|“||Precious lot you know about dogs, and I wish you'd leave me alone. They're lazy, I tell you, and you've got to whip them to get anything out of them. That's their way. You ask anyone, ask one of those men.||„|
|~ Hal to Mercedes.|
Hal, Mercedes and Charles are the secondary antagonists of Jack London's 1903 short adventure novel The Call of the Wild. They are a trio of inexperienced and incompetent stampeders who buy Buck and his team from a Scotch Half-Breed and know nothing about how to survive in the Alaskan winter.
Hal is an out-of-place dog musher who knows nothing about dogs and how to work with them. He is a youngster of 19 or 20, with a big Colt's revolver and a hunting knife strapped about him on a belt that fairly bristled with cartridges. This belt was the most salient thing about him. It advertised his callowness--a callowness sheer and unutterable. Both him and Charles were manifestly out of place, and why such as they should adventure the North is part of the mystery of things that passes understanding. The three buy Buck and his team and try to drive them, but their inexperience makes them terrible masters, as they run out of food during the journey and bicker among themselves. Hal and his companions are meant to represent the weakness of overcivilized men and to embody the man-dog relationship at its worst. He also doesn't like when Mercedes pleased him to stop and he didn't listen to other experienced mushers' advice and wanted to do everything in his own way. Hal is shown to be the most violent and aggressive of the group as well as the leader and the overall secondary antagonist.
Mercedes is Hal's sister and Charles' wife. She is spoiled and pampered and her unreasonable demands slow them on their journey and contribute to its disastrous ending. However, her civilized manner contrasts that of her unprepared brother and husband in that she initially feels sympathetic for the worn-out sled team. Her behavior demonstrates how civilized women are unsuited for life in the Alaskan North, having been spoiled and babied by the men around them. When Buck first meets Mercedes, she is getting in the way and giving lots of advice on packing that is not very helpful. When some people suggest they leave the tent behind, Mercedes throws up "her hands in dainty dismay. However in the world could I manage without a tent?"
Charles is a middle-aged, lightish colored man, with weak and watery eyes and a mustache that twisted fiercely and vigorously up, giving the lie to the limply drooping lip it concealed. If Charles is any better than Hal, it’s only because he’s more passive and therefore less violent. Unlike his wife and brother-in-law, he has little to no personality. However, in some adaptations, he is shown to have some knowledge about the wilderness and how to take care of Buck and the team, despite his cluelessness in the book.
Hal and Charles buy Buck and the other sled dogs from a Scotch Half-Breed, who needed new dogs. When Hal and Charles return to their camp, Mercedes was waiting for them. It was revealed that she was Hal's sister and Charles' wife.
The trio proved that they didn't know how to work in Alaska, because they didn't know how to pack sleds perfectly. Soon Hal tries to get Buck and others dogs pull weight, but it was too much for them and started to beat them. Mercedes pleased him to stop, but Hal didn't listen to other experienced mushers' advice and wanted to do everything in his own way. But soon Hal listened to one's advice and decides to break the sleds out of the snow, but dogs were mad and ran him over with sleds. With help of the townspeople, the dogs were caught and Hal needed to get rid of half of the things. This caused hysteria of Mercedes and they decided to buy 7 dogs, making a team of 14.
The next day, the trio started the trip, but soon it appeared that they were poor, because Hal planned everything and didn't know how much food he needed for the dogs. Soon when they run out of food, Hal cut the rations in half and this caused the dogs to lose their strength and die on the trail. He also killed a few of the dogs by smashing their heads and shooting them when they fall to the ground lifeless.
Hal and Charles soon become annoyed by Mercedes, who wanted to ride on the sled, but when they get her out of the sled and left her on snow, after traveling 3 miles, they come back and pick up her as if she was a queen.
In one of the towns, Hal trades his revolver for a frozen horse hide, but this soon turned out to be a bad idea as the dogs couldn't eat it as more dogs continue to die on the trail.
One day, the trio and the starving dogs reach John Thornton's camp. Thornton advised the trio to not go on the thin ice leading to Dawson, but Hal ignores him and starts beating the dogs to get up and all the dogs (except Buck) obeyed him. Soon, Hal gets furious and starts to beat Buck with more violence than before. Thornton attacks Hal and they start to fight, but Thornton manages to beat Hal and save Buck from him. Soon, the trio foolishly continue their trip over the thin ice. The ice breaks and the trio fall into the river and drown, along with the neglected dogs.
- Mercedes is the only female human character in the book, not counting Alice and Molly Miller, who were only mentioned.
- Their last names were Levant in the 2000 series, though Charles doesn't appear.
- Unlike many versions of Mercedes, she was a kind and helpful woman to Buck in the 2000 series.
- Hal plays a much bigger role in the 2020 film as the main antagonist. Unlike the book, he survived the ice break and pursued Thornton to get revenge on him.
- Charles never appeared in the 2000 series, unlike Hal and Mercedes. However, Swede is made to be a representation of Francois and Perrault (who is Buck's first owner) and Charles (who has a relationship with Mercedes and becomes engaged to her).
- The trio never existed in the 1976 film. Instead, the man who beats Buck is Thornton's former partner, Francois.
- In addition, Francois never met Thornton and was the original sled owner of Buck, alongside Perrault.
- Despite being merely vain and ignorant, the trio (especially Hal) still beat their dogs to death due to their weaknesses to pull their sled, although he's not as evil as Beauty Smith.
- There are a few differences between the trio in the book and the 1972 film:
- They buy Buck and his team from Auction instead of buying them from mail delivery.
- Charles understands that they can't drive dogs, because they have no experience and also he won't turn back and don't go on the ice road to Dawson. In the book, Charles doesn't show this trait and is clueless.
- Mercedes doesn't tell Hal to stop beating the dogs, unlike the book.
- Before their death, they are attacked by a pack of wolves, unlike the book.
- In the anime film, Hal and Charles' hair and coat are the opposite of each other.
- When the trio buy Buck and the team in the 1997 TV movie Call of the Wild: Dog of the Yukon, Spitz and Curly can be seen in the team, even though they were supposed to be dead.
- Mercedes' dogs were named Jack, Rocky, Andy and Dixie in the 1997 movie.
- In the 1993 film, it was only implied that the trio died after the ice broke.
- The trio never existed in the 2002 animated adaptation by GoodTimes Entertainment. Instead, their role was taken by Wallace, who was inspired by Hal.