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‘Sacredam!’ he cried, when his eyes lit upon Buck. ‘Dat one dam
bully dog! Eh? How much?’ ‘Three hundred, and a present at that,’
was the prompt reply of the man in the red sweater. ‘And seein’ it’s
government money, you ain’t got no kick coming; eh, Perrault?’
Perrault grinned. Considering that the price of dogs had been
boomed skyward by the unwonted demand, it was not an unfair
sum for so fine an animal.
The Canadian Government would be no loser, nor would its
despatches travel the slower. Perrault knew dogs, and when he
looked at Buck he knew that he was one in a thousand-‘One in ten
t’ousand,’ he commented mentally.
Buck saw money pass between them, and was not surprised when
Curly, a good-natured Newfoundland, and he were led away by
the little weazened 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 the
Narwhal, it was the last he saw of the warm Southland. Curly and
he were taken below by Perrault and turned over to a black-faced
giant called Francois. Perrault was a French-Canadian, and
swarthy; but Francois 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
see many more), and while he developed no affection for them, he
none the less grew honestly to respect them. He speedily learned
that Perrault and Francois were fair men, calm and impartial in
administering justice, and too wise in the way of dogs to be ever
fooled by dogs.
In the ‘tween-decks of the Narwhal, Buck and Curly joined two
One of them was a big, snow-white fellow from Spitzbergen who
had been brought away by a whaling captain, and who had later
accompanied a Geological Survey into the Barrens.
He was friendly, in a treacherous sort of way, smiling into one’s
face the while he meditated some underhand trick, as, for instance,
when he stole from Buck’s food at the first meal. As Buck sprang to
punish him, the lash of Francois whip sang through the air,
reaching the culprit first; and nothing remained to Buck but to
recover the bone. That was fair of Francois, he decided, and the
half-breed began to rise in Buck’s estimation.