The Call of the Wild
Air date 1903
Written by Jack London
Episode Guide Full chapter
Chapter VI: For the Love of a Man

The Sounding of the Call is the seventh and final chapter in the The Call of the Wild



John Thornton pays off his debts with money he earns from the bet, and he sets off to the east to find a fabled lost mine that is supposed to make a man rich. Together with his other dogs and his friends Pete and Hans, he and Buck wander in the wilderness, hunting and fishing and living off the land, until they reach a shallow place in a valley full of gold. The men earn thousands of dollars a day panning for gold, and the dogs have nothing to do. Buck begins to feel wild yearnings. One night, he springs up from sleep with a start, hearing a call from the forest. He dashes through the woods and finds a timber wolf, one-third his size. Buck begins to circle the wolf and make friendly advances, but the wolf is afraid.

Finally, the two show their friendship by sniffing noses, and the wolf leads Buck away through the forest. They stop to drink, and Buck remembers John Thornton. The wolf encourages him to keep following, but Buck starts back toward the camp. When he arrives, Thornton is eating dinner, and Buck showers him with affection. For two days, he never allows Thornton out of his sight. Then, he hears the call more loudly than ever and is haunted by recollections of his wild friend. He begins to stay away from the camp for days at a time, hunting his own food.

Buck has two identities at this point: one as sled dog in Thornton’s camp, another as wild hunter in the forest. He kills a bear and fishes for salmon the river; when the moose come in the fall, Buck hunts them eagerly. He cuts a bull away from the pack to kill him and finally brings him down after four days. Then he heads back to the camp. On the way, he feels a strange stirring in the wilderness, of something new abroad, and he feels a premonition of calamity. His feeling is proven correct when he finds Thornton’s dog Nig and one of the dogs bought in Dawson, both dying on the trail. As he approaches the camp, he sees Hans lying facedown, arrows covering him. He peers out to where the lodge had been and sees Yeehat Indians dancing in the wreckage. Buck charges, cutting their throats with his fangs and killing several of them. The Indians scatter, and Buck finds the rest of his camp, including Thornton, dead.

Buck mourns his dead master but feels pride at having killed the Yeehats. Henceforth, he will not fear men unless they carry weapons. He hears the call of the wolf again. His ties to Thornton broken by death, he heads off to follow it. He finds the pack, and one wolf lunges for his throat, but he breaks its neck easily. Three others try but pull back. After half an hour they all draw back, and one of them approaches Buck in a friendly manner. Buck recognizes him to be the wolf he encountered in the woods. Buck joins the wolf pack, and the Yeehats notice a difference in the local breed of timber wolves as years pass. They also tell of a Ghost Dog that runs at the front of the pack, singing songs and leaping above his fellows. They tell of a haunted valley—where Thornton lies dead—where an evil spirit dwells, and where, every year, Buck comes and mourns for a time beside the stream before loping away to rejoin the pack.