PRINCE JAN ST. BERNARD
PRINCE JAN ST. BERNARD
BY FORRESTINE C. HOOKER
Illustrated by LYNN BOGUE HUNT
DOUBLEDAY & CO., INC.
GARDEN CITY, N.Y.
AN AMERICAN PATRIOT
My father, Brigadier-General Charles L. Cooper, U.S.A., whose life for fifty-seven years, from May 27, 1862 to September 30, 1919, when he answered the Last Roll Call, was devoted to the service of his Country and his Flag.
1921, DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY. PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES AT THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS, GARDEN CITY, N.Y.
I. THE HOSPICE DOGS 1 II. THE LAND OF SNOW 14 III. A NEW WORLD 29 IV. THE LAND OF NO SNOW 38 V. JAN LEARNS TO HATE 46 VI. THE POUND 58 VII. HIPPITY-HOP 71 VIII. THE MUZZLE 81 IX. JAN'S JOURNEY TO THE LAND OF MAKE-BELIEVE 94 X. THE HOME OF THE SUNBONNET BABIES 101 XI. PRINCE JAN VISITS SHORTY 114 XII. THE POUNDMASTER'S PROBLEM 125 XIII. THE VOICES OF THE HOSPICE DOGS 140 XIV. A FIRESIDE STORY 157 XV. AN UNFORGOTTEN TRAIL 167 XVI. PRINCE JAN DECIDES 175 XVII. JAN'S REWARD 180
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
"'You must be crazy, this is the pound,' snapped the tiny creature" 62
"'I wish the children could see Jan now'" 114
"Then the roaring in his ears turned to the voices of the Hospice dogs—'The duty of a St. Bernard is to save lives'" 148
THE HOSPICE DOGS
Prince Jan was a fuzzy, woolly puppy with clumsy paws and fat, round body covered with tawny hair. His brown eyes looked with loving good-will at everything and everybody.
Jan and his brother, Rollo, had great fun playing together, his long fur making it easy for Rollo to haul him around, while Jan's teeth slipped from his brother's short hair. Though they tumbled about and growled fiercely at each other, their eyes were dancing with laughter.
When tired of playing, they would coax their mother to tell them stories about the Hospice dogs. Then they would lie very quietly listening with pricked-up ears and earnest eyes. Sometimes Bruno, the oldest dog in the kennels, would join in the talk, and all the young dogs would gather around to hear the history of their family. Prince Jan and Rollo, cuddled beside their mother, would look at each other with pride, remembering that they, too, were St. Bernards.
"I have heard the monks tell visitors that our ancestors have lived in the Hospice for a thousand years," said Bruno in one of his talks. "When you puppies are old enough, you will be trained for work. The duty of a St. Bernard dog is to save lives and be worthy of his ancestors."
Jan and Rollo looked at him and thumped their tails to show that they understood.
"A good St. Bernard dog must have a sensitive nose, sturdy legs, and keen brains," Bruno's voice was very sober. "He knows what he must do when he finds a human being lost in the storm or frozen in the snow. Then he leads the way to the Hospice, or if the traveller does not follow, the dog brings monks to aid the man. Should one of us ever fail to do his best," he turned his big head slowly and his eyes were serious as he looked at the puppies, "it would mean disgrace for all the rest of the St. Bernard dogs."
"Tell us more stories, Bruno," the youngsters begged.
"Not to-day," Bruno shook his wise head. "Your ancestors have done great things, and you have the right to be proud of them, but the only way to prove yourselves worthy is for you to do your duty as well as they did theirs. Unless you remember your lessons and follow them, you will not be true St. Bernards, and your failures will be stains on the honor of the name we bear. Never forget that as long as you live!"
Bruno understood that the soft little whimpers were promises that each puppy would do his best when the test came to him. Jan and Rollo watched the old dog, limping from rheumatism in his shoulders, move slowly across the enclosed yard that opened from the kennels. Bruno was no longer able to go out on the trails, but spent his days teaching the young dogs. Sometimes he would lie asleep, and when his paws jerked and his tail moved, Jan's mother would say, "Be quiet, children! Bruno is dreaming he is out on the trail."
Then she would speak softly, "When you are older you will be taught to break trails through the snow and carry food and wine, fastened about your necks. You may be tempted, when the wind howls and the snow blinds you, to sneak back or hide in a sheltered place. You must not forget, as long as you live, that there was never a traitor or coward in your father's family or in mine. When you remember this, you will stagger on or crawl, if you cannot stand, and keep your nose close to the ground, sniffing and sniffing."
She turned her head toward the white peaks that loomed high above the stone walls around the enclosure. "Only a St. Bernard can tell whether the snow which has drifted during the night is strong enough to bear the weight of a man, or whether that man would sink beyond rescuing."
Jan and his brother waited respectfully when she stopped speaking and stared at the mountain-tops, until she said, "Sometimes, you will find an ice-bridge. Then you must go very carefully. If it creaks beneath your weight, never let any human being step on it, even if you must fight him back. Your father, Rex, died when an ice-bridge broke through; but he saved four men from death. Always remember one thing. To die doing one's duty is the greatest honor that can come to a St. Bernard."
The two puppies whined softly and their mother knew that each of her children was promising that he would do his best to be worthy of such a father.
"Ah," said Prince Jan to his brother, as their mother crossed the yard toward the kennel, "some day we, too, will go out and do our work. Won't that be glorious, Rollo?"
In their happiness they raced to their mother, who watched them with loving, proud eyes. When they reached her side Jan measured himself to see how much bigger he must grow, for though he was large for his age, he was only six months old.
"Oh, if I could only grow faster, mother!" he cried.
"Be patient, Jan," she answered, biting his ear gently. "Your time is coming soon!"
"My time is coming! My time is coming!" Jan leaped and barked in glee.
"Mine, too!" called Rollo. "We'll work together, Jan!"
The big door leading from the enclosure where the dogs romped and played swung open, and two men who came out, stood looking at the dogs. The puppies watched eagerly, for these men had charge of the youngsters. All the dogs knew them, and even if the men had been strangers the Hospice dogs would have known they were monks who belonged to the Hospice, for the clothes they wore were different from the clothes of other men who came to the Hospice for a day or two.
A long, black, close-fitting coat reached almost to the feet of each monk, a peaked hood hung between his shoulders and a little round, black, skull-cap was on his head. All of the monks dressed the same way, and when it was cold and they went out on the trail, they took off the little cap and pulled the peaked hood over their heads and around their ears.
The dogs hurried to the monks and one of the men leaned down and felt Jan's legs and back. Prince Jan looked anxiously into the two kindly faces. He had seen them do the same thing with other puppies, and afterwards many of his playmates went away and never returned. At first he and Rollo thought they had died on the trail, like their ancestors; but Jan's mother shook her head sadly and said, "They were not strong enough to do the work."
Now he remembered this and wondered if he would be sent away. His little legs and back stiffened so that the monks would see how strong he was.
"I believe this will be one of the best dogs we have had since Barry's time," said Brother Antoine, running his hand along Jan's back. "He has wonderful muscles and a very strong back. We will take him out and give him a trial to-morrow."
Jan licked the hand that rested on his head, then he dashed to his mother's side, yelping with excitement and panting out the good news.
She looked with pride into his happy eyes and said, "You are going to be just like your father! He was a descendant of Barry, the bravest dog of us all. You will be a credit to your ancestors!"
"I will do the very best I can," promised little Prince Jan. Then he lay down and wrinkled his soft forehead as he tried to remember everything that Bruno and his mother had taught him, so that he would be ready for his first lesson.
The next morning he was wide awake before any of the other dogs. They all slept in a big basement under the Hospice building. Jan could see the arched corridors that reached along the big room with its floor of grey stone. The cows of the Hospice were kept in the basement, too, for there was never any green grass outside for them to graze upon. Here and there curled dogs that Prince Jan knew. Jupitiere, Junon, Mars, Vulcan, Pluton, Leon, and Bruno were not far away from him.
At last the door leading to the yard was opened and the dogs raced and tumbled out, looking like great, tawny lions and cubs rushing from stone cages. They ate a breakfast of boiled rice that was poured into troughs for them, then Jan turned impatiently to the door, hoping it would not be very long before Brother Antoine would come for him. When the monk appeared on the stone steps Jan trembled nervously, and went forward quickly, but stopped at a certain point. He remembered what his mother had told him and Rollo. They must never step beyond that place, even though visitors called to them. Brother Antoine smiled as he saw the pup halt.
"Time for your first lesson, Prince Jan," said the monk in his gentle voice that all the dogs loved. Rollo whined pleadingly, and the monk laughed, "Yes, you, too, Rollo. Come along, both of you!"
With sharp yelps they followed to the door, through the arched corridors, up a short flight of steps, past a big room. Rollo and Jan waited impatiently while Brother Antoine unfastened three doors, one after the other, and then as the last one opened, the two dogs dashed out into the snow.
