The call of the wild 野性的呼唤 - 6

The call of the wild 野性的呼唤 - 6

6 For the love of a man

 

  John Thornton had been ill in December,and his two friends had had to leave him at White River and go on to Dawson.They left him in the camp with plenty of food ,and with his two dogs,Skeet and Blackie.Now the spring had come,and he was almost well.He lay in the sun by the river with Buck,watching the water and listening to the birds,slowly getting stronger and stronger.

  A rest is very welcome after running five thousand kilome tres,and Buck slowly got fatter and stronger.It was a peace ful,lazy time for both man and dogs while they waited for Thornton's friends to return from Dawson.

  Skeet made friends with Buck immediately,and while Buck was still very ill, every morning she washed his cuts carefully with her tongue.Blackie,too,was friendly,and as Buck grew stronger,the three dogs often played games together.Sometimes Thornton joined the games too.

  The days passed very happily,and for the first time,Buck learned to love,He had never loved a man before.He and Mr Miller in the Santa Clara valley had been very good friends,but Buck had not loved him.John Thornton had saved his life,but he was also a man who was naturally kind to animals.He took very good care of his dogs,not because it was sensible to do that, but because he felt they were his children. He was always talking to Buck,holding his head and shaking it lovingly.In answer,Buck liked to take Thornton's hand gently in his mouth.

  Buck was happy to lie on the ground all day and watch Thornton And when Thornton spoke to him or touched him,Buck went wild with happiness. At first, he was afraid that Thornton was going to disappear,like Perrault and Francois,and at night he sometimes woke up and went to the tent to make sure that he was still there.

  But something was changing in Buck.He had lived in the north a long time now,and he was almost a wild dog.He was happy to sit by Thornton's fire,but he sat as a wild animal,and his dreams were filled with other animals—dogs, half wolves,and wild wolves.They seemed to call him into the forest,and sometimes Buck wanted to leave the fire and answer the call.But every time he went into the trees,his love for Thornton brought him back.

  It was only Thornton who stopped him going into the forest.Other men did not interest him.Visitors to the camp tried to make friends with him,but Buck stayed cold.When Thornton's two friends,Hans and Pete,arrived from Dawson,Buck refused to notice them at first.Then he saw that they were friends of Thornton's and after that he accept ed them;but they were not his friends They were,like Thornton,kind men,and they understood that Buck loved Thornton,and him alone.

  Thornton,too,understood Buck.One day,Buck and the three men were sitting on some high rocks, a hundred metres above the river.Thornton wondered if Buck would obey any order, even a crazy one.‘Jump,Buck!’he shouted,pointing down to the river.A second later the three men were holding Buck back as he tried to jump.

  ‘That was very strange,’said Pete, when they had sat down again.

  ‘Not strange;wonderful,’said Thornton.‘Terrible,too.Sometimes it frightens me.’

  ‘Yes.I feel sorry for any man who hits you when Buck's near,’said Pete.

  ‘So do I,’said Hans.

  It happened in the autumn in Circle City.A man called Bur ton was starting a fight with another man in a bar.Thornton stepped between them to try to stop them.Buck was,as usual,lying in the corner watching.Burton hit Thornton and he nearly fell,just catching a table.Buck flew through the air at Burton's throat.Burton saved his life by putting up his arm,and was thrown on to the ground,with Buck on top of him.Buck took his teeth out of the man's arm and this time bit into his throat.Then a crowd of people pulled Buck off,and a doctor was called.Everyone agreed that Buck had only attacked because he saw Thornton in danger,and from that day Buck's name became famous all over the north.

  Later that year,Buck saved Thornton in a different way.The three men were taking a boat down a fast and rocky river.Thornton was in the boat,while Hans and Pete moved along the river bank,holding the boat with a rope.Buck followed them,keeping a worried eye on Thornton.

  They came to a more dangerous part of the river, and the boat started to go too quickly.Hans pulled on the rope to stop it,and pulled too hard.The boat turned over,and Thornton was thrown into the water and carried down river towards rocks where no swimmer could live.

  Buck jumped in immediately and swam three hundred me tres until he reached Thornton.Then he turned,and with Thornton holding his tail,Buck swam towards the river bank.But they moved slowly,and all the time the river was carrying them towards the place where the water crashed twenty metres down onto rocks.Thornton knew that they would not get to the bank quickly enough,so he let go of Buck,held on to a rock in the middle of the water,and shouted,‘Go,Buck,go!’

  Buck swam as hard as he could to the bank,and Pete and Hans pulled him out.

