Already he had won promotion in the fine corps to which he belonged, and his scarlet uniform coat had a stripe on one sleeve. But this was a small matter—though Dr. Vaughan was prouder of it than of any of his own long list of learned degrees and other honors—by comparison with the other and unofficial promotion Dick had won in the scale of manhood. No uniform was needed to indicate this. One became aware of it the moment one set eyes upon him. It showed itself in the firm lines of his thin, tanned face, in the carriage of his shoulders, the swing of his walk, the direct, steady gaze of his eyes, and the firm, assured tone of his voice.
Always a sportsman and a good fellow, Dick Vaughan was now a full man, a man handled and made; a strong, disciplined man, decently modest, but perfectly conscious of his strength, and easily able to control other men. This was what Canada and membership of the Royal North-west Mounted Police had done for Dick Vaughan in a short eighteen months.
For young and healthy men there is perhaps no other country which has more to give than Canada in the shape of discipline; of that kind of mental, moral, and physical tonic which makes for swift, sure character-development, and the stiffening and bracing of the human fibers. In English life there has been of late years a rather serious scarcity of this tonic influence. Canada is very rich in her supply of it; but the tonic is too potent for the use of weaklings.
Then, too, there were the R.N.W.M.P. influences, representing a concentrated distillation of the same tonic. The traditions of this fine force form a great power for the shaping and making of men. First, they have a strongly testing and selective influence. They winnow out the weeds among those who come under their influence with quite extraordinary celerity and thoroughness. Those who come through the selective process satisfactorily may be relied upon as surely as the grain-buyer may rely on the grade of wheat which comes through its tests as “No. 1, hard.” The trooper who comes honorably out of his first year in the R.N.W.M.P. is quite certainly “No. 1, hard,” as much to be relied upon as any other single product of the prairies.
“It is not only that the man in any way weak is quite unable to stand the steady test of R.N.W.M.P. life. Apart from that, no blatherskite can endure it; no vain boaster, no aggressive bully, no slacker, and no humbug of any kind can possibly keep his end up in the force.” So wrote a widely experienced and keen-witted “old-timer,” in 1908, and he was perfectly right.
For example, the R.N.W.M.P. man who made an unnecessary use or display of weapons, by way of enforcing his authority, would be laughed and ridiculed out of the force. The thing has been done, and will be done again, if necessary. Aided only by the weight of the fine traditions belonging to his uniform, the R.N.W.M.P. man is expected to be capable, without any fuss at all, of arresting a couple of notorious toughs, and, with his naked hands, of taking them away with him from among the roughest sort of crowd of their associates.