They gave little barks of joy and thrust their noses into the cold white mass, tossing it high and digging into drifts with broad clumsy paws, then stopping to rush at each other and tumble almost out of sight in their play.
It was summer-time at the Hospice, though no one would have guessed it, for the snow lay in masses on all sides, the little lake was frozen over, and the peaks of the mountains were sheeted with snow and blue-white ice that never melted the year around. There was not so much danger for travellers during the months of July and August, and as the work was lighter for both the dogs and the monks, the puppies were then taken out for their first lessons.
A collar was fastened to Prince Jan's neck and from it hung a small bell that tinkled clearly with each step the proud little fellow took. When he looked back he saw his brother also had a collar and bell, and then a casket was tied to each pup's neck. Both dogs watched the monks and at a sign from Brother Antoine they trotted carefully along the narrow, slippery way.
There were no trees, grass, or flowers growing for many miles around the Hospice, for the earth was buried deep under rocks, and these rocks were covered all the time with a white blanket of snow, which drifted into the hollow places until it was many feet deep. The narrow trail twisted between cragged mountains, and often the dogs could look down so far that it would have made them dizzy, had they not been Hospice dogs.
They trudged along happily for a long distance, then Brother Antoine spoke to his companion and commanded Jan and Rollo to lie down. They obeyed at once, and watched him go on alone until he disappeared around a bend of the trail. The pups looked at each other anxiously, and fixed their eyes on the face of the monk who had stayed with them, but he was staring at the trail. Prince Jan whimpered softly, and Rollo echoed the sound, but neither of them rose to their feet.
"Wait!" said the monk, and the dogs trembled with eagerness as they sniffed the cold air.
At last the monk ordered, "Go!" Instantly they leaped to their feet and raced along the narrow pathway, their noses close against the snow to catch the scent of Brother Antoine who was somewhere ahead of them.
At times they ran from the path to follow little gullies of heavy snow. They knew that Brother Antoine had trodden here, though no trace of his steps could be seen on the surface, for the snow slid quickly in the summer months, and masses of it kept covering the slopes as it shifted rapidly. In this way Jan and Rollo trailed Brother Antoine until they reached a spot where they could find no further scent though they went around in circles. The other monk, who had followed more slowly, stood watching them as they paused, uncertain what to do. He made no sign to help them, but suddenly Prince Jan gave a sharp bark and thrust his nose deeply into the snow, where he began digging as fast as he could. Rollo, too, understood, and his front paws worked as fast as his brother's until they had uncovered the face and shoulders of Brother Antoine, who had buried himself under the snow to see if they could find him.
Both puppies leaped about in glee, barking and yelping until the sides of the narrow pass sent back echoes like many unseen dogs answering them. Brother Antoine rose to his feet, smiling. He patted the soft, fuzzy heads while the other monk told how the dogs had acted without any help at all.
"Jan led the way," he said to Brother Antoine. "He shows wonderful intelligence."
"It is his father's blood," replied Brother Antoine, then he pointed toward the Hospice. "Go back!" he ordered. Prince Jan started obediently toward his home, while Rollo followed closely, but every once in a while both dogs turned back, or waited a bit, until the monks caught up to them.
They reached the stone steps leading up to the front door of the Hospice. The door swung open, and the puppies, with Brother Antoine, trudged through the long corridor, down to the basement, under the high archways and once again were in the big, enclosed yard. The other dogs crowded about them as they stood proud and important, for that day Prince Jan and Rollo had learned the first lesson on the trail. But they both knew that this was only play and their real work would come when the snow piled so deep about the walls of the Hospice that it almost reached the high, peaked roof.
THE LAND OF SNOW
The lesson of the trail had to be repeated several times, before the two puppies understood just what they were expected to do. Day after day their mother told them more about the brave deeds of the St. Bernard dogs, for the work of the mother-dogs of the Hospice was to teach the puppies to be kindly, obedient and loyal to the trust placed in them by the good monks.
July and August, the two months that were called the summer-time at the Hospice, passed swiftly, and Jan and Rollo knew that very soon it would be winter. The first big snow storm blew over the mountains early in September, while Jan and his brother slept, warm and snug, beside their mother. Next morning no sun could be seen, and when the dogs rushed into the enclosures, dark clouds, shrieking winds, and sheets of driving snow told them that winter had begun and soon there would be hard work for them all.
Jan and Rollo quivered with excitement and envy when they saw the older dogs pass through the long corridors that day, and each time one of the monks came into the basement where the dogs waited, all of them started to their feet and wagged their tails, hoping to be taken out for work.
While Jan and Rollo watched and waited, their mother talked to them.
"Sometimes," she said, "you will find a white mound, and you must never pass it by without digging to see if any one is under it. You have learned already that when you find a man, you must lick his face and hands to waken him, and if you cannot rouse him, so that he will stand up, or put his arms about your neck, you must hurry to the Hospice to bring the monks. That way, you may save a life, and then, perhaps, you will have a collar or a medal, like Barry, and travellers who sit in the big room will be told that you were worthy of your ancestors."
"Tell us about the Big Room," begged Rollo, while Jan gave a gentle little nudge of his nose to coax his mother. Both of them had heard many times from their mother, from Bruno, and the other older dogs, about the Big Room, yet they never tired hearing of it. Now they bunched themselves into furry balls with their heads against their mother's soft breast, as she began: "In the Big Room are many beautiful pictures that have been sent from travellers rescued by our kinsfolk. Sometimes a handsome collar is sent to a dog that has saved a life, but the greatest honor of all was the medal that was given to Barry, and the beautiful marble monument that you puppies have seen near the Hospice. Your father had a collar sent to him by the men he saved. They knew he would never wear it, but they asked that it be hung above the fireplace in the Big Room. Some day, I hope you, Jan and Rollo, will have collars there. Now, run and play," she ended, giving each pup a push with her nose. "Even though you cannot go out to-day, you must romp, for that will make your backs and legs strong. If you are not strong you will be sent away from the Hospice and never come back. That is a terrible thing for a St. Bernard. I don't want it to happen to either of you!"
Though it was so cold and stormy, the two dogs leaped to their feet and ran through the half-shut door that led to the big enclosure. Jan was ahead, and Rollo scampered after him. Around and around the yard they went, dodging each other until Rollo managed to catch the tip of his brother's fuzzy tail. This did not make Jan stop running, so Rollo was dragged after him through the heaps of snow, rolling over and over but clinging tightly until Jan turned and pounced upon him. They tumbled about, sometimes Jan was on top, sometimes Rollo, and they looked like a huge, yellow spider with eight sturdy, furry legs kicking wildly. At last, panting, they sprawled facing each other with pink tongues hanging from their open mouths and eyes twinkling merrily.
The sound of Brother Antoine's voice made them look up quickly, and they saw two visitors were with him. The dogs were accustomed to visitors, for in the summer many people came to see the Hospice and the dogs, but in the winter the strangers sought refuge from storms.
"Come on, Rollo," called Jan, as the monk and the men with him came down the steps. "There's Brother Antoine. I'll beat you to him! Show him how fast we can run!"
Before Jan had finished, the two puppies were tearing madly toward the monk and the other men. One of these strangers wore a long fur overcoat, the other was a much younger man with kindly grey eyes. Jan won the race, but was going so fast that he could not stop until he bumped against this grey-eyed man, who smiled and leaned down to pat him. Jan squirmed around and touched the hand with his nose, then edged nearer Brother Antoine, who called the dogs about him.
It was a splendid sight to see them cross the enclosure, their great heads held proudly, their eyes beaming with intelligence and kindness, the strong muscles moving beneath the tawny skins, as though each one of them, old and young, understood that the honor of his forefathers must be guarded from any act that would injure it.
Bruno limped slowly, Jan's mother walked sedately beside him, back of them were Jupitiere, Junon, Mars, Vulcan, Pluton, Leon, and among the older dogs came those the same age as Jan and Rollo, followed by the mothers with still smaller puppies. They reached a place in the yard where all of them stopped, and though the man in the fur coat, who stood a distance back of Brother Antoine and the younger man, called to them, the dogs only wagged their tails and did not go any closer.
"You will have to come further," said the monk. "The dogs know that they must not cross to you, for the first thing a puppy learns is to respect the boundary line."
The fur-coated man moved to where Brother Antoine and the other man stood, then the dogs grouped about while the monk talked to the visitors.
"They seem to understand every word you say," the old man spoke. "Their eyes are so intelligent."
"They are living sermons on obedience, loyalty, and self-sacrifice," answered Brother Antoine's gentle voice. "Not one of these dogs would hesitate to risk his life to save his most bitter enemy. That has been their heritage for almost a thousand years, now."
"Natural instinct counts for a great deal," the grey-eyed man spoke as he looked into the upturned faces of the dogs, "but the patient training you give them has developed it."
