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A Friend of Justice
by [?]


It was the black patch over his left eye that made all the trouble. In reality he was of a disposition most peaceful and propitiating, a friend of justice and fair dealing, strongly inclined to a domestic life, and capable of extreme devotion. He had a vivid sense of righteousness, it is true, and any violation of it was apt to heat his indignation to the boiling-point. When this occurred he was strong in the back, stiff in the neck, and fearless of consequences. But he was always open to friendly overtures and ready to make peace with honour.

Singularly responsive to every touch of kindness, desirous of affection, secretly hungry for caresses, he had a heart framed for love and tranquillity. But nature saw fit to put a black patch over his left eye; wherefore his days were passed in the midst of conflict and he lived the strenuous life.

How this sinister mark came to him, he never knew. Indeed it is not likely that he had any idea of the part that it played in his career. The attitude that the world took toward him from the beginning, an attitude of aggressive mistrust,–the role that he was expected and practically forced to assume in the drama of existence, the role of a hero of interminable strife,–must have seemed to him altogether mysterious and somewhat absurd. But his part was fixed by the black patch. It gave him an aspect so truculent and forbidding that all the elements of warfare gathered around him as hornets around a sugar barrel, and his appearance in public was like the raising of a flag for battle.

“You see that Pichou,” said MacIntosh, the Hudson’s Bay agent at Mingan, “you see yon big black-eye deevil? The savages call him Pichou because he’s ugly as a lynx–‘LAID COMME UN PICHOU.’ Best sledge-dog and the gurliest tyke on the North Shore. Only two years old and he can lead a team already. But, man, he’s just daft for the fighting. Fought his mother when he was a pup and lamed her for life. Fought two of his brothers and nigh killed ’em both. Every dog in the place has a grudge at him, and hell’s loose as oft as he takes a walk. I’m loath to part with him, but I’ll be selling him gladly for fifty dollars to any man that wants a good sledge-dog, eh?–and a bit collie-shangie every week.”

Pichou had heard his name, and came trotting up to the corner of the store where MacIntosh was talking with old Grant the chief factor, who was on a tour of inspection along the North Shore, and Dan Scott, the agent from Seven Islands, who had brought the chief down in his chaloupe. Pichou did not understand what his master had been saying about him: but he thought he was called, and he had a sense of duty; and besides, he was wishful to show proper courtesy to well-dressed and respectable strangers. He was a great dog, thirty inches high at the shoulder; broad-chested, with straight, sinewy legs; and covered with thick, wavy, cream-coloured hair from the tips of his short ears to the end of his bushy tail–all except the left side of his face. That was black from ear to nose–coal-black; and in the centre of this storm-cloud his eye gleamed like fire.

What did Pichou know about that ominous sign? No one had ever told him. He had no looking-glass. He ran up to the porch where the men were sitting, as innocent as a Sunday-school scholar coming to the superintendent’s desk to receive a prize. But when old Grant, who had grown pursy and nervous from long living on the fat of the land at Ottawa, saw the black patch and the gleaming eye, he anticipated evil; so he hitched one foot up on the porch, crying “Get out!” and with the other foot he planted a kick on the side of the dog’s head.

Pichou’s nerve-centres had not been shaken by high living. They acted with absolute precision and without a tremor. His sense of justice was automatic, and his teeth were fixed through the leg of the chief factor’s boot, just below the calf.