【英文原著】杰克·伦敦:《野性的呼唤》，第一章：回归原始 | Jack · London: The Call of the Wild, Chapter 1: Into the Primitive
巴克没有读报，否则它就会知道麻烦事正在向它走来。这麻烦不单单是它自己的，而是所有的从普格特 .?桑德地区到圣 ? 迪戈地区,在这些水位受潮汐影响的沿海低洼地区里的狗都会有的麻烦。这些地区里的狗肌肉强键，全身毛发又长又暖。麻烦的形成是因为这个地区里的人们在北极圈的隐密地区一直在探寻，他们已经发现了一种黄|色*的金属。还因为蒸汽轮船公司和运输公司也正轰鸣着在寻找。而成千上万的人们正在冲进北极圈，这些人需要大量的狗，他们还都要大狗。这些狗要肌肉发达、能干苦役、厚厚的皮毛要能给它们自己防寒。
Old longings nomadic leap,
Chafing at custom's chain;
Again from its brumal sleep
Wakens the ferine strain.
Buck did not read the newspapers, or he would have known thattrouble was brewing, not alone for himself, but for every tide- water dog,strong of muscle and with warm, long hair, from Puget Sound to SanDiego. Because men, groping in the Arctic darkness, had found ayellow metal, and because steamship and transportation companies werebooming 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, halfhidden among the trees, through which glimpses could be caught of thewide cool veranda that ran around its four sides. The house wasapproached by gravelled driveways which wound about through wide-spreading lawns and under the interlacing boughs of tall poplars. Atthe 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 ofouthouses, long grape arbors, green pastures, orchards, and berry patches.
Then there was the pumping plant for the artesian well, and the bigcement tank where Judge Miller's boys took their morning plunge andkept cool in the hot afternoon.
And over this great demesne Buck ruled. Here he was born, andhere he had lived the four years of his life. It was true, there were otherdogs, There could not but be other dogs on so vast a place, but they didnot count. They came and went, resided in the populous kennels, orlived obscurely in the recesses of the house after the fashion of Toots,the Japanese pug, or Ysabel, the Mexican hairless,--strange creaturesthat 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 fearfulpromises at Toots and Ysabel looking out of the windows at them andprotected by a legion of housemaids armed with brooms and mops.
But Buck was neither house-dog nor kennel-dog. The whole realmwas his. He plunged into the swimming tank or went hunting with theJudge's sons; he escorted Mollie and Alice, the Judge's daughters, onlong twilight or early morning rambles; on wintry nights he lay at theJudge's feet before the roaring library fire; he carried the Judge'sgrandsons on his back, or rolled them in the grass, and guarded theirfootsteps 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 heutterly ignored, for he was king,--king over all creeping, crawling, flyingthings of Judge Miller's place, humans included.
His father, Elmo, a huge St. Bernard, had been the Judge'sinseparable companion, and Buck bid fair to follow in the way of hisfather. He was not so large,--he weighed only one hundred and fortypounds,--for his mother, Shep, had been a Scotch shepherd dog.
Nevertheless, one hundred and forty pounds, to which was added thedignity that comes of good living and universal respect, enabled him tocarry himself in right royal fashion. During the four years since hispuppyhood he had lived the life of a sated aristocrat; he had a fine pridein himself, was even a trifle egotistical, as country gentlemen sometimesbecome because of their insular situation. But he had saved himself bynot becoming a mere pampered house-dog. Hunting and kindredoutdoor delights had kept down the fat and hardened his muscles; and tohim, as to the cold-tubbing races, the love of water had been a tonic anda health preserver.
And this was the manner of dog Buck was in the fall of 1897, whenthe Klondike strike dragged men from all the world into the frozenNorth. But Buck did not read the newspapers, and he did not know thatManuel, 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; andthis 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 awife and numerous progeny.