"The older dogs help us teach the youngsters," went on the monk, whose hand rested on Jan's head. "We send out four dogs each morning—two younger ones and two of the old ones. One pair goes on the trail down the Italian slope toward Aosta, the other travels the Swiss path leading to Martigny. None of them turns back until the last cabin of refuge has been reached, where they look to see if any person is waiting. It is not unusual for the dogs to stay out all night in a hard storm. There have been many instances of their remaining away for two days and nights, without food or shelter, though at any time they could have come home."
"Our guide showed us the cabin," interrupted the older man. "The footprints of the dogs proved they had been there a short time before us. We followed their tracks until the storm covered them. It was a lucky thing the storm did not break earlier."
"The dogs would have found you, Mr. Pixley," the monk replied. "You see, since we have had a telephone from the Hospice, each time travellers start up the trails, we know when they leave Martigny or Aosta and how many are on the way. If they do not reach here in reasonable time, or a storm breaks, we send out the dogs at once. It was much harder in the other days, before we had telephones, for we could not tell how many poor souls were struggling in the snow. The dogs seemed to understand, too, and so they kept on searching until they believed they had found all."
"I would not have attempted this trip had I not been assured that it was too early for a bad storm," said Mr. Pixley. "It is foolhardy, not courageous, to face these mountains in a winter storm. I cannot imagine any one being so rash as to try it, but I suppose many do?"
"During the winter only poor peasants travel the Pass," was Brother Antoine's answer. "They cross from Italy to seek work in the vineyards of France or Switzerland for the summer. When summer is over they return home this way, because it would mean a long and expensive trip by rail, which would take all they have earned for a whole year. An entire family will travel together, and often the youngest will be a babe in its mother's arms."
"I should think they would wait till later in the summer, and take no risks."
"Only the good God knows when a snow storm will overtake one in the Pass of Great St. Bernard," Brother Antoine said. "Even in our summer months, when a light shower of rain falls in the Valley below, it becomes a heavy snow up here, and many people are taken unawares. After winter really begins, in September, the snow is often from seven to ten feet deep and the drifts pile up against the walls of the Hospice as high as the third story roof."
"I had planned to visit Berne," Mr. Pixley spoke now, "but after this sample of your winter weather I have decided to return home to California. I do not enjoy snow storms. We have none where I live, you know."
Brother Antoine nodded. "Yes, I know; but I hope some day you will visit Berne and see Barry. His skin was mounted and is kept in the Museum at Berne. You know his record? He saved forty-two people and died in 1815, just after the terrible storm that cost the lives of almost all the Hospice dogs. Only three St. Bernards lived through those days—Barry, Pluto, and Pallas. A few crawled home to die of exhaustion and cold; the rest lie buried under thousands of feet of snow, but they all died like heroes!"
"A glorious record!" exclaimed the younger man, who had been patting Jan while the others talked. "I remember, when I was a very small boy, that I found a picture in a book. It showed a St. Bernard dog digging a man from the snow, and last night I recognized the picture in that painting which hangs over the fireplace in the refectory."
"It was a gift from a noted artist," replied the monk. "The dogs used to carry a little saddle with a warm shawl, but the extra weight was hard on them, so we do not use the saddle any longer, but a flagon, or wooden keg of white brandy that we call 'kirsch,' is fastened to the collar, together with a bell, so that the tinkling will tell that help is near, even though it may be too dark for any one to see the dog."
"I notice that most of the dogs are short-haired," the grey-eyed man observed. "Such fur as this pup's would afford better protection against the cold. He has a magnificent coat of hair!"
"That is the only point against him," said Brother Antoine. "During the big storm of 1815 we learned that long-haired dogs break down from the snow clinging and freezing like a coat of mail; or the thick hair holding moisture developed pneumonia. We brought Newfoundland dogs to fill the kennels when only three St. Bernards were left, but the long, heavy hair of the new breed that was part Newfoundland and part St. Bernard proved a failure. They could not stand the snow storms. Now, we very rarely keep a long-haired pup. He is generally sold or presented to some one who will give him kind treatment."
Jan looked suddenly at Rollo and the other puppies near him. All except himself had short hair. Now he remembered his mother's worried eyes each time the monks had examined him. He hurried to her side and pushed her with his nose, as he whispered, "Mother, will they send me away because I have long hair? You know, Brother Antoine said that I was one of the best dogs they have had for a long time!"
"Don't worry, Jan," she soothed him. "Even though your fur is long, you are so strong and so like your father, who had long hair, too, that I am sure you will be kept here. Hurry, Jan I Brother Antoine is calling you back."
Jan pushed among the other dogs until he stood again at the monk's side. The two strangers looked at Jan, and Brother Antoine touched the pup's head lovingly.
"His father was one of our best dogs," the monk spoke. "But that was not surprising. He was a direct descendant of Barry. Four travellers owe their lives to Jan's father, Rex."
The little fellow tried not to look too proud as he listened again to the story his mother had told him and Rollo many times.
"Rex was guiding four men to the Hospice after a big storm last Fall. It was the worst since 1815. The men told us the story after they reached us. They had lost all hope, their guide had fallen down a crevasse and they were exhausted when Rex found them. They knew that their only chance of life was to follow him. He went ahead, moving very slowly and looking back while he barked to encourage them. An ice-bridge had formed. It was hidden by deep snow and they did not understand the danger that Rex knew so well. The dog went ahead, the men keeping closely behind him. Half way across he turned and began barking fiercely, and as they drew nearer, he started toward them uttering savage snarls.
"They thought the dog had gone mad, and backed away as he advanced threateningly. Then suddenly his snarl turned to a mournful howl that was lost in frightful cracking as the ice-bridge broke away. Rex was never seen again, but his warning prevented those four men from being smothered in the chasm under hundreds of feet of snow. So, you see, this little fellow comes of royal blood. That is why we named him 'Prince Jan.' He looks just like his father, too!"
Jan thrust his warm nose into Brother Antoine's hand.
"I want to be like my father and Barry," he said, hoping they would understand him, as he understood them. "I will do my very best to be worthy of them both!"
The visitors and the monk did not know what Jan said, but the other dogs understood. Bruno's dim eyes beamed on the pup.
"You will be a credit to us all, Prince Jan!"
The strangers and Brother Antoine left the yard, and the dogs formed in little groups to talk among themselves, as they always did when new people came to see them.
"That man came from America," Bruno said to Jan's mother.
"Lots of people from America visit us," she replied, trying not to yawn, for the storm had kept her awake. All night, while she felt the warm little bodies of the puppies pressed against her side, she had stared into the darkness, thinking of the time when Prince Jan and his brother must go out, like their father, Rex, to do the work of the St. Bernards.
"Yes," Bruno added in a queer voice, "but this man said he was from California, where they never have any snow!"
"What?" shouted all the dogs together. "A place where they never have any snow? Oh, what a funny place that must be!"
"What do they walk on?" asked Jan's mother curiously.
Before Bruno could answer, Jan shoved up and said earnestly: "But, mother, how do dogs save people where there is no snow?"
"I am sure I don't know," she told him. "Ask Bruno."
Neither Bruno nor any of the other dogs could explain this mystery, though Jan went to each in turn for an answer to his question. At last he lay down, his nose wedged between his paws, his yellow forehead wrinkled with thought, and he stared across at the tops of the great white peaks above the enclosure until his soft eyes closed in sleep. Soon he was dreaming that he was digging travellers from the snow and asking them, "Won't you please tell me how a dog can save people in a land where there is no snow?"
But none of them could answer his question.
A NEW WORLD
The next morning Mr. Pixley and Brother Antoine returned to the kennel yard and Jan wagged his tail politely to show that he recognized the visitor, who leaned down and patted him while talking to the monk.
"You may be sure he will receive the very best care," said the man from California.
"We are always treated kindly," Prince Jan hastened to say, and he glanced at Rollo, who replied, "Of course, we are!"
The two pups did not notice Mr. Pixley's next words, "My little girl will be delighted with him."
Brother Antoine called, "Here, Jan," and when the little fellow stood looking up with bright, expectant eyes, the monk fastened a collar about the dog's neck.
Jan trembled. He was sure that he was now going to be sent out to do his first work on the trail. It would not be playing this time, but real work like the big dogs. The collar was stiff but he did not mind the discomfort, for it meant that he was not a puppy any longer. He twisted his head to see which of the older dogs was to go out with him, as he crossed the forbidden line with the monk. The only dog that followed Jan was his brother, Rollo, and when Brother Antoine ordered, "Go back, Rollo!" the pup's ears and tail drooped and he slunk back to his mother as though in disgrace.
"The big dogs must be waiting outside," thought Jan happily, and he walked proudly beside the monk until he stood on the top step, then he looked back at his mother, Bruno, Rollo, and the other dogs who were watching him. Usually they all barked joyously when a pup was to go out on his first real work, and the noisy barks were advice. Now, the only sounds were two short barks from Bruno, "Good-bye, Jan! Remember your father!"
"I will remember him!" he called back, and then he wondered at the long, despairing howl from his mother. It filled his heart with dread.
