he turned,
and with the speed of an express train headed down upon him.
Thornton saw him coming, and, as Buck struck him like a
battering ram, with the whole force of the current behind
him, he reached up and closed with both arms around the
shaggy neck.  Hans snubbed the rope around the tree, and
Buck and Thornton were jerked under the water.  Strangling,
suffocating, sometimes one uppermost and sometimes the other,
dragging over the jagged bottom, smashing against rocks and
snags, they veered in to the bank.
a   Thornton came to, belly downward and being violently
propelled back and forth across a drift log by Hans and Pete.
His first glance was for Buck, over whose limp and apparently
lifeless body Nig was setting up a howl, while Skeet was
licking the wet face and closed eyes.  Thornton was himself
bruised and battered, and he went carefully over Buck's
body, when he had been brought around, finding three broken
    "That settles it," he announced.  "We camp right here."
And camp they did, till Buck's ribs knitted and he was able
to travel.
    That winter, at Dawson, Buck performed another exploit,
not so heroic perhaps, but one that puts his name many
notches higher on the totem pole of Alaskan fame.  This
exploit was particularly gratifying to the three men; for
they stood in need of the outfit which it furnished, and
were enabled to make a long-desired trip into the virgin
East, where miners had not yet appeared.  It was brought
about by a conversation in the Eldorado Saloon, in which men
waxed boastful of their favorite dogs.  Buck, because of his
record, was the target for these men, and Thornton was
driven stoutly to defend him.  At the end of half an hour one
man stated that his dog could start a sled with five
hundred pounds and walk off with it; a second bragged six
hundred for his dog; and a third, seven hundred.
    "Pooh! Pooh!" said John Thornton.  "Buck can start a
thousand pounds."
    "And break it out, and walk off with it for a hundred
yards?" demanded Matthewson, a Bonanza king, he of the seven
hundred vaunt.
    "And break it out, and walk off with it for a hundred
yards," John Thornton said cooly.
    "Well," Matthewson said, slowly and deliberately, so
that all could hear, "I've got a thousand dollars that says
he can't.  And there it is." So saying, he slammed a sack
of gold dust of the size of a bologna sausage down upon the
    Nobody spoke.  Thornton's bluff, if bluff it was, had
been called.  He could feel a flush of warm blood creeping up
his face.  His tongue had tricked him.  He did not know
whether Buck could start a thousand pounds.  Half a ton! The
enormousness of it appalled him.  He had great faith in
Buck's strength and had often thought him capable of
starting such a load; but never, as now, had he faced the
possibility of it, the eyes of a dozen men fixed upon him,
silent and waiting.  Further, he had no thousand dollars; nor
had Hans and Pete.
    "I've got a sled standing outside now, with twenty
fifty-pound sacks of flour on it," Matthewson went on with
brutal directness; "so don't let that hinder you."
    Thornton did not reply.  He did not know what to say.
He glanced from face to face in the absent way of a man
who has lost the power of thought and is seeking somewhere
to find the thing that will start it going again.  The
face of Jim O'Brien, a Mastodon king and old-time comrade,
caught his eyes.  It was a cue to him, seeming to rouse him
to do what he would never have dreamed of doing.
    "Can you lend me a thousand?" he asked, almost in a
    "Sure," answered O'Brien, thumping down a plethoric sack
by the side of Matthewson's. "Though it's little faith I'm
having, John, that the beast can do the trick."
    The Eldorado emptied its occupants into the street to
see the test.  The tables were deserted, and the dealers
and gamekeepers came forth to see the outcome of the wager
and to lay odds.  Several hundred men, furred and mittened,
banked around the sled within easy distance.  Matthewson's
sled, loaded with a thousand pounds of flour, had been
standing for a couple of hours, and in the intense cold
--it was sixty below zero-- the runners had frozen fast to
the hard-packed snow.  Men offered odds of two to one that
Buck could not budge the sled.  A quibble arose concerning
the phrase "break out."  O'Brien contended it was Thornton's
privilege to knock the runners loose, leaving Buck to "break
it out" from a dead standstill.  Matthewson insisted that the
phrase included breaking the runners from the frozen grip
of the snow.  A majority of the men who had witnessed the
making of the bet decided in his favor, whereat the odds
went up to three to one against Buck.
    There were no takers.  Not a man believed him capable of
the feat.  Thornton had been hurried into the wager, heavy
with doubt; and now that he looked at the sled itself, the
concrete fact, with the regular team of ten dogs curled up in
the snow before it, the more impossible the task appeared.
Matthewson waxed jubilant.
    "Three to one!" he proclaimed.  "I'll lay you another
thousand at that figure, Thornton, What do you say?"
    Thornton's doubt was strong in his face, but his
fighting spirit was aroused --the fighting spirit that
soars above odds, fails to recognize the impossible, and
is deaf to all save the clamor for battle.  He called Hans
and Pete to him.  Their sacks were slim, and with his own
the three partners could rake together only two hundred
dollars.  In the ebb of their fortunes, this sum was their
total capital; yet they laid it unhesitatingly against
Matthewson's six hundred.
