【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

Howard · 大学英语 ·

原古的渴望,

流动地跳越在习俗的链条上,

一阵阵地焦急躁动; 

在冬天的睡梦中,

又醒来了那野性*的情愫。

      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。

      巴克住在太陽能亲吻到的桑塔?克拉拉山谷的一所大房子里。这房子是一位磨坊主兼法官的。门前有条大道,树荫遮住了房子的一半,透过树荫望里看去,能看到围着房子有一条凉凉的走廊。房子紧靠着砂石铺就的大车道,大车道从纵横交错的白杨树下穿过了宽广的草地。房后的北杨树要比房前的繁茂得多。这里有个巨大的马厩,有十几个马夫和男仆管理着。一排排爬满葡萄树的雇工住屋,无边无际有秩序地排列开来。长长的葡萄林下是绿色*的牧场、果园和种干果的小块土地。还有一座自流水井的泵房,泵房前有个很大的水泥槽。磨坊主兼法官的伙计们早上将水管子插到井里,凉水就一直流到下午天热的时候。

      这一大片领域都是由巴克统治的。它出生在这里,它在这里已经生活四年了。是的,这里还有别的狗,但是别的狗没有这么大的地盘,它们根本就不能算数。它们只是来来去去地行走着,成群结队地住在狗窝里:它们不是在观看了日本哈巴狗“图茨”的时兴表演后躲在屋子的-阴-凉处休息休息;就是如墨西哥狗“伊斯拜儿”,(这是只无毛的奇怪的生物)那样,罕见地将鼻子伸出屋外;再不干脆就支起前腿坐在地上。另外还有一些像狐狸似的小型矮腿家犬,加起来至少有二十多只,“图茨”和“伊斯拜儿”只要在窗口上向它们看上一眼,它们就害怕地、许诺似地大叫起来,于是一大群拿着扫帚和拖把的女仆就过来保护它们。

      但是巴克既不是家犬也不是窝里的狗,这整个领域都是它的。它不是一头扎进游泳池里去找法官的儿子们,就是保护着法官的女儿莫丽和艾丽斯在漫长的黄昏中和早早的黎明里散步。在寒冷的冬夜里,它躺在法官的脚下,在熊熊的大火前吼叫,它把法官的孙子们驮在背上在草地上打滚;它护着他们穿过荒芜的旷野走到马厩边的泉水旁,甚至越过泉水来到那一小快一小快的小牧场里,还走到种干果的小快土地里。在那些矮腿狗群中,它专横而骄傲地走着,而对“图茨”和“伊斯拜儿”,它根本就不睬不问。-----因为它是王----它在磨房主兼法官的地盘上统治着一切爬着的和飞着的东西,就连某些人也包括在内。

      它的父亲“艾尔莫”是一条巨大的圣?伯纳犬,一直是老法官分不开的伙拌。巴克现在正走着它父亲的老路,只是它没有它父亲那么重-----它只有140磅 ----它母亲是一条苏格兰牧羊犬。140磅的体重是得益于优裕的生活和普遍受尊敬的结果,这使得它浑身上下漾溢着一种王者之气。在它幼犬期的这四年里,它一直都过着一种心满意足的生活,它自我感觉非常高傲。它曾经是一个为琐事而操心的利己主义者,有时就像那些狭隘保守的乡村绅士一样。可是它已经挽救了它自己,不至于变成一条纵容娇惯的家犬。打猎和类似户外的那些嗜好使脂肪积聚了下来,使它的肌肉变得更结实。对它来说,那些冷水浴、那种对水的热爱,一直都是一种使身心愉快的、有益健康的东西。

      这就是巴克1897年的生活方式和精神状态。当时克朗代克人的罢工把全世界的人都吸引到了寒冷的北极。可是巴克没有读报。它不知道曼纽儿要给它做点事儿了。这个曼纽儿是个护院人的助手,一个不怎么对它心思的熟人。他有一个讨厌的毛病,爱玩中国式的赌钱的游戏,但他却又太老实、太守规矩,这就使得他必然要受到各方面的责备。因为要玩赢钱的把戏,一个护院人助手的工资是远远不够的,况且他还有老婆和那么一大群孩子要他养活呢。