"Come, Jan," the monk spoke, and the little fellow turned obediently toward the door that would shut him from sight of the other dogs. His feet dragged now, and as he passed through the doorway leading to the long corridor he looked back once more.
When he stood outside the big entrance door, he saw the snow covering the mountains and hiding the chasms that he had seen in the summer when he had been out having his lessons with Rollo. He knew these smooth, level places held real danger. Then he saw dog tracks leading in two directions from the steps, but none of the older dogs were waiting for him. As he looked up with questioning, brown eyes, Brother Antoine leaned down and fastened a stout rope to the new collar and handed the end of this rope to Mr. Pixley, who was muffled in his big, fur coat. A guide was with Mr. Pixley. As they stood there a moment, the door of the Hospice again opened, and this time the grey-eyed man and another guide came out. The kind, grey eyes looked at Jan, then the man stooped over and patted him gently, and no one but the dog heard the pitying voice that said, "Poor little Prince Jan! Good-bye!"
Brother Antoine lifted Jan's nose and the pup looked into the monk's eyes, but there was something he did not understand. It was all so different from what the other dogs had told him. He felt the rope tug his collar and knew that he must follow this stranger. He heard again a heart-rending howl from his mother, "Good-bye, Jan, good-bye!" Bruno's voice blended with hers, and then the voices of all the dogs Jan knew and loved mingled in that call. Something hurt him all over, but most of the hurt was in his heart.
He halted suddenly, pulled stiffly on the rope and the wild cry he sent in response echoed mournfully from the high, white crags and died away to a whispering moan, as Prince Jan, with low-hanging head and drooping tail, travelled down the path that his ancestors had trodden many years on their errands of mercy. He wondered why he had been sent out with a rope tied to his collar, why no older dog went with him, and why he must follow this stranger instead of one of the monks. Jan felt that he was disgraced. Someway he had failed. For a while he followed despondently, then he tried to comfort himself as he trudged at the end of the rope.
"Bruno and mother will know what is the matter," he thought hopefully. "I'll ask them as soon as I get home to-night."
He looked back wistfully several times to see if the kindly, grey-eyed stranger might be following them, but he had taken the opposite trail from the one Mr. Pixley was travelling. Jan did not mind the long tramp which ended at a place where houses were scattered about. Here a carriage and horses were brought, and Jan would have been much interested in these strange things had he not been so worried. He felt himself lifted into the carriage with Mr. Pixley; then, as it moved, Jan was thrown against the fur coat and looked up in fright.
"You are going to a new land," Mr. Pixley said, smoothing the pup's velvety ear.
The dog lifted one paw and laid it on the man's knee, the brown eyes that looked up were dull with misery. Jan knew, now, that he was being taken away from the Hospice.
"Won't you take me back?" he begged.
But the man only heard a little whimper, and gave the dog a quick pat. "You and Elizabeth will be great friends. Lie down now and be quiet!"
Jan dropped to the floor of the carriage, his head between his paws, and his eyes that stared at the strange new master were full of wistful pleading.
After that ride came days in a big, dark place that bumped and jerked with horrible noises. He did not know that he was on a train. Jan had lived all his life where the only disturbing sounds were the soft thud of melting snow and the hissing of the avalanches down the mountain sides. These strange noises hurt his ears. The pain in his heart kept growing until he could only lie still and draw his breath in smothered little whimpers that tore the inside of his throat. He could not eat nor drink.
When Mr. Pixley took him from the train, the dog was led through crowds of people and bustling, noisy streets that made Jan cringe and cower. At last they reached a place where water stretched so far that it touched the sky, and the water kept moving all the time. This frightened him, for he had never seen any water excepting in the little lake at the Hospice, and that water did not move, for it was nearly always frozen over. Bewildered, Jan hung back, but the man to whom Mr. Pixley had handed the rope dragged the dog up a walk of boards to a strange-looking house on top of the water. Jan stumbled down the dark stairs, into a hot, smelly place where he was fastened to a wall. An old sack was thrown down, water and meat placed before him, then he was left alone. Whistles screamed, bells jangled, all sorts of noises pounded Jan's shrinking, sensitive ears as he cowered in an agony of fear. The boat moved; but he thought, as it puffed and trembled, that a huge, strange animal had swallowed him alive.
The rolling motion made him very sick. He could neither eat nor sleep, but grew stiff and sore during the days and nights he was kept tied in the hold of the vessel. Homesick and lonesome, poor little Prince Jan lay for hours crying softly, but the only attention any one gave him was to fill pans with water and food.
One day two women, wearing white caps on their heads, climbed down the stairs with a little girl and boy. The children ran and put their arms about the dog's neck and Jan wriggled and squirmed with happiness, while he licked their hands and faces.
"Don't touch him," cried one of the women, pulling the girl away. "He is filthy, beside, he might bite you."
The child drew back in alarm. Jan's gentle eyes watched them and his tail waved slowly, trying to make them know that he loved them and would not hurt them or anybody in the world.
"He won't hurt us, Nurse," the boy declared and put his hand on the dog's big head. "I don't care whether he's dirty or clean, he's a bully fine dog, and I wish he belonged to me and sister!"
"Oh, if they will only stay with me!" hoped Jan. "Maybe they would understand and some day take me back to the Hospice."
The boy smiled into Jan's eyes, but he did not know what the dog was trying to say.
"Come, children, we must go," one of the women spoke. "Now, you have seen a dog that cost over a thousand dollars and is being taken to live in California, where oranges grow and there is never any snow."
Jan turned quickly. He remembered all the dogs at the Hospice had talked about the place where there was never any snow.
"How can a dog save lives where there is no snow?" he asked; but the women and children, as they turned away, thought he was whining because they were leaving him alone.
With miserable eyes Jan lay staring into the dark, wondering how he could be like his father and Barry in a country where there was no snow.
THE LAND OF NO SNOW
The voyage ended, then followed another long trip in a train and Jan reached his new home. A little girl with long, yellow curls, big blue eyes, and pink cheeks, danced down the steps from the wide porch of a big house as they approached.
Mr. Pixley caught her in his arms, then put her on the ground and called to Jan, who was still in the automobile which had met them at the station. The dog leaped out and ran to the child, looking into her face, while his tail bobbed and waved.
"Oh, you beautiful Prince Jan!" she cried, throwing her arms about his neck and squeezing him tightly. "I love you!"
Jan's tongue caressed her hands, touched her cheek, and his body squirmed and twisted, then he flopped on the ground and rolled on his back, waving his paws to show that he loved her. Obeying her call, he trotted be sidle her, past strange trees growing on stretches of fresh, green grass. Jan looked about him and saw that this new stuff that was so soft when he walked upon it, reached down to the blue water, and that water sparkled as far as he could see, and then it seemed to become a part of the sky. Wonderful things that gave out delicate perfume formed brilliant patches about the house and even clung high up on the walls. Later, he learned these things were flowers, and when the wind blew softly, they bent and swayed like lovely ladies in their prettiest gowns, bowing and dancing. From the thick leaves of the trees floated songs of hidden birds. Jan's head turned quickly from side to side, trying to see everything and understand what he saw, but the most wonderful thing to him was the dear little mistress, who talked to him as if she knew he understood her words.
All the people in the big house were very kind to Jan, and he soon grew accustomed to his new home. His only duty was to take care of Elizabeth, who was so gentle and loving that he was glad and proud to guard her. Wherever she went, he went, too.
The governess heard Elizabeth's lessons out on the lawn under the shade of an orange tree, and Jan kept close at hand, watching the little girl's face, and waiting patiently for the lesson to end. Then a pony was led to the front door, and as Elizabeth rode over the firm sand of the beach, Jan raced beside her, barking or rushing out to fight back a wave that was sneaking too close. He loved the water, and the best time of all, he thought, was when his mistress took her swimming lesson and he could plough through the waves beside her. Often she would lie on her back in the hissing, white surf, holding to Jan's collar until they both landed on the warm sand. Sometimes the two of them would dig a big hole, and the dog would scrunch into it, while she buried him until only his nose and eyes could be seen. Jan was so happy that at times he forgot the Hospice and the work his mother had told him he must do. When he did remember it, he would puzzle over and over, "But, how can I save people's lives here, where there is never any snow, and every one is happy and safe?"
Christmas came, and there was a glittering tree with lights and beautiful things on it. All the family patted Jan when Elizabeth took down a handsome collar.
"This is for you, Jan," she said.
As she fastened it about his neck, he thought of the big room at the Hospice, but he knew, now, no collar of his would ever hang there. Suddenly, all the old longing for the Hospice dogs and the work made him walk slowly out of the house and lie down on the front porch, where he could see the blue ocean dancing in the warm sunshine, the soft, green grass, and the beautiful flowers.
"Oh, if I could only go back home to the snow and do my work there!" he wished, and then, in a little while he fell sound asleep.
The Fairy of Happy Dreams was very busy that Christmas Day, and when she flew over Prince Jan and saw he was so lonesome and homesick, she touched him with her magic wand and fluttered away, smiling.
