Buck was a very happy dog. For four years he lived at Judge Miller's house in warm southern California. Buck had a lazy, pleasant life. Then one day Manuel, the Judge's gardener, lost all his money, and Buck's life changed.
Manuel knew Buck was big and strong. He also knew some men who would pay a lot of money for a good dog. These men needed large, strong dogs to help them with their work in Canada, far to the north of warm southern California. One sunny day Manuel stole Buck. He put a rope around Buck's neck and took him away from his happy home. Manuel sold Buck to two men named Perrault and Francois. They took Buck on a train going north.
Buck was very unhappy. He didn't understand what was happening to him. And he didn't like the rope around his neck. When he pulled, the rope hurt his throat. He was very angry.
For two days and nights Buck travelled north on the train. At last the train stopped and the men pushed Buck out. Buck stood and waited. The air was cold in this strange place. The rope was still around his neck. The men were talking and laughing with other men at the railway station. Buck was sad and very angry. He pulled on the rope. Perrault and Francois told him to stop pulling. But he pulled on the rope again and again. Then it happened.
Buck saw Francois holding a stick in his hand. Buck played with sticks at the Judge's house. He thought Francois was going to play a game with him. But Francois held the stick above Buck's head and brought it down on him. Buck didn't know what had happened. He felt the pain of being hit with a stick for the first time in his life. He was angry and he tried to bite Francois. This was a mistake. Francois hit him with the stick again and again. The pain hurt and Buck's mouth was bleeding. Buck learned he could not win against the man, the stick and the rope. He sat down, and the men laughed at him.
Jack London was an American who spent much of his life living and working in wild places. In the 1890s he went to Canada and Alaska to look for gold, and wrote many stories about his life there.
Jack London: The Call of the Wild and Other Stories. Oxford Progressive English Readers; Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1992
Grade 1 (1,400 headwords)