The task proved an easy one, and Dick was given every kind of assistance by his comrades, most of whom were at once attracted by Jan, and inclined to regard him as an acquisition to be proud of. Before the day was out Jan had successfully passed through a number of tolerably severe tests of trustworthiness, and Dick was satisfied that he might safely be spared the indignity of the chain.
For example, being left on his rough bench with an old dandy-brush to guard, Jan was approached in turn by half a dozen of Dick’s comrades, who exhausted their ingenuity in trying to entice, frighten, or persuade him from his post. Jan eyed them all quite good-humoredly, wagging his tail in response to enticements, and growling a little, very quietly, when they tried harsher tactics, but remaining throughout immovably in charge of his post.
Then Dick went well out into the barrack-yard, and called quietly to Jan. Instantly the long, silky ears lifted. Snatching up his dandy-brush and gripping it firmly between his jaws, Jan rushed out into the yard, there to be rewarded with the assurance of Dick’s affectionate approval and the enthusiastic plaudits of the other troopers.
“You’ve put the Indian sign on him, all right,” said French, the Devonshire man. “It must have taken some doing to lick him into that shape.”
“There’s no Indian sign about it, old man,” said Dick. “It isn’t any lambasting Jan’s afraid of. You watch his face now, when I lift this stick.”
The men all watched, and noted that Jan did not move so much as an eyelid in response to the lifting of a stick.
“Well, that’s queer,” said old Cartier, the French-Canadian dealer, who was visiting a friend in the barracks. “Don’t seem as though that dog ever was licked.”
“And so far as I know,” said Dick, “he never has been. But, mind you, that’s not to say he never will be. I’d never hesitate to thrash a dog if he deserved it, and thrash him good and hard, too. But so far Master Jan has never asked for lickings. Have you Jan? That’s why he’s not afraid of a stick; for I’d never hit a dog or a horse unless really to punish him, so that he’d know it was a thrashing—not just a bit of bad luck for him, or temper in me.”
“H’m! I believe you could get two hundred an’ feefty dollar for that dog, up north,” said Cartier, musingly; “maybe three hundred, if you broke him to harness.”
Dick smiled quietly, and nodded.
“No, no,” said O’Malley, the man of Cork; “he’s going to stay right here an’ be our mascot. Aren’t ye, Jan?” And Jan affably signified his agreement.
“That’s all right,” said French, knocking his pipe out against the heel of his boot. “But what’s going to happen to-morrow when Sergeant Moore gets back with his Sourdough? You’ll see some fun then, I fancy. Old Sourdough’s been boss dog around here a goodish while now, you know. He won’t stand for having this chap put his nose out of joint. And,