      那时法官正在葡萄协会里开会,仆人们也忙着在组织一个运动俱乐部。那个曼纽儿,他太不中厚了。就在那个难忘的晚上,没人看见他和巴克穿过了果园,而巴克自己也把这看成是一次散步。没人看见他们到了一个被称做“大学公园”的小旗站,只有一个孤独的男子例外。这个人和曼纽儿谈了几句话,金币在他们中间叮铛做响。

      “你可以把这些东西拿走了,在你移交前就行。”那个陌生人粗鲁地说。曼纽儿拿了条粗绳把它绕在巴克衣领下的脖子上。

      “用劲拧,你要把它弄窒息才行。”曼纽儿说,于是陌生人就哼哼地准备下手。巴克十分威严地接受了绳子。

      确定无疑的是,这是一个不怎么习惯的动作。但它已经习惯了要信任它所认识的人,它对他们的信任超出了对它自己的信任。可是当绳子的两端捏在陌生人手里的时候,它就有点恐怖地叫了起来。它只是暗示了它的不愉快,在它骄傲的对人的信任中,这种暗示就是一种命令。可是使它奇怪的是,这条绳子紧紧地绕在它的脖子上使它的呼吸都快憋住了。在迅速的狂怒中,它扑向这个人。那人在中途迎击了它。那人紧紧地抓住了它的喉咙,灵巧地一拧,将它翻了个个,然后用绳子残忍地捆住了它。当巴克在凶残的狂怒中挣扎时,它的舌头懒洋洋地从嘴里伸了出来,它巨大的胸脯无用地喘着气。在它有生以来,从没有人把它这么卑贱地对待过,它也从来没有如此这般地愤怒过。但是它的力气逐渐地衰弱了,它只能双目怒视着。

      当火车沿着铁路开过来,两个人把它扔进行李车箱时,它知道一切都没用了。

      接下来它朦朦胧胧地知道它的舌头受伤了。它被装进一节车厢里,又震、又晃、又摇。火车头沙哑的呼啸声告诉它,它已经走了很远很远。它随法官旅行得太多了,行李车上的轰动已经不怎么觉得了。它睁开双眼,扑入眼帘的是绑架它的那家伙无拘无束的愤怒。那家伙正反撬着它的吼咙,它使劲地甩起了头,爪子紧紧地抓住那个人的手,一直到它的感官又一次被窒息了才松开了它们。

      “你…你有种!”那人说着把被它抓烂的手藏在身后。押运员已被这边挣扎的响声吸引了过来:“我把它带上去交给费兰西克老板,那里有第一流的狗大夫,能把它的舌头治好的。”

      由于要关注那天的行程,那人坐在行李车后小屋子里的旧金山热水器上,嘴里一直都在滔滔不决地自言自语着。

      “我这次才弄了50只。”他愤愤不平地:“还赚不到1000块钱”

      他的手包着一块露血的手帕,右边的裤腿从膝盖以下全被撕破了。

      “别的那些笨蛋们都弄了多少?”看大厅的人问。

      “100只。都是最低的价格。来,这么帮帮我”

      “这只能值150”看大门的人大声地说:“它值,要不我就是个鳖。”

      那人拆去了血崩带,看着划破了的手:“我不会得狂犬病吧?”

      “都因为你爹是绞刑犯的刽子手!”看大门的人大笑着:“来,过来再帮我一把。”他又追加了一句。

      巴克眼花缭乱,吼咙和舌头无法忍受地疼痛,生命有一半都被勒死了。它试图勇敢地反抗折磨它的人,但它又被摔倒了,又被重新勒住了,直到他们成功地将一个厚厚的黄铜领圈套在它的脖子上,然后绳索才被拿走。巴克被猛地扔进了一个像笼子的条板箱里。

      它躺在剩下的货堆上,渡着难熬的夜,护理着它的愤怒和自尊。它不理解,这到底是为什么?他们要它干什么?这些奇怪的人!为什么他们一直把它关在这么个狭窄的条板箱里?它不知道为什么,但它感觉得到有种灾难正在向它走来,这种感觉一直压迫着它。

      那天晚上,每当那小屋的门“咔嗒咔嗒”开了的时侯,它都努力地蹬着腿,期望着能看到法官,或者止少也应该能看到那些孩子们。可是每一次都是大厅把门人那张膨胀的脸在微弱的灯光下凝视着它,并且每一次巴克从颤抖的吼咙里发出的愉快的吠叫声,都是在那看门人野蛮的呻吟声中回旋缭绕。大厅把门人一直让它独自呆在一处。

