Jan loathed the close confinement of his life at sea, but he did not rebel against it, neither was he cast down by it. He knew that it was to be no more than a brief interlude, and he understood quite well that though, unfortunately, men-folk had so arranged things that he must be kept out of sight of his sovereign, save during those daily intervals of delight in which Dick visited him in his house beside the butcher’s shop, yet his lord was in the same vessel with him, at no great distance from him, and bound with him for the one destination. He knew that he and Dick were traversing the one trail.
And sure enough the morning came at length, after all their shared divagations since the night of meeting beside the Peace River trail, when Jan stood beside his lord again, under the open sky and on the steamer’s boat-deck, watching the rapidly nearing shores of England.
Many pictures were passing through Jan’s mind, some inspired by memory of the tense, strenuous life he had left behind him in the northland, but a larger number having for background and subjects scenes that he remembered in his old life in Sussex-by-the-Sea.
The steamer was in yellow tidal waters now, with land close in all about her. As Jan reached the open deck he had drawn in first one and then another and another long, tremulous, deep breaths which, passing through the infinitely delicate test-tubes of his wonderful nostrils, recorded in his brain impressions more vivid and accurate than any that vision could supply to him.
In this air, incalculably more soft and humid than any he had breathed for many a long day, were subtly distinctive qualities that were quite easily recognized by Jan. Well he knew now the meaning of this voyaging. Well he knew that this was England. It was this knowledge made him lift his muzzle and touch Dick’s left hand with his tongue. The other hand held binoculars through which Dick was gazing fixedly at the line of wharfs they were approaching.
“Well, old chap,” said he, in answer to the meaning touch. “You know all about it, eh? I believe you do; begad, I quite believe you do. Well, see if you can understand this: On the wharf there, where we shall be in a few minutes, there’s old Finn, your sire, waiting, and the Pater and the Master, and—and there’s Betty, Jan, boy, there’s sweet Betty standing there, and she’s waiting for you and me. She’s waiting there for us, Jan, boy, and we’re never going away from her again, old chap—never, as long as ever we live.”
And if Jan did not understand it all just then he did very soon afterward, when he felt Betty Murdoch’s arms about his neck, and lordly gray old Finn was sniffing and nuzzling friendly-wise about his flanks.
Jan fully understood then that after all his far wanderings he had at the last of it come home.