The Judge was at a meeting of the Raisin Growers' Association, andthe boys were busy organizing an athletic club, on the memorable nightof Manuel's treachery. No one saw him and Buck go off through theorchard on what Buck imagined was merely a stroll. And with theexception of a solitary man, no one saw them arrive at the little flagstation known as College Park. This man talked with Manuel, andmoney chinked between them.
"You might wrap up the goods before you deliver 'm," the strangersaid gruffly, and Manuel doubled a piece of stout rope around Buck'sneck under the collar.
"Twist it, an' you'll choke 'm plentee," said Manuel, and the strangergrunted a ready affirmative.
Buck had accepted the rope with quiet dignity. To be sure, it wasan unwonted performance: but he had learned to trust in men he knew,and to give them credit for a wisdom that outreached his own. Butwhen the ends of the rope were placed in the stranger's hands, hegrowled menacingly. He had merely intimated his displeasure, in hispride believing that to intimate was to command. But to his surprisethe rope tightened around his neck, shutting off his breath. In quickrage he sprang at the man, who met him halfway, grappled him close bythe throat, and with a deft twist threw him over on his back. Then therope tightened mercilessly, while Buck struggled in a fury, his tonguelolling out of his mouth and his great chest panting futilely. Never inall his life had he been so vilely treated, and never in all his life had hebeen so angry. But his strength ebbed, his eyes glazed, and he knewnothing 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 hurtingand that he was being jolted along in some kind of a conveyance. Thehoarse shriek of a locomotive whistling a crossing told him where hewas. He had travelled too often with the Judge not to know thesensation of riding in a baggage car. He opened his eyes, and into themcame the unbridled anger of a kidnapped king. The man sprang for histhroat, 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 thebaggageman, who had been attracted by the sounds of struggle. "I'mtakin' 'm up for the boss to 'Frisco. A crack dog-doctor there thinks thathe can cure 'm."Concerning that night's ride, the man spoke most eloquently forhimself, in a little shed back of a saloon on the San Francisco water front.
"All I get is fifty for it," he grumbled; "an' I wouldn't do it over for athousand, cold cash."His hand was wrapped in a bloody handkerchief, and the righttrouser leg was ripped from knee to ankle.
"How much did the other mug get?" the saloon-keeper demanded.
"A hundred," was the reply. "Wouldn't take a sou less, so help me.""That makes a hundred and fifty," the saloon-keeper calculated; "andhe's worth it, or I'm a squarehead."The kidnapper undid the bloody wrappings and looked at hislacerated hand. "If I don't get the hydrophoby--""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 thelife half throttled out of him, Buck attempted to face his tormentors.
But he was thrown down and choked repeatedly, till they succeeded infiling the heavy brass collar from off his neck. Then the rope wasremoved, and he was flung into a cagelike crate.
There he lay for the remainder of the weary night, nursing his wrathand wounded pride. He could not understand what it all meant. Whatdid they want with him, these strange men? Why were they keepinghim pent up in this narrow crate? He did not know why, but he feltoppressed by the vague sense of impending calamity. Several timesduring 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 wasthe bulging face of the saloon-keeper that peered in at him by the sicklylight of a tallow candle. And each time the joyful bark that trembled inBuck's throat was twisted into a savage growl.
But the saloon-keeper let him alone, and in the morning four menentered and picked up the crate. More tormentors, Buck decided, forthey were evil-looking creatures, ragged and unkempt; and he stormedand raged at them through the bars. They only laughed and pokedsticks at him, which he promptly assailed with his teeth till he realizedthat that was what they wanted. Whereupon he lay down sullenly andallowed the crate to be lifted into a wagon. Then he, and the crate inwhich he was imprisoned, began a passage through many hands.
Clerks in the express office took charge of him; he was carted about inanother wagon; a truck carried him, with an assortment of boxes andparcels, upon a ferry steamer; he was trucked off the steamer into a greatrailway depot, and finally he was deposited in an express car.
