Chapter 1 To the North
Buck was a strong dog with a thick coat. He lived in a big house, Mr. Miller’s place, in sunny California. There were tall trees around the house, and there was a pool, too. Buck was four years old, and the Millers were his family. He swam with the boys and walked with the women. He carried the babies on his back, and at night Buck sat at Mr. Miller’s feet. There were other dogs at Mr. Miller’s house, but Buck was the most important. He was the boss there, and he was very happy.
That year, 1897, was an exciting year. Some men found gold in the cold Arctic north of Canada, and a lot of people followed them there. Everybody wanted gold. And they wanted dogs – strong dogs with thick coats. The dogs had to pull the gold through the snow to towns and rivers.
But Buck didn’t know about the cold north, or gold – and he didn’t know about Manuel.
Manuel worked for Mr. Miller, but he always wanted more money.
“I can sell Buck,” he thought. “He’s strong. Somebody will pay a lot of money for him.”
One day, Mr. Miller was at work and the children were busy. Manuel put a rope around Buck’s neck and left the house quietly. He met a man at a train station, and the man gave him money for the dog.
Buck didn’t like this new man, and he started to bark. So the man pulled the rope around his neck very hard. This hurt Buck, and it made him angrier. He tried to fight the man, but the man pulled the rope again. The pain was very bad. Buck fell to the ground and his eves closed.
He opened his eyes when a loud noise woke him. He was on a train! And there was that man again.
Buck was very hungry and thirsty, and he hated the rope around his neck. He jumped up and tried to attack the man. But the man was quick, and pulled the rope. Buck’s neck hurt very badly. Then the man put him in a box.
When they arrived in San Francisco, the man left Buck, in his box, at a bar.
The next morning, four other men arrived and put Buck in a car. He barked angrily at them, but they only laughed. He was in the box in the car for two days and two nights without food or water. He hated his box, and he hated the men. He wanted to kill somebody.
After a long time, they arrived in Seattle. Four men carried the box to a house and gave it to a man in a red shirt. This man had a club in his hand, and he looked at Buck.
“OK, I’ll get you out of that box now,” he said. He started to open the box carefully. Buck jumped up and barked. “Now, you crazy dog…” the man said.
And Buck really was crazy now. He had fire in his eyes, and he wanted to kill. He jumped at the man: one hundred and forty pounds of angry, crazy dog. But the man suddenly hit him very hard with the club. Buck fell to the ground, and barked. Then he attacked again. Again the man hit him, and again Buck fell to the ground. The pain was very bad.
Twelve times he attacked, ‘and twelve times the man hit him. In the end, Buck couldn’t stand up. He couldn’t see or hear. He was almost dead.
“That will teach him!” shouted one of the men.
Buck slowly woke up and looked at the man with the red shirt. The man read from a paper on Buck’s box.
“So your name’s Buck. Buck, my boy,” he said quietly, “we had a little fight and now we can forget about it. You know that I’m the boss. Be a good dog, and we’ll be friends. I kill bad dogs. Do you understand?”
He brought Buck some food and water. Buck ate and drank quickly. He learned a lesson that day. He learned the lesson of the club, and he never forgot it.