    The team of ten dogs was unhitched, and Buck, with his
own harness, was put into the sled.  He had caught the
contagion of the excitement, and he felt that in some way
he must do a great thing for John Thornton.  Murmurs of
admiration at his splendid appearance went up.  He was in
perfect condition, without an ounce of superfluous flesh,
and the one hundred and fifty pounds that he weighed were so
many pounds of grit and virility.  His furry coat shone with
the sheen of silk.  Down the neck and across the
shoulders, his mane, in repose as it was, half bristled and
seemed to lift with every movement, as though excess of
vigor made each particular hair alive and active.  The
great breast and heavy fore legs were no more than in
proportion with the rest of his body, where the muscles
showed in tight rolls underneath the skin.  Men felt these
muscles and proclaimed them hard as iron, and the odds
went down to two to one.
    "Gad, sir! Gad, sir!" stuttered a member of the latest
dynasty, a king of the Skookum Benches.  "I offer you eight
hundred for him, sir, before the test; eight hundred just as
he stands."
    Thornton shook his head and stepped over to Buck's
    "You must stand off from him," Matthewson protested.
"Free play and plenty of room."
    The crowd fell silent; only could be heard the voices
of the gamblers vainly offering two to one.  Everybody
acknowledged Buck a magnificent animal, but twenty fifty-pound
sacks of flour bulked too large in their eyes for them to
loosen their pouch strings.
    Thornton knelt down by Buck's side.  He took his head
in his hands and rested cheek on cheek.  He did not
playfully shake him, as was his wont, or murmur soft love
curses; but he whispered in his ear.  "As you love me,
Buck.  As you love me," was what he whispered.  Buck whined
with suppressed eagerness.
b   The crowd was watching curiously.  The affair was
growing mysterious.  It seemed like a conjuration.  As
Thornton got to his feet, Buck seized his mittened hand
between his jaws, pressing in with his teeth and releasing
slowly, half-reluctantly.  It was the answer, in terms, not
of speech, but of love.  Thornton stepped well back.
    "Now, Buck," he said.
    Buck tightened the traces, then slacked them for a
matter of several inches.  It was the way he had learned.
    "Gee!" Thornton's voice rang out, sharp in the tense
    Buck swung to the right, ending the movement in a plunge
that took up the slack and with a sudden jerk arrested his
one hundred and fifty pounds.  The load quivered, and from
under the runners arose a crisp crackling.
    "Haw!" Thornton commanded.
    Buck duplicated the maneuver, this time to the left.  The
crackling turned into a snapping, the sled pivoting and the
runners slipping and grating several inches to the side.
The sled was broken out.  Men were holding their breaths,
intensely unconscious of the fact.
    "Now, MUSH!"
    Thornton's command cracked out like a pistol shot.  buck
threw himself forward, tightening the traces with a jarring
lunge.  His whole body was gathered compactly together in
the tremendous effort, the muscles writhing and knotting like
live things under the silky fur.  His great chest was low
to the ground, his head forward and down, while his feet
were flying like mad, the claws scarring the hard-packed
snow in parallel grooves.  The sled swayed and trembled,
half-started forward.  One of his feet slipped, and one man
groaned aloud.  The sled lurched ahead in what appeared a
rapid succession of jerks, though it never really came to
a dead stop again .  .  .  half an inch .  .  .  an inch .
.  .  two inches .  .  .  The jerks perceptibly diminished;
as the sled gained momentum, he caught them up, till it was
moving steadily along.
   Men gasped and began to breath again, unaware that for
a moment they had ceased to breathe.  Thornton was running
behind, encouraging Buck with short, cheery words.  The
distance had been measured off, and as he neared the pile
of firewood which marked the end of the hundred yards, a
cheer began to grow and grow, which burst into a roar as
he passed the firewood and halted at command.  Every man
was tearing himself loose, even Matthewson.  Hats and
mittens were flying in the air.  Men were shaking hands,
it did not matter with whom, and bubbling over in a general
incoherent babel.
    But Thornton fell on his knees beside Buck.  Head was
against head, and he was shaking him back and forth.  Those
who hurried up heard him cursing Buck, and he cursed him
long and fervently, and softly and lovingly.
    "Gad, sir! Gad, sir!" sputtered the Skookum Bench king.  "I'll
give you a thousand for him, sir, a thousand, sir--twelve
hundred, sir."
    Thornton rose to his feet.  His eyes were wet.  The
tears were streaming frankly down his cheeks.  "Sir," he
said to the Skookum Bench king, "no, sir.  You can go to hell,
sir." It's the best I can do for you, sir."
    Buck seized Thornton's hand in his teeth.  Thornton
shook him back and forth.  As though animated by a common
impulse, the onlookers drew back to a respectful distance;
nor were they again indiscreet enough to interrupt.