  It was hard for Thornton to hold on to his rock in that wild water,and his friends knew they had only a few minutes to save him.They tied their rope round Buck,who at once jumped into the river and tried to swim to Thornton.The first time,the water took him past the rock,and Pete and Hans had to pull him back The second time,he swam higher up the river,and the water brought him down to Thornton.Thornton held on to Buck,and Hans and Pete pulled the rope as hard as they could.Man and dog disappeared under the water,banging into rocks,turning over and over,sometimes with Buck on top,sometimes Thornton.When Hans and Pete finally pulled them out,both seemed more dead than alive But after a while their eyes opened and life returned

  That winter,at Dawson,Buck did something that made him even more famous in the north.It was also very helpful to the three men.They wanted to make a journey to look for gold in the east,and they needed money.They were in a bar one day when some of the men started to talk about dogs.One man said that he had a dog who was strong enough to pull a sledge with two hundred kilos on it.Another said his dog could pull two hundred and fifty.A third man,called Matthewson,said his dog could pull three hundred kilos.

  ‘That's nothing,’said Thornton.‘Buck can pull three hundred and fifty.’

  ‘ Can he break the sledge out when it's frozen to the ice and then start it moving?And pull it a hundred metres?’ asked Matthewson.

  ‘He can break it out,and start it,and pull it a hundred metres,said Thornton.

  ‘Well,’said Matthewson,speaking slowly and loudly.‘I've got a thousand dollars here,and I say he can't.’ As he spoke,he took a bag of gold and put it down on the table.

  Suddenly Thornton was worried.He knew Buck was strong,but was he strong enough? Now ten men were watching him and waiting.He didn't have a thousand dollars,and neither did Hans or Pete.

  ‘I've got a sledge outside with three hundrd and fifty kilos on it,’said Matthewson.‘So it's easy if you want to try.’

  Thornton didn't know what to say.He looked at the other men in the bar.One of them was an old friend,Jim O’Brien.

  ‘Can yon lend me a thousand dollars,Jim?’he asked softly.

  ‘Sure,’said O’Brien,putting another bag of gold next to Matthewson's.‘But I don't think the dog can do it,John.’

  Everybody went out into the street.There were two or three hundred men around Matthewson's sledge.The sledge had been outside the bar for two hours,and it was frozen to the ice,in a temperature of 50°below zero.Most of the men thought that Buck was not strong enough,and Matthewson smiled happily.

  ‘Shall we make it two thousand dollars?’he asked.

  Thornton,Hans and Pete talked for a minute.They had only four hundred dollars,but they added this to O’Brien's thousand.Matthewson,very sure of winning.also put down another four hundred dollars.

  Matthewson's ten dogs were taken away,and Buck,who could feel the excitement in the air,was harnessed to the sledge.Buck was,without question,a very fine animal—bright-eyed,intelligent,his thick coat shining with health.And he looked as strong as a horse.

  One man went up to Thornton.‘I'll buy him now,’he said.‘I’11 give you eight hundred dollars for him.’

  Thornton shook his head and sat down on the snow next to Buck.He held Buck's head in his hands and spoke softly into his ear.‘If you love me,Buck.If you love me.’

  Buck took Thornton's hand between his teeth,then let go,and Thornton stood up and stepped back.

  ‘Ready,Buck,’he said.

  Buck pulled on the harness a little, getting ready.

  ‘Right!’cried Thornton.

  Buck pulled to the right,hard,stopped suddenly,and the ice under the sledge began to break.

  ‘Now,left!’called Thornton,and Buck pulled to the left,breaking more of the ice.

  ‘Now,pull!’

  Buck threw himself against his harness,and pulled.He held his body low to the ground,his head down and forward,and his feet dug into the hard snow.Harder and harder he pulled.Suddenly,the sledge moved a centimetre…two…three…and,little by little,it started to go forward across the snow.With each second it went a little faster,and Thornton ran be hind,calling to Buck as he pulled the sledge towards the end of the hundred metres.The watching men were shouting and throwing their hats in the air;Buck had won.

  Then Thornton was on the snow next to Buck again,talking to him,and Buck had Thornton's hand in his teeth.