For two days and nights this express car was dragged along at thetail of shrieking locomotives; and for two days and nights Buck neitherate nor drank. In his anger he had met the first advances of the expressmessengers with growls, and they had retaliated by teasing him. Whenhe flung himself against the bars, quivering and frothing, they laughed athim and taunted him. They growled and barked like detestable dogs,mewed, and flapped their arms and crowed. It was all very silly, heknew; but therefore the more outrage to his dignity, and his anger waxedand waxed. He did not mind the hunger so much, but the lack of watercaused him severe suffering and fanned his wrath to fever-pitch. Forthat matter, high-strung and finely sensitive, the ill treatment had flunghim into a fever, which was fed by the inflammation of his parched andswollen throat and tongue.
He was glad for one thing: the rope was off his neck. That hadgiven them an unfair advantage; but now that it was off, he would showthem. They would never get another rope around his neck. Upon thathe was resolved. For two days and nights he neither ate nor drank, andduring those two days and nights of torment, he accumulated a fund ofwrath that boded ill for whoever first fell foul of him. His eyes turnedblood-shot, and he was metamorphosed into a raging fiend. Sochanged was he that the Judge himself would not have recognized him;and the express messengers breathed with relief when they bundled himoff 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 saggedgenerously at the neck, came out and signed the book for the driver.
That was the man, Buck divined, the next tormentor, and he hurledhimself savagely against the bars. The man smiled grimly, and broughta hatchet and a club.
"You ain't going to take him out now?" the driver asked.
"Sure," the man replied, driving the hatchet into the crate for a pry.
There was an instantaneous scattering of the four men who hadcarried it in, and from safe perches on top the wall they prepared towatch the performance.
Buck rushed at the splintering wood, sinking his teeth into it, surgingand wrestling with it. Wherever the hatchet fell on the outside, he wasthere on the inside, snarling and growling, as furiously anxious to get outas the man in the red sweater was calmly intent on getting him out.
"Now, you red-eyed devil," he said, when he had made an openingsufficient for the passage of Buck's body. At the same time he droppedthe hatchet and shifted the club to his right hand.
And Buck was truly a red-eyed devil, as he drew himself together forthe spring, hair bristling, mouth foaming, a mad glitter in his blood-shoteyes. Straight at the man he launched his one hundred and fortypounds 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 ashock that checked his body and brought his teeth together with anagonizing clip. He whirled over, fetching the ground on his back andside. He had never been struck by a club in his life, and did notunderstand. With a snarl that was part bark and more scream he wasagain on his feet and launched into the air. And again the shock cameand he was brought crushingly to the ground. This time he was awarethat it was the club, but his madness knew no caution. A dozen timeshe charged, and as often the club broke the charge and smashed him down.
After a particularly fierce blow, he crawled to his feet, too dazed torush. He staggered limply about, the blood flowing from nose andmouth and ears, his beautiful coat sprayed and flecked with bloodyslaver. Then the man advanced and deliberately dealt him a frightfulblow on the nose. All the pain he had endured was as nothingcompared with the exquisite agony of this. With a roar that was almostlionlike in its ferocity, he again hurled himself at the man. But the man,shifting the club from right to left, coolly caught him by the under jaw,at the same time wrenching downward and backward. Buck describeda complete circle in the air, and half of another, then crashed to theground on his head and chest.
For the last time he rushed. The man struck the shrewd blow hehad purposely withheld for so long, and Buck crumpled up and wentdown, knocked utterly senseless.
"He's no slouch at dog-breakin', that's wot I say," one of the men onthe wall cried enthusiastically.
"Druther break cayuses any day, and twice on Sundays," was thereply 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 wherehe had fallen, and from there he watched the man in the red sweater.
" 'Answers to the name of Buck,' " the man soliloquized, quotingfrom the saloon-keeper's letter which had announced the consignment ofthe crate and contents. "Well, Buck, my boy," he went on in a genialvoice, "we've had our little ruction, and the best thing we can do is to letit go at that. You've learned your place, and I know mine. Be a gooddog and all 'll go well and the goose hang high. Be a bad dog, and I'llwhale the stuffin' outa you. Understand?"As he spoke he fearlessly patted the head he had so mercilesslypounded, and though Buck's hair involuntarily bristled at touch of thehand, he endured it without protest. When the man brought him waterhe drank eagerly, and later bolted a generous meal of raw meat, chunkby chunk, from the man's hand.