    VII.  The Sounding of the Call
    When Buck earned sixteen hundred dollars in five minutes for
John Thornton, he made it possible for his master to pay
off certain debts and to journey with his partners into the
East after a fabled lost mine, the history of which was as
old as the history of the country.  Many men had sought
it; few had found it; and more than a few there were who
had never returned from the quest.  This lost mine was
steeped in tragedy and shrouded in mystery.  No one
knew of the first man.  The oldest tradition stopped before
it got back to him.  From the beginning there had been an
ancient and ramshackle cabin.  Dying men had sworn to it,
and to the mine the site of which it marked, clinching
their testimony with nuggets that were unlike any known
grade of gold in the Northland.
    But no living man had looted this treasure house, and
the dead were dead; wherefore John Thornton and Pete and
Hans, with Buck and half a dozen other dogs, faced into
the East on an unknown trail to achieve where men and
dogs as good as themselves had failed.  They sledded seventy
miles up the Yukon, swung to the left into the Stewart River,
passed the Mayo and the McQuestion, and held on until the
Stewart itself became a streamlet, threading the upstanding
peaks which marked the backbone of the continent.
    John Thornton asked little of man or nature.  He was
unafraid of the wild.  With a handful of salt and a rifle
he could plunge into the wilderness and fare wherever he
pleased and as long as he pleased.  Being in no haste,
Indian fashion, he hunted his dinner in the course of the
day's traveling; and if he failed to find it, like the
Indian, he kept on traveling, secure in the knowledge that
sooner or later he would come to it.  So, on this great
journey into the East, straight meat was the bill of fare,
ammunition and tools principally made up the load on the
sled, and the timecard was drawn upon the limitless future.
    To Buck it was boundless delight, this hunting,
fishing, and indefinite wandering through strange places.
For weeks at a time they would hold on steadily, day after
day; and for weeks upon end they would camp, here and there,
the dogs loafing and the men burning holes through frozen
muck and gravel and washing countless pans of dirt by the
heat of the fire.  Sometimes they went hungry, sometimes
they feasted riotously, all according to the abundance of
game and the fortune of hunting.  Summer arrived, and
dogs and men, packs on their backs, rafted across blue
mountain lakes, and descended or ascended unknown rivers in
slender boats whipsawed from the standing forest.
    The months came and went, and back and forth they
twisted through the uncharted vastness, where no men were and
yet where men had been if the Lost Cabin were true.  They
went across divides in summer blizzards, shivered under the
midnight sun on naked mountains between the timber line and
the eternal snows, dropped into summer valleys amid swarming
gnats and flies, and in the shadows of glaciers picked
strawberries and flowers as ripe and fair as any the
Southland could boast.  In the fall of the year they
penetrated a weird lake country, sad and silent, where
wild fowl had been, but where then there was no life nor
sign of life--only the blowing of chill winds, the forming
of ice in sheltered places, and the melancholy rippling of
waves on lonely beaches.
    And through another winter they wandered on the
obliterated trails of men who had gone before.  Once, they
came upon a path blazed throughout the forest, an ancient
path, and the Lost Cabin seemed very near.  But the path
began nowhere and ended nowhere, and remained a mystery, as
the man who made it and the reason he made it remained a
mystery.  Another time they chanced upon the time-graven
wreckage of a hunting lodge, and amid the shreds of rotted
blankets John Thornton found a long-barreled flintlock.  He
knew it for a Hudson Bay Company gun of the young days in the
Northwest, when such a gun was worth its weight in beaver
skins packed flat.  And that was all--no hint as to the man
who in an early day had reared the lodge and left the gun
among the blankets.
    Spring came on once more, and at the end of all their
wandering they found, not the Lost Cabin, but a shallow
placer in a broad valley where the gold showed like yellow
butter across the bottom of the washing pan.  They sought no
farther.  Each day they worked earned them thousands of
dollars in clean dust and nuggets, and they worked every
day.  The gold was sacked in moosehide bags, fifty pounds
to the bag, and piled like so much firewood outside the
spruce-bough lodge.  Like giants they toiled, days flashing
on the heels of days like dreams as they heaped the
treasure up.
    There was nothing for the dogs to do, save the hauling
of meat now and again that Thornton killed, and Buck spent
long hours musing by the fire.  The vision of the
short-legged hairy man came to him more frequently, now that
there was little work to be done; and often, blinking by the
fire, Buck wandered with him in that other world which he
    The salient thing of this other world seemed fear.
When he watched the hairy man sleeping by the fire, head
between his knees and hands clasped above, Buck saw that he
slept restlessly, with many starts and awakenings
at which times he would peer fearfully into the darkness and
fling more wood upon the fire.  Did they walk by the
beach of a sea, where the hairy man gathered shellfish and
ate them as he gathered, it was with eyes that roved
everywhere for hidden danger and with legs prepared to run
like the wind at its first appearance.  Through the forest
they crept noiselessly, Buck at the hairy man's heels; and
they were alert and vigilant, the pair of them, ears
twitching and moving and nostrils quivering, for the man
heard and smelled as keenly as Buck.  The hairy man could
spring up into the trees and travel ahead as fast as on the
ground, swinging by the arms from limb to limb, sometimes
a dozen feet apart, letting go and catching, never falling,
never missing his grip.  In fact, he seemed as much at home
among the trees as on the ground; and Buck had memories of
nights of vigil spent beneath the trees wherein the hairy
man roosted, holding on tightly as he slept.
