The call of the wild 野性的呼唤 - 4

The call of the wild 野性的呼唤 - 4

4 The new lead-dog


  ‘Well, what did I say? Buck’ s a real fighter,all right,’ said Francois the next morning when he discovered that Spitz had disappeared and that Buck was covered in blood.

  ‘Spitz fought like a wolf,’said Perrault, as he looked at the bites all over Buck.

  ‘And Buck fought like ten wolves,’ answered Francois.‘And we'll travel faster now. No more Spitz, no more trouble.’

  Francois started to harness the dogs. He needed a new lead-dog, and decided that Sol-leks was the best dog that he had.But Buck jumped at Sol-leks and took his place.

  ‘Look at Buck!’ said Francois, laughing.‘He's killed Spitz, and now he wants to be lead-dog. Go away, Buck!’

  He pulled Buck away and tried to harness Sol-leks again.Sol-leks was unhappy too. He was frightened of Buck, and when Francois turned his back, Buck took Sol-leks’ place again. Now Francois was angry.

  ‘I'll show you!’ he cried, and went to get a heavy club from the sledge.

  Buck remembered the man in the red coat, and moved away. This time, when Sol-leks was harnessed as lead-dog,Buck did not try to move in. He kept a few metres away and circled around Francois carefully. But when Francois called him to his old place in front of Dave, Buck refused. He had won his fight with Spitz and he wanted to be lead-dog.

  For an hour the two men tried to harness him. Buck did not run away, but he did not let them catch him. Finally,Francois sat down, and Perrault looked at his watch.It was getting late.The two men looked at one another and smiled Francois walked up to Sol-leks, took off his harness, led him back and harnessed him in his old place.Then he called Buck.All the other dogs were harnessed and the only empty place was now the one at the front But Buck did not move.

  ‘Put down the club,’ said Perrault.

  Francois dropped the club, and immediately Buck came up to the front of the team.Francois harnessed him ,and in a minute the sledge was moving.

  Buck was an excellent leader. He moved and thought quick-ly and led the other dogs well. A new leader made no differ-ence to Dave and Sol-leks; they continued to pull hard .But the other dogs had had an easy life when Spitz was leading.They were surprised when Buck made them work hard and punished them for their mistakes Pike, the second dog,was usually lazy; but by the end of the first day he was pulling harder than he had ever pulled in his life. The first night in camp Buck fought Joe, another difficult dog, and after that there were no more problems with him. The team started to pull together, and to move faster and faster.

  ‘I've never seen a dog like Buck!’cried Francois,‘Never!He's worth a thousand dollars .What do you think,Perrault?’

  Perrault agreed.They were moving quickly, and covering more ground every day The snow was good and hard, and no new snow fell.The temperature dropped to 45° below zero,and didn't change.

  This time there was more ice on the Thirty Mile River, and they crossed in a day.Some days they ran a hundred kilome-tres, or even more They reached Skagway in fourteen days;the fastest time ever.

  For three days the dogs rested in Skagway.Then Francois put his arms around Buck's neck and said goodbye to him.And that was the last of Francois and Perrault. Like other men, they passed out of Buck's life for ever.

  Two new men took Buck and his team back north on the long journey to Dawson,travelling with several other dog-teams. It was heavy work; the sledge was loaded with letters for the gold miners of Dawson. Buck did not like it, but he worked hard, and made the other dogs work hard, too. Each day was the same. They started early, before it was light, and at night they stopped and camped and the dogs ate.For the dogs this was the best part of the day, first eating, then resting by the fire.

  Buck liked to lie by the fire, looking at the burning wood.Sometimes he thought about Mr Miller's house in California.More of ten he remembered the man in the red coat and his club, the death of Curly, the fight with Spitz, and the good things that he had eaten But sometimes he remembered other things These were things that he remembered through his parents, and his parents parents, and all the dogs which had lived before him.

  Sometimes as he lay there, he seemed to see, in a waking dream, a different fire. And he saw next to him, not the Indian cook, but another man, a man with shorter legs, and longer arms. This man had long hair and deep eyes, and madestrange noises in his throat He was very frightened of the dark,and looked around him all the time, holding a heavy stone in his hand .He wore the skin of an animal on his back,and Buck could see thick hair all over his body.

  Buck sat by the fire with this hairy man, and in the circling darkness beyond the fire he could see many eyes—the eyes of hungry animals waiting to attack. And he growled softly in his dream until the Indian cook shouted,‘Hey, Buck, wake up!’Then the strange world disappeared and Buck's eyes saw the real fire again.

  When they reached Dawson, the dogs were tired, and needed a week's rest But in two days they were moving south again, with another heavy load of letters. Both dogs and men were unhappy. It snowed every day as well, and on soft new snow it was harder work pulling the sledges.

  The men took good care of their dogs.In the evenings, the dogs ate first,the men second,and they always checked the dogs’ feet before they slept. But every day the dogs became weaker.Buck had pulled sledges for three thousand kilometres that winter, and he was as tired as the others.

  But Dave was not only tired; he was ill. Every evening he lay down the minute after the sledge stopped, and did not stand up until morning. The men looked at him, but they could find no broken bones. Something was wrong inside.

  One day he started to fall down while in his harness. The sledge stopped, and the driver took him out of his harness. He wanted to give him a rest, and let him run free behind the sledge. But Dave did not want to stop working. He hated to see another dog doing his work, so he ran along beside the sledge, trying to push Sol-leks out of his place. When the sledge made its next stop,

  Dave bit through Sol-leks’ harness and pushed him away. Then he stood there, in his old place in front of the sledge, waiting for his harness and the order to start pulling.

  The driver decided it was kinder to let him work. Dave pulled all day, but the next morning he was too weak to move.The driver harnessed up without Dave, and drove a few hun-dred metres. Then he stopped, took his gun, and walked back. The dogs heard a shot, and then the man came quickly back. The sledge started to move again; but Buck knew, and every dog knew, what had happened.


4 新的头犬