      早晨,来了四个人抬起了条板箱。巴克认定他们都是些更多的来折磨它的人,因为他们看上去都像魔鬼似的,穿着又破又烂。它愤怒地在条板箱里向他们狂叫,咬着他们伸过来的棍子。他们只是笑笑,用棍子戳着它。它敏捷地用牙咬着戳过来的棍子,至到意识到这正好是他们所需要的。因此,最后,它只好邋里邋遢地躺下来允许条板箱被抬到货车上,然后它和那个装它的条板箱就开始从人们的手上传过来传过去。快车办公室的职员们负责着它,它被装进了另一节货车里。这是一辆卡车,箱子和包裹混装在一起。这辆卡车开上了一艘小轮船,又从小轮船上开了下来,开到了一个大的铁路车站。最后,它又被装上了一辆邮政快车。

      两天两夜里,这辆邮政快车迎着沿途尖声高叫的机车声向前开着。两天两夜里,巴克既没吃又没喝。一怒之下,它第一次遇见邮车的送信人就咆哮了一阵,而那些送信人就把逗引它作为对它的报复。它猛得冲向条板箱,哆嗦着、狂叫着。他们就嘲笑它,他们就像对待那些讨人嫌的狗一样对它大喊着、呜呜地向它叫着。他们跳着,轻轻地拍着他们的胸脯,互相挤来挤去。它知道,它太愚蠢了。他们对它的体面和威严极尽嘲弄、侮辱之能事。于是它就越来越愤怒,它一点儿都不在乎它是那么饥饿,但水的缺少却使它遭受到很大的痛苦,这就更增大了它狂暴的愤怒。因此,高度的冲动和极端的敏感,使它猛得一下子陷进了一种热病之中,而这种热病又加重了它喉咙和舌头发烧似的疼痛。

      它高兴的是,它的脖子上不再有绳索了。那玩意儿曾不公平地给了那些人一个好处,但现在那玩意儿不在了。它要显示给他们看,他们将再也不能给它的脖子系什么绳索了。脖子上一有那玩意儿,它马上就被解决了。

      两天两夜了,它既没吃又没喝。但在这痛苦的两天两夜里,它积累了所有的愤怒,不管是谁第一个侮辱了它,它都要狠狠地报复他。它的双眼里充满了要迸发出来的血,它愤怒得都要变态了,它要变成一个魔鬼,这样的变化将使法官本人都不能认出它来。

      邮车的邮差们平静而又安稳地呼息着,他们在西雅图把它绑着离开了火车。

      四个人小心谨慎地把木板箱从货车上抬了下来,抬进了一所四周都是高墙的小院子的后面。一个穿着红毛衣,毛衣上有着又宽又松领子的壮汉走了出来,他给司机在本子上签了字。这个人巴克一眼就看清了他,他就是下一个要折磨它的人。就是这个人猛地把它扔到了酒店的柜台前,这人残忍地笑着,手里拿着一把斧子和一根棍子。

      “你现在就要把它放出来?”司机问。

      “对!”这人答到,一下把斧子劈在条板箱上,向里面张望着。

      把它抬进来的那四个人一下子散开了,为了安全他们爬到了墙上,他们准备看巴克有什么表演。

      巴克一下子咬住了那快裂开了的木头,和木头滚在了一起。不管斧子落在了箱子的哪里,它都在箱子的哪里咆哮着,它狂怒焦虑地想早点出来。一开始那个红毛衣还想平静地让它出来,这时也焦急地想让它早点出来。

      “你这个红眼的魔鬼!”当他把木箱弄得足够巴克的身子出来的时候,他说。与此同时,他把斧子扔到了一边顺手抄起了棍子。

      巴克确实是个红眼睛的魔鬼了。它浑身充满力气跳了出来,毛发竖起,嘴里吐着白沫,充血的眼睛里闪着疯狂的光。它用它140磅重的狂怒向这个红毛衣进攻,渲泻着两天两夜来被监禁起来的情|欲。

      半空中,就在它的爪子就要扑在这个人身上的时候,它受到了猛猛的一击,这一击阻止了它身体的向前。它的所有牙齿就像被一只令人苦恼的夹子夹住了似的挤在了一起。它在空中转了一圈,背落在了地上。