    And closely akin to the visions of the hairy man was the
call still sounding in the depths of the forest.  It
filled him with a great unrest and strange desires. It
caused him to feel a vague, sweet gladness, and he was
aware of wild yearnings and stirrings for he knew not what.
Sometimes he pursued the call into the forest, looking for
it as though it were a tangible thing, barking softly or
defiantly, as the mood might dictate.  He would thrust his
nose into the cool wood moss, or into the black soil where
long grasses grew, and snort with joy at the
fat earth smells; or he would crouch for hours, as if in
concealment, behind fungus covered trunks of fallen trees,
wide-eyed and wide-eared to all that moved and sounded
about him.  It might be, lying thus, that he hoped to
surprise this call he could not understand.  But he did not
know why he did these various things.  He was impelled to do
them, and did not reason about them at all.
    Irresistible impulses seized him.  He would be lying in
camp, dozing lazily in the heat of the day, when suddenly
his head would lift and his ears cock up, intent and
listening, and he would spring to his feet and dash away,
and on and on, for hours, through the forest aisles and
across the open spaces where the niggerheads bunched.  He
loved to run down dry watercourses, and to creep and spy
upon the bird life in the woods.  For a day at a time he
would lie in the underbrush where he could watch the
partridges drumming and strutting up and down.  But especially
he loved to run in the dim twilight of the summer
midnights, listening to the subdued and sleepy murmurs of
the forest, reading signs and sounds as man may read a
book, and seeking for the mysterious something that
called--called, waking or sleeping, at all times, for him
to come.
    One night he sprang from sleep with a start,
eager-eyed, nostrils quivering and scenting, his mane
bristling in recurrent waves.  From the forest came the call
--(or one note of it, for the call was many-noted),
distinct and definite as never before --a long-drawn howl,
like, yet unlike, any noise made by husky dog.  And he knew
it, in the old familiar way, as a sound heard before.  He
sprang through the sleeping camp and in swift silence dashed
through the woods.  As he drew closer to the cry he went more
slowly, with caution in every movement, till he came to an
open place among the trees, and looking out saw, erect on
haunches, with nose pointed to the sky, a long, lean, timber
    He had made no noise, yet it ceased from its howling and
tried to sense his presence.  Buck stalked into the open,
half-crouching, body gathered compactly together, tail
straight and stiff, feet falling with unwonted care.  Every
movement advertised commingled threatening and overture of
friendliness.  It was the menacing truce that marks the
meeting of wild beasts that prey.  But the wolf fled at
sight of him.  He followed, with wild leapings, in a frenzy
to overtake.  He ran him into a blind channel, in the bed
of the creek, where a timber jam barred the way.  The wolf
whirled about, pivoting on his hind legs after the fashion of
Joe and of all cornered husky dogs, snarling and bristling,
clipping his teeth together in a continuous and rapid
succession of snaps.
    Buck did not attack, but circled him about and hedged
him in with friendly advances.  The wolf was suspicious and
afraid; for Buck made three of him in weight, while his
head barely reached Buck's shoulder.  Watching his chance,
he darted away, and the chase was resumed.  Time and again
he was cornered, and the thing repeated, though he was in poor
condition or Buck could not so easily have overtaken him.  He
would run till Buck's head was even with his flank, when he
would whirl around at bay, only to dash away again at the
first opportunity.
    But in the end Buck's pertinacity was rewarded; for the
wolf, finding that no harm was intended, finally sniffed
noses with him.  Then they became friendly, and played about
in the nervous, half-coy way with which fierce beasts belie
their fierceness.  After some time of this the wolf started
off at an easy lope in a manner that plainly showed he was
going somewhere.  He made it clear to Buck that he was to
come, and they ran side by side through the somber
twilight, straight up the creek bed, into the gorge from
which it issued, and across the bleak divide where it took its
    On the opposite slope of the watershed they came down
into a level country where were great stretches of forest and
many streams, and through these great stretches they ran
steadily, hour after hour, the sun rising higher and the
day growing warmer.  Buck was wildly glad.  He knew he
was at last answering the call, running by the side of his
wood brother toward the place from where the call surely
came.  Old memories were coming upon him fast, and he was
stirring to them as of old he stirred to the realities of
which they were the shadows.  He had done this thing
before, somewhere in that other and dimly remembered world,
and he was doing it again, now, running free in the open,
the unpacked earth underfoot, the wide sky overhead.
