london_j call_of_the_wild_ch_7 Lyrics

Chapter VII

The Sounding of the Call

When Buck earned sixteen hundred dollars in five minutes for John
Thornton, he made it possible for his master to pay off certain
debts and to journey with his partners into the East after a
fabled lost mine, the history of which was as old as the history
of the country. Many men had sought it; few had found it; and
more than a few there were who had never returned from the quest.
This lost mine was steeped in tragedy and shrouded in mystery. No
one knew of the first man. The oldest tradition stopped before it
got back to him. From the beginning there had been an ancient and
ramshackle cabin. Dying men had sworn to it, and to the mine the
site of which it marked, clinching their testimony with nuggets
that were unlike any known grade of gold in the Northland.

But no living man had looted this treasure house, and the dead
were dead; wherefore John Thornton and Pete and Hans, with Buck
and half a dozen other dogs, faced into the East on an unknown
trail to achieve where men and dogs as good as themselves had
failed. They sledded seventy miles up the Yukon, swung to the
left into the Stewart River, passed the Mayo and the McQuestion,
and held on until the Stewart itself became a streamlet, threading
the upstanding peaks which marked the backbone of the continent.

John Thornton asked little of man or nature. He was unafraid of
the wild. With a handful of salt and a rifle he could plunge into
the wilderness and fare wherever he pleased and as long as he
pleased. Being in no haste, Indian fashion, he hunted his dinner
in the course of the day's travel; and if he failed to find it,
like the Indian, he kept on travelling, secure in the knowledge
that sooner or later he would come to it. So, on this great
journey into the East, straight meat was the bill of fare,
ammunition and tools principally made up the load on the sled, and
the time-card was drawn upon the limitless future.

To Buck it was boundless delight, this hunting, fishing, and
indefinite wandering through strange places. For weeks at a time
they would hold on steadily, day after day; and for weeks upon end
they would camp, here and there, the dogs loafing and the men
burning holes through frozen muck and gravel and washing countless
pans of dirt by the heat of the fire. Sometimes they went hungry,
sometimes they feasted riotously, all according to the abundance
of game and the fortune of hunting. Summer arrived, and dogs and
men packed on their backs, rafted across blue mountain lakes, and
descended or ascended unknown rivers in slender boats whipsawed
from the standing forest.

The months came and went, and back and forth they twisted through
the uncharted vastness, where no men were and yet where men had
been if the Lost Cabin were true. They went across divides in
summer blizzards, shivered under the midnight sun on naked
mountains between the timber line and the eternal snows, dropped
into summer valleys amid swarming gnats and flies, and in the
shadows of glaciers picked strawberries and flowers as ripe and
fair as any the Southland could boast. In the fall of the year
they penetrated a weird lake country, sad and silent, where wild-
fowl had been, but where then there was no life nor sign of life--
only the blowing of chill winds, the forming of ice in sheltered
places, and the melancholy rippling of waves on lonely beaches.

And through another winter they wandered on the obliterated trails
of men who had gone before. Once, they came upon a path blazed
through the forest, an ancient path, and the Lost Cabin seemed
very near. But the path began nowhere and ended nowhere, and it
remained mystery, as the man who made it and the reason he made it
remained mystery. Another time they chanced upon the time-graven
wreckage of a hunting lodge, and amid the shreds of rotted
blankets John Thornton found a long-barrelled flint-lock. He knew
it for a Hudson Bay Company gun of the young days in the
Northwest, when such a gun was worth its height in beaver skins
packed flat, And that was all--no hint as to the man who in an
early day had reared the lodge and left the gun among the

Spring came on once more, and at the end of all their wandering
they found, not the Lost Cabin, but a shallow placer in a broad
valley where the gold showed like yellow b___er across the bottom
of the washing-pan. They sought no farther. Each day they worked
earned them thousands of dollars in clean dust and nuggets, and
they worked every day. The gold was sacked in moose-hide bags,
fifty pounds to the bag, and piled like so much firewood outside
the spruce-bough lodge. Like giants they toiled, days flashing on
the heels of days like dreams as they heaped the treasure up.

