“And in some ways it will be just as well for you and Jan to be out of here for a time,” said Captain Arnutt. “Sergeant Moore has quite a number of fleas in his bonnet, and you can’t afford to come to blows with him—here, anyhow.”
“No fear of that, sir,” said Dick. “Why, he’s nearly twice my age, and—”
“Don’t you make any mistake of that sort, my friend. There are limits to any man’s self-control. The sergeant may be twice your age, but he’s made of steel wire and moose-hide, and let me tell you he could give a pretty good account of himself in a ring against any man in Saskatchewan. Then, again, your intentions might be ever so good, but I wouldn’t like to answer for you, or for any other white man, if it comes to being actually tackled by as heavy-handed a hard case as Sergeant Moore. And then there’s Sourdough. When that husky’s leg is sound again he’ll be about as safe a domestic pet as a full-grown grizzly. No, it’s better you should be away for a bit. Also, my friend, it’s a chance for you. There are some pretty queer customers pass along that Buck’s Crossing trail these days, making north. Your beat’s a long one. You’ll have a good deal of responsibility; and, who knows? You might win a commission out of it. You won’t be forgotten here, you know.”
Then the order came that Dick was to take over the Buck’s Crossing post that same week. It was necessary for Dick to ride the whole sixty-odd miles, but his kit was to be sent thirty-two miles by rail, and there picked up by wagon for the remainder of the journey. Meantime there were a number of stitches in Jan’s dewlap and shoulders not yet ripe for removal, and Dick decided that he would not ask the hound to cover over sixty miles of trail in a day, as he meant to do. Therefore it was arranged that O’Malley should see to putting Jan on the train when Dick’s kit was sent off, and that Jan should have a place in the wagon for the thirty-odd miles lying between Buck’s Crossing and its nearest point of rail.
And then, having seen to these arrangements, Dick bade good-by to his comrades, rubbed Jan’s ears and told him to be a good lad till they met again, in forty-eight hours’ time, and rode away, carrying with him the good wishes of every one in the barracks, with the exception of one who looked out at him from the windows of the sergeants’ quarters, with grimly nodding head and a singularly baleful light in his eyes.
Sergeant Moore, who had just returned from three days’ leave, had learned from the veterinary surgeon that morning that Sourdough must always limp a little on his near fore leg, which would be permanently a little shorter than its fellow, by reason of the slight twist which surgical care had been unable to prevent. Yet Sergeant Moore, for all the glow of hatred in his eyes as he watched Dick Vaughan’s departure, nodded his grizzled head with the air of a man quite satisfied.
“So long, Tenderfoot,” he growled. “You’ll maybe find Sourdough’s reach a longer one than you reckon for, I’m thinking.”