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
 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 blankets.
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 butter 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,
 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 cock 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 spaces where the
niggerheads 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 rise.
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 distance.
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
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 treetops.
 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
 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, retarding 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 preying.
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.
"LYING DOWN WHEN THE MOOSE STOOD STILL."
 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 itself.
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
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
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
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 space 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.
"IN THE SUMMERS THERE IS ONE VISITOR TO THAT VALLEY . . . A GREAT, GLORIOUSLY COATED WOLF."
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 pricked 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,
 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 hunters.
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 space 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.
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