From the first Jim showed frankly that there was to be no question as to Jan’s ownership. He told how Jock, back there on the edge of the North Pacific, had informed him as to Jan’s name and identity from a picture seen in a newspaper. Then Dick broached the question of how much he was to pay for Jan, seeing clearly how just was the other man’s claim as lawful owner of the hound. Jim laughed quietly at this.
“Why, no,” he said; “I haven’t just come to makin’ dollars out of other folks’ dog-stealin’. No, sir. But it’s true enough I have paid, in a way, for Jan; an’ I guess there’s not another son of a gun in Canada, but his rightful owner, with money enough to buy the dog from me. I’d not’ve sold him. And I’ll not sell him now—because a sun-dried salmon could see he’s yours a’ready. But I’ll tell you what: I’m short of a gun, an’ I’ve kinder taken a fancy to this one o’ yours—I reckon because I’d had such a thirst on me for one before I struck your trail. Jan is yours, anyway, but if you’d like to give me your gun to remember ye by I’ll say ‘Thank you!’”
“Well, I’m sorry, but I can’t make out to give you the gun, anyway,” said Dick, “because it isn’t mine. It’s an R.N.W.M.P. gun. But you wait another day or two, my friend, and when we’ve got shut of this gentleman in Edmonton”—with a nod in the direction of the madman—“you and I will give an hour or so to finding out the best gun in the city; and when we’ve found it we’ll have your name engraved on it, and underneath, ‘From Jan, the R.N.W.M.P. hound, to the man who saved his life.’ I know you’ll take a keepsake from Jan, boy.”
And so it was arranged. Jim would not hear of any selling or buying of the hound; but in Edmonton, where he sold his sled and team, preparatory to taking train for the western seaboard, he accepted, as gift from Jan, the best rifle Dick could find, inscribed as arranged; and, as gift from Dick, a photograph of himself and Jan together.
Their parting was characteristic of life in the North-west. Each man knew that in all human probability he would never again set eyes upon the other. Yet they parted as intimate friends; for their coming together—again most typical of north-western life—had been of the kind which leads swiftly to close friendship—or to antipathy and hostility.
Dick, greatly impressed by the other man’s solid worth, urged upon him the claims of the R.N.W.M.P. as offering a career for him.
“For you,” said Dick, “the work would all be simple as print; plain sailing all the way.”
Jim Willis, like most northland men, had a very real respect for the R.N.W.M.P., but he smiled at the idea of joining the force.
“But why?” asked Dick. “It would be such easy work for you.”
“Aye, I’ll allow the work wouldn’t exactly hev me beat,” agreed Jim. “But—Oh, well I ain’t a Britisher, to begin with, an’, what’s more to the p’int, a week in barracks ’d choke me.”