Iditarod Fast-Fact: More Iditarod-style fun

jd-iditarod-logoSince we have been covering the Iditarod for so long, the Junior Dispatch specializes in Iditarod-style fun, just take a look:

TUNDRA: This comic strip hosted by the Junior Dispatch mostly focuses on the antics of arctic animals. You can read it every day here.

PRINCE JAN, ST. BERNARD: This feature tells the story of a dog and his travels from St. Bernard Pass and back again. Along the way, he meets plenty of interesting friends. Read the chapter story here.

PICTURES & BOOKS: Looking for good book about Alaska? A librarian helped us discover five of the best for kids like you. Get the details here.

LITTLE WHITE FOX & HIS ARCTIC FRIENDS: This feature contains multiple short stories about an arctic fox living in Alaska as he searches for food, gets in trouble and has quite a bit of fun. Find his adventures here.

MORE DOGS: While Belevedere isn’t likely to be running in the Iditarod any time soon, the fiesty little pooch is with them in spirit. Read the comic strip here!

View more Iditarod Fast-Facts here.

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Prince Jan: St. Bernard

This post was created to serve as the hub of all things related to our “Prince Jan: St. Bernard” reading project and its additional dog-themed Junior Dispatch items. It was originally presented to Junior Dispatch readers in March 2010. Each chapter features a video, vocabulary words and an essay question.


“Prince Jan: St. Bernard” is a book by Forrestine C. Hooker and tells the story of a young St. Bernard pup that is brought from Europe to America. His life there starts out nice enough, but things soon go bad for him. Find out if he’s able to turn things around in this exciting 17-chapter novel!

This book will be best appreciated by advanced readers, but we hope all will enjoy it!



DOG TALE: This is the cover of one of the first editions of "Prince Jan," an adventure story about a St. Bernard.



Here are all of our dog related coloring pages.



The Junior Dispatch publishes a lot of dog related articlesn and videos. Check them out!



Follow our Iditarod news here!



Get your own free digital copy of  “Prince Jan: St. Bernard” at Project Gutenberg.

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Prince Jan: Chapter 17 — Jan’s Reward


Two years went past and Jan’s work at the Hospice brought him great happiness, for he knew that he was doing the work of his ancestors and living a useful life.

Often as he traveled the snow trails, he remembered the Land of No Snow, the warm sunshine, the fragrant flowers and the beautiful trees laden with golden fruit. But the one thing for which his loyal heart yearned most was the touch of a wrinkled hand on his head and the sound of the old poundmaster’s voice. No one knew Jan’s thoughts, for he was always eager to do his work the best he knew how, and to teach the puppies to be proud of the privilege of helping people.

Brother Antoine had left the Hospice and gone down into the warmer climate of the Valley of the Rhone. His work had been done bravely and unselfishly, and the monks had asked that he be sent to a place where sunshine and milder air would give him a chance to recover his strength and prolong his life. Jan greatly missed this dear friend.

THE END: This is the final chapter of "Prince Jan, St. Bernard." You can leave a comment below on what you think might happen next in Prince Jan's life.

There were cold mornings when Prince Jan rose stiffly, for he had not been hardened to the trail work from puppy days as Rollo and the other dogs had been. Five years of warm sunshine in the Land of No Snow had made Jan’s muscles soft and flabby and he felt the cold weather more than any of the other St. Bernards. Then, too, his long hair made the work of the trails harder for him because the snow clung to his fur and when it melted and soaked to his skin, the monks watched carefully to keep him from becoming chilled. Once or twice he had limped badly after coming in from his work, and then he had been rubbed and taken into the Big Room and allowed to stretch before the fireplace, and for a while he was not sent out with the other dogs.

One day during summer many of the dogs were given a chance to exercise outdoors. Jan sat watching the youngsters tumble each other about, while he recalled the times when he and Rollo had played that way and old Bruno had sat watching them. Then one of the pups began barking, and soon the others added their calls of welcome as a little party of travelers appeared in the opening of the mountain pass toward Martigny. Jan, mindful of his responsibility, joined in the calls. His deep, mellow tones sounded distinctly above the others, but he did not know that those on the trail had stopped while an old man, mounted on a mule, cried out, “Listen! That is Jan! I know his voice!”

A younger man and a young woman who were also mounted on mules, laughed happily, though the woman’s eyes were filled with tears as she looked at the old man. Then they hurried on and soon were in plain sight of the steps that led into the Hospice. In a few more minutes the mules stopped and the dogs crowded about to show how glad they were to have visitors.

The old man climbed down from his mule and turned to face the dogs. He looked quickly from one to the other, until he found the one he sought. Prince Jan started, his eyes lighted up suddenly, his head was lifted high, then with a yelp of joy the big dog leaped forward.

“Jan! Jan! You haven’t forgotten me, have you?” cried the old poundmaster, kneeling down and putting his arms about the shaggy neck, while the dog’s rough tongue licked the wrinkled hand, and little whimpers of delight told of Jan’s happiness.

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Prince Jan: Chapter 16 — Prince Jan Decides


Jan slept soundly that night, and when he woke just before the first peep of day, and saw the other dogs stretched around him, he remembered that he was back home once more with his mother, Rollo, Bruno, and the rest of the Hospice dogs, and that now he would have a chance to do the work of his forefathers.

The soft, deep tones of the Hospice bell called them all to waken for a new day and its work. The voices of the monks singing in the chapel ceased, and at once all the dogs turned expectant eyes toward the corridor, where Brother Antoine appeared with food for their breakfast.

