SUSSEX TO SASKATCHEWAN
In the absence of that three weeks’ schooling, there is no doubt the journey to Regina would have been a pretty dismal business for Jan. It occupied close upon a fortnight, and there was very little liberty for Jan during that time.
Unlike his great sire, Jan had never been stolen, and had learned nothing of the dire possibilities connected with confinement behind iron bars. He tasted some tolerably close confinement during this journey; but he thought each day would bring an end to it; and, meantime, nobody ill-treated him, and, what was more to the point, he had some converse with Dick each day.
As the habit of his kind is, he had, of course, parted with Finn and the Nuthill folk without the slightest premonition regarding the duration of their separation. In the confinement of the cupboard beside the butcher’s shop which he occupied while crossing the Atlantic, Jan thought a good deal of Finn, of Betty, and of Nuthill; yet not with melancholy. While at sea he had several visits each day from Dick Vaughan, and during the preceding few weeks Dick had become very securely established as Jan’s hero and sovereign lord.
Jan would never cease to love Betty Murdoch; but in the nature of things it was impossible for gentle, merry Betty to give this big hound quite all that masterful Dick Vaughan could give him. His heart had often swelled in answer to a caress from Betty; but his whole being thrilled again to the touch of Dick’s strong hand or to a word of command or praise or deprecation from him. Jan was a grown hound now, and newly initiated to the joys of disciplined service.
The train was worse, far worse, than the ship; but it came after the major part of a day at large with Dick in the picturesque streets of Quebec. And even on the train, with its demoniacal noises, and groaning, jarring, jolting lack of ease, each day brought its glimpses of Dick, and its blessed respites of ten minutes or so at a time on station platforms. Jan had traveled before in an English train; but that had been as a passenger, and with passengers, in an ordinary compartment. In the dark, cramped, and incredibly noisy hole of a dog-box on “No. 93” (as this particular west-bound train was called) Jan realized that railway traveling could be a very unpleasant business for a hound. A month earlier the experience would have exhausted him, because he would have frittered away his energies in futile fretting and fuming, and in equally futile efforts to force his way out through steel walls. Now his cramped quarters were made tolerable by the fact that quiet submission to them represented obedience to a personal order from his sovereign. What had otherwise been wretchedness and misery was now willingly accepted discipline, the earning of a substantial reward: his sovereign’s approval and his own pride of subordination—a totally different matter from mere painful imprisonment.