There was nothing for the dogs to do, save the hauling in of meat
now and again that Thornton killed, and Buck spent long hours
musing by the fire. The vision of the short-legged hairy man came
to him more frequently, now that there was little work to be done;
and often, blinking by the fire, Buck wandered with him in that
other world which he remembered.

The salient thing of this other world seemed fear. When he
watched the hairy man sleeping by the fire, head between his knees
and hands clasped above, Buck saw that he slept restlessly, with
many starts and awakenings, at which times he would peer fearfully
into the darkness and fling more wood upon the fire. Did they
walk by the beach of a sea, where the hairy man gathered shell-
fish and ate them as he gathered, it was with eyes that roved
everywhere for hidden danger and with legs prepared to run like
the wind at its first appearance. Through the forest they crept
noiselessly, Buck at the hairy man's heels; and they were alert
and vigilant, the pair of them, ears twitching and moving and
nostrils quivering, for the man heard and smelled as keenly as
Buck. The hairy man could spring up into the trees and travel
ahead as fast as on the ground, swinging by the arms from limb to
limb, sometimes a dozen feet apart, letting go and catching, never
falling, never missing his grip. In fact, he seemed as much at
home among the trees as on the ground; and Buck had memories of
nights of vigil spent beneath trees wherein the hairy man roosted,
holding on tightly as he slept.

And closely akin to the visions of the hairy man was the call
still sounding in the depths of the forest. It filled him with a
great unrest and strange desires. It caused him to feel a vague,
sweet gladness, and he was aware of wild yearnings and stirrings
for he knew not what. Sometimes he pursued the call into the
forest, looking for it as though it were a tangible thing, barking
softly or defiantly, as the mood might dictate. He would thrust
his nose into the cool wood moss, or into the black soil where
long grasses grew, and snort with joy at the fat earth smells; or
he would crouch for hours, as if in concealment, behind fungus-
covered trunks of fallen trees, wide-eyed and wide-eared to all
that moved and sounded about him. It might be, lying thus, that
he hoped to surprise this call he could not understand. But he
did not know why he did these various things. He was impelled to
do them, and did not reason about them at all.

Irresistible impulses seized him. He would be lying in camp,
dozing lazily in the heat of the day, when suddenly his head would
lift and his ears c___ up, intent and listening, and he would
spring to his feet and dash away, and on and on, for hours,
through the forest aisles and across the open s___es where the
n_____heads bunched. He loved to run down dry watercourses, and
to creep and spy upon the bird life in the woods. For a day at a
time he would lie in the underbrush where he could watch the
partridges drumming and strutting up and down. But especially he
loved to run in the dim twilight of the summer midnights,
listening to the subdued and sleepy murmurs of the forest, reading
signs and sounds as man may read a book, and seeking for the
mysterious something that called--called, waking or sleeping, at
all times, for him to come.

One night he sprang from sleep with a start, eager-eyed, nostrils
quivering and scenting, his mane bristling in recurrent waves.
From the forest came the call (or one note of it, for the call was
many noted), distinct and definite as never before,--a long-drawn
howl, like, yet unlike, any noise made by husky dog. And he knew
it, in the old familiar way, as a sound heard before. He sprang
through the sleeping camp and in swift silence dashed through the
woods. As he drew closer to the cry he went more slowly, with
caution in every movement, till he came to an open place among the
trees, and looking out saw, erect on haunches, with nose pointed
to the sky, a long, lean, timber wolf.

He had made no noise, yet it ceased from its howling and tried to
sense his presence. Buck stalked into the open, half crouching,
body gathered compactly together, tail straight and stiff, feet
falling with unwonted care. Every movement advertised commingled
threatening and overture of friendliness. It was the menacing
truce that marks the meeting of wild beasts that prey. But the
wolf fled at sight of him. He followed, with wild leapings, in a
frenzy to overtake. He ran him into a blind channel, in the bed
of the creek where a timber jam barred the way. The wolf whirled
about, pivoting on his hind legs after the fashion of Joe and of
all cornered husky dogs, snarling and bristling, clipping his
teeth together in a continuous and rapid succession of snaps.

