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<- Previous | First | Next -> Digital Library - - Call Of The Wild by Jack London
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, humans included.

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 father. He was not so largehe weighed only one hundred and
forty pounds-for his mother, Shep, had been a Scotch shepherd
dog. Nevertheless, one hundred and forty pounds, to which was
added the dignity that comes of good living and universal respect,
enabled him to carry himself in right royal fashion. During the four
years since his puppyhood he had lived the life of a sated
aristocrat; he had a fine pride in himself, was ever a trifle
egotistical, as country gentlemen sometimes become because of
their insular situation. But he had saved himself by not becoming a
mere pampered house-dog.

Hunting and kindred outdoor delights had kept down the fat and
hardened his muscles; and to him, as to the cold-tubbing races, the
love of water had been a tonic and a health preserver.

And this was the manner of dog Buck was in the fall of 1897, when
the Klondike strike dragged men from all the world into the frozen
North. But Buck did not read the newspapers, and he did not
know that Manuel, 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
weaknessfaith in a system; and this 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 a wife and
numerous progeny.

The Judge was at a meeting of the Raisin Growers’ Association,
and the boys were busy organising an athletic club, on the
memorable night of Manuel’s treachery. No one saw him and Buck
go off through the orchard on what Buck imagined was merely a
stroll. And with the exception of a solitary man, no one saw them
<- Previous | First | Next -> Digital Library - - Call Of The Wild by Jack London

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