The old man began to chatter angrily, and abuse the lad for introducing a rival on the scene. The strangers hailed the new-comer.
“How much is your dog?”
Peetka stopped, considered, studied the scene immediately before him, and then the distant prospect.
“You got dog?”
“Well, how much?”
“One dog, sixty?”
“But this man says the price is eighty for two.”
“My dog—him Leader.”
After some further conversation, “Where is your dog?” demanded the Colonel.
The new-comer whistled and called. After some waiting, and well-simulated anger on the part of the owner, along comes a dusky Siwash, thin, but keen-looking, and none too mild-tempered.
The children all brightened and craned, as if a friend, or at least a highly interesting member of the community, had appeared on the scene.
“The Nigger’s the best!” whispered the Boy.
“Him bully,” said the lad, and seemed about to pat him, but the Siwash snarled softly, raising his lip and showing his Gleaming fangs. The lad stepped back respectfully, but grinned, reiterating, “Bully dog.”
“Well, I’ll give you fifty for him,” said the Colonel.
“Well, all right, since he’s a leader. Sixty.”
The owner watched the dog as it walked round its master smelling the snow, then turning up its pointed nose interrogatively and waving its magnificent feathery tail. The oblique eyes, acute angle of his short ears, the thick neck, broad chest, and heavy forelegs, gave an impression of mingled alertness and strength you will not see surpassed in any animal that walks the world. Jet-black, except for his grey muzzle and broad chest, he looks at you with the face of his near ancestor, the grizzled wolf. If on short acquaintance you offer any familiarity, as the Colonel ventured to do, and he shows his double row of murderous-looking fangs, the reminder of his fierce forefathers is even more insistent. Indeed, to this day your Siwash of this sort will have his moments of nostalgia, in which he turns back to his wild kinsfolk, and mates again with the wolf.
When the Leader looked at the Colonel with that indescribably horrid smile, the owner’s approval of the proud beast seemed to overcome his avarice.
“Me no sell,” he decided abruptly, and walked off in lordly fashion with his dusky companion at his side, the Leader curling his feathery tail arc-like over his back, and walking with an air princes might envy.