“Ah yes, in Australia. I wanted the governor to let me go there when I left Rugby, boundary-riding, and that. But of course he was dead set on the pill-making for me, then. And now—”
“Now there’s been a rather empty interval of seven years. Yes, I know. Well, you think it over, old chap. I lay down no embargoes, not I. But I do trust to your honor in this matter—for Betty’s sake—and I’m sure I’m safe. You think it over, and come and talk to me any time you feel like it. Be sure I’ll be delighted to give any help I can. Look here! there’s a friend of mine staying at the White Hart in Lewes: Captain Arnutt, of the Royal North-west Mounted Police. Go and look him up and have a yarn with him about how he made his start. He nearly broke his heart trying to pass into Sandhurst without getting the necessary stuff into his hard head. But, begad! there isn’t a finer man in the North-west to-day than Will Arnutt. I’ll write him a letter if you’ll go. Will you?”
Dick agreed readily, and as a matter of fact he lunched in Lewes with Captain Arnutt that very day, thereby missing all the excitement over Betty Murdoch’s sprained ankle and Jan’s clever rescue-work, but gaining quite a good deal in other ways.
JAN’S FIRST FIGHT
Dick Vaughan was away from home a good deal during the next few weeks, and Jan and Finn often missed him, for his frequent visits to Nuthill had been full of interest for them. It may be, too, that Jan’s mistress missed Dick Vaughan; but according to the Master, the young man was well employed and by no means wasting his time. And Jan did have at least one useful lesson in the week following Betty’s accident on the Downs; and it was a lesson which he never entirely forgot.
Jan was busily doing nothing in particular—“mucking about” as the school-boys elegantly put it—in the little lane which forms a right-of-way across the Downs, between the Nuthill orchard and the westernmost of the Upcroft fields. Betty Murdoch was still nursing her ankle; and, fast asleep in the hall beside her couch, Finn, the wolfhound, was dreaming of a great kangaroo-hunt in which he and the dingo bitch Warrigal were engaged in replenishing their Mount Desolation larder. Suddenly Jan looked up, sniffing, from his idle play, and saw against the sky-line, where the narrow lane rises sharply toward the Downs, a gray-clad man in gaiters, with a long ash staff in his hand and a big sheep-dog of sorts, descending together from the heights.
The man was David Crumplin, the sheep-dealer, and the dog was Grip, whose reputation, all unknown though it was to Jan, reached from the Romney marshes to the Solent; even as his sire’s had carried weight from York to the Border. Grip’s dam, so the story went, had been a gipsy’s lurcher with Airedale blood in her. If so, his size and weight were rather surprising; but his militant disposition