      在它的一生中,它从没遇到过棒子的攻击,它也不理解棒子。随着一声咆啸、一声尖叫,它又重新站了起来,跃起到空中。又一次,那种打击来了,它又被击溃到地上。这次它明白了,原来是那根棒子。但它的疯狂使它失去了理智,它一次又一次地进攻着,那根棒子一次又一次地粉碎了它的进攻,把它击落到地上。

      在一次特别激烈的攻击之后,它爬到地上,眼花缭乱地不敢再往前冲了。它摇摇摆摆,一瘸一拐地,血从鼻子里、嘴里、耳朵里流了出来。它美丽的皮毛上泛起了一层浪花,到处是血污和口水的斑点。

      这时,红毛衣走上前来,盘算着在它的鼻子上又来了一次猛烈的击打。它受到的所有的疼痛都不能和这一次剧烈的惨痛相比较。随着一声几乎是雄狮般惨烈的吼叫,它又一次猛扑向了这个人。可是这人左右挥舞着棒子,冷静地抓住了它的下颚,同时向下向后一拧。巴克在空中划了一个漂亮的圆圈,又转了半圈,然后头和胸脯狠狠地摔在了地上。

      它又最后冲了一次,这人敏捷地又向它一击,故意把它长时间地压住。巴克垮了下来,完全没有了进攻的意识。

      “我要说的是,”墙上一个人热心地喊着:“它不是个脓包。”

      司机笑着说:“比警犬还厉害!”他爬上货车,打着马走了。

      巴克又恢复了意识,但它一点儿力气都没有了,它躺在那里,一动不动地看着这个穿红毛线衣的男子。

      “名符其实,它太适合叫巴克这个名字了。”这人自言自语地念着大厅把门人的信。信上列举了条板箱里货品的清单:“对,巴克,我的孩子。”他接着用一种温和的语气说:“不打不成交!我们能做的最好的事就是做好朋友,你已经知道了你的位置。我呢,也知道了我的位置。做一条好狗吧,一切都会好的。要是当一条坏狗呢,我就要用鞭子抽你,明白了吗?”

      他说这话的时候,毫不惧怕的拍打着他刚才如此残忍地乱打的狗头。虽然巴克的头发在那只手触摸时又下意识地竖了起来,但它忍耐着没有发做出来。这个人给它拿来了水,它热情地喝着。后来它又从那人慷慨递过来的手里狼吞虎咽地吃着大块大块的生肉,一块一块的面包。

      它被揍了一顿,它知道了这一点,但它没有被打的彻底爬下。它明白,只此一次(最后一次),对拿着大棒的人它是没有成功的希望的。它已经学习了这一课,在它以后的生命里,它将永远不会忘记这一课。那根棒子是个启示,它介绍了最原始的统治的法律。巴克是在生命的半途之中才认识到这一点的,生命的现实呈现出一种可怕的景象。当它面对这种景象不能退缩时,它就要带着它所有潜伏着的被自然唤起的狡猾来对待它。

      随着一天天地过去,又来了很多狗。有在条板箱里的,有用绳子栓着的;有的很驯服,有的很狂怒,像它刚来时一样地咆哮着。一个一个地,它看到它们都由那个穿红毛衣的人做主。一遍又一遍地,当它看着那些野蛮的表演时,巴克的课程真是上到家了,真是上到它的心坎里了、骨髓里了:拿着棒子的人是法律的制定者、是要服从的主人,虽然没有必要要他来抚慰你。但从此以后,巴克再没有犯罪。可它也确实看见了,那些挨过打的狗们向这个人献媚、摇尾乞怜、舔着他的手。但它还看到一只狗,既不妩媚又不服从,最后在为争夺控制权的争斗中,被活活打死了。

      时不时地人们不断地出现,有很多陌生人。他们激动地、甜言蜜语地用各种时髦的方式和这个穿红毛衣的人说话。同样,一次又一次地,钱在他们之间交换着,陌生人走时带走了一只又一只的狗。巴克十分想知道,那些狗都去了哪里?因为它们再也没有回来。可是对将来的恐惧强烈地压迫着它,因此每次它没有被选中,每次都使它很高兴。

      但是它的时刻终于来到了。终于,一个相貌萎缩的人吵架似地说着蹩脚的英语,奇怪而生疏地大呼小叫着巴克听不懂的话:“该死的贱货!”他喊着,目光在巴克身上闪着。

      “这不是一条挨千刀的烈狗吗?厄?多少钱?”

