“You’ll excuse my saying so, sir,” explained Dick in a flustered aside to Captain Arnutt, “but this is the very devil of a business. I—surely I haven’t got to say anything!”
The civilian crowd at the station was good-humoredly shouting for a “speech,” cameras were clicking away like pom-poms, and the Regina pressmen were gripping Dick almost savagely by either arm, showing considerable personal bravery thereby, for Jan growled very threateningly as their hands touched the sergeant’s tunic, and in common humanity Dick was forced to grab the famous hound by the neck and give him urgent orders to control his wrath.
As Dick subsequently explained to Captain Arnutt, the thing struck him as the more awkward because, having found Jan, he desired now to be allowed to resign from the force, as he wanted to return to England.
“But, hang it, man! you’ve been gazetted a full sergeant-inspector and—unofficially, of course—I’m told we are only waiting word from Ottawa about offering you commissioned rank.”
Dick shrugged his shoulders in comic despair. His speech was finally delivered from the perilous eminence of a booking-clerk’s stool, an elevation which Jan so gravely mistrusted that he felt impelled to rise erect on his hind feet, placing both fore paws beside his lord’s raised heels, and thereby providing the camera men with the most famous of all the snap-shots yet obtained.
The speech, as literally recorded in shorthand by one of Regina’s most promising young pressmen, if not a very finished or distinguished effort, was clearly a hardy and quick-growing production, since it did eventually develop into a long half-column in some newspapers, according to the unimaginative and literal stenographic record aforementioned. It was as follows:
“It’s very good of you fellows—er—Right you are, sir! er—ladies and gentlemen!—But, really, you know, I can’t make a speech. It’s no use. I—er—I’m tremendously obliged to you all. What you say is—er—well, the fact is I’ve only done what any other man in the service would have done. It’s splendid to see you all again and—I have brought back the Mounted Police Dog. Thank you!”
And, according to the shorthand man, that was all. But a generous sub-editorial fraternity understood the speech differently; and newspaper readers doubtless came to the conclusion that oratory must now be added to the other accomplishments of the versatile R.N.W.M.P.
There were no embarrassing calls for speeches at the barracks, but even there Dick (still closely attended by Jan, upon whom one of the impressions produced by his return to the complex conditions of civilization was an anxious fear that his sovereign lord would somehow be spirited away from him if he ever let Dick out of his sight) was called upon to face a raking fire of compliments from his commanding officer, delivered in the presence of a full muster of commissioned and non-commissioned ranks.