They leaped around the monk, or mauled each other in play, while the hot food was poured into a small trough, and soon Prince Jan was eating his share with the rest of them. They all made way for him, and there was no crowding, growling, or fighting over their morning meal.

When it was over the door leading into the yard was opened and the dogs tumbled out, barking, jumping, knocking each other over, or scampering full tilt in merry play. Rollo and his brother forgot they were grown-up and frisked together as they had done in the days before Prince Jan had been taken to the Land of No Snow.

BACK TO THE SNOW: Prince Jan's experiences in America made him long to return to his birthplace.

Once more Brother Antoine stood on the steps watching them, and at last he called Jan, who trotted obediently to him, and followed through the arched corridors and the long hallway until they reached the three doors that opened, one after the other, to the outside steps.

Jan saw the doctor and the captain already there. The old man was mounted on the mule, Ketty, while Pierrot, the driver, waited beside it. The doctor held a long, stout stick.

With a bark of welcome, the dog hurried to them and stood up on his hind legs so he could lick the hand of the captain and feel its gentle touch on his head.

Brother Antoine paused at the top step and watched, but he did not speak as Pierrot called aloud and the mule started briskly down the trail leading to Martigny. The doctor walked beside the mule, and then Jan understood that they were leaving the Hospice.

He stopped and gazed back wistfully. The monk on the step gave no sign, uttered no word to call him back. Sadly Jan turned and moved along the trail behind the mule. The doctor and the captain, and even Pierrot, looked at the dog, but none of them spoke to him.

For some little distance Jan trudged heavily, then he stopped suddenly and twisted for a last look at his home. He saw the high-peaked roof and the snow-clad mountains looming above it, then he turned again to follow the travelers. They were now some distance ahead of him and a jagged cliff hid them from his eyes. Jan did not move.

Through a gap he saw the captain, the doctor, and the guide. They halted this time. They were waiting there for him.

The dog started quickly toward them, but something made him look again where Brother Antoine stood on the steps. Jan hesitated, then he sat down facing the trail toward Martigny. In a few minutes he saw the little procession start on its way. He knew he could catch up with them easily if he ran fast, but still he sat without moving, his eyes fastened on that gap between the mountains.

He lifted his head and sent out the cry of his forefathers, so that the echoes rang again and again. The answering voices died away, there was no sound save the swish of melting snow that slipped down the steep places, and then Prince Jan, St. Bernard, turned and trotted up the trail to the home of his ancestors.

Brother Antoine waited on the top step. As the dog reached him, the monk stooped and patted him, whispering softly, “It is not easy, Prince Jan, when the paths that Love and Duty travel lie far apart.”

And so Prince Jan came back to the work of his ancestors, and as the months passed by he saved many lives and was very happy. The young dogs listened in respectful wonder when he told of the strange places and things that he had found in the Land of No Snow. They learned from him the lessons of obedience, loyalty, and kindliness.

“If you do the very best you know how, it will always work out right in the end,” Jan ended each talk.

But sometimes at night as he slept among the other dogs, he saw the captain walking about a room. Cheepsie was perched on the old man’s shoulder, while Hippity-Hop skipped beside them, and the dog-knew that they were thinking of him.

Then Jan’s ears cocked up, his tail swished gently on the stone floor of the Hospice, for in his dreams he heard the faint sound of a quavering voice 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.”


Look up and define these words:

  • Chapel –
  • Expectant –
  • Trough –
  • Frisked –


In chapter 16, Prince Jan made the difficult choice about his future — whether to stay at the hospice or return to America with his friends.  Have you ever made a difficult choice? What did you do and why? Post a comment below or  email your story to


Editor’s note: This is Junior Dispatch’s serialization of the 1921 book “Prince Jan, St. Bernard” by Forrestine C. Hooker. This version includes all of the original illustrations as well as additional images from around the Internet.

At the end of each chapter is a vocabulary list, an essay question and a related video, usually of a St. Bernard doing the kind of things St. Bernards do.

Junior Dispatch invites you to participate by commenting or e-mailing with your thoughts on the chapter, vocabular and essay responses or artwork. If you submit a response, you will earn a JD water bottle!

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Prince Jan: Chapter 15 — An Unforgotten Trail


Once again Jan went on a big boat, but he did not worry this time, because his friends were with him. Hippity-Hop and Cheepsie had been left with the doctor’s wife until the captain should return for them.

The voyage was followed by traveling in a train, and each day of the whole journey the doctor and captain visited Jan. When he was on the train, his friends took him out of the car a number of times, so he could stretch his legs and run about on the ground while the train waited at a station. It did not take Jan long to understand that if he did not get back in the car he would be left behind. So he watched very carefully and at the first call of the captain or the doctor, he ran swiftly to the right car and jumped in it. Passengers on the long train watched him do this, for he never mistook his own car though there were several others just like the one in which he rode.

Jan wore his silver collar, and wherever he went men and women would look at it, then pat his big head and praise him. He was very happy though he did not know where he and his friends were going.

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Prince Jan: Chapter 14 — A Fireside Story


That evening, after supper, while Jan dozed in front of the fireplace with its cheerful, glowing logs, and Hippity-Hop curled in a tight ball between his paws, he did not know that the captain was telling how Jan had been brought to the pound, sick from neglect and vicious from abuse, to be killed.

The eyes of the young mother filled with tears, and she glanced from the sleeping dog to a door leading into another room, where her baby was lying, safe and warm. But when she stooped, suddenly and stroked the dog’s head gently, his eyes opened, his tail thumped the floor, and then Jan went to sleep again, for he was very tired.