Buck did not attack, but circled him about and hedged him in with
friendly advances. The wolf was suspicious and afraid; for Buck
made three of him in weight, while his head barely reached Buck's
shoulder. Watching his chance, he darted away, and the chase was
resumed. Time and again he was cornered, and the thing repeated,
though he was in poor condition, or Buck could not so easily have
overtaken him. He would run till Buck's head was even with his
flank, when he would whirl around at bay, only to dash away again
at the first opportunity.

But in the end Buck's pertinacity was rewarded; for the wolf,
finding that no harm was intended, finally sniffed noses with him.
Then they became friendly, and played about in the nervous, half-
coy way with which fierce beasts belie their fierceness. After
some time of this the wolf started off at an easy lope in a manner
that plainly showed he was going somewhere. He made it clear to
Buck that he was to come, and they ran side by side through the
sombre twilight, straight up the creek bed, into the gorge from
which it issued, and across the bleak divide where it took its

On the opposite slope of the watershed they came down into a level
country where were great stretches of forest and many streams, and
through these great stretches they ran steadily, hour after hour,
the sun rising higher and the day growing warmer. Buck was wildly
glad. He knew he was at last answering the call, running by the
side of his wood brother toward the place from where the call
surely came. Old memories were coming upon him fast, and he was
stirring to them as of old he stirred to the realities of which
they were the shadows. He had done this thing before, somewhere
in that other and dimly remembered world, and he was doing it
again, now, running free in the open, the unpacked earth
underfoot, the wide sky overhead.

They stopped by a running stream to drink, and, stopping, Buck
remembered John Thornton. He sat down. The wolf started on
toward the place from where the call surely came, then returned to
him, sniffing noses and making actions as though to encourage him.
But Buck turned about and started slowly on the back track. For
the better part of an hour the wild brother ran by his side,
whining softly. Then he sat down, pointed his nose upward, and
howled. It was a mournful howl, and as Buck held steadily on his
way he heard it grow faint and fainter until it was lost in the

John Thornton was eating dinner when Buck dashed into camp and
sprang upon him in a frenzy of affection, overturning him,
scrambling upon him, licking his face, biting his hand--"playing
the general tom-fool," as John Thornton characterized it, the
while he shook Buck back and forth and cursed him lovingly.

For two days and nights Buck never left camp, never let Thornton
out of his sight. He followed him about at his work, watched him
while he ate, saw him into his blankets at night and out of them
in the morning. But after two days the call in the forest began
to sound more imperiously than ever. Buck's restlessness came back
on him, and he was haunted by recollections of the wild brother,
and of the smiling land beyond the divide and the run side by side
through the wide forest stretches. Once again he took to
wandering in the woods, but the wild brother came no more; and
though he listened through long vigils, the mournful howl was
never raised.

He began to sleep out at night, staying away from camp for days at
a time; and once he crossed the divide at the head of the creek
and went down into the land of timber and streams. There he
wandered for a week, seeking vainly for fresh sign of the wild
brother, killing his meat as he travelled and travelling with the
long, easy lope that seems never to tire. He fished for salmon in
a broad stream that emptied somewhere into the sea, and by this
stream he killed a large black bear, blinded by the mosquitoes
while likewise fishing, and raging through the forest helpless and
terrible. Even so, it was a hard fight, and it aroused the last
latent remnants of Buck's ferocity. And two days later, when he
returned to his kill and found a dozen wolverenes quarrelling over
the spoil, he scattered them like chaff; and those that fled left
two behind who would quarrel no more.

The blood-longing became stronger than ever before. He was a
killer, a thing that preyed, living on the things that lived,
unaided, alone, by virtue of his own strength and prowess,
surviving triumphantly in a hostile environment where only the
strong survived. Because of all this he became possessed of a
great pride in himself, which communicated itself like a contagion
to his physical being. It advertised itself in all his movements,
was apparent in the play of every muscle, spoke plainly as speech
in the way he carried himself, and made his glorious furry coat if
anything more glorious. But for the stray brown on his muzzle and
above his eyes, and for the splash of white hair that ran midmost
down his chest, he might well have been mistaken for a gigantic
wolf, larger than the largest of the breed. From his St. Bernard
father he had inherited size and weight, but it was his shepherd
mother who had given shape to that size and weight. His muzzle
was the long wolf muzzle, save that was larger than the muzzle of
any wolf; and his head, somewhat broader, was the wolf head on a
massive scale.

