If the season had been winter instead of midsummer, the orphaned Jan would doubtless have missed greatly the warmth of his mother’s body. As it was, the harness-room stove was kept going at night to insure warmth in the stable; and a large box, too deep for Jan to climb out from, and snugly lined with carefully dried hay, was provided for his use o’ nights. Just at first, the deeply interested Betty tried feeding her new pet with warm milk food in a baby’s bottle. But Jan soon showed her that though only a month old he was much too far advanced for such childish things as this. He needed little teaching in the matter of lapping up milk food from a dish (especially as he was allowed to suck one of Betty’s rosy finger-tips under the milk for a beginning); and as for gravy and meat and bones, it might be said that he tackled these things with the enthusiasm of a practised gourmet.
As a matter of fact, Desdemona did sorely miss Jan for a couple of days, despite the comforting society of her mate; but Jan did not miss her a scrap. At present there was not an ounce of sentiment in his composition. He was kept warm, he lay snugly soft, and his stomach was generally full. He had great gristly bones to gnaw and play with, and Betty Murdoch, with a little solid-rubber ball, played with him also by the hour together. Beyond these things Jan had no thought or desire at present. He grew fast, and enjoyed every minute of the growing.
The Master’s intimate knowledge of puppy needs caused certain mixtures to be introduced into Jan’s food from time to time, which saved the youngster (without his knowing anything about it) from the worst of the minor ills to which puppy flesh is heir. The same carefully exercised knowledge, born of long practice, introduced other specially blended elements into the pup’s food which made for rapid bone and muscle development. In a variety of ways the resources of man’s civilization and skill were made to serve Jan’s welfare; and it must be admitted that in most respects he gained considerably by losing his mother and the life of the cave.
With Desdemona matters were somewhat different. For a little while she was moodily conscious of the loss of her pups; and, too, missed the wide open freedom of her cave life on the Downs. But, physically, she was in some disorder, and the treatment now meted out to her was very helpful and soothing in that direction. The fomenting of her sore and badly scratched dugs was most comforting. The cleansing, healing medicine given her was helpful. The gradually increased generosity of her diet was gratifying; and at the end of a week her coat began to shine once more under the application of Bates’s grooming-gloves.
It is to be remembered that Desdemona, so far from being a creature of the wild, had centuries of high civilization behind her. Her little excursion into wild life was chiefly due to the inspiration of Finn’s society; and Finn himself, despite occasional attacks of the nostalgia of the bush, was none the less a product of civilization; a deal more subtle and complex in many ways than the native folk of the wild.