For a minute or so Jean stood looking down upon Jan appraisingly. There was no better judge of a dog—from one standpoint—in that part of Canada.
“By gar!” he muttered between his teeth. “That Sergeant Moore hee’s a queer cuss, sure ’nuff, to give away a dog like thees for nothing; and then, by gar, to pay me ten dollar for takin’ heem.”
Then he stooped down and rubbed Jan’s ears, with a friendly, knowledgeable way he had.
“Ah, you, Jan,” he said, cheerily. “Here’s your harness. Here, good dog, I show you.”
And he proceeded to buckle a set of dog-harness about Jan’s massive chest and shoulders. In doing so he noticed for the first time Dick’s stitches in the hound’s dewlap and shoulders.
“By gar!” he said, with a grin. “You bin fightin’, Jan, eh? Ah, well, take care, Jan. We get no nursin’ after fightin’ here. Bes’ leave that job to the huskies, Jan. Come on—good dog.”
A hundred yards away, on the far side of the shack, Jan came upon the first dog-sled he had ever seen, with a team of seven dogs attached, now lying resting on the dry snow. They were a mixed team, four of them unmistakable huskies, one with collie characteristics, one having Newfoundland blood (through many crosses), and one, the leader, having the look of something midway between a big powerful Airedale and an old English sheep-dog, including the bobtail. This leader, Bill, as he was called, had the air of a master-worker, and was the only member of the pack (except the wheeler) who did not snarl as Jan was led toward them.
With the dogs was Jake, wearing a deep fur cap that came well down over the tops of his ears. In one hand Jake held a short-hafted whip with a rawhide thong, the point of which he could put through a dog’s coat from ten paces distant.
“Take Mixer out an’ put heem in behind Bill,” said Jean. “We’ll try Jan in front of old Blackfoot.”
It was not without thought, and kindly thought, that Jean ordered this arrangement, for Blackfoot, though old and scarred, a trail-worn veteran, had not a spark of unkindness in his composition. He was the dog with Newfoundland blood in him, who, like Bill the leader, and unlike the rest of the pack, had not snarled at sight of Jan. He even held out a friendly muzzle in welcome as, rather reluctantly, Jan allowed himself to be led to his place in front of Blackfoot. The husky who filled the next forward place wheeled about as far as he could in the traces and snapped viciously at Jan.
“Ah, Snip!” said Jean, quite pleasantly. But even as he spoke so pleasantly, the whip he had picked up sang, and its thong, doubled, landed fair and square in Snip’s face, causing that worthy to whirl back to his place with a yowl of consternation.