Call of the Wild

Call of the wild

What is the bet Thornton agrees to, and why? Why is he apprehensive about it?

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Buck wins a $1600 bet for his master by pulling a sled loaded with a thousand pounds of flour. After that Buck becomes the most famous dog in Alaska. Thornton fears he has exploited Buck. All who see it are astounded, and a man offers to buy him from John Thornton for 1200 dollars, but Thornton doesn't blink before he refuses.