DOG FACTS: St. Bernards can weigh as much as 220 lbs. and can measure 102 inches long.

And while he took his second nap, the father of the baby explained to the captain that he was the doctor in the little town, and had it not been for Prince Jan, the pretty little mother and her child would never have come back to the home on the bluff, after their visit to friends in California.

“Prince Jan was born in the Hospice,” the old man told them. “He was only a puppy when Mr. Pixley brought him to California. To me, it never seemed just right, taking him away from the place where he belonged and where he could have been so useful, and then to treat him so cruelly. Of course, the Pixleys didn’t know the truth, but that didn’t help poor Jan.”

The doctor turned and knelt down, studying the sleeping dog, then he rose and went back to his chair.

“I took a walking tour of Switzerland after I finished my studies in Europe,” he said, at last. “So that was how I happened to be at the Hospice the day that dog was taken away. I had heard one of the monks tell about this dog’s father, who died saving travelers on an ice-bridge. I went on my way toward Italy, and I saw this dog start down the trail to Martigny, the opposite direction. I have never forgotten the pitiful look in his eyes nor the call he gave as he was led away. I felt then that it was a tragedy, but never had an idea of what the poor little fellow would have to suffer. Nor had I any idea that the lives of my dear ones would be saved through him!”

“The only thing I ever knew about the St. Bernard dogs was that they lived at the Hospice and went out to hunt lost people in the snow,” the captain spoke. “You are the first one I ever knew who had been there. I wish I could have seen it and those splendid dogs!”

“You know, the Pass of Great St. Bernard is the main road of travel between Italy and Switzerland,” the doctor went on, and his wife leaned forward as eagerly as Jan’s master to hear about Jan’s birthplace. “It was through this Pass that Napoleon Bonaparte led his army of soldiers, single file and afoot, in the month of May, 1800!”

“I have read about that march,” interrupted the old man, “and I know what it meant, with food and ammunition and those big guns to haul. You see, I served all through the four years of the Civil War.”

“May is the most dangerous time in the Alps, for the snow melts and slides in great avalanches, often catching people with no chance for escape. When I stood on the stone steps of the Hospice, where many feet have worn little hollows, and I remembered how many people would never have reached those steps without the dogs’ help, I felt that though Napoleon was a great general and a brave man, the dogs of the Hospice were just as great and just as brave. And the monument to Barry, near the old Hospice, was as fine in my eyes as the beautiful white marble one that Napoleon built in memory of General de Sais, who died on that trip, and which is in the chapel of the Hospice. Both the general and Barry did their duty, as they saw it.”

The little mother interrupted him, her eyes shining and her hands held out. “Napoleon made that march for his own glory and ambition, and to kill those who opposed his way,” she said, “but Barry and the other dogs risked death each day to save lives, with no thought of gain for themselves.”

“That’s what I was thinking,” the old captain nodded and spoke.

“What surprised me most,” continued the doctor, “was that the monks who live in the Hospice do not ask pay for anything they do. The people who stop there do not even have to pay for the food that is eaten. When I asked how much I owed for shelter and food those two days I was there, they smiled and told me there was no charge. Of course, I could not leave in that way, and when I insisted, I learned there was a little box in the Monastery Chapel for purely volunteer offerings. No one ever watches that box, and no one is ever asked to put anything into it. And yet,” he finished after a little pause, “often as many as five or six hundred people have stopped at the Hospice in one day. I was told that between twenty and twenty-five thousand people pass over the trail each year. Then when one remembers that for a thousand years the ancestors of Prince Jan have been traveling those trails and saving lives, one can understand the splendid work of those monks and the dogs.”

“And to-day,” the little mother’s voice trembled, “dear old Prince Jan proved himself worthy of his ancestors and his heritage.”

AT THE HOSPICE: This painting shows a monk with two of the St. Bernard rescue dogs. The Great St. Bernard Pass is the third highest road in Switzerland.

“Barry saved forty-two lives. His skin has been mounted and stands, wonderfully life-like, in the Museum of Berne,” the doctor said, thoughtfully. “He did the work in the familiar places, the work he had been trained to do; but to-day, there were ninety-two lives saved by Prince Jan, with only his wonderful intelligence to guide him through the sea and make him hold fast to that rope.”

For several moments none of them spoke, but their eyes were on the dog that slept quietly at their feet, while the little three-legged kitten snuggled closely against his breast and purred loudly.

“One of the most pitiful sights at the Hospice is the House of the Dead, a short distance from the Hospice. Those who have never been identified sleep there. Sometimes, you see, the dogs and monks are too late, or the avalanches of melting snow uncover people who have been buried months, or even years. The Hospice is built on solid rock, so there is no place to dig graves. Not a tree grows within seven miles of the buildings, because it is so cold, and there is no earth for the roots. It is a bare, desolate place at all times.”

“Jan must have been bewildered, going from such a place to a home in California,” the little mother spoke. “And yet, see how he worked out his life and made himself worthy!”

The doctor lighted a cigar and leaned back in his big chair. “The snow at the Hospice is not like snow in other places,” he finally said. “You know how, usually, it clings in masses, and when trodden upon it packs firmly; but in the Alps during a storm, the snow freezes as it falls and forms into little hard pellets. These tiny lumps of ice pile up around a traveller, and when he tries to push onward he sinks as though in a bed of quicksand. Unless help is at hand he soon is buried out of sight. The winds sweep fiercely through the passes between the mountain peaks, and send terrible, whirling clouds of snow that cut the face and blind the eyes, and many times a wanderer plunges over a precipice that he cannot see, or worn by struggles, he sinks exhausted to die. Then, there are the ice-bridges. What I am telling will give only a faint idea of the importance of the work of those magnificent dogs of the Hospice. And there is something that is not generally known, but is just as heroic. The monks who go to the Hospice volunteer for that work, knowing fully that five years up there in the altitude and intense cold mean practically the end of their lives. It ruins their lungs, and so, after a time, they go quietly down into the milder air of the Valley of the Rhone, in France, and there they wait cheerfully during the short span of life ahead of them. Only the young and strong monks are sent to the Hospice.”