    They stopped by a running stream to drink, and,
stopping, Buck remembered John Thornton.  He sat down.  The
wolf started on toward the place from where the call surely
came, then returned to him, sniffing noses and making
actions as though to encourage him.  But Buck turned about
and started slowly on the back track.  For the better part of
an hour the wild brother ran by his side, whining softly.
Then he sat down, pointed his nose upward, and howled.  It
was a mournful howl, and as Buck held steadily on his way he
heard it grow faint and fainter until it was lost in the
    John Thornton was eating dinner when Buck dashed into
camp and sprang upon him in a frenzy of affection,
overturning him, scrambling upon him, licking his face,
biting his hand--"playing the general tom-fool," as John
Thornton characterized it, the while he shook Buck back and
forth and cursed him lovingly.
    For two days and nights Buck never left camp, never
let Thornton out of his sight.  He followed him about at his
work, watched him while he ate, saw him into his blankets
at night and out of them in the morning.  But after two
days the call in the forest began to sound more
imperiously than ever.  Buck's restlessness came back on him,
and he was haunted by recollections of the wild brother, and
of the smiling land beyond the divide and the run side by
side through the wide forest stretches.  Once again he took
to wandering in the woods, but the wild brother came no more;
and though he listened through long vigils, the mournful howl
was never raised.
    He began to sleep out at night, staying away from camp
for days at a time; and once he crossed the divide at the
head of the creek and went down into the land of timber
and streams.  There he wandered for a week, seeking vainly
for fresh sign of the wild brother, killing his meat as he
traveled and traveling with the long, easy lope that seems
never to tire.  He fished for salmon in a broad stream
that emptied somewhere into the sea, and by this stream he
killed a large black bear, blinded by the mosquitoes while
likewise fishing, and raging through the forest helpless and
terrible.  Even so, it was a hard fight, and it aroused the
last latent remnants of Buck's ferocity.  And two days later,
when he returned to his kill and found a dozen wolverines
quarreling over the spoil, he scattered them like chaff; and
those that fled left two behind who would quarrel no more.
f   The blood-longing became stronger than ever before.  He
was a killer, a thing that preyed, living on the things
that lived, unaided, alone, by virtue of his own strength
and prowess, surviving triumphantly in a hostile environment
where only the strong survived.  Because of all this he became
possessed of a great pride in himself, which communicated
itself like a contagion to his physical being.  It advertised
itself in all his movements, was apparent in the play of
every muscle, spoke plainly as speech in the way he carried
himself, and made his glorious furry coat if anything more
glorious.  But for the stray brown on his muzzle and above
his eyes, and for the splash of white hair that ran midmost
down his chest, he might well have been mistaken for a
gigantic wolf, larger than the largest of the breed.  From
his St. Bernard father he had inherited size and weight, but
it was his shepherd mother who had given shape to that size
and weight.  His muzzle was the long wolf muzzle, save that
it was larger than the muzzle of any wolf; and his head,
somewhat broader, was the wolf head on a massive scale.
    His cunning was wolf cunning, and wild cunning; his
intelligence, shepherd intelligence and St. Bernard
intelligence; and all this, plus an experience gained in the
fiercest of schools, made him as formidable a creature as
any that roamed the wild.  A carnivorous animal, living on
a straight meat diet, he was in full flower, at the high tide
of his life, over-spilling with vigor and virility.  When
Thornton passed a caressing hand along his back, a snapping
and crackling followed the hand, each hair discharging its
pent magnetism at the contact.  Every part, brain and
body, nerve tissue and fiber, was keyed to the most
exquisite pitch; and between all the parts there was a
perfect equilibrium or adjustment.  To sights and sounds and
events which required action, he responded with lighting-like
rapidity.  Quickly as a husky dog could leap to defend
from attack or to attack, he could leap twice as quickly.  He
saw the movement, or heard sound, and responded in less
time than another dog required to compass the mere seeing or
hearing.  He perceived and determined and responded in the
same instant.  In point of fact the three actions of
perceiving, determining, and responding were sequential;
but so infinitesimal were the intervals of time between them
that they appeared simultaneous.  His muscles were surcharged
with vitality, and snapped into play sharply, like steel
springs.  Life streamed through him in splendid flood,
glad and rampant, until it seemed that it would burst him
asunder in sheer ecstasy and put forth generously over the
    "Never was there such a dog," said John Thornton one
day, as the partners watched Buck marching out of camp.
    "When he was made, the mold was broke," said Pete.
    "Py Jingo! I think so mineself," Hans affirmed.
    They saw him marching out of camp, but they did not
see the instant and terrible transformation which took place
as soon as he was within the secrecy of the forest.  He no
longer marched.  At once he became a thing of the wild,
stealing along softly, cat-footed, a passing shadow that
appeared and disappeared among the shadows.  He knew how
to take advantage of every cover, to crawl on his belly
like a snake, and like a snake to leap and strike.  He
could take a ptarmigan from its nest, kill a rabbit as it
slept, and snap in mid-air the little chipmunks fleeing a
second too late for the trees.  Fish, in open pools, were
not too quick for him; nor were beaver, mending their
dams, too wary.  he killed to eat, not from
wantonness; but he preferred to eat what he killed
himself.  So a lurking humor ran through his deeds, and it
was his delight to steal upon the squirrels, and, when he
all but had them, to let them go, chattering in mortal
fear to the tree-tops.