And Prince Jan dreamed he was at the door of the Hospice. The little wooden keg hung from his collar. Rollo, with another collar and keg, romped beside him, pulling playfully at Jan's hairy neck, while Brother Antoine and other monks stood on the upper step, smiling and saying, "He is just like his father, and Rex was descended from Barry! Prince Jan is of royal blood. He will be a credit to his ancestors!"
In the dream, Jan bounded away through the crisp, biting air, his big paws sinking in the cold, fluffy snow. Oh, how good it felt!
"My time has come! My time has come!" he shouted as he leaped with joy.
"Jan! Jan! Remember your father!" his mother and Bruno called after him.
"I will," he answered. Then he and Rollo raced down the slippery path, their voices, like deep-sounding bells, giving forth the cry of the St. Bernards. They trod over ice-bridges, ploughed through deep drifts, sliding and floundering, following the trail of their forefathers, and sniffing as they ran.
Suddenly Jan stopped and thrust his nose into a deep drift. Then he and Rollo dug furiously, until Jan cried, "Run, Rollo, run to the Hospice!"
Rollo whirled and disappeared, while Jan's rough tongue licked the snow until he saw the round, soft face of a child, and beneath that child lay its mother. Both were very quiet. Jan licked their faces, he pushed them with his nose to rouse them, then he crowded his warm body closely against them, and his eyes watched the trail. Soon he gave a wild yelp, for he saw Rollo coming and back of him hurried Brother Antoine and one of the men of the Hospice who helped on the trail.
The men lifted the woman and child, and wrapped them in warm shawls, then they unfastened the keg from Jan's collar, and as the woman opened her eyes they made her drink the liquid. Some of it was given to the child. Brother Antoine carried the little one in his arms while the other man held the woman, and Jan and Rollo trotted ahead of them to beat down the snow and make the path easier to travel. Bruno and the other dogs in the kennel yard sent back answering calls to Jan and Rollo. The door opened and kindly hands received the woman and child, and carried them to shelter and warmth.
Brother Antoine stooped and patted Jan's head, and brushed off snow that still clung to the long hair on the dog's back, saying very softly, "The Blessed Mother guided you, Jan; for you have saved a mother and child on Christmas Day!"
Then he heard laughter and voices saying, "Jan is dreaming again! Wake up, Jan!"
He woke to see waving palms, green grass, flowers, and the warm sunshine of a land where there is never any snow. His heart, which had been throbbing madly with joy, grew sad. He looked at his little mistress and her friends smiling at him so kindly, and wished he could tell them his dream and beg them to send him back where he could be useful and do the work of his father and Barry.
But the talk of dogs is different from ours; even people who speak the same language often misunderstand one another. Once in a great while some person is wise enough and good enough to understand what dogs try to say, but Prince Jan's little mistress, though she loved him dearly, never knew what was in his heart.
The months slipped away until Jan was fully grown. His tawny-red and white hair was as soft as silk, and when he put his paws on a man's shoulders, their eyes were the same height. In spite of his strength and size, he was gentle and kind. Every one loved him and he loved everybody.
The only sadness in his life was in knowing that he could not help people in a place where there was no snow. One night, as he came on the porch, Jan thought it was snowing, and he raced to the spot where he had seen the flakes falling in the bright moonlight; but when he pushed his nose into the white glistening things beneath a tree, he found they were only petals from the orange blossoms, the perfumed snowflakes of California, and Jan lay down among them, the old longing for his home and his work tugging at his heart.
JAN LEARNS TO HATE
Four happy years passed by. Elizabeth had grown into a beautiful young lady, but she loved Jan as much as ever, and he was always at her side.
Then one morning when Jan, as usual, went to the front porch to tell Mr. Pixley that breakfast was ready, there was no one sitting in the rocker where Jan expected to find his master reading the paper, and no kindly voice called, "All right, Jan! Tell them I'm coming!"
Slowly the dog went back to the big dining-room. But Elizabeth and her mother were not in their accustomed places, either. Puzzled, he trotted through the hallway and up the wide stairs, following the sound of murmuring voices in Mr. Pixley's room. Through the half-open door Jan saw two strange men talking to Elizabeth and her mother. On the bed, very white and quiet, Mr. Pixley was lying.
"The only chance is an operation by Dr. Corey of London," one of the men spoke to Mrs. Pixley, and the other man nodded.
"We can cable to London and have him sail immediately for New York, while we are on our way from here," added the second man to Elizabeth, who was watching them very anxiously.
"Do you think my father can stand the trip?" she asked.
"It would be less dangerous than losing time for Dr. Corey to come to California after he reaches New York," both doctors declared.
Jan saw that Elizabeth's eyes were full of tears and he slipped softly to her and pushed his nose into her hand. She glanced down and tried to smile at him, but her lips trembled and she hurried to her room. Mrs. Pixley followed her, and when Jan found them, Elizabeth was crying in her mother's arms, while Mrs. Pixley, whose own face was wet with tears, tried to comfort her. After awhile they began talking in low tones, and Jan edged between their closely-drawn chairs, wishing very hard that he could understand what it all meant. He would have been as much worried as they were, had he known that Mr. Pixley's life could only be saved by the famous surgeon from England, and that even if the operation were successful it would mean that Elizabeth and her parents would have to be away from home many months. But Jan was only a dog, so their words meant nothing to him.
After that hour everything was in confusion. Servants hurried about, trunks were dragged into Elizabeth's room, and clothes were carried from closets and packed into the empty trunks. Every once in a while Jan would look down into a trunk, then watch Elizabeth with his puzzled eyes.
She saw his worried look and paused in her packing to pet him, then suddenly she turned to her mother and said, "Oh, mother! What about Jan?"
"It will be impossible to take him with us, for we will have to stay in a hotel, and that would be hard on Jan, and an additional care for us, dear. Then, we may have to go to London as soon as your father is able to travel after the operation. Dr. Corey could not stay in New York so long."
"I suppose the servants will be kind to Jan," went on Jan's mistress, "but I would feel better if old John and Mary were still here. They loved Jan and he loved them."
"These new servants seem to be all right," replied Mrs. Pixley. "They know how fond we are of Jan, and I will ask them to be kind to him."
"He's such a dear old fellow, and never makes any trouble, and I don't believe any one could help loving him!" exclaimed Elizabeth, catching the dog's long, silky ears and pulling them gently while his eyes, shining with devotion, looked into her own.
Before noon the next day the trunks had been strapped and taken away. Then Jan saw Mr. Pixley lifted into the automobile where Mrs. Pixley was arranging pillows. Elizabeth came slowly down the steps of the porch with Jan at her side. Then she stooped and took his head between her hands and gazed intently at him.
"Good-bye, Jan! I'll come back again!"
That was what she always said when she was going away for a short time; so Jan wagged his tail and touched her pink cheek with the tip of his tongue. He watched the automobile turn among the orange trees that bordered the winding driveway and waited for a last glimpse of it through the trees. He knew that Elizabeth would turn and call to him when she reached that point.
His ears cocked up and his eyes were bright as the machine came into sight. Then he saw his dear mistress look back at him, her hand waved and her voice called, "Good-bye, Prince Jan! Be a good dog!"
"Woof! Woof!" he answered, as he always answered her "good-bye" call. Then the automobile vanished among the trees.
It was summer time and the middle of the day was very warm, so Jan decided he would take a swim in the ocean. It was great sport battling the huge waves while white sea-gulls darted screaming over his head, fearing he would steal the fish they hoped to catch and eat. Cooled by the water, he returned to the front porch and stretched out where he could see the road, for he always ran and welcomed his folks when they came home from their drives. He was very happy and comfortable until the new housekeeper came out with a broom.
"Get off, you dirty beast!" she cried, shaking the broom over his head. "This porch was washed to-day."
Jan jumped up in surprise. No one had ever spoken to him that way. The old housekeeper, who had gone away, had been his friend. Whenever the family was absent at night Jan had kept her company in her room, and she always had cookies there for him. John, her husband, had been the old stableman.
The broom waved nearer. He looked into the woman's angry face, then walked down the front steps.
"I'll go to the stable till Elizabeth comes home," he thought as he went toward the back of the house.
But, John, the stableman, who had cared for the handsome horses of the Pixleys until automobiles filled the carriage house, had gone away to another place where people still used horses. John had been Jan's loyal friend. The new man, William Leavitt, had not made friends with Jan, but there were many nice dark places, out of William's sight, where Jan often took a nap during the heat of the day, and William never knew it.
Jan was making for a favorite spot under the old family carriage, when William saw him.
"Get out!" he shouted furiously.
The dog stopped. William came closer and lifting his hand, threw a monkey-wrench at Jan. It missed him, and the dog hurried away to the garden, where many trees made dense shadows. There was a spot under a low-hanging pepper tree where Jan dug into the cool, moist earth until he had made a nice, big hole. Then he lay down and uttered a sigh of content. His eyes closed and soon he was sound asleep.