After the doctor ceased speaking they all sat silently and watched the blazing logs, for each of the listeners, as well as the doctor, was thinking of the sacrifice and unselfishness of those monks, and the brave loyalty of their dog-friends on the trail.

“I wish I had enough money to send Prince Jan back to his own work and home,” the captain said wistfully. “Maybe, though, I can manage it some day,” he added more hopefully. “I feel as if he ought to be there with the others.”

“You are right,” agreed the doctor, and his wife nodded her head quickly. “Jan’s work, his kin, his home, lie back there at the Hospice. I owe the lives of my wife and my baby to him, and if you are willing to let him go back there, I will take him back to the Hospice myself. But, won’t you miss him?”

“It would make me as happy as it would make him, to know he was back there again,” answered the old man eagerly, as he stooped over and caressed the dog’s head.

Jan, in his sleep, recognized the touch and swished his tail lightly, but he did not open his eyes, and he never knew what the doctor and the captain had been talking about that evening.

But when it was known in the little town that the doctor was planning to take Prince Jan back to the Hospice, and those who had been saved from the ship heard the story of the dog, every one wanted to help. The newspaper printed the story of Prince Jan and his ancestors, and then people kept coming to see him, and most of them brought money for the trip back to the Hospice.

A beautiful collar of silver was made for him, and on it were engraved the words,


With this collar was a purse of money sufficient to pay Jan’s passage home, and a nice sum left over to give to the monks who cared for the dogs at the Hospice.

But the biggest surprise of all came when Captain Smith found that he, too, was to make the trip to the Hospice with the doctor and Prince Jan.

The old man wrote a letter to his daughter, explaining everything and saying he would come to her as soon as he and the doctor could get back.

Jan did not know what all the excitement in the little home meant, but every one patted him or spoke kindly, and the old captain’s eyes were shining all the time, as he trotted about the rooms, whistling.


Look up and define these words:

  • Hollow (noun) —
  • Heritage –
  • Desolate –
  • Gratitude –


In chapter 14, several people talk about helping Prince Jan return to his home at the hospice, which would be a very expensive journey. They then raise money to do so. Have you ever helped raise money or do something to help an important cause or charity? Tell us about the cause and your effort to help in the comments below, or e-mail


Editor’s note: This is Junior Dispatch’s serialization of the 1921 book “Prince Jan, St. Bernard” by Forrestine C. Hooker. This version includes all of the original illustrations as well as additional images from around the Internet.

At the end of each chapter is a vocabulary list, an essay question and a related video, usually of a St. Bernard doing the kind of things St. Bernards do.

Junior Dispatch invites you to participate by commenting or e-mailing with your thoughts on the chapter, vocabular and essay responses or artwork. If you submit a response, you will earn a JD water bottle!

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Prince Jan: Chapter 13 — Voices of the Hospice Dogs


Prince Jan could not tell how many days and nights passed while the boat throbbed on its way. He grew accustomed to the motion and as the captain came often each day to see him and talk to him, and many other people also visited him, Jan found life very pleasant.

Among his visitors was a pretty young woman with big brown eyes and a gentle voice. Nearly always a little child was in her arms, or held by the hand, for it was just beginning to walk. Captain Smith and these two seemed to be great friends. Many times he carried the baby in his arms and it laughed up in his face when he held it down to pat Jan’s head. The dog watched for them every day, and he was never disappointed. Once, the captain brought Hippity-Hop to see Jan, and the kitten purred loudly and rubbed against the dog’s legs, while Jan poked her gently with his nose. The old man chuckled, “You haven’t forgotten each other, have you?” Then he picked up the kitten and carried it away.

DOG TALE: This is the cover of one of the first editions of "Prince Jan," an adventure story about a St. Bernard.

That night, without warning, everything seemed to change, somehow. The boat leaped and jumped as though it were frightened at the big waves that washed against and over it. The night was dark, and down in the hold of the vessel it was still darker. Jan listened to men running overhead, voices called loudly and then came a sudden crash. The boat quivered as though it were hurt.

Jan was thrown so heavily against the side of the boat that he lay gasping for breath, then he dragged himself to his feet. Swaying with the jerky motion, but managing to brace himself, he peered through the inky darkness toward the steps leading to the deck. Again he heard the hurried feet, the loud voices of men, and this time there were cries of women and children, too.

He knew something was not right, and as he pulled with all his strength on the rope that held him, and strained his eyes toward the stairway, he heard a sound that made him give a loud bark of joy.

“All right, Jan!” his master was calling through the darkness, “I’m coming!”

The dog whimpered and licked the hands that fumbled at the rope which was tied to the side of the boat. With a leap and yelp of joy, Jan scrambled up the stairs ahead of his master, and both of them reached the deck.

It was very early in the morning and the sky was heavy with dark clouds. The wind screamed and big waves tossed so high that at times the boat appeared to be down in the bottom of a great hole. Although the vessel jerked, groaned, creaked and crunched, it did not move forward. When the water washed back a few minutes, Jan saw jagged rocks poking up and felt the boat pounding on them. He could not understand it at all, and as he looked up with puzzled eyes at his master, he saw the old man was staring straight ahead at a strip of land not very far away, where a lot of people were running about in a great hurry.