    As the fall of the year came on, the moose appeared in
greater abundance, moving slowly down to meet the winter
in the lower and less rigorous valleys.  Buck had already
dragged down a stray part-grown calf; but he wished strongly
for larger and more formidable quarry, and he came upon it
one day on the divide at the head of the creek.  A band of
twenty moose had crossed over from the land of streams and
timber, and chief among them was a great bull.  He was in a
savage temper, and, standing over six feet from the ground,
was as formidable an antagonist as even Buck could desire.
Back and forth the bull tossed his great palmated antlers,
branching to fourteen points and embracing seven feet with the
tips.  His small eyes burned with a vicious and bitter
light, while he roared with fury at sight of Buck.
    From the bull's side, just forward of the flank,
protruded a feathered arrow-end, which accounted for his
savageness.  Guided by that instinct which came from the
old hunting days of the primordial world, Buck proceeded to
cut the bull out from the herd.  It was no slight task.  He
would bark and dance about in front of the bull, just out
of reach of the great antlers and of the terrible splay hoofs
which could have stamped his life out with a single blow.
Unable to turn his back on the fanged danger and go on, the
bull would be driven into paroxysms of rage.  At such moments
he charged Buck, who retreated craftily, luring him on by a
simulated inability to escape.  But when he was thus
separated from his fellows, two or three of the younger bulls
would charge back upon Buck and enable the wounded bull to
rejoin the herd.
    There is a patience of the wild --dogged, tireless,
persistent as life itself-- that holds motionless for endless
hours the spider in its web, the snake in its coils, the
panther in its ambuscade; this patience belongs peculiarly to
life when it hunts its living food; and it belonged to Buck
as he clung to the flank of the herd, retarding its
march, irritating the young bulls, worrying the cows with
their half-grown calves, and driving the wounded bull mad
with helpless rage.  For half a day this continued.  Buck
multiplied himself, attacking from all sides, enveloping
the herd in a whirlwind of menace, cutting out his victim
as fast as it could rejoin its mates, wearing out the
patience of creatures preyed upon, which is a lesser patience
than that of creatures preying.
    As the day wore along and the sun dropped to its bed in
the northwest (the darkness had come back and the fall
nights were six hours long), the young bulls retraced their
steps more and more reluctantly to the aid of their beset
leader.  The down-coming winter was hurrying them on to the
lower levels, and it seemed they could never shake off this
tireless creature that held them back.  Besides, it was not
the life of the herd, or of the young bulls, that was
threatened.  The life of only one member was demanded,
which was a remoter interest than their lives, and in the end
they were content to pay the toll.
    As twilight fell the old bull stood with lowered head,
watching his mates --the cows he had known, the calves he
had fathered, the bulls he had mastered-- as they shambled
on at a rapid pace through the fading light.  He could not
follow, for before his nose leaped the merciless fanged
terror that would not let him go.  Three hundred weight
more than half a ton he weighed; he had lived a long,
strong life, full of fight and struggle, and at the end
he faced death at the teeth of a creature whose head did
not reach beyond his great knuckled knees.
    From then on, night and day, Buck never left his prey,
never gave it a moment's rest, never permitted it to browse
the leaves of trees or the shoots of young birch and
willow.  Nor did he give the wounded bull opportunity to
slake his burning thirst in the slender trickling streams
they crossed.  Often, in desperation, he burst into long
stretches of flight.  At such time Buck did not attempt to
stay him, but loped easily at his heels, satisfied with the
way the game was played, lying down when the moose stood
still, attacking him fiercely when he strove to eat or
    The great head drooped more and more under its tree of
horns, and the shambling trot grew weaker and weaker.  He took
to standing for long periods, with nose to the ground and
dejected ears dropped limply; and Buck found more time in which
to get water for himself and in which to rest.  At such
moments, panting with red lolling tongue and with eyes fixed
upon the big bull, it appeared to Buck that a change was
coming over the face of things.  He could feel a new stir in
the land.  As the moose were coming into the land, other
kinds of life were coming in.  Forest and stream and air
seemed palpitant with their presence.  The news of it was
borne in upon him, not by sight, or sound, or smell, but
by some other and subtler sense.  He heard nothing, saw
nothing, yet knew that the land was somehow different; that
through it strange things were afoot and ranging; and he
resolved to investigate after he had finished the business
in hand.
    at last, at the end of the fourth day, he pulled the
great moose down.  For a day and a night he remained by the
kill, eating and sleeping, turn and turn about. Then,
rested, refreshed and strong, he turned his face toward
camp and John Thornton.  He broke into the long easy lope,
and went on, hour after hour, never at loss for the tangled
way, heading straight home through strange country with a
certitude of direction that put man and his magnetic needle
to shame.