A vicious kick wakened him, and he leaped to his feet to see the gardener standing over him swearing. Jan ran away, but stood a short distance off, watching the man fill up the hole under the tree. As the man finished the work, he saw the dog and hurled a stone which struck above Jan's eye, making a jagged cut that started to bleed.
Half-mad with pain, Jan ran until he found a place in the orange grove, far back from the house, and trembling, he huddled down. His heart thumped and again he suffered from the fear of things he did not understand just as he had felt when his mother howled on the day he had been led from the Hospice.
"If only Elizabeth will come back soon," he thought, "everything will be right again, and the servants won't be cross to me any more."
The excitement of abuse for the first time in his life and the pain from the wounded eye, which was swollen shut, made him feverish, but he kept hidden all day, suffering from thirst rather than risk further ill-treatment, and all the time he was listening for the sound of wheels and the voice of Elizabeth calling him.
The sun went down, but the family had not come home. Then it grew very quiet and dark, and Jan crawled to the back of the house for food and water, which were always put there at sunset for him. He crept like a thief, ready to rush back to the orange grove if he heard a step approaching.
Both pans were in the accustomed place, but he found them empty. His tongue was so dry and hot that he licked each pan in turn. Then he went around to the front of the house and put his nose to a water faucet, licking it for a drop of moisture. The pipe was dry. Jan looked out at the ocean, over which the moon shone silvery bright, the water sparkled, but he knew he could not drink salt water, and even to look at it now made him more thirsty. At last, unable to resist any longer, he went to the beach and lapped the stinging water that burnt his throat. Then he plunged into the surf and swam out a short distance. But the waves washed over his head and the salt in the wound made him cry with pain, until he reached the shore and dashed back to the orange grove, where he lay moaning pitifully.
His thirst grew worse. Jan rose to his feet, hoping the stable door might be open, as sometimes he had seen it on warm nights, and there was a water trough that always had water in it, for Elizabeth still rode horseback, though the family used the automobiles. The door was closed, so he went back to his hiding-place.
In the morning, almost crazed by thirst, Jan again sought the stable. Drawing near, he heard water running, and, thinking of nothing else, he rushed to the trough where cool, sparkling water flowed from the faucet. William was there, too, but the dog rose on his hind legs and thrust his dry tongue into the water, lapping it in big gulps.
"Get out of that!" he heard William order.
Jan kept on drinking greedily. Then he felt a sharp slash from a carriage whip. He did not lift his head. Nothing could drive him from the water. The whip struck hard and fast across his back, each cut making him shrink, but he kept on drinking until his terrible thirst had been quenched. Then he dropped his paws from the edge of the trough to the floor and turned his great head, one eye closed, the other bloodshot and glaring hate and defiance, while his teeth gleamed and an ugly snarl rumbled in his throat.
A young fellow who was a stranger to Jan came from the back of the building. The dog looked at him, then at William, ready to fight them both. As Jan started toward them, William moved back. Jan growled.
"Do you think he's gone mad, Shorty?" asked William uneasily.
Jan did not know what the words meant, but he saw that the man was afraid of him for some reason. He gave a fierce snarl and faced them.
"Wouldn't drink water if he was mad," replied Shorty. "Why didn't you let him alone, anyhow? He wasn't bothering you till you hit him."
"I hate dogs, and you know it," retorted William angrily. "It made me sick to see the Pixleys such fools over this one. We all had to stand around and wait on that dog as if he was the King of England. I guess he finds out the difference now that the family has gone."
Shorty moved slowly toward Jan, holding out a hand and saying, "You're all right, old fellow!"
But the dog backed off and his nose twitched warningly. He would fight if these men bothered him. With a final growl of defiance Jan left the stable, but he carried with him a new sense of power. He could make people let him alone if he snarled and showed his teeth.
That night he prowled around until he found the garbage cans. So he learned to hide in the daytime and forage like a wild animal at night. If he passed one of the servants, he growled and braced himself stiffly, while his hair rose in a ridge along his back. One glance at his bloodshot eyes and big, white teeth was enough to make every one, man, woman or child, hurry out of his way.
In the excitement of packing for the trip, Elizabeth had neglected to have Jan's hair clipped. Maybe she told the servants to have it cut. Now, the long fur heated and worried the dog constantly and the fleas nearly drove him mad. Day and night, he bit and scratched, tearing out tufts of matted hair until raw, bleeding spots made his body a mass of sores. Each day he grew more savage. He hated every one now; the monks who had sold him, Mr. Pixley who had taken him from the Hospice, Miss Elizabeth who had deserted him, and the servants who abused him.
"I wish I could tell the dogs at the Hospice not to help people who are lost," he thought as he lay in the dark. "If William were lost in the snow and I found him, I would fasten my teeth in his throat."
So, the gentle Prince Jan, whose heart had been full of love and trust, and who wanted to help every one, became a savage beast, ready to fight all people and hating even those whom he once had loved and for whom he would have died gladly.
Six months went by and the Pixleys had not returned, but Jan did not know that Mr. Pixley was still very ill. The dog hid or skulked if he met any person, and his deep growls and twitching nose were so threatening that no one dared to go nearer. His silky hair was rough and ragged, raw bleeding spots scarred his body, his eyes were bloodshot and his tail was almost bare of the long hair that had once made it a beautiful plume.
His only refuge was the orange grove, where he spent the days sleeping or licking the bones he stole from garbage pails, for no one ever thought to put food or water where he could find it. The servants feared and hated him, and he hated them but did not fear them. He knew his own strength. If any one threatened to abuse him, Jan was ready to leap and use his sharp teeth, but so long as people let him alone, he would not fight.
Late one afternoon, he saw William and a kindly-looking old man with a long, white beard, talking together. They were watching Jan, as the dog lay quietly in the hole that was now his only home; his eyes rolled but he did not lift his head as they came closer.
"He has no use for me," said William, giving a rope to the other man. "Maybe you can handle him alone, but I don't believe it. He's as big and strong as a lion."
William pulled a paper from his pocket and held it to the older man, saying, "Here's a letter from Miss Elizabeth Pixley; you can see what she says. I wrote her about Jan and asked what we should do with him."
The name of Elizabeth caused Jan's ears to prick up and the fierce light in his eyes faded. The strange man came close to the dog and spoke gently. Jan wagged his tail slightly, but kept his eyes on the old man's face.
"You had better look out," warned William. "He can't be trusted a minute."
Jan glared at the stableman. "I wanted to love and help people, not hurt them, until you made me fight," he growled.
"Look out!" cried William. "He's showing his teeth. He is the worst dog I have ever seen in my life."
The older man studied the dog silently, then smiled and held out his hand. Jan shrank back suspiciously but allowed the hand to touch his back.
"I think I can manage him," said the stranger, then he added, "Come, Jan. Come with me!"
The dog rose to his feet and followed unresistingly down the pathway to the front of the Pixley home, and past the lawn where he had spent so many happy hours, along the firm sand on which he had so often raced beside his mistress's pony in the days gone by. And as he trudged slowly, he kept wondering if she had sent for him. He remembered how Mr. Pixley had led him away from the Hospice at the end of a rope, but at the end of the journey Jan had found Elizabeth and happiness. He lifted his big head and his anxious eyes saw a pitying face as a gentle hand lightly touched his back. It was quite a long walk and the dog was weak from improper food and care. When they entered a little cottage, the old man brought food and water, then sat and watched the dog devour them ravenously. After the dish had been emptied of all food, Jan stood wagging his tail to show his gratitude. The old man laughed.
"Why, you're not any more vicious than I am, Prince Jan! But, you're in pretty bad shape."
He did not tie the rope, but let it drop on the floor while he brought a small tin tub full of warm suds, and gently sponged the dog's body. The next thing was cool salve on the painful sores.
Then Jan was ready to follow this kind friend, and though his legs trembled with weakness, he hastened with the old man into a large room with dirt floor. It was late in the afternoon and the light from two small windows left the place in partial darkness, so that Jan, coming into it, could not see anything at first. But, he heard dogs whining and barking all about him. When he grew accustomed to the dim light, the old man had tied him and gone away.
A number of dogs were fastened by short ropes, and all were staring at the big dog. Shrill yapping made Jan turn quickly to see a tiny, dirty dog with long hair that had once been white but now was matted and grimed, straining on its rope and squinting impudently at him.
"Gracious! You're the biggest dog I ever saw!" exclaimed the midget, which was not much larger than a small kitten. "What is your name, and where on earth did you come from?"
Prince Jan answered politely, then asked, "Is this the kennel where they train dogs to help people in the Land of No Snow?"
"You must be crazy! This is the pound!" snapped the tiny creature, thinking Jan was making fun of it.
"The pound?" echoed Prince Jan. "What is that?"
"Silly! You haven't much sense, even if you are so big! If the dog-catchers get us they bring us to the pound, and if our folks don't come for us pretty soon, we are all shot!"
