The Call of the Wild / Зов предков
Джек Лондон

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The Call of the Wild / Зов предков
Джек Лондон

Д. А. Демидова

Легко читаем по-английски
«Зов предков» – одно из самых захватывающих произведений Джека Лондона, непревзойденного мастера приключенческого романа. В книге описывается жизнь удивительного пса по имени Бак, который оказывается в Канаде в самый разгар золотой лихорадки.

Для удобства читателя оригинальный текст незначительно адаптирован, сопровождается комментариями и кратким словарем.

Предназначается для продолжающих изучать английский язык (уровень 4 – Upper-Intermediate).

Jack London / Джек Лондон

The Call of the Wild / Зов предков

© ООО «Издательство ACT», 2017

Chapter I. Into The Primitive

Buck did not read the newspapers, or he would have known that trouble was coming, not only for himself, but for every strong dog, muscular and with warm, long hair, from Puget Sound to San Diego. Because men had found a yellow metal, and thousands of them were rushing into the Northland. These men wanted strong dogs.

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, and there were great stables, servants’ cottages, outhouses, grape, berries, green fields, gardens, and an artesian well.

And over this great territory Buck ruled. Here he was born, and here he had lived the four years of his life. Of course, there were other dogs, but they did not count.

Buck was not a house-dog. The whole place was his. He swam in the swimming tank or went hunting with the Judge’s sons; he escorted Mollie and Alice, the Judge’s daughters, on their walks; on winter nights he lay at the Judge’s feet before the library fire; he carried the Judge’s grandsons on his back. He walked imperiously, for he was king, – king over all creeping, crawling, flying things of Judge Miller’s place, humans included.

His father, Elmo, a huge St. Bernard,[1 - St. Bernard – сенбернар] had been the Judge’s inseparable companion, and Buck followed the way of his father. He was not so large, – he weighed only one hundred and forty pounds, – for his mother, Shep, had been a Scotch shepherd[2 - Scotch shepherd – шотландская овчарка] dog. Nevertheless, one hundred and forty pounds, to which was added the dignity that comes of good living and everyone’s respect, made him behave like a king. Since his puppyhood he had lived the life of an aristocrat; he had pride in himself, was even a bit egotistical, as country gentlemen sometimes become. But he had saved himself by not becoming a simple house-dog. Hunting and a number of outdoor delights had kept down the fat and hardened his muscles; and to him the love of water had been a tonic and a health preserver.

This was the way Buck lived until the autumn of 1897, when the Klondike fever called 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 a bad friend. Manuel had one awful sin. He loved to play Chinese lottery. And to play lottery requires money, while the salary of a gardener’s helper does not exceed the needs of his wife and numerous children.

The Judge and the boys were not at home on the memorable night of Manuel’s treachery. No one saw him and Buck go off through the garden on what Buck imagined was just a walk. And no one saw them arrive at a little place known as College Park. Some man talked with Manuel, and money were passed between them. Then Manuel fastened a rope around Buck’s neck.

“Twist it, and you’ll choke him alright,” he said.

Buck did not like the rope, of course, but he had learnt to trust in men he knew. But when the ends of the rope were placed in the stranger’s hands, he growled menacingly. He had just showed his displeasure, but to his surprise the rope tightened around his neck, blocking his breath. In quick rage he sprang at the man, who met him halfway, and threw him over on his back. Then the rope tightened cruelly, while Buck struggled in a fury, his tongue lolling out[3 - his tongue lolling out – вывалив язык] of his mouth and his great chest shaking. Never in all his life had he been so awfully treated, and never in all his life had he been so angry. But his strength left him, his eyes closed, and he knew nothing when the train was started moving and the two men threw him into the baggage car.

The next he knew, he was aware that his tongue was hurting. The sound of a locomotive told him where he was. He had often travelled with the Judge and knew the sensation of riding in a baggage car. He opened his eyes, and into them came the anger of a kidnapped king. The man approached him, but Buck’s jaws immediately closed on his hand.

Suffering awful pain from throat and tongue, with the life half gone out of him, Buck attempted to face his kidnappers, when they came again. But he was thrown down and choked repeatedly. Then he was put into a cage.

There he lay, nursing his wrath and wounded pride.[4 - nursing his wrath and wounded pride – вынашивая свой гнев и ущемленную гордыню] He could not understand what it all meant. He felt some coming trouble. Several times during the night he sprang to his feet when the door opened, expecting to see the Judge, or the boys at least. But each time it was the face of the saloon-keeper. And each time the joyful bark that was in Buck’s throat transformed into a savage growl.

In the morning four men entered and picked up the cage. More kidnappers, Buck decided; and he raged at them through the bars. Then he, locked in the cage, began a passage through many hands. After the express office he was put in another wagon; a truck carried him upon a ferry steamer; he was taken off the steamer, and finally he was put in an express car.

For two days and nights in this express car Buck neither ate nor drank. He did not mind the hunger so much, but the lack of water made him suffer. Because of the ill treatment[5 - ill treatment – дурное обращение] he had a fever.

