As for Jan, it would not be easy nor yet quite fair to analyze his feelings toward the wall-eyed sheep-dog. Jan’s mind, like his big frame, was not yet half developed. It may be that he could never be quite so fine a gentleman as his sire; and in any case it were foolish to look for old heads on puppy shoulders. He did not think at all when he saw Grip. But in that instant he tugged at his collar, without conscious volition, just as his hackles rose, just as sharp consciousness penetrated every part of him, of the wounds he had sustained under Grip’s punishing jaws. It was not malice, but a sudden heady rush in his veins of the lust of combat, that kept his thick coat so erectly bristling, the soft skin about his nostrils wrinkling so actively, for several minutes after his recognition of the sheep-dog. Unlike Grip, it might be that Jan would, as he developed, learn easily to forgive; but it was already tolerably obvious that he was not of the stuff of which those dogs who forget are made.
“They don’t forget the affair in the lane, either of them,” said the Master, with a smile, after the wagonette had started. It may be Jan understood the words had reference to his first fight. In any case, he looked eagerly up into the Master’s face, and from that to Betty’s; and in that moment he was living over again through the strenuous rounds of his struggle with Grip.
“Silly old Jan,” said Betty, as her hand smoothed his head affectionately.
“Truculent infant,” laughed the Master. “Take note of the easy sedateness of your father in the road there.” (The round trot of the Nuthill horses—and they frequently did the trip to the station in twenty-five minutes—was no more than a comfortable amble for Finn.)
“Jan,” said Betty Murdoch to her favorite, as they walked together on the Downs some three or four hours later; “he’s gone away to Sas-sas-katchewan; and—he never said a word, Jan! I wonder if he thought—what he thought.”
If Jan had been human, he might so far have failed, as a companion, as to have reminded Betty that, in fact, Dick had said a good many words before starting for “Sas-sas-katchewan.” Being only a dog, Jan failed not at all in the sympathy he exchanged for Betty’s confidence. He just gently nuzzled her hand, thrusting his nose well up to her coat-cuff, and showed her the loving devotion in his dark hazel eyes.
JAN BEFORE THE JUDGES
Eighteen months went by before Dick Vaughan returned to England; and this period was one of happy and largely uneventful development for Jan, the son of Finn and Desdemona. (It brought high honors to the Lady Desdemona, by the way, both as a champion bloodhound and as the dam of some fame-winning youngsters.) It brought no very marked signs of advancing age to Finn, for the life the wolfhound led, while admittedly devoid of any kind of hardship, was sufficiently active in a moderate way, and very healthy. Jan made no history during this time, beyond the smooth record of happy days and healthy growth.