She was on her knees beside him, all fluffy and sweet and beautiful, her eyes shining wonderfully, her hands about to touch him. Should he cringe back? Should he snap? Was she one of the things on the wall, and his enemy? Should he leap at her white throat? He saw the man running forward, pale as death. Then her hand fell upon his head and the touch sent a thrill through him that quivered in every nerve of his body. With both hands she turned up his head. Her face was very close, and he heard her say, almost sobbingly:
“And you are Kazan—dear old Kazan, my Kazan, my hero dog—who brought him home to me when all the others had died! My Kazan—my hero!”
And then, miracle of miracles, her face was crushed down against him, and he felt her sweet warm touch.
In those moments Kazan did not move. He scarcely breathed. It seemed a long time before the girl lifted her face from him. And when she did, there were tears in her blue eyes, and the man was standing above them, his hands gripped tight, his jaws set.
“I never knew him to let any one touch him—with their naked hand,” he said in a tense wondering voice. “Move back quietly, Isobel. Good heaven—look at that!”
Kazan whined softly, his bloodshot eyes on the girl’s face. He wanted to feel her hand again; he wanted to touch her face. Would they beat him with a club, he wondered, if he dared! He meant no harm now. He would kill for her. He cringed toward her, inch by inch, his eyes never faltering. He heard what the man said—“Good heaven! Look at that!”—and he shuddered. But no blow fell to drive him back. His cold muzzle touched her filmy dress, and she looked at him, without moving, her wet eyes blazing like stars.
“See!” she whispered. “See!”
Half an inch more—an inch, two inches, and he gave his big gray body a hunch toward her. Now his muzzle traveled slowly upward—over her foot, to her lap, and at last touched the warm little hand that lay there. His eyes were still on her face: he saw a queer throbbing in her bare white throat, and then a trembling of her lips as she looked up at the man with a wonderful look. He, too, knelt down beside them, and put his arm about the girl again, and patted the dog on his head. Kazan did not like the man’s touch. He mistrusted it, as nature had taught him to mistrust the touch of all men’s hands, but he permitted it because he saw that it in some way pleased the girl.
“Kazan, old boy, you wouldn’t hurt her, would you?” said his master softly. “We both love her, don’t we, boy? Can’t help it, can we? And she’s ours, Kazan, all ours! She belongs to you and to me, and we’re going to take care of her all our lives, and if we ever have to we’ll fight for her like hell—won’t we? Eh, Kazan, old boy?”