One of the boat crew ran past Jan, carrying a rope. Other men were fastening queer looking rings about the bodies of women and children, while still more men were lowering a little boat into the water. But as soon as it touched the waves, it was turned on end and smashed like an egg-shell against the side of the ship. Jan, standing with his legs braced firmly, saw the frightened women and children huddled together. Most of them were very quiet, but some were crying. A few were kneeling on the wet deck, and though their eyes were shut, Jan knew they were not asleep, for their lips were moving as if they were talking to some one whom he could not see.

The shore did not seem very far away, and Jan saw men pushing a little boat into the water. They leaped into it quickly and grabbed up oars.

“Thank God!” said the old poundmaster to a man who stood beside him and Jan. “The Life Guards will save the women and children!”

“There is no Life Saving Station here,” Jan heard a woman’s voice reply. He looked up and saw the pretty lady beside his old master. Her face was very white and she held her baby tightly in her arms, while she stared at the place where the tiny boat was being shoved into the sea by men who stood waist-deep in the rushing water. Then the boat shot high on a wave and started toward the ship. Those on the shore joined in the cheers that sounded on the stranded ship; but even as they cheered, a bigger wave snatched at the boat and overturned it, dumping all the men into the sea. The little boat was dashed on the beach, but those who had been rowing it bobbed about in the water until helped to land.

A group of men, who had been talking with a man wearing a cap trimmed with gold braid, now carried a rope to the side of the ship and tossed it swiftly toward land. Men on the shore were trying to launch another boat, and every one on the ship leaned forward watching them. The waves carried the rope some distance forward, and then tossed it back against the ship’s side as though playing with it, just as a cat plays with a mouse. Tangled and twisted, the rope rose on the crest of a high wave, then dropped from sight, only to bob up once more, and all the time drifting further from land.

“The vessel will be driftwood in half an hour more! She is breaking amidships!” the man beside Jan was speaking again to the poundmaster. “No boat can live in such a sea and no man can swim it.”

Captain Smith looked down at Jan. “It doesn’t count so much with us, Jan,” he said, “but it’s the women and children. Maybe you can help them. Come!”

The dog started at the sound of command and followed his master across the water-washed deck to the group of ship’s officers who were gathered around the captain of the boat. All were talking earnestly when old Captain Smith and Jan pushed between them.

“Maybe Jan can take the rope to shore,” said the poundmaster, while his hand rested on Jan’s wet fur. “He’s a splendid swimmer and isn’t afraid of the water.”

The man with the gold-trimmed cap looked down at the dog whose intelligent eyes turned from face to face as though doing his best to find out why they were all looking at him, and what they wanted.

“It is too much to expect of a dog,” said the man, shaking his head. “Even if he were strong enough, he could not understand.”

“Jan understands everything I tell him,” insisted the old man, “and it wouldn’t be any harm to try him. When he once knows what we want him to do, he will do it or die in trying.”

Just then the boat lurched badly and the people slipped and slid on the slanting, wet deck, but Jan did not move. His firm muscles stiffened, he braced himself steadily and his strong back straightened. The group of officers began talking again and Jan heard them say something about his strength to Captain Smith. A heavier wave lifted the ship from the rocks then dropped her back on the jagged edges that were stabbing her to the heart, while she writhed and groaned like a living thing in agony begging for help.

The ship’s captain turned his eyes on the group of women and children, then to the shore, as though he were measuring the distance across the raging water that boomed between the boat and land. Slowly he turned back to the old man and the dog.

“He may be able to do it, if you can make him understand,” he said at last. Then he added in a low voice, “It is our only hope!”

Jan saw these men all were looking at him and then the ship’s captain spoke.

“If the dog can reach shore with the light rope so we can attach the heavier one, we can rig up a breeches-buoy with the boatswain’s chair, and the women and children could ride safely, for we could lash them to it.”

Captain Smith leaned down and took Jan’s head between trembling hands. The dog and he looked into each other’s eyes, and those who watched the two, felt a little thrill of hope. The animal seemed struggling to grasp the meaning of the old man’s words. A bit of rope was in the captain’s hand, he held it to Jan, who sniffed, then looked back at his master.

Still holding the piece of rope, Captain Smith led the dog to the side of the boat and pointed at the tangled coils that washed on the surface of the waves a short distance away.

“Go get it, Jan!” called the old man sharply.

The people on the deck crowded more closely, and the dog braced himself to spring, but just then a huge wave rose high over the vessel, the white-crested tip hissing like an angry snake, and Jan looked down, down, down into a dark hole and below it gleamed the jagged peaks of the reef, like threatening teeth of a hidden monster. He knew the danger. Drawing back he turned pleading eyes on his master.

“Go, Jan,” said the voice he loved, but this time it did not command, it begged.

The big wave slipped back, others rose behind it, each one tipped with white foam, and between those waves were deep, dark hollows. Jan looked at them, and as he looked, something changed those white-capped things into snowy peaks of the mountains around the Hospice, while the dark places between were changed to chasms and crevasses, where Barry, Pluto, Pallas, Rex and all the dogs of the Hospice had traveled year after year for ten centuries past. He heard their voices calling him. Jan’s ears cocked up, his body quivered, his muscles stiffened, his nose pointed high in the air and the cry he sent back to the calls of his kin was clear and strong like the music of a wonderful, deep-toned bell. Then he braced himself and leaped far out into the water that caught him like many strong arms and dragged him under the waves.