He was glad for one thing: the rope was off his neck. Now he would show them. They would never get another rope around his neck. Upon that he was sure. His eyes turned blood-shot,[6 - His eyes turned blood-shot – его глаза налились кровью] and he looked like a devil. So changed was he that the Judge himself would not have recognized him; and the express messengers breathed with relief when they carried him off the train at Seattle.

Four men brought the cage in a small, high-walled back yard. A stout man in a red sweater that was too wide at the neck came out and signed the book for the driver. That was, Buck thought, the next kidnapper, and he flung himself savagely against the bars. The man smiled grimly, and brought an axe and a club.

Buck was truly a devil, hair bristling, mouth foaming,[7 - hair bristling, mouth foaming – ощетинившийся, с пеной у рта] a mad glitter in his blood-shot eyes. When out from the cage, straight at the man he rushed his one hundred and forty pounds of fury. In mid air, just as his teeth were ready to close on the man, he received a blow and fell on the ground on his back and side. He had never been struck by a club in his life, and did not understand. With a snarl he was again on his feet and jumped into the air. And again he was brought to the ground. This time he was aware that it was the club, but his madness knew no caution. Many times he tried, and each time the club smashed him down. Finally, the man gave him a frightful blow on the nose. In agony of pain, covered with blood, Buck roared lion-like and tried to spring at him. But the man coolly caught him by the under jaw. Buck described a complete circle in the air, and half of another, then crashed to the ground on his head and chest. For last time he rushed – and, having received the final blow, went down, totally senseless.

After a while, Buck’s senses came back to him, but not his strength. He lay where he had fallen, and from there he watched the man in the red sweater.

“‘Answers to the name of Buck,’” the man read, quoting from the saloon-keeper’s letter which had described the cage and contents. “Well, Buck, my boy,” he went on in a kind voice, “You’ve learnt your place, and I know mine. Be a good dog and all will go well. Be a bad dog, and I’ll crash you. Understand?”

As he spoke he fearlessly touched the head he had hit, and though Buck’s hair involuntarily bristled under his hand, he did not protest. When the man brought him water he drank eagerly, and later ate a portion of raw meat from the man’s hand.

He was beaten (he knew that); but he was not broken. He saw that he stood no chance against[8 - to stand no chance against somebody – не иметь возможности противостоять кому-либо] a man with a club. He had learnt the lesson, and he never forgot it. That club was a revelation. It was his introduction to the primitive law, and he understood it quickly. As the days went by, other dogs came, in cages and at the ends of ropes, some calmly, and some raging as he had come; and he watched them pass under the reign of the man in the red sweater. The lesson was simple: a man with a club was a master to be obeyed, though not necessarily tolerated. This last Buck never did, though he saw beaten dogs that wagged their tails,[9 - to wag one’s tail – вилять хвостом] and licked his hand. Also he saw one dog, that neither tolerated nor obeyed, finally killed in the fight for mastery.

Now and again men came, who talked to the man in the red sweater. And at such times money passed between them and the strangers took one or more of the dogs away with them. Buck wondered where they went, for they never came back; but the fear of the future was strong upon him, and he was glad each time when he was not chosen.

Yet his time came, in the end, in the form of a little wizened man who spoke broken English and had many strange exclamations.

“Sacredam!” he cried, when he saw Buck. “That one bully dog! Eh? How much?”

“Three hundred,” answered the man in the red sweater. “And as it’s government money, you can spend it safely, eh, Perrault?”

Perrault smiled. Considering that the price of dogs had been raised high by the demand, it was not an unfair sum for so fine an animal. The Canadian Government would be no loser. Perrault knew dogs, and when he looked at Buck he knew that he was one in ten thousands.

Buck saw money pass between them, and was not surprised when Curly, a good-natured Newfoundland,[10 - a good-natured Newfoundland – добродушный ньюфаундленд] and he were led away by the little wizened man. That was the last he saw of[11 - to see the last of something – видеть что-либо в последний раз] the man in the red sweater. And as Curly and he looked at Seattle from the deck of the ship, it was the last he saw of the warm Southland. Curly and he were taken below by Perrault and given 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, and, though he had no affection for them, he honestly respected them. He quickly learnt that Perrault and Francois were fair men, calm and objective, and too wise to be fooled by dogs.

On the ship, Buck and Curly joined two other dogs. One of them was a big, snow-white fellow from Spitzbergen who had been brought away by a whaling captain,[12 - a whaling captain – капитан китобойного судна] 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 planned some trick. The other dog showed plainly that all he desired was to be left alone,[13 - to leave alone – оставить в покое] and further, that there would be trouble if he were not left alone. “Dave” he was called, and he ate and slept, and took interest in nothing, not even when the ship was caught in a storm. When Buck and Curly were half wild with fear, he raised his head as though annoyed, looked at them, yawned, and went to sleep again.