His cunning was wolf cunning, and wild cunning; his intelligence,
shepherd intelligence and St. Bernard intelligence; and all this,
plus an experience gained in the fiercest of schools, made him as
formidable a creature as any that intelligence roamed the wild. A
carnivorous animal living on a straight meat diet, he was in full
flower, at the high tide of his life, overspilling with vigor and
virility. When Thornton passed a caressing hand along his back, a
snapping and crackling followed the hand, each hair discharging its
pent magnetism at the contact. Every part, brain and body, nerve
tissue and fibre, was keyed to the most exquisite pitch; and
between all the parts there was a perfect equilibrium or
adjustment. To sights and sounds and events which required
action, he responded with lightning-like rapidity. Quickly as a
husky dog could leap to defend from attack or to attack, he could
leap twice as quickly. He saw the movement, or heard sound, and
responded in less time than another dog required to compass the
mere seeing or hearing. He perceived and determined and responded
in the same instant. In point of fact the three actions of
perceiving, determining, and responding were sequential; but so
infinitesimal were the intervals of time between them that they
appeared simultaneous. His muscles were surcharged with vitality,
and snapped into play sharply, like steel springs. Life streamed
through him in splendid flood, glad and rampant, until it seemed
that it would burst him asunder in sheer ecstasy and pour forth
generously over the world.

"Never was there such a dog," said John Thornton one day, as the
partners watched Buck marching out of camp.

"When he was made, the mould was broke," said Pete.

"Py jingo! I t'ink so mineself," Hans affirmed.

They saw him marching out of camp, but they did not see the
instant and terrible transformation which took place as soon as he
was within the secrecy of the forest. He no longer marched. At
once he became a thing of the wild, stealing along softly, cat-
footed, a passing shadow that appeared and disappeared among the
shadows. He knew how to take advantage of every cover, to crawl
on his belly like a snake, and like a snake to leap and strike.
He could take a ptarmigan from its nest, kill a rabbit as it
slept, and snap in mid air the little chipmunks fleeing a second
too late for the trees. Fish, in open pools, were not too quick
for him; nor were beaver, mending their dams, too wary. He killed
to eat, not from wantonness; but he preferred to eat what he
killed himself. So a lurking humor ran through his deeds, and it
was his delight to steal upon the squirrels, and, when he all but
had them, to let them go, chattering in mortal fear to the

As the fall of the year came on, the moose appeared in greater
abundance, moving slowly down to meet the winter in the lower and
less rigorous valleys. Buck had already dragged down a stray
part-grown calf; but he wished strongly for larger and more
formidable quarry, and he came upon it one day on the divide at
the head of the creek. A band of twenty moose had crossed over
from the land of streams and timber, and chief among them was a
great bull. He was in a savage temper, and, standing over six
feet from the ground, was as formidable an antagonist as even Buck
could desire. Back and forth the bull tossed his great palmated
antlers, branching to fourteen points and embracing seven feet
within the tips. His small eyes burned with a vicious and bitter
light, while he roared with fury at sight of Buck.

From the bull's side, just forward of the flank, protruded a
feathered arrow-end, which accounted for his savageness. Guided by
that instinct which came from the old hunting days of the
primordial world, Buck proceeded to cut the bull out from the
herd. It was no slight task. He would bark and dance about in
front of the bull, just out of reach of the great antlers and of
the terrible splay hoofs which could have stamped his life out
with a single blow. Unable to turn his back on the fanged danger
and go on, the bull would be driven into paroxysms of rage. At
such moments he charged Buck, who retreated craftily, luring him
on by a simulated inability to escape. But when he was thus
separated from his fellows, two or three of the younger bulls
would charge back upon Buck and enable the wounded bull to rejoin
the herd.

