The next morning, Francois discovered that Spitz had disappeared and Buck was strutting around. He realized what must have happened, ""Dat Spitz fight lak hell," said Perrault, as he surveyed the gaping rips and cuts. "An' dat Buck fight lak two hells," was Francois' answer. "An' now we make good time. No more Spitz, no more trouble, sure."
As they started packing camp, Buck walked up to the lead place that had belonged to Spitz. Not noticing this, Francoise was putting Sol-leks there, as he felt that he had the most experience. Buck did not agree with this decision and would not leave the spot.
He refused to budge even when Francois tried to pull him away by his collar. Francois became angry and brought out the club. Buck moved aside and circled beyond the range of the club, snarling bitter with rage. He was wise in the ways of the club. When it was Buck's turn to be harnessed in his old place, Francois called out to him to take his place in front of Dave, but Buck refused. Buck was in open revolt as he felt that the leadership position was rightfully his. The men threw clubs at him, cursed him and Buck carefully kept out of their way and didn't run away either.
Francois and Perrault decided that too much time had already been wasted and relented. Then Francois called to Buck to take the lead. This was a triumphal moment for Buck.
As the day progressed, Francoise saw Buck take his leadership at a bound, displaying good judgment, thinking and acting superior to Spitz who was himself unequalled in quality. Francoise pronounced that Buck was better than Spitz had ever been in maintaining law and order amongst the team and getting them to perform to the best of their ability.
At Rink Rapids two huskies - Teek and Koona were added and Buck broke them in with ease. Perrault and Francois were amazed at Buck's leadership ability. The trail conditions on this run were excellent and they were averaging 40 miles per day. When they reached Skagway, they were ahead of schedule. It was a record run and François, Perrault, and the team were lauded with honors for three days.
At the height of their glory, Francois and Perrault were relieved of their courier duties and received different orders. They were no longer in need of the team of dogs and had to leave them. Both men wept like children when it was time to say good-bye to Buck.
The sled team was now taken over by a Scotch half-breed and his friends, who were traveling with another half dozen dogs back to Dawson City bringing heavy loads of mail for the miners. Buck didn't like being part of a mail caravan but accepted the responsibility as well as he could. Like Dave and Sol-leks, he just saw to it that everyone did his share of work. The work was monotonous and not challenging as before.
At night, after dinner, Buck loved to lie near the fire and remember different events from his past; a past that seemed to go back even further than his life at Judge Miller's villa. "Far more potent were the memories of his heredity that gave things he had never seen before a seeming familiarity; the instincts (which were but the memories of his ancestors become habits) which had lapsed in later days, and still later, in him, quickened and became alive again."
The heavy work wore them down. When they made it to Dawson, they had lost weight, and were in poor condition. They needed at least ten days rest but in two days they again had to leave the Yukon with letters. Everybody grumbled about this and the weather conditions didn't help matters either. It snowed every day making it even harder to pull the sled.
When camp was pitched at night, the dogs were fed first and the drivers gave them a complete check over. Nevertheless, the tough schedule and the heavy work load started to take its toll on them. Buck maintained discipline and made sure that everyone did his share of the work. The only one suffering from all this was Dave. He required a tremendous amount of sleep, fell frequently, and cried out with pain when he was jerked in the traces. It was obvious that something was seriously wrong with him. In order to provide a period of rest for him, he was taken out of the train and allowed to run free behind or next to the sled.
This upset Dave tremendously and though he was sick. He did not want to give up his spot on the team to another dog and started to attack Sol-leks who had been placed in his spot. When numerous attempts to get him to accept being out of harness failed, the men realized that Dave wanted to work until the very end and they gave in to him. He appeared to be very proud to be back on the job and pulled with all his might even though it was obvious that he was in pain. He fell down several times and at one point the sled fell on him and he limped on one leg, but he held out until they reached camp.
In the morning when everyone was getting ready, it was a sad sight to see him attempt to stand up but fall back down. When the sled started to leave, he wistfully looked after them as he was unable to even trail after them and had to be left behind. When the sled turned a bend, the men halted the team and one of them went back to Dave. A shot was heard and everyone knew what had taken place.
In this chapter London describes how Buck's personality has changed and he takes control of the team. In order to assume this leadership position Buck not only has to defeat Spitz, but he also has to convince Francois and Perrault that he is capable of holding this spot. He is able to successfully accomplish both of these tasks and becomes a very smart and demanding leader.
The description of Dave's perseverance to continue working and his stubborn refusal to accept his illness shows how London has given the sled dogs human feelings of pride in their work.