“Well, Mike,” he said at length, “I’ve kinder given my word to this feller here. He’s a sort of a guest o’ mine, in a way—in my tent, and that. No, Mike, I’ll not hit out to-morrow, not for any money. But if you’d care to leave it for a week or ten days—ten days, say, I’ll go. An’ that’s the best I can do for ye. Think it over, an’ let me know to-morrow.”
And with that the two men had to content themselves. They went out growling. Three minutes later the shorter of the two returned.
“Say, Jim,” he remarked, as he thrust his head and shoulders in at the tent-flap, “I’ve been puzzling my head about that blame crittur ever since we first come in; an’ now I’ve located him. He’s dyin’ a long way from home, Jim, is that dawg. But I can give ye his name. He’s Jan, that’s who he is. There! See his eyes move then, when I said ‘Jan.’ Look! Jan! See that?”
Jim Willis nodded comprehendingly as he watched Jan’s feebly flickering eyelids.
“Yes, sir,” continued the other man; “I’ve seen a picture of him in the Vancouver News-Advertiser. He’s Jan of the R.N.W.M.P., that’s who he is; ‘the Mounted Police bloodhound,’ they called him. He tracked a murderer down one time, somewhere out Regina way; though how in the nation he ever made this burg has me fairly beat. Where’n the world did that blame chechaquo raise him, d’ye suppose? Surely he’d never have sand enough to go around dog-stealing, would he? An’ from the North-west Mounted! Not on your life he wouldn’t. Sneakin’ coppers out’ve a blin’ man’s bowl ‘d be more in his line o’ country, I reckon. But that’s Jan, all right; an’ you can take it from me. Queer world, ain’t it? Well, so long, Jim. I jest thought I’d look back an’ tell ye. So long!”
“So long, Jock. Oh, say, Jock! What’s happened the rest o’ that—that feller’s team, anyway?” asked Willis.
“Well, Seattle Charley told me they was plum petered out. Most of ’em’s died, I believe. But two or three’s alive. That Indian musher across the creek’s got ’em, doctoring of ’em up, Charley says. He reckons to pull some round, an’ make a bit on ’em, I suppose. But this feller here, he’s too far gone, Jim. You can see he’s done.”
“Ah! Well, good night, Jock.”
And with that Jim Willis was left alone again with the hound he was nursing.
He folded a deerskin coat loosely, and placed it under Jan’s head. Then he reached for his spoon, and proceeded to force down a little more warm whisky and milk beside the clenched jaws. One knew, by the way he lifted one of Jan’s flews, raised the dog’s head, and gently rubbed his gullet between thumb and forefinger to help the liquor down, that he had handled sick dogs before to-day. He had covered Jan’s body with an old buffalo robe, and now he proceeded to fill a jar with boiling water, and placed that against Jan’s chest.
* * * * *