It was under the lee of a heap of last year’s wheat-straw that Jan came to the end of his trail; his fore feet planted hard in the dust before him, his head well lifted, his jaws parted to give free passage to the deep, bell-like call of his baying. The man with the red ’kerchief tied over his head was evidently roused from sleep by Jan, and though the hound showed no sign of molesting him, yet must he have formed a terrifying picture for the newly opened eyes of the Italian. Almost before the man had raised himself into a sitting posture Dick Vaughan had jumped from the saddle and was beside him.
“Don’t move,” said Dick, “and the dog won’t hurt you. If you move your hands he’ll be at your throat. See! Better let me slip these on—so! All right, Jan, boy. Stay there.”
When Captain Arnutt dismounted he found his subordinate standing beside a handcuffed man, who sat on the ground, glaring hopelessly at the hound responsible for his capture. Jan’s tongue hung out from one side of his parted jaws, and his face expressed satisfaction and good humor. He had done his job and done it well. The thought of injuring his quarry had never occurred to him, as Dick Vaughan very well knew, despite his warning remark to the Italian. But although Jan had had no thought of attacking the recumbent man he had trailed, he was very fully conscious that this man was his quarry. The handcuffing episode had not been lost upon him.
From the outset he had known that he and Dick were hunting that day. Why they hunted man he had no idea. Personally, he had not so much pursued an individual as he had hunted a certain smell. In coming upon the sleeping Italian he had tracked down this particular smell. His conception of his duty was, having tracked the smell to the man, to hand the man over to Dick. That marked for him the end of his work; but not by any means the end of his interest in the upshot of it.
THE FIGHT ON THE PRAIRIE
Even without the confession he ultimately made, Jan’s tracking, the man’s own empty leather sheath fitting the dagger he had left behind him, and the watch, money, and rings found in his pockets, and proved to be the property of the murdered couple, would have been sufficient to condemn the Italian.
It appeared that the primary motive of the crime had not been theft, but jealousy. At all events, the man’s own story was that he had been the lover of the woman he had killed. He paid the law’s last penalty within the confines of the R.N.W.M.P. barracks, and his capture and trial made Jan for the time the most famous dog in Saskatchewan. Pictures of him appeared in newspapers circulating all the way from Mexico to the Yukon; and in his walks abroad with Dick Vaughan he was pointed out as “the North-west Mounted Police bloodhound,” and credited with all manner of wonderful powers.
It was natural, of course, that he should be called a bloodhound; and it did not occur to any one in Regina that his height, his fleetness, and his shaggy black and iron-gray coat were anything but typical of the bloodhound.