“Why, what’s wrong now, old—Ah! I see!” exclaimed the Master.
On the opposite side of the approach was David Crumplin, walking toward the goods-shed of the little station, and followed closely by the redoubtable Grip. Grip’s hackles were well up, too, for the three dogs had seen one another before their human friends had noticed anything out of the ordinary. But though Grip’s bristles had risen just as stiffly as Jan’s, and though the sensitive skin over his nostrils had wrinkled harshly and his upper lip lifted slightly, the gaze of his wall-eyes was fixed straight before him upon his master’s gaiters. He saw Finn and Jan just as plainly as they saw him, but he never turned a hair’s-breadth in their direction, or betrayed his recognition by a single glance.
Grip was no swashbuckler, and he never played. Life, as he saw it, was too serious a business for that. But and if fighting was toward, well, Grip was ready; not eager, but deadly ready, and nothing backward. Grip had his black cap either in place on his head or very close at hand all the time. It was doubtless with a sufficiently sardonic sneer that he presently saw Jan jump obediently into the wagonette. Grip had seen to the carting of thousands of lambs and sick ewes; but for himself to climb into a horse-drawn vehicle at the bidding of a lady!—one can imagine how scornfully Grip breathed through his nostrils as he saw Jan driven off, with Finn, as escort, trotting alongside.
He bore no particular malice against Jan, and in his hard old heart probably thought rather well of the bellicose youngster. But, given reasonable excuse for the fray, he had been blithe to tear out the same youngster’s jugular; and, be the odds what they might, he would quite cheerfully have stood up to mortal combat with Finn himself. But as things were, the first meeting of these three since the fight in the lane passed off quite peacefully.
All the same, there was a ragged fringe to one of Grip’s ears, and for weeks he had limped sorely on his near fore leg. It was written in his mind that Jan must pay, and pay dearly, for those things, when a suitable occasion offered. He was no swashbuckler, and did not know what it meant to ruffle it among the peaceably inclined for the fun of the thing; but, or it may be because of that, Grip never forgot an injury, and, if he had known what forgiveness meant, would have regarded it as an evidence of silly weakness unworthy any grown dog.
It is certain that Finn bore Grip no malice. That was not his way. Grip had offended by his ruthless onslaught upon a half-grown pup, and Finn had trounced him soundly for that. Now that they met, some months afterward, Finn thought it wise to give warning, by way of showing that he, in his high place, was watchful. Hence his long, low growl. In his adventurous life Finn had many times killed to eat, as he had frequently killed in fighting and as an administrator of justice. But he never had borne malice and never would, for that would have been clean contrary to the instincts of his nature and breeding.