The call of the wild 野性的呼唤 - 3

The call of the wild 野性的呼唤 - 3

3 The wild animal


  The wild animal was strong in Buck, and as he travelled across the snow, it grew stronger and stronger. And as Buck grew stronger, he hated Spitz more and more, although he was careful never to start a fight.

  But Spitz was always showing his teeth to Buck, trying to start a fight. And Buck knew that if he and Spitz fought, one of them would die.

  The fight almost happened one night when they stopped by Lake Laberge.There was heavy snow and it was very cold.The lake was frozen and Francois, Perrault, and the dogs had to spend the night on the ice, under a big rock. Buck had made a warm hole in the snow and was sorry to leave it to get his piece of fish. But when he had eaten. and returned to his hole, he found Spitz in it. Buck had tried not to fight Spitz be-fore, but this was too much. He attacked him angrily. Spitz was surprised. He knew Buck was big, but he didn’ t know he was so wild. Francois was surprised too, and guessed why Buck was angry. ‘Go on Buck!’ he shouted.‘Fight him, the dirty thief!’

  Spitz was also ready to fight, and the two dogs circled one another, looking for the chance to jump in. But suddenly there was a shout from Perrault, and they saw eighty or a hundred dogs around the sledge. The dogs came from an Indian village,and they were searching for the food that they could smell on the sledge. Perrault and Francois tried to fight them off with their clubs, but the dogs, made crazy by the smell of the food,showed their teeth and fought back.

  Buck had never seed dogs like these. They were all skin and bone, but hunger made them fight like wild things.Three of them attacked Buck and in seconds his head and legs were bad-ly bitten.Dave and Sol-leks stood side by side,covered in blood,fighting bravely. Joe and Pike jumped on one dog,and Pike broke its neck with one bite.Buck caught another dog by the neck and tasted blood. He threw himself on the next one,and then felt teeth in his own neck.It was Spitz,attacking him from the side.

  Perrault and Francois came to help with clubs, but then they had to run back to save the food . It was safer for the nine sledge-dogs to run away across the lake. Several of them were badly hurt, and they spent an unhappy night hiding among the tress.

  At first light they returned to the sledge and found Perrault and Francois tired and angry.Half their food was gone.The Indian dogs had even eaten one of Perrault's shoes.Francois looked at his dogs unhappily.

  ‘Ah, my friends,’he said softly,‘Perhaps those bites will make you ill.What do you think, Perrault?’

  Perrault said nothing. They still had six hundred kilometres to travel, and he hoped very much that his sledge-dogs had not caught rabies from the Indian dogs.

  The harness was torn and damaged and it was two hours be-fore they were moving, travelling slowly and painfully over the most difficult country that they had been in.

  The Thirty Mile River was not frozen. It ran too fast to freeze. They spent six days trying to find a place to cross, and every step was dangerous for dogs and men. Twelve times they found ice bridges across the river, and Perrault walked carefully onto them, holding a long piece of wood. And twelve times he fell through a bridge and was saved by the piece of wood, which caught on the sides of the hole.But the tempera-ture was 45° below zero, and each time Perrault fell into the water, he had to light a fire to dry and warm himself. Once,the sledge fell through the ice, with Dave and Buck, and they were covered in ice by the time Perrault and Francois pulled them out of the river.Again, a fire was needed to save them.Another time, Spitz and the dogs in front fell through the ice—Buck and Dave and Francois at the sledge had to pull backwards.That day they travelled only four hundred metres.

  When they got to the Hootalinqua and good ice, Buck and the other dogs were very, very tired. But they were late, so Perrault made them run faster. In three days they went a hun-dred and eighty kilometres and reached the Five Fingers.

  The other dogs had hard feet from years of pulling sledges,but Buck's feet were still soft from his easy life down south.All day he ran painfully, and when they camped for the night,he lay down like a dead dog.He was hungry,but he was too tired to walk to the fish, so Francois brought it to him.One day Francois made four little shoes for him, and this made Buck much more comfortable. Francois forgot the shoes one morning, and Buck refused to move. He lay on his back with his feet in the air, until Francois put the shoes on. Later his feet grew harder and the shoes were not needed.

  One morning, at the Pelly River, a dog called Delly went suddenly mad. She howled long and loud like a wolf and then jumped at Buck. Buck ran, with Dolly one step behind him.She could not catch him, but he could not escape from her.They ran half a kilometre, and then Buck heard Francois call to him. He turned and ran towards the man, sure that Francois would save him. Francois stood ,holding his axe,and as Buck passed, the axe crashed down on Dolly's head.

  Buck fell down by the sledge, too tired to move. Immedi-ately, Spitz attacked him and bit his helpless enemy twice, as hard as he could. But Francois saw this, and gave Spitz a ter-rible beating for it.

  ‘He's a wild dog, that Spitz,’said Perrault.‘One day he'll kill Buck.’

  ‘Buck is wilder,’replied Francois.‘I've been watching him. One day he'll get very angry and he'll fight Spitz; and he'll win.’ Francois was right. Buck wanted to be lead-dog.Spitz knew this and hated him. Buck started to help the other dogs when Spitz punished them for being lazy.One morning, Pike refused to get up, and Spitz looked for him everywhere. When he found him, he jumped at him.But suddenly, Buck at-tacked Spitz. The other dogs saw this, and it became more and more difficult for Spitz to lead them.But the days passed without a chance for a fight, and soon they were pulling into Dawson City on a cold grey afternoon.

  They stayed in Dawson for seven days. When they left,Perrault was carrying some more very important papers, and he wanted to travel back as fast as possible.

  They travelled eighty kilometres the first day, and the same the second. But it was difficult work for Francois. Buck and Spitz hated each other, and the other dogs were not afraid of Spitz any more. One night Pike stole half a fish from Spitz,and ate it standing next to Buck. And every time Buck went near Spitz, he growled and the hair on his back stood up angri-ly. The other dogs fought in their harnesses and Francois often had to stop the sledge.He knew that Buck was the problem,but Buck was too clever for him and Francois never saw him actually starting a fight.

  One night in camp, the dogs saw a snow rabbit and in a sec-ond they were all chasing it, with Spitz in front. Nearby was another camp, with fifty dogs, who also Joined the chase. The rabbit was running fast on top of the snow, but the snow was soft, and it was more difficult for the dogs. When Spitz caught the rabbit, throwing it in the air with his teeth, Buck was just behind. Spitz stopped, and Buck hit him, very hard. The two dogs fell in the snow. Spitz bit Buck very quickly, twice, and then jumped away, watching carefully.

  The time had come, and Buck knew that either he or Spitz must die. They watched one another, circling slowly. Themoon was shining brightly on the snow, and in the cold still air not a leaf moved on the trees. The other dogs finished eating the rabbit and then turned to watch.

  Spitz was a good fighter. He was full of hate and anger, but he was also intelligent. Every time Buck tried to bite his throat, he met Spitz's own teeth. Then, each time Buck attacked, Spitz moved and bit him on the side as he passed.After a few minutes,Buck was covered in blood.

  He attacked again, but this time turned at the last minute and went under Spitz, biting his left front leg. The bone broke, and Spitz was standing on three legs. Buck tried to knock Spitz down, and then repeated his earlier attack and broke Spitz's right front leg.

  There was no hope for Spitz now. Buck got ready for his final attack, while the circle of sixty dogs watched, and crowded nearer and nearer, waiting for the end. At last Buck jumped, in and out, and Spitz went down in the snow. A second later the waiting pack was on top of him, and Spitz had disappeared. Buck stood and watched. The wild animal had made its kill.


3 野性