 

6 对人的热爱

 

  约翰·桑顿在12月份时生了病,他的两个朋友不得不把他独自留在白河然后奔赴道桑。他们把他留在营地,备下大量食物和两条狗,斯开特和布莱吉。如今春天来了,他几乎康复了。他和巴克一同躺在河边晒太阳,看着流水潺潺,聆听着鸟声啾啾,慢慢地强壮了起来。

  对巴克来说,在奔波了5000公里之后,休息是最快意的事情了,他逐渐恢复了强壮,长胖了许多。在等待桑顿的朋友从道桑回来的日子,对人和狗来说,是一段宁静舒赖的时光。

  斯开特立刻同巴克成了朋友。当巴克仍然非常虚弱的时候,每天早晨她都用舌头舔净他的伤口。布莱吉也很友好。在巴克越来越健壮之后,三条狗常在一起嬉戏。有时桑顿也加入其中。

  时间愉快地飞逝,而平生头一次,巴克学会了爱。从前他从未爱过别人。他和米勒先生从前在桑塔·克拉拉山谷时只是极好的朋友,但是巴克从来没爱过他。约翰·桑顿救了他的命,但他还是一个天性善待动物的人。他细致地照看着他的狗,并不是出于什么意识,而是因为他觉得他们是他的孩子。他总是和巴克说话儿,捧着他的头怜爱地摇晃着。作为回答,巴克喜欢轻轻地把桑顿的手噙在嘴里。

  巴克也很高兴整天躺在地上看着桑顿。每当桑顿同他说话或抚摸他时,巴克就会高兴地发狂。起初,他很害怕桑顿也会像佩诺特和弗朗索瓦斯一样消失,于是他常常会在夜里醒来溜到帐篷里去看看他是否还在那儿。

  但是巴克的本性发生了变化。如今他已经在北方呆了很久,他几乎变成了一条野狗。他喜欢蹲坐在桑顿的火边,但他蹲坐的姿势像野兽,而他的梦中则充满了野兽的影子——狗,狼狗,还有野狼。他们似乎在丛林里向他呼唤,有时巴克想离开火堆回应那呼唤。但是每当他跃入丛林时,对桑顿的热爱又将他拉了回来。

  只有桑顿才是阻挡他回到森林中去的人。他对别的人漠不关心。到营地来的人试图同他交朋友,但他却毫无兴趣。当桑顿的两个朋友,汉斯和皮特从道桑回来时,巴克起初连正眼都不瞧他们。直到后来他看出来他们是桑顿的朋友才开始接受他们;但他们并不是他的朋友。他们和桑顿一样善良,知道巴克深爱着而且只爱桑顿一个人。

  桑顿也明白巴克的心意。有一天,巴克和3个男人一同坐在高高的岩石上,距河水有100米的距离。桑顿想知道巴克是否会遵从任何命令,甚至是一个疯狂的命令。“跳下去,巴克!”他喊着,指着河水。一秒钟之后那3个男人使劲把要往下跳的巴克拽了回来。

  “这可真奇了,”皮特说,他们重新坐了下来。

  “不奇怪,真是棒极了,”桑顿说,“也可怕,有时我真有点害怕。”

  “没错,如果有人揍了你,只要巴克在跟前,我可就真替那人难过啦。”皮特说。

  “我有同感。”汉斯接道。

  在圈城的秋天发生了一件事。在酒吧里,一个叫伯顿的人同另一个人动手打了起来。桑顿夹在他们中间试图阻止他们。巴克像平常一样躺在角落里观注着,伯顿打了桑顿,如果不是抓住一张桌子,他几乎倒在了地上。巴克凌空扑向伯顿的咽喉。伯顿情急之下伸出胳膊才救了自己一命,但他还是被掀倒在地,巴克扑在他身上,巴克松开咬住胳膊的牙齿这一次咬住了他的咽喉。之后一群人把巴克拉开了,医生也被叫了过来。每个人都认定巴克只有确认桑顿在危险中时才会攻击别人。从那天起,巴克就名扬北方了。

  那年不久,巴克又用另一种方式救了桑顿一命。3个人那时正把一只小船推到一条水流湍急而且多礁石的河里去。桑顿在船上,而汉斯和皮特则沿着河岸走,用一根绳索拉住小船。巴克跟着他们,担忧地盯着桑顿。

  当他们走到河中比较危险的地段时,小船开始极快地滑行。汉斯拉住绳索想拦住它,但用劲太猛。船翻了个个儿,桑顿被抛进水里,沿着河流向岩石撞去,而那里几乎没有人能生还。

  巴克立即跃入水中,游了300米才到桑顿的身边。然后他转过身,让桑顿抓住他的尾巴,巴克向河岸游去。但是他们游的很慢,河水始终冲着他们向一个急流漂去,那个急流从20米高的地方掉到下面的岩石上去。桑顿知道他们大概不能很快到达岸边,就松开了巴克,抓住水中的一块岩石喊着,“走,巴克,快走!”