There is a patience of the wild--dogged, tireless, persistent as
life itself--that holds motionless for endless hours the spider in
its web, the snake in its coils, the panther in its ambuscade;
this patience belongs peculiarly to life when it hunts its living
food; and it belonged to Buck as he clung to the flank of the
herd, r_____ing its march, irritating the young bulls, worrying
the cows with their half-grown calves, and driving the wounded
bull mad with helpless rage. For half a day this continued. Buck
multiplied himself, attacking from all sides, enveloping the herd
in a whirlwind of menace, cutting out his victim as fast as it
could rejoin its mates, wearing out the patience of creatures
preyed upon, which is a lesser patience than that of creatures

As the day wore along and the sun dropped to its bed in the
northwest (the darkness had come back and the fall nights were six
hours long), the young bulls retraced their steps more and more
reluctantly to the aid of their beset leader. The down-coming
winter was harrying them on to the lower levels, and it seemed
they could never shake off this tireless creature that held them
back. Besides, it was not the life of the herd, or of the young
bulls, that was threatened. The life of only one member was
demanded, which was a remoter interest than their lives, and in
the end they were content to pay the toll.

As twilight fell the old bull stood with lowered head, watching
his mates--the cows he had known, the calves he had fathered, the
bulls he had mastered--as they shambled on at a rapid pace through
the fading light. He could not follow, for before his nose leaped
the merciless fanged terror that would not let him go. Three
hundredweight more than half a ton he weighed; he had lived a
long, strong life, full of fight and struggle, and at the end he
faced death at the teeth of a creature whose head did not reach
beyond his great knuckled knees.

From then on, night and day, Buck never left his prey, never gave
it a moment's rest, never permitted it to browse the leaves of
trees or the shoots of young birch and willow. Nor did he give the
wounded bull opportunity to slake his burning thirst in the
slender trickling streams they crossed. Often, in desperation, he
burst into long stretches of flight. At such times Buck did not
attempt to stay him, but loped easily at his heels, satisfied with
the way the game was played, lying down when the moose stood
still, attacking him fiercely when he strove to eat or drink.

The great head drooped more and more under its tree of horns, and
the shambling trot grew weak and weaker. He took to standing for
long periods, with nose to the ground and dejected ears dropped
limply; and Buck found more time in which to get water for himself
and in which to rest. At such moments, panting with red lolling
tongue and with eyes fixed upon the big bull, it appeared to Buck
that a change was coming over the face of things. He could feel a
new stir in the land. As the moose were coming into the land,
other kinds of life were coming in. Forest and stream and air
seemed palpitant with their presence. The news of it was borne in
upon him, not by sight, or sound, or smell, but by some other and
subtler sense. He heard nothing, saw nothing, yet knew that the
land was somehow different; that through it strange things were
afoot and ranging; and he resolved to investigate after he had
finished the business in hand.

At last, at the end of the fourth day, he pulled the great moose
down. For a day and a night he remained by the kill, eating and
sleeping, turn and turn about. Then, rested, refreshed and
strong, he turned his face toward camp and John Thornton. He
broke into the long easy lope, and went on, hour after hour, never
at loss for the tangled way, heading straight home through strange
country with a certitude of direction that put man and his
magnetic needle to shame.

As he held on he became more and more conscious of the new stir in
the land. There was life abroad in it different from the life
which had been there throughout the summer. No longer was this
fact borne in upon him in some subtle, mysterious way. The birds
talked of it, the squirrels chattered about it, the very breeze
whispered of it. Several times he stopped and drew in the fresh
morning air in great sniffs, reading a message which made him leap
on with greater speed. He was oppressed with a sense of calamity
happening, if it were not calamity already happened; and as he
crossed the last watershed and dropped down into the valley toward
camp, he proceeded with greater caution.

Three miles away he came upon a fresh trail that sent his neck
hair rippling and bristling, It led straight toward camp and John
Thornton. Buck hurried on, swiftly and stealthily, every nerve
straining and tense, alert to the multitudinous details which told
a story--all but the end. His nose gave him a varying description
of the passage of the life on the heels of which he was
travelling. He remarked the pregnant silence of the forest. The
bird life had flitted. The squirrels were in hiding. One only he
saw,--a sleek gray fellow, flattened against a gray dead limb so
that he seemed a part of it, a woody excrescence upon the wood

As Buck slid along with the obscureness of a gliding shadow, his
nose was jerked suddenly to the side as though a positive force
had gripped and pulled it. He followed the new scent into a
thicket and found Nig. He was lying on his side, dead where he
had dragged himself, an arrow protruding, head and feathers, from
either side of his body.