With all his great strength Jan fought his way to the surface and as he rose, something struck against him. He turned quickly to see what new danger threatened, and then he saw the rope and remembered what he had been told.

"Then the roaring in his ears turned to the voices of the Hospice dogs—'The duty of a St. Bernard is to save lives!'"

“Go get it, Jan!” his master had said.

The dog caught the squirming rope between his teeth, and as he did so, he heard distinctly the cheers of those on the stranded ship echoed by those on the shore before he was pulled down beneath the waves again; but he clung to the rope. When he reached the surface, Jan saw his master leaning far over the edge of the deck, pointing toward the land.

Then he understood, and without a moment’s hesitation he flung his body away from the direction of the boat and faced the shore, while the rope trailed behind him, often dragging him back with terrific jerks. The force of the waves tossed him high on dizzy crests, then he was dropped swiftly into depths of seething water. His breath came in painful gasps between his tightly clinched teeth, the water rang in his ears and he was half-blinded by the stinging salt spray that cut like a sharp knife across his eyes.

In spite of his struggles he seemed no nearer the land. Back of him he could see the swaying masts of the boat, and at times the whole length of the deck with people crowded together. Jan, dazed and almost exhausted, turned to swim back to his master and safety. His paws beat the waves more feebly, but his teeth still held the rope. Down, down, down he sank, and over his head rolled the white-crested mountains of water. Then the roaring in his ears turned to the voices of the Hospice dogs. The voices of Barry Bruno, Rex and Jan’s mother sounded clearly. Other dogs joined in the chorus until Jan knew that he heard the voices of all the dogs that had ever lived in the Hospice. Hundreds and hundreds of deep notes, like the bells of the Hospice sending a message to him. “The duty of a St. Bernard is to save lives!”

He fought with new strength, and as his head rose above the waves, the rope still dragging along, he heard cheers that grew nearer and louder, but this time the voices came from the land. A breaker curled high, dashed furiously over him and then it carried him with a rush to the beach and flung him, gasping and exhausted, high on the sand, but the end of the rope was clutched tightly between his teeth. He held it, even when men tried to take it from him, but the hands were kindly and as his jaws relaxed he was lifted gently and carried where the cruel waves could not touch him again.

Jan was too tired to open his eyes when some one knelt beside him and stroked his wet hair, and a man’s voice said huskily, “You wonderful, brave fellow!”

Cheers sounded loud and long, and at last Jan opened his eyes and lifted his head wearily for a second. Before it dropped again to the sand, he saw men on the shore working with another, heavier rope, and some one called out, “Thank God! They got it that time!”

Jan staggered to his feet and with wobbling legs moved a few steps forward. Then he forgot his weariness and aching muscles and stood watching something strange, something that made women near him cry, and the men cheer wildly.

AT REST: After Prince Jan brings the rope from the ship, he nearly collapses from exhaustion.

A rope reached from the shore to the stranded ship, and something was moving slowly along that rope toward the land. Jan’s feet were in the surf, but he did not know it as he, too, watched and saw a chair, and in that chair was a woman.

She was seized by eager hands and lifted down among them, laughing and crying and saying, “Oh, quick! Save the others!”

Again and again the chair traveled over the waves that leaped up to clutch it, but the rope was firm. And once when a woman was carried in the chair, a man on the shore gave a big cry of joy as he clasped her in his arms. Jan recognized the pretty lady, but she did not have her baby in her arms this time. Then every one was silent, only a woman’s sob sounded softly, and the pretty lady stood staring across the water, where high above the waves swung a big leather mailbag. It came nearer and nearer, and men went far out into the surf to steady it, until it was unfastened, lifted down, opened, and the pretty lady, crying and laughing, held her baby in her arms, and the child laughed back at them all.

Men cheered and cheered, and from the ship came answering cheers, while the mother and father of the child knelt down beside the dog, saying, “You saved her, Prince Jan!”

The dog watched vainly for his master. Trip after trip brought men and women to the land, and each one was welcomed wildly. Then Jan, still watching, gave a great “Woof!” and rushed out into the water. The chair was approaching the shore, and in the chair was Jan’s master. A basket was held in the old man’s lap and on it was fastened a bird cage with a badly frightened canary. Through a break in the basket waved Hippity-Hop’s furry paw. Those on the shore scattered as Prince Jan raced among them uttering hysterical yelps until his master stood safely beside him and leaned down catching the dog’s long, soft ears and pulling them gently, while he said over and over, “Jan, Prince Jan! I knew you would do it!”

And so, ninety-one people were brought safely to shore in the boatswain’s chair with the rope that Prince Jan had carried, and the baby that had ridden in the mail sack was kissed and hugged by all those who could get near her.

Then Prince Jan followed the captain, the pretty lady, and the man who walked beside her with the baby perched high on his shoulder, and who had his other arm around the waist of the baby’s mother. A tiny paw reached out of the hamper Captain Smith was carrying, and the dog felt the tap of Hippity-Hop’s paw on his ear. He turned at the touch and put his nose to the basket, and then he saw Cheepsie, fluttering in the cage that was gripped by the old captain’s other hand.

The little party reached the top of a bluff and turned around to look across the rough waves. The deserted ship reeled sideways. Water rose and hid it an instant. When next they looked, there was nothing but the sky with threatening clouds and the wind-lashed sea.

No one spoke as they went up the pathway of a little house where the pretty lady lived. The door was opened, they entered, and then the pretty lady knelt suddenly beside Jan and kissed his head.

“God bless you, Prince Jan!” she whispered.

And though the dog did not understand it, he was very happy because he knew they were all glad.