    As he held on he became more and more conscious of the new
stir in the land.  There was life abroad in it different
from the life which had been there throughout the summer.  No
longer was this fact borne in upon him in some subtle,
mysterious way.  The birds talked of it, the squirrels
chattered about it, the very breeze whispered of it.  Several
times he stopped and drew in the fresh morning air in great
sniffs, reading a message which made him leap on with
greater speed.  He was oppressed with a sense of calamity
happening, if it were not calamity already happened, and as he
crossed the last watershed and dropped down into the valley
toward camp, he proceeded with greater caution.
    Three miles away he came upon a fresh trail that sent
his neck hair rippling and bristling.  It led straight toward
camp and John Thornton.  Buck hurried on, swiftly and
stealthily, every nerve straining and tense, alert to the
multitudinous details which told a story--all but the end.
His nose gave him a varying description of the passage of the
life on the heels of which he was traveling.  He remarked
the pregnant silence of the forest.  The bird life had
flitted.  The squirrels were in hiding.  One only he
saw--a sleek gray fellow, flattened against a gray dead limb
so that he seemed a part of it, a woody excrescence upon the
wood itself.
    As Buck slid along with the obscureness of a gliding
shadow, his nose was jerked suddenly to the side as though
a positive force had gripped and pulled it.  He followed
the new scent into a thicket and found Nig.  He was lying
on his side, dead where he had dragged himself, an arrow
protruding, head and feathers, from either side of his
    A hundred yards farther on, Buck came upon one of the
sled dogs Thornton had bought in Dawson.  This dog was
thrashing about in a death-struggle, directly on the trail,
and Buck passed around him without stopping.  From the camp
came the faint sound of many voices, rising and falling in
a sing-song chant.  Bellying forward to the edge of the
clearing, he found Hans, lying on his face, feathered with
arrows like a porcupine.  At the same instant Buck peered
out where the spruce-bough lodge had been and saw what
made his hair leap straight up on his neck and shoulders.
A gust of overpowering rage swept over him.  He did not know
that he growled, but he growled aloud with a terrible
ferocity.  For the last time in his life he allowed passion
to usurp cunning and reason, and it was because of his great
love for John Thornton that he lost his head.
    The Yeehats were dancing about the wreckage of the
spruce-bough lodge when they heard a fearful roaring and saw
rushing upon them an animal the like of which they had never
seen before.  It was Buck, a live hurricane of fury,
hurling himself upon them in a frenzy to destroy.  He
sprang at the foremost man --it was the chief of the
Yeehats-- ripping the throat wide open till the rent jugular
spouted a fountain of blood.  He did not pause to worry the
victim, but ripped in passing, with the next bound tearing
wide the throat of a second man.  There was no withstanding
him.  He plunged about in their very midst, tearing,
rending, destroying, in constant and terrific motion which
defied the arrows they discharged at him.  In fact, so
inconceivably rapid were his movements, and so closely were
the Indians tangled together, that they shot one another with
the arrows; and one young hunter, hurling a spear at Buck
in mid-air, drove it through the chest of another hunter
with such force that the point broke through the skin of the
back and stood out beyond.  then a panic seized the
Yeehats, and they fled in terror to the woods, proclaiming
as they fled the advent of the Evil Spirit.
i   And truly Buck was the Fiend incarnate, raging at their
heels and dragging them down like deer as they raced
through the trees.  It was a fateful day for the Yeehats.
They scattered far and wide over the country, and it was not
till a week later that the last of the survivors gathered
together in a lower valley and counted their losses.  As for
Buck, wearying of the pursuit, he returned to the desolated
camp.  He found Pete where he had been killed in his
blankets in the first moment of surprise.  Thornton's
desperate struggle was fresh-written on the earth and Buck
scented every detail of it down to the edge of a deep
pool.  By the edge, head and fore feet in the water, lay
Skeet, faithful to the last.  The pool itself, muddy and
discolored from the sluice boxes, effectually hid what it
contained, and it contained John Thornton; for Buck followed
his trace into the water, from which no trace led away.
    All day Buck brooded by the pool or roamed restlessly
about the camp.  Death, as a cessation of movement, as a
passing out and away from the lives of the living, he
knew, and he knew John Thornton was dead.  It left a great
void in him, somewhat akin to hunger, but a void which
ached and ached, and which food could not fill.  At
times, when he paused to contemplate the carcasses of the
Yeehats, he forgot the pain of it; and at such times he was
aware of a great pride in himself--a pride greater than any
he had yet experienced.  He had killed man, the noblest game
of all, and he had killed in the face of the law of club and
fang.  He sniffed the bodies curiously.  They had died so
easily.  It was harder to kill a husky dog than them.  They
were no match at all, were it not for their arrows and
spears and clubs.  Thenceforward he would be unafraid of them
except when they bore in their hands their arrows, spears
and clubs.
