“And if all goes well, he will be as strong a hound as any in England; won’t he, Betty? You’ll see to that.”
“I will if you’ll help to keep us going the right way,” said Betty, smiling at the Master.
And so, directly after an early breakfast, the Nuthill party drove to the station, with Jan on the floor of the wagonette and Finn pacing easily beside it. There was quite an assembly on the platform of the little station to see “young Mr. Vaughan” off. For he was bound for Liverpool that day, where he was to meet Captain Will Arnutt, of the Royal North-west Mounted Police of Canada, with whom he was to embark for Halifax, en route for Regina, in Saskatchewan, the headquarters of the R.N.W.M.P., for which fine service Dick Vaughan had enlisted, after a stiff course of training under Captain Arnutt’s personal supervision.
“Between ourselves,” the captain had told the Master, in Lewes, a week or two earlier, “neither I nor the Royal North-west have much to teach young Vaughan in the matter of horsemanship, and I look to see him make as fine a trooper as any we’ve got. But there’s one thing we can give him, and that’s discipline. We can teach him to face the devil himself at two o’clock in the morning without blinking—and I think he’ll take it well. I don’t mind a scrap about his having been a bit wild. He’s got the right stuff in him; and, man, he’s got as pretty a punch, with the gloves on, as ever I saw in my life. An archangel couldn’t make better use of his left than young Vaughan.”
This rather tickled the Master, who up till then had never considered archangelic possibilities in boxing.
“I was certain the boy was all right,” he said.
There was a rousing cheer from the group on the platform as the up-train moved off, with Dick Vaughan leaning far out from one of its windows.
“I’ll be home in eighteen months,” Dick had said when he bade Betty Murdoch good-by. And the Master, who was beside her, nodded his sympathy and approval.
“You’ll lose nothing by the five-thousand-mile gap, old chap, and you’ll gain a whole lot,” he said.
“You’ll larn ’em about ’osses, Master Dick,” shouted old Knight, the head groom, to the M.F.H. And the farmers’ sons roared lustily at that. Jan barked once as the train began to move, and the Master’s hand fell sharply over Betty’s upon his collar; for Jan, though not yet half so strong as his sire, was a deal harder to hold when anything excited him. Like his friend Dick Vaughan, he was of good stuff, but had not as yet learned much of discipline.
As the Nuthill party walked down the station approach to their wagonette, among quite a crowd of other people, Betty felt Jan’s collar suddenly tighten—his height, even now, allowed her to hold the young hound’s collar easily without using a lead, for he stood over thirty-one inches at the shoulder—and, glancing down, saw the hair all about his neck and shoulder-bones rise, stiffly bristling. In the same moment came a low growl from Finn, who walked at large on the far side of Jan and a little behind the Master. There was no anger in this growl of Finn’s; but it was eloquent of warning, and magisterial in its hint of penalties to follow neglect of warning.