Look up and define these words:

  • Sway –
  • Driftwood –
  • Boatswain –
  • Breaker –


In chapter thirteen, Prince Jan proved himself to be a top-notch rescue dog and a hero to the 93 lives he saved (91 people, 1 bird and 1 cat).  Who is a hero in your life? A sports star? An artist or an author? Or maybe a relative. Write about your hero and email your story to


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Prince Jan: Chapter 12 — The Poundmaster’s Problem


For several days after Shorty had gone on his way to the Land of Make-Believe with Mr. Melville, life ran very quietly and happily for Prince Jan and his friends in the little bungalow on the cliffs. Then he began to notice that Captain Smith was worried, and when Jan poked his nose into the hand of his friend, though the hand stroked the dog’s head, the poundmaster did not smile and his eyes looked as if he saw something Jan could not see. It worried Jan, though he could do nothing but lie quietly with his anxious eyes fixed on the old man’s face.

One evening after supper a loud knock at the door caused the dog to look up quickly, while Hippity-Hop jumped with fuzzed tail and excited eyes. The captain opened the door and two men came in. They shook hands with him and sat down in the chairs he pushed forward. The two men looked around the room, stared at the dog, then turned to Jan’s master. The look on the poundmaster’s face made the dog feel certain that these men had something to do with the old man’s worry, so Jan went over and sat close to him, resting his big head on the captain’s knee.

DOG TALE: This is the cover of one of the first editions of "Prince Jan," an adventure story about a St. Bernard.

“Is that the dog that was stolen?” one of the visitors asked at last.

“Yes,” replied the captain. “This is Prince Jan. He was sent to the pound almost dead with mange and orders through the stableman that the dog was to be killed because he was vicious. But,” the poundmaster smiled down at the dog that was gazing with loving eyes into his face, “you see, all he needed was kind treatment and proper care.”

“I understand, Smith,” the other man now spoke in a voice that sounded cross to Jan, “that you are violating the City ordinances, and are keeping the dogs that are brought to the pound. They are sent here to be killed, not kept.”

“I find homes for them all,” the old man hastened to say, “and it only takes a short time to find people who will give them good homes. Not one of the dogs that has been brought here since I had charge has been vicious. Those that seemed dangerous at first grew gentle and kind as soon as they found no one would hurt them.”

“Of course, we know how you feel about them, but the City hires you to kill the dogs if their owners do not claim or want them. People complain that you keep the dogs and feed them at the public expense. We can’t have that, you know.”

Captain Smith rose, and the hand he held out suddenly toward the two men was trembling. “I don’t know who told you that,” he said earnestly, “and I don’t believe that whoever did say it meant to tell an untruth, but the only dogs that are fed at public cost are those for which I am allowed money. After any dog has been with me for more than a week, I pay for his food myself.”

The two strange men looked at each other and were silent a few minutes. Finally one of them spoke again,

“I’m sorry, Smith, but you will have to get rid of the dogs. The pound is not a boarding place for stray dogs, and the fact that you pay for their feed after a certain time does not change matters.”

The old man sat down in his chair as though he were very tired, and stared at the floor until he felt Jan’s nose, and then he looked into the dog’s sympathetic eyes. The wrinkled hand twitched, but the old man’s kindly face turned to the other man.

“I know you can’t change the law,” he said slowly, “but if you could let me have a little more time, I can find homes for all the dogs that are here now. There are only ten, beside Prince Jan, and he belongs to me. See”—he pushed aside the thick hair on the dog’s neck—”I bought a collar and a license for him, and he has never eaten a mouthful of food except what I have paid for myself.”

“Too many people have complained,” was the reply. “The dogs are noisy, and no one is allowed to have so many dogs inside the city limits. You know it is against the law, Smith. That settles it.”

Both men rose to their feet and looked at the old man, but at the door they stopped and talked together in low voices. Then one of them turned and said, “We don’t want to be too hard on you, for we know you love dogs, so we will give you two days to find places for them. After that, the dogs that are still here must be killed, or you will have to resign your position as poundmaster.”

Smith watched them go down the pathway to the front gate, then with low drooping head and slow steps he went back to the little room. Jan pressed closely against him as the old man sank into his chair. Cheepsie flew from his cage and perched on the captain’s shoulder, singing loudly, and Hippity-Hop, not to be left from the little family group, limped across the room and rubbed, purring, against the old poundmaster’s leg. They knew that he was troubled, and all of them tried to make him understand they were sorry for him and loved him.

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Prince Jan: Chapter 11 — Prince Jan Visits Shorty


Jan reached the front gate and let out a ringing “Woof” of joy that brought the captain and Hippity-Hop out at once. The old man’s arms went about Jan’s neck, and the dog gave little whines of delight, his tongue touched the wrinkled hands, and his tail went around so fast that it did not look like a tail, but just a blur of fuzzy hair.

When Mr. Melville was seated, and the Captain on a chair near by, Jan’s head rested on the old man’s knee and the toil-worn fingers stroked the dog’s soft fur. Hippity-Hop rubbed against Jan’s legs, purring like a noisy little buzz-saw, and Cheepsie flew down from his cage to perch first on the shoulder of the captain and then on Prince Jan’s head, while a flood of bird-music filled the little room.

"I wish the children could see Jan now!"

“I wish the children could see Jan now!” said Mr. Melville, and then he told the captain about finding Jan and the story in the paper that had brought the dog back to his master.

Hippity-Hop had been very lonely after Jan’s disappearance, and the dog did not dream that the three-legged kitten had mewed and mewed for him until the old captain picked her up in his arms and said, “He will come back to us some day, Hippity-Hop.” And each day the old man, with the kitten at his side, sat on the front porch watching down the road.

