“No market for dogs now,” seemed to be the general opinion, and one person bore up well under the news.
But the next day a man, very splashed and muddy, and obviously just in from the gulches, stopped, in going by Keith’s, and looked at Nig.
“Dog market’s down,” quoted the Boy internally to hearten himself.
“That mahlemeut’s for sale,” observed the Colonel to the stranger.
“These are.” The Boy hastily dragged Red and Spot upon the scene.
“Seventy-five dollars apiece.”
The man laughed. “Ain’t you heard the dog season’s over?”
“Well, don’t you count on livin’ to the next?”
The man pushed his slouch over his eyes and scratched the back of his head.
“Unless I can git ’em reasonable, dogs ain’t worth feedin’ till next winter.”
“I suppose not,” said the Boy sympathetically; “and you can’t get fish here.”
“Right. Feedin’ yourn on bacon, I s’pose, at forty cents a pound?’
“Bacon and meal.”
“Guess you’ll get tired o’ that.”
“Well, we’d sell you the red dog for sixty dollars,” admitted the Boy.
The man stared. “Give you thirty for that black brute over there.”
“Thirty dollars for Nig!”
“And not a—cent more. Dogs is down.” He could get a dozen as good for twenty-five dollars.
“Just you try.” But the Colonel, grumbling, said thirty dollars was thirty dollars, and he reckoned he’d call it a deal. The Boy stared, opened his mouth to protest, and shut it without a sound.
The Colonel had untied Nig, and the Leader, unmindful of the impending change in his fortunes, dashed past the muddy man from the gulch with such impetuosity that he knocked that gentleman off his legs. He picked himself up scowling, and was feeling for his gold sack.
“Got scales here?”
“No need of scales.” The Boy whipped out a little roll of money, counted out thirty dollars, and held it towards the Colonel. “I can afford to keep Nig awhile if that’s his figure.”
The stranger was very angry at this new turn in the dog deal. He had seen that Siwash out at the gulch, heard he was for sale, and came in “a purpose to git him.”
“The dog season’s over,” said the Boy, pulling Nig’s ears and smiling.
“Oh, is it? Well, the season for eatin’ meals ain’t over. How’m I to git grub out to my claim without a dog?”
“We are offerin’ you a couple o’ capital draught dogs.”
“I bought that there Siwash, and I’d a paid fur him if he hadn’t a knocked me down.” He advanced threateningly. “An’ if you ain’t huntin’ trouble—”
The big Colonel stepped in and tried to soothe the stranger, as well as to convince him that this was not the party to try bullying on.
“I’ll give you forty dollars for the dog,” said the muddy man sulkily to the Boy.