Though one day was very like another, it was clear that the weather was slowly becoming colder. At last, one morning, there was the atmosphere of excitement on the ship. Francois brought them on deck. At the first step upon the cold surface, Buck’s feet sank into a white something very like mud. He sprang back with a snort. More of this white thing was falling through the air. He shook himself, but more of it fell upon him. He sniffed it curiously, then licked it with his tongue. It bit like fire, and the next instant was gone. This puzzled him. He tried it again, with the same result. Those who looked laughed loudly, and he felt ashamed, he knew not why, for it was his first snow.

Chapter II. The Law of Club and Fang

Buck’s first day on the Dyea beach was like a nightmare. Every hour was filled with shock. He had been suddenly taken from the heart of civilization and thrown into the heart of primordial things. Here was neither peace, nor rest, nor a moment’s safety, for these dogs and men were not town dogs and men. They were cruel, all of them, and knew no law but the law of club and fang.

He had never seen dogs fight as these wolfish creatures fought, and his first experience taught him an unforgettable lesson. It was not he but Curly who was the victim. She, in her friendly way, approached a husky dog, big, though not half so large as she. There was no warning, only a leap, a metallic clip of teeth, and Curly’s face was ripped open[14 - to ripe open – порвать, разодрать] from eye to jaw.

It was the wolf manner of fighting, to strike and leap away. Thirty or forty huskies surrounded the fighters. Buck did not understand that, nor the eager way with which they were licking their chops.[15 - to lick one’s chops – облизываться] Curly rushed at her antagonist, who struck again and leaped aside. He met her next rush with his chest, which threw her off her feet. She never stood up again. This was what the huskies had waited for. They closed in upon her,[16 - to close in upon somebody – сомкнуться над кем-то, навалиться, наброситься] snarling and yelping, and she was buried, screaming with agony, beneath the mass of bodies.

Buck was shocked. He saw Spitz run out his scarlet tongue as if laughing; and he saw Francois, with an axe, spring into the mess of dogs. Three men with clubs were helping him. Two minutes from the time Curly went down, all dogs were clubbed off. But she lay there lifeless in the bloody snow, practically torn to pieces, the swarthy half-breed standing over her and cursing horribly. The scene often came back to Buck to trouble him in his sleep. So that was the way. No fair play. Once down, that was the end of you. Well, he would see to it[17 - to see to something – убедиться, проследить за чем-либо] that he never went down. Spitz ran out his tongue and laughed again, and from that moment Buck hated him.

Before he had recovered from the shock, he received another one. Francois fastened upon him a harness, such as he had seen people put on the horses at home. So he was set to work. He was hurt by being made a draught animal,[18 - a draught animal – тягловое животное] but he was too wise to protest. He did his best, though it was all new and strange. Francois demanded instant obedience – and with his whip received instant obedience. Buck learnt easily, and under the combined tuition of Dave and Spitz – experienced sled-dogs and cruel teachers – and Francois made remarkable progress. Soon he knew enough to stop at “ho,” to go ahead at “mush,” to turn and to keep clear when the sled went downhill.

By afternoon, Perrault, who was in a hurry to be on the trail with his despatches, returned with two more dogs. “Billee” and “Joe” he called them, two brothers, and true huskies both. But they were as different as day and night. Billee’s one fault was his good nature, while Joe was the very opposite. Buck met them in friendly fashion, Dave ignored them, while Spitz fought with both of them.

By evening Perrault brought another dog, an old husky, long and thin, with scars on his face and a single eye. He was called Solleks, which means the Angry One. Like Dave, he asked nothing, gave nothing, expected nothing; and even Spitz left him alone. He did not like to be approached on his blind side. When it happened, Solleks rushed upon Buck and slashed his shoulder to the bone. Forever after Buck avoided his blind side, and to the last of their comradeship had no more trouble. His only seeming ambition, like Dave’s, was to be left alone; though, as Buck was later to learn, each of them had one other and more vital ambition.

That night Buck faced the great problem of sleeping. When he, naturally, entered the tent, Perrault and Francois threw him out. A chill wind was blowing outside. He lay down on the snow and attempted to sleep, but it was too cold. Miserable, he walked about among the tents. Here and there dogs rushed upon him, but he bristled his neck-hair and snarled (for he was learning fast), and they let him go his way.

Finally an idea came to him. He would return and see how his own team-mates were doing it. To his astonishment, they had disappeared. If they were not in the tent, where could they possibly be? Suddenly the snow sank beneath his legs. Something moved there. He sprang back, bristling and snarling, fearful of the unseen and unknown. But a friendly little yelp came to him, and he went back. A portion of warm air got to his nose, and there, curled up under the snow, lay Billee. He whined in a friendly way and even dared to lick Buck’s face with his warm wet tongue.

Another lesson. So that was the way they did it? Buck chose a place, and with much waste effort dug a hole for himself. The heat from his body filled the space under the snow, and he fell asleep. The day had been long and nervous, and he slept soundly, though he growled and barked and had bad dreams.

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