Several dogs howled in despair, but the snippy little animal only stretched out for a nap.
"Don't you feel badly, too?" questioned Jan.
"Good gracious, no! I travel around with my folks and we live in hotels, and they make me wear a collar. I manage to get away without my collar, sometimes, and some one always takes me to the pound, and my family come there for me as soon as I am lost. They'll be here for me before long. I've been in lots of pounds."
Without further remarks, the spoiled pet curled itself into a dirty ball and was fast asleep when the door opened and two young ladies rushed in and grabbed up the blinking rascal. He yawned in the face of the girl who held him; then, petted and scolded, he was carried away.
With hopeless eyes, Jan watched them pass through the doorway. He understood now, that Elizabeth had not sent for him, that nobody cared what happened to him. He lay down and shut his eyes and tried to shut his ears to the misery of the other dogs, but he could not sleep. Jan kept thinking how he had wanted to do what was right and how hard he had tried to remember what his mother had taught him. In this strange land, with no snow and no work to do, he had failed; and now, he would die in disgrace after a useless life that meant dishonour to his father and Barry, and the other dogs who had lived and died doing their duty as St. Bernards.
Through the long hours of the night, though darkness shut away the sight of the other dogs, Jan could hear restless movements and choked whimpers, so that he could not forget where he was, and at last, when morning broke, he lifted his head slowly and looked at the dogs around him. Then he remembered that morning at the Hospice when he had wakened early, waiting impatiently for his first lesson on the trail. But these dogs around him, now, were pitiful things, cowering and shivering; the eyes that met his own were dull and hopeless, and the ears all drooped dejectedly.
The dogs started nervously as a key scraped in the lock of the door. Then the old man came into the room and went from one dog to the other, patting each in turn as he placed clean, freshly cooked meat and a pan of water within easy reach. The poor animals shrank back, but as they saw that he did not threaten any of them, the ragged tails flopped and the eyes that followed him were less timid. When he reached Jan, the man stood looking at him and shaking his head slowly. The dog, still suspicious of every human being, bunched his muscles and waited, but the smile and gentle voice, "You poor old fellow! I'm afraid I can't do anything for you," made Jan look up with his great, wistful eyes pleading for sympathy and kindness.
"I'll do the best I can, though," the old man said, at last, as he untied the rope and turned toward the door.
The dog rose stiffly, for every bone in his gaunt body ached, his legs trembled from weakness due to lack of proper food, but he moved trustingly beside this kindly stranger. As they reached once more the door of the little house where Jan had been washed and fed the night before, the wrinkled hand holding the rope reached out and Prince Jan's hot tongue touched it in a light caress.
Inside the tiny house the man fixed an old comforter then pointing at it, he said, "Go lie down, Jan."
With a sigh that was half-weariness, half gratitude, the dog stretched his tired body on the soft quilt, but his eyes watched every movement of his new friend. Then Jan slept in peace, for the first time since Elizabeth had deserted him.
The odor of warm, fresh meat from a dish near his nose wakened him. As he moved toward it a tiny yellow bird flew across the room and lit on the floor, watching him pertly and edging cautiously to the plate. It paused with head perked impudently on one side and its bright little eyes fixed on the big dog. Jan kept very still, and the old man, sitting across the room, nodded approvingly when the dog allowed the bird to peck at the plate of food. After tasting Jan's dinner, the bird, perched on the edge of the dish, lifted its head and sang as though its throat would burst with music. It finished the song, gave a funny little shake of its wings, then flew across the room and lit on the shoulder of the Poundmaster, where it stayed while he kept moving around the room.
"Go home, Cheepsie," said the old man, and the bird at once darted into a cage hanging at the front window, but the Poundmaster did not shut the cage door.
Then he led Jan to the back porch where the tub of clean soapsuds was ready, and again the dog was washed thoroughly and the salve applied to his sores. Though Jan's heart was almost bursting with gratitude, he could only show it by poking his nose against the kindly hand, or uttering low whimpers.
"I know, old fellow," his new friend said, "you're trying to thank me. It's all right now. Don't worry!"
And Prince Jan knew that it was all right. That night he slept on the soft comforter in the little house.
As day after day went past, Jan began to feel strong again, but it took eight long months before his beautiful hair grew out and his eyes at last lost their pitiful pleading. At first he could not understand about his new friend, whom he heard other men call "Captain Smith, the poundmaster." He remembered what the little white dog had said about pounds being places where dogs were killed when they had no friends to claim them, but Jan knew that his friend would not hurt any dog.
Each day, now, Jan followed the captain into the long room where dogs were tied with ropes, just as he, himself, had been kept that first night. During sunshiny days of the snowless winter, these dogs were led into the back yard of the bungalow. It had a high board fence, so they could run about and stretch, or lie in the warm grass.
None of these dogs ever stayed very long, but they all soon learned to love the old captain and would rush around his feet or crawl against him, wagging their tails. A few, bolder than the others, leaped up to lick his hands, or pretended they were going to fight him, but when they got near, they turned and raced about him in big circles, barking and yelping as though they were laughing at the joke.
All the time, the old man stood smiling, his hands held out to caress those nearest. New dogs came with the others, and often some of the older dogs would disappear. Then Prince Jan would look at the captain, wondering, but never doubting his friend who loved all dogs.
The loving care given Jan by the captain for eight months made him well and happy, and above all brought back his lost faith in people, so that he became the gentle, affectionate dog that he used to be before he knew what cruelty meant.
One of Jan's ancestors had been a Newfoundland dog. These are very large dogs with long, silky black and white hair. Though not so large as the St. Bernards, they resemble them in build and show the same intelligence, loyalty, and kind disposition. Newfoundland dogs are wonderful swimmers and do not have to be trained to go out and rescue people who are drowning. So it was very natural for Prince Jan to enjoy swimming.
The old poundmaster and Jan walked on the beach nearly every day, and if the dog saw a bit of driftwood near the shore, he would swim out and get it. His master then put the wood in a basket so it could be taken home to burn in the fireplace on cool nights. Often when Jan was alone on the beach and spied floating wood, he dashed through the surf for it, and, if it were not too heavy, dragged it to the bungalow. Whenever he did this, he was petted and praised by the old man. Then Jan felt very proud because he was helping his master.
One day as he wandered alone on the shore he saw a lot of wood floating on the waves. Though it was quite a distance he did not hesitate to plunge after it. The salt water splashed over his head; sometimes he was completely under big waves, and once a high curling breaker caught and turned him over and over, while his legs stuck up from the peak of the wave, but Jan thought it all great sport. He shook his big head so that his long ears flapped, and his strong paws sent him into deeper water where the waves rolled in long lines but did not curl up and break so roughly as nearer the shore.
The boards were fastened together, and Jan saw this was a much harder task than he had ever attempted before. He grabbed the edge of a plank in his powerful jaws and twisting sharply, struck back, for land. Several times the force of the water and the weight of the little raft made him let go, but each time he caught the driftwood and fought his way toward the beach. Land was still quite distant when he heard a faint noise, and then he saw that a tiny grey kitten was clinging to the boards.
"Hold on," called Jan, but the kitten did not seem to hear him. It lay perfectly still.
He tried to swim faster, fearing the waves might wash the little creature off, for at times the water covered the raft and Jan's head, too. He gained the shore and dragged the wreckage far back to safety. Jan sniffed at the kitten. Its eyes were shut and it did not move. He knew that most cats are afraid of dogs, so he went off a little way and sat down, waiting patiently for it to wake up.
After many minutes Jan went over and pushed it gently with his nose. It did not stir. Then he sat down and looked at it thoughtfully, remembering that when the dogs of the Hospice found a traveller in the snow whom they could not waken, they hurried for help. His mother and Bruno had told him that, and Jan had never forgotten those lessons, nor the days he and Rollo had been trained by Brother Antoine.
His tongue licked the wet fur, but the kitten's eyes stayed shut. Jan lifted his head, gave a loud bark and raced away through the sand, kicking it with his fast-flying feet so that it formed tiny, yellow clouds.
Into the little sitting-room he rushed, leaving a damp trail across the floor. The captain looked up in surprise and stopped lighting his pipe when the dog, dripping wet, stood in front of him and barked loudly.
"What's the matter, Jan?" he questioned. "I never saw you so fussed up! And you're dripping wet, too!"
Jan danced around, barking, then dashed to the gate but there he stopped and looked back, wagging his tail.
"Do you want me to go with you?" asked the old man, rising slowly.
The dog leaped against the gate, shoving it open, then ran ahead, only to return and bark again.
"All right," the poundmaster picked up his cap, and when he followed, Jan's delight could not have been misunderstood by any one.
"Woof! Woof!" he kept shouting back, and in dog-talk that meant, "Hurry! Hurry!"
And Captain Smith did hurry as fast as he could, but Jan reached the driftwood long before the old man. The kitten was in the same place, just as he had left it.