   Night came on, and a full moon rose high over the trees
into the sky, lighting the land till it lay bathed in
ghostly day.  And with the coming of the night, brooding
and mourning by the pool, Buck came alive to a stirring of
the new life in the forest other than that which the Yeehats
had made.  He stood up, listening and scenting.  From far
away drifted a faint, sharp yelp, followed by a chorus of
similar sharp yelps.  As the moments passed the yelps grew
closer and louder.  Again Buck knew them as things heard in
that other world which persisted in his memory.  He walked
to the center of the open space and listened.  It was the
call, the many-noted call, sounding more luringly and
compelling than ever before.  And as never before, he was
ready to obey.  John Thornton was dead.  The last tie was
broken.  Man and the claims of man no longer bound him.
   Hunting their living meat, as the Yeehats were hunting
it, on the flanks of the migrating moose, the wolf pack had
at last crossed over from the land of streams and timber
and invaded Buck's valley.  Into the clearing where the
moonlight streamed, they poured in a silvery flood; and in
the center of the clearing stood Buck, motionless as a
statue, waiting their coming.  they were awed, so still
and large he stood, and a moment's pause fell, till the
boldest one leaped straight for him.  Like a flash Buck
struck, breaking the neck.  Then he stood, without
movement, as before, the stricken wolf rolling in agony
behind him.  Three others tried it in sharp succession; and
one after the other they drew back, streaming blood from
slashed throats or shoulders.
j   This was sufficient to fling the whole pack forward,
pellmell, crowded together, blocked and confused by its
eagerness to pull down the prey.  Buck's marvelous
quickness and agility stood him in good stead.  Pivoting on
his hind legs, and snapping and gashing, he was everywhere
at once, presenting a front which was apparently unbroken
so swiftly did he whirl and guard from side to side.  But
to prevent them from getting behind him, he was forced back,
down past the pool and into the creek bed, till he brought
up against a high gravel bank.  He worked along to a right
angle in the bank which the men had made in the course of
mining, and in this angle he came to bay, protected on
three sides and with nothing to do but face the front.
    And so well did he face it, that at the end of half an
hour the wolves drew back discomfited.  The tongues of all
were out and lolling, the white fangs showing cruelly white
in the moonlight.  Some were lying down with heads raised and
ears pricked forward; others stood on their feet,
watching him; and still others were lapping water from the
pool.  One wolf, long and lean and gray, advanced cautiously,
in a friendly manner, and Buck recognized the wild brother
with whom he had run for a night and a day.  He was whining
softly, and, as Buck whined, they touched noses.
    Then an old wolf, gaunt and battle-scarred, came
forward.  Buck writhed his lips into the preliminary of a
snarl, but sniffed noses with him.  Whereupon the old wolf
sat down, pointed nose at the moon, and broke out the long
wolf howl.  The others sat down and howled.  And now the
call came to Buck in unmistakable accents.  He, too, sat down
and howled.  This over, he came out of his angle and the
pack crowded around him, sniffing in half-friendly,
half-savage manner.  the leaders lifted the yelp of the
pack and sprang away into the woods.  The wolves swung in
behind, yelping in chorus.  And Buck ran with them, side by
side with the wild brother, yelping as he ran.
k   And here may well end the story of Buck.  The years
were not many when the Yeehats noted a change in the
breed of timber wolves; for some were seen with splashes of
brown on head and muzzle, and with a rift of white
centering down the chest.  But more remarkable than this the
Yeehats tell of a Ghost Dog that runs at the head of the
pack.  They are afraid of this Ghost Dog, for it has
cunning greater than they, stealing from their camps in the
fierce winters, robbing their traps, slaying their dogs,
and defying their bravest hunters.
m   Nay, the tale grows worse.  Hunters there are who fail
to return to the camp, and hunters there have been whom their
tribesmen found with throats slashed cruelly open and with
wolf prints about them in the snow greater than the prints of
any wolf.  Each fall, when the Yeehats follow the movement
of the moose, there is a certain valley which they never
enter.  And women there are who become sad when the word
goes over the fire of how the Evil Spirit came to select that
valley for an abiding-place.
    In the summers there is one visitor, however, to that
valley, of which the Yeehats do not know.  It is a great,
gloriously coated wolf, like, and yet unlike, all other
wolves.  He crosses alone from the smiling timber land and
comes down into an open space among the trees.  Here a yellow
stream flows from rotted moose-hide sacks and sinks into the
ground, with long grasses growing through it and vegetable
mold overrunning it and hiding its yellow from the sun; and
here he muses for a time, howling once, long and
mournfully, ere he departs.
    But he is not always alone.  When the long winter nights
come on and the wolves follow their meat into the lower
valleys, he may be seen running at the head of the pack
through the pale moonlight or glimmering borealis, leaping
gigantic above his fellows, his great throat a-bellow as he
sings a song of the younger world, which is the song of the
    "Old longings nomadic leap,
    Chafing at custom's chain:
    Again from its brumal sleep
    Wakens the ferine strain."