Buck did not read the newspapers, or he would have known that trouble was brewing, not alone for himself, but for every tide-water dog, strong of muscle
and with warm, long hair, from Puget Sound to San Diego. Because of men, groping in the Arctic darkness had found a yellow metal
, and because steamship and transportation
companies were booming the find, thousands of men were rushing into the Northland. These men wanted dogs, and the dogs they wanted were heavy dogs, with strong muscles by which to toil
, and furry coats to protect
them from the frost.
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, half hidden among the trees, through
which glimpses could be caught of the wide cool veranda
that ran around its four sides. The house was approached by graveled driveways which wound
wide-spreading lawns and under the interlacing boughs of tall poplars. At the rear things were on even a more spacious scale
than at the front. There were great stables, where a dozen grooms and boys held forth, rows of vine-clad servants’ cottages, an endless and orderly array
of outhouses, long grape arbors, green pastures, orchards, and berry patches. Then there was the pumping plant for the artesian well and the big cement tank
where Judge Miller’s boys took their morning plunge
and kept cool in the hot afternoon.