Captain Will Arnutt had heard all about Jan by letter from Nuthill. One would not altogether say that so important a person as the captain went to Regina station expressly to meet Dick and Jan; but it certainly did happen that he was admiring the flower-beds in the station’s garden when No. 93 hove in sight from the eastward; and being there, he decided to stroll on to the platform and watch the train’s arrival, along with every one else who happened to be in sight at the time.
It might, perhaps, lead to awkward consequences if every non-commissioned man of the R.N.W.M.P. took to keeping animals in barracks. Both Dick and Captain Arnutt had thought of this, and, accordingly, Jan, the son of Finn and Desdemona, was welcomed upon his first appearance in the capital of Saskatchewan as Captain Arnutt’s hound, brought from England by Dick Vaughan, and to be looked after for Captain Arnutt by the same man. Jan would have been tickled could he have perceived this harmless piece of human deception; but it was just as well he did not understand, since he would never have lent himself to it very convincingly.
By reason of his breeding Jan was, as a matter of fact, unique among hounds. Apart from this, no hound of his size or splendid development had ever before been seen upon Regina station platform. The people of the West are a forthright, plain-spoken, and enterprising folk, and before he left the station Captain Arnutt was offered fifty dollars for Jan. Nothing damped by the captain’s smiling refusal of his offer, the sporting stranger said:
“Well, an’ I don’t blame ye, Colonel, neither. But, say, it’s a pity to miss a good deal. I like the looks o’ that dog, and”—drawing out a fat wallet from his hip-pocket—“we’ll make it a hundred dollars, an’ the deal’s done.”
As Dick subsequently explained to Captain Arnutt, two thousand dollars had been offered, and refused, for Jan’s mother. “And I’m dead sure twenty thousand wouldn’t buy his sire.”
But these figures were for private consumption, of course. Dick had no wish to invite the attention of the predatory; and, in any case, buyers and sellers of dogs do not talk in thousands of dollars on the prairie.
At the entrance to the R.N.W.M.P. barracks the unsuspecting Jan was violently attacked by a fox-terrier, the pet of one of the senior officers of the corps. This pugnacious little chap wasted no time over preliminaries, and apparently had no desire whatever to examine the new-comer. He just flew straight at Jan’s throat, snarling furiously. Captain Arnutt was distressed, for he made sure the terrier would be killed, and that Jan would thereby make an enemy of one of the senior officers. But his fears were groundless, thanks to Jan’s few weeks of discipline and training before leaving Nuthill.
“Come in here—in—here—Jan, boy. Don’t touch him. Come—in—here!”
Jan stood for one moment, listening, his hackles bristling resentment of the terrier’s insolence. And then he walked obediently to Dick’s side, the snarling, yapping terrier literally pendent from his neck.