  巴克使尽全身的力气向岸边游去,皮特和汉斯把他拉了上来。

  在那样湍急的水流中抓住一块岩石对桑顿来说恐怕艰辛异常,他的朋友们知道他们只有几分钟的时间来营救他。他们把绳索系在巴克身上,他立刻又跳到水中用力向桑顿游去。第一次,水把他冲过了岩石,皮特和汉斯不得不把他拽回来。第二次,他从河的上游游过去,河水把他带到桑顿那里。桑顿抓住巴克,汉斯和皮特用尽力气拉着绳索。人和狗一会儿消失在水下,撞进岩石中,在水中翻上翻下。有时巴克在上面,有时桑顿在上面。当汉斯和皮特最后把他们拉上来的时候,人和狗都几乎死过去了。但是不一会儿他们的眼睛睁开了,身上恢复了生命力。

  那个冬天,在道桑,使巴克在北方更加闻名遐尔的是他干的另一件事。对3个人来说也受益不浅。他们打算到东部去旅行寻找金矿,但他们缺钱。一天他们在酒吧的时候有一些人开始谈论狗。有一个人说他有一只狗强壮得能拉200公斤重的雪撬。另一个人则夸耀他的狗能拉250公斤。第三个人叫马修逊,他甚至说他的狗可以拉得动300公斤。

  “那算什么,”桑顿说。“巴克能够拉350公斤。”

  “他能够把冻在冰上的雪撬拉动吗?再拉100米远?”马修逊问道。

  “他能破冰拉动雪撬,而且能拉100米远。”桑顿答道。

  “好,”马修逊说,他的声音又慢又响亮,“我有1000美元,我打赌他办不到。”他一边说,一边掏出一袋金子放在桌上。

  突然桑顿开始担心了。他知道巴克是健壮的。可是他真的如他所说的那样强壮吗?现在10个人都盯着他等待着。他没有1000美元,汉斯和皮特也没有。

  “我外面的雪撬上有350公斤的东西。”马修逊说。“如果你想试一下的话,很容易。”

  桑顿不知说什么好了。他巡视了一下酒吧里的人。其中一个是他的老朋友,吉姆·奥布赖恩。

  “你能借我1000美元吗,吉姆?”他轻声问到。

  “没问题,”奥布赖恩说,拿出另一袋金子搁在马修逊的金子旁边。“不过我觉得你那狗办不到,约翰。”

  每个人都跑到街上。大约有两三百人围着马修逊的雪撬。雪撬已经在外面停了两个小时。在零下50°的气温中,牢牢地冻结在冰上。大部分人都认为巴克不会有这么大的力气,马修逊得意地笑着。

  “我们打2000美金的赌怎么样?”他问。

  桑顿,汉斯和皮特交谈了一会儿。他们只有400美元,他们把这加到奥布赖恩借的1000美元上。马修逊感觉会稳操胜券,也加了400美元。

  马修逊的10条狗被牵到一边。巴克,嗅到空气中弥漫的兴奋,被套上了雪撬。毫无疑问,巴克是非常出色的——双眼炯炯有神,机智伶俐,一身浓密油亮的皮毛闪着健康的光泽,他就像一匹马一样健壮。

  一个人走上前对桑顿说:“我买他,我给你800美元。”

  桑顿摇了摇头,然后就坐在巴克旁边的雪地上。他把巴克的头捧在手中在他耳边轻声说:“如果你爱我,巴克,如果你爱我。”

  巴克把桑顿的手含在嘴里,然后松开了,桑顿站起来并走了回去。

  “准备,巴克,”他说。

  巴克拉紧了挽具,做好了准备。

  “向右!”桑顿喊道。

  巴克向右使劲拉了一下,突然停住,雪撬下的冰开始碎了。

  “现在,向左!”桑顿喊道。巴克向左拉去,弄碎了更多的冰。

  “现在,拉!”

  巴克用力抵住挽具,拉着。他的身子低低地向地面弯着,头向前埋着,脚用劲蹬住坚硬的雪地越来越使劲地拉着。突然,雪撬移动了一厘米,……两厘米……三厘米……渐渐地,雪撬开始沿着雪地移动了。每一秒钟都移得快一点,桑顿跟在后面跑,当巴克拉至100米的终点时喊住他。围观的人们欢呼起来,把帽子扔到空中,巴克赢了。

  然后桑顿再次坐到巴克旁边的雪地上,和他说话,巴克含着桑顿的手。