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

 

  “喏,我说什么来着?巴克是员真正的战将,棒极了。”第二天当弗朗索瓦斯发现不见了斯皮兹,而巴克遍身是血时说道。

  “斯皮兹打起架来真像狼一样狠。”佩诺特说,一边察看着巴克身上的伤痕。

  “巴克抵得上10条狼。”弗朗索瓦斯回答说,“我们可以走得快些了。斯皮兹不在了,麻烦也没有了。”

  弗朗索瓦斯开始给狗套挽具。他需要一条新的头犬,并觉得索拉克斯最合适不过了。但是巴克却扑向索拉克斯,抢了他的位子。

  “瞧,巴克!”弗朗索瓦斯说,笑了起来。“他杀了斯皮兹,现在他又想成为头犬了。一边去,巴克!”

  他拉开巴克,想再次套上索拉克斯。索拉克斯也不高兴,因他害怕巴克,所以弗朗索瓦斯刚一转身,巴克又站到了索拉克斯的位置上。这下子弗朗索瓦斯可动了气。

  “我得教训教训你!”他嚷着,从雪撬上取了一根沉重的木棍。

  巴克记起了那个穿红外套的男人,躲开了。这一次,当索拉克斯被套上头犬的位置时,巴克没有动。他保持着几米远的距离,小心地绕着弗朗索瓦斯打转。而当弗朗索瓦斯站到戴夫前的老位子时,巴克却不情愿。他已经战胜了斯皮兹,他想成为头犬。

  两个人忙乎了一个小时试图套住他,但巴克虽不逃跑却不让他们抓住他。最后,弗朗索瓦斯坐下来,佩诺特看了看表,天色已经晚了,两个人互相瞅着,笑了。弗朗索瓦斯解下索拉克斯身上的挽具,把他牵回去套在原来的位置上。然后他招呼巴克。所有的狗都套好了,只有前面有一个空位子,但巴克还是不动。

  “放下棍子。”佩诺特说。

  弗朗索瓦斯扔掉了棍子,立刻巴克就蹿到了队伍前面。弗朗索瓦斯套好他,不一会儿,雪撬就前进了。

  巴克是个优秀的领队,他拉得很快而且反应敏捷,把别的狗也领导得很好。对戴夫和索拉克斯来说,新的领队对他们来说没有什么不同,他们仍然很卖力地拉着。但其余的狗在斯皮兹做领队时不卖力气,现在却惊奇地发现巴克迫使他们卖力工作,而一旦犯错就会受到惩罚。跑在第二位的狗派克总是偷懒。当第一天的工作结束时,他感觉在整整一生里都没这么卖过力气地拉过雪撬。宿营的第一个晚上,巴克对付了另一条总惹事的狗,乔。自此,他再也没找过麻烦。整个狗队齐心合力拉雪撬,越跑越快。

  “我可真的从来没见过巴克这样的狗!”弗朗索瓦斯叫道,“从来没有!他能值1000美元。你说呢,佩诺特?”

  佩诺特也同意这一说法。他们赶路很快。每一天都多赶路。雪地又平又结实,没有新雪落下来。气温恒定在零下45°。

  当“30里河”上的冰层结得更厚一些的时候,他们只花了一天时间就走过去了。有一阵他们一天跑10O公里,甚至更多,而且只用了14天就到了斯开格威;这是最快的速度了。

  狗在斯开格威休整了3天。然后弗朗索瓦斯搂着巴克的脖子和他说再见。这是巴克最后见到佩诺特和弗朗索瓦斯了。像别人一样,他们从巴克的生活中永远地消失了。

  另外两个人接手了巴克和他的队伍。同别的狗队一起再度奔赴北去道桑的漫长旅途。任重而道远,雪撬上载满了给道桑寻找金矿的人的信件。巴克很不喜欢,但他非常努力地工作,带着别的狗一起费力地拉着车。日复一日,他们披星戴月,起早贪黑。对于狗来说,晚上停下来安营喂饱肚子是一天中最美好的时光,先吃一顿饭,再靠到火边休息。

  巴克喜欢躺在火边,注视着燃烧的木柴。有时他会想起米勒先生在加利福尼亚的屋子,但他回忆中更多的是那个穿红外套的男人和他手里的棒子、科莉的惨死、同斯皮兹的恶战以及他所品尝过的美味;但有时他会记起别的事情,这些东西来自他的父母,他父母的父母,以及他所有的祖先。

  有时候他躺在那儿。他似乎在清醒的遐想中看到了另一堆火焰。他看见身边并不是那个印第安厨子而是另一个人。那个人腿短而臂长,深目长发,喉咙中发出古怪的声音。他非常惧怕黑暗,手里握着一块沉重的石头,左顾右盼。他的背上裹着兽皮,巴克可以看到他周身浓密的毛发。

  巴克同这个毛人坐在火边,在火周围的光晕里他看到许多双眼睛,那是饥饿的动物伺机捕食的眼睛。他在梦中低低地咆哮着,直到那印第安厨子喊道:“嘿,巴克,起来!”然后所有的奇异都幻灭了,他目之所及的还是真实的火焰。

  他们到达道桑时,狗已经疲惫不堪了,需要一周的休整。但是两天后,他们又带上沉重的邮包奔赴南方了。狗和人都不痛快。雪没日没夜地下着,在轻软的新雪上拉雪撬非常辛苦。

  人们照看着他们的狗。晚上,狗先吃饭而人在其次。睡觉时他们总是查看狗的脚。但是每一天,狗群都越来越虚弱。那个冬天,巴克拉着雪撬赶了3000公里路。他同别的狗一样,疲惫到了极点。

  戴夫不但疲惫而且生了病。每天晚上,雪撬一停下来,他就瘫倒在地,直到第二天早上才站起来。人们检查了他的脚,没有发现骨折的迹象。因此断定它定是内伤。

  一天当他开始在挽具里跌交时,雪撬停了下来,驾雪撬的人解下他的挽具想让他休息一下,让他空身跑在雪撬后面。但戴夫不愿意停止工作,看到别的狗做他的工作他恨极了。所以他沿着雪撬边缘奔跑,试图把索拉克斯从他的位子上推开。当雪撬再度停下来时,戴夫咬住了索拉克斯身上的挽具要把他推开,然后他就站在那儿,在雪撬前面他的老位子上,等着套上挽具和拉车的命令。

  赶车的人觉得最好还是让他工作。戴夫拉了一天的车。但第二天早上他虚弱得无法动弹。撇下戴夫,赶车的人套上雪撬走了几百米。然后他停了下来,拿起枪又走了回去。狗听见一声枪响,然后那人很快折了回来,雪撬又前进了。但是巴克知道,每条狗都知道发生了什么事情。