“There really did not seem to be any other way out of it for the moment,” observed the Woman sympathetically.
“No, ma’am, but it wasn’t very honest t’ use the cook’s money, ner Mother’s; it’ll take a long time t’ pay ’em back, an’ I guess Mother won’t have much patience with Baldy after this. I wouldn’t mind gittin’ punished myself, but I don’t want him blamed. He’d be a lot better off with you, Mr. Allan; an’ mebbe ef you’d feed him up, an’ give him a chanct, he’d be a racer some day. He’d never lay down on you, an’,” almost defiantly, “he’s got good legs.”
“Scotty” felt the dog’s legs, and noted the breadth of his chest. “What do you want for him, Ben?”
“Would ten dollars be too much?” asked the boy, eagerly.
“Ten dollars would be too little,” quickly exclaimed the Woman. “You see we are getting ahead of all the others who do not know his fine points yet, and we should be willing to pay something extra for this opportunity. Do you think that twenty-five dollars would be fair, considering that we are in on the ground floor?”
“Yes, ma’am, that’s lots more’n I expected. But it ain’t so much the money I’m gittin’ as the home he’s gittin’ an’ the trainin’ an’ all.”
“Well, that’s a bargain, then; come to my husband’s office—Darling and Dean, on Front Street, you know—the first time you are in town, and we will give you a check; and you can bring Baldy with you then.”
“I guess,” slowly, “you’d better take him now. It ’ud be easier fer me t’ let him go while I’m kinda worked up to it. Mebbe ef I thought about it fer a few days I wouldn’t be able t’ do it, an’ he mightn’t have another chanct like this in his whole life.”
He drew a frayed bit of rope from a torn pocket, and tied it to the old strap that served as Baldy’s collar—handing the end to “Scotty.”
In the deepening shadows of the chill November dusk the boy’s face was ashen. He stooped over as if to see that the knot in the rope was secure at the dog’s neck—but the Woman knew in that brief instant the trembling blue lips had been pressed in an agony of renunciation against Baldy’s rough coat.
“Thank you both very much,” he said in a tone that he tried to keep steady. “Thank you fer the ride and fer—fer everything.”
He did not trust himself to look at the dog again, but stepped quickly into the Golconda Trail.
“You must come to see Baldy often,” the Woman called to him.
“Yes, ma’am, I’ll be glad to—after a while,” he replied gratefully.
And then as “Scotty” gave the word to the impatient Racers, and the team swung round to return to Nome, there came to them out of the grayness a voice, faint and quavering like an echo—“Some day you’ll be glad you’ve got Baldy.”
Where Every Dog Has His Day