In “Scotty” Baldy discerned a compelling personality to whom he rendered willing allegiance and respect, as well as a dawning affection. And it was with much gratification that he had heard occasionally after inspection comments in a tone that contained no trace of regret at his presence, even if it had as yet inspired no particular enthusiasm. To be sure Allan found some merit in the least promising dogs as a rule, and perhaps the faint praise he was beginning to bestow on Baldy had in it more or less of the impersonal approval he gave to all dogs who did not prove themselves hopelessly bad. But it seemed at least a step in the right direction when “Scotty” had said, replying to criticism of the Woman, “No, he is certainly not fierce, and by no means so morose as he looks. So far I must confess he’s proving himself a pretty good sort.”
Of course even the Woman, who admitted frankly that first impressions counted much with her, knew that it was not always wise to judge by appearances, for she had seen the successful development of the most unlikely material. There was the case of Tom, Dick, and Harry. No one would ever have supposed in seeing them, so alert and with the quickness and grace of a cat in their movements, that in their feeble mangy infancy they had only been saved from drowning by their excellent family connections, and their appealing charm of responsiveness. A responsiveness that in maturity made them favorites with every one who knew them, and prompted the tactful ways that convinced each admirer that his approval was the last seal to their satisfaction in the fame they had won. When Tom leaned against people confidingly, and put up his paw in cordial greeting; and Dick and Harry, so much alike that it was nearly impossible to tell them apart, stood waiting eagerly for the inevitable words of praise, it was hard indeed to realize that their perfect manners were a cloak for morals that rough, uncultured Baldy would condemn utterly.
With the departure of the last boats of the summer there is no connecting link with the great, unfrozen outside, except the wireless telegraph and the United States Government Dog Team Mail that is brought fifteen hundred miles, in relays, over the long white trail from Valdez. Then, with the early twilight of the long Arctic winter, which lasts until the dawn of the brilliant sunshine and pleasant warmth of May, there come the Dog Days of Nome. Days that are heralded by an increased activity in dog circles, a mysterious fascination that weaves itself about all prospective entries to the races, and the introduction of a strange dialect called “Deep Dog Dope,” which is the popular means of communication between all people regardless of age, sex or nationality—from the Federal Judge on the Bench to the tiniest tots in Kindergarten.
The town gives itself up completely to the gripping intensities and ardors of this period when all dog men assemble in appropriate places to talk over the prospects of the coming Racing Season. Accordingly George and Danny were in the habit of meeting in the Kennel, each afternoon, to consider the burning questions of the hour, with all of the certain knowledge and wide experience that belonged to their mature years—for George and Danny were seven and eight respectively.