A hundred yards farther on, Buck came upon one of the sled-dogs
Thornton had bought in Dawson. This dog was thrashing about in a
death-struggle, directly on the trail, and Buck passed around him
without stopping. From the camp came the faint sound of many
voices, rising and falling in a sing-song chant. Bellying forward
to the edge of the clearing, he found Hans, lying on his face,
feathered with arrows like a porcupine. At the same instant Buck
peered out where the spruce-bough lodge had been and saw what made
his hair leap straight up on his neck and shoulders. A gust of
overpowering rage swept over him. He did not know that he
growled, but he growled aloud with a terrible ferocity. For the
last time in his life he allowed passion to usurp cunning and
reason, and it was because of his great love for John Thornton
that he lost his head.

The Yeehats were dancing about the wreckage of the spruce-bough
lodge when they heard a fearful roaring and saw rushing upon them
an animal the like of which they had never seen before. It was
Buck, a live hurricane of fury, hurling himself upon them in a
frenzy to destroy. He sprang at the foremost man (it was the
chief of the Yeehats), ripping the throat wide open till the rent
jugular spouted a fountain of blood. He did not pause to worry
the victim, but ripped in passing, with the next bound tearing
wide the throat of a second man. There was no withstanding him.
He plunged about in their very midst, tearing, rending,
destroying, in constant and terrific motion which defied the
arrows they discharged at him. In fact, so inconceivably rapid
were his movements, and so closely were the Indians tangled
together, that they shot one another with the arrows; and one
young hunter, hurling a spear at Buck in mid air, drove it through
the chest of another hunter with such force that the point broke
through the skin of the back and stood out beyond. Then a panic
seized the Yeehats, and they fled in terror to the woods,
proclaiming as they fled the advent of the Evil Spirit.

And truly Buck was the Fiend incarnate, raging at their heels and
dragging them down like deer as they raced through the trees. It
was a fateful day for the Yeehats. They scattered far and wide
over the country, and it was not till a week later that the last
of the survivors gathered together in a lower valley and counted
their losses. As for Buck, wearying of the pursuit, he returned
to the desolated camp. He found Pete where he had been killed in
his blankets in the first moment of surprise. Thornton's
desperate struggle was fresh-written on the earth, and Buck
scented every detail of it down to the edge of a deep pool. By
the edge, head and fore feet in the water, lay Skeet, faithful to
the last. The pool itself, muddy and discolored from the sluice
boxes, effectually hid what it contained, and it contained John
Thornton; for Buck followed his trace into the water, from which
no trace led away.

All day Buck brooded by the pool or roamed restlessly about the
camp. Death, as a cessation of movement, as a passing out and
away from the lives of the living, he knew, and he knew John
Thornton was dead. It left a great void in him, somewhat akin to
hunger, but a void which ached and ached, and which food could not
fill, At times, when he paused to contemplate the carcasses of the
Yeehats, he forgot the pain of it; and at such times he was aware
of a great pride in himself,--a pride greater than any he had yet
experienced. He had killed man, the noblest game of all, and he
had killed in the face of the law of club and fang. He sniffed
the bodies curiously. They had died so easily. It was harder to
kill a husky dog than them. They were no match at all, were it
not for their arrows and spears and clubs. Thenceforward he would
be unafraid of them except when they bore in their hands their
arrows, spears, and clubs.

Night came on, and a full moon rose high over the trees into the
sky, lighting the land till it lay bathed in ghostly day. And with
the coming of the night, brooding and mourning by the pool, Buck
became alive to a stirring of the new life in the forest other
than that which the Yeehats had made, He stood up, listening and
scenting. From far away drifted a faint, sharp yelp, followed by
a chorus of similar sharp yelps. As the moments passed the yelps
grew closer and louder. Again Buck knew them as things heard in
that other world which persisted in his memory. He walked to the
centre of the open s___e and listened. It was the call, the many-
noted call, sounding more luringly and compellingly than ever
before. And as never before, he was ready to obey. John Thornton
was dead. The last tie was broken. Man and the claims of man no
longer bound him.

