“Yep, that’s a fact,” said another man. “There’ll be trouble with Sourdough if you’re not careful, Vaughan. He’s a demon of a dog, an’, by gee! he’s sourer than his boss, an’ that’s saying something.”
“Well, yes, I’d thought about Sourdough,” said Dick; “and I’m glad his quarters are the other side of the yard.”
“The other side!” said French. “Why, man, he owns the whole place. You see how the other dogs kow-tow to him. He’s sour, all right, and a fighter from way back; but the way he’s built he somehow doesn’t seem to make trouble with any dog that kow-tows to him. But God help the husky that don’t kow-tow. Sourdough will have his salute as boss, or he’ll have blood. That’s the sort of a duck Sourdough is.”
“Ah! Well, he’ll get civility from us, won’t he, Jan? and if that’s all he wants, there’ll be no trouble. But I’ll tell you what, you fellows: if Jan’s in the stable there with Paddy any time when I’m not about, don’t you let Sourdough come into our quarters at all.”
“It’d take a hefty chap to keep Sourdough out, if he meant coming in,” said O’Malley. “But I guess we’ll do our best—eh, boys? I reckon our Jan’s a better mascot than the sergeant’s tyke.”
“But there mustn’t be any fighting,” added Dick; “and there won’t be if we’re careful; for there’s nothing sour about Jan here, and you’ve seen he’s obedient.”
In some respect Jan’s life at the R.N.W.M.P. headquarters might have been simpler if he had been less lovable and less popular. As a matter of fact, while pretty nearly every one in the barracks took a fancy to the big hound and felt a certain pride in his unique appearance as a R.N.W.M.P. dog, the members of Dick’s own division adored Jan to a man. His docility, his affectionate nature, and his uniform courtesy bound them to him, even apart from their pride in him and the influence of Dick Vaughan as champion heavy-weight boxer and crack horseman of the force.
There were eight or ten other dogs in the barracks, all of whom (including the bellicose fox-terrier who first welcomed Jan at the gates) took kindly to the big hound from Sussex as soon as they knew him and had tested his frank and kindly nature. They were none of them really big dogs, and that fact alone, apart from Dick’s teaching, made Jan specially indulgent in his attitude toward them. After certain curt warnings, the two or three dogs among them whose natures inclined them to fighting seemed to realize contentedly enough that Jan was somewhat outside their class, and in any case not a good person to quarrel with.