Into the Primitive.
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 that
Trouble was brewing not alone for himself, but for every tide-water
Dog, strong of muscle and with warm, long hair, from Puget Sound to
San Diego. Because men, groping in the Arctic darkness, had found a
Yellow metal, and because steamship and transportation companies
Were booming 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, half
Hidden among the trees, through which glimpses could be caught of
The wide cool veranda that ran around its four sides. The house was
Approached by gravelled driveways which wound about through
Widespreading lawns and under the interlacing boughs of tall
Poplars. At the 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 of out-houses, long grape arbours, green pastures,
Orchards, and berry patches. Then there was the pumping plant for
The artesian well, and the big cement tank where Judge Miller’s boys
Took their morning plunge and kept cool in the hot afternoon.
And over this great demesne Buck ruled. Here he was born, and here
He had lived the four years of his life. It was true, there were other
Dogs. There could not but be other dogs on so
vast a place, but they
Did not count. They came and went, resided in the populous kennels, or
Lived obscurely in the recesses of the house after the fashion of
Toots, the Japanese pug, or Ysabel, the Mexican hairless – strange
Creatures that 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 fearful promises at Toots and Ysabel looking out
Of the windows at them and protected by a legion of housemaids armed
With brooms and mops.
But Buck was neither house-dog nor kennel-dog. The whole realm was
His. He plunged into the swimming tank or went hunting with the
Judge’s sons; he escorted Mollie and Alice, the Judge’s daughters,
On long twilight or early morning rambles; on wintry nights he lay
At the Judge’s feet before the roaring library fire; he carried the
Judge’s grandsons on his back, or rolled them in the grass, and
Guarded their footsteps 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 he utterly ignored, for he was king – king over all
The creeping, crawling, flying things of Judge Miller’s place,
His father, Elmo, a huge St. Bernard, had been the Judge’s
Inseparable companion and Buck did fair to follow in the way of his