Hunting their living meat, as the Yeehats were hunting it, on the
flanks of the migrating moose, the wolf pack had at last crossed
over from the land of streams and timber and invaded Buck's
valley. Into the clearing where the moonlight streamed, they
poured in a silvery flood; and in the centre of the clearing stood
Buck, motionless as a statue, waiting their coming. They were
awed, so still and large he stood, and a moment's pause fell, till
the boldest one leaped straight for him. Like a flash Buck
struck, breaking the neck. Then he stood, without movement, as
before, the stricken wolf rolling in agony behind him. Three
others tried it in sharp succession; and one after the other they
drew back, streaming blood from slashed throats or shoulders.

This was sufficient to fling the whole pack forward, pell-mell,
crowded together, blocked and confused by its eagerness to pull
down the prey. Buck's marvellous quickness and agility stood him
in good stead. Pivoting on his hind legs, and snapping and
gashing, he was everywhere at once, presenting a front which was
apparently unbroken so swiftly did he whirl and guard from side to
side. But to prevent them from getting behind him, he was forced
back, down past the pool and into the creek bed, till he brought
up against a high gravel bank. He worked along to a right angle
in the bank which the men had made in the course of mining, and in
this angle he came to bay, protected on three sides and with
nothing to do but face the front.

And so well did he face it, that at the end of half an hour the
wolves drew back discomfited. The tongues of all were out and
lolling, the white fangs showing cruelly white in the moonlight.
Some were lying down with heads raised and ears p____ed forward;
others stood on their feet, watching him; and still others were
lapping water from the pool. One wolf, long and lean and gray,
advanced cautiously, in a friendly manner, and Buck recognized the
wild brother with whom he had run for a night and a day. He was
whining softly, and, as Buck whined, they touched noses.

Then an old wolf, gaunt and battle-scarred, came forward. Buck
writhed his lips into the preliminary of a snarl, but sniffed
noses with him, Whereupon the old wolf sat down, pointed nose at
the moon, and broke out the long wolf howl. The others sat down
and howled. And now the call came to Buck in unmistakable
accents. He, too, sat down and howled. This over, he came out of
his angle and the pack crowded around him, sniffing in half-
friendly, half-savage manner. The leaders lifted the yelp of the
pack and sprang away into the woods. The wolves swung in behind,
yelping in chorus. And Buck ran with them, side by side with the
wild brother, yelping as he ran.

* * *

And here may well end the story of Buck. The years were not many
when the Yeehats noted a change in the breed of timber wolves; for
some were seen with splashes of brown on head and muzzle, and with
a rift of white centring down the chest. But more remarkable than
this, the Yeehats tell of a Ghost Dog that runs at the head of the
pack. They are afraid of this Ghost Dog, for it has cunning
greater than they, stealing from their camps in fierce winters,
robbing their traps, slaying their dogs, and defying their bravest

Nay, the tale grows worse. Hunters there are who fail to return
to the camp, and hunters there have been whom their tribesmen
found with throats slashed cruelly open and with wolf prints about
them in the snow greater than the prints of any wolf. Each fall,
when the Yeehats follow the movement of the moose, there is a
certain valley which they never enter. And women there are who
become sad when the word goes over the fire of how the Evil Spirit
came to select that valley for an abiding-place.

In the summers there is one visitor, however, to that valley, of
which the Yeehats do not know. It is a great, gloriously coated
wolf, like, and yet unlike, all other wolves. He crosses alone
from the smiling timber land and comes down into an open s___e
among the trees. Here a yellow stream flows from rotted moose-
hide sacks and sinks into the ground, with long grasses growing
through it and vegetable mould overrunning it and hiding its
yellow from the sun; and here he muses for a time, howling once,
long and mournfully, ere he departs.

But he is not always alone. When the long winter nights come on
and the wolves follow their meat into the lower valleys, he may be
seen running at the head of the pack through the pale moonlight or
glimmering borealis, leaping gigantic above his fellows, his great
throat a-bellow as he sings a song of the younger world, which is
the song of the pack.

See also:

Tom Zé O Sândalo Lyrics
Folksmen Start Me Up Lyrics