He was beaten (he knew that); but he was not broken. He saw, oncefor all, that he stood no chance against a man with a club. He hadlearned the lesson, and in all his after life he never forgot it. That clubwas 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 fierceraspect; and while he faced that aspect uncowed, he faced it with all thelatent cunning of his nature aroused. As the days went by, other dogscame, in crates and at the ends of ropes, some docilely, and some ragingand roaring as he had come; and, one and all, he watched them passunder the dominion of the man in the red sweater. Again and again, ashe looked at each brutal performance, the lesson was driven home toBuck: a man with a club was a lawgiver, a master to be obeyed, thoughnot necessarily conciliated. Of this last Buck was never guilty, thoughhe 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 conciliatenor obey, finally killed in the struggle for mastery.
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 tookone or more of the dogs away with them. Buck wondered where theywent, for they never came back; but the fear of the future was strongupon 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 manwho spat broken English and many strange and uncouth exclamationswhich Buck could not understand.
"Sacredam!" he cried, when his eyes lit upon Buck. "Dat one dambully dog! Eh? How moch?""Three hundred, and a present at that," was the prompt reply of theman in the red sweater. "And seem' it's government money, you ain'tgot no kick coming, eh, Perrault?"Perrault grinned. Considering that the price of dogs had beenboomed skyward by the unwonted demand, it was not an unfair sum forso fine an animal. The Canadian Government would be no loser, norwould its despatches travel the slower. Perrault knew dogs, and whenhe looked at Buck he knew that he was one in a thousand-- "One in tent'ousand," he commented mentally.
Buck saw money pass between them, and was not surprised whenCurly, a good-natured Newfoundland, and he were led away by the littleweazened 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 theNarwhal, it was the last he saw of the warm Southland. Curly and hewere taken below by Perrault and turned over to a black-faced giantcalled Francois. Perrault was a French-Canadian, and swarthy; butFrancois 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 seemany more), and while he developed no affection for them, he none theless grew honestly to respect them. He speedily learned that Perraultand Francois were fair men, calm and impartial in administering justice,and too wise in the way of dogs to be fooled by dogs.
In the 'tween-decks of the Narwhal, Buck and Curly joined two otherdogs. One of them was a big, snow-white fellow from Spitzbergenwho had been brought away by a whaling captain, and who had lateraccompanied a Geological Survey into the Barrens. He was friendly, ina treacherous sort of way, smiling into one's face the while he meditatedsome underhand trick, as, for instance, when he stole from Buck's foodat the first meal. As Buck sprang to punish him, the lash of Francois'swhip sang through the air, reaching the culprit first; and nothingremained to Buck but to recover the bone. That was fair of Francois, hedecided, 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, andfurther, that there would be trouble if he were not left alone. "Dave" hewas called, and he ate and slept, or yawned between times, and tookinterest in nothing, not even when the Narwhal crossed Queen CharlotteSound and rolled and pitched and bucked like a thing possessed. WhenBuck and Curly grew excited, half wild with fear, he raised his head asthough annoyed, favored them with an incurious glance, yawned, andwent to sleep again.
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 thatthe weather was steadily growing colder. At last, one morning, thepropeller was quiet, and the Narwhal was pervaded with an atmosphereof excitement. He felt it, as did the other dogs, and knew that a changewas at hand. Francois leashed them and brought them on deck. Atthe first step upon the cold surface, Buck's feet sank into a white mushysomething very like mud. He sprang back with a snort. More of thiswhite stuff was falling through the air. He shook himself, but more of itfell upon him. He sniffed it curiously, then licked some up on histongue. It bit like fire, and the next instant was gone. This puzzledhim. He tried it again, with the same result. The onlookers laugheduproariously, and he felt ashamed, he knew not why, for it was his firstsnow.