      “三百。现钱!”穿红毛衣的人快嘴答道。“看看,这是zheng府定的价。你不要走近它!可凶了,波罗特!”

      波罗特呲牙咧嘴地笑了,考虑着这种不合理的冲天的狗价。买这么好的一条狗,这个价还是公平的。加拿大zheng府可不是随便丢东西的主,他们的公文要是旅行起来那可不能慢。波罗特了解狗,他一看见巴克就知道它是一只千里挑一的狗。------“千里挑一的狗哇!”他神经质地评论着。

      巴克又看见钱在他们之间交换了。当那位好性*子的狗“新大陆发现者”柯利和它一起被这位小个子的萎萎缩缩的小男人领走的时候,它一点儿都不吃惊。这是它最后一次看见穿红毛衣的人。而当柯利和它被拉到纳威儿号的甲板上,又回到西雅图时,这也是它最后一眼看见温暖的南方大地的。

      柯利和巴克被波罗特带了去,又交给了一个叫费兰柯斯的黑脸大汉。波罗特是一个法裔加拿大人,很黑。但费兰柯斯却是个法裔,又四分之一加拿大血统的人,比他还要黑一倍。他们对巴克来说,是新类型的人。(巴克命中注定要见到更多的这种类型的人。)随着和他们的接触,虽说谈不上爱他们吧,但巴克还是很公正地增长了对他们的尊敬。它渐渐地知道了波罗特和费兰柯斯都是很好的人,平易近人而又公正无私。对待狗,也很聪明,不会被狗所愚弄。

      在纳威儿号的甲板上,巴克和柯利加入到另两条狗的中间。那两条狗中有一条很大、浑身雪白,这家伙是纳威儿号捕鲸船的船长在北冰洋上的斯佩茨伯格群岛买来的,(就叫它斯佩茨吧)它后来还陪拌着一个地质调查队到过加拿大北部冻土带的伯瑞岛。它很友好(用一种不忠实的叛逆的方式),当它沉思某种卑鄙诡计时,它就把笑容刻在脸上。比方说,第一次吃饭时,它就偷吃了巴克的食物。而巴克跳起来要惩治它时,费兰柯斯的皮鞭在空中响起,先落在那个偷食者的身上,却没有落在巴克身上什么,只是令巴克的皮肤紧张了一下。这就是费兰柯斯的公平。巴克这样判断着,这个混血儿开始受到巴克的尊敬了。

      另一条狗没什么冒险的行动,因此也就没什么可说的。它并不企图偷吃新来者的东西,它是一个悲观的、愁眉苦脸的家伙,它直接了当地给柯利表明了它最大的愿望就是独自一个走开。进一步说,如果它不独自走开,那就要有麻烦。它叫戴夫,它不时地吃、睡、打哈欠,对什么都不感兴趣。甚止在纳威尔号渡过加拿大西部沙罗特王后群岛时,船身那样地震动、那样地颠簸、那样地跳跃,它还是像一个不能如愿的、一心要保持平静的东西躺在那里。当时巴克和柯利都变得激动了起来,这激动有一半是充满了恐怖的疯狂。而那个戴夫,就像是斗恼了似的、仅仅是抬起了头、用一种无所谓的目光、随意地看看它们、打了一个哈欠、又睡觉去了。

      日日夜夜,纳威尔号在不屈不挠的推进器的跳动中颠簸前进着。虽然今天和昨天一样,但巴克还是感觉到了天气越来越冷。最后,一天早晨,推进器安静了,纳威尔号沉浸在一种激动的气氛中。巴克感到了这一点,别的狗也感到了这一点,都知道随时要发生变化了。

      费兰柯斯用皮带绑住了它们,把它们带到了甲板上。一接触到冷空气,巴克的四脚就陷进了一种白色*的、像泥土的糊状东西中。它喷着鼻子向回跳着,那种白色*的像毛制品的东西向下落的更多了。它抖擞着全身,可更多的又落在了它的身上。它好奇地闻闻那东西,然后用舌头舔起了一些,舌头是像火一样的感觉,可那感觉马上就没有了、不见了。这使它很迷惑,它又试了一次,还和刚才一样,都是同样的结果。旁观者吵吵闹闹地大笑着。它感觉到很是羞耻。它不知道为什么会是这样。这是它第一次见到雪。

       

      English version

      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.

      相关下载

      点击下载

      参与评论