The boy wiped away the fast-flowing tears. “There wasn’t,” he said regretfully, “another dog in the Kennel I liked so much as him—after Baldy. And ‘Scotty’ feels awful bad, too. He can’t hardly talk about it. He’s gone into the house now, but he says he’ll be back pretty soon.”
When Allan reappeared there was a look of sadness in his eyes, and a husky tone to his voice. It was plain to see that he mourned not only a wonderful leader, but a loving companion as well; and when he moved silently and sorrowfully amongst the other dogs, they knew that something was very wrong and gave him as little trouble as they could.
And so the entire Kennel was plunged into gloom by this unhappy occurrence, for Kid had been a genial stable-mate and a general favorite. All the dogs seemed to share in the grief of their masters.
“Will you withdraw the entry?” asked the Woman, who realized perfectly that Kid had been the mainstay and inspiration, as a great leader must be, of the whole Derby Team.
“No,” was “Scotty’s” prompt reply. “We’ll run just the same.
“There has never been a race in Nome yet in which I have not driven a team; and leader or no leader, I’ll not back out now. Don’t be discouraged. We’ll win this race yet!”
The Solomon Derby
THE SOLOMON DERBY
The morning of the Solomon Derby dawned clear and cold. It was twenty degrees below zero, but was ideal racing weather, as there was no wind; and the course was reported in excellent condition.
“This is the first time I ever prepared for a race,” remarked Allan as he examined the different dogs carefully, “that I have not been looking forward to it with the keenest pleasure. I was mighty fond of Kid, and had trained him with more care than any other dog I have handled except old Dubby. And Kid was perfectly adapted to lead this particular team, for the dogs were so willing to defer to him without any ill-feeling. His loss is a severe handicap now, I can tell you. Somehow he was so young and vigorous that the possibility of anything serious happening to him did not occur to me; he had never been ailing a day in his life. Generally I have at least one other dog fairly well prepared to lead if necessary; but I was so determined to make a marvel of Kid that I did not take that precaution, and at present there is not a single one that I consider up to the mark for such a race as this.”
“Why not try Tom?” suggested the Woman. “The Tolman dogs are all intelligent, and these have never known anything but racing all their lives, and must have absorbed a lot of knowledge about it, even if they have not been leaders. Besides, you have had Tom in the lead a few times, have you not?”