“Well, I guess that’s right, then. Muster made some other arrangement; an’ it’s just as well, for I’m late an’ I’ve got to have my near front wheel off an’ doctor it a bit, so I won’t make the Crossin’ till midday to-morrow, I reckon. I’ll be campin’ at Lloyd’s to-night.”
Overalls just nodded as he took the wagoner’s signature for Sergeant Vaughan’s kit; and without another thought both men dismissed from their rather vacant minds (as was perfectly natural, no doubt) all further thought of a matter which did not concern them, despite its life-and-death importance to the son of Finn and Desdemona.
After perhaps an hour and a half, the buckboard was pulled up in a fenced yard beside a small homestead. Here Jan parted with the man in the fur cap and never set eyes upon him again. His chain was now taken by a different sort of man; a very lean, spare, hard-bitten little man, with bright dark eyes and a leather-colored face. He thanked the fur-capped man for having kindly brought Jan along. Fur-cap deprecated thanks, but accepted a dollar. And then the leather-faced man led Jan away. They walked for perhaps a couple of miles, and then they were joined by another man, who called the first man Jean, so that Jan looked up quickly, thinking he had been addressed.
“Hees name Jan,” explained the first man, casually, pointing to Jan’s collar.
“H’m! That so? Better get rid o’ that collar, Jean, eh?”
From a bag in the buggy in which they had found the second man, wire-cutters were produced, and Jan’s collar cut in sunder and removed, after a leather collar had been buckled on in its place and the chain attached to that. Jan had a vague feeling of uneasiness about this operation; but only a vague feeling. Like all other animal-folk, he had long ago arrived at the conclusion that men-folk frequently did quite unaccountable things; that a dog would have no rest in life if he set himself to puzzle out a reason for everything he saw the sovereign people do. Captain Arnutt had locked that collar about his neck, and a very silly, stiff, and awkward contraption he had thought it. Now another man, equally without apparent rhyme or reason, took it off and substituted a leathern collar with a queer, fishy, gamy sort of smell. Well, it would make little odds to Jan; if only these people would hurry up about taking him to his own man.
Thinking of that, Jan quite gladly made the best of the very cramped quarters given him in the buggy, though he grew desperately tired of those same quarters before night fell and he was transferred to the more roomy dog-box of a Canadian Northern train. Without doubt the train would take him direct to Dick. (Until the previous day, his sole experience of trains in Canada had been closely connected with Dick.) So confident was Jan of this, that he bent himself quite cheerfully to the task of tearing and eating the lump of meat given him by Jean before the train started. Evidently this Jean was a friendly, well-disposed sort of a person, and in any case any man at all engaged in taking Jan to Dick Vaughan deserved ready obedience and respect.