"Why, it's a kitten!" cried Jan's master, as he, too, reached the spot. "Poor little thing!"
He stooped down and picked up the tiny, limp body. "I think it's dead, Jan, but you did your best to save it. Didn't you?"
The dog watched intently, his tail waved slowly and his nose touched the hand that was gently rubbing the wet fur. Then, without any warning, the kitten's eyes opened and blinked and it uttered a faint mew.
"Well! I declare, it's alive after all!" the captain exclaimed. "It must have been washed ashore from some wrecked boat, judging from that driftwood raft. Looks most starved to death, Jan. If there's any truth that cats have nine lives, this little thing must have used up a good many of its lives getting to land. Come along, Jan! We'll try to save what's left, anyway."
The dog scampered toward the bungalow, running back at times to leap about the old man. Jan was so happy that he had saved the poor little thing. It was only a little, grey kitten, and at the Hospice, of course, the dogs saved people; but that was in a place where there was snow.
When they all reached the kitchen, Jan crowded against the captain, who rubbed the shivering little cat with an old towel. Then it was placed on the floor with a saucer of milk. As the milk disappeared, the dog in his delight, moved closer, but the frightened animal humped up its back, fuzzed its thin tail and spit at him.
Of course, it did not know that Jan had saved its life, or that he did not want to hurt it, now. He moved away and sat down quietly to watch it. The saucer was filled with milk a second time, and the kitten's tongue lapped as fast as it could go. Its sides bulged out from its scrawny body when it had emptied the saucer and moved across the room.
"You poor little thing!" cried the old man, picking it up gently. "It's only got three legs, Jan!"
The poundmaster fixed his glasses and examined a hind leg which had no foot. "I guess it was born that way," he spoke. "Must have been taken on some boat as a mascot. Well, it doesn't matter what has happened to it, just so it's comfortable now, Jan!"
The kitten went back to the empty saucer, and sniffed at it, then with a funny little hop and jump, it came back and rubbed, purring, against the old man's leg, but it kept a sharp watch on the big dog.
"We'll call it Hippity-Hop," decided Captain Smith, and as neither the kitten nor Jan suggested a better name, that settled it.
Hippity-Hop was really quite a nice little kitten, even if she did not have as many legs as most cats have. Her fur was dark grey, a white breast and ring around her neck looked as though she had put on a clean shirt and collar, while every one of her three paws was snow-white, like nice white gloves. She spent a great deal of her time washing her fur with her tongue.
For many days Hippity-Hop was afraid of Jan, who was big enough to swallow her at one gulp; but when she learned that he stood back and let her eat first from his dish, although she had just cleaned her own plate, she lost her fear and grew to love him. Each night after supper she crawled between his paws and went to sleep, while he lay very still, that he might not waken his little friend.
Jan was very sure that Hippity-Hop was the nicest little kitten in the world, after she had learned one thing:
When first she went to live with the captain and Jan and had seen Cheepsie walking around on the floor, Hippity-Hop's green eyes glistened. Then her claws reached out from the fur that hid them and her tail twitched and jerked as she crouched to spring on the little yellow bird that was paying no attention to the kitten. But, just as she was ready to jump, there was a terrible roar behind her and she was grabbed by Jan's big jaws.
Hippity-Hop gave a yowl of fear, and twisted to scratch Jan's eyes, but he gripped her firmly, though his teeth did not hurt her. Captain Smith, hearing the commotion ran into the room and understood at once what had happened. He took the kitten from Jan, and though Hippity-Hop spit and scratched and yowled, the old man dipped her several times in a tub of water. Cats hate water, and Hippity-Hop hated water more than most cats, for it made her think of the time she had been almost drowned in the ocean.
"You've got to learn to be kind to Cheepsie, or else you can't live here with us," the old man said as he set the kitten on the porch floor.
The kitten began to lick her wet fur, but she was badly frightened and very sure that if Jan did not eat her up, the captain would put her back in the ocean again. So she resolved never to bother Cheepsie after that one time.
The bird seemed to understand, too, for it was not long after this that Hippity-Hop, Jan and Cheepsie ate out of the same dish. At times the bird would perch on the dog's head and sing to them all. Jan always sat as still as he could, until the song ended and Cheepsie had flown over to the captain's shoulder. Often the old man took his violin from the corner, and as he played he whistled or sang in a quavering voice, Jan's tail beat time on the floor, Hippity-Hop joined with a song of her own, though it was only a loud purr, while Cheepsie, perched on their loved master's shoulder, sang and trilled as loudly as he could, trying to make more music than the bird that lived in the violin.
"It's a fine old world, Jan!" the poundmaster would say, as he put the violin away in its box.
Then Hippity-Hop and Jan knew it was time for bed, and Cheepsie hurried to his cage and tucked his little head under his yellow wing.
Jan's curiosity about the dogs that disappeared was satisfied when a lady in a handsome gown was driven to the bungalow one evening.
Captain Smith met her with a happy smile, then he brought in an Airedale dog that had been with the other dogs for many weeks. The lady patted the dog, spoke to it gently, then she rose from her chair and the captain followed her to the gate where an automobile was waiting. The Airedale was lifted into the seat beside her.
"He will have the kindest care," she leaned forward to say, "and I hope you will be able to find homes for all the other dogs, too. I will tell my friends about them. Captain Smith, does the city pay for their feed while you find homes for them all?"
Jan saw his master slowly shake his head, "It does not take much to feed them," he answered. "I am allowed to feed them a week, but I manage the rest of it from my salary. It makes me happy to see their gratitude, for most of them have been cuffed about so they don't know that there are people who will be kind and love them."
After the visitor left, Jan lay quietly watching the old man moving about the room. Now, he understood everything, and the dog rose quickly and thrust his nose into the wrinkled hand. The smile on the old man's face went deep into Jan's heart as the poundmaster, lifting the dog's head, looked into Jan's eyes, saying, "It's a pretty hard thing when any human being is without a friend, Jan; but people can speak up for themselves. A dog can't do that, and yet, he is the best friend any man can have."
So Jan always felt happy after that day, for when he missed one of the dogs now, he knew it had found a home and some one to love it. And on those days the poundmaster went around with shining eyes while his lips puckered up in a cheerful whistle, or Jan heard him singing:'
"Old dog Tray is ever faithful, Grief cannot drive him away; He's gentle and he's kind And you'll never, never find A better friend than old dog Tray."
Many times when friends called to talk and smoke with the Captain, Jan would go for a short walk along the beach. One evening the ocean looked so inviting that the dog could not resist swimming far out, barking and snapping at floating kelp. It was much later than usual when he reached the shore and shook his long fur until it showered the salt water like a rain storm, then with a loud "Woof!" of happiness, he ran toward his home.
The high cliffs that rose above the beach threw dark shadows on the sand. The little bungalow where the captain lived was at the top of this cliff overlooking the ocean. The pound was not far away, and there were several other bungalows a little distance apart from each other, and a flight of wooden steps edged a twisting footpath which led directly up to the front gate of Jan's home.
It was easier to scamper up the pathway than climb the wooden steps, and the dog hurried to reach the top; but a slight noise made him pause and look at the thick brush near him. There was nothing to be seen, but Jan's ears listened sharply while his sensitive nose sniffed the air suspiciously. One sniff was enough to make the hair bristle along his back. William, his old enemy, was near.
Jan whirled quickly, his eyes shining with fury and hate, and his hair formed a stiff ridge along his back while his teeth gleamed in a snarl. Something slipped over his head and despite his struggles, it twisted tightly around his neck. A strange odor made him sick and weak when he tried to breathe. His paws clawed in his attempts to tear the sack from his head, so that he could breathe and fight, but his legs grew limp, a noise sounded inside his ears, something seemed to be hammering at the top of his head. He made one more effort, staggered a few steps, then crumpled down on the sand. But he knew it was William's boot that kicked him, and William's voice that said, "Guess that will settle you." Jan tried to growl but he was too sick to make a sound.
The next thing he knew was when he woke in a strange dark place. His whole body was stiff and sore, he felt sick all over and something hurt his nose terribly. His paws clawed at the thing that hurt. It was made of wire that cut deeply in his flesh. He knew it was a muzzle, for he had seen other dogs suffer from them. The more he clawed, the worse it hurt.
Then he rubbed his head sideways on the floor, but this made matters worse, so he gave up fighting and lay with his nose against the floor until he could stand the pain no longer. When he staggered to his feet, he found a rope held him, but when he tried to chew the rope the muzzle kept his jaws closed so that he was barely able to thrust the tip of his swollen tongue between his front teeth.
Jan suffered torture, not only because the wire cut his flesh, but also because any dog, when frightened, sick, or too hot, becomes feverish and his tongue hangs from his mouth. That is the way a dog sweats, and Prince Jan's mouth was clamped together by the muzzle. He could not hear any noise in the room, so he lay down and kept very quiet. There was really nothing else he could do, except howl. He knew that William had something to do with all this trouble, and he hated William more than ever.