The morning after Jan’s return, Mr. Melville came again to the bungalow and he and the captain called Jan to get in the automobile with them. Hippity-Hop’s forlorn little face peered between the curtains of the front window, but none of them heard her plaintive cry as they all vanished from her sight. When the automobile stopped, Jan saw a grey building of stones with windows crossed by iron bars. He followed his friends into a large room where several men were seated. They spoke to the captain and Mr. Melville, and all looked at Jan, patting his head for some reason, as they talked of him.

Then Jan, the captain, and Mr. Melville followed another man through long dim hallways that had doors on either side, very close together. One of these doors was unlocked, and as Jan and his friends passed through, the door was shut and locked again.

They were in a dingy room with grey walls, the only window being high up and criss-crossed by bars. It was a very small window. On a cot in a corner of the room sat a man. He turned his head toward them and when he saw the dog, he jumped to his feet, calling, “Jan!”

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Prince Jan: Chapter 10 — The Home of the Sunbonnet Babies


The home of Jan’s new friends was perched high on the top of a mountain peak, far above the canyon through which they had driven. Jan heard them call this place Topango Pass. The house stood alone with overhanging oak trees and a garden full of flowers that made him think of the yard in front of the captain’s bungalow.

A big stone fireplace was near the house, and pink geraniums grew closely around the little home, while over the porch climbed yellow roses that looked as if the fairies had hidden their gold among the green leaves.

DOG TALE: This is the cover of one of the first editions of "Prince Jan," an adventure story about a St. Bernard.

“This is Roseneath,” announced Charlotte to Jan as the automobile stopped in front of the porch and the two girls jumped out, followed by the dog.

“Charlotte!” Ruth said suddenly, stopping halfway up the path, “we’ve got to find a name for that dog right away!”

It was a very serious matter, so the children sat on the lowest step of the porch and Jan squatted before them. He wished he could help by telling his name and about the Hospice, but all he could do was to sit still and look from one eager little face to the other. After trying several names they decided on “Bruin.”

“Because he is so big and black, just like a bear!”

Jan rather liked the name. It sounded like Bruno, but of course, the sunbonnet children did not know anything about Bruno and the Hospice, so they said Jan was very smart to remember the new name without any trouble at all.

The next morning he was wakened early by the children’s voices and hurried to meet them in front of the house. Charlotte had a tin bucket in her hand and Jan wondered if they were going to pick more berries. But they went down a path that led to the stable and then he stood still in surprise.

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Prince Jan: Chapter 9 — Journey to the Land of Make-Believe


After the first wild dash for freedom, Jan settled to a steady jog for the rest of the night. When dawn came, some instinct made him turn into the brush where it grew most thickly. His one fear now was that William might find him.

His one wish was to get back home. He did not know what kept him moving toward the south.

He had nothing to guide him save the strange feeling that made him sure if he just kept on, some day he would reach the gate of the bungalow and see Hippity-Hop and the captain watching down the street for him.

Jan was able to lap water when he found it, but he could not fight, nor eat, even if he had found food, for the muzzle clamped his jaws together. He knew better now than to tug at it with his claws or rub it against the ground.

The second night he was very hungry, but he started hopefully on his way, plodding steadily in the same direction. At dawn he was faint and weak from hunger and exhaustion, and when it grew dark again he did not want to move. Then he thought of the captain. Wearily Jan rose to his feet and with low-hanging head he dragged slowly along.

DOG TALE: This is the cover of one of the first editions of "Prince Jan," an adventure story about a St. Bernard.

The fourth day after the escape, he was too weak to struggle further, and lay limp on the ground, with his eyes closed. He wanted to keep perfectly still, though he was suffering keenly from thirst, for he had not found any water that day.

A rabbit darted from the thick brush close to Jan’s head. The rustling of leaves made the dog’s eyes open. He saw the little creature sit up in sudden fright, but Jan did not try to catch it, he was too tired and besides he knew that the muzzle held him a prisoner. So he watched the rabbit hop about him fearlessly, until the sound of steps in dry leaves startled it into the bushes.

Jan heard the steps, too. He thought William had found him, and knowing that he could not fight nor defend himself, he dragged himself wearily to his feet and staggered with trembling legs a few, short steps. Then he dropped heavily.

Voices sounded. Jan’s ears lifted and quivered, his eyes brightened and his tail moved slightly.

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Prince Jan: Chapter 8 — The Muzzle


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.”

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Prince Jan: Chapter 7 — Hippity Hop


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.

DOG TALE: This is the cover of one of the first editions of "Prince Jan," an adventure story about a St. Bernard.

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.

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Prince Jan: Chapter 6 — The Pound


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.

DOG TALE: This is the cover of one of the first editions of "Prince Jan," an adventure story about a St. Bernard.

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.”

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Prince Jan: Chapter 5 — 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.

DOG TALE: This is the cover of one of the first editions of "Prince Jan," an adventure story about a St. Bernard.

“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.

AT REST: Prince Jan kept a low profile once he realized the servants didn't like him.

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.

THE HOSPICE: This is an actual picture of a monk from St. Bernard Pass and a few of the famous dogs.

“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.


Look up and define these words:

  • Stable —
  • Housekeeper –
  • Impossible –
  • Flea –


In chapter five, Prince Jan is left behind by his owners and then treated badly by those who were meant to care for him. This treatment makes him angry and unsure what to do. What do you think Prince Jan should do? (And don’t peek ahead to find out!)


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